Today ten years ago, an article about Sumatra Heritage Trust and built heritage in Medan appeared in the largest newspaper in the Netherlands, de Volkskrant, written by Wiecher Hulst.

MEDAN koestert zijn erfstukken
de Volkskrant, Traject, 23 januari 1999 (pagina 3)

Several readers have contacted me and we keep in touch with each other even until today. With some, we become almost like a family. We exchanged places to stay, we shared new friends and at some point tried to conduct projects. What I have learned later, that friendship and project do not get a long together, so the projects were not realized, but our friendship stays.

Coincidentally at the same year, 1999, I also visited the Netherlands for the first time invited by the Netherlands Architecture Institute, NAi, in Rotterdam (thanks to my friend Soehardi who organized it.) With several Indonesian architects we looked around about heritage conservation and urban renewal projects in some cities. Continued with meetings to learn about the Dutch institutions for heritage conservation and hunting for archive materials about Sumatra. It was a very productive three weeks visit for me. It was winter, we arrived at 5th December early morning and stayed in a guesthouse Leiden as the first stop. It was dark, cold and rainy day. I was caught by the picture of Dutch houses by the canals and that was exactly Holland in a postcard image. Later that day I wanted to have some fruits so I went out. I saw a fruit shop with a sign 'gesloten.' I had no idea what it means but I went in anyway. I got some fruits and continued to an Indonesia restaurant for a dinner with friends. Now I had to laugh about it because I understood the meaning of 'gesloten' : closed.

Other important event which stayed vividly in my memory was when I saw the statue of JP Coen in Amsterdam, the former Governor General in the colonial era in Indonesia. It was a small statue and placed invisibly under trees and behind apartments. Somehow it made me realized that all history lessons that I have learned was not a fairy tale anymore. They are real. And this statue is a man who once led all those actions and happenings in the history. Now sound exaggerating but then I had problem to hold my tears although only for a while. It was an emotional moment. I have experienced more moments like this afterward every time I was encountered with facts about our past, but this first experience remained the strongest.

After that visit, I came back to the Netherlands almost every year and sometimes more than once a year. Often I felt like I travelled back to the past, to my childhood when my parents were still alive in our Dutch house in Oranjeplein, Bandung. I travelled back to the times when I sat on the bike of my father, when my mother scolded me by being 'slordig' (careless) and all those conversations at home with a lot and a lot of Dutch words in between. And the Dutch entered our kitchen also with their 'bistik' (beefsteak) and 'kaastengel' (cheese stick). Many of my father habits now I understood where they came from.

Tonight, I will have 'Indonesian rijsttaffel' ( is an elaborate meal consisting of many -forty is not an unusual number- side dishes served in small portions, accompanied by rice prepared in several different ways) with friends who contacted me ten years ago. Nothing emotional, it is a celebration and being thankful for our friendships which started by an article.
(source :www.dwikarya.nl)


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