‘Malam minggu’ means Saturday night. Having now experienced quite a few‘malam minggus’ in Indonesia, I feel qualified to write on the subject. It is generally the time for having fun, going on dates, hanging out with friends, etc. It is also the one night a week that KT and I can both enjoy with the knowledge that we aren’t entering the forest the next day. We typically spend Sundays doing laundry and entering data. But back to the fun stuff…
In the city: A typical ‘malam minggu’ in Makassar = dinner (Western food!) + beer + karaoke. There are many nice restaurants in Makassar that serve non-Indonesian food, and depending on how long we’ve been in Bengo, sometimes pizza or a sandwich really hits the spot! It’s easy to get over the shameful fact that we are Americans eating French fries in Indonesia, because 1) we eat them with sambal, not ketchup, and 2) it is too delicious for us to care. Makassar is on the coast, making another desirable dinner option ikan laut. As we walk into our favorite restaurant, they open up coolers for us to view the freshly caught ocean fish. Grilled to order, with spicy sambal, lime juice, and garlicky kangkung, this may be one of my favorite meals ever. ‘Malam minggu’ in the city is also exciting because we can drink COLD beer. We usually order Bintang and Guinness and mix the two. I was dubious the first time I tried it, but it is surprisingly delicious. But as my friends well know, I’m no beer connoisseur! Finally, any respectable ‘malam minggu’ in Makassar includes karaoke. By this, I do not mean belting out a little Alanis at Red Wing after trivia. We frequent a chain called Happy Puppy (because we love the name, obviously). After settling into our private room we spend anywhere between 1-4 delightful hours singing a mix of: Beyonce, Indonesian love songs, rap from the early 2000s, and dancing to Danza Kuduro.
In the village: A typical ‘malam minggu’ in Bengo = balo + jendral. To start the evening, KT and I, in a more jovial mood than usual, shower and ‘get dressed up’ (that means jeans and eyeliner!). All we have to do is walk across the street and we have arrived at our destination. In the house of our friends (all men), we sit on the cool tile floor and are immediately served a glass of balo, an alcoholic beverage obtained from the Aren/sugar palm tree. It is light pinkish white in color, opaque, and a bit of an acquired taste. Worry not- KT and I have acquired the taste. A glass of balo is also a magical (and dangerous) thing because it is constantly being refilled. On a special occasion, there might even be chicken to eat while you drink. But there is always the card game, jendral. The objective is to get rid of all your cards first. The luckiest hand is one with four-of-a-kind (that’s jendral), almost a sure win. But the worst part is losing because then you have to shuffle for the next round. I have done my fair share of shuffling, but we have the hang of the game at this point! Jendral is great because it’s a fun way to connect with people even if you lack the vocabulary for intriguing conversation. In conclusion, peanut butter and jelly go together like balo and jendral.
While Indonesian Saturday nights are certainly a change of pace from the bars of Hillcrest, they are no less fun!
Sampai jumpa lagi!