Monday, February 23, 2009

Family Values

Family values play vital roles in our social interco--uh, interaction. For instance, many Javanese families share one similar tradition with the Italians: reporting every major occurences to the elder(s).

The difference is there's no Godfather. We do need to touch the elder's hand or cheek to show respect. But failure to do so doesn't result in dramatic consequences. It's pure social relationship. We do it because we think it's natural. Sometimes the situation is far lighter than we expect.

Like the story of a friend of mine, Arga. He had recently got his postgraduate title. They attended a family gathering at his uncle's house. The eldest one present was his grandfather, 93 year old of age. So his parents urged him, "You must convey the good news to your grandfather."

Arga was reluctant. "I don't think it's necessary," he said. "Grandpa won't even remember it."

Yet his parents insisted. "Don't be silly," they said.

Knowing he couldn't convince them otherwise, Arga approached the elder, who was sitting in a comfy chair, "Grandpa?"

"Yes?" his grandfather answered. Suddenly, he looked around in amazement. "What hotel am I at?"


Another friend of mine, Andry, experienced similar thing with Arga's grandfather. During one occurence, the grandfather beckoned Andry and asked, "So you're a friend of Arga?"

It took Andry a while before answering, "Yes."

A long silence passed. Then the grandfather frowned, "I've asked that question before, haven't I?"

"Yes," nodded Andry immediately.

Monday, February 09, 2009

I Want to Ride My Bacangcycle

Many food peddlers offer their wares around my neighborhood. They usually push around a cart, carry their stuff on foot or bring them on their bikes.

One particular peddler rides around on his bicycle, selling bacangs.[1] He shouts about his wares with a certain rhythm, like a chant, "Bacang, baaacaaaang. Caaaang, baaaacang!" He has a lot of customers in my hood. I'm not sure whether his chant works the charm or his bacangs are that good.

He got so successful, three months ago he rode in a brand new motorcycle. Yet, his sales dropped. Because then, every time a neighbor heard his "Bacang, baaa--" and came out of the house, he only saw flying dust and heard a faint "caaaaang...." somewhere.

In the distance. Out of sight.

Yesterday I saw the bacang peddler, back on his old bicycle.


[1]: A traditional Chinese food which is popular in Indonesia. Read: bah-cahng. Some people spell it as bakcang, but it's still pronounced the same way. This makes bacang a wonderful entry for a spelling bee.

Here's a nice site with its recipe.