Tong Tong Fair is world’s biggest Eurasian event. This yearly event is located in The Hague, the capital of Indische Nederlanders.
Who are Indische Nederlanders?
Indische Nederlanders are descendants of Europeans and indigenous people of the former Netherlands Indies which is known as Republic of Indonesia now. My husband is an Indische Nederlander or simply called Indo. His great grandfather came from a small town of Roveredo in Zwitserland bordering to Italy. He came to The Netherlands Indie and had a relationship with a woman from Cirebon in West – Java. They got two children one of which was my husband’s grandfather. Opa (grandfather) was married to a woman from Bangil, East Java. She was from Germany and Chinese origin. Sometimes I find it difficult to explain to people while we are vacationing somewhere in Europe. We look Asian with an Italian name and we speak Dutch to each other. So once again, Indische Nederlanders’ ancestors don’t have to be necessarily Dutch. My husband’s Indo friends’ name sound like Deckert (Germany), McLean (Scottish) or even De Fretes (Portuguese). The Netherlands Indie was already a melting pot at that time.
Tong Tong Fair
According to the background of the Indo and in order to preserve the Indo culture there is Tong Tong Fair. The history of its existence is available at its website. During this yearly event, there are numerous music, dance and cultural shows. And last but not least of course the unforgettable culinary experiences. I write about the culinary inheritance during Tong Tong Fair in Lo Foodie©.
Most Indo’s came to the Netherlands the end of 1950es or 1960es. That was a decade when Soekarno didn’t want them living in Republic of Indonesia anymore. So there are three generations of Indo living in The Netherlands nowadays. Some of them don’t speak Malayu Language anymore like their folks did. Things they do get from their parents are the love for food and munching foods all day long, the culture (this one, including the superstitiousness) and the stories.
There is culture in abundance during Tong Tong Fair. In the main tent called the Grand Pasar there are various shows daily. Ria Agung Nusantara, a dance group from Medan North-Sumatra flown over especially to perform here. Balawan, Balinese well known jazz guitarist performed the other day. Later on that day there was a show of a Keroncong band. Keroncong is a kind of music strongly influenced by the Portuguese. When you happen to be in Jakarta, visit Tugu area up north for the most authentic Keroncong sound.
One thing I still try to understand is the fascination of an average Indo to Rock and Roll music. The Tielman Brothers and the Blue Diamonds are legendary Indorock bands. During Tong Tong Fair some Indorock bands with names such as: Tjendol Sunrise (Tjendol is a dessert drink of green tapioca strings, coconut milk, crushed ice topped with melted palm sugar) and Kambing Kings (kambing is goat, this one refered to sate Kambing or skewered goat cubes) perform at Indorock cafe. This cafe was packed and the ambiance was gezellig (cozy as the Dutch fondly call it).
Another cultural highlight this year is a show of Wayang Willem. Wayang Willem is a one of a kind Puppet show about the battle of Willem van Oranje (1533–1584) against the Spanish conquerors, presented Indonesian way.
The Pasar sphere
You can find not only Indonesian stuffs here but also those of other Asian countries. I managed to shot pics of Vietnamese and Malaysian stands. Imagine you wander through the stands, breathing the scents of the food and fruits and meeting friends and family. This is the reason, beside the food, to keep coming back to Tong Tong Fair, every year.
More pics of my visit to Tong Tong Fair are on my Flickr account.
poster and banner are courtesy of Stichting Tong Tong Fair