Family StoryMemoirStoriesIndo Fathers Instill Indo Culture to their Families

Introduction

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

Sate maken. ~ D. L. Robbemond

Indos Rudy and Lolly Waldt, married October 4, 1950 in Bandung
Indos Rudy and Lolly Waldt, married October 4, 1950 in Bandung
Indos Rudy and Lolly Waldt, here at Avio/Dutch club in 1999 in Orange County, California; entered Netherlands 1954, US in 1961
Indos Rudy and Lolly Waldt, here at Avio/Dutch club in 1999 in Orange County, California; entered Netherlands 1954, US in 1961

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

Indo Walter and daughter Jeanette
Indo Walter and daughter Jeanette

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

Undated photo of Indo Arie Morgan as a young man in Indonesia just prior to the war
Undated photo of Indo Arie Morgan as a young man in Indonesia just prior to the war
Indo Eric Morgan with family at Graduation
Indo Eric Morgan with family at Graduation

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

Indos Piet and Margaret Veerman with daughter Monica
Indos Piet and Margaret Veerman with daughter Monica
Indo Piet Veerman with daughter Monica circa 2017
Indo Piet Veerman with daughter Monica circa 2017

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

Indo Prisje as a little girl with "Papa" Friedrich Wilhelm Klüge
Indo Prisje as a little girl with "Papa" Friedrich Wilhelm Klüge
Friedrich Wilhelm Klüge, a gentle giant who instilled in me his love for the former Dutch East Indies and its people. My “Papa”, who helped build the hydroelectric infrastructure for the people of Java until he was forced to leave. Whose dream it was to spend his last days among his beloved mountains of Central Java. Instead, he passed away without ever seeing his “homeland” again. ~ Priscilla Kluge McMullen, TIP Chair

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!

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