“Wake up! I’ve already eaten twice today!” – Struggles of the everyday village life

As much as I love Indonesia, as much as I love the local people, it never makes the everyday struggle easier – the struggle that draws on the difference between us and yet again makes our differences attract. A few examples from the village life in South Sulawesi. 

Fieldworks in action (photo by Minna Hint)

Already after few days in the village, I sometimes felt so tired of this star-aura that seemed to run around me, as I was a faraway guest in a place where seldom foreigners get lost. Sometimes I was missing my own space and solitude. I was after all coming from Estonia – claimed to be one of the most individualistic (and empty) country in the world. But here I was constantly surrounded by people that were seemingly more curious of me, than I could be of them.

Apart from being a good tool for public relations for Eka, which I never mind, in every step or another there was someone who asked: “Why don’t you marry a Bugis man?”

Yeah, why don’t I?! Is it really as easy for them as it sounds?

But I ask it other way around. Why? Why is it so important that I would marry a local guy – even their mothers and sisters where constantly proposing me!

Usually they said I would give birth to beautiful children. So here it is again – the cult of the white beauty…

- Number one: it’s my nose, the pointy nose. How many times they touched and squeezed it!

- Number two: it’s my skin that is claimed to be pure and beautiful. As with most parts of Indonesia, here also young girls seem to be obsessed with white. That’s why we see girls on motorbikes, wearing gloves and sweaters in 35C heat!

- Number three: it’s my body, even though I always feel huge like a hopeless elephant next to my local friends.

And I thought I could never explain why I wouldn’t marry an Indonesian (well I might as well, but it just doesn’t work this way). Until the sister of Eka got to know that I actually have only one brother, and that’s it. So she seemed to satisfy with the conclusion, that of course I couldn’t marry a Bugis, because as I’m the only daughter in the family, then my mother would be so unhappy not to see me nor the grandchildren. This news was spreading around the circles by the evening, and believe it or not, but it helped cooling things down.


Escape from over-eating – our love for pomelos (photo by Minna Hint)

Another daily struggle came with food. Firstly, the food in Sulawesi is absolutely gorgeous, so it made a good escape from Jawa for a change. But when all that delicious fish and cookies and cakes and coconut sauce and oily salads come with every visit and every step, as it does in Sulawesi, my feeling of being an awkward elephant didn’t get any better.

“Here we eat in order to live, and we live in order to eat,” tells Eka. “I’m already big, but I’m eating more and more, we have to eat, come, sit down and eat!”

For many mornings when Eka’s sister was waking me up, she was stating that she has eaten already twice today, aren’t we already hungry!

It took us some days until we made them believe, that bule likes fruit. And these pomelos here are terrific indeed.