Rarely do we get the chance to interview someone as unique as Ratna. Originally from Indonesia, Ratna tells us about her mischief in the rice fields when she was growing up in Java, and also enlightens us with some worldly wisdom about the beautiful people of Prague that saved her sanity when she moved here alone quite a few years back. An inspiring tale, that is well worth a read.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in a city called Solo, which is now called Surakarta, in Central Java in Indonesia.
Tell me a little bit about your hometown, what did you do for fun as a kid?
More than 500 000 people live there at the moment, spread out from the centre of town through to the rural areas. Java Island is the most populated place in Indonesia. I could call myself quite a troubled kid. I couldn’t stay at home and play with my sister all day, I used to hang out more with the boys and I guess they considered me as one of them. I played soccer, walked through the rice fields and would catch animals like frogs, crabs and eels. I remember that I used to be a regular visitor in a detention room at school. At one point, I also sent one of my friends to hospital…oops!
I grew up with a big family too, including my grandparents and aunties, and cousins. Our houses were next to each other. I really miss them…
I bet, and how did you end up in Prague?
Long story short – when I was in college I met an exchange student from the Czech Republic and he worked part time as an English teacher. We met in a class he was teaching and then dated for a year and a half. Then we got married in Indonesia and we moved to Prague in 2006.
Unfortunately, our marriage ended in 2008 and I decided to continue living here after the bitter divorce. For some reason, things turned out to be gradually better for me. I am so in love with Prague although time to time you’ll meet some crooked people, but these things could happen anywhere. Regardless, I still love this city so much. I have met so many people and wonderful friends. This city made me think about a lot of things in real life – how to be an independent person and how to be strong and happy.
I also met the love of my life here, who I am currently happily engaged with!
Do you miss Indonesia at all?
Of course, I miss all my family, the food, the climate, the sun and beaches.
What was it like to grow up in quite a religious environment? Was it strict?
Indonesia was different back then when I was a kid. There was not as much of an Islam influence as there is now. Now you’ll see hundreds of mosques everywhere, and every TV channel in the country is filled with Islamic propaganda. It’s sickening how this religion can change the face of our culture and tradition.
But not every island is dominated by this religion. Bali for example, has become the tourist centre in Indonesia. My dad is actually a Christian and my Mum is a moderate Muslim, so I have learned to respect and embrace the diversity, unlike some people there. We are still very different comparing to the Middle East because we don’t have Syrian laws. Indonesia is still a non-secular country by its constitution.
Where else do you like to hang out here?
Mostly in the Vinohrady area and the centre area because it’s relatively closer to my house, but I love to go outside of Prague as well to see the nature and the real experiences with the locals.
So, tell us about your recent engagement then.
I met my boyfriend 6 years ago at Chapeau Rouge through a friend. We have been living together for 5 years now and two weeks ago he proposed to me at Divoka Sarka. I was left speechless but finally I gathered myself together and said yes 🙂
He is not a very romantic guy, as far as I know him. Therefore I was so shocked when he went down on his knee and asked for my hand. He made me the happiest girl on earth.
Describe Prague in adjectives…
Beautiful, mysterious, and naughty.
Haven’t heard naughty before! If you could go back in time, what would you see?
I want to see a lot of things, but I wish I could go back to every moment in my life and change bad decisions I have made and reverse them.
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Audrey Tatou. She is quirky, witty and there is something mysterious about her.
Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating-Lambert. Photography by Petr Kurecka.