Sunday 14 January 2018

Describe Wind: Ngarang Everywhere 4.0

Sitting on the porch one lazy afternoon, waiting for my turn to shower, I begged Rhon to teach me how to play the sape. So she showed me the correct way to hold it, where to place your fingers, and broke it down into three parts. After letting me struggle along a little, Rhon decided to show me how it was played. It was at that moment that movement caught the corner of my eye. Tepuq had walked in quietly and started moving her hands in the wavelike patterns oh so common to the ngarang. As it played out, I couldn't decide which one I admired more -- the sound of the sape, the spontaneity of the whole situation, or how graceful Tepuq looked as she danced in time to the plucking of the sape.

Describe Wind: To and From Arur Dalan

Every morning, a couple of us would make our journey towards Arur Dalan. The winds and cold air accompanied by mist like a scarf around the neck of the mountains set the tone for the day while the suns rays and buffalo poo told tale of a less lazy afternoon.

As we made our way to the field the sounds of car engines, the beat beat beat sounds of motorcyclists passing by, and the sucking noise our shoes make against the muddy ground filled my waking thought as we walk down the uneven path. Soon, we reach our destinations and begin to make our way to the respective fields we are assigned to... the clouds, hanging over us in it's pretty way, cold sawah soil and water clinging around our legs... the air is filled with chatter, laughter, and friendly banter. The fields in its vastness calls us to enter. Exhaustion, sweat, and dirt mean little in a place where contentment and serendipity tip the scales.

As we return back through the fields lined with corn, slippery roads, unruly weeds, and daun isip, you cannot help but marvel at that feeling it gives you as you slow yourself down enough to hear it's call. The lack of bustle lays claim over the imagination.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Difficulties I Faced

Hi! To all those who are reading this blog post, congratulations, because when I attended this trip, I did not read any of the blog posts - and I regretted (or not really), however, to be honest, it is always good to set the expectation right, and be readied for any challenges ahead in this trip by looking into what others had experienced. I will talk about the challenges I faced in the working days (or the data collection days) and how I changed myself in the process.

The beginning of my working days was… not productive enough.

There were several challenges I faced. One of the significant challenges was the language barrier. I am not a fluent speaker of Bahasa Melayu, nor did the locals speak the conventional Bahasa Melayu we learnt in class. However, when there is a will, there is a way, I used my elusive body language, Google translator, plus the help from my batchmates - I found the experience of data collecting more intellectual than rigid, like a happy conversation. I thought I need to be “professional” - precise and sharp to delve into the deepest core of questions I set beforehand, but eventually as I worked with my tepuq, I forgot all of that nonsense. I just wanted to know more about them - what they eat, what they face, and what are their stories ... and that became my most look-forward-to thing while I collected data. Frankly, I am a logic freak. I like to digitalise, analyse, interject and conclude in a design-thinking manner, but the nature of Bario embraced me to a different way to a manner I found myself not thinking they way I was used to thinking but instead started to behold how things were like this by nature.

To assist my deficiency in Malay proficiency, I translated everything in the booklet beforehand.

Da..daa! (I brought my data collection booklet into the muddy field). My intention was to write whenever I heard something interesting in the field... but I found that it wasn't a good idea. 

Another challenge I faced was... who cares. The key is to relish every moment so that challenges are never difficulties but an experience to make you grow as a person, especially when you are in Bario, a place where there is no peer pressure, where nature embraces you, where you are not distracted by social media, where you feel and you connect.

So to those who are afraid that you might not be able to communicate well in Bahasa Melayu, it is time to let your body speak for you; in fact, my tepuq and I had grown to an affinity in which we looked at each other… be silent for two seconds, and then we laugh, as if we got each other’s thoughts (no joke!).