Some of the travel moments we live, truly are rare. There’s something so special about being far away sometimes, yet closely connecting with someone or someplace new, that makes the world seem so small, and everyone and everything so familiar.
One of my most cherished travel moments occurred when I was in Solo, Indonesia (a city also known as Surakarta and Kartasura). Returning to my hotel after a long and lovely day out visiting the old palaces of the city, buying beautiful batik cloth and clothing, and listening to an improv gamelan jam session, I was serendipitously and suddenly invited to a wedding, of people that I did not know, by a member of the family of the groom’s side of the wedding line, who were standing outside the hotel, greeting guests.
As I quietly passed by the side, to go to the hotel lobby to get my room key, I was noticed, and immediately invited to attend the wedding ( with 1100 other guests!) purportedly because at the time, the family believed that the presence of an American would bring good luck.
Despite my vocalized fears that I would be an intruder, “no” was not to be taken for an answer. I quickly went to my room, got into my only Indonesian garb -that was not quite up to the occasion, and in fact, was more appropriate for quietly visiting temples in modest dress, and I returned to the wedding line, assuming I would be seated in the area of folding chairs near the lobby. I was wrong. Instead, I was whisked to the very innermost front room (of three), where the bride, the groom, their immediate families, and the Imam performing the service, were seated only a few feet away!
The betrothed couple was absolutely stunning. The ceremony was beautiful and I had quite a lump in my throat, because I felt at that moment like one of the luckiest people in the world, to be right there, just then. What a gift…
Once the ceremony was over, the meal began. I pretty much stood out like a sore thumb, but everybody was friendly, warm and welcoming. Many people (who did not know English) came up to meet me, I think because I was such an object of curiosity. Although my basic skills in conversational Bahasa Indonesia were very limited, I was able to introduce myself, ask others’ their names, thank them for their kindness, and tell them that their food was delicious. Good thing I knew how to say that, because there were a dozen courses!
What a way to see a glimpse of the real Java, definitely an experience of precious and few.
Logistics? I flew to Solo on Silk Air, by way of Singapore, to which I had arrived on a free ticket with Northwest Airlines, which no longer exists. Too bad! I liked Northwest…
And what about you? Do you have some stories about moments you’d like to share? I’d love to hear…