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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ramadan 6 - I Tell a Joke

One of the signs that you are beginning to understand a culture and a language is that you are able to tell a joke and people get it. I know my grandson, Talon, is at this stage.

I told my first joke in Indonesian and Arabic. Usually we start every 3:00am meal with Al’hamdu lilah. I think it means something like “Thanks be to God.” In Arabic. Anyway, just to be sure I always add in Indonesian, “Thank you God and Ibu Mama and Bapak Father for the food.” One day we slept in past the first set of alarms and got up late and had to eat as fast as we could before the Morning Prayer on the loudspeakers. We didn’t talk, just ATE. At the end of the meal, I said, “Al’hamdu lilah. And thank you God for giving me lots of brother and sisters so I know how to eat fast.” My host family cracked up.

They say another sign that you’ve learned the language is that you start to dream in that language. No luck there. My dreams are so erratic here. I go for weeks with no memory of dreams and then will have a series of malaria medicine dreams which are more surreal, Technicolor and crazier than regular dreams.

Today I watched ducks being herded. After the rice is harvested from a field, or while rice is being cut down and hit on the tarp to collect the rice grains, men herd ducks in the vacant part of the field so that they can get any left over grains. The men have a long pole with plastic bags tied on the end and if the ducks go too far in any direction, they swish the pole and get them back where they want them to go. Because the ducks like to stick together, one person can herd up to about 40 - 50 ducks.

There is no growing season here. No harvest season, no hunger season, just continuous planting of crops and continuous harvesting. I think it takes 4 months for rice to grow. Some fruit is always ripe on the tree. There are certain times when some things are cheaper, so maybe certain fruits ripen at certain times, I don’t know.

And just to set the record straight… there was an earthquake yesterday! I was in the bathroom and my Ibu Mama was quite worried, “Oma, are you alright?” I feel so many little shaky things that the big ones are almost a reassurance, “Oh good, it’s not just me.”

And a shout out to all my fellow PC buddies. In big appreciation for all the photo sessions you’ve ever smiled for with strangers. One of the stories my students wrote was about her important day - the day she got her picture taken with a foreign tourist! This was the most important thing that has happened to her in her life!

You can follow the progress of Ramadan with the moon. It’s a little over half right now. When we get to a full moon it will be the middle of Ramadan. Ramadan begins and ends with the new moon so as you watch it getting smaller and smaller, the fasting days will also be coming to an end. Ramadan ends this year on my birthday – September 9… with a big world wide celebration!

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