Mal is Barone’s cousin and one of 11 children. His father is the one that owns the warung that Barone works at. I didn’t meet Mal the first time I was on Meno because he was in Lombok visiting his wife and 7 year old son at the time. Although he was a new friend, by the end I was probably closest with him. Jamal has a beautiful heart and is another one looking for his big break in life. He doesn’t have a set job but takes what he can get. He looks for tourists and provides and offers anything they are looking for, he wears many hats and thats all I’ll say about that!
When I first met Mal and he introduced himself to me I thought his name was Man and for 3 weeks thats what I called him. When I asked the others where he was sometimes they would look at me and say, who are you talking about? “Man” I would say, Barone’s cousin! Never once did anyone correct me because well…..it wasn’t there business if thats the name he gave me. One day someone said, you know his name is not Man but it’s Mal. Oh my gosh I was so embarrassed why did he never correct me? I”m sure he probably told me his name was Mal but I heard it as Man!
One day Man came and sat with me at my hangout place and he was eating this local food that looked delicious from “Mama Melani’s” food shack. I told him that I wanted to try it and asked how much it cost. He said that it was around 10,000 ruppiah ($1 dollar). So I walked next door and ordered it and she ended up charging me 25,000 ruppiah. What the hell? I watch and play with her daughter Mila every day but she was charing me double. Jamal laughed and said, thats just how it goes, there are local prices and tourist prices and well…..you are still a tourist even if you have been here a few weeks. “hummmffff” I was annoyed. “I’ll tell you what” he said, from here on out, whenever you want local food, you give me money and I will buy it for you” and that is how our friendship began. Everyday he would meet me at my hang out place and he would at and he would teach me “Sussak” and then go and buy us food. Sussak” the local language that is spoken in Lombok and on Gili Meno. Indonesian is the national language but each region has their own language and he was a very good teacher. Each day he would teach me vocab and I would repeat after him as he giggled about my huge accent. Indonesian is a very easy language to learn because they do not use the “future” or the “past” tense. Everything is spoken in the present form so no conjugation is needed and is very basic. For example they say, “I go to Lombok yesterday” or “I go to Lombok tomorrow”. It’s exactly the same sentence you just add the word “yesterday” or “last week” to make it the past or “tomorrow” to make it the future. He would sit with me for hours everyday until 5pm and then we would go to the local volleyball match. We talked about everything and anything he has a beautiful heart and again is another one that never had any guidance and is waiting for his big break. He visits his son and wife maybe once every 2 weeks. I asked him why he didn’t go home more often and he said that in his culture he can not go home without giving money to his wife. He in fact he does not have the right to see his son unless he gives money even though they are married! So he comes to Gili Meno, makes just enough and then goes back to see his son and give his wife money.
I eventually told Mal that I was embarassed that I was calling him Man for so long and he never corrected me! “Ah no worries Amanda, you call me what you want, I don’t mind”. “So is Mal your real name”, I asked since so many people had multiple names here. And of course he said, no! What is it with people not giving their real names?! He said that his real name was Mujamal and that his true friends called him Jamal. He said that if I wanted to I could call him Jamal. I asked why no one ever introduced themselves with their real names and he said, I don’t know thats just how we do it. Later that night, we were hanging out the warung and a tourist came for dinner. She asked him his name and he looked at me
Ludra, another one of my favorites on the island. He is the only one that is not originally from Lombok, he is Balinese although he has been living in Lombok for quite sometime. He was going to college a few years ago but his father died suddenly so he had to quit his job in order to provide for his family. I”ve met so many people during this trip who have made incredible sacrifices for the sake of their family and it is truly touching. I’ve encountered people who have sold their business to pay for their brother’s wedding and some who were trying to make a better life for themselves by going to school but then quit in order to work so that their family could survive.
How different our cultures are from one another. I’ve talked to many Asians about volunteer work that many westerners do and they simply don’t understand it. They can’t comprehend why we would work for free to help perfect strangers while we as westerners can’t imagine selling our business, quitting school or making other life sacrifices to help someone that shares the same blood as us. It makes you think doesn’t it?
Ludra and I live 23 hours away from each other by plane and come from completely different cultures and walks of life. And while we are different in so may ways we are also very alike. when it comes to our views on marriage, life goals, love and work. I really hope he finds a nice girl one day because he will make someone very happy (yes, Ludra is one of the few single boys on Gili Meno).
BAYON (also know as MAMAN);
Bayan was one of the first people I met and he worked at the biggest restaurant on the island. He professed his love and asked me to marry him everyday. He was very persistent because I always said no but that didn’t stop him from asking me the very next day. I told him that he needed to find someone his own age and not 10 years older than himself!
Amel worked at the bungalows that I stayed at during my month on Gili Meno. We became very close during my time there and I was sad to leave her. Amel is 26 years old and originally from Jakarta in Java (Indonesia). I always wondered how she ended up on a little island like Gili Meno so far away. I finally found out her story and it’s sad. In keeping with the Indonesian culture, I am not going to tell her business to the whole world but if you are interested, message me and
The staff at Mallias Child:
Mallias Child is the name of the place I hung out at everyday. It’s a beach front property containing a restaurant, bungalows and a bar. The team consisted of Rahim, Ari and Ramdan and I got to know them very well after spending everyday with them for a month!
I have to admit that Ari was my favorite at Mallias Child! We would laugh and joke all day and although his english was limited he managed to give me some of the best life advice while making it sound poetic. I already miss him.