Reading Indonesia in Ireland

Hi there. It’s been about a month since my last blog post; I’ve been doing a bit of traveling and also busy applying for a job that I really want, so the blog has taken a bit of a backseat. I’m still reading though! I’m currently spending a month in Ireland, attending three different weddings and giving the baby a chance to spend some with her grandparents and aunt over here. Before I left I tried frantically to read all the East Timor books I’d taken out from the library (with limited success–I got through The Crossing but Beloved Land and Funu proved too much for me). I returned them all with a sigh of relief last weekend, and headed off to Ireland with a bunch of the lovely Indonesian books that my in-laws bought me for Christmas. As much as I love the library, and as great as it’s been being able to source some truly obscure books that would have cost me a fortune to buy, it’s a relief to know that my current batch of novels don’t have an expiration date! I’m currently reading Desawarnana (which I did take out from the library and failed to finish before departure, but I photocopied the last few pages so I could finish them at my leisure), Blossoms of Longing (which is only available to read online via the Lontar foundation, so reading that on my computer when I have an internet connection), Max Havelaar (an actual book! that I own and can make notes in! yay!) and Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized (on kindle)–and enjoying them very much.

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Excerpt from “Beloved Land”

Although the Portuguese claimed the eastern half of the island, along with Oecusse, and divided it into separate kingdoms, this declaration reflected their aspirations on a map rather than the facts on the ground. Even in the latter half of the nineteenth century, fewer than one hundred colonists lived beyond the city, and large parts of the island were uncharted. For centuries, no one seemed particularly certain even of where the island ended.

From Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles, and Secrets from Timor-Leste
by Gordon Peake

Excerpt from “Blossoms of Longing”

0500213From the Arjunawiwaha of Mpu Kanwa

If you in the next life are a hawk
I will be dark rainclouds,
that cling to the mountains they pass over,

I will contemplate your tears
as you seek my mist,
watching intently from your perch
high on bare and leafless trees,

When you are about to swoop down on me
I will take shelter
behind a waterfall,

You will taste only my soft, moist spray;
so with the setting sun
I will take revenge for the hardness of your heart.

– from Blossoms of Longing: Ancient Verses of Love and Lament
translated from Old Javanese by Thomas M. Hunter

Apparently I’m right on trend

After my last post (an excerpt from Peter Thomson’s Kava in the Blood extolling the virtues of Fiji’s national drink) my mom drew my attention to a recent article in the New York Times: Counting on the Trendy to Revive Kava, a Traditional Drink. Apparently Kava bars are sprouting up all over the US; there are apparently 4 in the Bay Area (according to this very helpful website which lets you search for your nearest Kava bar). Unfortunately I can’t find any research about the safety of Kava consumption while breastfeeding, but 6-12 months from now I will definitely give it a try and report back.