Our driver (Iwan) will be getting married some time in February. He has always appeared stressed by the various burdens in his life but is having an even harder time now. Anyway, here is a compilation of the questions I have asked him over the past week.
Iwan is 31 years old and his fiance is ten years younger than him. He lives with his mother who has been a widow for roughly 25 years. The fiance works in a beauty parlour.
1) How did you meet your fiance?
She "harassed me" (his words, not mine) until I went out with her. It was two years ago and we were both working at a booth selling phone cards.
2) How often do you go on dates?
Not very often. Maybe once in 2 weeks. Its too expensive to take a girl out because you have to pay for petrol, food and maybe even buy some small trinket that she might get captivated by while strolling the shops.
3) You mentioned that you were going to get married in the middle of last year. Why did the wedding get postponed?
My sister thought she would get married last year. In Indonesia, it is customary to only have one wedding per year so, since she is older than me, she had first choice. In the end, she didn't get married but it was too late in the year for me to arrange anything so .. thats why its going to be in February.
4) How did you pick the date?
Both our families got together last week so that we could formally inform everyone of our intention to get married. Our parents then 'negotiated' on some probable dates. My fiance's family was pushing for January but I needed more time to get things together.
5) And, you took a day off yesterday for some preparations. What exactly did you need to do?
Buy the ring, take the wedding photos, go to the bank to borrow the money required to pay for the whole thing.
6) Are there any other ceremonies between now and the actual wedding day?
Yes, there is the formal proposal and confirmation of the wedding date. This usually takes place within two weeks of the proposed wedding date that is discussed between the families.
7) What happens there?
It is where the guy formally asks for permission to marry the girl. He has to bring along a sum of money, toiletries (things like shampoo, soap, toothpaste etc) and some groceries (basics like rice and oil). The girl's family then assesses if this is sufficient before they give their blessing. (I think the process is to show that he will be able to 'look after' their daughter)
8) How much do you think that will cost?
Roughly 2 Million Ruppiahs (US$ 183).
9) What sort of expenses are involved for the actual wedding day?
Of course there is the catering and renting of the tents and chairs. Then I need to hire the traditional wedding furniture. There are lots of other miscellaneous items that are going to really burn a hole in my pocket. Things like make up artists, cameramen, gifts for the guests and all sorts of other small items that my bride will need. I think the whole process of me getting married is going to cost me 10 Million Ruppiahs (USD $915). (This may sound cheap but it is roughly 10 months wages for Iwan.)
10) Do people in Indonesia give wedding presents or money (like the Chinese Red Packet)?
They usually give a little money. Nothing substantial though. Most people only give about 20 thousand Ruppiah (US$ 1.83)
11) Personal question, have you got the money saved up? I know that you're pretty tight from month to month.
Definitely not. After paying the loan for my bike and giving some money to my mother, I have very little left each month. My mother has helped me to get a loan from the bank for IDR 6 Million. I'm trying to sell anything that I don't need, like my old cell phone, but its not going to amount to much. I'm considering selling my bike but then I'd have to pay for public transport to get to work. Maybe I'll take on a second job on my day off from driving or at night.
12) Where will you live after you get married?
The first month will be at my fiance's house and then afterwards, I hope to be able to rent a place for ourselves. But, with the debt I've gotten myself in just to pay for the wedding, it is likely that we will live at my mother's place.
13) Ah, so you'll have to be able to manage your wife AND your mother?
Yes. But I am fair. Absolutely fair.
He answers the last question really emphatically. Almost as if he's telling himself that things will probably be hard but he is going to be fair. But then, he adds:
"But, if I really really reeeeealy had to choose, I'm going to pick my mother"