I took the trip to Indonesia together with my family. My father was born on East Java, near Malang, where my grandfather used to have a school. They went back to the Netherlands when my father was five years old. We took this trip shortly after my grandmother died. It was the first time he returned to Indonesia.

The moment we got off the plane, I recognised the smell. A mix of jasmine, something sweet or spicy, and perhaps the kretek cigarettes… It was precisely how my old grandma’s house used to smell.


Although the remnants of Dutch colonial history made me feel a bit uncomfortable at times, there was also enough of the local culture left intact. The wajang orang performance, for instance, which featured the glorious guy with the arrows on his back.

And the food. My god, the food. Everything on these islands seems to revolve around food. And by god, it’s amazing.