December 26, 2009

Miri Christmas Open Houses

Christmas is usually for visiting close friends and family. And  if one happens to be of mixed parentage or what we call "bi-racial descent" this becomes very complicated but interesting.

On Christmas afternoon we visited  my late mother - in - law's first cousin's widow who  already has ten grandchildren from her five lovely daughters. Mrs. Flora Sempurai is a great woman who has been in the working world since she was 15! Hailed from Kanowit she married  Grand Uncle Sempurai when she was only 17. This was how she became related to us! Five years ago Grand Uncle Sempurai passed away after a short illness leaving her to raise their younger children.

The family of Sempurai and a young mother in law of Dorothy's.  Titbits and nice acar made by Mrs. Sempurai herself were served.

Mrs. Flora Sempurai - the pretty Grand good word to describe her : sporting.

The heavy rain kept us in her house for quite a while. But then we had to go and visit the next house.

My own brother-in-law has moved into a new house so we were obliged to make the maiden Christmas visit...even in the heavy rain.

This is red rice lemang (the rice is from Limbang) and is cooked by Aunty Sundai(Mother of Ipis)

But in spite of the heavy rain we were warmly welcomed. We felt really comfortable in the house away from the rain. While the rabbit outside tried its best not to shiver from the rain we were having a good time visiting and talking about old times.

Drinks of any type (Barcadi? Brandy? Tuak? Cap Langkau?) Cap Apeh?) were free flow. And there were packet drinks and tinned drinks too.

After having taken all the titbits and cookies we went into another room/kitchen to have a full meal of pork cooked in bamboo and three or four kinds of curry. But our favourite food would still be freshly made preserved mustard cooked with pork bones (soup) and the lovely leaf wrapped glutinous rice with filling. This is the mustard season in the ulu farms. So there is plenty of kasam ensabi (preserved mustard greens) for sale every where.

A home grown pig was slaughtered the day before and shared amongst the three neighbours. The pig was slaughtered in their garden and divided into three portions to the delight of the three women who live on the same row of semi detached houses in Happy Garden! Part of the pig was put into bamboo and cooked very slowly over charcoal fire  to make a wonderful signature dish called Pansur Babi.

This is the soup made from pork bones and preserved mustard green. sourish but also a little sweet.

This is Aunty Sundai taking out more and more food for us. She has a huge kitchen with high tech  equipment. She cooked all the dishes before she and the family went to Christmas Morning Mass from 8 to 12 at the Cathedral. Iban Catholics turned out full force for the Christmas Eve Masses in Lutong and Miri every year!! Some would be at the church as early as 6 to get a good spot . By midnight some of those standing throughout the service would be numbed with tiredness.

Another shot of beautiful and fragrant ginger flowers and pork stewed to perfection.

Cousins sharing about ten different dishes together. Ipis just got her good PMR results.
May become an engineer like her engineer father.

Nuts of every origin were also served in fine air tight bottles too. And I particularly like the layered Sarawak cakes ( no photos as I know you would be tired of seeing them anyway) which is choking with horlicks and condensed milk. We were also served with sun dried ikan bilis and oil-less plain roasted peanuts.

And then just before we departed from their lovely homes we had group photos taken before another lot of 20 or 30 guests arrive...These photos become our memory triggers later. Because kids grow so fast we will find it difficult to identify them. So before we make another visit we can review our photo albums....Smile...

We made it to two houses only on Christmas day  because of the heavy downpour . Visits like this allow us to have time to share photo albums (the older the better) and talk about relatives and progress in the ulu. Although no gifts are expected we believe that by bringing ourselves and exchanging good tidings are the best we could do. this is quality time with loved ones and getting to know new friends too.

This is Christmas Christian Iban Style in the City - "Ngabang "- or visiing open house.


wenn said...

that's wonderful!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Christmas allows us time to visit relatives These "open houses" have a special meaning to me. Some relatives are visited only during this time because they come home from overseas and elsewhere.

In a way Christmas is a good time for reunions of sorts. So matriarchs and patriarchs do have their day especially when their children make an effort.

But open house can also be very political in nature.

But not every one has a Christmas open house.

Here in Miri Christmas is celebrated in many different ways.

Bengbeng said...

i dont have to ask. i can read u had a wonderful xmas season :)

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng
Back from your trip? How was your trip?

Yes it has been a peaceful Christmas and plenty to reflect on....I did not burn the turkey or leave some friends out in the cold! I was showered with unexpected gifts too. And then love was all around cup runneth over...

Superman said...

Nice feast there. Sure had a wonderful Christmas day. Can feel it.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

The rain was torrential!! And in the BIL's house we met a man who talked about landslides and floods in the ulu! That was very disturbing.

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