Two Thursdays ago, the rain stopped long enough for me to walk down to the Kotagede 'Aisyiyah Musholla in the early afternoon. There is a pre-school next to it and as the children were leaving I spoke with some of the teachers who work for 'Aisyiyah also. I was invited to observe the afternoon prayer and as I settled in, to my surprise, men walked in! Typically in articles this musholla described as being "khusus wanita" or a special women's musholla. Five men, however, were certainly praying in the front of the musholla as a few ladies prayed behind them. After prayer, I was invited to eat lunch with the teachers- rice, fried fish and vegetables- and I told them a little bit about my work. I made plans to return the next day with my translator, Linda, to do a proper interview and figure more about when this musholla
On Friday I was up bright and early and went to one of the community leader's houses to get their signature on my domicile letter needed by immigration. I got their stamp easily enough but still had to go to one more location, the kelurahan or official office of the kampung. Unfortunately they weren't open when I arrived at 7:30 and since I had to be somewhere by 8:30 I couldn't stay. So I hopped on a Gojek and I started a little weekend of sight-seeing! Although I have seen a lot of the tourist spots in Yogyakarta and the surrounding areas, I was kind of sad that I probably wouldn't have the chance to see some of the places again during this trip. Serendipitously, a friend of mine who had done the summer program I did a couple years after me had a sister who was going to be in town for the weekend and asked me to get in touch with her. Here's the funny thing- as I made plans over Facebook to meet Kayla at the Kraton and sight see a little, it didn't even dawn on me that sometimes people meet up and don't get along at all and DON'T want to hang out. I was right to not worry because we had a ton to talk about and a lot of fun! I am so glad she stopped by Yogyakarta on her way home from a year in South Korea! We met at the Kraton, the palace of the Sultan of Yogyakarta, and walked around the grounds. We spoke to some of the employees there and listened to some men sing but unfortunately since it was Friday (Jummah) there would be no gamelan performance. Because it is the off season, there were very few people there which allowed us to take our time and really check everything out. Of course, when we first arrived I had a couple people try to talk me into going in through a "side entrance" and to take a "special batik workshop" but I knew that was a little scam to spend my money and NOT get to see the Kraton so I declinded politely in Indonesian. Here are a few pictures from the Kraton:
|Me in a hijab. The ladies told me I looked Pakistani. The ladies at the other musholla said I looked Arab- well in fact, I am!|
For the rest of Friday and most of Saturday I battled getting sick. Several people in my home here have had a cough/flu and although I had been washing my hands diligently and taking probiotics and vitamins I had a sore throat and an awful headache. Kayla and I had plans to go to Malioboro street- the big shopping street in Yogyakarta- and then the Ramayana Ballet at Prambanan Saturday night. I rested a lot of Saturday and took meds and then felt great by the early evening. Malobioro is a busy street with tons of stores and vendors selling souvenirs. We walked all along one side and she finished getting some gifts for her family. There were such cute things but I resisted buying anything since there would be plenty of time to do that toward the end of my trip. I did see some items for sale that definitely stood at as NOT Indonesian:
I hope no foreigner buys these and rushes to their home country, showing these off as authentic Indonesian cultural items!
We were trying to figure out what to eat for dinner before we went to Prambanan and actually thought it'd be fun to try- of all things- McDonalds! She hadn't eaten McDonalds in over a year and since I don't normally eat that at home it had been ages for me, to. It was super busy in there and the menu definitely had some different items- spicy chicken, samball dispensers instead of ketchup- but it wasn't bad considering.
Then we took a Go-Car all the way to Prambanan, a 9th century Hindu temple, to watch the Ramayana Ballet. Back in 2013 I attended this also, but since it was not the rainy season then the stage was outside with Prambanan as the backdrop and at one point the dancers began setting the stage on fire! This time, we were inside in a very nice theater with a roof but only one wall in front of Prambanan with comfortable seats. Our tickets sat us right in the center front so we had a fabulous view of the traditional performance (not ballet as you would imagine it but beautiful dancing). The performance had beautiful costumes, hilarious parts, great acting, live gamelan music (which I could appreciate even more now that I had taken those gamelan classes back in Wisconsin) and I am so glad I was able to go. During intermission the views of Prambanan were gorgeous.
I got home quite late on Saturday night so on Sunday I laid low and did some reading and research. I figured out there is a little open air restaurant/coffee shop less than a quarter mile from my house and I went there to read and have a strawberry squash. Unfortunately the open-air setting also attracts lots of smokers so once a pair of smokers sat next to me I lasted only a little bit longer before I went back home.
On Monday I went to UGM and met with an ASU professor who also teaches at CRCS (Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies) and whose books on Java played have played an important role in my studies. He gave me plenty of advice for my fieldwork and writing and it was very helpful meeting. I also successfully visited the IT department and got my computer and phone set up for the UGM internet. After this I attempted to deliver one of my SPP letters (from Kementarian Dalam Negeri) to the governor's office. I arrived there by Gojek and the police guards showed me where to go but ultimately I found out I was in the wrong place entirely. I returned to the police guards and asked for directions for the right office, Kesbangpol, and the police officers felt so bad for me that one of them gave me a ride on a motorcycle to the office- after I took a group picture with the guards! I arrived at the Kesbangpol office and was shown to the right area where I was told that before I could give them the letter I actually needed to deliver the other letter to the police headquarters, get a permit from them, and then come back to Kesbangpol with other documents like my research permit from RISTEK, my proposal, etc. Before I left the employees asked me to take a picture with them!
From here I rushed over to my new research site, another Musholla 'Aisyiyah, and met my translator there. This was our first time attending and the gate around it was locked. We talked someone who was sweeping and she not only let us in but called one of the leaders who walked over from her house! This Musholla was exactly what I was looking for...but I won't go too much into detail- you can read my dissertation for that. We recorded a brief interview with her about the building and she told us that today was a great day to visit because on the 12th of every month the elderly women of the community gather to receive donations from the organization. Sure enough women began arriving on bicyles, motorbikes and on foot and we all sat on carpets on the musholla veranda. Everyone was very friendly to each other and to us and the female imam gave a brief sermon. After her sermon she asked us to summarize some of the points she made- her sermon discussed five ways to stay happy- and she asked me to answer one! I reiterated her advice to not let anxiety overcome you (something back in the US I battle every day) and I won a prize- an 'Aisyiyah calendar! After the short sermon, two kilos of beras (uncooked rice) and money were passed out to each elderly women. My translator and I made plans to return on Thursday for the Magrib prayer and to join the women as they broke their Thursday fast together.
On Tuesday I went back to the Kelurahan and waited only a little bit before I was helped. My letter was stamped and signed and I had to run down the street to get a copy made and bring back the copy. While I got the one copy I also made copies of my passport, proposal, and research permit in case future offices required them. Then I went to my favorite hang out, the immigration office (attempt number 3) and presented them with my folder including the signed domicile letter (the reason I was sent away last time) only to be told that I needed to include the second page of my TELEKS document and not just the first. I guess the second page is sitting in the UGM printer because I didn't realize I didn't have it! So, I had to give up for the day and go home and print the right paper.
Later that day I was randomly checking my bank account when I saw that $250 was charged to my debit card on a website that sells discount gift cards. Zack and I had no idea who charged it he called our bank and of course someone was fraudlently using my debit card number. They had charged the intial $250 and were already trying to charge another $250 in gift cards. The bank reversed those charges and deactivated my card completely. This put me in quite a bind considering I'm in a foreign country for another month and need my debit card for ATM withdrawals. The bank was worried they wouldn't be able to get me a replacement card in time in Indonesia and we figured out that we could do cash withdrawals from our debit card without incurring a fee if we just replenished the money within 24 hours. It seemed like the crisis was averted for the time being.
Wednesday morning I left the house bright and early and went straight to the immigration office (#5 visit) and presented my blue folder. I had everything! But, I was told, I needed to now long onto the immigration website, give my TELEKS and passport number, log on, receive a confirmation email that I had logged on, print out the confirmation email and give it to the immigration office. I do not know why this is such a mysterious process or why the immigration office felt l could only handle one task at a time and would only tell me in steps what I needed to bring them over the period of two weeks!
Luckily one of the ICRS employees who has been very helpful to me was there and he said I should be able to print the confirmation email out at a photocopy shop nearby. I called a GoJek and for the first time had a total GoJek fail. I didn't go to the shop I had requested because he kept missing the turn (even with Google maps in front of him) so first he took me to a shop that was closed, then he took me to a shop that couldn't print from email, and just as I was about to lose it he took me to a big shop where I could get computer access. At this point, with all this running around, however, it was 9:40am and the immigration office wouldn't could only help me from 8am-10am.
From here I went back to UGM for the Wednesday forum and listened to a really interesting presentation about an organization that sends young people to live in Jakarta for three weeks with families of different religions to foster tolerance. After, I went home and walked to the nearest ATM to draw out cash for the week using my credit card now that my debit card is no good. I tried a few times but kept getting an error...of course it was the middle of the night in the US so there was nothing I could to besides admit to the third mini-catastrophe of the day.
That afternoon, however, I had the chance to do something kind of different. The kampung that I live in has monthly meetings for the women in the community and my host here invited me to attend. There was a lot of delicious food and tea, I introduced my self, and there were prize drawings and mini-presentations. New residents were welcomed with a gift and plans were made for the next meeting. It was fun seeing all of the women in the co mmunity gathered, some with small children, about 80% Muslim and 20% Christian or other, all participating in the community. My neighborhood back in Arizona is new and we barely talk to each other much less hang out!
On Thursday I left the house at 8am, determined to draw out the money for my payment to immigration (because on top of everything- paying for the visa, paying RISTEK, I also have to pay immigration). Zack had talked to the bank overnight and they assured him that the ATM should work for me. They were...WRONG! It didn't work. I tried a couple times and then my mobile hotspot via my Indonesian phone stopped working so I had no choice but to walk back home. Zack got back on the phone with the bank and they suggsted I find a way to be on the phone with him while he's on the phone with them while I go to the ATM and walk them through what happened. This was impossible- I couldn't walk the half mile to the ATM just to lost internet and not be able to talk to anyone. Besides, the ATM I am using is not THEIR ATM, it is an Indonesian bank that uses Visa (most do not) and it's not like banks work where every time someone tries to draw money out there's someone in real time approving each request. I was getting SO FRUSTRATED. I even walked to another ATM to make sure I wasn't getting a technical error from the ATM itself and still had no luck. Then I had to walk back home. At one point I just had to tell Zack that he needed to emphasize that his wife was in a FOREIGN COUNTRY with NO MONEY and that they needed to figure it out! All of these ATM attempts later (I'm lucky the ATM didn't eat my card) and it was already too late for me to even go to immigration so my entire morning was wasted. And I still had no money except a little bit go get me places by Go-Jek.
The day DID get better, however. I went to my research site and talked to some of the women for a while before my translator arrived. Then we were all served a plate of food (the women fast on Mondays and Thursdays and meet to break their fast at sundown). Then the women prayed in the musholla while I observed. I got some GREAT pictures that I would love to share but I am saving them for the appendices of my dissertation. Everyone then ate more food- since I hadn't been fasting I a was already so full- and we talked to the women about my project and the possibility of interviewing some of them. One of the women wanted to be interviewed right then! We recorded the interview but from now on we are going to do one-on-one interviews because translating and recording can get difficult when others join in with the answers. Being there that evening, however, was like finally experiencing exactly what I had come all the way to Indonesia for and it was extremely motivating. I immediately went home, upoaded and saved pictures and recordings, and wrote everything I could in my research notes for later coding.
On Friday I tried the ATM again and finally it worked! I went from there to immigration (trip #6) and wonder of all wonders, my blue folder and passport were accepted! I have to pay the fee and return next week to take a photo and scan my fingerprints. Then a few days after that I will get my passport back with my KITAS and MERP (limited stay permit and multiple exit re entry permit). Finally, success! From there I went to the musholla where we were told an imam would be giving a sermon that morning. I was surprised to see a male imam who gave a sermon about preparing for Ramadan (sixty-some days away) and the proper movements for prayer. The sermon gave me a lot to think about in terms of blessings/rewards in Islam and there may be a paper to be written in the future about it...
This brings me to today, Saturday, which was lovely. I took a nap, I went to the coffee shop and had an iced mocha, I started my book, I waited for the rain (which started about two hours ago and has not let up).
I've hit the halfway mark! It's bittersweet because although I miss my family, I have so much to do here in such a short time that the countdown is as stressful as it is exciting.
Other random photos from this week:
|Cigarette ad- NEVER QUIT, but also, you may die.|
|People are willing to transport anything on motorbikes.|
|A very large, very green grasshopper.|
|Chicken hearts. I had one.|
|Fried grasshoppers. I abstained.|