Monday, May 6, 2019

On Placing Your Hopes And Expectations To God

Last year I saw a YouTube video on an ustadz (male clerics) giving a sermon on the importance of marriage. The ustadz cited a hadith saying The Prophet said married people were already achieving half of the religion. From that hadith, the ustadz deduced that the unmarried people had yet to reach anything worthy for the journey to afterlife.

I remembered feeling helpless after hearing the sermon. As a single Muslim in my late 30s (this year is the last year of my 30s), I believe that Allah would not let anyone feeling left behind and that Islam embraces people from all walks of life. So I looked up Al Quran to find solace.

What I found in Al Quran were verses on marriage, to be kind to spouse (how husband should treat their wife and vice versa), to be kind to those who have less, and other advises on being kind to other humans. Reading the verses on marriage resulted in even more helpless feeling, because they emphasized the aforementioned hadith.

As I turned the 30th juz, I stumbled upon Q.S Al Zalzalah (The Earthquake). The 99th surah in Al Quran consists of 8 verses and the last two verses say: "Whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it. Whoever does an atom's weight of evil will see it."

It reminded me of a hadith as told by Abu Hurairah ra about the poor people who asked The Prophet that the rich could do sholat and fasting, just like the poor do. But the rich can give alms, free slaves and donate their wealth for good deeds, while the poor can not do that. At the end of the hadith, Rasulullah SAW said that Allah gave blessing to whoever He wanted to give.

And then another verse of Al Quran jumped out before my eyes: "And to your Lord only should you direct your longing." (Q.S. Al Insyirah-94: 8).

I still needed some validation on the hadith mentioned on the first paragraph of this post, so I asked another cleric, who I knew well that he would pick his words carefully. He said that marriage was indeed already half of the religion (insert sad sigh here). However, he added, those who were married still had to pursue the other half, which is taqwa. He reminded that people should always place their hopes and expectations to God, and not being complacent with the good deeds they have done or achieved.

Those kind words reminded me of another surah, Q.S. Al Ashr, which is my namesake actually. The last two verses say: '"Indeed, mankind is at loss. Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience."

Please note that I am not a scholar on Islamic studies. I am just a Muslim who wants to learn more about my own faith. I know that my understanding on Al Quran is not as much as the people who dedicate their life to learn Islam. Feel free to give comments and suggestion. 

May we be able to reach our full potential in this year's Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak!

Monday, March 18, 2019

MRT Jakarta Public Trial

Hello, people living in Jakarta and its greater areas! The time has come for us to raise our heads and say proudly,"Yes, we are one of those cool cities that have subways!" Woot woot!

The MRT Jakarta opened its gates for a free public trial during March 12 and 24. Tickets for the public trial were available at, a website that collaborates with e-commerce BukaLapak. We have to type in our email/ID card number/mobilephone number, and after a period of time, you will get the ticket in the form of QR code in the email.

Although the process is relatively easy, I still think it's just so much hassle for a public trial. But a friend, who was invited by the Jakarta administration to get a free trial a month before it was opened for public trial, said that the registration was to get everything in records, in case something happened. (Tangent: if you want to see the pictures he takes on Jakarta's infrastructure, you check his IG account at @darisarch)

I did a free public trial of MRT Jakarta on March 16 with a former colleague. We hopped on to the MRTJ from Bendungan Hilir station. The QR code was scanned, a sticker was handed. Then we walked down to the platforms and waited for the train to arrive.

Bendungan Hilir station 

The sticker for the public trial

In my opinion, the platforms look like the ones in Singapore. My friend commented that it looked similar to the ones in Japan. But of course, MRTJ was designed by a Japanese consortia, I said.

I didn't take the photo in the right angle to show everything, but there is an escalator next to this stairs

Let's go to Lebak Bulus

The design of MRTJ takes accessibility seriously. The stations have escalators, elevators, ramps, and special tiles for the visually impaired. The car has priority seats. Upon approaching a station, passengers can see the notification on a small screen above the car door or hear the name of the station being announced.

The MRTJ stays underground between Hotel Indonesia station and Al Azhar Mosque, and then it jumps up to an elevated railway track until Lebak Bulus Station. The 15-kilometer route is completed in less than 20 minutes, it's efficient and traffic free.

On the day I tried the MRTJ, the car was crowded with families going out and about. Many people took photos, made vlogs and stared in awe. All has the look of pride and happiness on their faces. As for myself, I was overwhelmed with emotions. After trying subways in many countries, I am finally able to take one in my home land. It felt so surreal!

I read that after the first phase is inaugurated, the government will soon plan for the second phase, which will connect the east-west areas, and then the third phase, which will connect Jakarta and four greater areas (Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi). May God grant me the opportunity in this lifetime to see them all in operation.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Some Real Life Pick Up Lines

While I do not have many experiences in love and relationship, I can not stop being a hopeless romantic. But if you have read this blogs from the beginning, you can figure this out by now:).  

To close the month of February, I have compiled the pick up lines from my guy friends in real life. Here they are without further ado...

"For all of you, I may just die, because you're worth it." - a guy friend who was complimenting a girl's bright red lipstick color.

"You absolutely deserve to be addressed as poetically 'milady'." - a guy friend who shares similar interest on Game of Thrones with a girl.

"Love it when your funny naughtiness appears." - a guy friend who has kinky perverted thoughts (lol).

"I don't really do cinemas anymore, only with you." - a guy friend when a girl asked what was the last movie he watched in the theaters.

"If there is just one thing I would like to see in life before I die, it's you during the early 2000s." - a guy friend trying to see a photo of a girl in her younger days.

What are the sweetest pick up lines you ever heard in real life? :)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Which Is More Important: Compatibility Or Chemistry?

A few years ago, a friend tried a paid dating service and then told me about the process. First, she had to answer a series of question on her preferences. Then, the company will try to find a person with the highest compatibility in its directory and set the meet up. Long story short, she met the guy with more than 80% compatibility. However, the first meeting went bland for both sides.

She asked me to meet her at our usual ramen shop to unload her experience. As a good friend, I obliged. 

"What seems to be the problem?" I asked.
"I don't know. I mean he's not bad, a bit good looking, has a stable job, well-dressed, well-educated and well-spoken too. But the chemistry was not there," she said.
"Did you have those uncomfortable silence in between the conversation?"
"Not really. The conversation went great, no awkward silence. It's just, something was off and the feeling is mutual."

As our ramen arrived, we stopped talking and dove deep into our bowls (we had our priorities straight). We continued talking about other stuffs later on. I did not think much of her experience, then recently I saw this video. Then a bulb just turns on inside my head.

You may meet a person who ticks off all factors in your preference list: height/weight/body type, skin tone, eye color, profession, age, religion, hobby, etc. But if the chemistry or attraction was not there, there will be no relationship.

However, the talk with my friend has sparked curiosity within. What are my preference factors on a guy? As an introverted only child, I think mine would simply say: a guy who can engage me in any topics and good looks would be a real bonus. Actually, the Before trilogy uses this as its success recipe.

"So will you be trying this dating service again?" I asked her before we parted ways.
"Sure, why not? I'm open to all kinds of experience now. And it's not as scary as I have thought," she said, smiling confidently.

Wow, isn't she so brave? I wish I can have at least half of her guts. I haven't had any thought of using dating service myself, because for me it's so hard to open up to a total stranger. But since I am now working from home and do not have any prospect of meeting new love interest, I might need to step up the gutsy game.

Have you tried dating service and get any luck with the match? Any recommendations?

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Art Of Gifting By Guys

While I always think men as weirdly wired creatures, I also find that there are many things I can learn from them, such as the art of gifting. I am not a good gift person, so I usually just ask the persons if they have something they really need at the moment. I could observe the person, make a guess on what they need and shop the product if I want to, but these days I just want to simplify the process, just like most guys do.  

Here are some examples of how guys make decisions on which gifts they give:

#1. The items that have the woman's favorite color
Once I received a book from a guy. It was a real surprise, because it was the same book that D gave me years ago. The new book has been reprinted in hardcover version.
Me: Wow, thank you, this is a famous book. How did you decide to pick this book?
Guy Friend: Oh, the book spine is in pink, your favorite color.
Me: ^_^

#2. The items they want to see the woman in it
Giving clothing to a woman is a bit tricky, but when a guy does that, it's because he thinks the clothing would look good on the woman. This is a conclusion of conversation with most friends.

#3. The items they can also use
When I met a friend recently, she was working on a grey Retina Display MacBook Pro, which looks thinner and lighter than a MacBook Air. As I am planning to buy a spare laptop (currently I am using an MBP that was bought in 2010), I ask her several questions on the specs.
Friend: Oh, my husband bought this for me. I don't really know the specs.
Me: Despite being thin, it looks very tough, probably due to the color.
Friend: Actually, it is available in Rose and Gold. The gold ones were not available in Batam (where my friend lives), and my husband was against the rose one, because it looks too feminine as he plans to borrow the laptop.
Me: ^_^

Similar proof was when I met up with another friend, she was wearing a Samsonite backpack, which looks good but which I also knew it was not her style.
Me: This new backpack is a bit different from your other stuffs
Friend: It's a birthday gift from husband. He chose this simple black one so he can use it too.
Me: ^_^

#4. The items within the price range
A guy friend suddenly hit me up with an urging question: where does one buy affordable women's shoes? He wanted to give a pair of shoes to his girlfriend for Christmas.
Me: Have you checked online shops? They usually have branded shoes within reasonable prices.
Guy Friend: Nah, still too expensive. I'm looking for anything below Rp 300,000
Me: Do you really love your girlfriend?

Another friend was ogling discounted items at The Body Shop, so I asked which one she liked.
Friend: Well, I really like this item, but my husband already bought another item, which was on sale but I didn't like it that much.
Me: You can give him some hints next time on your favorite items.
Friend: Unfortunately, that item is seldom on discount. So my strategy now is to find discounted items that I can like.

#5. The items that are functional because Form Follows Function (#ArchitectureStudentInsideJoke)
Years ago, a guy friend gave a watch as farewell gift.
Me: Wow, thank you. Why a watch, if I may ask? I would receive anything from you happily.
Guy Friend: Well, you don't wear a watch. I think you need a watch. And it can also remind you of the good times we had every time you look at the watch.
Me: (I was just speechless)

Another time, a guy friend gave me a bone-shaped pencil case with Totoro's face sketch and a water thermos, all in pink.
Me: Wow, these are so cute.
Guy Friend: And you can use them on a daily basis!
Me: ^_^

#6. Food
In most cases, food is the best gift. I mean, unless you have allergy or health issues, who can resist a box of chocolate? Or a cake? And the guy can also get a slice of the cake, which brings us back to point #3 (ha!).

The aforementioned cases do not hold true for all guys. There are guys who take the time to figure out the perfect gifts. Don't lose hope! Also, either it's a watch or a water thermos, one should always be grateful to receive the gifts. The guys have spent time to think and shop for the gifts, it was already an achievement.

If you are a guy, and you stumble upon this post by happenstance, what are your methods to find gifts for your loved ones? And if you are a girl, what do you give to the guys in your lives? 

Friday, February 1, 2019

What Are Your Deal Breakers?

Chemistry in a relationship is so difficult to pin down. Sometimes you just know that you can get along with a certain person  in the first few seconds, sometimes it takes more time to figure out. The hard reality is when one party does not share the same sentiments as the other. There are many reasons for a deal breaker, but communications is the main issue.

Here are some of the deal breaker situations that I gather from friends and colleagues (Disclaimer : I omit the names to protect the innocents):

"I went out with this guy, and he introduced me to his family. During the meeting, his mother bombarded me with questions on my lineage, who was my great grandfathers and so on. I come from a very ordinary family, while he has relation with some keraton (old Yogyakarta courts) family. I just had to call it off."

"When my former boyfriend and I discuss the wedding plan, he told me that he would take no-collateral loan of Rp 100 million for the wedding reception. I was so appalled by the idea of taking a loan just for a one-day party. If it were for buying our house, I would have agreed. I think we have different ideas on budget and finances. I decided to say no."

"A cleric introduced me to this guy, and we communicated via Whatsapp. But I noticed that his responses were always short and did not open further conversation. I guess he was just not that into me, so we just stopped contacting each other."

"A guy had proposed me, but then his colleague asked me if my father died because the guy took a leave from work to 'attend the funeral of his girlfriend's father'. It turned out that his former girlfriend's father died and the girl asked him to come to her house, which is located in...Lampung! I confronted him with the news, and he did not apologize. I just had to break with him."

"I have been introduced to some guys, but the guys seemed to lack in manners. One example was when we went out to an eatery, he ate a dish and could not finish it. He told the waiter to pack it for takeaway and handed it to me, saying that it was for my mom. I didn't say anything to my mom."

"A guy came when I was in my 20s. But if I said yes, I would have to leave this country and family. Also, I was not ready, so I declined. Do I regret it? I think we were just not meant to be."

"The first matchmaking offer was with a guy who kept asking the same question throughout the day:'what are you doing at the moment?' (Indonesian version:'lagi apa?'). If I replied to that question, he would ask the same question again a few minutes later. At that moment, my job took most of my work time and I could not reply real-time. So I told the guy:'could you ask another question that does not have timeframe? Because I could not answer quickly'. I mean, he could ask about what kind of books I like to read, etc, you know, the kind of questions that lead to more questions and conversation. However, he thought I called it off and reported to his mother that I was not available. It was a simple question, but he misinterpreted it."

"One day, my cousin told me he had a single friend, who was serious to get married. So we were introduced via telephone, and started texting each other. The initial conversation was a boring one, such as where do you work, etc. I decided to ask a question I considered innocent: 'are you smoking?' The guy seemed offended with that question and never replied again. I just knew that my future husband and I should be able to discuss any topics, however controversial it might seem."

"There was this guy who was a son of my father's friend, the fathers thought we would get along well. So they introduced us and we tried getting to know each other via Whatsapp. But on a particular Sunday, in which the guy had promised to come to my house, he did not come or send me any message at all. I finally texted him at 7 p.m. asking if he had called the visit off. His response was,'Oh I'd love to come to your house, but I was in Permata Hijau area'. My house is on the other side of the city, around 1.5-2 hours driving. I would have called my friends if I would come late. I thought he was either not into me or simply a jerk who could not respect other people's time."

What are the deal breakers for you? 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Fifth Passport Renewal Or How To Renew Passport In 2019

Hello, lovelies!

As my passport will expire in June 2019, I decided to renew it this month. Upon hearing my plan, a friend asked if I had a plan to travel somewhere, and to that question, I replied,"I have been having passport since I was 15 years old. It has become a habit for me to renew my passport, because it seems I would always need it."

At 15, I went to Austria to visit my uncle and his family who were assigned there. At 20, my class in uni went on a field trip to Singapore (just imagine the riot that took place when 100 young people went together? Lol). 

At 24, I was working for a small media, and one day the boss decided to send a young reporter on an assignment abroad (destination: Shanghai). Guess what? Of all 7 young reporters, only I had a valid passport. As my colleagues said, I am such a lucky bastard (ha!). After the incident, all young reporters made their passports. Since then, I also made a mental note to always renew the passport because I would never know when I would need it.

The tiring part of renewing passport is to learn the new procedure. Every five years, or perhaps less, the procedure is changed. Sometimes the change was for the good, other times was bad. I have been trying to renew my passport by myself, so I know the struggle. 

Ok, enough with intro, here was how I renew the passport in January 2019:

1. There is a new regulation for passport renewal, in which passport applicants can no longer queue directly, they have to book the date and time through the official "Antrian Paspor (Passport Queue)" application. So I downloaded the application from Play Store (I think it's also available in iOS). However, when I downloaded it, it was in the middle of some failed update. I tried the web link: 

I signed in with Google account. It was quite easy, just followed the instruction, picked the immigration office you'd like to come to (all immigration offices are already online), the date and the hour. Et voila, you will get a QR code. I screenshot the code.

2. On the date that I have chosen, I arrived early at the immigration office. I still had to fill in the hard copy form, which I found ambiguous. I mean, why would we have to fill the hard copy form if there is an app to queue? But ok, this is all work in progress.

After filling in the form, I queued to submit the form to the officers and attach copies of ID card, family card, birth certificate and the old passport. I also brought the original papers as the officers would check them. 

While the registration is already done online, applicants still have to do some paper works. Oh well, it's work in progress I suppose.

A new regulation says that if you want to renew (you already have passport), you only have to attach ID card and old passport. I still brought all documents though, because in Indonesia, we would never know, so just in case...

The banner that says all you need is love...rrr, I mean, a copy of e-KTP and old passport if you only want to renew

Tips on copied papers: each document is  copied on an A4-sized paper, no need to cut the paper. Any failure to meet the requirement would result in having to re-copy the papers at the cooperative (one paper = Rp 1,000)

3. After all documents are checked, the officer told me to take another queue: the interview, finger scan and photo session. The queue was tedious, but once you face the officer and everything is according to the regulation, the procedure was smooth.

The officer handed me another paper with QR code for the payment process in the bank or post offices. I ran outside to pay at the mobile post office, but it was already 4 pm, and it was closed. 

4. So I went to the bank the next day. The payment was easy, no need to key in password. I signed a paper the teller gave me and then the teller said,"It's done." I was like,"huh?"

5. Three days later, I received an SMS that I can pick up my new passport the next day. Oh joy, oh joy.


Ok, now that I have a new passport, perhaps it is high time to plan for some short getaway. Any suggestion?

Tangent: Just for laugh, here is a #5YearsChallenge of my passport photo. The left photo is from 2014, the right is from 2019 obviously. It's either I'm getting better at applying make up or the new camera at the immigration office has the beautification feature, lol. Whichever that is, I am happy with the result as this is the first ID photo where I look normal. On other IDs, I look as if I was either sleepy or drunk.