|Nek Sofia and his pondok|
Notions of place and time play a large, if largely unacknowledged, role in culture. In this blog, I consider notions surrounding the beach shacks of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
|Pondok viewed from lagoon.|
|Children's' drawing of a pondok. Taken from the book Cocos Kids What do You See?|
|The school teachers at Nek Sofia pondok.|
Here's what they caught.
|Joey and Nek Sofia arriving at the pondok.|
|Nek Sofia feeding scraps to the chickens .|
|Poo, Pens, and Plots|
When we arrived, we were greeted by some pretty happy chickens. Nek Sofia raises them so they can be eaten at the end of fasting month Hari Raya (the Glorious Day). Raising of chickens at the pondok seems to be something of a tradition. It might be related to concerns about chicken poo polluting the ground water if you raise chickens around the catchment area on Home Island. This is reflected in a message in The Atoll (Thurs 6th Mar-Wed 19th Mar, 2014), the community newsletter. I asked about eggs. Nek Sofia explained that they are hard to find seeing as the chickens are free to roam around the jungle.
|After the scraps were finished, Nek Sofia chopped some coconuts open.|
|The chickens pecked away at the meat.|
|Inside the pondok. They take great care of their pondok.|
|Nek Sofia used his net to catch some little mullets.|
You can use these for bait, but his wife loves to fry and eat them.
|Joey stood guard over the bounty.|
The distinction between house and pondok might be related to Southeast Asian notions of centre and periphery. When the sea trade between China and India began to flourish, about two thousand years ago, traders brought Indian ideas about power to many ports in Southeast Asia. At least since that time, the idea has been that power is concentrated in the centre and dispersed at the periphery. (This contrasts the ‘modern/rational’ idea that, for example, Australia’s jurisdiction runs, undiminished to its territorial borders.) However, the periphery was also a place where people could attain power, by fasting, meditating etc in the wild and untamed areas. The monk-like people who inhabited these areas could, in some ways, legitimately challenge the power of the raja (king) in the centre. At least, that’s how I remember it—I haven’t got my books with me here!
|But Joey was tired and wanted to go home.|
|Take her home Skipper and First Mate|