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.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Conversation With Work Colleague Via Skype/WhatsApp

As I've told you before, my work colleagues are based in other Southeast Asia countries. For daily report, I usually work with Pat and Jonah (from the Philippines) and when I cover for my Indonesian colleague, I work with Tyrone (also from the Philippines). For the weekly report, I work with Hazel, Sandra and Zahidah (from Singapore, although I think Zahidah is Malaysian as she understand Bahasa and proofreads my report, because Bahasa and Melayu are both similar and also different LOL), while for the bi-weekly report I work with Lordan (from the Philippines) and Sylvia (from Singapore).

Of all work colleagues, Pat is the closest colleague as I communicate with her on a daily basis. So far we already connected via Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook. Perhaps, Instagram is next.

Although Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines geographically share borders and similar cultures, we don't speak the same language, so English come to the rescue. It could be very tricky, because English is not our mother tongue and written words always sound too direct/harsh compared to spoken words. But so far, we manage to get along as we focus more on how to get the work done.

Anyway, here are some snippets that I had with my colleague:

#1. Let's Blame Tim Cook
Situation: I submitted the report a bit late because Tim Cook made a critical statement the day before, which resulted in many news links, and those should be included in the report
Me: Sorry I am late today, so many news on Tim Cook
Pat: Yeah, me too, let's blame Tim Cook

#2. Which One Is More Important?
Me: Which one is more important: me being on time in submitting report or me doing the translation correctly?
Pat: Well, actually both
Me: I knew you're going to say that

#3. Don't Tell Them That
Pat: Good timing today, Tifa.
Me: Yeah, I follow your advice to drop everything when the clock strikes 10.45 am.
Pat: Yup, the same tip I told Michael. But don't tell them I said that.

#4. Secret MacBook Sorority
Situation: when our boss told Pat and I to buy a Windows laptop (we both use MacBook Pro), because she believed the Mac slowed us
Pat: I can't afford to buy another laptop, we just have to show them that we can finish the report on time
Me: Just wondering, how many MacBook users are there in the office?
Pat: I think there are only three people using MacBook: you, me and Joni
Me: Wow, we should make an alliance

I really hope that one day I can meet this office's work colleagues in person. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Interjections in Bahasa Indonesia

I'm not exactly a Bahasa expert, but I've been wanting to make a post on interjection since the first time I started blogging here. Not really sure if this will be useful to learn Bahasa, I just think interjection has some interesting words to know. And if you can use it correctly in a sentence, you're officially a Bahasa speaker hehehe. Seriously, interjection is very tricky, because if you use the wrong interjection, the sentence would have different nuance/meaning.

A friend of mine married a Dutch guy, who has been trying so hard to master the proper way of using interjection. But each time he combines an interjection into the sentence, I have hard times to keep my face straight. I forgot some of the funniest ones he said, would update this post when I remembered.

For a start, let's try with these interjection words. I think I will combine English and Bahasa to show how they are used in the sentence. Here they go...

- An interjection to show deduction.
For example: Nah, that's why I took the major | Nah, this is my work of art

- Nah can also be combined with kan (another interjection to emphasize on something) or stand alone to emphasize on deduction, with the closest meaning to:"See, I told you."
For example:
A: You can't use the toilet, it's under renovation
B: Let me see (after trying to open the toilet door with no avail) Yeah, you're right
A: Nah kan
Note from the editor, who is me : Nah only go together with kan, you can't use Nah deh/Nah sih/Nah dong. I mean you can use those, but language-wise, they are just not meant to be.

- Deh is an interjection to express agreement/submission, usually when one party exercises forces on the other party. When you say Deh, you don't really agree/submit, you just say it to stop argument
For example:
A: Let's go to the park! Let's go there now!
B: Okay, deh.

- Deh could also express suggestion
For example: Come here, deh | Don't make pouty lips, deh, you look awful

- Sih can express agreement to another party's statement, in a resigned way. Sih is a bit similar to Deh, but Sih has a sense of agreement to the other party's opinion
For example:
A: You need to set goals for your self improvement
B: Yes, sih
Now if you say "Yes, deh" on that context, the sentence is still correct. However, it will imply that you make the goals to make the other person happy, while in a "Yes, sih" reply you realize that you're doing it for your own good.

- Dong can mean 'of course'
For example:
A: Wow, you're good at this subject
B: Yes, dong
- Or just to emphasize on something
A: Do you want ice cream or chocolate?
B: Chocolate, dong

- In Indonesia, Lah can be used in the same context of Dong
Yes, lah.
Chocolate, lah.
Lah is also found in Singapore, Malaysia and (most likely) Brunei because it is a Melayu word and the four countries share the same root, but since I'm not a native of those countries, let me just stop right here.

I hope this post can shed some light on how to properly use the Indonesian interjection. I would love to read your opinion on interjection usage. Feel free to drop comment below if you find something that need correction/alteration or if you want me to write on other topic on Bahasa. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

On Eyes, Onde-Onde, Shopping, And Being A Germ With M&D

Hello, lovelies! I hope you and loved ones are in good health. Here are some updates on M&D because I know some people find them adorable.

#1. Look Into My Eyes
Situation: after D went to have his eyes checked by the ophthalmologist
Me: D, what did the doctor say?
D: Well, she said,"good afternoon, sir, please sit down."
Me: And then?
D: She also told me to look into her eyes. So I look at her and we locked our eyes...
Me: D? What was the result of the check up?
D: Oh, not much. I have to come again on Jan. 12.

#2. The Case of Missing Onde-Onde, part 1
Situation: I bought three onde-onde (original, cheese and black sticky rice)
M: Why did you buy it?
Me: You don't want them? It's ok, I'll eat them tomorrow.
The next morning...
Me: Where are those onde-onde?
M: Errr...they are rolling?
D: Yup, rolling outside of this house
Me: -_-

#3. The Case of Missing Onde-Onde, part 2
Me: So what was it like?
D: Well, I tried the white one, I think it was cheese? And another one, maybe mung bean?
Me: Only two? I bought three
D: I only ate two
Me & D: (looking at M)
M: Errr...the third one already rolled before the other two did?

#4. The Mom Principle In Spending
Situation: during a fierce haggling in Thamrin City
Vendor: If you buy five, one will be priced at Rp 45,000
M: I'll just take two, I can always come here anytime.
Me: But M, taking Go-Car to ThamCit is expensive
M: Hmm, you've got a point there, child (talking to me). Now, could you show me the other color? (turning to vendor)
Me: (ouch, I must have said something wrong)

#5. The Germ That Is Always Be Missed
Situation: I was knocking on my parents' bedroom door before leaving the house
M: Come in
D: Oh dear, why do you always interrupt us, just like a germ
Me: Ok, I'm about to go out anyway (without skipping a beat)
D: What? Where are you going? Don't come home late
Me: But you said I was like a germ

Monday, January 7, 2019

On The Struggles To Build Confidence

Last year, a colleague suddenly gave me a call to discuss about her desire to find another job. She wanted to find another career path but she was unsure what she could do outside of her current job. Being the organized person when it comes to strategies and life hacks, I told her that I made a SWOT table before deciding to deviate from my previous career path. 

"I can't even figure out my Strengths. I can only see my Weaknesses. I'm not as confident as you," she said.

Want to hear a secret? Ever since I was a child, I have this low confidence level. I am the only child, so I don't get compared to my sibling. Instead, I get compared with my cousins. Most (if not all) of my cousins are on the extrovert spectrum and considered a success in my parents' standards. They look prettier, they have more friends, they have permanent jobs, and they married young.

I am still developing my confidence muscle, it's a daily workout. But I am definitely more confident nowadays then in my younger years. Looking back, I could say that confidence requires a lot of hardwork. Here, let me break down the stages and hopefully I don't bore you with the details.

I was so quiet and hated public attention in my elementary school years, that M suggested I took Balinese dancing course. The dancing club performed in Taman Mini once a year. I was not an outstanding dancer, but I learned that I could dance in public, after months of practice that is. It has planted a seed of confidence.

When I was 12 years old, I got bad scores and did not the national test for elementary students. As a result, I had to enroll in a private junior high school, not the state school. In Jakarta during the 1990s, if you enrolled in private schools, there were two possibilities: (1) you're rich, or (2) you're stupid and couldn't pass the national test.

It was during my first year in junior high school that I learned English for the first time. I had a bad result in my first English exam. Then my parents found an English course opening near my home and enrolled me there. I learned so hard that my test scores leveled up, my teacher noticed my improvement and gave me enough encouragement. Thanks to this, I braved myself to participate in an English competition held by the English course. It was a small competition, I won second prize. What I congratulated myself at that time was my decision to take part in the competition in the first place. I learned that a little encouragement could go a long way, so I've been trying to give lots of encouragement, instead of harsh critics.

In high school, I learned more about English grammars and had been dreaming to take English (or any other foreign language) as a major in university. But my parents insisted that I took Engineering. I was devastated. I consulted several teachers on this issue, and some suggested I took Architecture, whose syllabus has elements of art and history (which I liked and was good at in high school). Once I set up the target, I also set up strategies to achieve it. I studied day and night, took several tryout tests to see the possible test results (those had been ugly), and dived back to the textbooks again. Alhamdulillah, I passed the test with enough score to enroll as an Architecture student.

During the university years, I taught myself to do freehand sketching because it is a requirement as an Architecture student. I looked at how my friends did it, pored over the sketches in textbooks, even tried copying them. I would never be as good as my gifted friends, but at least it was enough to gain the degree. Now I knew my hands could sketch, with years of practice.

After I graduated, I applied to various offices, either architect bureaus or other sectors. But I didn't land any job for one year. It was really a low point of confidence, when you saw all friends and cousins getting a job. A silver lining from this year was that I came to so many work interviews and learned to be presentable. I would wore the suit that made me comfortable and confident, prepared the answers (I even practiced in front of a mirror) and came to the place earlier. I landed a job as a journalist, and that opened a whole new chapter in my confidence building journey.

The first person I interviewed was the Foreign Affairs Ministry's spokesperson at that time, Marty Natalegawa, who later became the Indonesian Ambassador for UK and Ireland and then the Foreign Affairs Minister. He was leaving the conference room quickly and I had to sprint a bit to approach him, politely introduced myself, gave him my name card and asked for an in-depth interview. His face beamed up when he read my card. He asked his secretary to set up interview time in the next few days.

It was during the interview that Pak Marty told me that he used to work as a proofreader at my workplace. I was so lucky that I got him as my first assignment, because his kindness helped building my confidence. But seriously, if I didn't run after him, I wouldn't know that he (and many other news sources) could be approached as long as we clearly and politely stated our questions.

Since then, I met many political leaders, decision makers and celebrities, people whom I could only see on the TV screen. But the most important was I met so many people that I started to forget about my clumsiness, focus on them and the task at hand. Confidence building in this phase was more about how I got the job done and then doing it all again on repeat the next day. It's more like survival tips.

After almost a decade in journalism, I decided to change my career. I was confused on what I could do outside of journalism. As I said in the beginning of this post, I made a SWOT table to see where my strengths and weaknesses were, and this is something anyone can do by updating the curriculum vitae (CV). Just put in everything you have done in the CV: education background, work experience, community organization/volunteer works, and you would see a pattern repeating.  For example, you have been in charge for a certain role or topic. That should be your strengths. Own them up, and show them with a style.

For people who have worked in one workplace for years, building the confidence to jump ship may look as a daunting prospect. Start with small steps, such as send one application a month, then two applications in the next month, and so on. Once you receive invitations to work interview, the confidence level would rise up.

Another factor that can improve confidence is dressing up for the occasion. I don't have many outfits, but I have the basic ones for job interview, to meet important officials/clients, and to attend events/parties. Besides wearing the right outfit, a perfect lipstick could help boost confidence.

I am also blessed with friends who always encourage me to take the opportunities and support me with all information on any job opening. Sometimes you need other people to show what you're good at.

To sum this post up, confidence is not something we are always born with. We have to develop the confidence muscle within us by practice, by lots of time spent on studying, by trying and failing, by taking the small steps and the quantum leaps, and by praying to the Almighty.

To everyone who is building their confidence, my tips would be to remember the target you want to achieve and start from there. May God grant us the confidence we need. Good luck to us all.