Imagine waking to the running of river water… Living along a bustling harbour… Bobbing boats and sneaky birds take their place among fishermen… The smell of savoury street food coaxes you towards overhanging banners and steaming woks… Oriental colours, cloth and culture lure the mind to a dimension of vibrance and calm…And where do you possibly find all this in one place? Well, from what I’ve heard, Indonesia comes pretty close.
But if you’re like me – someone who definitely cannot afford to travel abroad, then chances of you ever getting to experience the authentic vibe Indonesia has to offer is pretty slim. And with the South African economy rising and dramatically falling like a nervous runway model, the closest I’m ever going to get to Indonesia is through Travel and Leisure’s (not sponsored, but always open for discussion) website.
But surprise surprise! The Indonesian Consulate is literally around the corner from my house. Well, not too literally; it is based in Cape Town, Kenilworth. Literally around the corner from the Kenilworth Racecourse. And on Saturday (1 September 2018) the Consulate hosted its first Indonesia Day.
The sounds of beating drums echoed throughout the suburb and a pulsating energy of the festival grew as we drew closer. Now, given that this event took place in a posh area like Kenilworth, meant that there was absolutely no parking close by. Every neighbouring street was queued with cars – so if you’re planning on attending an event in the fancy suburbs- I suggest going with your small-student-city-car that can glide through those narrow streets with ease.So, we trekked towards the gorgeous parliament-inspired building. People were leaving, hands full of intriguing dishes and excited speech. We entered through regal gates and set foot upon a lively field…
Large white marquees stand over a lounging area strewn with plush white chairs and kids getting their faces painted.Closer to the building a brown tent covers a stage – an enthusiastic host speaks and welcomes everyone to the event. And naturally, as soon we arrived we shot straight towards the food stalls.
Fire, sizzling oils and bubbling broth… Umami smells permeate the air… Mmm delicious!My absolute favourite was the chicken satay. Oh! It was amazing! The smoky chicken cooked to perfection – juicy and tender. Served with a super spicy chilli relish. And I love spicy food, so when I say it was hot – believe me. It. Was. Hot! And of course, it wouldn’t be a satay dish without the classic peanut sauce. Simply tasty.
To add that sense of true Indonesian flair, the promoters wore traditional Indonesian garb. Fixed with gold trims, sparkly accents and vibrant colours of orange, red and yellow. Unfortunately, I was unable to meet the Indonesian Ambassador or the host of the event, but from what I could tell, they put a lot of hard work and heart into this function.
On stage, customary dances were showcased. A woman dressed in flowers, feathers and brandishing a ritual blade – entranced the audience with quick foot work. Her animated expressions synchronised with the mood of the music. Effortless grace and vigour. When we left I couldn’t stop speaking about how awesome it was! So authentic. So unique.
And it was insightful to see how much of their culture was brought, that many years ago, to Cape Town. And how we adopted it. Changed it. Molded it to suit our climate and yet… we kept true to so much of it.
From their words of ‘selamat’ and ‘tramakassie’; to their sense of dress and their taste for spice. It gives you the sense that we’re not as segregated as we believe to be. We share common ancestors and a common past. And ultimately, besides the point of the day being a fun and enriching one, I think it was more of a day of mindfulness. As we try and move forward, move away from our separated clauses of races and cultures – we need to become mindful of the cultures of others. Learning about one another is the ultimate step in bonding and will be our greatest tool moving forward as the next generation to take on the world.
I would like to give a huge ‘well done’ to the Indonesian Consulate, the Ambassador, the events co-ordinators and every single individual who worked their butts off to make that event go off without a hitch! It was amazing!
If you guys know of any other events focused on a culture not many know about, let me know in the comments below.