When we are not working in the paddy field or farms, Tepuq Doh Ayu and I would usually chill at home. I love how life in Bario is rather slow-paced and laid-back. There is no need to be guilty for not being ‘productive’ enough if you decide to spend your day sitting by the fireplace and chill together. There is so much that we could do together in Bario.
Fireplace is like the backbone of a longhouse where most of the family activities take place here. The warmth radiated from the burning firewood is the best companion amidst the chilly weather in Bario. We would eat, drink, relax and talk around the fireplace.
It is no surprise that a friendly and warm lady like my Tepu, her fireplace has became a popular hangout spot among the neighbours and relatives.
We would sit down and have some nice conversation over cups of tea and bites of biscuits. The ambience is very lovely and relaxing. They often include me in their conversations and make me feel accepted as a part of the family. The conversation topics usually range from family, weather to work. Sometimes, I would ask Tepuq Doh Ayu about her Kelabit culture and lifestyles. She would then happily take up the role of a teacher and show me the traditional Kelabit beads and musical instrument.
|Traditional Kelabit musical instrument is a tube zither made entirely of a poring bamboo. Tepu Doh Ayu slides her fingers across the bamboo strings gracefully and a beautiful melody is heard across the longhouse. She does it so effortlessly and elegantly which in fact I spend so much time attempting to master it 😛
Tepu Doh Ayu demonstrating Kelabit beads work.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t get a grasp of their Kelabit conversation fully, I enjoy observing how the whole conversation takes place so naturally. They would pay full attention to the others when they are talking and would in turn to take on the responsibility of keeping the conversation rolling. Even when there’s silent moment when the conversations pause occasionally, it is perfectly comfortable and pleasant as the they would retrieve the momentum of resuming the conversation very quickly.
That puts me on a deep reflection of our long lost culture, connecting with people wholeheartedly on a personal level. I remember in the older days when we were still young and smart phones did not exist, people would meet each other in the eyes, throw a smile in their direction when they bump into each other on street; or they would spend some quality time talking and enjoying each other’s company when friends and family gather.
Now the next best thing you’ll bump into on the street is either a wall or lamp post because you’re too busy looking down at your phone.
|In London, bumpers have been places around light posts to prevent pedestrians from slamming into them 😛
It is sad to notice that the crowded lively restaurant atmosphere which was once brimmed with laughter, has now been replaced by the tapping and clicking sound of smart gadgets.
There’s an interesting article about a research done in the U.S. to study the dramatic increase in the amount of time it takes to be served in restaurants nowadays. The main reasons are that nowadays customers are too preoccupied with taking photos upon entering, telling the waiters they are having problems connecting to the WiFi, taking photos of their food once it’s delivered to them and bumping into other customers and waiters as they enter and exit the restaurant as a result of texting while walking. ( read more here
This change in the trend of communication occurs subtly throughout our daily lives and without much attention, you and I are prone to being carried away by phone screen and paying less attention to the real world out there. Having spent some quality time bonding with Tepu Doh Ayu and her family on a face-to-face level has offered me the room to ponder over our diminishing attention span for the people in front of us.
In this rat race and paper chase world, time has becoming a rare and priceless commodity where we have became more and more careful or even stingy with the use of it. When is the last time you have a long nice chat with someone? Can you still recall when is the last time you spend time with your family, doing nothing but merely enjoying each other’s presence and feeling the exchange of breath in the same room?
We often think that we live a separate live from others, having so caught up in our own schedule leaves us very little time to interact with others. However, people in Bario have shown me otherwise, they would unselfishly allocate time for friends and family, give undivided attention to each other when they speak and gladly spend their time away watching rainfall from the window or sipping tea together by the fireplace.
Bario has taught me that the best and universal gift one could offer is time.
I’ve learnt to pay full attention to my surroundings because every moment counts and what has been missed cannot be recovered.
Everything else can wait, including the notification buttons on your phone or some unimportant newsfeed on your social media. At the end of the day what matters most is the people around us.
As each of us get a fixed and limited time in this world, giving your precious time away to someone just show how important they are and how much you do care for them.
NYC aka Ubung Ahchuan
p.s. The writer would like to express her utmost gratitude for your precious time spent reading this blog 🙂