Gawai 2007 Scene 5

Gawai Preparations

Like any 'balik kampung' scenes, life at the longhouse is like any traditional villages and community around Malaysia. Everybody lends one another a hand be it in the preparation of food, cleaning up and decorations.

Food preparation - folks come together to prepare the menu for the Gawai

Like the Gawai in Lubok Antu Scene 2 it involves animal slaughter. So don't look at the pictures if you have a weak heart, but to us Ibans, food is food. Yeah rite. I have not slaughtered an animal in my life except for those frogs and worms that I get to dissect in the scince laboratories. Oh yeah....and the 'ikan masin', when I cleared its stomach. I guess that's about it.

All types of food on the menu especially this big fish

The longhouse folks are pretty good with their food preparations and fast too. From starting the fire to cutting up the meat to pieces, putting in on barbecue takes about an hour or so. I tried doing that once - bought some meat at a market (took about an hour choosing the one without the fat and wondering which fish is good and fresh to barbecue. Took about half an hour to look for charcoal and kerosene to help with starting the fire. Later on another half and hour to start up the fire. Once the fire has been started it took me about 10 minutes to burn my barbecue food into black unrecognizable 'food'. Hmmmm.... I discovered living in Kuching City it takes 20 minutes to get your pizza after you call them for takeaway. So preparaing the food is a natural art which I have to pick up from them. I did not learn those skills in the text books.

Food testing and testings - and drinks - Arrack Ko Pun in brown bottle

Okay - one thing that would never go down well into my system is that liquor called "Arrack" or Arak in local. That black liquid is really volatile that sometimes you think why people would want to drink it. But it is one of the drinks that is freely poured around while the food is being tasted and tested.

Chainsaw operator in the making

There was one more mission that needs to be completed before the festival starts. We needed a ranyai which is going to be part of the Gawai celebration. Its an essential part of the Gawai event so we got the green light from grandma that we would bring down the coconut tree that was hovering above the house. We needed to bring it down anyway - the reason being that it was dangerously leaning towards the house and if the fruits should fall it would damage the roof. So it has to go down.

Okay - set to pull...all systems Check! .....Chainsaw Check!...Life Insurance Check!

Our 'project engineer', an experienced elderly from the longhouse planned the cutting down of the coconut tree. We decided that the best way was to cut the tree and pull it at the opposite direction at the same time. This is to ensure that the tree does not fall the wrong way and hit our grandma's house.

Pull together now! Its hard work, this kampung life

As the chainsaw man started his machine, we stood position and got ready to pull the tree. The chainsaw started its work and suddenly we felt the tree gave way, trying to pull the other way while we were pulling it down towards us........

Down goes the coconut tree

As the tree made its way towards us we all went scurrying around like scared rabbits. No one was hurt. We laughed about this 'small adventure". Yeah...kampung life is fun. Its one of the few things that we got to do together this Gawai.