Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year of Weekly Posts


Hello, lovelies.

As much as I want to write more (a resolution that goes unfulfilled!), I must admit I've been a bad blogger this year. 

This year kicked off in an ugly start, with me being unemployed for the first three months. My contract with the former office ended in December, and there was no contract extension until March. Luckily, I got another job and started work again in April.

The new workplace has a somewhat-busy-but-fun atmosphere. Although I didn't travel much, I did have good times. Here are some of the things I did and was grateful to have this year:

-- I had more fun. The new workplace has quite a lot of sporty people. They plan a weekly run around Gelora Bung Karno sport complex (every Tuesday) and a badminton club (every Thursday). Have I told you that my co-workers also have a movie club too? My weekday nights are not only for work, but also for after-work socializing and sport activities.

-- I learned new things at the office, such as how to layout newsletter with CorelDraw and Adobe InDesign. I also got a chance to learn how to shoot a video of active learning for my office.

-- I went through odontectomy operation to take my impacted wisdom tooth. After all these years of meticulous toothbrushing and dentalflossing, I finally conquer my fear and take out that impacted molar.

-- I bought a car! It caused me a 10-year-worth savings, but M&D are happy with the purchase and that's what matters most.

-- I visited two geothermal plants in Cibuni and a wind farm in Ciheras. Both are in West Java. Those visits remind me Indonesia is not only a rich-oil state with abundant natural resources but also blessed with renewable energy sources.

Now, on to the 2016, I can't promise you I will post more, but you all know I love to write and tell stories. I can only say: I will do my best.

Happy New Year, lovelies. Hope you have a great one.

PS. I did write posts as I tried to write at least once a week, but I had yet to finish most of them. I'll try completing some of them during this holiday season. So if you scroll to previous pages and find new posts, well...happy reading :).

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mencari Hilal

Indonesian | 2015 | 93 minutes | Director : Ismail Basbeth

Photo found here

Mahmud (Deddy Sutomo), who has been preaching Islamic values for years, believes that Muslims should practice Islamic teaching thoroughly in order to reach ultimate happiness. However, his spirit sank when he finds that the Ministry of Religious Affair will use Rp 9 billion to decide on the hilal, which marks the beginning of a Hijriyah month.
 
He reminisces the tradition of looking for hilal that his pesantren (Islamic boarding school) used to do. It was a spiritual journey, but he had never done it since the boarding school was dissolved years ago. He would like to repeat the tradition to prove that religious worship should not be made to make oneself rich, hilal can be found without billions of rupiah. 
 
Unfortunately, his plan was hampered by Halida (Erythrina Baskoro), his daughter, who worries about his declining health. Halida finally allows Mahmud to go under the condition he should be accompanied by Heli (Oka Antara), the youngest child who has fled the house due to irreconcilable differences.
 
Photo found here
 
Heli, who works as an environmental activist, has always been very critical on religious affairs. At first, Heli refuses to accompany Mahmud, but he has to obey his sister, who works in the immigration office, in order to get his passport renewal on time for he needs it to attend an international event in Nicaragua. Hence, this father-son team depart in a bad mood. 
 
Will Mahmud find the hilal he's looking for before Idul Fitri? Will Heli get his passport on time? Can this Ramadhan reunite the two hearts? 
 
This movie is a nominee for best movie in FFI 2015.
 
Photo found here
 

Some notes:
(1) The idea of the film, I believe, takes the inspiration from Le Grand Voyage, a French movie about a father-son team going on a pilgrimage

(2) I like Heli's backpack in this movie! Can anyone tell me where to buy it?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Let's Give Thanks

 
A few nights ago I scrolled down my FB wall while lying on my bed, a ritual that I've been doing since the smartphone made way into my life. Then I stumbled upon a post of a friend on saying thanks, instead of sorry.

It totally blows my mind. The change of one word would make such a huge difference on how the other people perceives you. Saying "I'm sorry" would make people think you're incapable, but saying "thanks" shows you appreciate others, own your mistakes and take things in stride.

Let's start saying more 'thanks', instead of 'sorry.

Find more illustration here. The artist behind the illustration is Yao Xiao, check out her other works here. Thank you, Yao Xiao for the kind reminder.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Meet The Porstars

Hello, here are some photos of the Porstars :)

Ratu Plaza's 711, Jakarta

Peacock Cafe, Yogyakarta

 
Ta Wan, fX, Jakarta

 
Roti Bakar Benhil, Jakarta 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why Are We Atttracted To Certain Kind Of People?

Recently I sat down with a group of girlfriends, sharing tiny bits of our lives since our last meeting, when the inevitable question popped up: "are you seeing someone?" Yes, we are a bunch of sad, single women who are curious about other single women's lives.

The answer is, alas, still a 'no' for most of us. But then, as usual, the interrogation continued. We asked each other whether there were potential candidates in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the..whatever. I mean, there are so many men out there, so there must be at least one straight, single man, right? (Dear God, I'm looking at You, now)

"Well, there is this guy, his name is Mike. Everyone adores him. But I'm just not attracted into him," said one of the girlfriends.

That sentence above, my friends, has been haunting me ever since. Because that's what I've been experiencing too.

Why are we attracted to certain kind of people? What turns you on in some guys and off against other guys? Why can't you like that guy who were introduced by your parents? Oops, the last sentence is TMI :P.

Aside from the same religion requirement (well, it's the norm in Indonesia, but this will be for another post I guess), what are the factors that make a person fall for another person? For some, it can be sparked by the shoes or the perfume he/she is wearing. For me, it helps if the guy is wearing eyeglasses or sporting a tattoo (ha!) or has great back to lean on (ahem).

Being curious, I browsed the title of this post and read this article. I agree with all of the items listed in the article: face, body, scent, eyes, similarity, fun, status, value, warmth, touch...but the 11th factor (time), it really hits home, at least for me. I can be attracted to a person if I spend a certain period of time with him.

I guess that's what makes people married their colleagues, classmates, travel buddies, gym friends or friends at whatever club they're joining. In order to build a relationship, we need to trust the person and feel comfortable with him/her, and those can be achieved through time.

How about you? What makes you attracted to another human being?

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Hundred Secret Senses - Amy Tan

A kingdom of termites has secretly been building their fortress in my house and we just found out a couple of months ago. The termites destroyed and ruined some of D's book collections *crying*. While it was sad to see years of book collection turned into dust, I found several books that I've bought but have yet to read. 

It seemed D moved them into his bookcase without my consent. It was a fortune that these books survived the attack. The books are in English and I bought them during the Gramedia sale. The Indonesian publishing company often held insider sale, where they sell original books that have been translated into Bahasa Indonesia. One of the books is "The Hundred Secret Senses" by Amy Tan. 

So I started to read this book. The layered time line (going back and forth in the history), the two points of view (Olivia and Kwan) and different language style (Kwan speaks in broken English) made me take some time to grasp what Tan wants to convey in this novel. But once I got it, I took off quickly. I put down this book with a good feeling.

Brief summary: Olivia Yee is only five years old when Kwan, her older sister from China, comes to live with her family and turns her life upside down, bombarding her days and nights with ghostly stories of strange ancestors from the World of Yin. For the next thirty years, Olivia endures visits from Kwan and her ghosts, who offer advice on everything, from restaurant to Olivia's failed marriage. Just when she cannot bear it anymore, the revelations of a family secret open her mind to the startling truths hidden in Kwan's unorthodox vision of the world.

Here are several quotes worth remembering:

"Life's always a big fucking compromise. You don't always get what you want, no matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how good you are. That's a myth. We're all hanging in the best we can."

"You can't stop young girls from wishing. No! Everyone must dream. We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming - well, that's like saying you can never change your fate. Isn't that true?"

"To you, this may sound clumsy, not so romantic. But if someone offers to save your life, isn't that as good as going to church in a white dress and saying 'I do'?"

Friday, October 16, 2015

Porstars

The new office employs more men than the former office. But the single ones are younger than me. There are four single guys in the new office. One is two years younger, one is eight years younger, one is nine years younger and one is 14 years younger (!). Instead of Mbak, I asked them to call me Bibi (Auntie).

"You're so weird. A lot of women wanted to be called Mbak (which signifies a young woman), but you want to be called Bibi. Why is that?" one of them asked.

"Well, I'm not young anymore, definitely older than you are. Why should I deceive you and myself with the name title? Besides, I like Return of Condor Heroes' main character Bibi Lung," I said.


Three younger colleagues and I had drinks after work at a nearby convenience store. Then we had this idea to make a clandestine Whatsapp group. I suggested that we named it Piranha Porstars, a word play on the number of the initial founders (MAE, FNA, DAP and I). FNA added RJP and IS later on. However, after a few weeks, IS left group for cellphone efficiency and it made Porstars having five members. We still call it Porstars though.

Here are some conversation we had…

On The Group Name
IS: I think there is a letter missing in this group’s name
Me: You mean, letter N?
IS: Yes
DAP: Oh yes, it should have been Piranhan Porstars

On Going Home
Situation: Being the eldest and the Auntie for all, I can’t help worrying if they have reached home or not. So I usually check them out. Here’s the kind of conversation we usually have
Me: Has everyone reached home?
RJP: I have
MAE: Me too
DAP: Just entered my apartment
FNA: I’m still on the commuter line. Three more stations to go
Me: But the journey is not over yet for you still have to row the boat, take ojek and swing from one tree to another…
FNA: Bibi, why are you bullying me too?
(Thirty minutes later)
FNA: Hurray, I’ve reached home
Me: It’s already 12:01 AM. No need to sleep. Go back to Jakarta for work, or you’ll be late
FNA: (-_-)”

On Having Lunch And Game
DAP: Let’s have lunch
FNA: Let’s. Where?
DAP: Tengjo?
FNA: Ah, that’s too far
DAP: Panin’s canteen?
FNA: That’s also far
DAP: (starting to lose his patience) All eateries are far…from Bojong. So where do you want to have lunch?
FNA: The canteen in the basement
DAP: Nope, I can’t play CoC there, no signal
Me: (-_-)”


Friday, October 9, 2015

Rules On Taking Ojek (Or When Kaleb And Yudha Take Ojek)

The existence of transportation apps Go-Jek and Grabbike is truly a godsend in this hectic city called Jakarta. We only need a smartphone to download the apps and order a service when we need it. However, for my friends Kaleb and Yudha, things are not as easy as that. Here are several situations where they found themselves in an uncomfortable situation with the apps.

1. Don't use other people's phone to order your ojek
Situation: Kaleb wanted to go to Senen, but he had yet to download the apps in his phone.
Kaleb: Bro, could you order a Go-Jek for me?
Yudha: Sure, bro.
(Several minutes later)
Go-Jek #1: Are you Yudha?
Go-Jek #2: Are you Yudha?
Kaleb: Why are you ordering two Go-Jek?
Yudha: Because I need one. Now, dear Sirs, could you tell us which one going to Senen and which one going to Tebet?
(Both Go-Jek drivers fumbled with their smartphones)

2. Put your own number in the profile
Situation: Henny, another university friend, felt compelled to help Kaleb and Yudha on this ojek apps problem
Henny: Ok, give me your smartphone, Kaleb. I'll help you download the apps for you. Here, put in your email and your number.
Kaleb: Wow, thanks. My email is...my number is...
(Ten minutes later)
Kaleb: Yes! I can finally order ojek with my own smartphone!
(A minute later, Yudha's cellphone rang)
Yudha: Hello? Go-Jek? But I didn't order anything yet? To Senen? (glared to Kaleb)
Henny: Whose number you put there just now? Was it Yudha's?
Kaleb: Of course. Because I don't remember my own number

3. Always confirm the details before hopping on a passing ojek
Situation: Kaleb had ordered a Go-Jek to pick Yudha in Tebet (they just never learn, don't they?), and it was taking him so long to arrive. So when he did arrive, we cheered.
Kaleb: What took you so long, bro?
Yudha: Well, there was this Go-Jek arriving and I quickly hopped on. But then he took me someplace else. When I asked him, it turned out that he was supposed to pick another customer, not me. So we went back to where he picked me up, and there was the customer and my own Go-Jek driver.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Unsolicited Advice On Love And Relationship? I've Had Enough

Photo found here

#SarcasticModeOn

So I guess if you are a 35 years old single woman, it means you do not know how to get a man and people who are older/younger but already married/not married yet but is in a relationship should give you advice (even if you are not asking for it) on love and relationship.

Here are some unsolicited advice on love and relationship I've been getting.

1. You should put more effort/be friendlier/dress up more/put more make up
My response: I would, but the man should make le premiere pas

2. Even if you're smarter/richer, you should not show it because men wouldn't like feeling inferior
My response: I don't flaunt it, but I can't change who I am.

3. You should pray to God to send you the soulmate
My response: Do I have to report to you everytime I pray?

Bottom line is one should not try to give anyone unsolicited advice on anything, unless the person ask them to because (a) every person has different characters and condition. Things that may work for them, may not work for other people, and vice versa, and (b) if an advice is not asked, then you're being rude and judgmental for making conclusion and giving unsolicited advice.  

It seems many Indonesians love giving unsolicited advice. Here's a part of a graphic novel series on unsolicited advice on pregnancy.

Friday, September 25, 2015

In The Name Of Love

As coffee culture sweeping across the country, the city has seen more cafes mushrooming. From the retro-feel Kopi Oey to the laid-back Anomali to the movie-inspired Filosofi Kopi Store, you can pick the one cafe that suits your mood. 

But I'm not going to talk about coffee or cafe trend here.

Now if you are a long time reader of this blogs, you know my name often gets misspelled (my number #1 pet peeves). I'm not the only, though. Heather, a colleague's wife, once ordered a drink at a nearby Starbucks and when the drink was ready, she found "Hater" was scribbled on the cup.

"But I'm not a hater!" she exclaimed.
No, you're not, Heather. And I'm not Tiva, Tika, Tira or whatever weird name the barista scribbled on the cup.

I'm tired of correcting and spelling my name everytime I place an order, so I've been doing a trick: when the cashier asks what name should he writes on the cup, I tell him/her that my name is Cinta (an Indonesian word for 'love', but also a character name in an Indonesian hit movie 'Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?' or 'What's Up with Love?').

The pseudonym makes a great conversation opener with the cashier or the barista. I've been getting giggles/raised eyebrows upon mentioning the name. Here are two funny occurrences involving Cinta.

1. Cinta and Rangga
Situation: I went with friends, and placed orders for two. 
Cashier: Your name is...?
Me: Cinta
Cashier: Then the other beverage must be for Rangga, right? (Note from the Editor: Rangga is the love interest of Cinta in the aforementioned movie)
Me: Well...yeah, sure
(My friend, who is a guy, raised his eyebrows but stayed silent upon seeing the name. However, things got even more embarrassing when the barista walked around the tables and saw him.)
Barista: Oh, so this is Rangga. Nice to meet you. I hope you don't leave Cinta again this time (Note from the Editor: that's what happens in the movie)

2. C-I-N-T-A
Situation: I went to a cafe, where the barista sported mustaches and tattoos along his arms.
Cashier: Your name is...?
Me: Cinta
Cashier: C-I-N-T-A?
Me: Yep
(When the drink was ready, guess how the barista call my name?)
Barista: In the name of C-I-N-T-A
Me: You can just say Cinta. No need to spell it. 
Barista: (blushes)

P.S. You know what people say: Love is never wrong. I've never get any misspelled name on my cup since I use Cinta as my nickname.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Odontectomy For My Impacted Molar

This post has made thought long and hard on my own fears. Well, I decided to face one of them, which is taking out my impacted molar. I took a panoramic X-Ray photo of my teeth in 2009, but then I didn't have the guts to undergo the operation.

Six year later, I went back to the hospital to consult on said molar. I had to take another X-Ray photo, because, quoting the dentist, "If this (pointing to the 2009 X-Ray photo) is a human, it would enrolled in a primary school." After producing the 2015 X-Ray photo, the dentist's verdict remained the same: the third molar must be taken out before it caused more damage to the neighboring tooth.

I chose Rumah Sakit Gigi & Mulut FKG UI (the Teeth & Mouth Hospital of UI's School of Dental Hygiene Health) because (a) I've been doing scaling and consulting teeth problem there (not that I have any, alhamdulillah for dental health), and so far I'm not disappointed with the services, (b) the rate is affordable. For example, I only need to pay Rp 60,000 for scaling. And for odontectomy, they charged me for Rp 650,000 and some Rp 300,000++ for the post-operation medication.

When I first told my colleagues about it, they could not believe it. They said, scaling was at least Rp 300,000 at a dental clinic/hospital, and a tooth operation could reach up to Rp 1 million. They even asked if the scaling was really good.

Anyway, a week after taking the X-Ray, I came for the operation. The nurse asked if I had breakfast. I said, not yet. She immediately told me to go to the canteen for breakfast.

"Odontectomy is unlike other operation that requires you to do fasting. In the contrary, you should have good food because you will experience difficulty in eating," the nurse said.

Wow, so it would be like the last meal? I rushed to the canteen, ordered the spiciest meal there and savored every bite. And then I went back to the dental department to face the music...

They told me to fill a form of consent, stating that I agreed to undergo the operation and the risks. Upon reading 'the risks', I looked up and asked the doctor what it meant.

"There are risks in a dental operation, because the roots of teeth are connected to nerves. But of course, we always try to minimize them by going through the standardized procedures," the doctor explained.

Wait, what? Why didn't you tell me before?

The doctor assured me that not taking the impacted molar would result in bigger problems later on. "Okay, Doc, just make it fast and easy," I told him as I signed the letter of consent.

The doctor treated the operation like a casual thing. He hummed as he placed the equipment, made sure I laid myself comfortably on the dentist's chair (the only fun thing in a dentist room) and then placed a piece of cloth with a mouth-sized hole and the rest of the fabric covering my chest and face. I couldn't see anything behind the fabric, which was probably a good thing for I was scared to see what kind of torture equipment he would use. The doctor was kind enough to inform me what he would do, perhaps to prepare me for what's coming next.

"I'm going to inject you with anesthetic. Open your mouth."
"Okay."
Then he made a three-angle injection into the gum. It was painful.

"Here's another one, open your mouth again."
"Two injection, Doc???" I said meekly.
"Yes. Open your mouth."
"Okay."

After a minute he gently knocked my gum with one of dentist equipment and asked,"Can you feel it?"
"Yes."
He knocked on the other side of the mouth that didn't get injected with anesthetic,"How about here?"
"Hmm, it's more painful over there."
"So the anesthetic is already working. Let's start it then," he said.
Am I the only one without enthusiasm there?

"I'm going to incise your gum and remove the bone."
"Okay."
Buzzing sounds of chainsaw ensued.
"I can see your molar completely now. I'm going to crack it and take it out."
"Uh-uh." By this time, I couldn't say a word.
I could feel the cold touch of steel as the doctor did the action, but it was not painful at all. I felt like he's trying to push down the molar, instead of pulling it out.
"I've taken out the molar. Now I'll stitch the gum."
"Awk-ayy."

The whole operation only took 20 minutes. The doctor told me to come back next week to remove the stitches.

Post-odontectomy treatment:
1. Avoid hot-spicy drink/meal, drink cold beverages (Thank God for Slurpee)
2. Don't gargle for the first three day post-odontectomy
3. Despite the pain, you should always brush your teeth. I'm sure your local apothecary sells post-operation toothbrush

The odontectomy was not painful at all. After the anesthetic worn off, now that's real pain.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

So yeah, I bought a car. It arrived at home a few days ago. M&D were literally psyched. Me? I was lamenting the disappearance of a 10-year-worth saving. But again, M&D are happy. That's what matters most. 

I didn't give much thought on the type of car, the engine, the color etc. I simply asked D which car he liked. And he chose this affordable 7-seater MPV in grey. Well, he wanted it in yellow chrome, but we should wait for one month because the color was such a hit, everyone wants to have it. He did not want to wait, so grey it was.

Jakarta, this Bekasi-based driver is ready to rock you. Be afraid, be very afraid :).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Celebrating Independence Day With The Sky Dancers

What would be the perfect way to celebrate the Independence Day other than meeting with one of Indonesia's best engineers?

As we walked towards the wind mills, a young man approached us. Sporting shoulder-length wild curly hair, the man who wore black tank top and knee-length sport pants held our hands in a warm handshake and said,"Welcome! Thank you for coming to our humble place."

He is Ricky Elson, an Indonesian man who has pocketed dozens of patents on electrical engineering products. He currently shares his time between the coastal area of Ciheras and other .

We went to Lentera Angin Nusantara (LAN) to learn about the wind farm that he set up. But besides providing a learning center for the wind turbine research, the place also has several ponds to breed catfish and goldfish, a herb garden and a pasture for the goats and cows.

When we arrived, he was unwrapping a package containing fish feed and fertilizer for the herb garden. He told us his plan to make dried catfish using solar power, make fertilizer for the herb garden from the cows and goats, teach the local farmers to replicate and sell all the products to local markets. 

"You may be wondering why would an engineer learn to grow ginger and breed livestock in this remote area. But I realize how stupid I am when I arrived in this place. I knew nothing about life skills, which is what people really needs," he said.

That night, we had a discussion with Ricky and a group of people who also came to Ciheras. The people came to ask about wind turbine blade design and all the technical stuffs.

"Many people say the wind in Indonesia is not suitable for wind turbine. I say, we must make blade design that can still swing although the wind speed is relatively slow," he said. "If necessary, the blade should still swing although the hub height is relatively low," he added.

All wind turbines in Ciheras swing gracefully, day and night. The young engineers said that when a strong wind/storm took place, it would do furling to prevent it from turning too quickly. They recorded the wind speed everyday, in fact the machine recorded it very 15 minutes, so they had work shifts to monitor the machine.

LAN takes students across Indonesia who want to learn more about wind turbine. Everyone has chores, including Ricky. During our conversation, Ricky would stand up and feed the fishes, or water the herb garden, or take the livestocks to the pasture.

It was a humble learning center on a remote coastal area, and yet it was a busy place.

A gazebo with solar panel on the rooftop


Dried catfish

The sky dancers

Friday, August 7, 2015

Recent Purchase: Leather Satchel Bag

Vissia, one of the Takabonerate trip buddies, quit her job and started a business with two friends. They make products from leather, such as bags, pouches, wallets and luggage tags, all under the brand of Vigna Bags. I saw the products on her Facebook wall and fall in love with the satchel bag.

So I ordered one.

It's the first time I ever bought a leather bag, and an Indonesian product. It has arrived, and I'm satisfied with the product. I should buy more Indonesian high quality products in the future :).

The satchel bag. See other products of Vigna here

 
The bag and I 

Friday, July 24, 2015

"Why Didn't We Meet Before?"

"I love you."

He was driving her back to her home when he said the words. The sentence came out naturally and matter-of-factly as if he's saying the earth is round or that the sun rises from the east and sets on the west. He looked at her and she looked back.

"Thank you for being honest with me. But the feeling is not mutual," she said calmly.

He turned his eyes back to the road and sighed. He knew one solid reason why she turned him down. Today, he is married with one kid. Today, he realizes that he fall in love with the woman sitting next to him. To make things complicated, he still loves his wife too.  
  
"Why didn't we meet six years ago?" he asked. Six years ago he was single.

The question threw her memories back to the year before. At that time, she was also in a car with a married man. She loved him secretly, but she didn't feel any need to express her feelings or to find out out whether the man loved her too. And so, she kept it inside.

The man took her to dinners, social gatherings and even introduced her to his wife and kids. The latter was a painful experience, but seeing his happy family managed to bring her back to the ground. She loved him, and that was enough for her, she did not need him to love her back.

The question was asked as they were going back from an event. She had just told him that she changed her mind in the university options during the university entrance test. At first, she picked university A, but then she changed it into university B, which was located in a different city. The man, who studied in university A, looked at her in disappointment.

"If you had picked university A, we could have met 10 years ago. Why didn't we meet 10 years ago?" he asked.

"If it's God's plan, we will still meet, no matter what," she said.

The man thought for a minute, smiled and said,"God's plans are sometimes funny."

"But they're usually the ones that are best for us."

The man went quiet and after a few minutes of silence, he talked about other topics.

Coming back to the here and now, she realized the pattern of feelings these men had towards her. Unlike that man who was older (and thankfully wiser) than her, this man was much younger, more emotional, and definitely needed a different approach. She took the time to think of the right answer, but could not find any. It's the kind of questions that do not need any answer anyway. Even if there is one, this man would not want to hear it.

"Well," she said,"We meet now. And I'm glad we meet now, for I would probably not like to befriend you six years ago. Oh, and six years ago, you wouldn't even think of liking a woman much older than you."

"Seven years ago, I fell in love with a woman who was four years older than me."

"Four years is not much. I'm six-seven years older than you."

They reached the road to her home, and he slowed down as he needed more time to talk to her. 

"I dreamed about you, about us, many times. In those dreams, we were married, we were happy. It felt real, I woke up disappointed. I wonder what the dreams mean," he said.

"Dreams could mean two things: (a) it's a clue for something that will happen in the future, or (b) it's your hopes/fears. In your case, I think it's b," she paused, and continued calmly, "You're married. You should focus more on your wife and kid."

"I'm fully aware that I'm married. But I can't stop having this feeling for you."

"Feelings can go away. You can fall in love, you can also fall out of love," she said. 

"What if the feeling stays? " he insisted.

"Then you'll have to live with it."

The car had reached the end of the road, where her home was. She bade him good night, opened the car door and walked to her home. When she reached her bedroom, she opened her cellphone and looked into a photo of a man amidst the darkness. She smiled, placed the cellphone on a desk and headed to the bathroom.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eid Mubarak 1436 H :)

 

May Allah accept all our good deeds.
May we return to our fitrah.

As usual, here are the obligatory Idul Fitri family photos :).
Hope you have a good one.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pre-Ramadhan

Islamic Thinking

I will take a break from posting this Ramadhan. 
May you have a blessed Ramadhan.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Run, Jog Or Walk



My new office is located nearby Bung Karno Sport Complex (or locally known as GBK). Now, if you've never been to Jakarta, let me tell you something: it's a luxury to be nearby such a huge sport complex. Therefore, I decided to make good use of it. I've been going there with the colleagues once a week to run, jog or walk.

I'm not exactly the sporty type, so I don't set a specific target for the activity. It's just nice to straighten my legs and have a breather after sitting and typing for hours. Most of the time I went there, I only walked around the big stadium three times. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I try not to burden my knees and ankles by running. So I walk.

The great thing about going there is the sport spirit. People from all walks of life go there to do sport. A group of tattoed men glide on their skateboard, girls wearing shorts skid around on rollerblades or  men run in groups or solo. As the sun set, more people are coming to GBK. They probably go there to wait for the 3-in-1 traffic rule to end.

I can't help observing their sport apparel as they all look so fashionable. Since I only walk once a week, I don't spend much on my sport apparel. I always wear the blue sport pants and any random T-shirt. However, I recently bought a new pair of sport shoes because the old one shows signs of tearing down. It's white with dashes of pink for the logo. May the new shoes last longer and be a source of my sport spirit.

Another thing that catch my attention is that most people run with earphones (to listen to music) and smartphones (to measure the calories they burn during the run). I'm leaving all gadgets at the office and simply enjoying the moment. It's a good opportunity to be away from the electronic stuffs and have myself as the only company. I've only started using a smartphone since October 2013, and now I check the smartphone every 15 minutes or everytime there is a notification ringtone. It is not a healthy habit, and definitely not polite too if there is a friend around.

My colleagues and friends sometimes complained because I didn't bring my mobilephone during the walk-around-GBK. Since I walk and they run, I am often left behind and they will need to locate me. I told them to wait for me near Gate VIII, which is the same gate we use to enter GBK and go back to office. It sounds very old school to wait at a meeting point with total trust that your friends will be there when the time comes.

The biggest temptation after doing sport in GBK is the street food vendors that dot the area. I mean, I guess it's okay to have two bowls of empal gentong or bubur ayam after you walk five times around the stadium? Do I hear yay or nay?     

In the end, it doesn't matter what kind of sport you do: run, jog or walk. Just move your body, be in the outdoor and enjoy the moment.

Last but not least, if you happen to run in GBK and see a woman with blue pants around Gate VIII without gadget in her hands, feel free to say hi, the woman could have been me.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Curse Of Living Longer

Indonesian poet Chairil Anwar says in one of his poems ("Aku"/"I"),"I want to live for one thousand years..." He definitely did not know that as time goes by, health problems will knock on your door.

Take example of M&D.

D has been battling asthma and other illnesses throughout his life. Last year he underwent an operation for his hernia. This year, his doctor told him to inject insulin to treat his diabetes. That's the physical problems. But there is also another problem

While D is a humorous man and always attract the crowd, he is actually a private and melancholic person. He only had four-five friends as his confidantes, all of them were his high school friends. Whenever they met, I could see D's eyes lit up. They would speak in Sundanese and laughed like little boys. They really got his jokes, emotions, and points of view on life.

Sadly, all of them have passed away, mostly due to stroke.

It was not easy for D to grasp the reality at first. His friends had been the healthy and sporty types, while D was the skinny one. D has always thought that he'd die first.

When the last friend died, he would sit in the living room and had this 100-yard stare. Sometimes he would hold a book in his hands, but he did not really read it. It was painful to see longing that would not be fulfilled.

M told D to find new friends, make new circle of friends. After his health recovery, he has been going to the mosque on almost every prayer time. Now he has friends from the mosque. Most of the new friends are in their 70s. The friendship made when you are in the 70s is different than the one made in the teenage and 20s. But at least he now has new friends.

M is healthy physically. But her hearing has been deteriorating. Sometimes we called her, but she did not hear us. Sometimes she would jump in surprise when she saw me, although I've been calling her before showing up in front of her.

Hearing loss is a genetic thing in my maternal family. My maternal grandparents lost their hearing ability in their mid 40s. Two of M's big brothers are now using hearing aids. The dear uncle who used to chat with me now stayed silent when I came to visit. When I asked M whether Uncle Dayat was ill, she told me,"He is not ill. But for him, the world is dead calm now."

Sometimes, when M was absorbed in her work, whether cooking or sewing, I would look at her and wondered how much time I had until she lost her hearing.

What happened to M&D is relatively mild compared to the health problems my friends' parents face. But still, whenever I look/remember them, I can't help praying: Oh, The Time Owner, please be gentle with me.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Trip To Geothermal Field

We all know that Indonesia is located in the Ring of Fire, but did you know that due to its volcanic geology, Indonesia has 40% of the world's potential geothermal resources?

I didn't then, but now I know.

I got the chance to visit two geothermal fields in West Java -- one is managed by a state-owned enterprise and the other one is managed by a cooperative.

Geo Dipa Energy

Geo Dipa is a state-owned enterprise, which manages several geothermal wells across Indonesia. One of them is in Patuha, West Java. I guess you can find the information on the Internet (too tired to write about all the technical information). Anyway, here's some photos 




The other geothermal site we visited was the Kopjasa Cibuni Geothermal Field. The unique thing about it is the fact that it is managed by a cooperative. Most geothermal fields are managed by state-owned enterprises or the big companies, so we're really interested to see what it looks like.





Later that day, we soaked our body in a local hot spring. It was a nice respite after the visit to the power plants and received so many information on geothermal.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Campus Life

Now that I've told you about the post-grad school life, I'd like to share some banters with my university friends. 

#1. The Young Forgetful Lecturer
Situation: it's Friday night, we're having a night class.
Young Lecturer: Ok, class. Let's wrap it up in 30 minutes. Oh, on second thought, let's wrap it now
Student#1: Why so soon?
YL: I forgot to bring my laptop charger cable, and it's already out of power now.
Students: Oh ok

#2. Traveling With The Boys Be Like...
Situation: we were going on a field trip to a geothermal energy plant, everything has been planned a week before. But a few hours into departure time, this conversation took place.
YL: Has anyone prepared the safety shoes and helmets?
Student#1: No. But do we really need those?
YL: Yes, the plant manager told me.
Student#2: Why didn't you tell us about it?
YL: Errr *suddenly losing phone signal*
PS. We managed to get the shoes and helmets before leaving.

#3. Which Canteen?
Situation: we often had dinner at campus on Friday nights and lunch on Saturday noons
Student#1: So where are we going to eat today?
Student#2: How about trying the foods at the Literary Canteen?
Student#1: It's so far away from the Engineering Canteen.
Student#2: But there are more girls there.
Student#1: So where is this Literary Canteen?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Arisan With High School Classmates

Arisan is a term in Indonesia about social gathering that takes place at a fixed interval (being an informal social network, this may be varied, from weekly, monthly or bi-monthly), at each member's home (or other place, as agreed by the members) in turn.

A few months ago, my high school classmates reunited at a restaurant and we decided to hold arisan to keep us in touch. It was the first time after more than 10 years that we finally sat down together. Still can't believe that we've been friends for 20 years.

During the gathering, we shared stories about work, life and future plans. Some work as civil servants, some work in private sector, and some open their own business. I'm the only one who works in a not-for-profit organization.

Anyway, here are some photos of us. Can't wait for the next arisan with these girls.

Having lunch at Bakso Lapangan Tembak Senayan, Cipinang Mall

 
Trying to look cool while exploring the mall, but it was no easy feat with such loud group :)


 Then we watched Kingsman: The Secret Service together. This photo was taken a few minutes before Dinna (wears black hijab) broke the good news: she's getting married next month! Alhamdulillah, so happy for her.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Facing Your Fears

"I made it to finish line on the kickboard swimming competition last week," he beamed to me from across the table.

We were sitting in front of a nearby 711 convenience store. It was 4 p.m. and we were having the usual afternoon break. He had a bottle of blueberry yogurt, while I sipped a small carton of chocolate milk.

"That was fantastic! I'm so proud of you," I clapped my hands excitedly,"How did you do it?"

"I just focused on the finish line and kept thinking that I should reach it no matter what," he said,"I didn't even check my time."

Our conversation may sound trivial for those who have passion for swimming. But the 1.79-meter tall guy sitting in front of me had been fighting his fears on bodies of water for years. He was drowned twice during his childhood, and the experiences left such a trauma that he would go feverish every time he enters bodies of water.

"All my friends had tried to teach me how to swim, but to no avail. One day, I went snorkeling in Tidung island in Kepulauan Seribu. I saw the fishes around me and vowed to myself that one day I would dive with the fishes," he said.

With the newfound determination, he went to Senayan Swimming Pool and tried to swim. But he was not successful...again. He walked around the pool and watched how the people swim. As he sat by the pool, an old Japanese man glided effortlessly in a freestyle. He slowly memorized the man's movements, went back into the pool to give it a try...and made it.

"After all these years, I finally made it. It was not perfect, but at least I didn't get drowned," he grinned.

He later joined a swimming club and has been practicing swimming albeit with a kickboard. The event he mentioned was the first swimming competition he ever took part in. I find it amazing that people can have fears and they can overcome it, if only they have the will and put a lot of efforts on it.

What are your fears? How do you face it?

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Colleagues Mean New Friends To Laugh With (Or At)

It's bound to happen. Everytime I enter a new workplace, I observe the people and find all the funny things on them. So here they are, the conversations with colleagues :).

Don't Repeat The Same Mistake
Situation: Two colleagues are going home early.
HRA: If you are late to work, you shouldn't late for home.
MEA: That's right, because it means you're late twice. You shouldn't let it happen, like ever.

We're The Piranhas
Situation: The office held an event in Bandung and a lot of staffs come to the Flower City. We spent the night sampling the culinary delights along the citywalk
SHR: We've come a long way to Bandung, and all we eat is bakso (meatball soup) that is sold in front of our hotel???
FO: Don't worry, this is appetizer.
SHR: Oh, ok then.

Important Data, Yeah Right
Situation: A laptop used by one of finance staffs broke down, and the user rushed said laptop to the IT department.  
Me: What seems to be the problem?
FG: I don't know, the hard disk probably broke down. We're trying to recover it as it contains important data.
Me: Of course (thinking 'Oh my, a laptop of finance guy must have contain very important data').
FG: You know, data like my holiday photos, my videos, my travel notes.
Me: *walking away from them*

The Seat Is Not Taken
Situation: after lunch, at a cafeteria. We usually combine several tables and chairs into one. We had just finished lunch, some had left and some stayed to have small talks when a random guy approached our table.
Random Guy: Excuse me, is this seat taken?
HRM: Oh no, please have a seat.
OM: Come on, let's get back to office.
HRM: You're going back already? I'm staying to accompany that guy.

Editing Issue
Situation: in the middle of editing a text
Me: DAP, can you help me? I have an issue with page numbering
DAP: (come over my desk and work on it for 10 minutes) I don't get it, this just won't work.
Me: AH, can you help?
AH: (also work for a few minutes and still can't find a solution) HRA, you're an IT expert among us, come here and give us a hand.
HRA: (also work on it, but to no avail) This is odd.
SN: What's the problem? Try to zoom it to 100%.
(Tadaa...after it's viewed in 100%, there is no problem with page numbering. The problem is caused by bak in the Word Doc file).
Me: My hero! *looking at SN with respect*
SN: Well, it's a random suggestion, I don't know if it will work

Don't Want To Be Alone With The Boss
Situation: after lunch
Me: You can go ahead. I'm going to find a battery for my mobilephone
DAP: I'm coming with you, I need to find a battery charger. After all, I don't want to be alone with the boss 
(After I went around, I couldn't find the battery)
Me: I think I need to come a bit late tomorrow. I want to go to the shops near my home.
DAP: You know what? I can find you the battery in Mall Ambassador on Sunday, after attending mass. My church is near the shopping center.
Me: You just don't want to be alone with the boss, do you? *looking at him, suspiciously*
DAP: *grinning sheepishly*

Friday, April 3, 2015

On Baring Things In Blogs And A New Job

I met with an old friend recently and she told me that most people thought she had a happy easy life/marriage as she often posted photos of her family in a mainstream social media. She finally decided to use a smaller social media to post personal photos.

"Things are not always easy. I've struggled for my marriage, for my job, for my kids. But I don't have to put on a sad face and tell the whole world about it," she said.

It's exactly what I think. I've always been writing the good and fun side of life, keeping any bad news from the light of day. I know most of my blog readers in real life and I think that if they know my daily life troubles, they would think over and shoulder the troubles too.

Other friends remarked how I seemed to be having no problems, for example I could switch profession and find new job. I didn't understand how they got the idea. Any job transition was definitely not an easy feat.

Perhaps it's time to shed some layers. To tell you the truth, I've been jobless since Jan. 1, 2015. My contract ended by the end of the year. It should be extended for another year, but the office was switching to state budget system and therefore, my colleagues and I should undergo the obnoxious e-procurement held by the state.

I was jobless and salaryless between January and March. Despite being unemployed, the boss demanded me to come and did some work. I got a kind of payment to cover transportation, but it was not enough, of course.

Amidst the job uncertainty, I also heard rumors about the boss trying to sabotage my e-procurement result. That was weird, considering that it was the same boss who asked me to come to office. I did have some issues with the boss back then, but I had finished everything she asked and all was well, or at least it was well on my side, she always has grudges on everybody. However, I decided not to confront the issue to her and looked for another job opening elsewhere.

Long story short, I decided to leave, because I found the e-procurement process too exhausting. I took part in the e-procurement process three times, twice failed and the last one I made it, but I decided to leave anyway. And guess what, a job offer came at the right moment! Alhamdulillah.

My new job is still in the line of communications and non profit organization. This time, it's a project on improving the quality of basic education in Indonesia. I'll be handling data and support communications for seven provinces (Aceh, North Sumatera, Banten, West Java, Central Java, East Java and South Sulawesi). It's all new and exciting.

So perhaps I did get lucky. But it doesn't mean I never had bad times in my life. Things are not always great. Life is not always all about the cherries on top of the cake.There are good days and bad days, ups and downs, below the all-smile photos we uploaded to social media.

Here it is, one layer behind the happy posts I posted. Perhaps, I'll be shedding some more layers when I feel  the time is right, one baby step at a time.

P.S. When blogging, do you share both the good and the bad news?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Coloring Books For The Adults

Whoever says that coloring books are only for children probably have never seen the work of Johanna Basford, a UK-based illustrator and ink evangelist who make such books come true. I stumbled upon her work via Bored Panda and oh, how I wish I can find the books in the nearest bookstore.


Here are some images




I'll be prowling Amazon and praying for the day when Indonesia can click the payment button.

Check out her website, Facebook and Twitter

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dream A Little Dream

One of Dinsky's cats

During a commute, my friend Dinsky turned to me and asked what were my childhood dream jobs. Do you still remember yours? I remember that most of my childhood dream jobs involved travel and transportation, such as flight attendant, bus driver and train machinist. I'm not sure why I picked those jobs, perhaps it had something to do with being the overprotected only child. I've always wanted to leave home and lead a bohemian life.

Dinsky told me that when she was a child, she often imagined having a glamorous lifestyle as a chief editor of a fashion magazine. "Like Miranda Presley in Devil Wears Prada?" I asked. She nodded. She said that there were always magazines at her home when she was a kid. She would cut the pictures, put on her mother's high heels and pretended that she attended a news budgeting meeting. By the way, her auntie works in Femina, one of Indonesia's leading fashion-lifestyle magazines.

Isn't amazing how wild our imagination were as a child? Now that I'm older, I've been playing safe in everything, including dreaming. Just for the sake of having fun, I'd like to share some of my wild dreams here.

Get a scholarship/work/live abroad for a few years.
Do a round-the-world trip like Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days, but in a leisurely manner.
Do volunteering work with children in one of the islands in Indonesia.
Master three types of musical instruments, preferably piano, violin and clarinet.
Open an eatery/ice cream parlour/cafe and cook the menu myself (now, this is challenge).
Grow/make my own food.
Simplicite volontaire.
Master carpentry and masonry and then build my home with my own hands.

Also...
A dream that involves another person would be: Building a solid marriage.
But at the moment, I don't have the candidate yet to team up with me :D.

What are your dreams?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Going On A House Hunt

A friend who has been living in Australia in the past few years made a homecoming trip and a surprising announcement: she wants to buy a house. She is two years younger than me, she doesn't have a permanent job and yet, here she is, braving all odds to acquire a property.

Having lived in the capital, she said that she wanted to live in the suburbs, or to be precise Bogor, which has lower property prices, less traffic, better air quality and most likely flood-free. "Honestly, I can't imagine myself living in the traffic congested Bekasi, like you. It's just too much hassle for me," she said. Hey, I wouldn't want to live there too if it wasn't for my parents.

After a few days of house survey, she told me that she found a house on sale for Rp 170 million in Bogor. I was like: whoa, where is it? Are there more houses on sale too? Can we be neighbors? Hahaha.

Background information (for my foreign readers who do not live in Jakarta, or Indonesia): By the time I write this post, a 32/70  square meter house in the suburbs (Bogor-Tangerang-Depok-Bekasi)  is worth at around Rp 250 million - Rp 350 million. So Rp 170 million is super cheap!

She said that she would do another survey to the house and invited me to join her. I said, sure. Anyway, during her stay in Jakarta, she is working with a documentary film director on North Jakarta's sea wall and asked me if I knew anyone living in that particular area. I gave her a former colleague's number who lives in North Jakarta but recently moves to a rented room in Bogor because she gets a job there.

I told this former colleague and another colleague, who is also a Bogor resident, about the cheap house and they got interested to do some house hunting. So I asked my friend if they could join, she said yes. 

Now that we have more than two actors in this post, let's give them some nicknames to easily refer them and protect their real names. The house-hunting friend is Dinsky, the former colleague is Giant (in my defense, it is really her nickname in real life) and the colleague is Metalhead Boy.

I met with Dinsky at Tebet station on the first day of Chinese New Year and we headed to Bogor. We then met with Giant and Metalhead Boy, who kindly picked us up amidst the rainy day. The cheap house is located somewhere in Ciomas area, and the road to that place is potholed. 

Long story short, we got to the house. The house owner showed us around and told use how the house grew from just a one-bedroom house to the two-bedroom house. They have been living in the house for seven years and they wanted to move to Cibinong, which is closer to the husband's workplace.

I checked the house condition and gave some home renovation recommendation to Dinsky. We interviewed the owner to check any possible house dispute or problems on house ownership. We also looked around the neighborhood. Once we're back to the car, Giant and Metalhead Boy told Dinsky that she'd better look for other houses because the house needed a lot of renovation and the location was not strategic.

And so, they took us around Bogor to see other housing complexes. At first, Dinsky was a bit excited, but when she saw that the prices were over her budget, she got disinterested. On the other hand, Giant, Metalhead Boy and I got more excited as we moved from one house to another. We kinda pretended to own the house, dreamed about making a reading room in a corner or imagined what it was like to cook in the kitchen.

I asked Dinsky what exactly did she look in a house. She said that she just wanted a small house to keep her stuffs in one of the rooms and that she planned to lease the rest of the house. Therefore, she added, the house did not have to be too fancy.

The next day, I heard about a property expo in JCC, so I decided to see it with a friend, let's call her Miao (yes, I give cute nickname to my friends). She lived in Tangerang with her parents and so she narrowed down her house hunt to Tangerang for the convenience, while I Bekasi all for the same reason.

I brought a lot of property brochures and showed them to M. She classified them based on location, price and size (now, you can see where I pick up the OCD tendency). She also did some calculation to check the land prices per square meter. This house hunt excitement does infect people easily. Or maybe it's just my mother.

When I told Dinsky about it, she said,"OMG. Have I created a monster?"