Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Home sweet homestay

One of the best things about my time in Indonesia thus far, especially in contrast to the time I spent in Cambodia, is staying with members of Leslie's extended family. I am getting a much better idea of how people in Kesiman, Leslie's 'urban' village, actually live then I ever could have. A lot of the fun of this trip has been the mundane things- going to the market early in the morning (well, early for me...not so much for the women who have been up since 4am making offerings), hanging out on Leslie's living room (which, like most homes in Bali, has no walls around it and is open to the garden) making up lyrics to go with M. and D.'s banjo and guitar blues melodies, having lunch at Taman '65 (the park in Leslie's extended family compound), and, of course, the fun of taking a cold water dipper 'shower' (mondi, in Bahasa Indonesian) each morning. Here are some pictures from my homestay to give you a good idea of where I am staying and my host family. Sadly, the pictures simply can not do the beauty of my house justice, but at least you have some idea of what an upper-middle class family compound in urban Bali looks like.

Alison, fellow PhD student and homestay 'sister', and I in front of my bedroom. The living room(also open sans walls) of our house is doubling as the classroom for our class meetings being facilitated by guest lecturers.

M., one of my homestay siblings (there are three others as well) and S., my homestay mom, with Alison and I right before we went to temple for Galungan.

The entrance to my family compound.

Just inside the front gate of my family compound. The house on left is shared by the younger two children in my hosts' immediate family, and the television room/bedroom and bike storage/laundry room of two extended family members of my host family.

About five yards inside my family compound. The house with my room in it is the building on the right, far left is outdoor sink and pavilion (the one with thatched roof peeking out from behind trees on the left) where ceremonial offerings are prepped by older women in the extended family. Usually all women in family participate in these preparations, but my host mom is a police woman, and works during the day (very, very hard) and purchases some offerings and makes others. The building straight ahead in the distance (behind the trees) is where, traditionally, the oldest son stays with his immediate family. Building to the right of that is an open pavilion for ceremonies. There are a lot of ceremonies that take place within the family compound. New baby? There's a ceremony for that. New car? There's a ceremony for that. New chicken basket (single chicken 'coop'-type thing)? There's a ceremony for that. Kind of like 'there's an app for that' but much, much more complicated and time consuming for the women.

Head on view of the pavilion where many of the ceremonial offerings are made, and the woman in the extended family who is responsible for making many of the offerings. Making the offerings and prepping for ceremonies is so, so time consuming, and mandatory from what my friend P. referred to as the 'currency of guilt' standpoint: women that do not want to participate (because they want to work outside the home, because they are sick, because they are pregnant) are pressured by seeing the other women having to carry their share of the burden. Also, pressure comes from the younger women's husbands,who want to mitigate any tension between their mothers and their wives. The mothers feel/are obligated to make the offerings and maintain the temples, and then want/need their daughters-in-law to help share in the work. The sons then feel the need to put pressure on their wives to keep relationships good between himself and his mother, and his wife and his mother. This plays out in several ways. My friends T. and I. have been engaged for awhile, but are reluctant to actually tie the knot because it would obligate I. to start making offerings (an all day long process), despite the fact that I. is Javanese and not even Hindu, and the fact that she wants to continue working outside of the home. The 'culture of guilt' has tied their hands; family pressure trumps religious affiliations or personal desires. It also plays out on women's health. Leslie's computer got a nasty virus the other week right before Galungan, which involves three days of intense ceremony, and the computer tech that came over to fix it was talking about how his seven-months pregnant wife was having bleeding because she had been on her feet for so many hours making offerings with his mother. They had moved back to Bali from Java, where she did not have/feel pressured to make offerings, and he was lamenting wishing they had the money to move back because then she would not need to make the offerings, and he is terrified she is going to have a miscarriage.

This f'cking bird wakes me up every single morning at 4:30am. At least it's beautiful.

View from porch outside my bedroom.

Temples inside my family compound where their ancestors reside during Galungan.

View from my next door neighbor's balcony at sunset.

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