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    If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
    - Oscar Wilde

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    OOH HAA Mendaram Besai Reunion 2009 Share

    As promised, a review of Saturday's night Malam Gempuru Segulai Sejalai on July 18th 2009. Still awaiting a contributing post from a visitor's account of the event, so watch out for this space.

    Perhaps a fruition of combined thoughts to have a community reunion that was once a regular occurrence in the days of the past. Or maybe, just an excuse to dress up and get drunk together.

    Either way, Rumah Panjai Mendaram Besai(Mendaram Besar Longhouse), Labi saw a night of celebration and a gathering of people as many as there were mosquitoes...okey, so I exaggerate. But it was, at least an upgrade from the usual crowds we'd get during Gawai or New Year.

    So, we got there close to 6:30pm which was the stated starting time for the event, and although the stage was set, music blasting through the speakers and people were already pouring into theruai, there wasn't any indication that the event would ensue right after. Perhaps, the phrase janji melayu rings true not only for the Malays. Nearing 7pm, all hopes of starting dinner soon was lost as we waited for the families from each bilik of the rumah panjai to finally make their way to the ruai, a signal so the event can get underway.

    And this was when I got called in into my family's bilik, apparently to help some aunts with their hair and make-up - which I'm no expert in. Next time, please do not suggest my name when it comes to these things, I must insist. Because of this impromptu task at hand, I missed the miring (a ceremony in which peace offerings are made to the spirits) part of the event and the speeches as well as the appreciation awards to aki-aki and eni-eni (elders) of the longhouse.

    When I finally get to go out onto the ruai (with much less than perfect results at the task) dinner was already underway. Guests flocked to the buffet table and apparently all table etiquette does not apply here - men forgot their gentlemen-ness to let the ladies and young children to the buffet table, and the ladies with our soft-and-patient nature had to wait to feast on what scraps were left(ok..so maybe not scraps). Highlights of the buffet menu: ikan pansuh (fish) and nasi pulut (rice) stuffed into buluh (bamboo stalks) and grilled over low-fire on open wooden stove; and upa' which is a traditional vegetable dish made from the shoots of the palm-oil tree.

    Immediately after the communal dinner, the night's event continued with the Kpg. Mendaram Besar Kebaya Beauty Pageant (or so to speak), and perhaps this was supposed to be the highlight of the event. A bevy of beautiful (married) maidens in pseudo-traditional kebaya attires paraded down the ruai, feasting the eyes of those who watched amidst whistle-calls of approval, very much to the delight of their husbands, too. Personally, I thought the judging criteria should have included all aspects norm of a pageant competition, like the physicals (body-shape and even how she put on her make-up and hair; and her gracefulness). After all, real beauty is not just what's in the inside - it's the inside AND the outside.

    Anyways, the question-and-answer segment of the pageant took a little too much time that people were beginning to get restless. But the pageant MC was quick to remedy this by asking the ladies to do the cat-walk down the ruai once more, and then all was well. A great addition to this part of the event would have been another pageant just for the young ladies, as well..and I already have a favorite to win..=p

    And so the night went on with fun trivial games not just for the young, but the young-at-hearts, too. Piggy-back race and three-legged race for the husbands and wives, balloon blowing and jumping frogs for the kids; and even sumpit-dart (blow-pipe dart game) and dance-off competition for the elders were just some of the lighthearted follies of the night. Of course, a longhouse celebration is never complete without the ngajats and the ngkeromong (a traditional Iban percussion music instrument), as well as the offerings of tuak (home-brewed rice wine) to guests alike.

    For those idle beings like me who prefer to watch by the sidelines, entertainment was never short of as we revel in the fun-filled and stomach-crunching noisy activities of the night. Be that as it may, this brings its own penalties, too - hours of sitting on hard wooden floor and the constant re-adjustment of how one would sit will take its toll on even the strongest knees.

    Taking the meaning of "delay" to new heights, Malam Gempuru Segulai Sejalai promised to wrap up its show at the stroke of midnight. But at the ungodly hour of 4 in the morning, Game No. 8/9 was still underway, and many of the night's audience have all but dwindled to mushroom-groups here and there. Despite this, those who opted to stay up carried on with the fun and games, for some, no doubt, aided by the tuak.
    Whether or not this was just an excuse to dress up and get drunk, a longhouse gathering matters, and perhaps a necessity for us, especially if it resonates with the fact that a family get-together is always a time of fun in each other's company...and a whole load of tuak!

    OOH HAA!

    To see more photos of the night, click here and try here & here, too.


    Tina said...

    wow wee~ Good writing. Mau kau maseh write part-time for BT??

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