January 24, 2012
Solo in Solo
Solo is the centre of batik, a process using wax and inks to make patterns in fabric. The traditional process is still used for sarongs and also for modern fashion on shirts and dresses. Batik patterns are found everywhere, even painted on lamp posts and becaks (bicycle-rickshaws)! After browsing endless aisles of shops at the market, I finally decided on a silk scarf, mixed with several intricate patterns, including one I mostly identify as Javanese.
The Istana Mangkunegaran was beautiful and Solo's Grand Mall was a fun escape from the rain. I finally had a real (not instant) coffee at O Solo Mio and the loud, spinning rides at the amusement park looked like they were made out of paper mache. But what was most amazing about Solo, were the people who lived there. Every street we walked down, every person we passed, gave a warm smile. The toddlers yelled out "Hello, hello" to get our attention. Some shook our hands, followed with a respectful touch to their cheek. Women laughed with sparkles in their eyes and men gently nodded "Pagi" (good morning). A boy showed me how to play his popsicle stick game and a man gave me a couple passion fruits from his garden. A girl glamorously curled her hair as I took her portrait and teenagers grouped around me to take photos on their cell phones.
Having time to wander on my own as Huy was feeling ill, I passed a few girls wearing blue headscarves. A couple more appeared and asked for my name. Within moments I was surrounded by at least 30 blue-scarfed girls from the nearby Islamic school! They shied away from a photo, so I stayed a while to chat. One girl translated all the questions from Indonesian to English, and then my answer from English to Indonesian, followed by a group giggle :) After at least 45 minutes of discussion, they accepted a group photo. As I began to leave, every single girl shook my hand with a pretty smile, and some a touch to the cheek. And an acknowledgement to Huy to tell him they hope he gets better soon. It was so lovely and heart-warming and unexpected and endearing that I cannot properly explain my emotions as looked back and saw them all waving back, saying goodbye.