A tale of two cultures – javanese and dutch

I was about to settle down on the train to the city but I thought I heard the lady saying hello.  Me? yes, I have seen her.

“Were you not in the flight from Kuala Lumpur?” she asked 

“Yes I was”. I realized she was the stewardess on the KLM flight. We exchanged pleasantaries. Surprise surprise, she could speak Bahasa, Bahasa  Indonesia, or more accurately Malay. This is her story.

Her mother is half javanese and half dutch. Her father is Dutch. After the war, being half Dutch she, with thousands of non pure natives were deported to Holland. She was in her teens, alone, sailing on a steamship through the Cape of Good Hope. How cruel revolutioners could be. I remember the story of another friend Dassberg who could be on board the same ship. But the war of independence knew no mercy.

In Holland, the land of her father, she was  also discriminated. Alone in a new country and descriminated and abused. She married a Dutch man making her daughter a quarter Javanese and the remaining Dutch. Life has been cruel ti IBU.

I could not imagine the amazing thing she did. Even after being disowned by the new country, She taught her daughter her native tounge, told stories of Sang Kancil Kecil , cooked Javanese  meals .  After many years she revisited her kampong in Surabaya, reestablish her roots with the country that did not want her.

Now my new friend does 10 return flights  a year and her favourite port of call is Kuala Lumpur. She is discovering and enjoying her roots which make her mother proud. Proudly she showed the packet of petai she brought home for IBU. Here i am witnessing a European lady, with her petai, unthinkable.

And she is only a quarter javanese.


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