vos, eu quer comer?

arie in Macau, solo backpacker at that moment
arie in Macau, solo backpacker at that moment

having celebrated new year’s eve abroad and many islands within indonesia archipelago instead of java, we did something different in the end of 2011. it took pretty close to the heart of jakarta, the capital city, in Java.

arie and nick were said goodbye to the previous year by gather amongst the portuguese creole descendants in kampung Tugu and feel so blessed to be able to learn their unique culture.

ruinas do sao paulo, macau (c) ukirsari 2006

previously, more than five years ago i had encountered with the portuguese creole or known as kristang or the cristao in malacca, about two hours drive from kuala lumpur, malaysia.

to be frank, if speaking about the old portuguese colonial fortresses and buildings that easy to be visited from my country, my choice will goes to macau’s old quarter in special administration region (sar) of china and then goa in india.

but in medan portugis or portuguese quarter in malacca i heard a distinctive language called papia kristang that spoken by the kristang, a community of people with mixed portuguese and asian ancestry.

and since my national language “borrowed” some portuguese words just like meski (mas que), jendela (janela) and bendera (bandeira) to named a few, i feel so dearly.

i keep on searching and wrote my experience here and got an e-mail from a very well-know scientific magazine that asked the details about my experience within malacca. unfortunately i could not give a hand since i just spend few days there and my main interest was to find out the similarity between its language and what i am speaking nowadays (note: further I find out, when I replaced my picture in this post, what the journalist asked was about Feista San Juang or Saint John festival).

st paul’s hill, malacca (c) ukirsari 2003

later, i back again to malacca for an assignment—maybe a fate, but not related i can guarantee, i start working in a magazine that bear the same name with the journalist’s office  who wrote me about malacca on e-mail!—i managed to write a feature, as the answer of my own question about the portuguese creole. and i am so glad that i’d got positive feedback from some readers and one of them even mentioned specifically at the forum dated back a year ago when i attended a public speaking about travelling. it’s really an honour!

that’s not an ending yet, since i still want to write about the language and the people of the portuguese settlement in kampung Tugu, jakarta. so there i go accompanied by marvy, an internship in the office. he admitted that our work kinda tracking down something unknown and ending with a bright light.

i do agree with his point of view. it’s a treasure to see some old manuscripts from the creole community that mentioned some portuguese words. and i enchanted more, when one of them gives example the way a creole greetings to the guests who pay a visit.  it’s, “bos, yo kere kumi?” or transliteration to “vos, eu quer comer?” in portuguese.

i amazed, dazzled to realize that i already found what i’m looking for. it’s exactly the same with papia kristang’s greetings that i had heard in malacca! that’s the way they greets me every single day in there! i  burst in happiness and share the jolly with marvy.  the difference only word to spell “comer”, here they say “kumi” whilst in malacca spelt as “kimi”.

ever since the day marvy and i visit the portuguese settlement in kampung tugu, i get closer with the community. among the reasons is their language that shares some similarity with eastern indonesians dialect, ambonese, that I spoke in my childhood as my dad assigned in Mollucas and so did marvy’s mother tongue.

with kindhearted, ikatan besar keluarga tugu (ikbt) invited me to attend their notable festivities called rabu-rabu and mandi-mandi.

the first one is a procession, visit door to door to all creole clans who stay within kampung tugu and start by the mid-day of january 1st. i went with my beloved nick and follow the group to sing and dancing in every creole’s house. it’s just ended when the night falls at the last creole’s house for a dinner and praying together.

then mandi-mandi ceremony or thanksgiving to marks New Year’s Eve is held at the first week of january. we got morning service that delivers by local church, “kumi” of course, a gloriously music performance called keroncong tugu that very well-known dated back 17s century and last but not the least is … “screw up” everyone’s face with beauty powder that dissolved into water or concealer.

everybody’s laugh, everybody’s happy, everybody’s run and it’s said with putting dissolved beauty powder on your face means we’re ready to start a year by forgive to the others. very touching indeed and i can not runaway, especially when a little boy politely asked me, “may i touch your cheek with this powder?” of course i say yes, and give him a full powdery fingers in return! He laughs and can not do anything instead giving his cute face.

I do enjoy to gather the Portuguese descendants in kampung Tugu. I thank them very much and if i can borrow some sleepsong lyrics, performed by saoirse and written by brendan graham, i would like to pray them, “may you bring love and may you bring happiness. beloved in return ’till the end of your days.

and i would like to say the same to my beloved nick, to marvy and fandi, to aria who bravely accompanied me to get full concealer on his face, and to my family and friends. happy new year everyone! vos, eu quer comer?


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