Tanks for the memory
This is the season for weddings in Indonesia. Festivities are best completed before the fasting month of Lebaran
, or Ramadhan
, which starts next month. Unlike the scenes portrayed in Hugh Grant films
, weddings here are decorous affairs, not least because most guests skip the mosque or church service and head straight for the reception.
Batik shirts are de rigueur
for men and their spouses generally dress up in their 'traditional' finery and their most glittery gold. Upon arrival, after signing the guest book with a coloured felt tip pen, an envelope containing as much as seems appropriate is slipped into a box in a process similar to local elections. One nods, smiles and shakes hands with the guards or maids of honour at the doorway and then joins an exceedingly long line in order to pay homage to the inner circle of the bride and groom arranged in a row on a raised dais at the far end of the hall.
This formal processing has its separate protocol, which I invariably get wrong. The bride's father and mother, or matron of honour, are the first to be greeted. Their hands are extended as in Christian prayer, but forwards. They, the hands, part slightly and the guests slip their right hand in between whilst placing the left on the outside over the outside hand of the greeter. I either cover both hands or slip both into the sandwich.
Next in line are the groom and bride followed by the other set of parents. Brothers and sisters may also be on display. A few greetings are exchanged, such as Selamat bahagia
~ Wishing you happiness, and then you leave the dais, hopefully without tripping over. There's usually a photographer on hand if you do. Once these formalities are complete, there's a mad dash for the food. Inveterate guests can manage three or four weddings in an evening, thus cutting down on food bills.
I tend to be cynical about local weddings because I may be the token bule
, invited to add a little colour (white) and perceived prestige to the event. But not last night. This was the wedding of the daughter of our next door neighbour, so virtually all the local community was there.
The venue was the grounds of the Museum Satria Mandala, the Armed Forces Museum, in Jalan Gatot Subroto. Inaugurated by the late President Soekarno in 1972, this museum was originally the home of Soekarno's fifth wife. It showcases the history of the Indonesian Armed Forces and its involvement in the fight for the nation's sovereignty. Among its collection are weapons, artillery, armors, military aircraft and uniforms, some dating back to 1945. Vivid dioramas provide more graphic illustration. History buffs might like to browse the library and check out the films in stock.
It was not the Army Museum in Yogyakarta I linked to yesterday, but their website
is still worth a visit.
We went with friends and neighbours, another mixed-marriage, so our kids could share the delights of the site and sights. Having navigated the greeting line, we looked down on an area with a discreetly lit mini-lake, fairy lights draped in the trees and encircled with tables laden with the food. Wow, we thought, an al fresco
wedding. And, a genuine surprise this, wafting over the crowd was a selection of really classy jazz such as Johnny Hartman
and Mark Murphy
We paid our respects to the family, and to our kid who'd joined the end of the line. The catering was exemplary so I didn't make my usual inappropriate quip about troughs, the ice sculptures were pleasing in a Barbara Hepworth
fashion and we stayed longer than usual.
As we left, our kids wanted to play with the weaponry on display and we realised that the car park is one of the largest open spaces in Jakarta. What a suitable venue we thought.
Jakartass wishes all newly-weds long and fruitful relationships.
As all mine have been.