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Students in a long tail boat in Indonesia. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, Indonesia Semester.

Call to Prayer

I have always thought the Islamic call to prayers really to be one of the most beautiful and chilling things to reach my ears. To be honest, the first time that I heard the call to prayer in Jogja I was mandi-ing (taking a bucket bath). Our bathroom is unique in that part of it is not covered by the roof, so you can always see the sky. It was dusk and I could see the orange sky and the silhouettes of birds flying by and for me it was a perfectly serene and beautiful moment with the cold clean water making me feel as fresh as ever. Being drowned in a moment by the call to prayer is a crazy feeling. No matter where I am around Jogja or who I am with at the moment, the call to prayer seems to call me – someone who doesn’t not necessarily identify as super religious, but more spiritual – to take a second to pause and look at all of the people and beauty and hardship and culture and art that I am here with and able to take in.

My host family has truly been the most kind and generous family I could have ever hoped for, lending me clothes when mine were dirty, making sure I am always stuffed to the brim with traditional Javanese dishes, and laughing with me when I have no idea what they’re saying or what to say in Bahasa Indonesia. Lia, my host mom, was kind enough to show me a shortcut walk from our house to the “Dragon House” as she calls it (I like how it makes us sound super edgy). So we set out around six fifteen, before dinner, to walk the route with my little brother Nicho. As we walked the sun fell lower and lower to the horizon and the pink in the sky became more vibrant than ever. And as the sky seemed to be playing a symphony for our eyes with all of its beautiful colors shifting and changing above paddy on paddy of rice, the call to prayer started to sing out around us. It is something that envelops you in its sound, with the prayers coming from every mosque in Jogja. One after the other they began to pray and it was one of the most unique and breathtaking moments I have ever experienced, with the green of the paddies and the pink of the sky contrasting with the motorbikes zooming by and the lights of the city shining above all the houses we were passing.