Scene & Heard: Home Stay
Paper Edition | Page: 24
JP/P.J. LeoAfter resigning from his regular office job and the death of his beloved mother three months ago, author Andrea Hirata has been spending most of his time in his hometown in Belitung Island. But it doesn’t mean that he is simply taking it easy, because he is has a flood of inquires to deal with for his tetralogy of best-selling books, Laskar Pelangi (The Rainbow Warriors), now translated into more than 20 languages worldwide, including English.
“I communicate with translators and publishers every day. Sometimes they want to come to Belitung to see the places described in the book, so I take them around. It’s work but it feels like a holiday,” he told The Jakarta Post by phone.
His most recent work is the Laskar Pelangi Song Book, which was launched on June 22 and contains songs he penned himself.
On my days off …
I’m preparing a unique project called “Museum of Words”. It will be a place to exhibit works of literature and get references and experiences on literature. It may take years to materialize, but I enjoy working on it. As a writer, I can’t really take days off. Writing is like creating an art. Once you stop writing, you can lose your rhythm and context, meaning that your writing may lose its power.
My childhood holiday time …
When I was a kid, I remember riding my bikes with my friends to the beaches and rivers in Belitung during the holiday. We would go to Punai beach and have a picnic. One of the memorable moments was when my father took me to Tanjung Pandan airport to see the Fokker 27 airplanes taking off and landing on the runway. I couldn’t sleep for a week! For me it was the most exciting holiday experience.
Dream holiday destination …
I’ve backpacked to countries like Italy and Turkey and observed beautiful scenery, but then I realized that beauty was always very close to me. It is here in Belitung island, where the rivers, beaches and the terrain captivate my attention most.
Gangan, a yellow soup that is traditional Belitung cuisine, which can be made from fish or beef. I’ve been eating it since I was a kid. There is a saying that Melayu people seldom get stomach problems because they eat a lot of curcuma.
I’m a simple hillbilly. I don’t like eating modern, industrialized, fast food. I grew up eating home-cooked food. So when I’m traveling abroad, like when I recently received a six-month writing fellowship to Iowa in the US, I like to cook my own food.
Within yourself. Happiness is actually found in simple things, such as taking my nephew around the island by bicycle or seeing the stars at night. We go to coffee shops or see airplanes land at the airport. +Tifa Asrianti
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