The Masuk Angin myth…

I’m not really a sceptic, but there are certain things that I just find it hard to believe in… Black cats walking across my path don’t bother me, bad omens don’t exist to me, walking under ladders is necessary sometimes and I’m pretty sure if I scowl my face won’t be stuck like that just because an unfortunate change in wind direction… And as hard as I’ve tried I just don’t get the idea of Masuk Angin.

Masuk Angin is the Indonesian term for ‘catching a cold,’ and literally means ‘enter wind.’ You supposedly catch Masuk Angin from being exposed to direct wind to the chest, whether it be from riding a motorbike, sitting in front of a fan or air-conditioner or just being outside on a windy day but it can also be caught from cold drinks, windows open in the car and various other strange events. This is not so outrageous I guess, and would be very similar to the concept of catching a cold, especially if you are wet, but it’s the symptoms, how you can catch it from other people and how everyone is so scared of getting it that can’t help but make me smile.

The symptoms of Masuk Angin are as follows: runny nose, fever, indigestion, heart burn, cough, sneezing, sore stomach, burping, farting, sore sinus’, joint ache, tiredness, muscle pain… the list goes on. Now, to have Masuk Angin you don’t need all of these symptoms, only one. So if you have any one of the above symptoms you may very well have Masuk Angin, and for that I’m very sorry… it’s very serious. I’m not saying that these symptoms aren’t caused by a sickness of some kind, most of them are – but using an umbrella term and selling obat (medication) that will apparently cure you from wind entering your body and making you sick in so many different ways is surely a ‘old wives tale’ and makes me laugh.

My friends and I talk about Masuk Angin a lot, mostly because they are all scared of getting it all the time. And when I question them about it they generally shrug their shoulders and look at me with true confusion – as if to say ‘How can you not believe in something that is so obviously true?’ My bule housemates and I often joke that we have Masuk Angin and this is what has led me to writing this post… Because we are often warned by our Indonesian friends that certain behaviour of ours is sure to put us out of action with a bad case of Masuk Angin. I started doing some research online and the more I discovered about the beliefs around Masuk Angin, the more I found myself questioning the logic.

Indonesians believe that the wind makes you sick (in various forms) .. and getting the wind out of your body … by burping, farting, or “kerokan” (drawing a oiled coin over your skin repeatedly until your skin turns bright red) … makes you the wind exit your body and you get well!

Did you know that apparently if a friend has Masuk Angin and Keluar Angin (exit wind, fart) in an enclosed room then you could indeed catch Masuk Angin from their fart? I too was shocked at this discovery… I didn’t know you could catch things from farts, but I guess this makes my childhood colds make more sense, I had a very flatulent father… I’m sure that is how my lovely Australian housemate caught Masuk Angin from her boyfriend. My lovely Australian housemate who let’s say was ‘hanging out’ with a boy who she didn’t intend on having a serious relationship with, didn’t want another dog and loves her own space has had her world turned upside down. Somehow within the space of two days this boy has become a live in boyfriend, he bought a new puppy and has infected her with an illness she just doesn’t believe with an inside fart… life truly is strange here sometimes… and endlessly entertaining. My stomach in fact aches from the laughing – or is that the first sign that I too have Masuk Angin?

There has been a Masuk Angin epidemic going around, let me point out it has not been unusually windy… and I’m starting to get a little nervous… Can I catch an illness that I don’t believe in? I guess I’ve got to be careful who farts around me in an enclosed space…

Barefoot and fighting off Masuk Angin by wearing cardboard over my chest whilst riding a motorbike…

6 Responses to “The Masuk Angin myth…”
  1. Rick Carter says:

    Farts? Could it be that Fire is challenging Wind’s power. What’s next? Perhaps Water may raise the stakes and bring on Masuk Angin should you find yourself in the shower with one so inflicted. And, what is Earth’s roll? To bury the unbelievers? Personally, I stand ready to Kerokan anyone in distress.

  2. ira says:

    No, you can’t get masuk angin from other’s fart. Who said that? But true, we believe farting and burping will ease the pain. Kerokan is our ultimate traditional medication for masuk angin, hahaha.. I hate kerokan. But I always gets better after that. Maybe you should try it sometimes 😀

  3. marsha says:

    this is funny but whoever wrote this totally has no idea what masuk angin is and the way it is written is way too exaggerated. masuk angin is very common in Indonesia and people don’t make a big deal out of it. and the phrase masuk angin is not supposed to be literally translated as “wind entering your body”. the word angin is meant to be translated as air (which in Indonesian also means gas). So masuk angin is when your stomach gets gassy.

  4. Safira says:

    I am an Indonesian but I don’t think you can catch Masuk Angin — so farts are not contagious as far as I know 🙂

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  1. […] The Masuk Angin myth… « Barefoot Inked […]

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