Sunday, August 1, 2010

Malls, Markets, Graves

A quick update on this week: The program's nearly over, and classes are winding down (though don't tell Pak Peter that!). When Wyatt heard from his (gay) host brother about weekly games of bola banci – transvestite volleyball – at one of the local malls, and told my class about it, naturally we had to go. Indonesia has a strange relationship with gender issues – in general, don't even think about being gay, unless you're wealthy and Australian-educated and threaten not to come back from studying in Thailand where you're living with you boyfriend (Wyatt's host brother), but bancis are like the drag queens in the New York subway system: you look twice, you maybe say something to your friends, but it's pretty much accepted. In any case, while everyone seems to know that bola banci exists, nobody can quite say when it takes place. Probably 4pm, we heard, maybe Tuesday, or Wednesday, or possibly Thursday. Or Saturday morning, could be. It was already Wednesday afternoon, so we decided to try on Thursday. A short motorbike ride later, we arrived at MOG. No bola banci. If at all possible we'll be trying again next week, hopefully better luck then. Instead we went to the mall, like the twelve-year-old girls we secretly are. Hence the chocolate-banana-cheese crepes from earlier.

Friday, off to another mall to see Salt. Movies in Indonesia cost roughly $2, so I feel I got my money's worth. The best part was the subtitles – either Indonesians don't swear, or the translators are unwilling to render expletives faithfully. Hence 'shit', as in 'Shit! The Russian assassin/spy just escaped after an excruciatingly long and dramatically choreographed chase scene!' came out as 'sial', or 'bad luck', as in 'Oh no, I just dropped my ice cream on the floor. Sial!' 'Bullshit' was 'omong kosong' or 'empty talk'. Etc. Anyway, Liev Schreiber's still amazing, even if the movie had no actual ending. Sequel, anyone?

And Saturday I got in a car to Blitar, site of former president Sukarno's grave, some nice temples, and Mas Toriq's parent's house. We visited them in that order: firth the dead dictator, then the 800-year-old ruins, then lunch at Toriq's. On the way home we stopped at a giant dam for a photo op. All around were kaki lima – food carts, with signs advertizing 'sate 02'. I know what sate (satay) is, but 02? Shorthand for snail, it turns out, a reference to old slot machines. I didn't try any.

And today I spent a quiet day in Malang with my family. Out at 6:30am to see the Pasar Minggu (Sunday Market), eat some bubur ayam (chicken rice porridge, quite good) off the back of a truck, and browse the stalls, back home for a while to work on my final presentation for the program, then out again to a salon where I got a mani-pedi and a haircut for a grand total of Rp. 70,000, or just under $8. Not the best mani-pedi I've ever gotten – no polish, and the poor girl working on my toes didn't even manage to get off all the old polish from last time, though lord knows she tried – but I love the haircut and the hand massage was worth eight bucks on its own. Now I'm sitting on the balcony while my host family naps, plotting out my next week and daydreaming about Thailand. Not a bad weekend at all.

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