Love Letters to Indonesia: Mas Bro

This is the first in a series of posts commemorating various things and people that I appreciated while in Indonesia, particularly during my third year. Be prepared for sap and a mixture of summaries and vignettes.

* * *

First it might be important to explain the name Mas Bro. I didn’t make it up. He didn’t either, and I suspect that he doesn’t know that’s what all the foreigners ended up calling him. The problem is, I don’t know what his actual name is, so Mas Bro stuck.

At any rate, Mas Bro runs a fried rice and noodle stall that was conveniently located only a few houses down from where I stayed in Solo. Every evening as the sun started to set, he would pull his stall out and hang up a tarp to keep off rain. Then he’d start frying. His stand quickly became one of my main dinner spots, rising through the ranks to became my first choice for dinner—partly because of the location, partly because I felt comfortable eating there alone, and partly because he spoke Javanese to me at random.

However, better than all of that was that once I’d gone there a few times, I felt comfortable enough to start customizing my order. I eventually came up with the best meal I’ve ever had at a fried rice stall. He would take rice noodles and rice and mix them together along with cauliflower and greens, adding more vegetables than you’d get in a normal plate of a fried rice and taking out all of the hard-to-identify pieces of meat. Also (after a couple of mishaps) he got very good at completely leaving out the hot sauce. It was pretty much the perfect meal. Even better, I could just arrive and say, “The usual.”

I’ve gone on at length before about how much I like becoming a regular at a few select food places, so I won’t go into that again. Instead, I’ll just say that beyond the food and beyond humoring me and my attempts at Javanese, he was always there to witness my trips home past a reasonable curfew and he’d just smile and wave as I drove by.

Thanks, Mas Bro. I’ll be back for more nasi mawut when I’m in Solo again, so you’d better not be on one of your month-long vacations.

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