one’s islamic-ity

i just told somebody that i may go out tonight. i said there will be Nuzulul Quran at the mosque inside my embassy. i wasn’t even sure i pronounce the words correctly, so i looked at the sms invitation in my mobile. then of course i did googling. there’s a news article from a website ending with .ae domain. The National newspaper. so at least i got a definition.

reading the article reminds me of my own condition. there’s a source in Abu Dhabi quoted in the article, saying that he is away from his country yet celebrating this in the embassy. however, the difference is obviously i will not come to my embassy here for personal reasons.

something else reminded me of my country. it happened when i and my best friend were roaming in a mall searching for a present for our classmate, who celebrates his birthday today. in a bookshop i told my friend we shoud get a religious book for him (he’s very religious and he lent me a book on Mohammad). there weren’t many books on Islam. i just saw some on sufism and rumi. then my friend was scanning a coffee-table book. on a page, full photo, it was a congregational prayer in a mosque that struck me. i was sure that the mosque is the mosque that is close to my heart, the mosque where my mom took me several times to pray, the mosque which is the largest in Southeast Asia. the last one is what i told my friend. the name escaped me for some time. Istiqlal mosque. Masjid Istiqlal. i was trying to prove this my looking for the caption on the next page, but failed. the caption, if im not mistaken, only says about muslims praying in an islamic country. it neither did mentioned the name of the mosque nor the country.

i felt like crying. its not because the mosque is not famous enough. i can show my friends some pictures about this mosque, hoping that she would still remember and see the similarities with the one in the book. but i think it has something to do with sentimentality. i know the mosque as it is located in my city in Indonesia (maybe my hometown). i know the carpet, the tiles, the pillars, the dome, the caligraphy and all. i admit, it is a very beautiful mosque. i can even remember the smell, the ambience.

going further, maybe my sentimentality is more of my islamic-ity. i’m not religious but i still believe that a mosque is a good place to become closer to god. a good place to pray (a conversation or just listing our wishes). a place of hope and faith, especially when everything else seems to crumble.

seminar: dalit writings

an interesting course is offered by my center in my campus, seminar: dalit writings. although i took ‘indian literature in english’ course last semester (instructed by the chairperson), which led me to know a lot about india especially the language, i will definitely take this one. really looking forward to knowing how ambedkar criticized hindu, the majority religion of the country. i somehow opted for The Outcaste, Akkarmashi, a Dalit autobiography by Sharankumar Limbale, translated into english by Santosh Bhoomkar, for my short presentation, which will fall in this month only. i prefer having all my presentations early in this semester. wish me luck.

new delhi’s new airport terminal

so i had to go to the airport last night. to pick up an indonesian student who got a scholarship. he already texted me twice, asking me to do so, to accompany him. though i’m not really sure, whether to accompany him from the airport to the hostel and/or from hostel to campus (jamia millia). he gave me the date, but not the flight number. i was also stupid that i didnt ask him that important info. i was a bit reluctant because earlier i thought some indonesian students from jamia will do the task, also because he can stay in one of their places (our basecamp) in zakir nagar. but let’s not rely on that. so i went there. took an autorickhaw at around 9.30 (he’s supposed to arrive at that time and my flat isnt so far from airport). after bargain, i agreed for 130 rupee despite its the era of meter for autorickshaw in delhi 😐

on the way, before the toll road, we were stopped by some officers because auto is not allowed. there was a debate on how much i should pay him. they also questioned the rickshaw-wallah for not activating the meter. so i just paid him 100 and waiting for the airport bus at some scary, dark so-called bus stop. the bus came and it took me to the new airport terminal (terminal 3). some sikh men who talked to the conductor informed that i should go down there only. i didnt mind at all because i wanted to check out that cool terminal 😀

the terminal is good, very clean. it functions for both domestic and international. there’s no visitor’s lounge where we have to pay 80 rupee to have the priviledge to see the arriving people first in the air-conditioned room, before they got out of the building and enter the wilderness of india hehe.. anyway i was waiting and didn’t really know what to do. i didnt see the iccr guy who deals with my country (and picked me up exactly last year) i called the iccr (the scholarship) guy and, since his english is not comprehendable, i thought he said there was somebody from iccr who was there. still, i wrote at a paper « ICCR Indonesia Mr. so-and-so » and joined the people and waited. i was so bored. some guys were leading the trolleys, some were mopping the floor with that tiny cars. some hotel people were smelly…

but while waiting, i realized that enjoyed being there. enjoyed the gushing AC from inside everytime the automatic doors open; imagining the stores inside; especially seeing faces from all over the world (muscat, hong kong, addis ababa, even paris), coming by different carriers, smell of expensive perfumes. wondering their purpose of coming to india. their expression were so various, anxious searching for the one who would pick them up, either their friends, relatives or strangers; how they react when they found it. one guy seemed unable to find it for a long time, and he kept moving to and fro. some guys were very cute. a group carrying large bags, i thought they were going for hiking (i still remember my trip to nepal and leh). and i think i was also practising stereotyping. i thought some people were definetely indian (sharp noses, beard, and more identifiably… the sikh turban), some were chinese or korean or japanese. and i was sure that some people were indonesian, from the way they look and the way they looked at me or my paper. really… how am i supposed to know how this mr.so-and-so looks like?? and i also witnessed something interesting when i was so desperate and sat on the floor… a guy suddenly knelt down and put his head on the floor like one of the islamic prayer poses, as if kissing the floor. i was so shocked, i thought he fell! but he was actually honoring a person, a guy in white who wasnt too old. that guy in white only smiled, touched his back, and didn’t seem arrogant. a boy also bowed down.

boredom struck me again. so i went up to the departure floor. took the escalator 4 times (twice only bring you to the skywalk to the car park). it was more crowded, a lot of people sitting on the floor. but i have to admit that the terminal does look modern and beautiful (though lacking indianness). it was 12. i decided that if mr.so-and-so arrived by the airline at 11 (there was one from bangkok arriving exactly at 9.30), he would have reached the hostel anyway. so i went to the pre-paid taxi booth. the guy talked to me in hindi. again i have to come back to reality.

everything korean

beberapa hari lalu waktu aku sedang melintasi taman di kampus, seorang perempuan tomboi menghampiriku.. rambutnya model korea banget (pokoke beda lah) dan bercat pirang. kulit terang dan jelas matanya sempit. ya, harus kuakui, seperti aku. lalu dia bertanya, « excuse me, are you korean? » aku jawabnya, « ehmm… no » dan menahan untuk menyebutkan kewarganegaraanku. kupikir mungkin itu tidak terlalu penting, setidaknya bagi lawan bicaraku. lebih lanjut dia tanya dimana dia bisa menemui orang-orang korea. aku semakin diyakinkan bahwa ikatan antara orang-orang ini begitu kuat (dan juga tak acuh dgn yg lain??). aku bilang aja kalo di sini emang banyak orang korea. di hostelku–yang emang spesialis orang asing–ada beberapa. lalu dia berterima kasih dan pergi. ini bukan kali pertama memang aku dikira orang korea. atau cina. atau jepang. atau india, tepatnya bagian timur laut atau north-east. jadi aku uda terbiasa. waktu awal aku di sini aku dikasih tau seorang teman bahwa ikatan orang korea atau jepang di sini erat, terutama karena ada tingkatan senioritas. aku pun waktu itu manggut-manggut aja. seorang gadis korea pun pernah membantuku dalam proses registrasi–dimana kita harus berjibaku dengan birokrasi dan mentalitas india yang alot dan sungguh menguji kesabaran itu.

kemarin aku dan seorang teman sekelas dan seorang senior diundang makan siang oleh seniorku orang korea. dia akan segera pindah ke singapura, mengikuti istrinya yang ditugaskan di sana. istrinya sedang tidak ada, dan anaknya menyambut kami dengan jeritan dan teriakan raung aku udah ga sabar menikmati hidangan korea. tapi sebenernya (aku uda pernah makan siang di tempatnya) aku tau mereka lebih cenderung masak makanan instan, semacam nugget atau momo gitulah, yang tinggal ngegoreng atau rebus aja. dan dugaanku benar. di meja makan dihidangkan kepiting dan udang goreng dengan cocolan mayonais plus potongan kepiting rebus mirip dim sum (my favorite). tapi ada juga masakan sup kerang (musti kasih jahe), kerang ijo rebus (musti ada sambel nih) dan ayam kecap (kurang berasa, dasar lidah indo, pengennya yg gurih). tapi kenyang juga lah. kita juga ditawari manisan mangga, coklat karamel dan barley tea (my most most favorite).

setelah makan dan ngerampok peninggalan catatan dan reader (fotokopian bacaan) kuliah, kita diajak ke toko serba korea yang letaknya tak jauh dari tempat tinggalnya. sayang barley tea incaranku tidak tersedia. aku pun jadi beli saus teriyaki impor yang lumayan mahal. ternyata pas sampai di rumah dan mencoba saus itu, ternyata rasanya tak manjur. lebih mirip kecap asin 😦

hari ini ke supermarket lagi dan tergoda dengan deretan saus beraneka rasa. plum, satay, black pepper, peking duck, chili, sweet indonesia ( 😀 ) dan lainnya. tanganku otomatis meraih saus bulgogi. for korean cuisine, tulisannya. aku pikir walaupun daging sapi susah didapat di sini, setidaknya aku bisa berkreasi buat ayam hehe… kita lihat saja. soalnya ternyata saus ini enak bo. kental dan agak merah. kita cicip saja nanti. 😉