Indonesia: Food & Stories
I have been in Indonesia for a week now and am settling in quite nicely. I have spent most of my time in Mas Bhismo's Mother's home which is where I am staying and where the residency is based. It is amazing to be living in such a beautiful space with open-hearted people who are rich in culture, tradition and stories and it is such a joy to listen and share. The house is surrounded by bamboo with plenty of land, fresh fruit and new sounds.
Our evening conversations last for hours and begin with sharing food. I've learned about the hundreds of languages within Indonesia (over 700) the thousands of different cultures and traditions that exist within the islands all through the stories of my welcoming hosts who have travelled near and wide performing traditional Javanese dance and music and contemporary dance. I have learned about two specific tribes that had me on the edge of my seat when I was hearing their story - the Bajo and Torajo tribes both very different and from completely different parts of Indonesia.
The Bajo tribe are sea nomads - SEA NOMADS! How incredible is that? Before now I had never considered such a possibility! They can dive into the sea and remain there for two - three hours at a time without any diving equipment, they can walk on the seabed and are completely at ease with the water as though they are one.
The Torajo tribe are from Sulawesi and are known for their unique death rituals. When someone dies the family keeps the body in a separate room for many years and treats them as though they are living. The celebration of death is a very expensive ritual so they wait for years until they can afford to have a great feast and until all of the family are present. The ritual begins by beheading a buffalo and the celebration lasts for hours. The body (by this stage almost mummified) then walks up the mountain by themselves.
These cultures and traditions resonate with me and my interest in Celtic and Hindu mythology - the speak directly to my heart because they are told from the heart. This is a magical place indeed and if it weren't for the mosquitos I'd live here quite happily.
The celebrations after Ramadan are almost over and tomorrow we begin (I am here with fellow musician Laura Kidd of She Makes War) rehearsal with the amazing Kunokini. Kuno in Indonesian means old and kini means now - quite a fitting phrase for my experience here.
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