Nov 29, 2015

Pulang Kampuang

It has been 15 years since the last time I visited West Sumatra. I could barely recall the interactions I had with most of my relatives there at the time somehow, but I still do have some vivid memories about some places; like how the neighborhood looked like, where I used to go fishing, or where my cousins and I usually bought snacks. Good times, as far as I can remember.

Therefore, when my parents asked whether I would like to join them Pulang Kampuang1--road-trip, mind you--the answer was no-brainer.

Finally back just few days ago, I believe it's safe to say that it was the most unforgettable trip for many reasons. At least, there are three.

..

First and foremost, THE FOOD!

Most of Indonesians know too well about a West Sumatra traditional song that describes our feelings towards our beautiful homeland which is far-far away (Kampung nan Jauah di Mato2), and, not to mention, the infamous one about one's grieve of losing chicken (Ayam Den Lapeh3)--I, too, wonder why. Even so, the two make a big hit somehow.

And yet what most of us (I, myself, included) didn't know is that there are actually dozens of our songs that talk about our food; Bareh Solok, Salalauak, Katupek Gulai Paku, Lompong Sagu, Kue Mangkuak, Karupuak Sanjai, Kue Sarabi, Sate Piaman, and many others.

Clearly, there's a reason why.

Serving food, Minang way

My favorite Salalauk at Garegeh

It's not because of the quality nor the variety of the food per se that makes the people of West Sumatra very proud of their cuisine. Actually, the culture itself also allows the food to play a central role in the social interaction. A good example to illustrate that is what my dad commented about the people in his village back in the day; that it is embarrassing for them if they cannot serve their guest with a full proper meal, especially if it is a close relative.

Though some people no longer hold on to the tradition nowadays, nevertheless I still observe it from the families which my parents and I visited. Of course, nobody was disappointed. If you know what I mean.

On this point of food, I remember a good friend who, one day, made an interesting point, "each and everyone of us has a currency. Yours, allegedly, is food!"

Being a Minang by blood, I agreed. Assuredly.

THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE..

It is undeniably spectacular as it is varied. Eyes are pleased, while photos can never do it justice.

I tried anyway..

Jam Gadang, Bukittinggi
Bukit Barisan, Bukittinggi

Gunung Merapi, Bukittinggi
Batu Limbak, Danau Singkarak
Istana Basa Pagaruyuang, Batusangkar
Puncak Lawang, Kabupaten Agam
Lembah Harau, Nagari Harau
Tarusan Kamang, Nagari Kamang Mudiak

And, on a more serious note, THE LESSONS.

Some places we go for the food, some others for the scenery. Having both reasons in one destination is something, and yet to share that experience with our loved ones gives a whole new meaning.

On being appreciative, particularly towards parents..

The decision to road-trip was the paramount factor why the trip was special. It took us three days and two nights to get to West Sumatra, which gave us plenty of time to talk through many things; about how things worked back in the day, how it influenced my parents' childhood experiences (my most favorite part), and even some hopes we have in this life in the future.

I discovered a lot of new things about my parents through their stories and even through the way they share them. I found that there is much food for thought in understanding of who my parents (and even grandparents) were and are.

Above all, realizing that the decisions they have ever made actually pretty much shapes me and my perspective, helps me to be more appreciative about what I have in life.

May God reward our parents, and may He make us all among the grateful.

"Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return."

It was Saturday and there were six of us--my uncle, my aunt, my cousin, my mom, my dad, and myself--who were just about to have a breakfast together. We were all smiles that morning, and yet in a matter of hours, forget about smiling, there wasn't even a dry eye in the house. My uncle had a cardiac arrest and passed away.

Just a bit about my uncle, Om Wawoh, he was very beloved to the whole family and will surely be missed. May God grant him paradise and reunite us all there.

Looking back, I think the lessons I've learned in the past few years has been constant; that no individual is in full control of all things, and that the time that each and every one of us has is limited. I feel like I knew that full well. Apparently, that doesn't change the fact that the death of our beloved one is a hard pill to swallow.

Obviously, the trip ended in a way that was no where near my expectations, still I found that it was one of the best reminders I have ever had. Witnessing someone--not to mention, one who is near and dear--breathed his last breathe instantaneously just shook me to the core. It was, by all means, impossible to be forgotten.

Lastly, may God make it easy for us to be more appreciative to what we have.


Footnotes
1. (literally) Pulang: go (back) home; Kampuang: hometown
2. I found that this link translates the whole lyric pretty well.
3. Read the full lyric here. It is one of the most interesting and (to me) intriguing song there is. I even asked my parents whether Minang people--probably back in the days, who knows--have so much love for chicken. My mom responded with laughter, while my dad answered with a joke. I suppose it remains a mystery.