Folks, this is my final blog from Banda Aceh. Thank your for your support and words of encouragement over the past year!
The previous blog was supposed to be the last one, but that changed when my staff gave me a beautiful going-away present. They gave me a replica of the helmet reputed to be worn by Teuku Umar of Aceh, an Indonesian national hero of resistance against the Dutch. They had it specially sized so that it would fit my fat head!
Nice hat, eh? Teuku Umar's exploits in the long war against the Dutch are legendary. Check out his story by clicking here on Melayu Online.
Receiving that hat reminded me that I hadn't photographed the very unusual mosque that I pass by every day on the way to work. It's on Jalan (Street) Teuku Umar in Banda Aceh. Instead of the usual silver or otherwise standard dome, this mosque has Teuku Umar's helmet as the dome!
I forgot to record the mosque's name, but everybody just calls it Mesjid Teuku Umar. It's on the street of that name, and the dome comprises Teuku Umar's helmet! Here's a close-up of the dome. Compare that with the first photo above, the replica I received.
The gates to the mosque grounds are also crowned with a small replica of the helmet. This being close to our office, our staff come here on Fridays for their prayers.
There's a pair of stairways that lead to the upper level of the mosque.
The stairs are covered by a roof adorned with Acehnese wood carvings.
A close-up shows the flower motif that's common in Acehnese woodcarvings, paintings, and batik. (Click on photo for enlargement.)
Here's a close-up of the men's shirt from the previous blog. You can see the flower motif as well:
Similar motifs are apparent in our office on Jalan Sudirman. Our office is a large house belonging to a formed high provincial official that used a lot of Acehnese woodcarvings in his house.
This is another carving from the office. Click on photo to view details.
Back to the hat ... I had a chance last weekend to attend yet another wedding in Aceh. Here's the groom at his house getting ready to suit up. This fella's Sadaruddin, one of the engineers in my section.
He tries it on for size before embarking on the motorcade to the bride's house...
The groom's party arrives at the bride's house. Is he having second thoughts about taking this big step?
But soon the bride arrives and all doubts are dispelled!
And another perfectly good bachelor bites the dust!
My Aceh blog isn't complete without a shot of what kept me sane during the long work days... the prospect of swimming laps at the pool at the Hermes Palace Hotel in Banda Aceh! It's a boomerang-shaped pool --- we estimate about 35 m long!
We are a respectable Shariah law province. Rules for pool attire and behavior are clearly spelled out!
Another frequent swimmer is little Micah, who's training to be in the US Olympics team in, oh, about fifteen years. His mom Laura is teaching at the local university here, and his dad Jeff is an engineer working for an NGO that is building reconstruction housing.
The friendly hotel staff keep an eye on us while we are in the pool, and assist us in every way.
And it's time to go --- I leave in about three days. My landlord holds his grand-daughter, Sahira Avida Oemar, while she bids me farewell and Godspeed.