Why I love being the token white person

Even though there are banyak bule (many white people/foreigners*) in Aceh, it’s still pretty common to get singled out. Sometimes this can get tiring (e.g. being yelled at from cars and motorbikes), but let’s be honest about one thing, I love getting special treatment of any kind. 

Today it really worked in my favour.

I went with a couple of colleagues to the site of a Balai Inong, which is a kind of women’s community centre common to Aceh. The organisation I work for is funding the construction of three of these in tsunami-hit areas. We work with the local committees who manage and monitor the construction.

Every now and again we attend a ceremony for the turning of the first sod. The photo above is one of the construction workers digging the hole for an offering of rice and flowers. I’ve lost the photos of the actual offering. Nice one Sarah.

This morning, about a month after I took that last photo, we went along to another at the same site for another ceremony… and voila! A Balai Inong!

Any celebration is good right? But my enjoyment is quadrupled when…pulut is served!

Pulut is my favourite Acehnese dessert and it is sensational. You get some sticky rice, ladle coconut-y soup with banana over it and add some other stuff whose ingredients I can’t even begin to fathom. Today, when someone found out that I loved the dessert I was immediately ushered into the eating room to get the first serve. Everyone found the image of me sitting alone in the room stuffing my face pretty funny. Sadly, I am the photographer, and I was too buys eating to take any photos, so it’s a mental image only.

This is truly a special occasion dessert. The first time I had it was at Fazil’s wedding. Here is Fazil (he is a security guard at the office) at his house before the wedding:

And here is me eating the dessert at the wedding:

This is another perfect example of special bule treatment. Even though we didn’t know anyone at the function (apart from the groom), we got to sit in the VIP dining area with senior members of the family! The rest of the plebs had to sit outside wherever they could pull up a chair. Suckaaaahs!

I am aware of the absurdity of me posting about how being white gives me unfettered access to dessert before posting about the fascinating event that is an Acehnese wedding. I can only apologise for my misguided priorities.

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