Sunday, June 24, 2012

Javanese Wedding and Aleppo-Amman stories

This is the cross stitch project that I mentioned on my 'about this blog' section. I bought this kit in 2003 (If I am not mistaken). I entered a hobby shop in a mall in Jakarta and fascinated by the cuteness of cross stitch projects there. So much different than my mum's style and how the back stitch gave a frame to the shape of the stitches. I couldn't remember why I bought this design back then, maybe I was attracted to a javanese man? maybe I was wishing to get married soon? :D

I remember I took this kit to Lampung (the western tip of Sumatra island) when took my annual leave to our hometown in Metro, so I would have something to do and my mum could guide me how to do it. I could still remember I miscounted when I stitch the bride's batik skirt and I didn't bother to recount. I just stopped left it in my room.

In the end of last year I went to Indonesia and visited Metro to congratulate my parents who just back from their pilgrimage to Mecca. I found it in my dressing table's drawer, still inside my mum's tupperware cake box with rusty needles. Around eight years have passed and it was there where I left it, in my single bedroom :) I took it back to Aleppo, I thought I would start it all over again, use the almost torn pattern, bought new threads and fabric. I didn't feel like to count and check where did I make mistake.

When we had to go to Amman, initially it was because my husband had a workshop scheduled here for one week. After the explosions the situation deteriorated and I felt so insecure to stay all by myself with two young children. I was afraid if something happened and they (the office) applied their contingency plan and we all be evacuated to Turkey, what would I do? I knew they wouldn't leave us but still... I would be panicked and it would be very difficult. It would be impossible to pack, kids won't let me... they wouldn't understand what was going on.

So we decided that I and the kids should go with him, and since we will be relocated to Amman (but there wasn't exact date when it would happened) we thought it might be a good opportunity for me to see the city and if we were lucky we may find a house. It was a quick decision, I packed only one medium size luggage, but I remember to take this unfinished cross stitch with me. I thought, who knows... I may need something to do to clear my mind from all this chaos, rite?

Early morning, it was still dark in quiet Aleppo. A van from the office picked us up, I looked at our house for the last time, never know when would I see it again... whether I would be back. We left everything behind. Somehow I knew I would not be back. Airport was packed with a growing number of people who wanted to leave the country. Families with young children, each of them carrying heavy hand luggages, bags bigger than themselves. Young foreigners, seemingly backpackers (I surprised there were still many of them... never seen any tourist in the city since we first there in October 2011) with sacks. Surprisingly, snow came again just before we took off. Everything was so different than November 2011 when I left Aleppo to Indonesia. Grim. Grieve. Unhappiness. Uncertainty was in the air. Serkan said, 'if they don't let you in I will not let you come back here, I will send you to Turkey, I will call my family from Amman'.  After the Arab springs Jordanian government changed their visa policy. Most of nationalities couldn't get their visa on arrival at the airport, they have to apply to Jordanian embassies. Amman office called Jordanian immigration office and they said Indonesian can get their VOA at the airport but there is no guarantee I can get it (it depends on the officer in charge) because there are many Indonesians in Jordan as low class workers and some of them are illegal. To be on the safe said the office provided us with a letter, Serkan also told his collegue in Aleppo to get ready to pick me at Aleppo airport if they refused me to enter Amman and sent me back to Syria. Some of our friends who were supposed to travel with us had to defer their departure for 2-3 weeks because they didn't want to take the risk of being refused to enter Jordan at the airport.

The day when we're back from Indonesia to Syria, at the front yard of our house in Aleppo. It was the first day I stayed in that house and also the first day the kids  reunited with their daddy after 1,5 months holiday

Picture taken one day before we left Syria in our living room. Our Syrian friend came over with his family, they brought full  Arabian style brunch. David (third from left) also relocated to Amman and stayed in the same building with us now. We still keep in touch with Adel and his family (his three girls are amazingly smart, pretty, nice and special), our thoughts and prayers are always with them...

Fortunately, I could enter Jordan easily, and as it happened we found a furnished house to rent on our second day in Amman (we hit a jackpot immediately, in Aleppo it took us one month!). We moved in after stayed in a hotel for a week, and Serkan left us immediately. He didn't even stay a night. He needed to go to Lebanon and also went back to Aleppo to deal with our belonging that we left in the house.

I thought leaving Syria would be easy. We'd been there only for 2.5 months, I hadn't attached with anything. But I was wrong. I wasn't prepared to move again. I hadn't say goodbye to anybody. I left everything behind. And knowing what we left, how the condition there... what they had to deal with... I felt bad. I felt I betrayed them :( I almost cried everyday. It was strange as well to stay in the new house without Serkan. None of the furnishing belong to us, I felt as if I invaded somebody's else house. Not any single photo or ornament, not even a small fridge magnet is belong to us, to mark our existence in this house. It was strange, it was hard. I wanted to cry but I shouldn't, I was ashamed, why should I cry for the furnishings and belongings? What I have is much better than what people in Syria been through. They don't cry for furnishing but they cry for live that been lost. It made me feel even worse. I felt bad because I wanted to cry but it made me want to cry more.

I tried to keep myself busy. This house was very filthy. The landlord had paid a cleaning lady to do the job but I think she didn't know how to clean properly (they need to learn from Turkish! seriously! If you been to turkish house you would know what I mean, but my house doesn't count as turkish house though hahaha). So at the day time I cleaned I cleaned and cleaned. In the evening, I turned to my cross stitch. I didn't have any projects to do, didn't have any pattern and materials, didn't know where to buy. So I had no choice but this Javanese Wedding projects. I recounted it again, pulled some threads (it was very simple mistake! can't believe I left it all those years!), and finished it. Unfortunately I forgot to take 'before' shots. I stitched the head accessories of the bride, the umbrella, completed the batik skirt, made the shoes, and all backstitches. I thought this Javanese wedding is irrelevant for me anymore (I should made Lampungnese wedding since we wore that in our Indonesian celebration) so I wanted to give this for a best friend of mine. She was very close to me around the time when I start stitching it, I was working in a small village in Labuan (the entry to Ujung Kulon National Park) and she worked in a city nearby so we visited each other almost every weekend. I first met her on my first day in High School (in Indramayu, West Java) and become best friends ever since. We were separated in the last grade of high school because my family moved to West Sumatra, but we reunited again because we were accepted at the same university (but different faculty) and become flatmates. After I left Indonesia to New Zealand it seemed almost impossible now we would live near each other but every time I went to Indonesia for holiday we always spent quality time together. In 2009 she took me to her hometown in Jogjakarta and last year we visited several places in Jakarta. She married her high school sweet heart (which is also my friend) when I was in New Zealand. She was a javanese bride indeed. Some lettering in backstitches, and I think its a great present for them. Finally I finished it: 2003 - 2012, started in Indonesia and finished in Jordan. I wish I could hand it on their wedding anniversary but I think I should give it whenever I come to Indonesia (sometimes next year).

One of our holiday highlight in Indonesia: Endah took us to Schmutzer Primates Center, Ragunan, Indonesia. Dilara was so happy to meet Monkey, Gorilla, and Orangutan, it was an unforgettable day indeed :)
on their Wedding Day, do they look like my cross stitch project? :-p

I hope my long story doesn't bore you, thank you for stopping by :)

***** many thanks, terima kasih, sağol, شُكْرًا


  1. Yana ... There is nothing even remotely boring about your story! I admire so much your courage & attitude toward what life has thrown your way. I can't even begin to imagine being forced to leave my home, my country, & having to leave all our possessions behind. The cross stitch you made for your friends is not only beautiful but has a history behind it. I'm sure they will treasure it always.

    1. thank you so much Shirlee... I didnt know that I have that courage either... I just following what God has for me and try to be grateful for the experiences :) hugs xoxo

  2. Hi Yana

    I agree with Shirlee, your story is not boring at all, in fact I found it very interesting.
    You are strong to have left everything behind and started again.
    Your cross stitch is beautiful, well done on finishing it.
    Your family photos are lovely too!

    1. thank you so much Milly... hope you are having good days over there xoxo

  3. hi mbak yana! wow your journey is awesome and the historical about the javanese wedding's crosstitch takes a long journey.. i'm waiting your another interesting story in amman.. give my warms regards to dilara and ali :)

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