Friday, March 1, 2013

The Hair Cut of the Century

One day last week, I decided that, in order to save myself from the heatstroke inducing end of rainy season, and the commenting of my lovely school teachers, to cut my by now far to long hair. Now here in Indonesia, hair cutting is something that ranges from the simplest to the fanciest of fancy. You can get your hair cut right on the street from a guy with a cart, or search for a triple digit salon complete with elite fashion consultancy in the verynheart of that that is jakarta! Seeing as how I consider myself quite a sensible person, both having no money AND wanting to get a decently good haircut, I tried to shoot for something in the middle of these two ends. So I search around and learned there was a decent one near my school frequented by my brothers here. so I headed over one night and upon arriving at the shop, I knew I was in for QUITE a treat. The varied hair displayed upon the barbers was quite unlike that of the everyday Depokinians (Depokinites?, Depokers?), with much styling colouring, and an overall hubbub of fashion and frivolity. After writing y name, and enduring the now far than normal and often sigh inducing activity at the entrance of a Bule to a shop such as this,  I was given the barber "Dadang", who himself sported a strange mix of gel and intensive coming that left me in a daze just comprehending it. This being my first haircut after my first week here, I didn't really know any "hair related vocabulary", thus improvisingly got my point across of the general thing I wanted done with my hair: a kind of short all around with some bit in the front left type of thing. (I was rather unsure myself). He heartily nodded his head many times and said " Ah yes yes yes good good good Mr.good good good" and thus the fun commenced! While he was cutting my hair he asked me something along the lines of if I wanted it washed after with some kind of gesturing, I couldnt wuite understand as he had a very strong accent, and I of course said sure! So the haircut itself was in a way similar to that in the US, in that it used a variety of clippers, combs, and scissors to cut my hair to a general way of how I wanted. But it was UTTERLY different in the way of HOW these were used. In the US when you hair is cut, you usually try and make some small talk while the person cutting your hair calmly cuts and trims, generally in a very relaxed manner. HERE, I was met with this same attempted small talk, but I was also treated to the magnificent SHOW that was the cutting of my hair. Eat cur of the scissors was not simply a cut, but a magnificent work of art involving the twisting of a wrist and the quick sleek slice of the scissors before they were retracted again with such speed it was quite unbelievable. Everything was for show it seemed to me. He would whip his comb into my hair anf flick it upwards multiple times, and then cut of maybe several millimeters of hair before sliding smoothly to the other side to repeat the effort! The whole time I was really quite unsure  at the silliness of having my haircut have to be a fashionably showy thing and the entirely serious manner in which the man went about it.It was quite amusing.
So after my extensively fashionable hair-cutting was completed, I was escorted to the hair washing area and treated to a rather lovely rinsing. After that I got up and went to get ready to leave when I was told "wait wait wait, were not finished yet!"(Oh BTW, Indonesians Always say things three times. Its a rule.) Thus the dumfounded me was led back to the chair where the man began opening a strange number of bottles and adding a large amount of product to my freshly cut hair. Oh great I thought, now i'm going to have to wash this again... But then to my surprise, he began Massaging my head, and then my shoulders, and then my arms and complete upper body! My dear what an interesting turn of events! After several minutes of this he abruply stopped, stepped back and presented me to myself. I half expected him to bow. In all, it was a rather excellent haircut experience that I will not soon forget (though my hair turned out rather wonky in the end)! And best of all, it only cost me a grand total of USD 2.50.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Word on Futsal

As most of you may know, Football is one of the things that drives mankind to seek peace with each other and further our existence on this planet. And by Football, I of course mean it in its traditional sense of the game played by using your feet with an 11 man team in attempts to score in the others netted goal, not some rowdy game involving much throwing of an oblong ball and timeouts which goes on For many hours and has silly things such as in play reviewing and a myriad of technological inputs which the State of Alabama is EXCELLENT at. ( ROLL TIDE! BRINGING IT TO THE GREAT STATE 4 YEARS IN A ROW BABY! WHOO! *Insert Foto sama bajunya*) Indonesia is of course no exception to this love that seems to exist everywhere! Everywhere you go you can but help run into it. Its on tv, on peoples shirts, on their hats and scarves, its in the Paper, on advertisements, on the news, and is pretty much the only thing and "sensible male" wants to speak of! And they dont just follow Indonesian leagues here of course, or just the Almighty premier league. Here they tune into La Liga, Serie A, EURO Cup, UAFA Cup, and Even some The US's very own MLS(Something I thing has more viewers here than in the us. I still don't know why you would watch it.) Needless to say, The bug has affected me quite a bit, and I've developed into something of a fan of the sport. I'd flirted with it before of course, watching a mens world cup, or European Champions game, skimming over a highlight or two to see all the fuss, but sense coming here one has to jump full into the thing (or whatever else would I talk with people on the train about?).

All that being said, unlike in a large amount of other countries, the choice pickup football game here is not it in its 11 man, huge pitch and goal form, but in the smaller Much Quicker form of Futsal! Played with 5 players, on a basketball sized pitch, and no such thing as throwins! Its' Excellent, and something I really thing the US could get into. Soccer at a Basketball like speed, PLUS its played on concrete, so no silly things such as soft landings when you skid across the ground. Perfect for kids! Carrying on, At my school every y

 ear they have this awesome thing called "Liga SMANSA" which is a huge futsal tournament running through halway 1st semester until halfway 2nd if I'm not mistaken. Its an awesome tournament where every class fields a team to challenge for the cup! Its a really HUGE event, which involves a group stage, the semi and quarter finals, and a final showdown! Everyone comes out to support there teams, with each class buying matching jerseys, creating rowdy cheers, an announcer, and much hooplah of all sorts. Once the knockout rounds come down, the classes shift to supporting those from the same grade who still remain and as I changed classes second semester, from science to social, I had twice the teams to support! 

Now all along this whole thing, I had been heavily encouraged by all participating, both in my science and social class, that I must join in the good fun of the competition! I however, having given up my soccer habit in the US for agood 5 years, and having tried the game out for fun a bunch, knew how terrible I am at how fast it goes, and how out of shape I have become (Oh Rice and Tempeh how I love you more than running), I always denied furiously because I didn't want to bring my team down by my poor performance! I mean, I'd love to play, I don't Mind making a fool of my self, I just was concerned for the team! SO I was content to watch, eating my nasi goreng and fresh guava fruit with the eventually of spilling half of it when we leapt up at goals! But despite this clear love of being lazy and watching, I was still heartily encouraged to join.So much that I finally ended up giving in... Or really being forced to! At our last game against some class 12 team, we weren't doing so hot! We were in the second half just a few minutes remaining, down 3 - 0, not looking hot, and they all started yelling at me I had to join. They even started I chant about it... I was still at odds when one of them took a jersey off someone else, and forced it down over my head pretty much shoving me into the game!  As we started to paly and we kicked around the ball, I realized just how fun the game actually was like this, and kind of began regretting not joining in the play sooner. It all culminated for me in the when I had the ball in the Red Zone near there goal, and mad a splendid cross resulting in a goal and thus an assist on record for me! Whoo! There was much cheering and whatnot, and about ten seconds later the time was called! We all ran together and congratulated a good match, and depite us losing and not continuing, I felt rather excellent about the whole thing and was in the best of moods for the rest of the day! 

This experience really highlighted two things that I've really come to grasp while i've been here in Indonesia. 1.) That really, the best way to have any fun and do anything really, is to just seize up any opportunity you have, no matter how small, and just go for it! and 2.) That it really is the "small things" in tlife that offer the most pleasure a lot of the time. The things that aren't some huge achievement, but are just simple choices to just go for something, without thinking too hard about it. Whether its joing a game like that, talking to some kids on an Anggkot, successfully bartering your apple down 10 cents, or just up and deciding to apply for a scholarship to an exchange program the night its do, the "small things" if they are indeed "small", always in my experience end up being the most fun! ITs excellent to get out of my self imposed "comfort zone" and just try for something bold and new. Whether you fail whatever you did and embarrass your self or feel awkward, or if the small thing you did leads to a great time, atleast you did something! You tried, you went for it. The only thing in life that we can decide is to go for something, and then see what comes. The two ideals go such hand in hand its fantastic, and its definitely become a kind of mantra I think about whenever I feel timid about something! 

We hit half way in our exchange here last week and I can't believe it has all gone so fast! We've definitely had our Ups and Downs over the past few months here in Indonesia, but I've come to love this country and its people who have become my second home in so short a time, and I can't wait to see how the next half our our journey will go!

Some of us YESers at our midyear orientation in Bandung last week

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You Know You've Gone Native When...

Greetings and hello from Indonesia! To start of this post I would like to wish Indonesia a very dear and happy four month Anniversary! four months ago right now I was landing in Jakarta's International Airport, and headed off to be a great adventure! Thank you for the lovely four months this far my dear Indonesia, I can't wait for the rest that we have ahead of us!   After living in such a place for a few months, you start to change, adjust, feel normal! You're no longer shocked at strange things every five minutes, and in fact a lot becomes routine at times! The following bit is a wholeheartedly wonderful post my fantastical Surabayan friend Sara (Go Read Her Blog! Do It Now! Right Now!) whipped up with a jolly bit of contribution from Yours Truly. Its heaps accurate and and I wholeheartedly agree with its goodness and give it my stamp of approval!(except for the eating meat bit, [cause I don't do that no mo'] and the bit about wearing jilbab of course).

Hey! It's your (not so) loyal blogger here... I am slowly losing my grip on the English language, which is why, despite my New Year's Resolution being to 'write in my blog more', I haven't made a post in like a month. Life just happened to happen, I guess, and writing in my blog has fallen to the wayside. What can I say - my life here feels normal. Ubloggable, if you will. I have a routine, I have friends, I have a basic command over a completely foreign language. It's around the middle of my year and I can't believe I only have about 5 months to go. Craaaazy how time flies!
Along with all my AFS-approved adjustments, I've started to take on the mannerisms of and begun to form myself to better suit Indonesian culture. And I thought that today I might let you guys know what that entails:
You Know You've Gone Native When...
  1. The very thought of putting butter in your rice, as you used to joyously do in America, makes you vaguely sick
  2. Kalau belum makan nasi, belum makan! (If you haven't yet eaten rice, you haven't yet eaten) - that meaning, you need to eat rice at every meal just as much as the Indonesians do
  3. Eating chicken around all the bones isn't a particularly big deal anymore 
  4. Bones in chicken doesn't just mean the leg or the thigh, it means ALL of them - even the spine, ribcage, and head
  5. Eating with your hands feels completely natural, and you can't even remember why Western culture looks down on it
  6. The thought of eating rice with a fork makes you cringe.
  7. "Apa?" is your automatic response to everything
  8. You can tell the difference between Indonesian and Javanese language - when people speak one, you can understand about 70%, and when they speak the other, you get maybe 10%
  9. You know that people who automatically speak simplified Indonesian to you are absolutely the best in the world
  10. You see a bule in the city and are just as shocked and amazed as your Indonesian companions, despite technically being bule yourself
  11. You marvel at bule when you go to a tourist destination. Their shorts are so short! Their hair is so blonde! Their women are so tall!
  12. Using water and a hand instead of toilet paper is much more practical, and you even kind of prefer it
  13. You breathe a sigh of relief when you see a public toilet is the squat type - it's much more hygenic!
  14. You feel washing your hands with tap water sans soap is all you really need!
  15. You get the questions in English class wrong
  16. The thought of not making salim to your parents and teachers in America is just strange, and in Indonesia you make salim without a second thought! Salim being the practice of touching an elder's right hand to your forehead/cheek/nose/etc as a sign of respect
  17. You've given up on the idea of ever finding American foods in stores outside of Jakarta, and instead resign yourself to waiting for packages from home to tide over your Pop Tarts and Goldfish cravings
  18. Having more than 10 mosquito bites at one time isn't even anything to complain about anymore, you just slather on the minyak kayu putih and get on with your life
  19. It's not particularly strange to socialize with teachers like you might with your classmates, and it's normal for teachers to touch students (in a friendly way) too
  20. A girl and a guy are sitting together, alone? Ciiiieeeeee~ !! 
  21. You don't even have to think about not making much physical contact with the opposite gender, it's just automatic by now
  22. You watch a movie about high school in America and cringe at all the PDA
  23. You've gone out in public wearing jilbab more than once, and love to do it
  24. You respond to 'assalamu'alaikum', even though you're not Muslim, because it's awkward being the only one in the class who doesn't (and you DO wish peace upon other people, right?) 
  25. Your English is atrocious and you know that some things are just easier to say in Indonesian, which makes it hard to talk to people who speak English only
  26. You get really into it when there's a spontaneous massage train
  27. Seeing how much boys freely touch each other doesn't amaze or shock you anymore
  28. Gangnam Style is EVERYWHERE and EVERYONE knows how to do the dance!
  29. You know that the Chinese malls are the best places to go for a good deal - malls with real brand names are just for walking with your friends or family
  30. There's no mall without a grocery store in it
  31. Traffic jams. Traffic jams ERRWHERE. 
  32. It's completely normal for your car to screech to a stop just a few inches away from the bumper of the next car, and close calls in traffic barely make you blink anymore
  33. Everyone has their phone out and are texting furiously while at dinner
  34. You know how to operate a Blackberry despite not owning one because you've had to use your friends' so many times
  35. Taking pictures everywhere with everyone isn't annoying, it's just a part of life
  36. Showering by scooping water out of a basin with a plastic hand-held bucket isn't unusual... it's refreshing and convenient!
  37. You realize that taking two showers each day isn't just a national quirk, it's really kind of required if you don't want to be stinky and gross
  38. You take longer getting ready to go to a wedding reception than you actually spend there
  39. You don't have to worry about forgetting someone's name - any young man can be 'mas', any young woman can be 'mbak', and men are 'pak' while women are 'ibu'. Perfect for forgetful exchange students!
  40. The thought that you once wore shoes (and anything but pajamas) inside your home is horrifying
  41. You no longer have to hold on to anything while riding a motorcycle
  42. Four people, one motorbike? No big deal! Small infants and toddlers being loosely held by their parents? Ehh, they're tough, it's no problem!
  43. The thought of wearing anything but long pants when out in public is an odd one
  44. When not wearing a jacket outside you get a chill, and you can nearly freeze to death when the AC is cranked too high
  45. You start to believe that when you're sick, masuk angin may indeed be the cause. You thus avoid winds of any kind
  46. Walking anywhere is soooooo kampungan, it's always better to take car or motorbike even if the distance is short
  47. Having 5 people smoking within a meter of you at all times is now accepted as a part of daily life
  48. Being able to stop a bus at any time is normal! So is the concept of it never stopping while you get off
  49. You're much more animated in your speech and freely insert words like loh, dong, kan, lah, kok, and other random ones you pick up from your various Indonesian friends
  50. You can't imagine living your life in only a Western country. Indonesia has overwhelmed, broken down, and rebuilt you from the foundations of your being up, and you know you'll never be the same, no matter where you are or where you live. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


On December 1 2012, we said goodbye to our dear friend Morgan Lide for our final time here in Indonesia. Morgan was a dear friend and a part of our YES and AFS family here in Indonesia. I knew Morgan for but a brief period of time compared to others, but during that time we embarked on a life changing adventure and grew to become a YES Family. Whenever I was with or talked with Morgan she ever made me smile and exhibited a true sense of caring for everyone and everything. During her time here in Indonesia, Morgan used this spirit to make waves throughout her community and beyond that still continue on even though she has gone. It is still hard to think that we won't meet again here in Indonesia for more adventures to come or when our time here comes to an end embark together. But in reality, she is still here with us, and will continue to be for the rest of our time here and the great journey of life that is beyond. Morgan lives within our hearts and thoughts and whenever we find ourselves struggling, thoughts of her push us to bigger and greater heights. Thank you for your friendship Morgan, and thank you for your undying spirit and light, You are missed dearly by those of us here.

Selamat Jalan dear Morgan, until our paths should happen to cross again