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Snapshots of Jogja

I have been writing short reflections during our time in Jogja. Here are a few to hopefully provide more of a window into our lives here.

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Padding through dark, sleepy streets early in the morning. Awake, for once, for the call to prayer at 4:15am. Saying “sampai  jumpa,” see you later, and “termina kasih,” thank you, to my Bapak Eko, I join the droopy eyed and yawning group in waiting for a van to take us to two holy temples. Some words from Borobudur:

Stone stupas surround. Hidden Buddhas keep company. Gliding swallows, chattering tourists and guards. Looping around and around, taking time to reach the summit. Jungle fading into fog in the near distance. Angled stone pushing into my back. Extending my hand to a quiet, protected Buddha. The loops and levels are thoughtful, I carry my love for those back home up and up — holding it close at the top.

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Sitting on the floor of the dining room, popping tops of chiles off and sorting by color. My Nanek and Ibu sit with me, their busy fingers flying between the basket and separate plastic bags – red in one, green in another, and a third for the tiniest chilies.

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My face emerges from a pull over hijab, tugged by my host mom, and reminding me of when my mom used to do that for me when I was younger. Now, my Ibu is showing me how to wash and dress before sholat, prayer. I follow her movements as she prays, and am thankful to be included in this ceremony as family.

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Ucup, my ISP mentor, pulls out his own beautiful art, showing me the most delicate details and techniques, and showing me how to mimic it in my own piece. He looks thoughtfully at it, fragrant smoke twisting from both the cigarette in his hand and two sticks of incense stuck in an old coffee can on the floor. The breeze through the trees and his intermittent ukulele strumming is our music for the two hours we are together.

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Motorbikes, cars, and horse carriages whiz past us as we stand on the edge of the asphalt. We wait for a gap in the traffic, and move. I search the oncoming motorist’s face for eye contact and hold my hand out. He slows. Savanna does the same for the next lane, and we are across the rush in a few long strides.