Interview with Jamie Stern

‘My presence on the TIP board is a step towards bringing Indo youths together.’

Jamie Stern, a third generation Indo, born in 1987 in Santa Monica, California where she still lives. Her Indo roots come from her mother who was born in Semarang, Indonesia in 1958. After Jamie’s mother’s birth, her family repatriated to The Netherlands where they spent four years before immigrating to the United States in 1962. Jamie is currently finishing her Masters degree in Cultural Geography. For the past five years she has worked as an aviation meteorologist and serves as a board member for The Indo Project (TIP); an international nonprofit organization that promotes Indo history and culture in the English language. I speak with Jamie about TIP and the ethnographic research to ‘fully describe what has happened to the Indos and where they are today; geographically as well as within society’.

Jamie Stern (c) Jamie Stern

A rich mixed heritage
Jamie is TIP’s geography academic and one of their researchers. As the youngest member on the board, she explains to me that she reaches out to other young Indos. Jamie: ‘Though being Indo often means having a very rich mixed heritage, mine is further mixed by the fact that I am half Indo. My other half is Jewish from my father’s side, though I most closely identify with the Indos and regard myself as an Indo-American.’ Being half Indo is not something Jamie likes to point out because she feel like it diminishes the value of being Indo. However, this is a point that some third and fourth generation Indos in the U.S. become stuck on. Jamie explains: ‘In their eyes, they see that they are only half or only a quarter Indo and therefore do not belong. This is not true!’

The value is to unify our Indo culture by providing an organized legitimate academic source of information that can be used to stimulate further marginalization through generalization.

Why the research?
The research is being conducted with two goals in mind. First of all, it is the final research required for Jamie’s Masters degree. Jamie: ‘It will preserve a standing document in academia that makes available a plethora of statistical and subjective information about the U.S. Indo population.’ Second, it will be available through TIP as a research document for the entire Indo community and global community at large as an opportunity to perpetuate Indo awareness. Jamie: ‘The value is to unify our Indo culture by providing an organized legitimate academic source of information that can be used to stimulate further marginalization through generalization.’ For Jamie it is important to take on the responsibility of documenting the unique Indo culture and preserving it for future generations.

Jamie: ‘Another piece of interesting information coming from the survey – and something to have pride in – are the Indos’ educational accomplishments. Both second and third generations surpass the U.S. national average with Masters and advanced professional degrees.’

Research results so far
At this moment almost nine hundred people from all over the world have completed the research survey. Jamie tells a little bit about the results so far: ‘In the U.S. forty-five percent of the survey responses have come from third-generation Indos. This clearly indicates a surge in heritage and cultural interest by our younger community. Our third generation is very interested in learning more about their heritage but one issue is the language barrier.’ Almost sixty-five percent of this group learned English as their first language. Only five percent of those individuals went on to learn Dutch. This means that sixty percent of them cannot understand the Dutch documentaries on the Indo experience. Jamie adds to this: ‘Almost seventy percent of the third-generation English-speaking group said that they would love to be able to read books and watch films and documentaries about the Indo experience. This brings to surface the necessity for our younger Indo generations to have information accessible in English*.’

My presence on the TIP board is a step towards bringing Indo youths together, sort of bridging the gap that currently exists.

Connected through food
The last subject we discuss is how U.S. Indo youths meet each other typically through family and friends, and through the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Jamie: ‘There are no organizations or clubs that I know of in California or in the U.S. that specifically target Indo youths. My presence on the TIP board is a step towards bringing Indo youths together, sort of bridging the gap that currently exists.’ How Indo youths connect to their heritage seems to be somewhat universal, Jamie: ‘Eighty-nine percent of the younger Indos reported that they felt connected through food and meals, and also through family gatherings and listening to stories from their grandparents.’

The Indo Project (c) Jamie Stern

* Right now, a documentary is a major goal and very high on TIP’s priority list. In order to accomplish this as a non-profit organization, they need more funding. 

Jamie: ‘We are seeking funding sources such as foundations or corporations in the U.S. or the Netherlands. Another priority for funding is to find the money to translate material from Dutch into English. It is sad that there is a wealth of information available in the Dutch language and hardly any in the English language that would help Indo youth to find out more about their heritage. If any of the Indisch 3.0 readers can help in finding funding or professional translation, please contact me via jamies@theindoproject.org.’

Nazi Mania, ‘Hidden’ Jews & the unintended consequences of the Dutch in Indonesia

Video still taken from the Empire Indonesia film. Permadi watches one of his soldiers sing a German song. Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill, 2011
Kel O'Neill (center) and Eline Jongsma (right). (c) The Empire Project
Kel O’Neill (center) and Eline Jongsma (right). (c) The Empire Project

The filmmakers behind the Empire project on why colonialism still matters

It takes a moment before the reality of modern-day Jakarta catches up with our research-oriented minds. Stimuli upon stimuli rush by our car window: skyscrapers, traffic, shopping malls, billboards, neon. We’re enduring this urban assault for a single night; tomorrow we’ll be thrown back into the past when we fly to the fog-filled rice paddies of the Minahasa region in North Sulawesi to start filming our documentary.

It’s early 2011 and we’ve come to Indonesia in search of a Rabbi and a Nazi. This colorful pair, should we find them, are poised to be the lead characters in the latest chapter of Empire, our global documentary project. Empire is an ongoing investigation into the unintended consequences of Dutch colonialism. Rather than focusing on physical remains like forts or shipwrecks, we look at the human-scale side effects of colonial domination. Colonies were formed to generate profit for the colonizing country, but they yielded unexpected results in the form of hybrid cultures, convoluted religious practices, and new ethnicities. All of the work in Empire arises from a pressing question: if residue from the Dutch colonial endeavor is still impacting our lives today, what can that tell us about the future effects of today’s global capitalism?

There are many other ‘hidden’ Jews in Indonesia

We find the Ohel Yaakov synagogue tucked away behind a volcano in the middle of Minahasa. The synagogue is really just a small room covered by a red roof, which makes it look like a gnome’s house between the overwhelming tropical green that surrounds us. We’re here to talk with Yaakov Baruch, the young Indonesian responsible for revitalizing the Jewish community in North Sulawesi—and all of Indonesia, as there are almost no practicing Jews in the country. Yaakov tells us that he inherited his Jewish lineage through his Dutch ancestors. He claims that there are many other ‘hidden’ Jews in Indonesia, but that many are unaware of their heritage.

Video still taken from the Empire Indonesia film. Yaakov contemplates life in front of a giant Menorah. North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Credit: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill, 2011
Video still taken from the Empire Indonesia film. Yaakov contemplates life in front of a giant Menorah. North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Credit: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill, 2011

Yaakov Baruch is not a real name. Although he is willing to show his face on camera, Yaakov is trying to keep a somewhat low profile to avoid conflict. Judaism is not one of Indonesia’s six government-approved religions, and Indonesians are no strangers to violent outbursts of religious intolerance. Yaakov’s assumed name not only keeps him safe, but it also allows him to engage in a type of identity theater. By embracing his Jewish ancestry and religious practice, he flaunts his difference from the majority. Bullied as a child, he now uses his paler skin and vaguely Caucasian features to his advantage. ‘I’m proud,’ he says.

The glorification of whiteness takes an interesting turn

Even though Yaakov was ridiculed for his looks, fair skin seems to be admired everywhere we go in the country. There are skin-whitening ads on TV during every commercial break, and pop stars (male and female) look as white as lilies. Even our Indonesian artist friends avoid the sun at all costs. People assure us this has nothing to do with wanting to look ‘European’ but when we return to Java to meet our second subject, Permadi, the glorification of whiteness takes an interesting turn.

Video still taken from the Empire Indonesia film. Permadi watches one of his soldiers sing a German song. Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill, 2011
Video still taken from the Empire Indonesia film. Permadi watches one of his soldiers sing a German song. Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill, 2011

HS Permadi is a tall, energetic Indonesian in his late 30’s. We track him down in a large park outside Jakarta, where he runs a war re-enactment group called the “Niederlande Kampfgruppe” (Netherlands Battle Group). Permadi and his men get together every other weekend to dress up as Dutch Waffen SS soldiers and act out historic battle scenes. According to Permadi, the Niederlande Kampfgruppe’s war games are based on the lives of about 20 Indonesians who signed up for the Dutch Waffen SS while living in occupied Holland during WWII. Permadi’s men start their practice days by gearing up from head to toe in Nazi drag. Attention to detail is everything: their uniforms even feature a Dutch flag on one arm.

Video excerpt of the Empire film from Indonesia.

Empire: 5°00′ N 120°00′ E excerpt from EMPIRE PROJECT on Vimeo.

Guessing that Permadi is avenging his forefathers for everything the Dutch did to the country, we ask him about his motives. His answer couldn’t be further from our expectations. Permadi explains that he admires the Europeans, and believes that Indonesians didn’t have a real civilization before the Dutch presence. To him, the Nazis represent the apex of European sophistication. They are a force to be studied and admired.

Indonesians didn’t have a real civilization before the Dutch presence

Others seem to agree. We ask the wife of one of the soldiers if she prefers her husband in a Nazi uniform or in an Allied Forces uniform. She says she likes the Nazi uniform because “It’s sexier!’ After our encounter with the “Niederlande Kampfgruppe” we start noticing a certain Nazi-mania in Jakarta: posters on the street feature Hitler’s portrait; cars are adorned with (non-Buddhist) swastika decals.

We are somewhat shaken by our encounter with Permadi and his men, in part because we have so much fun with them. It’s a blast to run around in the jungle, playing war—or war film director as the case may be. When Yaakov visits us on one of our last days in Jakarta, we feel the need to confess to him exactly who we’ve been spending our time with.

Yaakov’s eyes widen when we tell him about Permadi and his group of Nazi’s. There is a pause, which we take as a sign of discomfort. Finally, he speaks.

“Do they need a Jew to chase?” he asks.

Yaakov is serious, but the meeting never comes together.

Ancillary video journalism piece made from rest material of the Empire film. Sold to the VJ Movement.

The Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship

De BSBI 2012 afgevaardigden voor het Gedung Pancasila gebouw waar voorheen de volksraad zat. (c) Rennie Roos/ Indisch 3.0 2012

Rennie zit voor langere tijd in Indonesië. Hij doet daar voor Indisch 3.0 in het Engels verslag van zijn dagelijkse beslommeringen – zodat zijn Indonesische studievrienden het ook kunnen volgen.

If we look at the current situation in the western world, Indonesia is often depicted in a negative way. If we, for example, visit theDutch news website www.nos.nl and enter “Indonesië” in the search bar, you will come across bus accidents, earthquakes, crashed planes, terrorists and the Dutch parliament not wanting to sell tanks to Indonesia because they could be used to violate human rights. If you combine these negative news reports with the current fear of Islam, the logical outcome is a negative image for the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

De BSBI 2012 afgevaardigden voor het Gedung Pancasila gebouw waar voorheen de volksraad zat. (c) Rennie Roos/ Indisch 3.0 2012
De BSBI 2012 afgevaardigden voor het Gedung Pancasila gebouw waar voorheen de volksraad zat. Rennie staat in het midden. (c) Rennie Roos/ Indisch 3.0 2012

So how does a country like Indonesia promote itself and work on its bilateral relationships at the same time? Every year, they invite 50 talented youngsters from all over the world and give them the opportunity to live and study in Indonesia for a period of three months. During those three months, the Indonesian government hopes to create 50 new ambassadors that will help improve the image of Indonesia in their respective home countries.

Kita harus bangga! Mereka datang dari jauh untuk belajar budaya kita! / “We should be proud! They come from far to study our culture!”- Teacher SMA Muhammadiyah 2 (Surabaya)

It must be said that the Indonesian government is doing everything they can to make us feel comfortable in our new surroundings. From the moment I got off the plane at Soekarno-Hatta airport I was treated like a celebrity. Along with the participant from India I was picked up at the gate, escorted through immigration and brought to our hotel in the heart of Jakarta by our private chauffeur. During our first week in Jakarta the organization impressed us by introducing us to several leaders from varies sectors. From the Foreign Minister to the famous novelist Andrea Hirata, we were being introduced to political leaders, CEO’s and cultural leaders. All in order so that we could see Indonesia from different perspectives.

 The government only wants to show us the bright side of Indonesia.

I can say that the tactic of the Indonesian government is working quite well because we were all impressed by what we have seen. However, the fact that our trip to Monas was canceled due to demonstrations against the government plans of cutting gas price subsidies on Medan Merdeka shows us that the government only wants to show us the bright side of Indonesia. This act can of course just be seen as protecting our safety but I can understand as well that the government does not want us to see that not everybody agrees with the current situation and that the Indonesian population massively goes to the street when they disagree with something.

The basic outline of this program is that I am supposed to study Indonesian arts and cultures but the funny thing is, is that I am learning much more than that. Not only am I learning about Indonesia but I am also learning a lot from my fellow participants. My topographical knowledge was seriously tested when I first met the participants from Palau, Kiribati and Tuvalu because I can’t recall hearing those countries in my high school geography class. The mixture of different nationalities makes this program very unique because we are all learning about each other while learning about Indonesian arts and cultures.

 I am learning much more than that.

The Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship gives me the opportunity to study in Surabaya, a place my grandmother also used to visit some 80 years ago. If you share my interest on Indonesia, and would like the opportunity to study in Indonesia as well, you should keep an eye out on the Indonesian Foreign Affairs website: http://www.kemlu.go.id  or contact the Indonesian Embassy for more information about the 2013 application process.

My advice to all the young  Indo’s in Holland: apply for the Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship! IACS already exceeded all my expectations and I am just getting started here. Through this program you can learn a lot about Indonesia but also about your own roots.

 

 

 

About generation Indisch 3.0 – part 2

Every once in a while, we get that question that we forget still exists: what is the third generation Indische Nederlanders — am I an Indisch 3.0 or not? We’ll get into these questions. However, since there  is much more to the third generation than a definition, we will share some of our observations with you, in the week preceding our anniversary-kumpulan on May 11, 2012.

We have written about this definition-issue before. Two years ago, to be exact. However, these questions keep coming back, and from both sides of the Atlantic. Therefore we have decided to blog about it again – but this time in English. Before we get into this complex matter, we have to warn you: this post is longer than we usually publish.

Generation Indisch 3.0

Tv-personality Bibi Breijman, generation Indo 3.0 and "Hagenees". (c) Armando Ello/ Indisch3.0 2011

The generations we refer to are not the same as family generations, but are defined by the moment of migration. Simply put, generation Indisch 3.0 are the grandchildren of the inhabitants who left Nederlands-Indië as adults. The “1.0’s” are the people who came to Holland (or Canada e.g.) as grownups.

However, and this might be confusing, if their parents were still alive, they were 1.0 as well. So both grandparents and greatgrandparents of a 3.0, are part of the first generation. Many of this generation worked hard to be accepted as normal Dutch citizens (or:assimilated).

Generation Indisch 3.0 are the grandchildren of the inhabitants who left Nederlands-Indië as adults

The children that were born to the 1.0’s are the 2.0’s. Some of them were still born in Indonesia (or even Nederlands-Indië). Any child that was younger than 16 when it “repatriated” to the Netherlands, may be considered as 2.0. In the Netherlands, you might notice minor competitions between people of this generation when it comes to their place of birth: “I was born in Indonesia, how about you? (continuing with noticeable triumph) Ah, you were born in Amsterdam. ” This generation either let go of their Indo-roots when they noticed how much stress and pain the topic of Nederlands-Indië caused, or embraced it, starting in the 80’s.

Currently, most of the 3.0’s range in age from roughly 15 to 45 years old. There is competition here as well: “Are you a 3.0 of one or two Indisch parents? (continuing with equally noticeable triumph) Well, both my parents were born there.” By the way, that is ‘worth’ more than two parents who are both 2.0, but were born in the Netherlands.

 “Are you a 3.0 of one or two Indische parents? Well, both my parents were born there.”

Indische Nederlander

An Indische Nederlander is someone who has roots in the former Dutch colony Nederlands-Indië and considers himself an Indische Nederlander. That addition sounds self-evident. However, a lot of Moluccans, who could be considered Indisch, don’t consider themselves as such, so who are we to say they are? People that do consider themselves Indisch are Indo’s, peranakans (of Chinese descent), belanda hitams (mixed with African roots) or even a 100% Dutch person (“totok”).  Papua’s are the indigenous people of New Guinea and consider themselves Indisch, when they have an Indische parent. Also, we need to say, for the record, that Indisch, in this context, has absolutely nothing to do with India. Nothing.

For the record, Indisch, in this context, has absolutely nothing to do with India.

former minister of Foreign Affairs Ben Bot, is a totok. Foto: http://www.volzin.nu/images/stories/bot.jpg

By now, some of you are staring at your screen, slamming your fist on your desk, shouting: “That is not true! My mother/grandmother/opa/etc  was both Indo and Indisch, but didn’t consider himself neither Indo nor Indisch.” Yes, you are right, we know that. That denial is part of our cultural baggage too. However, when they tell you where they were born, most of them will say Nederlands-Indie/ the Dutch East Indies, whereas most Moluccans will say they were born in the Mollucan island group. It seems like a small difference, but the consequences are huge.

The big difference between totoks and other Indische groups, is their ethnic background in relation to their current homeland. Totok-children and grandchildren usually consider themselves Dutch (or any other nationality that applies to your country of residence).  That does not always apply to descendants of Indo’s, peranakans and belanda hitams in the same way. Most of them notice that they are not like the Dutch or any other white community.

In today’s world, in urban day-to-day life, knowing what ethnic group you belong to, becomes more and more significant. With all these etnic minorities in the Western World, more often than not, children with Indo, belanda hitam or peranakan roots use their heritage to shape and define their identity.

Most of them notice that they are not like the Dutch or any other white community.

Indo

Let’s end with a second basic term: what is an Indo? First off, an Indische Nederlander is not the equivalent of an Indo: not all Indische Nederlanders are Indo and not all Indo’s are Indische Nederlanders.  An Indo, in the context that we use it, is short for an Indo-European; someone with both European and Indonesian roots.

An Indo, in the context that we use it, is short for an Indo-European.

There are some technical challenges and urban legends (or misunderstandings, if you will) to the term Indo. Firstly, we have noticed that Indonesians sometimes call themselves Indo as well, as an abbreviation for Indonesian. That’s up to them, but it’s not the Indo generally referred to in relation to the former Dutch colony.

Griselda Molemans. Indomania 4. (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012.
Griselda Molemans, part belanda hitam. (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012.

Also, more and more we read online that Indo comes from an acronym: In Nederland Door Omstandigheden (or: Opa)*. Sorry to tell you, but that is not true. That is an urban legend or a broodje aap-verhaal. There is no other way to put it. We have no clue who came up with that (in-) famous acronym for INDO, but we can assure you that the term Indo existed way before the Indo’s came to Holland. To be called Indo was an insult for many decades, starting somewhere in the early days of the Dutch East Indies, as many of you know.

A ‘technical challenge’: an Indo could have been born in Indonesia in the 1950’s, but may also be born tomorrow in Holland, or the US for that matter: when a person of European descent and a person of Indonesian descent have a child, an Indo is born.

The term Indo existed way before the Indo’s came to Holland.

Some say that Indo-European, in its bare essence, refers to a person born anywhere south of the river Indus and has both Asian and European roots. We don’t know how helpful that statement is, considering that in that case, a child born in the Phillipines could also be called Indo. That would become quite confusing. And this stuff is confusing enough already, right?

A short summary, to make sure you are not totally confused by now: an Indo is someone of both European and Indonesian descent, born anywhere in the world, 50 years ago or tomorrow. An Indische Nederlander is someone with family roots in the former Dutch East Indies. And a generation Indisch 3.0 is the grandchild of the Indische migrants who left Indonesia as adults. And then there are a lot of misunderstandings and confusing elements.

Observing the third generation

Generation 1.0. Imagesource: http://repatrianten.watishet.info/
Generation 1.0. Imagesource: http://repatrianten.watishet.info/

We certainly hope we have been able to explain the basic terms clearly enough. And we hope you have noticed our somewhat sarcastic undertone: definitions are not what makes us who we are. We are who we want to be. Not all 3.0’s want to be third generation Indisch; they no longer feel connected to their heritage and thus to us. We, as Indisch 3.0, hope to at least stop and perhaps even change this, by making visible how many famous and not-so-famous-yet Indo’s there are around the world and by encouraging 3.0’s to at least accept and hopefully handdown their roots to their children.

That the third generation Indische Nederlanders is more than just a definition, we will show in our anniversary week starting May 8th. We will publish our observations, based on being out there for four years. Are there any specific questions? We don’t have all the answers, but four years of active blogging will take us a long way.

*In Nederland Door Omstandigheden (Opa) means: In the Netherlands because of circumstances (or: because of grandpa), referring to the involuntary nature of the migration to Holland.

 

Looking back at Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012

Presenting: ambassador mrs Retno Marsudi

In the aftermath of the Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012, Retno Marsudi, the new ambassador (duta besar) of Indonesia shares her thoughts on the young Indo-Dutch, investments and: old glasses. However, not surprisingly, one particularly favorite topic of conversation between Indo-Dutch keeps popping up: food.

Photography: Tabitha Lemon

Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 overzicht (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 muziek (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 poppen (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 cook (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First female ambassador
When I ask mrs. Marsudi what she would like to be know for, as a legacy so to speak, she emphasizes: “I don’t like to think in terms of legacy. As ambassador I do my job the best way I can. However, the Indonesian embassy in the Netherlands is one of the biggest missions of Indonesia. I am the first female ambassador. I have to proof that a woman can do this mission just as well and, [smiling slightly] maybe even better. Furthermore,  I have to proof that I am a representative of a new generation of Indonesians: I was born long after the Dutch left. I have a bridging role and want to see the Dutch as they are now.”

Ibu Retno Marsudi at the Indonesian embassy. (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012

Culinary diplomacy
Ibu Marsudi adds: “And let’s not forget the culinary diplomacy I am introducing. I have the impression that Indonesian food is your second national cuisine. If a tourist in the Netherlands asks where or what he should eat, chances are that he’s directed to the nearest Indonesian toko or restaurant. Therefore, we consider the Netherlands as an outlet of the Indonesian cuisine.” This grass-root style diplomacy is aimed at increasing trade, Marsudi explains: “We bring professional chefs to Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands. There, the chefs learn to prepare more than just rendang and gado-gado, and get introduced to the authentic taste. [smiling] And then, what do you do to prepare authentic Indonesian food? Exactly, buy real spices directly from Indonesia.”

“We consider the Netherlands as an outlet of the Indonesian cuisine”

Bitter history
The Duta Besar arrived in the Netherlands just a few months ago, but already has a firm view on how Indonesia and the Netherlands may benefit from the young Indo-Dutch. “Young Indo-Dutch, and young Dutch in general, are agents of change. I believe you are able to understand history without the negative emotions. Yes, the history of the Netherlands and Indonesia is a bitter one. We cannot change that. But from our shared history comes an emotional connection. Let’s capitalize on that.”

Ibu Retno Marsudi, the duta besar. (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012

Old and new glasses
“ The young Indo-Dutch are not burdened by the past and we should not impose history on them either: they were not an actor of that history. Because of that, they have the freedom to see Indonesia through objective glasses. See us through new glasses, not through old, colored glasses. The new generation can understand Indonesia as it is now, today, and build a new bridge between our two countries.”

The new Indonesia
A succesfull example of bridging past and present, is the annual Pasar Malam Indonesia in The Hague. “The Pasar Malam Indonesia appeals to the tempo doeloe memories in the Netherlands. We cannot get rid off these memories, so instead we use them to interest people for the new Indonesia. At Pasar Malam Indonesia, we present the traditional and modern culture. At the Floriade (Venlo, 5 april t/m 7 oktober 2012), another promotional event that we participate in by tradition, we present the investment opportunities in other sectors that trade tourism. Infrastructure, for example, and waste management.”

“I have to proof that a woman can do this mission just as well. Maybe even better.”

Pasar Malam 2013
The past Pasar Malam Indonesia was an even bigger success than the previous one. “ In four days, we have received over 25 thousand guests,” the ambassador tells me. “The retail and small businesses from Indonesia have made deals totaling to 500.000 euros. They also gained trial orders for 460.000 euro. Furthermore, in business meetings, palmoil orders of 19,8 million euros were collected. And then the food court! That was packed, for four days, from morning till night. I have not been able to taste food from all 25 stands, unfortunately, but I did manage to try my favorite: martabak manis and martabak telor. All in all, it was a great success and I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of all parties involved. Pasar Malam Indonesia will be back in 2013.”

Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 foodcourt stand (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012
Pasar Malam Indonesia 2012 foodcourt stand (c) Tabitha Lemon/ Indisch 3.0 2012

Ari Purnama (31), filmmaker and independent researcher

CinemAsia Filmfestival, 4-7 april 2013, De Balie Amsterdam

From April 4th till April 8th, Asian film lovers will be filling up the rooms of De Balie in Amsterdam: CinemAsia Filmfestival will take place for the fifth time. One of the films premiering at this biannual festival, is Onze Band met Rijst, by CinemAsia Filmlab winner Ari Purnama (Bandung, 1981). Who is this Indonesian film maker?

Ari Ernesto Purnama (c) Andri Suryo/ CinemAsia 2012
Ari Ernesto Purnama (c) Andri Suryo/ CinemAsia 2012

Ari Purnama comes from an entrepreneurial family. His mother plays a central role in it. Ari did his bachelor in Communication Science and came to the Netherlands in 2009 for a research master’s degree in Cultural Studies. Ari believes in “the capacity of cinema as an emancipatory and powerful storytelling medium, therefore making film is more than a passion for me.” I interviewed him this week, in between the final editing of his film.

A nursing home
The synopsis of Ari Purnama’s short, fictional film is intriguing: “On her 81rstbirthday, an Indo-Dutch (grand)mother named Jolanda discovers the news that her three children have decided to put her in a nursing home. Fearing that she might upset the children, she accepts the decision, even though she’s suffering inside. Her agony leads her to retaliate by undertaking a decision that will shock her children to death. Revenge is sweet, but a silent revenge is a sweeter one!”

Still van Tante Vera/ behind the scenes door Michael Kopijn (c) michael@bacteria.nl
Still van Tante Vera/ behind the scenes door Michael Kopijn (c) michael@bacteria.nl

First generation stories
The way (even) Indo-Dutch families care for their elderly, clearly differs from the Indonesian way. How does Ari view the Indo-Dutch community in the Netherlands? “I am always interested in hearing the stories about leaving Indonesia and coming here. But it is often hard to talk to them on a personal level. You don’t get in-depth answers and it’s hard to get inside the Indo-Dutch communities. I love the distinctiveness of that culture, but we hardly hear about this in Indonesia.”

Manipulated history
Why should people in Indonesia hear these stories, I ask. “We hardly hear about the activities of the Indo-Dutch community in the Netherlands, or the stories of the first Indo-Dutch generation. Unless you have these family members, of course. The younger generation needs to hear both sides of the story, it’s important because during the Soekarno and Soeharto’s times, history was strongly manipulated. It would be beneficial for the newer generation to get insights into this chapter of Indonesia-Netherlands relation.”

The cast
Ari lives in Groningen. Although there are many Indonesian students living there, he points out that there is no big Indo-community like in the west of Holland. “The actors in my film come from all corners of the Netherlands. Even from Ossosch. In terms of background, the cast is quite diverse, but they all have Indonesian roots. Some of them are of mixed descent, and one has a Moluccan background. From all of them, only the protagonist (played by Tante Vera Willemsen) was born in the Dutch East Indies, the rest were born in the Netherlands.”

Still behind the scenes/ tante Vera & Ari Purnama (c) Michael Kopijn@bacteria.nl
Still behind the scenes/ tante Vera & Ari Purnama (c) Michael Kopijn@bacteria.nl

Lemper
Before we wrap up the interview, I have to ask him The Question: how does Ari like our Indofood? “Haha! Well, I love your version of the lemper. In Indonesia, it is sweet and small. Here, there is more flavor to it and it is a lot longer. Every time I get food, I indulge myself in them. My favourite toko in Groningen? That would be Toko Semarang, on the main street, Gedempte Zuiderdiep. You can choose different dishes and sides, like rendang, and ikan blado, and they warm it up for you. It reminds me of the warung tegal I know back home.”

Why did Ari choose this subject? And: how did a university graduate become a filmmaker? You can read more about Ari Purnama in the April-edition of Moesson-magazine. No desire to wait? Visit http://bacteria.home.xs4all.nl/Day_Two/ for a behind-the-scenes look. Onze band met rijst premieres at CinemAsia on April 5th (“Made in Holland”) and also screens on April 7th.