Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Tall Man from Sumedang in Cirebon

Today (25 December) I had my first real 'free' afternoon of my trip here. I had originally planned to go out to  East Cirebon with some friends to meet a dalang pantun and a dalang wayang golek cepak and taste some of the local delicacies (a typical combination of scholarship and culinary tourism for me and my friends here in Cirebon) but my wayang golek cepak teacher was insistent that we hold our practice during the day time rather than at night and I had to cancel the outing, leaving me with time on my hands.

So after my practice wrapped up and the afternoon downpour had dwindled to a drizzle  I wandered over to Pasar Pagi in search of some DVDs. The DVD store, it turned out, had moved to Pasar Balong, but to compensate for this I came across a carnival side show that was playing on the top floor of the Pasar Pagi market. Unfortunately I had no camera with me, so am unable to provide a photo.

But briefly the show was performed by three men (a fourth man, a juggler and acrobat, reportedly was sick and had to return to Bandung). The MC, described in promotions (http://aboutcirebon.com/component/gcalendar/event/6/v863g657erfah6813pgcspefs0) as a humorous MC with a thousand voices, gave an Islamic framing for the 'spectakuler' show, saying how the first man Adam was 35 meters in height in order to stand a chance against the gigantic wild beasts of his time. People have gradually shrunk over time, and now the typical height for Indonesian men is 160cm or so, while Westerners are 10cm taller on average. Sometimes though, a freak of nature is born.

Cue the entrance of 'Jaguar', a Tall Man from the foothills of Gunung Tampomas, billed as being 220cm in height, 'plus or minus'. The MC interviewed Mr Jaguar about his family life, diet, clothes and the like. His father and grandfather were both unusually tall, apparently, as is one of Jaguar's two children. (The MC joked that it was hard for Jaguar to have found a wife, as women must have feared their first night with him.) His black robe with red fringe needed 5 meters of black cloth and 1 meter of red cloth; steel-toed shoes have to be specially ordered; he eats two plates of rice 4 or 5 times a  day as he is now on a diet.

This was followed by some standard magic tricks by a young magician, some of them done in 'kolaborasi' with Jaguar, and some juggling by Jaguar. Jaguar's last trick was to juggle fire and put the fire out in his mouth. The magician also requested audience participation - a young boy blindfolded him and then balloons were placed under the boy's arms and between his legs which were popped with a knife wielded by the blindfolded magician. There were the normal jokes about the chance of losing the family jewels and the like. The child's mother and family laughed hilariously at this prank.

The show took about 30 minutes in all, and the audience who had all been sitting on the floor (we were assured that it has been mopped clean) filed off, many to the adjacent food court for dinner.

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