Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Something about Banana Bread and Sin

Several weeks ago I was sitting in the house of a family I had only just met a minute before.  They are friends of Chris’s, although at the time he was having a hard time remembering them.  It was Idul Fitri (also spelled Eid-al-Fitr), one of the biggest celebrations of the year for those of the Islamic faith. This two-day holiday marks the end Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslim people.  Visiting Muslim friends and neighbors was on the agenda for the rainy holiday, and the three houses Chris and I were planning to visit with his friend had already turned into five.  Food appeared yet again at this home and we were urged to eat.  Luckily, it’s okay to just eat a little bit at each house, so I was trying to take a very small portion of everything in the interest of conserving my belly space.

As we ate I assured the lady of the house, Chris’ friend’s wife, robed in her new traditional Muslim clothes and head covering donned specifically for the occasion, that the food was delicious as I tried to eat quite possibly the most spicy meal I have ever ingested in my life and thinking to myself “Oh, I will pay dearly for this later.”

I was trying to follow the conversation that was being delivered way too quickly for my beginning Indonesian and missing almost everything.  The wife of Chris’s friend offered me something that looked like moist bread or cake-a reprieve for my burning mouth, hallelujah!  It turned out to be banana bread, and as I commented on how tasty it was, the lady of the house began to talk about the bread…and then I realized that somehow she had started talking about sin.  Something about how the bread cleanses the sin inside or that the bread is made in celebration of forgiveness of sin or maybe she wasn’t saying anything like that at all.

I was thinking “I am in way over my head here!”  Then the woman was just looking at me and I realized that she had probably asked me a question or was looking for a response to the whole banana bread sin thing.  In my idiocy I tried to smile and nod encouragingly, obviously blowing my (very thin) cover of understanding, and the woman then knew I had no earthly idea what she was talking about, sadly.

Ah, humility…I used to consider myself a pretty good communicator, a good reader of body language, a careful listener…yeah, that’s pretty much out the window now.  Even after almost a year of language study, it’s still a struggle to figure out what is going on!  Thank goodness when I talk to the other Westerners here they say it’s still difficult for them, even after years of communicating.  That makes me feel better.  A little.

After we finished visiting at that house we went to three more places, ate more food, and my brain kept running like a hamster on it’s wheel trying to keep up with the discourse.  At the end of the day we returned home stuffed with food, (thankfully nothing made us sick, which was a miracle), and tired out.  It was interesting to see all the different houses and eat the good, but spicy, food, and drink the strange, but weirdly satisfying yogurt-ish drink with chunks of jelly and fruit floating in it that was served at most homes.  Many of the people we visited assured us they were looking forward to visiting our house for Christmas *gulp* that will be interesting! 

We were so busy trying to eat and be sociable that we only took one picture of joining in the celebration of Idul Fitri with our friends. 

Chris took this picture at the first place we visited, the home of the man who delivers our bottles of drinking water.  I think we had the best food at his house, and he was the one who prepared it, so he was proud to show off his cooking skills.  The tupperware containers on the floor were full of little cookies and crunchy chip-type appetizers, and they invited us to try something from each one!

Although it doesn’t seem quite advisable after the story I just shared about my language skills (or lack there of), but today was my last day of official language study.  My tutors and I have worked though all the books from language school, so I am a free woman-free from school anyway! I’m sure that the language learning has just begun and will continue as I talk to more people and hopefully build some meaningful relationships.  We will see what the future holds.  The sweet MAF ladies here got together and surprised me with a “Congratulations you’re done with language!” party after my last session today-it was so thoughtful!

And now I will celebrate all by myself by taking a nap in the afternoon-yay!!!  Signing off for now!

1 comment:

  1. Wow...what great accomplishments! I'm so glad for the many ways you are celebrating your time there--with Indonesians and your MAF sisters. So fun!