Sunday, May 19, 2013

Simply Sunday - part one - My Asian experience



When Kelvin asked to write about our Asian experience over at dVerse,  I was not sure what exactly I wanted to write about. I have been here in the US for about 15 years now and having stayed in the San Francisco Bay Area for all that time, I have to say that we have not faced any discrimination considering this area is a melting pot of cultures and has its own mini-Indias, China towns, and more everywhere.  Questions from the rare few who still think of India as a land of ‘only’ snake-charmers and cows despite all the Indian professionals here is the only thing I can think of which can be defined as mildly discriminating. So I decided to write about my own Asian experience outside India – in Indonesia - my dad worked there for many years on beautiful Sumatra and I have visited twice - once when I was just out of school, and then years later, after I moved to the US, with my own family - my DH and children.



Tidak Masala - A Philosphy

‘Tidak masala’, the driver said (1)
The car was out of fuel, the engine dead
Seemed like we were
In the middle of nowhere
Seemed like he should worry
But he was in no hurry
The calm he projected was inborn
Seen in almost every one, old or new-born
A calm I wished for then and even do now
I need to ask them just one question, “How?”

Friendly smiles, open minds greeted me everywhere
Greetings of “Namaste, I am a Disco Dancer” was not rare (2)
Bollywood was much loved, you see (3)
As well as stars of hey-day Hindi movies
Likened to the star Mithun was my brother (4)
(A more unlikely Mithun I have to yet find another)
I remember being told, “Hema must be a relation” (5)
And I said, “No, I am just from the same nation”

Friendly natives, sometimes over-zealously so
Like the 60-year old at the shoe toko
He told my dad, “you have a bagus daughter, (6)
And I am in need of a wife.” Of course, my father
refused – I was just out of school, all of 20 years old
We said to the store-owner, “terima kasih for all you sold” (7)
And waved goodbye as he said in good humor
“tidak masala, I will find another!”

All in all, both my visits to that fair country
Have left me with an abundance of good memories
Beauty in the land, and in spirit
What it did teach me was this lesson indeed
For a home away from home – you may only need
The feeling of being safe, loved, cherished, and needed.

1 Tidak masala - a phrase in Indonesian I often heard during my visits - this means - does not matter - and seems to be a philosphy of life, at least in the town where my father worked
2 Namaste - hello; 'Disco Dancer' - in this context, refers to a Bollywood movie of years ago
3 Bollywood - India's very own Hollywood
4 Mithun - in this context, refers to Mithun Chakraborty, an Indian film star 
5 Hema - in this context, refers to Hema Malini,  an Indian film star
6 bagus - in Indonesian, means - good, pretty, beautiful
7 terima kasih - in Indonesian, means - thank you

6 comments:

  1. very cool write...you have some really nice rhyme and rhythm going on...i like the kinda off swipe at your brother...another unlikely...smiles...lots of cool ref in this this...and i am glad your experience has been a positive one as well..like your teaching on the home away from home as well...smiles.

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  2. Nice one.....may all think like this

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  3. You cover many cultures in one poem as well as their interrelation. Well done.Their 'no worries' attitude is indeed enviable. My dad used to say that they had instilled it in me. Sadly that didn't last.These days I could worry for England :-)

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  4. i smiled at the driver not worrying when he runs out of gas in the middle of wilderness...just a few days we were talking about how relaxed the asian people are..ha...cool story telling

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  5. ...ah... that hakuna matata feel is so present here.... and i just learned new realizations to ponder today as i head my way off to work... i think you provide the most interesting lesson for this segment of poetics... excellent! thank you and namaste. ... smiles...

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  6. You know - if I did not know that you were writing about Indonesia, your poem could easily be set in the Philippines. You are right when you said that our poem topics are almost the same. I am glad about your positive experience of Asia outside from your own country. I hope that the people we wrote about remain the same. :-)

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Love to hear from you! I do read all your comments and do reply whenever I can.. but I will definitely hop on over to visit you...