Apart from fasting and other worships, the month of Ramadan is identical to the preparation for the homecoming trip called mudik (In Indonesian, udik means village (contrary to city), while Jakarta is the biggest city of the country.) Where are you going for mudik this year? Or you don’t go mudik at all? Since I got married, I have my own thought about going home. This was written six years ago (08/08/2013) as a response to my husband’s article, which in my opinion has romanticized the mudik phenomena. I reposted it because it was really hard to process a new article last week. So, here I post the old post, but it’s also two days late haha. Still okay, right? Happy reading and have a wonderful service worship in the month of Ramadan.
For the first time after a quarter of a century I have to go mudik.
I was not raised in tradition of homecoming trip or mudik since I had never lived apart from my parents for at least one year. Likewise my father, he came from Semarang, but we also never specifically departed to Semarang to celebrate Eid. After marrying my mom, he mingled with the custom in Pontianak.
How to celebrate Eid in Pontianak is somewhat unique. The best dishes are prepared in many house since Ramadan began. Every year Mom used to put all her efforts into making cookies, layer cakes, tape ketan, mixed-fruit ice, pudding, etc. in large quantities. Mom is very good at cooking. Her delicious dishes, pastries and drinks made us proud and without complaining, we were willing to help wash dishes used by guests. Dad was also busy painting the walls, the fence of our house. He also cut grass on the yard.
I don’t know exactly whether it’s because people take a short distance for going around the city or they really have a lot of free time (read: nothing to do), Lebaran in Pontianak is about visiting each other. What do I mean? Here it is: if I visit your home, there is a necessity behind it for you to visit my home. Troublesome? Yes. But if it is not done it will be remembered as a ‘debt’ for visit. So, no wonder the Eid atmosphere in Pontianak will last until the end of of the month Shawwal. Even if the national official holiday is over and it’s time to go back to the office or school, if you go around the streets of Pontianak in the evening, you will see the doorhouses open, the decoration of Eid is still hanging and the lights in the living room still brightly welcomed the guests coming. Crowded, loud, festive, fun, even though it’s tiring.
At the time we moved to Jakarta in 2001, we looked forward to see what the atmosphere would be like in Jakarta. It was rather strange at first to see people doing activities as usual, as if they go on a vacation trip: going to the mall, going to the zoo, staying at Puncak, and visiting other tourist destinations. Very mediocre. What made it suddenly extraordinary is only the the quiet and empty streets of the capital city.
I also contemplated it as a new experience that I could not help to accept. We no longer prepare new clothes, no more hubbub baking in the kitchen, even Dad often went to work on Lebaran days, too. While people flock to the mosque for Eid prayers, I can casually wake up late on the Eid day. Considering the huge energy we spend during Lebaran in a way like in Pontianak, we define the Eid in Jakarta as something far from feeling tired. Not tiring and still pleasant.
I can say that Jakarta successfully made me not romanticize the moment of Eid. I quickly did not miss Eid in Pontianak anymore even though I still deliver greetings and ask for forgiveness like everyone in general.
In this case ‘mudik’ has never been a vocabulary in my life experience. Really ever. But in the past two years and maybe in the years to come, I have to keep going along with ‘mudik’. The fact is, Cirebon is not where I was born nor a place for me to go home. And it feels strange to name Jakarta as a destination of so called “back to udik “. Because it isn’t. So I also feel no need to create a new necessity, for example, with ‘having Eid in Jakarta’. Maybe my children need to experience a certain atmosphere of Eid, and for that I certainly can compromise.
But if I just want to skip the so-called lebaran in a mediocre way, drinking coffee while eating cakes and watching Factory Girl, it does not mean I am cruel just because I do not join the mainstream consensus. Maybe I just want to show my child that there are many other fish besides salmon.
A conversation thread on a healthy mailing list (milist) about the best food source for brain development mentioned that Salmon ranks as the best source of nutrition. Then Dr. Wati, one respected member, responded that all types of fish are very good for brain development. Salmon is difficult to reach, besides being expensive, its habitat is not in Indonesia. Not everyone is able to chew the salmon wisdom. Therefore, said Dr. Wati again, catfish, mackerel or even eel are still as good for brain.