Evi Meinar Kanada An Indonesian Chef in Canada
There are many ways for Indonesian expats to heal the “wound” of being far away from their homecountry. And there are even more various ways to express their love and sometimes “unconscious” patriotism to it. One thing for sure, that “nothing like home” is not a hollow word. This is especially true in the case of Indonesian abroad in particular.
There is a Javanese saying which I think represent the psyche of Indonesian in general and it should explain why not so many Indonesians enjoy staying abroad, unlike Indian or Chinese, for example. It says: Mangan ora mangan sing penting ngumpul, meaning that it’s better off staying at home despite starving than making a good life abroad.
So, going abroad for making a better living or better career opportunities is an uncommon phenomenon. Those few Indonesians who are having a good career abroad or in some cases are following their foreign wives/husbands are those who have successfully “reform” themselves from the not-so-good old tradition of “mangan ora mangan sing penting kumpul” kind of thing.That’s said, it’s understandable if they are every now and then missing their homecountry. To some cases, this kind of feeling motivate them to do something which will remind them of their homeland. In the case of Evi Meinar, for example, as she puts it rightly: “There is always a way to make ourselves feel at home. My way is by cooking Indonesian food.”
Cooking Indonesian food is the right way for herself to feel at home. Writing constantly in her blog whatever she cooks will benefit other Indonesian expats who sometimes are facing difficulties to find Indonesian recipes abroad. And by blogging in English makes her cullinary blog benefits not only those who are interested in Indonesian dishes but also helps her country to be more known to the outside world. Dewi Fortuna Anwar when she spoke to us in New Delhi recently rightly said that all Indonesian should be an unofficial “diplomat” for their country. Of course, by their own ways.
And for that only Evi Meinar deserves our high appreciation and gratitude.
Lend Your Ears to Minority Voices
I always like and even encourage friends around me here in India to speak up and speak out what their conscience want them to say against some malpractices some government official might have done even if you have to take a presumed or real risk of doing that.
It’s not easy. Having experienced a 32-year old “quiet” oppression during Suharto’s regime–where you’d find yourself in jail for talking something funny to some, if it could cause a “threat to national security.”
Thanks God, that era is gone. The left-over, mind you, is pretty much there in the mindset of many Indonesians on various forms. The traumatic experience against ethnic Chinese at the late 1990s are also still felt now even among some prominent intellectual of ethnic Chinese. One of them told me recently that she still felt so scary even to meet people from majority community without a friend with her. When you’ve been in traumatic experience, such feeling is understandable.But time is moving on. Unless we follow the sun and get rid of the blast from the past, we’ll become the stagnant nation who tend to look back for inspiration without even knowing what to do next.
Many ways to look ahead, to forget and heal the wound past and build the future together. And so far as building healthy relation among all Indonesian community goes, voicing a complain or a protest of what they think is their right is important through any possible means. Blog considered by many as representing the people voice should be one of effective tool to do that.
And for this reason, I am happy to read what Mellyana, a pious Christian, had to say on why it’s so hard to build a Church:
When it’s so easy to build a mosque, it’s extremely hard to build a curch. Permit become a keyword to close many curches, even though it’s been more than 10 years. Well, some of them are new curches, but still, why a curch become unacceptable to be at the same area with residential, why there are (look like) thousands procedures just to be able to build one? Hey, look how many mosque we have…just everywhere, at every corner. Not that I complain, but, hey, why can’t we just praise the Lord’s name in peace?
In which a commenter named Triesti (seems to be a Muslim) responds to her complain thus:
I am not saying what they did is right. but it happens everywhere. to put it in perspective, in holland it is not easy to build a mosque eventhough all the curches are practically empty. so i guess there are a lot of closeminded xenophobic people out there. we just need to educate people about it.
There are three things that impress me in the little discussion above: (1) Both are talking in decent way, no insult or bluffing whatsoever; (2)Both are using real name, not hiding behind anonymity; (3) The minority community is not scary anymore to voice such complain with her name and picture attached in her blog.
The difficulty of building a Church in a Muslim area is an issue that only the Goverment can solve it by amending the law regarding this problem. But the bigger picture is if such healthy discussion is going on and on peacefully, done in elegant way and with sincerity on both sides among young generation, it will create a better understanding and mindset of inter-religious relations in Indonesia in years to come. And when these young men and women become the policy maker someday, the problem like this and any other similar issues will be no more a big deal.
SeptianIf the future of a nation–bright or grim– could be assessed from how its young generation behaves and acts, then Indonesia and concern Indonesian should take a contemplative mood for various reasons.
The costly educational fee of higher education caused by almost-zero government subsidy; the laid-back attitude of its young generation influenced much by pop-culture with its many not-so-good impacts are among things that we should care about.So, in this kind of situation any sort of healthy attitude of few young generation that we know should be noticed and given a proper appreciation. Septian Budi Waluyan, a bachelor student in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) of Singapore, is a good example.
His blog talks about everything, from daily notes to reflective kind of things. I am especially impressed that he likes reading books that not only confined to his field of study: a requirement to be a thoughtful and wise personality. In one of his post, for example, he writes:
…I found how people are so diversed each other and how different it is with my homeland where three main cultures are the symbol of this unique country as chinese is the majority. Interestingly, we cannot directly assume that Singapore is identic with chinese-like white dominates US-because there are so many Asians are here and there is a little or almost zero discrimination here, even there are four official languages,i.e. English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil.
Talking about that diversity, in many media, I read that many countries were impressed by the ability of Singapore to unite them. Here, during one semester, I really didn’t find any form of offfence that the racial issue evolved. It seems from the President of Singapore is an Indian, the governmental structures which seems not to be so racist. It also seems how people here don’t think much about the difference each others. For example is in waterloo, where there are many religious places are located in the near distance. Ehm…it isn’t strange if Singapore is included the list of “1000 places too see before you die”, a book by Patricia Schultz.
What I am trying to say here is about even though Singapore is famous with its multiculturalism, I am sure there are still a lot of prejudices, racist beliefs and segregation. I will give an example. My friend told me about this happening when he was in MRT. When a chinese Singaporean girl was in the middle of many old Indian boys and separated from her friends, she suddenly shouted and said,” Hey, I am afraid here”. Isn’t it a form of prejudice and segregation or exactly a nonverbal racism? Yes, in Singapore there is no offence or anything which pertains the physical contact to others but mostly it is about nonverbal attitude toward other race or group. Well, I can say that we can’t avoid the racism and prejudice in our mind. We have a tendecy to refuse something which doesn’t suit with someone’s ideal norm. So it isn’t strange if in Singapore, people will tend to make a particular group with the same race like the analogy that the birds will tend to fly together with the same flur birds. Then the question is, is westernization the best way to make them really united?
There are some other good and thoughtful postings he wrote which surprises me that they’re written by a 18-year-old boy. I wish him good luck with his study in NTU. And we hope that he keeps updating his blog with whatever he wants to write. He is one of those few Indonesian youngster who should be emulated by other Indonesian teenagers to gain success: hardworking, reading more and less laid-back life.