I was born as a small baby, my weight was not low but I wasn’t big either. Although I was small, my belly, like other babies’ belly was round. I was not born with flat belly and I have never have a flat belly. Growing up, I spend most of my time in a swimming pool, exercising. I love swimming so much that during high school I took it as a sport, some classmates who were not comfortable to expose their body in the swimming pool, chose 2K running. Upon graduation from high school, I started to neglect exercise. Consequently, I started to gain weight. I did all kind of diet to get rid of the fat, from avoiding carbs to acupuncture, but I never really go back to swimming pool like the way I used to be. Having a round belly has it advantage and disadvantage. One of the advantages – I think the only – is that people think I am pregnant. I Never abuse this to take seat in bus, but I use this to stop people smoking around me. I simply rub my belly and say I am pregnant. Most of the time it works like magic and people walk away or stub their cigarettes out. The disadvantage is people think you are pregnant and started to ask personal question. The question put, not only me, but also the other party in an awkward situation.
My first “pregnancy moment” was at Kopaja, a green minibus that runs like a mad cow. Most of them have no AC as the fare is only IDR 3000 (30 cent). Despite its madness, I love Kopaja. One afternoon, I took kopaja, sat calmly, started my prayer, and at the same time profusely sweating. I begun to to blow the air to reduce the heat. I love doing that when I am sweating because it’s cooling me down. However, the lady who were sitting next to me think differently. She politely asked me if I have contraction and her face was really worried. Unfortunately, laughing at her was not an option at all, so I smiled and asked her back if people who have contraction normally blow air because I am not pregnant.
The recent “pregnancy moment” happened last week. I was on official mission to Kalimantan and on that day three different people asked me if I was pregnant on the same day, one was in the morning, the second was in the afternoon and the last one was during dinner. The first question came from someone I knew, he approached me and asked: “Sa, how many months along are you?” I laughed and say that there is no baby in my big belly, it’s only rice. The second person who asked happened to be the most important person in the city: The Mayor! We were having a courtesy call in the his office and he, like the previous guy, asked how many months along is my pregnancy. It was totally awkward as it was an official meeting. I explained to him that I am not married yet and isn’t pregnant. The round belly is the result of my lack of exercise. He profusely apologized, then asked if it is because I eat a lot. I said that I love to eat and that I would like to try one of the specialties in town. He then sent his staff member to take me for lunch. Yay to that! The belly was very happy. The day was ended with the third question during dinner.
Another unforgettable moment happened two months ago. I was in a middle of a conference and someone was trying to chat with me. She then bodly rubbed my belly and asked the question. It was the most awkward moment in my life. I managed to smile and said, I am not pregnant. She of course apologized for her rudeness.
Indonesians love to ask about personal matters. As I mentioned, I have never felt insulted by this pregnancy question, it’s part of our culture to make small talk (basa-basi). However, people should bear in their mind that to ask personal matter is impolite. Let alone rubbing someone’s else belly without permission, especially in a middle of a conference. It’s rude, period.
The question is reminder for me to start exercising and reduce my calories intake. I definitely will do that for health reason. Off to swimming pool!