27 December 2009

The Dusuns' one hour :-)

My paternal aunt and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary yesterday. It was such a beautiful celebration, what with her children (I think there must be about a dozen of them), who are all grown up, and her grandchildren/great grandchildren were all gathered up. And the place, Bundu Tuhan, is such a bonus. Fresh air, nice temperature, just like spring in Perth, it made for a beautiful party setting.

My kids were reintroduced to another aspect of Dusun culture, the Dusuns' sense of time. Very true to what my friends always say: "where there are two or three Dusuns gathered together, they can sit and talk for hours on end". The lunch reception started at 1pm. The kids asked me how long were we going to be there, to which I answered, "an hour". We arrived at about 1.30pm, when the party was just starting. As usual there were so much party food, catered to feed the whole village population and some.

Meeting long lost cousins was definitely exciting. After food, the merry making begun. (Since the Dusuns are well known for their hedonism, it would never do not to have some music in a party; at least a karaoke set). Yours truly got carried away too, that she agreed to sing two songs (duet with a sister-in-law of course because yours truly isn't a professional singer!) and danced a few dances. The best part of course was having the first dance with the uncle who's the 'groom'. He is well-known to be a serious person, but surprisingly agreed to have that dance! What a wonderful feeling :-)

Anyway, the kids were watching the clock all the time, waiting for that 'one hour' to come. (Thankfully they got to know some cousins who were too fascinating not to pay attention to in the end). Needless to say, the one hour dragged on that we only managed to get away from the party at about 5.30pm. (Well I wouldn't have minded staying till the end if it wasn't raining and the road condition was a bit better though). My eldest came to this conclusion- "if mom says "an hour" to attend a Dusun party, it would probably mean 3 or 4 hours". Well done, daughter. You have been successfully reintroduced into the culture :-)

12 December 2009


It's strange how a simple conversation can trigger a thought. Last night, as I was enjoying BBQ with my dear friends for the last time before my family moves back to KK tomorrow (and breaking the rule of no heavy food for dinner *sigh*), the topic of family gathering came up. One of the friends is going home for the christmas holiday and is looking forward to her family reunion. As she describes the activities of their family reunion which have started this month, I was impressed to know that her extended family can actually form teams for sport matches etc. I said to her that in the olden day, her family would have formed a Dusun clan which was entitled to have a 'village'. Awesome.

In the olden days, clans are formed most of all from family members. They would have lived in some sort of long house that continued to grow longer as more members of the family got married. One immediate family occupied one hall of the house, with its own kitchen. During a ritual which always involved eating though, the family that conducted the ritual was obliged to cook for the whole long house members. If they had any members who lived in another longhouse because of a marriage, these people must also be sent some of the food. I'd imagined that it must really have been time-consuming to count all the family members within a walking distance (even if that would mean a half hour walk or so) to be sent food to.

Each clan normally identified themselves by naming the place their house is located in. And those places would be named based on the geographical features, direction or based on a natural landmark like a river, a tree etc. For example, a place located uphill of the village would be called 'sokid' (upper part), and a place on the foot of a hill would be 'siba'.

And so my friend's family would have been one of these clans in the olden days.

06 December 2009

Turadan-a traditional medicine for stomache upset

It started with the family's week-long holiday in Melbourne last week. It was something I've been looking forward to for a long time and have set to enjoy come what may. Day 1 through to 4, it was indeed great great and great.

But alas, second half of day 5 started to go not so good when the little one started complaining of stomache-ache, and started vomitting uncontrolably. Needless to say, day 5's sightseeing was cut short to allow little one to have his rest. I thought the worst was over on Day 6, but it was not to be. Thinking that it was a normal traveller's virus, I simply headed to a pharmacy and bought some familiar medicine and decided to forgo taking him to the doctor. Day 6 turned out to be 'rest day' for 'the mom' and the kids while 'the dad' attended his conference. He seemed better on Day 7 that I decided to take the kids to the museum while waiting for 'the dad' to finish his conference. But how wrong was I. He started vomitting again after morning tea, so bad that 'the dad' had to take him home by taxi soon after his conference. Determined to enjoy that last day, 'the mom' and the girls roamed the city for hours till late.

Little one didn't get better. I realized the graveness of the situation when he could only be comforted by a long rub on his stomache. By the next day when we were at the airport leaving for perth, it was too late to take him to the doctor. Plus, the airport clinic was closed as it was a saturday. Little one was so dehydrated and lost so much weight and energy he had to be pushed on a wheelchair.

Home finally at about 5.30pm yesterday. 'The dad' suddenly remembered that his mom gave us some seeds called 'turadan' that has been tried and tested by Dusuns of many generations to cure stomache upset.

I don't know how the fruit actually looks like because my mom-in-law always gave us the core of the seed that looks like some kind of peanut. The dad sliced it thinly as per mom-in-law's instruction, put in a glass and poured some boiling water over it. When the water cooled, we gave some to the little one to drink.

This morning, as predicted, he woke up feeling good. No more pain and no more vomitting. Now still trying to be somewhat skeptical, 'the dad' said 'maybe it's just a coincidence'. Coincidence? I don't think so. I've witnessed the effect of 'turadan' several times, even experienced it myself. I prefer to believe that this little, unattractive-looking seed does have medicinal values. Unstudied, perhaps, but medicinal values pretty much the same...