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February 25, 2015

New Year’s Feast and Festivities

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – Happy Year of the Goat everyone! Well, we think it's a goat. Could be a sheep. They really don't differentiate because it’s an animal that grazes and bleats. I can't think of any others unless, of course, it's one of those African animals but I don't think any of them bleat.


The town started closing down on Monday. The coffee shops, well they aren't really just coffee shops in that each vendor had a stall that sold something, were first. It's like a shop within a shop. The owner rents spaces. There was the fried rice stall, the mee goring stall (take some pasta noodles, fry and add soya sauce or bits of chicken or mystery meat.) and the satay stand. Then there was the guy who sold just drinks. I ordered Coke because it was the beverage that had the least amount of sugar. They REALLY have a sweet tooth here.


Wednesday night is reserved for family. A large meal is served with delicious items that you cannot obtain the rest of the year. The night is a "must attend" for the Chinese family. Then, around midnight, an explosion of fireworks of all shapes and colors light up the night sky. A really awesome spectacle that comes from all directions at once. They aren't very organized but the scene was spectacular!


The next day was the time where one visits other families. Suriani and Dzul were sick...I mean really sick. They had a cough, their joints ached and fevers. Somehow I missed it with one day of the malady. It has been raining since January 2nd with two days of sunshine. No wonder.


I was invited over to Fiona and Alex's parents’ house. Fiona was sick but her parents put on quite a spread. There was barbecued chicken wings, a plate of broccoli and carrots, stewed chicken made with an alcohol from the jungle, a huge plate of pork, something I wasn't quite sure of but was afraid to ask and rendang beef. It was all so good except the pork which I couldn't eat because I am Moslem. Well I am, sort of, in that I had to covert to marry Suriani a few years back.


Alex and I talked about his Master's thesis he has to research for his degree. Apparently, the Master's program is different here than in the States, and they only have to write and defend a topic. I never had to do that, just had to defend before three professors. That was Ohio University, many years ago. He has to defend sometime in March.


Oh, it is still raining, but more like a mist than the downpours we have been having. It also rains at night. The locals say it will stop altogether at "Chop Go Me," the 15th day after Chinese New Year.


My research in coming along well. The tombstone we found at Tannah Ledah, about 18 km from here, dates to the 12th or 13th Century. I don't know yet who is buried under the ground. I will have to contact somebody at the University of Brunei. Maybe he will know.


Happy Year of the Goat or Sheep or whatever grazes and bleats!


...Life is good. . . . .


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