I have SO much I want to post because it’s been an action packed and reunion-filled 1.5 weeks. I’ve experienced the good fortune of being home in time for:
1. Ryan’s first birthday (and all the girls were in the same place for first time in years…Ryan can really pull a good crowd);
2. Ksenia’s birthday party which was not only a special occasion but a history-making night of martinis and photo magic;
3. The Waranga News 30th birthday at which all but one Fortuna sibling+family was in attendance…and plenty of other people who I’ve known for so long I don’t remember meeting in the first place;
4. Liam and Oliver’s christening (next weekend, which is a relief because I already have 100 photos to post)
But before I post about all of those things, I must finally post about my last few days in Banda Aceh.
As you all know, it is currently the fasting month of Ramadan. One of the rituals of Ramadan that we could probably all appropriate to great effect is the practice of breaking the fast (buka puasa=open fast) at the end of the day with friends. It’s common in Banda Aceh to host an event around buka puasa, and with quite a few birthdays and my farewell falling during Ramadan, we had a celebratory buka puasa on my last night in the office.
I forgot to take a photo of the banquet we had that night. Even thought there were about 15 of us (most of whom had not eaten all day), we barely made a dent.
I got this great photo of the security guards and Amir (the office clerk) looking very tough and rather unhappy about my taking photos. The following photo is a more accurate depiction of their usual demeanors.
The knowledge of my probable return to Aceh in the new year eased the seriousness of the goodbyes with my colleagues, and I’ll be exchanging emails for work frequently enough that we won’t have time to miss each other…but I experienced a very strange almost vertigo-like feeling as I packed up my things and left the office that night. It was as though my body was telling me “noooooo, no no no, you are not leaving this place just yet…what about our cute little office, and what about our great team of people…we were just getting started…”
I received three lovely gifts that night. My boss had a shirt tailored for me in Malaysia and even though she guessed the size, it fits perfectly. I think it’s the first shirt I’ve owned that I don’t need to roll up the sleaves. The senior consultant, who taught me so much about the tumultuous history of Indonesian activism, gave me some handmade batik from Java. And my other colleagues gave me a traditional embroidered Acehnese bag in a beautiful silver/gunmetal colour that I love.
Anyone who spoke to me in the first couple of months of my stay in Aceh can probably recall that I wasn’t always very satisfied with my work. I came into the office at a difficult time of transition. But slowly new members of the current team arrived and we did a lot of hard work to get things moving again. We built a cracker of a small team who worked harmoniously together and provided ongoing and bottomless support for each other when we needed it. We also had a lot of fun and felt perfectly comfortable storming in to each others’ offices to beat our heads against walls. Haha, that was fun. I’ll be glad to be back there next year.