5 years after: In Studio with Oprah

They are sitting somewhere in a studio. It is all exclusive. The show is called ’A Cultural Shock’.

We can see a white man in a dark blue suit, but cozy opened white shirt on one side, sitting deep in a black big leather armchair. On the other side, in a similar, but white seat, is a lady, well tanned – making a nice contrast with the armchair. She is probably from somewhere in Asia. Her pink dress seems to catch all the focus, and the cameraman is trying to do the best to hold the whole picture well balanced.

In between the lady and the man there are just a couple of meters, but the couple is separated with a thick wall of glass. They can see each other, but cannot touch or feel all the signals.

On a large blue sofa in between of them, is sitting Oprah herself.

She looks very calm, but her eyes seem to catch every detail.

„So,“ she starts in a deep voice. „Let me put you in a context.“

„You, mister White, are actually from Northern Europe. And you, Mrs White, are an Austronesian, or how they call it.“

Oprah looks at both of them for a while.

„You have lived together five years by now. Now tell me, how did you meet?“ She looks straight at Mrs White.

But Mrs White turns her head, looking at Mr White, through the glass wall.

„Saya pikir kaca antara kita di studio hanya simbolik [I think the glass between us in the studio is just symbolic,] “ she starts speaking in Indonesian. We can read her words translated, written on a hanging screen. „Kita telah bersama-sama dari awal, sejak pertama kali kita bertemu di internet. Ya, dan itu sudah 5 tahun yang lalu. [We have been together from the beginning, since we met over the internet. Yes, it was 5 years ago.]”

„Do you mean, the glass was broken from the beginning?“ Oprah asks. She looks at Mr White now.

„Yes,“ he says. „I really think so. We spoke about things that made me feel embarrassed at the beginning. But later on I realized, a couple can only survive like this, speaking openly about everything.“

Oprah turns her head towards the public in the studio, and we can hear a accepting sigh.

„What was the first thing you found in common with each other?“ she continues the interview.

Mr White looks at her wife through the wall. „Bu’ found out, that I was a couchsurfer as herself. I was lucky for that, because I wasn’t in Jakarta at that time, but in Europe.“

Oprah seems to be surprised. „Mrs White, when you heard that he was not in your country, why did you still continue to write with him?“

Mrs White stretches her back when answering it. „Karena dia juga mencoba menggunakan bahasa indonesia dan dia belajar bahasa selama ini dari internet, Ha, ya dari internet, dan bahasanya waktu itu sangat kacau dan lucu.   [Because he also tried to speak Indonesian. He had studied it somewhere over the internet. Ha, yes, it was messy, but also funny,] she laughs and covers her smile with her hand.

„So you realised, he had made an effort to learn your language?“

„Ya, dan saya menyarankan dia mungkin kita bisa saling belajar bahasa satu sama lain, saat berbicara melalui internet. [Yes. And I suggested him, that maybe we could learn languages from each other, while talking over the internet,]“ Mrs White continues.

„Okay, but now tell me,“ Oprah goes on, „How did you manage to get over the cultural shock that you had?“ She turns now towards Mr White.

„I can put it in another way: How can anyone live a life without learning anything new?“ Mr White asks.

„No shock at all?“

„A shock, as you said, Oprah, was only connected to the bureaucratic things. But even in Europe the level of bureaucracy is very different, depending on a country. So, yes – even that wasn’t a real shock for me.“

„What about you, Mrs White?“ Oprah turns.

„Dia tidak mengatakan itu, tapi dia harus mengubah agamanya.  [He didn’t say it, but he had to chance the religion.]”

„Did he?“



Mr White interrupts: „I did. But you also have to consider, how much did we have to change our actual life. It wasn’t too much. My wife acted like a real European in many ways already, even before we met.“

„Mr White, I asked it from your wife,“ Oprah cuts through. „And I will ask again: Mrs White, did he follow all the Islam traditions as it was used in your family?“

„Kita memiliki budaya campuran sekarang, Kita mengikuti Islam tapi kita juga memahami tradisi tradisi  yang lain. Pernah kah kamu memakan Head cheese Oprah?   [We have mixed traditions now. We follow Islam, but we also know the other traditions. Have you ever tried to eat headcheese, Oprah?]“ Mrs White suddenly changes the topic. 

Oprah starts to laugh. „Do you mean meat jelly? Haha, I have tried, but I did not like it. Is it halal after all?“

„Iya dan jika daging ini dibuat dengan cara yang benar itu akan terasa sangat enak, seperti yang biasa digunakan di Eropa Utara. Terutama ditambahkan dengan mustard.  [It is, if made of right meat. And it is tasty, if it is made as it is used in Northern Europe. Especially with mustard.]

„So are you trying to say, that your different cultures are like a mustard which makes your jelly always interesting and tasty?“ Oprah asks.

Mrs White nods. „Iya, itu alasan yang sama, seperti kenapa Anda mulai memulai sinetron baru, Oprah? Untuk mendengar beberapa cerita yang bagus dan membuat hidup anda menarik?  [Yes they are. That is the same reason, as why you started to run a new sinetron, Oprah, isn’t it? To hear some good stories and make your life interesting?]

Oprah looks at her and starts to clap her hands. The studio applauds.


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