A Cup of Wedang Uwuh Tea


C’est le weekend! I went to Erasmus Huis to return three books that I borrowed a month ago. As usual, there’s exhibition in the gallery next to the bibliotheque. This time, they are exhibiting fine works from Jeroen Hermkens, a Dutch painter. Hermkens’ oeuvres in paintings and lithographs talk about city life. He travelled big cities around the world, sketched them on the spot, and painted them later in his studio in Utrecht. That’s including Jakarta city. One cannot simply paint bajajs and craft the look into a beautiful art. But he did. In Love for the City, the exhibition book, he shared his impression about Jakarta (quoted below).

“The city made a tremendous impression. The heat, the chaotic traffic and the tropical storms for which one really must take shelter.”

I spent a day with a family. We lunched together at a downtown shopping center. That’s the first time I tried the exotic Wedang Uwuh tea. It has sour and sweet taste. It also contained ginger and clove which made my throat felt like burning. This family is very nice to me. In fact, they invited me to go with them to a wedding reception tonight. I turned it down. I expressed my deeply regret to them because I just don’t feel it right to come to a reception of people I don’t know. The mother told me this, “People should consider themselves in danger if they live in Jakarta. They can lost themselves in search for fortune. They can lose themselves in ambition and never feel satisfied. Be careful.” Her message struck me in awe.

I went home with three books I borrow from Erasmus. They’re all interesting. I picked two biographical books by H Rosihan Anwar: Sutan SjahrirTrue Democrat, Fighter for Humanity and Soedarpo Sastrosatomo Bertumbuh Melawan Arus. Rosihan Anwar is a prolific writer and I have red a book by him before. Another book I have is Zen Explorations in Remotest New Guinea: Adventures in the Jungles and Mountains of Irian Jaya by Neville Shulman. He’s sharing his story when he ventured himself to wilderness Papua and encountered the extraordinary Dani people in Baliem Valley. Though the Dani people deemed inhospitable and even stone-aged, they help Shulman in his trekking. His very mission is to reach “the two highest peaks in Australasia – Carstenz Pyramid and Ngga Pulu”.

I can enjoy the rest of the weekend with these books. Bye now, be good.