A little over a year ago I spent four months in Indonesia. I didn’t really travel across the country, at least not in the way you would expect during that much time abroad. Instead I had the great privilege to live in Indonesia, and see it from the inside. It’s hard to put to words all that I learned, and impossible to do justice to the people I met and the experiences I had. Here is my attempt to share are a few things I learned while I was travelling.
The first notable quality of almost every Indonesian I encountered, and especially of my host family, was their hospitality. Within 12 hours of arriving my concept of generosity and hospitality had been put to shame. My hosts not only shared their home, they shared their family, lives, and friends with me. I was adopted into their social circle, taken for day- or week-long trips by their friends while I was there. I was honoured to be one of the first people to greet the family’s first grandson alongside the immediate family.
2) Hijabs aren’t scary
This is a fairly potent topic these days so I won’t comment too much. Over half the women on Java wear hijabs, a head covering worn by Muslim women. When I asked why they wore them, all the women I asked answered with “I wear it because I choose to.” I began to recognize beauty and comfort in these headdresses, as well as freedom of expression. These women were neither ashamed nor pious in their religion, it was simply a part of their life.
As some of you know, I review the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls every Monday night. I do so mostly because The A.V. Club has dropped it from its reviewed shows, and partly because it brings in the hits. This past episode featured the following exchange between Korean diner owner [he’s Korean, the diner is not] Han Lee, played by Matthew Moy, and casting director Tom, played by Eddie Shin:
Before you ask, yes, I put the video together myself.
The reason this struck me is that it highlights a humorous turn of events that I’ve observed more than once. As I mentioned in my review, Shin’s character’s response echoes, almost word for word, that of Howling Commando Jim Morita, played by Kenneth Choi in Captain America: The First Avenger:
Yes, I put that clip together as well. Sorry for the out-of-sync sound. Continue reading →