Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hari Raya Part 2

Yesterday I attended three Hari Raya parties. The first was at the home of the owner Dato (his title not name) of my school and his wife Datin (her title not name- she is also a secretary at the school). I went about 10:45a.m. There were lots of people there, and Datin was waiting for me to come before eating. Even the bus driver was there with his niece. Both of the daughters where there and four of the grandchildren. The youngest daughter is not married, and she lives in Malaysia doing her PH.D. The older daughter lives in Dubai. Later the son came with his four children and wife. I don't remember where he is living currently. I know that Dato and Datin have eight grandchildren and only two are granddaughters. Dato lived for a time in the US while he got his Masters and PH.D, so his children attended high school and college there. I tried lots of different food and visited with the different people. I took pictures of the food after asking permission but not the people. They were dressed very fancy, but I still felt odd taking their pictures, so I didn't. I was invited to stay the whole day. Most people only go for about 1/2 hour before they move on and more people come. It kind of reminds me of graduation open houses back in my hometown where people come to eat and visit for awhile and then move on to the next open house.
There was a couple hour break before the next party which was good since I needed some time for my food to digest. This was at a Aunt's house of a lady that used to work with my Uncle. There were several relatives there, but only really visited with the lady. The lady is my age. She turns 30 in a couple months. She is Malay and was teaching English at a college here in Kuantan. She went to Japan for two years and taught English at a small language school. She said their were only 3 teachers, and they taught people English from 3 years old to 65 years old. I don't remember how many students there were but not many. She actually lived in a small village on an island of Japan. She did not go to any of the big cities while she was there. She liked it, and she said they have less crime there than in Malaysia. The crimes they do have are domestic crimes like men abusing their wives. There are no bars on the windows there or gates on the doors or at the end of driveways like here. Muslims eat food that is Halal, which is like the Jewish have kosher food. It has to be prepared a certain way and washed a certain way, and I believe certain prayers said over the food. They do not use alcohol in anything, not even like vanilla extract or cough syrup. So while there she had to be careful what she ate since many foods in Japan use the saki (rice wine). She did eat lots of strawberries and persimmons. Most of her students lived on farms and brought her produce to eat.
After the two years she worked at a company I believe Ben West for a couple of months until it went under. Now she is working as a PR person for a high up person. I think a wife of some one in the government. She is living in Kuala Lumpur.
The third party was at a neighbor's house. I did not go over there until 8:30 at night because they have afternoon prayers, and so had to wait for that to finish. To get there I actually had to walk through this field, and it had rained all day, so the ground was very wet. The gutter system is different here in that it is more like a trench around buildings. I had to cross this trench on a little cement slab that connected one side to the other at a certain spot. I am not afraid of heights, but I am of falling, so crossing over that made me nervous, but I survived. At the last house there is usually lots of family too, but they had all left to go to go run an errand together because they like to spend as much time together as possible when they are home. I am not sure how many children, there are. I got kind of confused. I think maybe 4 children, two boys and two girls. I do know they have 19 grandchildren. I got to visit with the man of the house and his wife and eat more food. It was ok not having everyone there, I was getting tired, and it was not so noisy.
I am still working on getting the names attached to many of the dishes that I am trying. They do lots of rendang with chicken, beef, and buffalo. They use lots of different peanut sauces and curries. It is a good thing I like spicy food. They also prepare rice several different ways. I like plain, white rice. Who knew that there is so many different ways to cook rice and things to cook it in, and so far I really like each one. Nasi means rice.
At Hari Raya parties they make the desserts very small so that people can try many different types of dessert. At the first party there were at least 13 different types of dessert all home made.
When one goes to Hari Raya parties the people hold out their hands and clasp the guest's hand. Not like a shake, but just clasp it. Then they both say "Selamat Hari Raya"- which means Safe day of Celebration. I noticed with the women after that is done they take their hands and place them on their collarbone. Almost like they are drawing the best wishes into them. Also, when a child greets a person they clasp the person's hand drawing the hand up and place their forehead on the back on the person's hand in a sign of respect.

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