May 12, 2009

Kapit Short Term Mission - The Arrival of the Kechalak Shoots for Dinner

When we arrived at the longhouse all of us ladies helped with the kitchen work in preparation for the communal dinner in the evening. Not too tired, we were enthusiastic and highly spirited even with the minimal of kitchen facilities.

Our food supplies  had been bought in Kapit Market and we had selected tasty vegetables and meat with the help of Lina Kana who was very resourceful and knowledgeable. Lina Kana is a nurse and was born in Kapit. As a nurse she had served in many Sarawak hospitals before she finally settled in Miri to make it her family home.

When the ladies in the longhouse learned that Lina was one of us they immediately came forward very enthusiastically and offered their help.

We were welcomed by the Longhouse chief who had been informed of our coming. And as it the normal cultural practice, our team could use his family kitchen. Some of the ladies who recognised Lina brought whatever they could from their backyard, we only had to mention our needs!! They were so warm hearted and hospitable.

These longhouse ladies were indeed very neighbourly and compassionate. The older ladies called us
" anak" as it was impolite to ask for our proper names. It is a cultural barrier which often dumbfounded me and made me rather uncertain as I am used to "registering" names from Identity Cards etc. Such "reference names" are hard for many of us to remember. But for the longhouse people, they have no problems at all.

When Lina requested for Kachala shoots, a lady left the room and came back within minutes several stems. How lovely it is to have such fresh shoots, and to see such generosity!!

(Photo by Sarawakiana in Kapit)


Anonymous said...

A nice account of how hospitable the longhouse Ibans are!!
Unfortunately many unscrupulous people have taken advantage of this good trait of the Ibans since a long time ago. Colonial days and now post colonial days. Wish people can be more sensitve to indigenous cultures.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thank you for dropping by. It will take time and a lot of education for any one to be politically correct and sensitive to other cultures.

Most people tend to be very parochial and communal-centric. Education should democratise minds and help the educated to be non-discriminating and universal in outlook. But alas....we can just hoooooooooope.

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