Monday, 23 April 2012

Am I really a banana?

When I was younger, I despised anything called "traditional".  I was obsessed with everything "modern".  I loved to see modern houses and modern furniture and I only liked to wear "modern" clothes.  At that time my perception of modern was everything with western feel and western looks which I got mostly from Hollywood movies.

I was even more "modernized" after I came back from studying in US.  I shamefully admitted that my husband was right when he bluntly told me that I was a "banana".  At that time I didn't know what he meant as we didn't have that expression in Indonesia.  He explained that banana is the term used for Asians who have yellow skins but their hearts and souls are very much "white", like the westerners.  I brushed it off and didn't really take it seriously. 

When I had my first baby, I refused to do the post-natal traditional treatments.  My mother-in-law and my mother told me that I would regret it. Being a stubborn mule, I only believed in western medicine.  I told them that the "mat-sallehs" or "bule" or westerners didn't have massages and berpantang (avoid several types of food) but they can go to supermarket within a week after delivery.  They are all fine...

When we met our relatives, I told my daughters to just address them with aunties and uncles so they wouldn't be confused. I spared them the difficulties of remembering who to call "ayah su" (youngest uncle in malay) or "icong" (younger uncle from mother's side - in hakka) or "kumah" (grand auntie - in hok chiu).

For the past few years, I have grown spiritually (and physically... unfortunately sideways..) by reading various books, meeting different people, and experiencing things that opened my heart and made me view life from different angles. I have grown to appreciate the beauty of traditions and understand how important it is to preserve them.

Having read the Chinese cultural revolution and see how different the Chinese cultures in China now, I feel obligated to avoid being like them. Long time ago, the Chinese had so many titles to address their relatives.  In English, a brother is a brother.  But in Chinese, there is no such thing as a brother. It has to be specific, whether he is the eldest brother (Ta Ke), older brother (Ke Ke), or younger brother (Ti Ti). Each has a different title. The same goes with uncles, aunts, sisters, and grandparents.  With the one-child policy in place, all those titles are gone.  The new generation do not have siblings, thus they won't experience calling someone Ti Ti or Mei Mei (younger sister) or Ta Cie (eldest sister) or Ayi (auntie). Imagine if the word uncle or aunt dissappear from English vocabulary.  I think it is very sad...

So when I gave birth to my second daughter, I decided to follow both Chinese and Malay Post-Natal Care.  OMG... I felt soooo stupid. I should have done it since my first delivery... It felt so nice to have makcik urut massage me twice a week.  The hot herbal stone treatment (bertungku) totally relaxed my muscles.  I loved the fact that I was not allowed to do housework at all during the 30-day confinement period. I think the westerners would be super jealous if they know how pampered we are after we give birth...!!

I found that I have such an interesting and beautiful traditions to preserve.  Being children from a mixed-race marriage, my children should have a richer tradition and experience in their lives.  I believe it is my duty to make them interested and keep our family traditions. 

But my karma is coming back to me... my daughters are all too westernized now.  They prefer reading Geronimo Stilton compared to Bawang Putih Bawang Merah.  They frawn everytime I ask them to wear cheongsam or baju kurung or kebaya.  But I will persevere.... like my parents... I hope eventually they will grow out their "westernization" and appreciate their unique cultures.

Now I can tell my husband that his banana wife has changed... Still a banana (coz I still prefer English songs to Keroncong music) but not the regular American Dole Banana... I am the Pisang Kepok, the type of Indonesian banana which has yellow skin and even yellower flesh. Ooohhhh I love this kind of banana... very rich and flavourful, especially when it's baked into a pastry like Pisang Molen.

the regular banana

Pisang kepok, the flesh and skin are equally yellow

even the raw banana has yellow flesh

my fave banana pastry (pisang molen) from Bandung

Monday, 9 April 2012

My New Love Affair....

It is such a weird feeling.... I never thought I would feel like this towards him.
He came at a very unexpected time of my life... at a time when I don’t want to be bothered with anything that put me in emotional roller coaster.
But he made me addicted...
Every morning I smile when I hear his voice
Every night before I sleep, I sneak out from my bedroom to hear his voice
The voice alone could make me feel happy and blushed... making botox unnecessary
The way he looks at me really makes my heart melt
When he touches me, it is always gentle
And when I touch him, the sensation is so wonderful and calming
Everyday I have to hear his voice and I have to see him
I never thought I could ever feel like this towards Perry...
He came to my house one night and refused to leave.  At first I was irritated and shooed him away.  I even splashed him with water and he didn"t budge.
He dropped by in our house every day and night without fail, making our garden as his sanctuary.
After awhile we relented, let him stay and even gave him a name...
My youngest daughter named her Catty Perry coz she is a big fan of Katty Perry and she thought Catty is a perfect name for a cat. Coincidently, my next-door neighbour had been calling him Catty since the first time he came into our neighbourhood.  And to confirm that he likes his new name, he responds when someone calls him Catty.

I had never been a pet lover before.  Don’t get me wrong...... I love animals but I don’t have the passion and patient to take care of animals.  I can’t commit myself to bath, feed and clean animals.  I had my share in changing diapers for years and I don’t miss the stinky smell at all.
My families in Bandung have always had dogs in their houses but never have a cat.  I grew up surrounded by dogs and fish as pets.  I know that I could fall in love with dogs easier than with cats.  Dogs take care of their owners while cats need to be taken care of.  Cats are divas while dogs are servant... (and of course, I need a servant, NOT a diva in my life...).  I never know any cat who defends her owner when he/she is attacked by a robber or any cat who brings shoes and newspaper for the owner.
In fact, I used to hate cats.  Sorry, but I have bad experiences with cats... I had stray cats doing picnics, meetings, and all sort of things in my garden, leaving behind stinky poops, urines and vomits.  My maid and I tried everything to stop those cats from coming to our garden, spending lots of money and efforts.  Finally last year my maid came up with brilliant idea of sprinkling ground chillies on the ground.  We were "cat free" for a good one year... What a nice feeling to be able to open my windows without greeted by the stench from cat litters...  
I am also allergic to cat fur.  I get itchy and rashes when cat furs touch my skin.  And I really hate cat’s lice.  My skin is very sensitive to the lice.  When I get bitten, the itch will not go away for more than a week.  The itchiness is so intense that once I dropped a hot candle wax on it to kill the itch.
Now I already have a few bite marks from the lice on my feet, forcing me to embarrassingly scratch myself like a mad woman... I have to clean his sandbox... I have to share my pocket money to buy her expensive food and shampoo (his shampoo is more expensive than mine..!!).  I have to send her regularly to the Vet for vaccination and lice treatment.  It’s like having a new baby in the house... My commitment increased and my pocket money decreased... 
How did I get to be like this?  I tolerate all of those things... with a smile...!! Despite the itchiness, the rashes and the extra work I have to do to take care of him, I still love him..  I never thought I would do something like this. 
I never thought I would fall in love again....
But again, as I said before....  we can’t really plan on who and when we will fall in love with.....  
As of now, my whole family is in love with Catty Perry.