08 November 2008

Goodbye Salatiga

Lusi has been a fantastic host. Every morning she came with little snacks for breakfast or with food for lunch or for the excursions of Jeffy, Ed and Lidie. And almost every day she took us to a different restaurant with the best fish, soto or just nasi goreng.

Lusi buying snacks and fruits at a streetshop in Salatiga.
Dinner at their home: a special soto…..

4 November 2008: Goodbye-dinner in a fish restaurant.
From left to right: Jeffy Aschermann, prof. Kris Timotius, rector of UKSW, Alvin, Santoso, myself, Lusi, Lidie and Ed Aschermann.
In the background Utomo, who drove us on so many trips.

Microscope and Ambarawa. This blog, temporarily named “Tempé Doeloe”, was about bringing a microscope to my former student Lusi Dewi at the University of Salatiga, UKSW. Why? Because we visited Lusi in 2000 and decided then that she could well use a fluorescence microscope to continue her study. It took me 8 years to accomplish this promise.

In 2000 we also visited the former concentration camp Ambarawa, where one of us, Huib M., had been interned. This time, we made several trips through Ambarawa and Banjoebiroe, into the surrounding mountains around Gunung Ungaran.

A citation in dutch from the book “Rode aarde (a story about the forgotten war on Java)” by Annie Bos (de Prom, 2001. ISBN 90 6801 696 2) describes how it was to be there in 1942:
Page 252: “Het doorgangskamp. Het was vlak voor kerst, 24 december 1942, toen we op de hoek van de straat moesten staan om geinterneerd te worden. Men mocht een kleine hutkoffer meenemen, een bultzak, beddengoed en kleding. Dat alles werd eerder opgehaald en met bussen naar het kamp vervoerd.
Die dag werden we met bussen naar Kletjo gebracht, een doorgangskamp. Mijn moeder zal niet veel hebben kunnen meenemen. Ze moest mijn broertje dragen, een baby van vier maanden. Bovendien was alles gestolen en vernield, wat wij bezaten. Wij, zusjes, werden in die decembermaand vier en drie jaar en droegen ieder een vlucht-rugzakje. Mijn moeder sjouwde ook de zware microscoop van mijn vader mee. Waarom deed zij dat? Hoe kan het dat de microscoop bewaard is gebleven en hij het plunderen en de gang door de kampen heeft overleefd? Gek dat ik mij daar niets meer van kan herinneren. Dat geldt ook voor Kletjo, een groot verlaten schoolgebouw, even buiten Solo. Hier werden de mensen van Solo en uit de omringende plaatsen verzameld, onder andere uit Tawangmangu, het vakantie-dorp in de bergen. We werden er geregistreerd en kregen een kampnummer.”

Kamar kecil. After more than 60 years, the “kamar kecil” had somewhat lost its anguish felt during my first years in Indonesia.

The “kamar kecil” or little room.

Thank you. Many times in the evening we sat on the veranda of the Le-Beringin hotel, telling each other the stories of the day, preparing manga’s or mangistans (Lidie), examining the photographs made (Ed), trying to contact the internet server (me) or contacting Anita at the massage (pitjak)-desk (Jeffy). Thank you, Ed and Jeffy, for joining us in this project, for sponsoring the HP-computer and, Jeffy, for your never-ceasing cheerfulness!

On our veranda at LeBeringin hotel.

“Katjongs”. At Jakarta Airport one lucky man was finally allowed to brush my shoes. More than the money (~20 cents) he seemed to appreciate the sandwiches we still had and handed out to all his friends; they were clearly hungry….

After brushing my shoes and eating our sandwiches, some little “katjongs” give us a happy goodbye at Jakarta Airport.

06 November 2008

More Salatiga impressions

More Salatiga Impressions

Tahu factory. On our way back from Telomayo mountain (1 November ’08) we stopped at a tahu home factory. In contrast to tempe, tahu (chineese: tofu) is a non-fermented soya product made by coagulating the “milk” of ground and filtered soybeans. In this factory the coagulation was obtained by adding one-day old washing water. Microscopic examination of this water showed a high concentration of bacteria (probably Lactobacillus); the pH was 4.3, apparently low enough for coagulation. A cheese-like remainder of the filtrate is used for animal food. At the end of the day the pressed tahu blocs are cut and fried and sold the next day.

A tahu home factory. Insert left: the coagulation step after adding the acid washing liquid of yesterday. Below right: a fresh tahu bloc that still has to be cut and fried.

Research. Fenny, a student of the faculty, and Yanti, a technician, were of great help in making preparations. Fenny was especially good in scaling and archiving the pictures with the HP-computer. They made preparations of outgrowing spores of the mould Rhizopus oligosporus in starter cultures for the soybean fermentation. And Lusi photographed the preparations in which the DNA was stained with a specific fluorochrome (DAPI). The photograph is from the report which still has to be finished.

Fenny and Yanti making preparations. Skilled, quick and very careful (never breaking a coverslip!). But: …..never a question.

Upper panel: Outgrowing spores from the Rhizopus-mould. Left bright field, right fluorescence microscopy. Lower panel: Developing mycelium after one day incubation.
The fluorescence images show the presence of DNA. Magnification bar: 10 µm.

Samples of tempe and starter cultures. Left: fresh packages of tempe after one-day fermentation. Right: the tempe became “busuk” or rotten after about a week.

Arum & Atik. When we were having lunch in a small restaurant in Kopeng on Telomayo mountain, two curious girls asked Lidie where we came from. They worked in a 4-star resort in Salatiga called Laras Asri. We went to visit them two days later. They proudly showed us around: a beautiful lounge, luxurious suites, a (for me) frightening “spa”, swimming pools and bars, all surrounded by a high wall that hided the kampong behind it. How we felt lucky to stay in Le Beringin Hotel, from where we could directly walk-up to the street to fetch saté and buy fruits on the market.
Arum and Atik lived together in one room. Arum is catholic and prayes once a day; Atik is moslim and prayes 5 times. Arum was glad she didn’t have to do that, but accepted the habit of her friend. They both thought that God had made man from clay, but also "believed" in evolution….
(Salatiga is exceptional in that 60% of the population is christian and and 40% moslim. In the whole of Indonesia more than 80% is moslim.)

Arum and Atik, on their motor bike in the rain and in the resort Laras Asri.
The lounge, beautiful suites and lunch on the terrace with nasi goreng and soto and a discussion about evolution..

05 November 2008

Impressions around Salatiga

Salatiga impressions

Music Festival at UKSW. On October 31 we went to the UKSW-Music Festival, and enjoyed the choirs singing for the category “Etnik”. The crowd of students from all over Indonesia was as enthousiastic as soccer-supporters in the Netherlands. And we agreed with them, that is with the students.

Choirs from Papua and Ambon in traditional dresses.

Lidie attracts a lot of attention…. The students behind us wanted to know from where we came? From “Blanda”. They were from Jakarta, Salatiga and Japan.

Alvin. The 8-year old son of Lusi and Santoso already knows about Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and Louis Pasteur! He already spoke better english than most students. Also, he had learned how to calculate with a chineese Abacus.

Alvin, reading the story “Antoni van Leeuwenhoek” in bahassa Indonesia and
Demonstrating an Abacus.

Nature. This time I have seen more birds than 8 years ago. At the lake of Rawah Penin we saw the Kingfisher and a White Egret. Near the lab I finally saw the Oriole singing in the trees and a yellow Honeysucker (?) in a Flamboyant tree. High in the sky a large eagle, the Garuda? The Gekko sounded 12 times. ..
Many different birds could be heard in the top of bamboo trees, but they remained invisible.

Rain clouds above the sawa (Photo Ed Aschermann).
Below the Beringin (Waringin) tree (inset: a large spider, almost 10 cm across).

A wood with bushes of bambu trees. Many birds, no snakes,
but an old woman cutting bambu twigs who got a shock when she saw me….

02 November 2008

Tempe production

Tempe production

In Salatiga there are about 100 home factories for tempe production. Tempe is a food product obtained by fermenting crushed soybeans with the mycelial fungus Rhizopus oligosporus. Even in small home factories the starter cultures of the fungus (called “ragi”) are bought from factories in Bandung or Jakarta. The soybeans are bought by the governement in the US and distributed via special shops. They are cheaper than those from China or those grown locally. However, during the last months the price of soyabeans has more than doubled.
An article in the Jakarta Post perhaps points to renewed interest in the use of tempe.

Jakarta Post: young scientists present their finding that tempe fermentation
can be accelerated by increasing the temperature in an oven.

During the past days we visited home factories of different sizes. They use different starter cultures and apply different recepees. We took samples of the various stages in the production for microscopic characterization of the microorganisms. See more recent posts.

Example of a small factory. Clockwise: -Fire place where the crushed soybeans are steamed (not boiled). -Water well and small machine to crush the beans. -The fermented tempe is packed in banana leaves. -Together with the proud owners of this home factory.

Example of a larger factory where 7 people are working. Clockwise: -Backside of the factory where the soaked soybeans are boiled in big drums. -Jeffy holding one of the US-sacks. –The crushing machine. –Packing of the washed soybeans mixed with “ragi” (starter culkture). -Naked soybeans and their hulls.

One small home factory was run since 1959 by Bapak Muslimin (75 years; Address: Sawo, Rt03RW01, Salatiga). When I asked whether he could make a living with the produced tempe he had to laugh. He told us happily that he payed the university study of two sons and that he was well able to support the rest of the family. His smile is no exception: Although we have seen many poor people in Semarang and in Salatiga my overall impression is that there is little discontent among the people.

Another example of a small home factory owned by 75 year old Bapak Muslimin. He has no machine to remove the soybean hulls and uses his bare feet. The hulls are not removed.

30 October 2008

Visit to Jokja

Visit to Jokja (Djokjakarta)

At 6 o’clock Sunday morning I visited the market on the main road of Salatiga, close to our Hotel “Le Beringin”. At that time the market is already open during 3 hours. Most people sit on the ground waiting until 7 o’clock when the inside market will open. Many people sold tempe packed in either leaves or plastic. They didn’t sell “ragi”, the starting culture for tempe fermentation.

Early market in a street of Salatiga. The woman (left) sells lombok,
the boy (right) taugé.

Walking back through the noise of hundred motorbikes I heard nearby the beautiful song of an Oriole. It took me some time to find the caged bird in a closed shop behind an open window.

Main street of Salatiga; at right the entrance to our hotel.
Right: a caged bird singing like an Oriole.

After breakfast Lusi, Santoso and Alvin came in a big car driven by Utomo to bring us to Jokja. Near the town we visited an old sugar factory, Gondang Baru, that had been closed down in June. Although it didn’t seem possible we were told that the factory would be running again next year.

Pictures of the sugar factory Gondang Baru, taken by Ed Aschermann.

Next we visited a village were they made ceramics and sculptures of wood and stone. In one of the gardens we saw a beautiful Rambutan tree; what a pity that these delicious fruits were not yet ripe…. We didn’t reach Jokja-center and drove back through a heavy rain via Magelang.

Throwing large pots with clay found nearby.
Right: Primitive wood firing in a one-man pot factory.

Rambutan tree with ripening fruits.
Rain on our way to Magelang.

27 October 2008

Graduation 24th and 25th October
Saturday morning Lusi comes to fetch me; she brings delicious snacks for breakfast. In the lab Yanti and Fenny make again preparations of fresh tempe. We still have to develop a procedure for cutting small and representative samples from the tempe blocs; the staining and microscopy part seems to be easier. Fenny is a great help in operating the HP. To our surprise we do not find much mycelium; instead a lot of large cells apparently derived from plant tissue (see photograph).

Pictures of tempe taken with the Axiostar fluorescence microscope.
Left: UV excitation of tempe-sample stained with DAPI and propidium iodide. The thin threads of the mold (Rhizopus?) seem dead.
Right: Blue light excitation with a X-filter. The green cells with red nuclei are probably plant cells.

About 25 students will get their bachelor degree (“Sarjana” and “Para-sarjana”; para=many) from the “Fakultas Sains dan Matematika`’. After a prayer and some talks the students come forward in white jackets and receive a trophy out of the hands of Lusi. There is live music, again a prayer and then an informal lunch. I talk with a student from East-Timor who will become a teacher. He speaks indonesian and hardly portugeese; but that is going to be changed now that they are independent!
In contrast to nearby towns like Semarang and Solo, Salatiga has a Christian majority of 60%, most of them catholic. In the whole of Indonesia the percentage of Christians is about 10%.

Lusi, as dean of the faculty, speaks to the students and their parents. After the formal session and a lunch, students come to Lusi to thank her for the education.

On Saturday the official graduation ceremony takes place which occurs three times a year. This time 530 students will graduate. The female students have to go to a hairdresser already at 5 o’clock in the morning! Their dress will cost them another $20!

The official graduation. Left: The members of the Senate are in beautiful dresses. In the middle are standing Kris Timotius, Rector of the University, and Lusi Dewi, Dean of the Fakultas Sains dan Matematika. Right: All students look beautiful!

We are fetched from our Hotel Le Beringin by a University car and guided through the crowd of students and parents to seats in the front for V.I.P. The speeches, a prayer and the naming of all stuidents is accompanied by gamelan music. The rector, Kris Timotius, moves the tassle at the left side to the right side of the graduation cap of all the 530 students that pass him. This solemn act of confirmation is performed in all Universities of Indonesia.
In his speech Kris Timotius mentions the dutchmen from Amsterdam at the VIP table and asks us to stand up, thanking us for bringing the micrsocope. After the ceremony we were invited to have lunch with the senate.

Jeffy&Ed Aschermann and Lidie as VIP’s at the graduation ceremony.

23 October 2008

22 October: Tempe samples

On our trip around Rawah Paning, the lake near Salatiga, we were surprised by a heavy rain storm! (21 October 2008)

22 October. Tempe: fresh and spoiled

With Lusi and Kris we discuss possibilities for a project and a grant application. A technician brings two packages of tempe packed in banana leaves: fresh and rotten. The rotten, brown-colored tempe has a terrible smell. Only now I realize that all the fresh tempe is produced the previous day from soybeans that are imported from the US. Local farmers cannot make profit with growing soybeans.

Two packages of tempe: fresh and rotten.
Sudaryanti (technician), Fenny (biology student) and Lusi, making preparations in the lab.

In the lab we try to make preparations of the two samples. We have to vortex, to centrifuge and to dilute the fluorescence stains. Now I realize how spoiled we are in our dutch laboratory with all the modern equipment. We only succeed in photographing Rhizopus-spores and yeast cells from the starter culture given by Rob Samson of CBS (Fungal Biodiversity Center, Utrecht).

21 October 2008

21 October 2008 Microscope in Salatiga

The first picture in Salatiga

On Monday morning, 20th October 2008, Lusi Dewi came with her husband Santoso to Hotel Metro in Semarang. After eight years we saw each other again! We made a detour to the beach with very rich houses but no birds, we ate delicious fish in a big restaurant and visited the coffee plantation Banaran in Bawen (“Kampoeng Kopi”). From there we could see Salatiga beneath us on the plane.

View on Salatiga (left) with the gunung (mountain) Marbabu and the lake Rawa Paning

The next day, October 21, Ed and I went to Lusi’s office together with computer, camera, agar plates, cells and fluorochromes. After drinking coffee with the rector of the University, Kris Timotius, Lusi and Agus Kristijanto, we went down to the room where the microscope had been waiting for almost a year. It took me a full hour to assemble the microscope; but then Lusi could take the first picture!

It took a full hour to assemble the fluorescence microscope.
With Kris Timotius and Lusi Dewi: the first picture

Ed, Kris and Lusi at the microscope

15 October 2008

Microscope for Salatiga

Marco Angelini and Thomas Beller in Milan - The Axiostar + Camera

To all those friends who contributed to the “Microscope for Salatiga”,

Remember that I wanted to bring a fluorescence microscope to Salatiga after my retirement in 2005?
The idea arose in 2000, when I visited my former student, Lusi Dewi, in Salatiga.

The microscope itself (a Zeiss Axiostar) was sponsored by Marco Angelini, director of Fraen Company (Milan, It), who developed the LED fluorescence illuminator for it. Thanks to you all I could purchase a Canon Powershot camera (plus adapters). The laptop computer for camera control and archivation of images was sponsored by Ed and Jeffy Aschermann.

We fetched the microscope in Milan on October 9, 2006. Marco Angelini and Thomas Beller were very helpful in demonstrating the LED-illumination. After testing the microscope in Amsterdam and comparing it with our own fluorescence microscope, we sent it off by DHL. In December 2007 the ~25 kg package arrived in Salatiga.

Special thanks go to Erik Manders (contact with Fraen Comp.), Chris Diekhuis (visit to Milan), Ellen Lutz (transport), Joachim Goedhart (fluorochromes and preparations), Norbert Vischer (ImageJ installation), Peter Zoon (Computer programs) and Frits van Beckum (contacts with prof. Kris Timotius of Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana).

Ed Aschermann: testing the laptop in Amsterdam - Pictures of Rhizopus oligosporus

Indonesian connection

Jeffy is an “anak Surabaya”, just as I am an “anak Batavi”, child born in Batavia. Jeffy was born in Surabaya 0n 29 January 1947. Her father (in the dutch army) and her mother (working for the Red Cross) met on the boat Orontes that brought them to Sydney, where they married on the 10 September 1945 (just after the Japaneese capitulation). Her father was assigned a post on the island of Sumbawa, where he accepted the (late) capitulation of the Japanese contingent.
Having studied Indonesian law at Leiden University, he became “Assistent Resident” of Surabaya until 1948, when Indonesia became independent. He then became law teacher at the University of Surabaya, but had to leave the country as one of the last dutchmen in 1958. Jeffy still speaks “bahassa indonesia”.

Departure at Schiphol: Ed, Lidie, Conrad, Jeffy

Search for my father’s house of birth in Semarang

My father, Oscar Woldringh, was born in Semarang on 15 December 1904. He left a picture of the house where he was born, without address.

Upon arrival in Semarang (on 18 October 2008) we walked from our hotel (Metro Hotel) to Toko Oen. There we met a french businessman who advised us to go to the former hotel Bellevue, now Hotel Candi Baru (= New Tjandi), where many old people lived who might recognize the picture of the house. In the restaurant of the hotel we met Sandra and Sigit, who thought to know the house. Sigit brought us to a beautiful, renovated building (Jl. Kyai Saleh #12-14) which was now a school. Inside it looked as a palace and we couldn’t believe that this was the first house of my grandfather, who had just married an english girl, Zilla Warren, in Surabaya (Her father, Arthur Warren, had been Vice-Consul of Surabaya).

The next day, October 19, we visited Mevrouw Wiriasudirja, the grandmother of Aileen A., student at AMOLF in Amsterdam. Her grandma used to make tempe, taoco and banana-wine (from fermented sugar-containing banana’s). She spoke beautiful dutch, but could not remember anymore her recipe. Aileen’s father, Ir. Paul Brotoseno, who came with sister Myra, also recognized the house….. He brought us in his car to the same address! Again we wondered how a young dutch couple could have lived in such a big house.

After this second visit to the house, Paul and Myra brought us to a small Chineese Temple, then to the huge office of a dutch train company (Bataafse Spoorweg Mij), to a fantastic shop/restaurant, where we ate and bought many Indonesian snacks, and finally to a huge, new Chineese Temple complex.

Old and new: could this be the house?