I was commenting to my sister Melody about someone I just saw when I realised that half of the room actually understood Indonesian.
I had some stares back at me, but since the person in question did not understand one word of it, they kinda let it go.
Mom, Melody, and I were on a Christmas party in Southern Ohio hosted by an Indonesian American family. There were around.... 30 (or 40?) people altogether who came to the meeting, some naturalised citizens, some here on student visa, some married to Caucasian American men, and some are sons and daughters of Indonesian immigrants.
Here's the thing about Indonesian Americans: just like other Asian communities in USA, we hardly speak our own native tongue.
A typical Asian American family today looks like this:
- The mother, who is Asian, speaks both English and her mother tongue fluently.
- The father, who is Caucasian American, only speaks English. He can only understand his wife's language a little.
- The kids, who are born and raised in USA, only speaks English. They can have true Asian names (such as Arjuna, Rio, etc... and these are real examples!) but they don't understand one word of their Mom's language.
Which is not bad, considering that the only reason I came to the group gathering was for the food.
Until Mom and I discovered that there are several sparse enclaves of Indonesian American families scattered throughout Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky region, we thought that we were the only ones of Indonesian ethnicity within a radius of 50 miles. Then she got introduced to a Chinese Indonesian from Surabaya.
Invitations came, warmly welcoming us to get to know some others too.
So we got to know one. And another. And another.
My sister got especially delighted that one of the women in the group was an alumni of a secondary school she went to in South Tangerang, Banten.
And I got introduced to someone who went to school to Singapore too.
What a small world.
So now, let's talk about the food. Indonesian food!
We had a lot of them, starting from prawn crackers, risoles, bolu kukus, Fried rice, bakso, sayur asam, inter alia.
Each of us had our own specialties that we brought to the gathering. The only meals that Mom is accustomed to make are Fried rice and Gado-gado, which she brings to the gatherings every once in a while.
Thank goodness nobody brought Sate Padang, which would have ruined my entire appetite that day. Even the smell of it can make me nauseous.
They conduct such gatherings every now and then, but since it usually falls on a Saturday (when I have a class), I could rarely come.
Also, I have not tasted Martabak Manis yet. The only one food that I absolutely love the most. I heard that somebody brought it to the gatherings one day. Alas, I had to go to work, so there went my chance!
A pity, since that is the one meal I would pay hundreds of dollars for.
* (translation of title: "Damn, she's cute!")