How many chilies would you like? Cabe piro? When I order a rujak lontong (steamed rice in a tube made from banana leaves, chopped, topped with spinach, bean sprouts, boiled egg, tofu and tempe (and variations within), smothered with a peanut sauce and sweet soy sauce) I say 1, and then the lady says, noooooo, 2!!! They want to see me sweat, baby, sweat.
Besides counting chilies, I also have done a few calculations on money. I met people who work full time in a jilbab-making enterprise cutting cloth and such, and they get paid about 300 000Rp a month. This is also the salary of a school teacher. If you calculate that in terms of full-time hours (60 hours per week), it’s about 1250Rp per hour. That translates to about $35 CAN per month. This means that people are living off of about $1 per day and making about 10cents per hour. Granted, you can buy a full meal for 1500 – 3000Rp, but still, it’s a stretch to rely on that little money. So many people may have to supplement their full-time job salary with extra work, such as teaching private lessons. It’s how it is here; the gap between the rich and the poor is giant.
And counting time….at the beginning, I counted how many days, then how many months I’ve been in Indonesia. I had personal celebrations for my 1 month, or 2 months, and I’d talk about it with my other bule friends in Yogya — “I can’t believe we’ve been here for 3 months now”, or “4 months ago, I didn’t know how to speak 10 words in Indonesian, and now I can hold a basic conversation, and order food, and take the bus and…!” What is the saying, time flies when you’re having fun? I’m not going to lie, living in Indonesia is not always fun and games. It’s really been the most challenging adventure, mostly because I’ve been learning so much everyday and then I get a giant headache because of all the learning I’ve been doing and pass out in the heat.
Anyways, since I’m here not on vacation (as many people in the village seem to perceive) but rather to collect data on Javanese for the giant dissertation, I have a lot of work, and to try and make sure I get all this work done, I count days and make schedules to manage my time. This month, I’m going to finish some interviews about people’s use of Javanese that I have been conducting, and work on TAM markers and negation, and make a questionnaire on modality. Sometimes I wonder if all the schedule-making takes up too much time. But in the end, it helps me to get clear on what I need to do.
Now it’s not counting how many months and days have gone by (8 months and 18 days); instead, the countdowns have begun. A countdown to ISMIL and ISLOJ conferences at the end of June, a countdown for when Francis comes to visit at the beginning of July, and then a countdown for when I fly back in mid-August!
Even though I’ve been doing all this counting, I’m still so confused about the time. Sometimes I absentmindedly write down the date in my elicitation notebook, and then look down to see that I wrote February 2, when it’s May 2. The weather here is so unlike the Canadian 4 seasons that it’s so confusing that it’s hot all year round (I mean, there are clear differences between rainy and dry and windy season but it’s still hot all year round to me – 28C yesterday, today 29C, and tomorrow 30C or 32C…) Counting…..