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.