The Indo Project asked its followers on social media, “How did your father or opa instill Indo culture in you?” TIP is pleased to share some of its followers’ responses below.
Language, Food and Family
Language of Dutch with Indonesian words mixed in and of course food and family around food. Rijstafel! ~ Jennifer I. Nelson
Sate maken. ~ D. L. Robbemond
Great Man Who Kept His Promises
He married my Mom who cooked everything Indo. He always spoke Malaysian when he didn’t want me to understand. I am an only child so we spoke mostly Dutch. Most of all, he was a great man. Kept his promises to everyone. ~ Jennifer Waldt-Perret
Love for Plants, Food and More
When my family visits my father Walter in Toronto he nearly always greets us with a big pot of his homemade ayam besengak, rice and cucumber salad. We’ll share our food informally in his garden filled with flowers and exotic plants and perhaps wander out after dinner into Chinatown and pick up some exotic fruit for dessert. His house is filled with art and music and books, sarongs and ikats he’s brought back from travels. We are all barefoot in the house and the floors are clean.
It’s been hard being separated by the pandemic and lockdowns so I have phoned him daily and we spend time sharing recipes and gardening ideas. Sometimes I wonder how many other people I know will stop and phone their dad to ask about how to make Javanese fried chicken. Yes, boil it in spices first. Sometimes I’m the one with the family recipes and will remind him of how to make his own sambal goreng telor.
The other day he phoned and told me I must go and buy myself a rhododendron because it brightens a shady corner so well. So I did. He travels with us when we visit Indonesia and delights his grandsons as he tours them around, explaining everything. When local people are surprised by his height and his beard and his language skills he answers airily “ah, anak KNIL”. That seems to clear the confusion quickly. Only recently did we really understand the depth of his own father’s KNIL career and how his love of gardening can be traced to his father’s success with plants in Java. It is a great, complicated family history project that is still yielding answers to old mysteries. I recommend every Indo try it if they have time, between frying tempeh or watering their orchids. ~ Jeanette Lambert
Love for the Beauty in Nature
My father had an abiding love for nature. Most of the vacations we took during my youth were two week+ camping trips in the Kern River- Sequoia area. I thought his disdain for those that he considered ‘wasteful’ or careless with their trash was a byproduct of having endured the war incarcerated in the camps, but he told me much later that the Indonesians he interacted with as a boy instilled in him an appreciation for the beauty of nature, and we ‘are just its guests.” He also spoke fondly of his time in New Guinea as well, marveling at the wide spectrum of wildlife present. ~ Eric Morgan, TIP Board Member
Love for Family, Stories and Food
My father, Piet Veerman, instilled Indo culture to my siblings and myself in many ways. One way he instilled Indo culture was by regularly telling us stories: stories about his youth in Indonesia, stories about his immigration from Indonesia to Netherlands, stories about being a young man in Amsterdam, and then his immigration to the US. Another way my father instilled Indo culture was his love for his family, which was evident through his incredible work ethic; he worked multiple jobs so my siblings and I could have music lessons, scouting, swim team, and so much more. Everyone who knew my father realized he was obsessed with Indonesian cooking – cook, eat, repeat. His specialty was lumpias; if you have ever met him, you’ve probably eaten his prized lumpias. Lastly, he instilled the Indo culture and how it could be intertwined with our American culture; he would often say, “Indonesia is my motherland, Holland is my fatherland, and the US is my Uncle Sam!” ~ Monica Veerman Cluff, TIP Volunteer
Love for Dutch East Indies and its People
Would you like to share a story about your Indo father or Opa with The Indo Project? We welcome you to describe them with The Indo Project. Submit your story!
Beautifully done, Monica Veerman-Cluff! Central in each of these recollections is a father who despite the hardships they endured instilled in their children a love for an ancestral homeland. An ancestral homeland with a rich history and culture that is no longer theirs. We honor these fathers not only on Father’s Day but every day for their resiliency, their love for their children and commitment to keep alive the Indo in each one of us.
I will try to write a little story about my father and his father (my grandfather). It will not be easy, because my father treated us ) his 4 little children, like he was treated in the Japonese Concentration Camps.
( That is what I found out, when I already was maried and we had children of our OWN.)
I need a little time, but I will for sure write you.