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If blood is actually thicker than water, I wouldn’t be too surprised if there was Sirup Susu gurgling through my veins, not just because of its favorable color or its fitting sweet refinement but mainly for what this Indonesian rose lemonade represents to me.

My robust obsession for the former Dutch colony of the East Indies is recognizably prompted by family ties and the sense of belonging I intensely felt early on in life, while listening to my mothers stories of a world gone by, a society I tried to personally redress each and every time I subsequently visited the country, in hindsight painfully insensible to the moral imperialism and exploitation of that era.

In her stories my mother on every occasion advocated with reverence and loving awe for the servants who supported her upbringing, the Baboes, the Djongos, the Kokkies and the Kebons, without ever mentioning this alienating aspect of colonial life providing my grandfather, who was just a regular schoolteacher, with such an extended staff. I sometimes feel that my willing acceptance of her normal without giving her the third degree, cannot be equated with the passage of time alone, it really wasn’t all just blissful ignorance.

In my career as a playwright I repeatedly have had the opportunity to correct this slackness, writing about historic colonial abuse of power and even touring the country that emerged from this all. I’m convinced my mother would have rejoiced in pride seeing the huge billboards beside the roads with my name and picture on it, as was I, though I kept struggling with my personal connection.
I tried to address this issue in an interview with The Jakarta Post by diligently formulating a clear and outspoken opinion, but was only cited once in the final article, saying “This writer does not offer any viewpoints”.
Judge and thy shall be judged, right?

Our Asian travels have sparked our already huge appetite for spicy fried rice and curries even more, hence the exaggerated amount of Cayenne pepper plants in our veggie garden. The potentially burning quality of their capsaicin hangs like a veil over todays harvest, to be prepped for the dehydrator. I better tread with corresponding care.


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