Sunday, February 06, 2011

Facing Fiber Face – 1 February

A page in the calendar has flipped over. It is now February and Phase I, the filming of Rangsa ni Tonun is finished (at least for now. Mas Nashir wants to make improvements – especially with the footage on spinning and the cotton gin after the first screening). Jakarta is Phase II and Yogyakarta is Phase III. In Jakarta, we will be editing the film and in Yogyakarta, at the grand opening of Fiber Face 3, it will have its first public screening.

The Fiber Face event has generated much good energy. In addition to the opportunity to make the Rangsa ni Tonun film, the opening has compounded so many of the joys of producing the film – primarily the opportunity to be with the two Ompus Okta.

Both of them have been invited as special guests to the opening of Fiber Face 3. The female will proudly demonstrate her weaving skills and the male will orate, just as he did for the film. This is generating much excitement for them. They only warmed slowly to the idea – they had to receive permission from their ever careful and protective children, and they had to be sure the conditions were all right – but now they are committed to coming. They checked out the websites of Babaran Sagara Gunung and myself and read MJA Nashir’s chapters of Berkelana dengan Sandra. Ompu Okta doli even went to an internet café to do this. Oh, how times have changes since my first fieldwork when I had to travel all the way to Sibolga to get a long-distance telephone connection!

Ompu Okta doli is excited about walking down the famous Malioboro Road in Yogyakarta and Ompu Okta boru wants to see batik being made. I am pleased that we will be guests in Hannie Winotosastro’s guesthouse because Hannie is one of the biggest batik makers in Yogyakarta and the curious may also do batik in her workshop. The female Ompu Okta also wants to take a train. As a child, there was a plan to take a train, but it fell through. This may be her one and only opportunity so we have decided to return to Jakarta by train after their stay at the exhibition. In addition, she will receive the Fiber Face prize for textile excellence. We hope to make it an exciting and pleasing high point in her life.

The last time we visited (on the fateful day with the spinning wheel), she had wrapped her loom carefully in cloth and fixed everything so that the loom parts would not fall out and make it impossible to resume her work. She said she wanted me to bring the loom to Yogya to ensure its safety. I feel this responsibility very much and so it was incumbent on me to make sure that it was wrapped in a fail-safe way for traveling. In Porsea, I had purchased a pandan mat for Ompu Okta to sit on and we decided to wrap this around the loom. And then Pak Jerry, Mas Nashir and I went out to look for wrapping materials. I wanted some sturdy plastic to emulate shrink-wrapping, but my two companions introduced me to local ways. While I kept my eyes peeled for a plastic shop, they stopped the vehicle in front of what I thought was a heap of garbage! The old flattened cardboard of every size and colour, bound together with a rope was what they had been looking for! They insisted that this was appropriate wrapping material and I could scarcely refuse because it cost less than 1 euro. The plastic that we ended up using was the one in which the mat had been wrapped and the seller had been willing to relinquish to us. Back in the village, Jerry and Nashir wrapped the loom. Their concession to the times was in the use of a modern roll of wide plastic tape. When they were done, the Ompus Okta surveyed the strewn remains of the cardboard bundle with satisfaction and said they would sell it! Everybody was happy!

As a result of all of this, I am now on the PELNI ferry to Jakarta instead of an airplane. In fact, I am carrying two looms and I don’t let them out of my sight. The second is the one that we prepared while shooting the film. It will be available in Yogyakarta for guests to weave on (and me too! I l still long to weave beside Ompu Okta.)

Leaving Balawan Harbour near Medan

Being pulled out into the famous, busy /Strait of Malacca
Before I left, I was assisting with the travel arrangements for Ompu Okta. Fiber Face 3 will pay for their journey. The Ompus Okta really would have preferred to travel with Mas Nashir and myself to Java, but we have a stop to make in Jakarta. While I still have to work out their travel from the village to Medan, on the day of their flight, Pak Jerry will pick up them and the two musicians (Marsius and his brother Sarikawan), bring them to the airport on time, and help them with check-in and the purchase of the airport tax. As Pak Jerry brought me to the ferry yesterday, we walked though the whole scenario. He is pleased to be of service and we know that we can rely on him fully. He is brilliant with details and keeps everything firmly on track. I could leave Medan with my mind at ease. I want the Ompus Okta to have a good time with no worries.

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