Ayam kalkun makan tak tahu apa,
petani ke sawah membawa pangkur.
Walaupun jauh dan jarang berjumpa,
atas persahabatannya kami bersyukur.
Bendera loentoer tak berkibar,
layang-layang tak melayang.
Saoedara melantoer atas mimbar,
yang tersayang tak terbayang.
Petindju digebuk sampai merajang,
selesainja pertandingan masih lama.
Jang terdjadi kemarin tak terbajang,
Trump atau Clinton ternjata sama.
Hujan membawa angin sejuk,
kapal layar pulang masuk teluk.
Kadang-kadang perlu dibujuk,
hidup di Krungthep tidak buruk.
No GPS. No Maps. Follow your nose until you get there, a.k.a. the Albany Method.
In the Fall of 1982 I was a Junior at U.C. Berkeley. By that time, I was right on my way to becoming a relatively well-versed armchair-ethnomusicologist: I spent hours absorbing recordings and performances of traditional music from around the world. One day, as I zipped along in my beloved live-in long-bed Chevy Luv truck, I was listening to Henry Kaiser’s World Music program on KPFA when I heard, for the first time, Javanese gamelan music. The piece was the most glorious of all gendhing bonang in the repertoire: Babar Layar, pl. 5 (here’s a clip). There was something about this music that resonated within me like nothing ever had before; I was utterly enchanted and moved to tears. I immediately went to my favorite record shop in search of this recording. I found the album, bought it, and played it over and over for days. I was hooked and I bought all the gamelan music I could find, which in those days was limited to several albums on the Nonesuch label. One day, while planning my course schedule for the Spring semester, I happened to notice that there was a performance class in Javanese gamelan offered through the Music Department! Needless to say, I signed up for the class and my passionate affair with Indonesia began in earnest.
I relate this story because during my visit to Manado, North Sulawesi, last month, I had a weird my-life-is-not-simply-a-result-of-my-choices kind of moment. That moment occurred as I stood before Mt. Lokon in Manado.
Here’s the full-circle: In that gamelan class at Cal, I fell in love with a woman from Indonesia, her family name was Lokon and they were originally from Manado. I was inspired by the music, by the girl, and by the fantasy of far-flung equatorial climes. As I continued my study of Javanese gamelan, I also took classes in Bahasa Indonesia. Upon graduating, I worked in a hot-tub factory to finance a trip to Indonesia. After six months of penny pinching, I had saved up enough for a trip. In 1985, said Lokon and I spent 11 months traveling from Medan to Bali. Although we parted ways, Indonesia was only beginning to open its arms to me… And 25 years later, there I was standing before the namesake of the woman who was instrumental in the course of my adult life. I remain convinced that this is where I’m meant to be. (But I’ll be home soon, Mom…)
I’ll miss my hog, but this zippy little Kaw will be a different kind of fun—riding in Jakarta is not unlike motocross!
(4 days and counting…)
Posted in Fire
Tagged bikes, dki, ina