Showing posts from October, 2018


History is never been too far in all places in the world if we look for it but sometimes in same cases,  history comes so close to daily life, even when we do not look for it.  I biked in Amsterdam on a sunny Saturday last week and couldn't stand to stop in front of buildings with names of places in North Sumatra. Places where Deli Tobacco or Deli Tabak as the Dutch called it, grew and distributed to all over the world. It was a long time ago but in Amsterdam the traces of Deli Tabak is so vivid and present.  I used to live in North Sumatra, I used to translate a book about History of Deli Tabak and up to now fascinate with industrial heritage so these names are close to my heart. My imagination went to the tobacco plantations and processing places in Medan where I visited few years ago. The tobacco industry of Sumatra now is only a fraction what it used to be in the Dutch Indies period.  Deli Maatschappij, the tobacco enterprise, started its operation in 1869 with la


Last weekend, 28-30 September, was a Batak weekend for me.  I travelled to Germany with Sandra Niessen , a mix of Canadian-Dutch who wrote  "Legacy in Cloth: Batak Textile of Indonesia."   We visited IFICAH , International Foundation of Indonesian Culture and Asian Heritage in Hollenstedt. They organize an exhibition titled "Ahnenkult und Klingenkunst der Batak auf Nord-Sumatra" (Ancestor Cult and Batak Art of the Batak in North Sumatra).The hosts, Gunther and Daniela Heckmann received both of us with exceptional hospitality in their home-office-museum base. We stayed two evenings in their place and spent hours talking about Bataks.  On Saturday, Sandra and I went to Hamburg to meet Roberta (forgot to write down her family name), an Italian researcher about Batak manuscripts. You could imagine how much Sandra and Roberta went into discussions about Batak in all facet. It was fascinating to see the two spoken  Bahasa Indonesia and exchanging experience


A status as world heritage city, site or anything else, both tangible and intangible, becomes prestigious in Indonesia (and Asia in general) now. It is a new trend when many cities slowly realize that their cities are entitled for that status. Jakarta started as the first city to nominate itself. No, UNESCO was not satisfied with the nomination and Jakarta politely withdrawed its nomination. After Jakarta, Sawahlunto followed. We don't know the result yet. Now Semarang is keen to apply. Nominate a city for the sake of status as world heritage city is not appropriate. A status is a kind of recognition from international world for properly well managed historical cities. Cities that value their characters, cherish them for current life and conserve them for the future.  Characters have to come along with other qualities such as economic, social and environmental elements. Most old city quarters in Indonesia are dying. When ideas about conservation pop up, the tendency is to