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Mrs. Havelaars travel and culture diary #2

In Cultural Context, Language Tips, Max Havelaar, Mrs Havelaar's Travel Despatch, Tina Havelaar on 18/04/2009 at 18:12
The first topeng show that little Max and I watched

The first topeng show that little Max and I watched

Max, my husband has been working hard, always in the room next to me. He is such a sweetheart, as we both do our separate writing, him his work and me my column he is always close by. It has been a lot of fun, sometimes when he begins saying a word or phrase out loud I can finish what he was about to say, it is as if we have the same mind!

Our neighbor, Mrs. Slotering who lives across the road has an annoying obsession with sending away anybody that enters the complex. It is really getting on my nerves as there is nothing in the dapur(kitchen), by the chance that a person may be coming into the complex to sell fruit and vegetables I would like be able to buy them, but I cant as she wont let anybody in. I had never known why she had everybody sent away until one afternoon when I was having tea she sent away another man, and my husband daringly confronted her asking, “Well, Mrs. Slotering, I wish you would tell me why you always send away anyone who enters the compound? Suppose, now, that man who just came in had had chickens for sale, or something else which we could do with in the kitchen?” After replying with a vague answer my husband continued to ask, it was quite amusing. All of a sudden she burst into tears! She proceeded to tell us a very interesting story that had quite a shocked effect on the both of us.

Her husband, wanting to change the laws to be just to the people had been poisoned! I immediately understood her actions and felt horrible for misunderstanding. My thoughts then turned to my husband, Max! What if he was poisoned? He is trying to do the same as Mrs. Sloterings husband did, I was frightened, and decided to strictly monitor the kitchen and food. I wasn’t going to let either of my precious Max’s be poisoned.

After the incident my husband asked me to take little Max and travel to Batavia, as he was about to bring a charge against the resident. I was extremely upset and begged him to let me stay, I wasn’t going to leave him, I was going to eat and drink with him. He gave in and we proceeded to live in the house. I became very cautious with the food that we ate and kept a locked cupboard in which we stored all of our food. Little Max and I spent our days learning Indonesian, here are a list of some of the words we have learned so far:

good-morning- salamat pagi

good-afternoon- salamat sore

good-evening- slamat malam

bye bye- selemat tinggal






rice- nasi






Besides learning Indonesian we have been enjoying the topeng shows (a traditional dance where the dancers wear masks) Max is in love with the type of music gamelan and is fascinated with the instruments. He has been begging me to buy him a reyong (one of the instruments used in the ensemble) for his birthday. I am planning to order him one in advance with his name carved in the woodwork in time for his birthday. Above is a still photograph of the first topeng show we went to, I plan on having a collection of still photographs to display once we make our way back to Holland.

Hopefully by the next column I will have more still photographs and language lessons to share, salamat tinggal!

Mrs. Havelaar


In Cultural Context, Max Havelaar, Mrs Havelaar's Travel Despatch, Tina Havelaar on 16/04/2009 at 14:13
our last sight of holland

our last sight of holland

Mrs. Havelaars travel and culture diary

When my husband, who is in the coffee business, informed me that we were going to travel to Java, I was shocked yet excited. I decided it would be a new adventure for our family, so as I agreed and my husband, son and I left for Java. I knew it was going to be a challenge, the different culture and customs of the land and people. But I was ready; I decided to create a column to send back to Holland monthly to be published in the local newspaper, so people will be able to read about Java from a different perspective other than the usual coffee traders’ articles (which usually are about coffee). Our journey was certainly an adventure, my last photograph of Holland (as seen above) is when we were about to board the ship, our first stop was Cape Town then the south of Africa, India and finally our destination, Java. Traveling with little Max was not easy, he grew restless when we were at sea for long periods of time. There was never any fresh food and I often became sea sick. I recommend to all travelers making this trip to bring crackers, I found that this helped a lot with overcoming sea sickness. We were traveling with coffee and spice traders, one of the pepper traders, Hans, was an older man who had many experiences over seas in foreign lands and at night he would entertain us all with wild stories, little Max enjoyed these. Sometimes his stories would scare us, stories of pirates and ship raids in the Indonesian waters. As we reached these waters I couldn’t help but look out for pirates, my husband thought I was being ridiculously paranoid. When we reached Java there was a large group of natives waiting for our arrival they had fruits, in woven baskets which were beautiful, and their clothing! The men wore long skirts called a sarong, the women wore these as well. Beautiful cloth, intricately woven with marvelous dyes and patterns, it was hot and humid, very different from the cold weather in Holland. We then had to travel by horse pulled carts to our new home but before Max had to have a meeting with Javanese royal members which was very tiring as I had to wait and look out for little Max and we were both restless from the long trip. Although something interesting did happen during their meeting, little Max was near the royal members and two of the men started talking in the native language, Indonesian, and looking at the top of his head. Apparently he is a royal child because he has a user-useran, a double crown of hair which in Javanese culture is meant that the owner is destined eventually to wear a royal crown. I found this to be a charming thing to learn about the culture and cannot wait to learn more, I am already quite taken with the country and am excited to share my excitement with Holland.

Letter to the Editor – Raharjo Setiawan

In Cultural Context, From the plantations, Geography on 15/04/2009 at 22:21

Let me begin by introducing myself, my name is Raharjo Setiawan. Bandung, Java is where I call home. Here I work in the government as chief. My duties include overlooking the agricultural development of the area of Bandung.

I am lucky to have such a prestigious job and one that I value very much. I came from just the village of Bandung, where I worked along side my father who devoted his heart and soul into our land. Everyday together with my father and brothers we would plough the sawah. We would use spades and dig in the gots to get water. My job allows me to try and better the lives for these people, I understand them; I know what is important to them and I know what they want and need.

However I am lucky that I no longer live this life, a life of hard work and uncertainty. These men, they never know what the future will bring. If they are given a bad crop, or if the weather does not treat them well. This could mean disaster for their family. It is a constant stress for a family.

My job offers me security as I am paid the same amount, a mixed monthly salary. This means I know what I can afford and what I cannot. I feel blessed that this is what I receive as I have heard that other chiefs are not as lucky, some are paid in other forms. Some are simply paid one large sum, in return for the work they do for the Dutch occupation. While others are paid a bonus, which is measured, depending on how much is produced in his region. Of course then there are those, who only live off what they produce. It is these men that I feel for, as they work the hardest to provide as much as they can for their family.

another idea from nakita..

In Cultural Context, From the plantations, Ideas for this blog on 23/03/2009 at 09:45

I could write from the perspective of an indonesian coffee plantation worker.

i would look at what they think of the events of the novel as well as what they think of the dutch occupation.

I will discuss how this effects the local communities.

Hot & Not List #1

In Character Development, Cultural Context, Gossip on 23/03/2009 at 09:14

Welcome readers to my ‘What’s Hot & What’s Not’ column! Keep your eye on this space as I will be giving you news on everything hot (and not!) happening in Amsterdam and Lebak, Java. Here you will find comments on everything from important events, scandalous affairs, and the little things…all the way down to what a person is wearing. If you enjoy snide comments, a bit of sarcasm, and some sweetness mixed in…keep your eyes pealed 🙂

What’s Hot:

  1. Scarfman- Our poor little writer makes it to the top of the ‘Hot’ list. Points to him for letting his creative juices flow…poems, stories, articles…keep them coming!
  2. The ‘pretty Greek Girl’- She makes it on the list solely for her hotness…anyone who becomes the fantasy of a group of drooling, adolescent boys can be on this list any day!
  3. Frits- Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to open up a package addressed to someone else…but he gets points for memorizing 5 pages of verse.
  4. Scarfman’s son- for ignoring all rules of propriety and entertaining us by offending Batavus Droogstoppel in such an amusing way. Keep it up little one!

What’s Not:

  1. Droogstoppel- STEALING Scarfman’s work to write about your coffee trade? Tsk tsk tsk. This hypocritical, self-righteous coffee broker makes it to the top of the ‘Not’ list, how long before he gets what he deserves?
  2. Droogstoppel- Though he has already made it to the top of my ‘Not’ list, he comes in 2nd to himself for running away and letting Scarfman fight his battles for him. Tell us, Droogstoppel, was the pretty Greek girl worth having someone get beaten up?
  3. Scarfman’s jacket- buttoned up to the chin? All the creativity in the world can’t save this man from the fashion police. Sounds like dear Scarfman needs a few lessons on how to dress!