Saturday, December 14, 2013

Batik Fo' Dayz

This guy had some stellar batik skills!
Channeling my inner batik artist
Trying the stamps (Much harder than it looks) 
Sorry, Mom and Dad. I'm not going to college. I'm becoming a professional batik maker. Okay, so not really. We all know that my artistic skills lack, but nevertheless, I still am always up for a good art project. That fact brought me to today, where I was FINALLY given the opportunity to test my hand at making traditional batik. But first, a brief lesson. What is batik you may ask? Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric that typically has some sort of intricate pattern that was created from wax. Here in Indonesia, I see batik on a daily basis. It's used for shirts, laptop cases, hand bags, pillows, wallets, everything you can think of. It's one of Indonesia's most distinct attributes. All regions of Indonesia have their own styles and patterns of Batik. Traditionally, the fabric was used to show rank and class in society; especially when it came to nobility in Jogjakarta. So, the batik process is just as beautiful as the fabric itself. It takes precision, focus, and a talent that your typical human just doesn't possess. To break it down simply, you start with a piece of plain, clean cloth. From here, you can do one of two things. You can either A) Stamp the cloth with a stamp to create a repeating pattern or B) Free hand using a traditional tool called a "tjant." The second of the two options is the most time consuming, and requires the most care. Once the wax is applied and cooled, you dye the fabric in whatever color(s) you like. Traditionally, these were browns and blues as that is what Indonesians could do naturally. Today however, there is a larger array of colors available. I dyed mine in a dark red. So that's a very quick breakdown of batik. And of course, it's much easier said than done. Despite my introduction about me being a stellar batik artist, that couldn't be farther from the truth. While my stamps turned out alright, when it actually came time to freehand, I. Was. Awful. My flower came out looking more like... Well, not like a flower. My hand right hand was too shaky. My left hand holding the batik wasn't stable. Combine those two things with the fact that my sixth grade art teacher told me to never take art class again, and you get some sloppy batik. But nevertheless, I loved it. It was a very humbling experience, seeing the process behind something that has quickly become a part of my daily life, and that I may have taken for granted. All is well in Indonesia!

My final product!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Generosity: The New Normal

Today was a typical day. Well, as typical as it can be for an eighteen-year-old, bule living in Indonesia. I went to school, took my last final, and began my walk home. I was filled to the brim with good vibes as people sent me sweet smiles and waved in my direction. Just as I turned the final corner to my house, a woman whom I had never met before flagged me down.

Her: "Halo! Pulang?" (Hello, are you going home?)
Me: "Ya, Bu! Pulang!" (Yes, I am going home)
Her: "Awww, bagus. Kamu cantik sekali, dari mana?" (Good. You are very beautiful, where are you from?"
Me: "Terima kasih! Saya dari Amerika." (Thanks! I'm from America.")
Her: "Amerika, wow. Kamu pernah coba kue Indonesia?" (Have you ever tried Indonesian cakes?)
Me: "Ya, Saya pernah. Enak sekali!" (Yes, I have. They're very delicious!)

The small chat continued for another five minutes while the cake seller dished up some goodies. Next thing I know, the cake seller is handing me an entire spread of Indonesian cakes and pastries. The woman who I had just met smiled. Confused, I looked to the woman with a puzzled face.

Her: "Ini untuk kamu!" (These are for you!)
Me: Speechless at this woman's hospitality.

Things like this happen on a daily basis. I can't count the number of times my neighbors have offered me rides as they see me walking. Or how many people have paid for my angkot rides. Or how many street food vendors have given me free snacks just to give me a taste of all Indonesian foods. The security guards in my neighborhood always make sure I'm safe. My friends at school always have my back if I don't understand an assignment or I get lost in translation. My teachers are patient, and offer me support when I don't understand test questions. School kids run to me with pictures they drew for me at school. Random strangers will offer to share their umbrella when the silly bule forgets hers. Acts of kindness, aren't considered acts of kindness here. Acts of kindness are the norm. And I. Love. It.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

100 Days and Counting

Last week, I reached the 100 day mark of being in Indonesia. Wait, what? There are so many great stories I could share, but here are the highlights from the past few weeks. And I promise I haven't been slacking on vlogging, either. They just take a million years to upload here!
Visited Mount Bromo with my family! (Active Volcano)

Took my first train ride EVER (It was 12 hours long)

Reunited with this gem in Surabaya

Watched my dad play soccer in this huge stadium

Got to witness this beauty

Got lost in sand for a few hours

Watched how traditional batik is made

Reunited with these two in Jakarta

Took a visit to the beautiful Lembang Floating Market

The Lembang Floating Market has all kids of good foods and goodies for sale

Taught Abi how to kayak

Visited another volcano!

Celebrated my favorite boy's birthday

And celebrated Thanksgiving by eating cookies and seeing my best friends!