More specifically, Fridays are for ‘Cheers night’ at Bohara.
Ever since I can remember, Mum has been cooking a special meal every Friday. The actual meal has been through a few changes, but we’ve hit our favourite – potato chips, sausages, baked mushrooms and roast veges…followed by chocolate mousse. And it’s not just any chocolate mousse, it’s MUMS chocolate mousse. I literally go to bed dreaming about it at times.
Unfortunately, I’m in Jakarta. Even more unfortunately, all you lucky people in Australia have the long weekend to look forward to. In the meantime I’m at work, minus chocolate mousse. Australia 1, Fay….minus 500 gazillion.
I’ve been working at Mercy Corps for 3 weeks now and I’ve well and truly settled into routine. Each day I arrive (usually wet from the rain, or hot and stuffy from the pollution) and walk through the door into our well airconditioned office! My tasks during the day range from writing up contracts, to checking the grammer of my supervisor.
But earlier this week we went out to Indramayu (the region in which we are running our program). It was a long long drive there (about 5 hours). I travelled with my supervisors Aniza and Nino, along with another team member, Tati. This little group made sure our trip included a huge lunch at a warung on the way. It was one they went to each time they went to Indramayu – and it specialised in squid!!
Upon arriving in Indramayu we went straight to the office of the local ministry of agriculture. Indramayu is a windswept coastal region, and as we drove past rice fields we could see the sea in the distance. The office itself was an anomalie amongst the rice fields. Rising humbly in the middle of the fields, this little office had its windows and doors swung wide open to let the sea breeze through. As we sat down to our meeting, we were offered coffee and traditional cakes.
The following day after a few meetings and errands, we made sure to stop for lunch. This time it was goat sate. The waitress asked us if we would like fat with our sate – and my colleagues said yes – eagerly. Driving onwards, we had a meeting with the local farmers cooperative. The office was in the lovely house of one of the members. Together with the farmers, we sat in a circle on the floor and discussed the program. As the discussion drew to a close, plates and plates of food emerged from the kitchen. I was full (and a bit ill) from lunch…but Tati whispered in my ear that I had to eat – it was impolite not to). Groaning inwardly I watched helplessly as the Ibu next to me loaded my plate.
Practically rolling out the door, we headed back to our hotel for a nap before…you guessed it….dinner.
Up bright and early the next morning we met with local radio stations to discuss our media program. The head of one of the radio stations gathered us out on the veranda of his office where we finalised our plans. We needed to meet with other radio stations as well, but not to worry. The head of the radio station called them all up and invited them to join us – we didn’t have to move an inch!
With all our jobs finished, we piled in to the car and made our way back to Jakarta. My colleagues expected traffic, so before we hit the toll road we stopped for dinner…sate, AGAIN.
Sleepily sitting in the back, I wondered at the enthusiasm of my colleagues. They had literally spent three days going from meeting to meeting, criss-crossing the district and revising plans as we went. To me, it seemed like all this effort could have been saved by condensing the whole process in to emails…but maybe that’s just not how it works in Indonesia.
Face-to-face meetings still seem essential here. The value they place in the little customs of having lunch together, of seeking out the homes and offices of the people involved in the program was unconsciously demonstrated by my colleagues. When I think back to Australia, I think of efficiency and professionalism…and I’m not sure which method is best.
Which brings me back to where I started. To everyone at Bohara – all my love, and CHEERS!!! And to everyone in Australia – have a great long weekend!!