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Masuk angin – blame it on the wind!
There is something truly comforting in faith, especially when you cannot fully explain the happenings, turns of actions or even your decisions in a logical manner. When you believe that something happens because something else has occured and it stays out of your control, the rest is just a smooth closing of the story. The interesting part is that this kind of strong convictions appear in every nation, culture and social community and in each place they are centred around greatly different aspects and values.
In Indonesian society there is a popular notion of 'masuk angin', which means literally 'wind has entered' [the body] and describes all kinds of state of feeling unwell/getting sick. The main symptoms are similar to getting a cold or a slight flu and include coughing, sneezing, sore muscles, fever and headache. So, the wind has an absolute power to make you sick. What is more, wind is also being perceived here in a very specific manner. It is not a physical wind or air, but rather a state of illness resulted in putting your body out of balance. The possible factors of getting masuk angin is to stay up too long at night (begadang), to work overtime, no to have enough food or sleep and eventually to get yourself exposed  to variable weather conditions.
That should explain a lot to you why people in Indonesia ride their motorcycles in tick (preferably leather) jackets, avoid open too many windows at home or even try no to sit too close to the fan (yes, that can bring masuk angin too!). One the other hand, 'masuk angin' can lend you a helping hand in some emergency life situations. Didn't show up for work yesterday? 'Sorry, masuk angin!'. Don't feel like getting out of bed today? 'It's masuk angin!'. Again... In most cases masuk angin is treated very seriously, so is the fear to be 'infected' by it. In drug stores and supermarkets you can buy even special medicines, that are meant to prevent you from the wind, like 'tolak angin' (translated literally as 'reject wind [from your body]') and cure its symptoms.
Once you get 'masuk angin', the priority is to get it out of your body the soonest possible, as it will exhaust you and your spirit  and won't let you do your daily activities properly. Indonesian people literally do all what it takes, including burping and..other stuff (if you now what we mean) to release the wind from the body. The common practice is to drink flu medicines, traditional jamu-jamu (herbal street medicines), take a massage or kerokan (the last one is a deeply Indonesian thing).
Kerokan means as much as 'being coined' and brings about long red welts or rash on your back, neck or chest (or all over the body at once). Firstly, the area on the body is being massaged and warmed up with some chemically 'hot' compound like oil or herbal liquid medicine. After that, a coin (eventually an edge of a spoon or lid of a bottle) is being rubbed repeatedly stroking down in a linear pattern. The movements are being performed in one direction over the particular body parts until red skin abrasions or marks appear. The aim of kerokan is to pull the wind to the surface of the body by creating a pathway in the skin through which it can be released. During the ritual there is usually a lot of body noises going on (already mentioned above), that are sensual proofs that  'masuk angin'is going away and the treatment will bring a positive result for the cured. Kerokan might seem a weird thing for the person coming from a different culture, but for Natives is something as logical as getting off your shoes before entering the house or greet people just with the use of a right hand.
PS. So when you start to prefer the warm beer over a cold drink, as a cold drink may cause 'masuk angin' or you want to avoid any heavy air-conditioned spaces, you should kow that you have gone NATIVE...a little bit. :)
#Tags:   #masuk angin  
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