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


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 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


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.