Come October, Islamabad is at its best behaviour. The autumn leaves changing their shade, the evening breeze creating sunset chill, the rain playing hide and seek and the social diary filled with events, one can’t ask for more.
The diplomatic community in the capital is recovering fast from the post Covid- hiatus. The first big event of the month was German Unity Day attended by all and sundry of the tinsel town. It was followed by another event much bigger in attendance, validating the popularity of the Indonesian Ambassador to Pakistan His Excellency Ambassador Adam Tugio.
The celebrations were held to mark the 77th Independence Day of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation which declared independence in 1945 and the Netherland’s transfer of sovereignty over the Dutch East Indies to the Republic of the United States of Indonesia at the end of 1949.
The guests formed a beeline inching towards the Shamadan Hall at Serena Hotel Islamabad and pleasantly greeted with big smiles and utter warmth by ambassador Tugio and his better half.
In Indonesia, there are innumerable regional costumes worn by the ethnic communities but the ambassador opted for traditional attire from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Batik and Sarong, intricately designed fabric with patterns representing regional traditional colours and designs for men accompanied by a traditional hat known as Kopiah is a common dress for special occasions and also extremely popular all over the world.
The coined term for Indonesian women folk is Kebaya, a silk or cotton cloth which dates back to 15th and 16th centuries. Dressed to perfection, the Indonesian diplomats at the event were spotted from far away and guests were intriguingly asking questions about the attires they wore.
Many new ambassadors could also be seen exchanging visiting cards with the denizens of Islamabad and narrating their personal experiences with the captivating beauty of the capital. Pakistani food and hospitality were much appreciated by the new arrivals and a few diplomats who have been posted in Jakarta in the past also pointed out the similarities in the Indonesian and Pakistani cuisine. Well as they say, “I spoke too soon,” the dinner was announced and it was time to put their taste buds to test.
Nasi Goreng, what one can call a manifestation of Indonesian history and culture was the first dish which the guests filled their plates with moving forward to pick up the chicken sticks called Satay. Well, Indonesian cuisine and white rice are inseparable. An Indonesian diplomat added that the goddess of rice, Dewi Sri, is highly revered in Java and Bali and because of his divine inspiration almost everything comes with rice on the side, even the carb-loaded meals like noodles and potatoes. Going with the tradition, the dessert counter too was showcasing sweeteners cooked in rice and my pick was Klepon, made from glutinous rice flour combined with the amazing flavour combination of coconut and sugar something similar to laddu.