Thursday, March 25, 2010

President Obama on Wayang

Barack Obama has had to delay his long-planned trip to Indonesia this month due to ongoing debates around his health legislation. He now plans on going in June with his family - with stops in Jakarta as well as Yogyakarta or Bali.

As a sort of consolation, and by way of apology to the Indonesian people, Indonesian journalist Putra Nababan was offered a one-to-one interview, which Obama suggested was the first ever interview of an American president by an Indonesian journalist in the White House.

Part of this interview concerned the standard issues (economic cooperation, Islam etc) but Obama also reflected nostalgically on his years in Indonesia. He pointed out that he has few opportunities to practice his Indonesian due to the small population of Indonesians in America (which also, he said, meant that there are not enough good Indonesian restaurants in the US).

He also was asked specifically about wayang and Indonesian comics.

OBAMA: I used to love the Mahabharata, I used to love Ramayana, I used to love wayang. And I still do. I am inspired by the stories of Hanoman.

We ask again: any chance for wayang being performed in the White House, Mr President?