Monday, July 31, 2017

Porridge, To Stir Or Not To Stir

Rumor has it that there are two schools of thought on porridge eating style: (1) those who stir, and (2) those who don't. However, when eating these bowls of porridge, I believe you should stir the porridge regardless which school of thought you are following. 

Why should you stir the porridge? Because there is a raw egg that is cracked open and hid underneath the layer of hot piping porridge. Stirring the porridge will speed up the egg getting cooked up. The following porridge stalls are located in Tebet.

Bubur Ayam Sukabumi
Location: Jl. Tebet Raya

This eatery is located on Jl. Tebet Raya, not really sure if it has connection with the legendary Bubur Ayam Sukabumi on West Tebet (which I would also tell about after this eatery). This one was established in 1989, younger then the next one. I found this as I walked to office, and it's already opened, so I thought, why not.

I ordered Bubur Ayam Spesial, which was priced at Rp 20.000 and accompanied by a bowl of kerupuk. I like that it has a generous sprinkle of tongcai (salted radish), which I can taste on each spoonful of porridge. But not really sure about that kerupuk.

Other dishes on the menu are somay and batagor and some other quick bites, which is a bit pricey, in my opinion. I guess the eatery's strategic location plays a role in it. But I wouldn't mind coming here again if I was in a rush for a bowl of porridge.

Bubur Ayam Sukabumi 1
Location: Jl. Tebet Barat Dalam II No. 2

This eatery has started selling porridge since 1988, and the fact that it still exists today means it has something unique that makes people keep coming. Nowadays, it sells various dish in the menu, from porridge to fried rice to sauteed shrimps. And the best thing is, it opens 24 hours!

If you need to go to this place quickly, you can find it on the online motorcycle-taxi application (I use Go-Jek) as 'Bubur Ayam Sukabumi 1' on West Tebet. I did try walking while reading the map, but then I glanced at my watch and saw that I needed to get back to office in a short notice. So, Go-Jek to the rescue.  

I think the secret of this eatery's success lies inside the special porridge. If you order 'Bubur Ayam Spesial', it will come with a raw egg. The price of this kind of porridge is lower than the other two. Only Rp 15.000 per portion. It doesn't come with a bowl of kerupuk, so it could be the reason of lower price, but it is already delicious without. I have no complain on this dish.

I didn't take photos of this place because I was in a rush to go to office. Some photos and a longer food review is available here, in Bahasa though.

This kind of porridge is best enjoyed when you're not feeling well. However, I could have this every day of my life, if I must. Oh, and I'm with those who stir, if you'd like to know.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Some Good News And A Glance At The PSPT Rooftop

Hello lovelies, remember about the project that contacted me before Ramadhan? Well, it's official now. I'm working for the project, which is about an off-grid community-owned renewable energy project in Sumba island. I'm still based in Jakarta, with possible trips to Sumba. One of the best things about this project is the Jakarta office is located in Tebet.

I've always had a soft spot for Tebet, a pocket of residential area in South Jakarta. Its circling roads, round-about housing blocks and lush gardens make a perfect modern-day labyrinth. People say that if you walk straight in Tebet, it is very possible that you return to the first spot. Street names and number may confound first-time visitors to the area, there are Tebet Raya, Tebet Timur, Tebet Timur Dalam, Tebet Dalam and God knows what.

Another memories about this district was when I first entered the working life, M took me to Pasar PSPT (PSPT Market) in East Tebet to shop for work wear. Therefore, I was very excited to read about the revitalization of the market. Inaugurated in April 2017, it is called The PSPT Rooftop and had the similar concept of the hipster hub Pasar Santa. After all, the news and reviews had been positive, such as this and this.

Long story short, I arrived at the place. Taking the three flights of stairs was not a problem, but imagine my surprise when I found that the place was quite empty and I was the only patron. I thought it was because I came at 5 p.m. But apparently, the cafe I intended to sample (Agrikultur Cafe) had closed down. I couldn't even find it there.

I was still in the midst of Syawal fasting, so I took some photos around before placing an order. I decided to break the fast with tongseng kambing (goat meat soup) at Kedai Gulai Rantau and a glass of dragon fruit-sour sop fruit smoothies. The food and the drink were nice, and the prices were reasonable. It was just so unfortunate that this place could not live up to its name.

To attract more patrons, I think traditional market operator PD Pasar Jaya should hire social media specialist to promote their newly renovated markets *ahem.

View from the street

PSPT Rooftop at 5 p.m. on a regular workday

View on the dining area

I think it has potential and there is room for improvement

View from the rooftop

Another view from the rooftop

Tongseng kambing (goat meat soup)

Dragon fruit and sour sop fruit smoothies

Trivia: Do you know what PSPT stands for? Some people joke about it, saying that it stands for 'Pasar Setelah Pasar Tebet' (The Market after Tebet Market). There are two traditional markets in Tebet, one in West Tebet and another in East Tebet. The one in East Tebet owns a football club of Persatuan Sepakbola Pasar Tebet (Tebet Market Football Club/PSPT). Therefore to differentiate it with the West Tebet Market, it has been called Pasar PSPT.

Anyway, Tebet has been known for its culinary scene, so expect more food photos in the upcoming posts. On the first day of work in Tebet, I have made a pact to sample as much food as I can during my tenure here. Hmm, talking about grit...:)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Going To IKEA Alam Sutera Using Public Transportation

I fell in love with IKEA since I stepped into one in Shopping City Sud, and that was 17 years ago. Luckily, IKEA has opened one outlet in Alam Sutera, Banten. But I live in Bekasi, West Java, which is located some 50 km away. 

I have gone to IKEA Alam Sutera a few years ago when a friend asked me and some other friends to go there on a whim. She rode a car, so going there was easy. But how about going there on public transportation? Is that even possible?

Many people suggested that I rode a car there. But this stubborn girl, who has been working in Jakarta, which is located some 35 kilometers from her home, believes that there must be public transportation route she could use to reach the place. So I googled it up, et voila, the Internet does not disappoint.

Here's a link that compiles how to get to IKEA Alam Sutera, either by car, train or bus.

I decided to take the simplest route: Commuter Line to Jakarta Kota station - Trans BSD Bus to Alam Sutera traffic roundabout - Sutera Loop to IKEA.

Commuter Line runs between Bekasi and JakartaKota every 15-20 minutes, and based on some googling Sutera Loop's headway is pretty much the same. So all I need to do is check the departure time of Trans BSD to calculate the time I need to reach Jakarta Kota station from home. And of course, the schedule for Trans BSD is also available online, click here if you need it.

Long story short, I got on Commuter Line, hopped off on the final station and left the station from the right exit. The bus stop for Trans BSD bus is located in front of Bank BNI Kota on Jl. Lada. There are Hop On-Hop Off buses that await passengers. Just wait for the Trans BSD bus patiently. You'll know it from the writing on the bus, and run for it because it only drops and picks up passengers in such a short notice.

The bus trip between Jakarta Kota and Alam Sutera traffic roundabout is around 45 minutes if the traffic is clear. Alam Sutera traffic roundabout has Omni hospital and McDonalds. You will find Sutera Loop bus stop in front of McDonalds.

Sutera Loop red line bus

Ticket is Rp 5.000 per person, one way

IKEA bus stop is after Mall Alam Sutera 2 bus stop


Cactus plushie

IKEA Alam Sutera is holding a sale until July 17, 2017. So hurry up and grab your most wanted items before the sale period expires. I couldn't buy much because I was taking public transportation. Here are the things I bought at IKEA:

Bumerang Hanga cloth hangers

Krama wash towels

Vitmossa blanket. This would be useful for the next sleepover, and takes up less space than the sleeping bag.

Monday, July 3, 2017

I'tikaf In Masjid Baitul Ihsan (Masjid BI) And Masjid Agung Sunda Kelapa

Disclaimer: I wrote this as a self-reminder should I want to do another i'tikaf in the future.

Before I start, allow me to write a definition of i'tikaf. I hope I get it correctly. I'tikaf means staying in a mosque for a period of time, devoting the time for ibadah (praying, reciting Quran, reading Hadits etc) and staying away from the worldly affairs. 

In some countries, women are not allowed to do i'tikaf in the mosque. But in Indonesia, women do i'tikaf. So I guess it is a cultural thing, just like women in Indonesia are not allowed to perform Jumat prayer but actually women can do Jumat prayer in Masjidil Haram. Correct me if I'm wrong :).

OK, back to this post. Last Ramadan, I did i'tikaf in two mosques: Masjid Baitul Ihsan and Masjid Agung Sunda Kelapa. Here are my recount of the experience.

Masjid Baitul Ihsan or Masjid BI

Built in 2001, the 1.087-square meter Masjid Baitul Ihsan is located inside the state bank Bank Indonesia's complex and can house up to 4,000 people. It has a parking area, shoes shelves, toilets and ablution area, and best of all, it is air-conditioned.

Logistics. The second best thing about this mosque (beside it being air-conditioned): it provides drinking water. All you need to do is bring your own water bottle. 

There are some food vendors near the entrance gate. But if you want the real deal, you can always run to the 24-hour McDonalds in Sarinah. To have a proper sahur, you can register for a rice box at the entrance after Witir and pay Rp 20.000.  

Accommodation. It has wall-to-wall carpet. The ground floor has thicker carpet than the second floor. Since I was taking a spot on the second floor, it was a good thing I brought my Deuter Dreamlite500 sleeping bag.

The number of toilet can be improved. But as a person who doesn't pee much during fasting month, I can survive.

I'tikaf Program. The mosque holds Maghrib, Isya, Tarawih (8 rakaat) and Witir (3 rakaat), which usually conclude at 9 p.m. There is a sermon for about one hour. Then you are left to do personal activities (either praying, reading Quran etc) until 1 a.m. when they wake you up to do qiyamul lail. The night prayer is done in 8 rakaat. Each night of the last 10 days of Ramadan the imam will read 3 juz. When I did i'tikaf it was juz 7-9.

Masjid Agung Sunda Kelapa

Built in 1970, the 9.920-square meter Masjid Sunda Kelapa is located behind the National Development Planning Board and can also house up to 4.000 people. MASK has the same facilities like Masjid BI, however, this mosque is much older and not much modernization.

Logistics. There is no drinking water. So you must buy bottled water. Or in my case, I brought a refillable water bottle, asked a food vendor to refill and pay for the water. It's the least I could do to reduce the plastic waste.

There are a lot of food vendors outside of the mosque's gate, and you can choose from satay (meat on skewer) and soto (clear soup) to ketoprak (vegetable, vermicelli noodle topped with peanut sauce) and dimsum (meat dumpling). All is delicious and affordable!

The mosque gives free rice boxes for ifthar and sahur, which they receive from donors. On that particular dawn, the mosque distributed 2.130 rice boxes for sahur and not everyone received. I happened to bring my own meal, so I gave my rice box to an elderly lady.

Accommodation. Women can occupy the multi purpose hall. But I found it too cramped, so I took a spot at the roofed terrace, which is not air-conditioned. Sleeping bag to the rescue!

The number of toilet is enough to cater the whole congregation. But the toilet condition is a bit...hmm...well, there is room for improvement.

I'tikaf Program. The mosque holds Maghrib, Isya, Tarawih (20 rakaat) and then you have a break to do personal activities until midnight, when they wake you up and turn off the light for qiyamul lail. The night prayer is 8 rakaat and the imam reads one juz. 


When doing i'tikaf, I know I should bring these:
1. Mukena (praying outfit), sajadah (praying mat) and other equipment
2. Sleeping bag
3. Tissues (both dry and wet tissues)
4. Refillable water bottle
5. Food (in case no food vendor/free rice box)

Friday, June 30, 2017

June Updates

Eid Mubarak!

My last post was a farewell to the aerial view of Jakarta's main streets, and here I am, a month later, still sitting in the very same cubicle with the view. So what happened in the past 30 days? Here are some updates...

My contract got extended until the end of June

I had prepared myself to be unemployed this month, and planned to take all of my leaves before the contract expired. But lo and behold, a day before Ramadhan commenced, I received a phonecall from the HRM on the contract extension. At first, I said I'd think about it, but the HRM asked me kindly to help them out. And so, I decided to take the offer.

I've completed most of my work a few weeks before May ended, so this June I did the regular tasks and web updating. Lower workload means I had...

A moment of self-reflection this Ramadhan

Prior to the contract extension, I had made plans to fill Ramadhan with lots of self-reflection and ibadah (you know, prayers, read Al Quran and other good deeds). The extension got me thinking that you don't have to wait until you have the time to do all that. As a matter in fact, being alive is a lifetime struggle to balance the world and the hereafter. 

Without any intention to brag/boast/riya, alhamdulillah, this Ramadhan I've managed to do most tarawih prayers, with one night amiss (I'm trying to improve this). I also held a breakfasting event with my campus friend at a small orphanage, near my home. I did twice one-night i'tikaf with my girlfriends. I might post about the experience in another post, just for a self-reminder and in case there are English-speaking people who need information on i'tikaf activities in Jakarta's mosques.

I'm fully aware that what I've done this Ramadhan is minuscule compared to the good deeds that other people had done. But coming from a person like me, those baby steps are huge quantum leaps for me :).

As I don't promote this blogs on other social media (although it's available on search engines if you type the right keywords), I wrote those just for my eyes only, a self-reminder of things to improve in the future Ramadhan. I do understand that there are people who read this blogs. If you know me in real life, I'd very much appreciate it that you don't bring up those things in public or to other people.

The translation work will be published into a paper

The translation work I did last year will be published into a paper, and my name will be mentioned too, that's what the researcher told me. I was floored by the announcement. I mean, I only translated what the respondents said, not really writing the paper. I really need to write my own paper one of these days.

A good news ahead...

A project contacted me. While there is no commitment yet (no contract, whatsoever), the project coordinator had asked me to send some documents. We have also chatted informally on my TOR. I hope to hear more on this project in July. Please wish me luck!

If there is no progress on this project until July, I can always take a break and do some traveling :).

To close this month in a good mood, here is a photo of me and my extended family during the Eid celebration. And they didn't ask 'the question' this year! I love you, my extended family :).

Monday, May 22, 2017

The City's Main Street View From The 25th Floor

Since 2013, I've been working in the Lands of the Clouds (OK, this is a hyperbole :D). Between 2013 and 2014, I worked on the 20th floor, which happened to be the highest floor on the building, in Kuningan area of Jakarta.

Then in early 2015, I landed a job at the 25th floor of a building on Jl. Jend. Sudirman, which is one of the city's main streets. The building was famous in its era. I mean, everytime I said I worked on that building, people would say,"Wow, that building used to be very famous. It still exists?"

Today is my last active day, as I will take the remaining days of leave starting tomorrow and I will leave the office by the end of the month. As a memento, I'm taking some time to take photographs from this summit. And here they are...

My cubicle is right behind this view

There are still empty lots on Jl. Jend. Sudirman, this is just one of them.

More greeneries, please

The skyscrapers are fading on the southern edge

These views still can't beat my cousin's former workplace, which was located on the 46th floor of a building near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. Whenever there is a demonstration, they can monitor from above.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Of Men And Flowers

Say it with flowers, an adage says. The saying stands true for Jakartans who are currently in the middle of the War of Flowers between Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahja Purnama's supporters and Anies Baswedan's supporters (for example, this news). 

But let's get away from the humdrum of Jakarta's politics to Kolkata, India. I have a soft spot for India, perhaps because D has the facial features of South Asians (ha!).

National Geographic photographer Ken Hermann was on assignment in India a few years ago, and he decided to go to a flower market on his day off. He was drawn to how the male flower vendors carried their goods. So he came back to make a portrait series.

Flowers are used for everything in India, from festivals and parties to religious rituals. The variety is enormous, from brightly hues hibiscuses and vivid crimson roses to jasmine bouquets, fragrant lotus and magnolia flowers. The photographer decided to photograph the species that he saw the vendors carrying.

The photographer originally thought about including both sexes in the series, but the women were reluctant to have their pictures taken. So he focused exclusively on the male vendors. To get these guys to take a break from their work and pose under the midday sun, he wound up paying for many of the bunches he photographed.

These stoic, masculine men put on a macho face when they get their picture taken. But you can see that they carry their flowers -- their livelihood -- in a very gentle way. You can see more here.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


The project I'm working with at the moment has the best chief of party (COP) and deputy chief of party (DCOP) because they let us to carry out our work in the most comfortable way. The COP is a 70-year-old Briton, who has spend half of his life in Indonesia and speaks fluent Indonesian, while the DCOP is an energetic, caring lady.

Sometimes I felt like they were my parents, because the way they treated all employees was like how you'd treat a little kid.

COP's Most Famous Sayings
Between Monday and Thursday: Good bye, everyone. Don't be naughty, okay?
On Fridays: Have a good weekend, everyone. If you can't be good, be careful
A day before any National Holiday that falls in the middle of the week: You can leave early today, to avoid the congestion
Background information: any national holiday that falls in the middle of the week would mean a heavy congestion one day before the said holiday. Most people would take a leave and ditched the city for a few happy days.

Sometimes the DCOP caught COP still lingered and chatted with us, and such conversation took place...
DCOP: You're still here? I thought you already left
COP: I am leaving, I am just talking with them.

Noise Means Food
Situation: As I've said before, the office seems to have foods everyday. And everytime there is food, there is noise
DCOP: I heard a noise. There must be food here.
SR: Oh, all the food has been eaten.
DCOP: Already? Wow so fast.

When DCOP Is Attending A Piranha Event
Situation: DCOP has a clean eating regime, meaning she doesn't eat fritters, red meat and other unhealthy/junk food.
SR: Tomorrow, we'll have a fullboard menu, with donuts for breakfast, nasi uduk for lunch and icecream for afternoon snack.
DCOP: How about if we change the donuts with boiled eggs? I'll supply the eggs.
FNA: But...but...the donuts are important too...

Museum for The Old Phones
DCOP: Does anyone have an iPhone charger?
Me: Which head does it use? The one with big head or small head?
DCOP: The one for iPhone 4?
Me: Oh the big one
COP: (happens to pass by) What is it? (looking at DCOP's mobilephone) What is that?
DCOP: It's my mobilephone
COP: It's still working? I think it should be in museum by now.
DCOP: (giving COP a stern look)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Another Muji Love Post

I haven't done a lot of posts on fashion. But my style remains unchanged: the simple casual. Here are 10 sets of Muji outfits that I like. I found them on Pinterest (Source).

PS. Previous post on Muji.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kartini Day With The Piranhas

Kartini Day at the office has always been celebrated with the women wearing kebaya-kain combo and the men wearing batik. It sounds shallow, but it never cease to create a fun office atmosphere. Here are several photos of today's fun times.

The serious pose

The silly pose
The one with your color twin :D

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let's Tackle Fake News, One News At A Time

After doing the previous post on Masjid Raya Daan Mogot, I remembered a Whatsapp chat with a journo friend several months ago about the rise of fake news. We realized that there had been a lot of fake news circulating in social media. 

Having worked for media for almost 10 years have made me questioning almost everything I read. I've become aware that media A was more into the X Party, while media was a staunch supporter of the Y Party. It's hard to find a neutral media channel. But the key to distinguish a fake news is critical thinking, which can be established through lots of practicing.

Here is a helpful infographic from IFLA on how to spot fake news:

IMHO, fake news happen for two reasons, either (a) attracting public attention, or (b) diverting public attention from a more serious issue. Either way, fake news aims to get clicks from the readers. More clicks means more money. 

Why do people even bother to read such news? I suppose those people have too much information from various sources, inability to prioritize and sort the news they need, and fear of missing out. And with the rising social media, it is very easy to spread such news just with the tip of your thumb.

There is a three-step guide on why you should spread news: (a) it's a good news, (b) it's the truth (and to check the truth, go through the steps in the infographic above, please), and (c) it's for the greater good or the information in useful for public. If a news does not pass one of these three requirements, then it's not worth to spread.

Be responsible netizens, people. Stop hate, start love.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Masjid Raya Daan Mogot And Elements of A Mosque

A few weeks before the Jakarta gubernatorial election, a series of photos on a newly built mosque on Jl. Daan Mogot, West Jakarta circulated in the social media. A group of Muslims (heretofore is the contra group) called the mosque had un-Islamic design. Since the incumbent governor is a non Muslim, rumors grew that he had purposefully designed the mosque to resemble a church.

Being an architecture graduate and a Muslim, the first thing that crossed my mind regarding the argument was: what are the design elements of a mosque? What makes a particular architectural work be called a mosque? 

Before we get to that, how about if we take a look at the controversial mosque? Brace yourself, people, it's going to be quite a long post.

Perspective 1

Perspective aerial view 2

One of the concerns from the contra group was about the floor plan. They said that it resembled a cross, just like the medieval church floor plan. But here, as you can see, it's a simple T-shaped building. And the shape was used due to an even simpler reason: the shape of the land.

Perspective aerial view 3

As you can see, the land is kite-shaped, with several nodes encircling it. The architect must have taken two axis from two strongest nodes, put the building regulation and open space requirement into mind as well as optimizing the facade designs.

Perspective aerial view 4

The mosque was designed by Adhi Moersid of Atelier Six, who had designed several mosques across Jakarta and one in Semarang, Central Java. All Atelier 6 designs have one strong concept: vernacular architecture. Wherever they build an architectural work, they will incorporate the local culture into the designs. And they apply it to this mosque too, because it has many Betawi elements. However, the contra group said that the ornaments were similar to the Star of David. Oh dear.

All 3D CAD pics are taken from Atelier 6 website. There are many photos on this particular mosque in the Internet, you can check them out by typing in the keywords: Masjid Raya Daan Mogot. 

Now about the elements of a mosque, what are the things that make an architectural work become a mosque? Islam is now found worldwide, so we can't really say that a mosque should have dome or specific architectural designs in order to be called a mosque. The way I see it, here are the things that you most likely would find in a mosque, regardless of the geography:

Facing Qiblat
All mosques face qiblat, this goes without question.

Shoe Shelves
All Islamic praying space should be clear from dirt and other things that are considered impure in Islamic teaching, and you will be required to leave your shoes prior to entering the main building area.

Ablution Area
After removing the shoes, you will have to clean with water: your hands, face, nostrils, top of head, ear lobes, and feet.

Prayer Hall
Now that you're clean, you are allowed to enter the prayer hall, an area where Muslims pray five times a day according to the solar schedule: dawn, midday, afternoon, dusk and night. 

Mihrab is a part of the prayer hall, where the imam, leader of praying activity, stands. It is usually ornately decorated according with calligraphy.

If the mosque has enough space, usually there is a mimbar, a raised platform where clerics give sermons/speeches.

Minaret (Tower)
To perform call for prayer.

As you can see, none of the elements has something to do with the shape of the architectural work or the ornaments. It can be rectangular, triangular, or even circular, but the most important thing is this architectural work houses...(drum rolls)...

Praying activity
Of course, it is a mosque. There must be a praying activity held in the building.

Just to give an idea what a mosque floor plan looks like, here are six mosque floor plans from early Ottoman period.

As you can see from the pic above, there have been mosques using T-shaped floor plans. So what's the big deal about Masjid Raya Daan Mogot?

I don't really understand what the argument was about. If the contra group dislikes the incumbent, can't they just not vote for him in the election? No need to spread fake news. For me, a mosque is a place to pray. But of course, Allah has created this Earth as a place to pray. So you can pray anywhere (except graveyard and toilet).

Congratulations, you made it to the end of this post. I hope I don't bore you on the minutiae.

PS. I've made several posts on the mosques in the past. You can check them here, here, here, and here.
PPS. Have you checked an Instagram account called @placesyoullpray ? Go and have a look. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Things On Basic Education I Learn From The Current Project

Currently I am working for a development project that aims to improve quality of basic education. Therefore I get a lot of insights on that issue. It had been a wonderful experience to visit the project's partner schools and see how much they had developed and improved. 

One of the news clipping on the project. And yes, the girl in yellow headscarf holding the camera is me, doing the translation work for the American guy (This post is a shameless self promotion in disguise, after all. Hahaha).
Here are some of the things I learn from the current workplace:

Learning should be active, creative, effective and joyful

Of course there had been policies of active learning back in the 1990s, but it was all just jargon and slogans. In the end, the teachers gave boring monotonous lectures.

So how did the project change all that? Well, the project gave the teachers a series of trainings and mentoring sessions, which had 

One of the keys to successful active learning is most likely for the teachers to be guiding observer and let the students find the solution to the problems. To find answers to the problems posed by the teacher, the students sometimes go to library, check Internet (under the teacher's supervision, of course), interview local people (sometimes their classmate's parent) or go to the school yard for direct observation. Anything the students find with their own brain will definitely stick longer than what the teachers shove into their heads. 

Letting the students to experiment, make mistake and learn from the mistake will eventually make students to learn more than just a subject. They will learn to be independent and confident people. Those are traits that will be useful for their life, taught within the 45-minute of a class session.

Another thing I like, the project tries to make the school subject learning process as close as possible to the students' daily life. For example, a mathematical problem would ask: if the price of wood is Rp x per square meter, how much money needed to build a cupboard?

The students not only learn how to do Mathematics, but they know why they learn: to be able to survive the big world out there.

Students (and teachers) should read non-textbook books

Textbooks are good for learning the school subjects, but non-textbook books (or reading books) are important to broaden the students' horizon, nurture their imagination and improve the reading habit. 

Many of the partner schools have implemented the 15-30 minutes of reading before the learning session long before former Minister of Education and Culture Anies Baswedan issued a ministerial decree on reading habit and character building. 

The project not only encourages students to have a special reading time during school hour, but also motivates the teachers to do so. After all, the students learn from the teachers. And what kind of student do you expect to come out if the teachers don't read anything?

Tangent: When I was in high school, I would lend and borrow comic books with my classmate. But one day, there was a random raid, with the target to find and confiscate things that students should not bring to school. One of such things are non-textbook books. Long story short: the teachers found the comic books,  and they made me feel like a criminal for reading non-textbook books.

Education takes a village

To educate a child is not equal to simply enrolling the said child into an educational institution. School principal, teachers and parents should unite to find the best way to educate the children. Money is the first thing that comes in mind, but there are many ways to help. Parents can help with trees/flowers for the school yard, which can be a source for learning Biology, or they can be a sourceperson and tell the class about the work they do. 

The most important thing to increase community/public participation is to create trust, and this can only be established through transparency. Most partner schools put up the school budget in the wall, so people can see where the budget goes.

Literacy creates a life  of dignity

Reading skill is the most important aspect in education, because if you can not read well, you will not be able to comprehend what the problem means. You can not find the information needed to answer the problem too.

One of the students in the project's partner schools even taught her mother on how to read. I should write about this amazing student, and some other students too, in a separate post.

Anyway, the project will soon come to a close, and I will leave the office in 1.5 months. It's been a wonderful project, as well as a unique workplace and colleagues. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the team.

Monday, April 10, 2017

All Hells Broke Loose When M&D Have New Mobilephone

I have a friend who always ask how my folks are doing, another who always laughs to hear their day-to-day bantering and some other who like hearing their latest update. It's either M&D are ghetto fabulous-local rockstars or I'm getting too good at telling stories. But here they are, the latest episode on M&D getting a new mobilephone...

And Whose Mobile Is That?
Situation: both M&D have their own phones. M's mobile number has been around since 1999, and it's already known in the circles of families and friends. But only D has the Android smartphone. To make everything simple, I installed Whatsapp in D's mobilephone but typed in M's mobile number in the apps.
M: (busy reading Whatsapp messages from her highschool, junior high school and elementary groups, ignoring me and D)
D: I will sell that phone.
M: Oh come on, you'd use my mobile to send SMS to your friends, and now I can't borrow yours?
Me: OK, calm down, kids. I need to take a sleep.

Something Is Wrong With The Phone #1
Situation: breakfast time has become a time when they come and consult me about their new phone. This was just one of those moments...
M: Something is wrong with the phone
Me: Let me have a look (Trying to unlock the screen, then realized that the phone's screen is black). It is still off or what?
M: That is the problem. We try to set it on, but to no avail
Me: Have you charged it?
M: We have.
Me: Oh look, it's charging!
M: Or perhaps we thought we have...

Something Is Wrong With The Phone #2
Situation: I arrived home at around 10 p.m., was in the middle of locking the front gate when M opened the door and said...
M: Something happened!
Me: Is it emergency? (I was thinking that I had to run to the nearest ER to deliver D)
M: Not really. Why don't you finish locking the gate and come in.
Me: OK, what happened?
M: So here's the story. D bought credit for the phone, and then he told me to check on Whatsapp, and then the credit slumped to almost zero.
Me: That's weird. I've turned off the data on the phone setting.
M: Hmm...about that...I think D asked the guy from the phone counter to set it to on.
Me: Oh OK. I set it to off for a reason, you know. So have you learned your lessons?
M: Yes...but can we get back the credit?
Me: Of course not.
(Note from the editor-who is me, of course-: I gave them a wifi gadget and told them to check their Whatsapp messages or do browsing before 8 a.m/before I leave for work. Am I not a strict parent or what?)

Something Is Wrong With The Phone #3
Situation: everytime the phone emits a sound (a notification), here's what M would say..
M: What is it? (panic)
Me: Just a notification. Perhaps it's a Whatsapp message.
M: That's not it. What is it?
Me: (Since the question would pop up almost everytime, I have three types of answers, depending on how tired I am at the moment) (a) I don't know, M. I don't have the answer to everything, (b) Chill, M. It's just a mobilephone. If it's broken, we can buy a new one, (c) Let me have a look.

What Is Facebook?
Situation: M's highschool friend asked M if she had a Facebook account...
M: What is Facebook?
Me: Oh it's nothing important, you don't need that.
M: But my friend told me to create an account there.
Me: How many of your friends have Facebook account?
M: Well...
Me: I think Whatsapp is good enough for both of you at the moment. More apps means more memory used. The apps slows down the phone and it will cost more data to access (OMG, did I just sound like M when she told the 5-year-old me that I couldn't eat more chocolate bars?).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bekasi Residents The Victim Of Commuter Line's Ever Changing Route Policy?

OK, so the post title was probably a bit overly dramatic. But I have my own reasons.

As of April 1, 2017 (and no, it's not an April Fools joke), eight of the Commuter Line trains serving Bekasi-Kota route will use the Bekasi-Jatinegara-Pasar Senen-Kota track. They say (you can read the the news here) that the change of route was aimed to relieve crowding at Manggarai station.

The eight rerouted trains are the 5:38 a.m., 8:21 a.m., 12:48 p.m. and and 3:14 p.m. from Bekasi station and the 7:05 a.m., 10:06 a.m., 1:57 p.m. and 4:46 p.m. from Jakarta Kota station. The company said that in the future, they would reroute all Bekasi-Kota trains to the aforementioned track. But there is no mention of a solution to passengers who need to hop off along the Manggarai-Gambir-Jayakarta leg.

Bekasi-Kota trains can use two tracks: (1) Bekasi-Jatinegara-Manggarai-Gambir (not stopping though)-Kota, (2) Bekasi-Jatinegara-Pasar Senen-Kota. In the past (I'm talking about the train service in late 1990s and early 2000s here), there were CL trains for track no. 1, no. 2 (which is brought back to life this month) and...Bekasi-Tanah Abang (no longer exists). People working in Sudirman area could take the Bekasi-Tanah Abang without having to transfer in Manggarai station. Then, the train company decided to stop trains going on track no. 2 and the Bekasi-Tanah Abang. Now, the company decided to resuscitate track no. 2.

This is a lesson learned the hard way for the train company: don't stop/create a new track without holding a proper feasibility study. Otherwise, you'll end up with crowding issue.

Back to the crowding, here's the situation: Bekasi train track is also used by intercity trains (read: trains going to West Java, Central Java and East Java), and perhaps every 10 minutes, a Commuter Line train will have to wait for an intercity train zooming past the track in order to pass. 

Crowding? Oh yeah, be a Bekasi-based Commuter Line passenger, and you'll know what it feels to wait for intercity trains to pass. That's a real crowding issue along the track.

A construction work to build the double-double track between Manggarai and Cikarang is underway, but it's a long railway track, and the progress goes in a snail's pace. The double-double track construction not only builds the tracks, but also stations as some stations will have to be relocated to give way to the tracks.

To compensate the decision, the train company has provided the Jatinegara-Duri-Jatinegara trains and the Manggarai-Duri feeder trains, which picks up passengers in Manggarai station every 30-45 minutes. It is not frequent enough. But it is still much better than being squeezed in Bogor-Tanah Abang or Jatinegara-Duri-Jatinegara trains. Bekasi residents working in Sudirman area or those wanting to go to Tanah Abang didn't have any choice but to accept the decision.

If all Bekasi-Kota trains are rerouted to track no. 2, then Bekasi people working in Sudirman area (people like me) have to transfer in Jatinegara and use Jatinegara-Duri-Jatinegara train, which will reach Sudirman in one hour, or hop off at Pasar Senen station and continue with TransJakarta bus, which will be caught in the jam, that's for sure.

Another issue is Bekasi-bound trains are still a rarity, perhaps only one train consisting of 8-12 cars coming  every 20 minutes or so, unlike Bogor-bound trains that usually have 10-12 cars coming every 5-10 minutes.

Check the pic above. Notice that there are two lines going through Bogor station, four through Depok station, while there is only one line from Bekasi station? Who's causing the crowd? Bogor and Depok. And who's paying the price? Bekasi. Hmphh.

In terms of number of passengers, Bogor-based passengers are definitely a bigger crowd than Bekasi-based passengers, but the train company shouldn't play favorites. Bekasi residents are also part of the devoted members of Commuter Line congregation. We are of small number, but this small number taking the Commuter Line has reduced the road traffic. Or perhaps the train company wishes Bekasi people to take up a stand, buy private cars and fill up the roads to Jakarta?

Dear train company, stop messing with our train schedules. Instead of rerouting the existing trains, why don't you allocate more trains for Bekasi-based passengers?

PS. My previous post on the struggle to reach office is here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Indian | 2016 | 161 minutes | Director : Nitesh Tiwari

There have been a handful Indian movies that have surprised me (remember me gushing about this film? I just realized that I've never written a proper review on that movie), and this movie, which is also starred by Aamir Khan, has made it into my favorite movie of the month.

Aamir Khan, as usual, is a wonderful actor. The 51-year-old star switches body weight for his role. He went from 97 kg - as the older version of Mahavir - to an impressively toned body with just 9 percent body fat - as the younger Mahavir.

Dangal follows the efforts of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a former professional wrestler, to train his daughters Geeta and Babita to be wrestler. 

Here are several morals we can learn from the movie:

Parents are usually the first person to see their children's potentials

Having to quit wrestling due to financial problems, Mahavir wants to have a son to be his successor. But when he learns that his daughters beat up boys, he quickly realizes that the girls can be female wrestlers. Also, when Geeta enters the national training club but has yet to win in any competition, it is Mahavir who reminds Geeta that her wrestling style is progressive, instead of defensive, which is advised by the national coach. She follows her father's advice and soon wins competitions.

It takes more than just discipline to produce an athlete

The girls start their day early from 5 a.m., with running, swimming in the river, and heavy lifting. But then, their diet is another issue. To make the girls stronger, they need to eat meat, and meat is expensive item for the family of six. Mahavir persuades a local chicken vendor to give massive discount under the condition that if the girls start winning competition, the vendor can claim their success is partly due to the chicken he sells.

Mahavir goes against the norm when he tells the girls to eat meat, run in shorts and, the most radical action, cut their hair really short like boys. All residents mock the girls and say that Mahavir is crazy. Does that stop him? No

Feminism is a core value in this movie 

Mahavir is very strict with the training schedule, and he is furious when he learns that the girls skip training to attend their school mate's wedding. One of the most touching scenes is when the girls pour out their hearts to the school mate, saying that their friend is lucky to not have a father like theirs.

"I wish I have a father like yours. He is strict, but he has concerns on your future. He wants you to be successful wrestlers. My father only cares about getting me married at the age of 12," their friend says.

Also, when the girls' mother asks Mahavir: what if there is no man who will take the girls as wives? Mahavir replies,"I will make the girls have more power so that they don't wait for the men, but they will choose the men."

Mahavir has successfully created a revolution of women's wrestling in what has been a traditionally male-dominated sport, but also doing it in a state known for its gender inequality.

Verdict: it's a feel-good movie for family, even if you don't have young girls in the family :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Another Piranha's Silly Conversations

Another batch of silly conversations with colleagues, because these are just too good to be kept by myself.

Who's The Oldest Of Them All? - Part 1
Situation: during the DCOP's open house event, we chatted and talked about favorite pastime activities
J: You know, when I was in college back in late 1990s, you probably don't know, you were just a kid then...
Me: Mr. J, you and I were born on the same year. You were born in (insert the year here), right? I knew about that too.
J: Uh, yeah, I was. You too? I thought you were much younger.
Me (without batting an eyelash): Thank you, Sir.
He later turned to DA, who sat on his right...
J: And when I graduated from high school, it was back in (insert the year here) you know. By the way, which year did you graduated?
DA: Uhh, I graduated a year before you.
J: Oh really? You girls really look younger than your age.

Who's The Oldest Of Them All? - Part 2
Situation: Mr. J and friends was back from Sogo Jongkok, a small market in the middle of ministerial house complex (I will probably write about this place, one day. If I'm in the mood, that is...).
Me: So what did you buy there?
J: Well, I bought this shirt (pulling out one item), this trousers (and another item), this T-shirt (and another one), and..
Me: Ok, you seemed to have a good time...
J: Actually, I could buy more if the women didn't hurry me up. I'm an old person, and yet they rushed me around
Me: Who did you call young among these ladies? (looking at the women, who are in their 35+ and one of them is in her 50s)
J: (flashing a big grin)

Gossip Guy
Situation: The big boss (COP) walked along with a wrist bondage. 
ST: What happened to your wrist, Sir?
COP: I fell of my bike. I was in a rush to go home from the swimming pool because it's already drizzling.
Me: Oh my God, is there any broken bone?
COP: The wrist is broken, but the bones are still inline, so there's no need for a cast.
After the big boss walked away...
EM: Psst...psst..that is not caused by falling off the bike. It's caused by a bar fight. He tried to tackle a bottle with his wrist. That's why.
Me: What? Come on. He's in his 70s, no more bar fight for him. You're making this up, aren't you?
EM: (winked and left)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Being A Woman Means Being Second Guessed At Every Second

Several sentences that hold truth: 

1. Being second guessed is inevitable when you're a woman working in a male-dominated field of work. 

That's a line said by a female friend, who studied Architecture for the undergraduate degree, works full time as a graphic designer, takes architectural part-time jobs and sets up a business in fashion industry. 

Isn't she a mighty woman? I work with her for the Garut project, she is the principal designer, while I'm just pieces of parsley (It should be 'remahan rengginang/rempeyek' in Bahasa Indonesia, but pieces of parsley is more befitting for the translation. Ha!). Regardless of her portfolio in architectural designs, she often stops to question her ability, just to ensure that she doesn't make a mistake.

2. Because once a woman made a mistake in this male-dominated sector, it would be very difficult to get away from it

That's also said by the same friend. Need I explain more? 

3. To avoid making a mistake, make reference to another work made by a man

Another wise sentence from the very same friend. She would gather information as complete as possible, analyze what make them work, lay out her design, questions herself 2-3 times again to find possible mistakes and prepare her defense for the client.

I imagine the process would be much easier when you're a man, no?

I'm writing this after a man asked whether the aforementioned friend's design was strong enough to hold the roof *rolling my eyes*. And now I'm googling tips for to break down the habit of second guessing competent women. Stop second guessing women, guys, we are competent enough to know what we are capable of doing!

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Trouble With Passwords

My office gives me a moderately small laptop to work on all work-related assignments. Due to security measures, the laptop has two passwords. The first should be keyed in upon the completion of booting, and the second is used to activate the operating system. Actually, there is a third password: for the office email.

And to make matters worse, those passwords should be changed periodically. The new passwords should be different than the old ones, and the new passwords should have strong elements such as capitals and numbers.

It goes without question that I keep forgetting and mixing up those passwords. The situation would go like this...

#1. When Passwords Expire
Situation: I was trying to log in to the laptop, but to no avail. IT guy came to the rescue.
IT Guy: Before your passwords are expiring, you will receive a notification email. Please inform me should such email arrives in your inbox
Me: Ok, will do.
(A few months later)
Me: I got the notification email!
IT Guy: Ok, just chill and change the passwords.
Me: Can you do that for me? If I do it, the system says the new passwords are not strong enough.
IT Guy: Argh, ok.

#2. When I Forgot The Passwords
Situation: I keyed in the wrong passwords three time. After three wrongs of log in, the system will stop and no one can use the laptop.
Me: Errr, could you help me with the laptop?
IT Guy: Ok, what did you do now?
Me: I keyed in wrong passwords three times, and it's blocked now.
IT Guy: Ok, just wait for a bit. You'd better wrote these down, it's been the umpteenth time you forgot them.
Me: Ok, done
(A few days later)
Me: If I want to log in to the headquarters, which password I should use?
IT Guy: The one for email.
Me: The problem is I think I keyed in the wrong passwords. Three times.
IT Guy: (-_-)"

Do you also have trouble remembering passwords? Have any tips to overcome it?

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Magical Night At The International Ballet Gala

Source: here

I still haven't moved on from the magical night of International Ballet Star Gala last Saturday. Oh, by the way, yes I bought the ticket on a whim. But I didn't regret it at all. 

The gala showcased 10 international principal dancers, who performed excerpts of world famous ballet shows, both classic and contemporary ballet. The classic included Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Carmen Suite, and Giselle. 

I wished I could record the whole show, but there were a series of restrictions for the spectators. Fortunately there is a video on international ballet artist Adiarys Almeida performing Le Corsaire (one of the excerpts performed on Saturday) with Joseph Gatti. She performed the dance on Saturday night with Daniil Simkin of American Ballet Theater, though, but it's pretty much the same.

I went to this show alone, and luckily was seated to a nice lady who was also going on her own. We bonded over a battle of seat dispute that unraveled before our eyes. The dispute started when a couple (heretofore to be called as Couple #1) came in very late and found  their seats were occupied by another couple (Couple #2). It was not Couple #2's fault, though, they were guided by an officer to those very seats. Couple #1 insisted to take back their rights, however, Couple #2 found that their rightful seats were also occupied by other couple (Couple #3). The officer tried to fix the dispute by directing the couples to their seats, which was what she should do in the first place to avoid this kind of dispute.

Couple #1 and Couple #2 were saying angry words to each other, disrupting my vision and audio enjoyment of the show. Both my seat mate and I agreed that while it was all the officer's fault, Couple #1 should not start the drama. After all, they came very late. They were lucky to be allowed inside. Should this happen in Europe, they would have to wait outside until the intermission.

Another note to self: I should wear a dress/skirt and high heels for my next ballet viewing. Although I've put on my formal attire, I felt very under-dressed last Saturday.

Friday, February 3, 2017

International Ballet Gala In Jakarta

Would you go watch the international ballet gala this weekend? I just found out about this event like a few hours ago. You can buy the tickets here.

Have a great weekend, lovelies!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Little Update On Piranhas

The project I'm working on will end in September 2017, but since we're on a budget, we will be discharged in several phases before the closing month. We will reduce the number of employees from around 300 currently to 100 as of  April. We have started doing this since December. I myself will end the contract in May, if nothing prevails.

This may sound a sad thing, but in the eyes of Piranhas, farewell equals to a feast, delicious foods and get together before departing for another project out there. Also, many of us actually looking forward to have a short break from the job. At least, I do.

Here are several conversation we had recently:

#1. On Finding Reasons To Get Fired

Situation: we were discussing on who leaves when, when DN, a next-office colleague, came and joined the conversation

DN: Oh you guys will leave in several months, while I will rot in the next office until God knows when
Me: You can make yourself get fired, if you prefer that way
DN: Oh yeah, I can circulate an email containing my nude photos. Would that make me got fired?
All: (silence for a second, before we all broke into the loudest laugh)
And as in cue, DN's boss, L, a woman in her 40s, came behind DN's back.
L: What were you laughing about?
DN: We were discussing on ways to get fired. I proposed to send an email containing my nude photos.
L: Are you going to send that email to the offices in Indonesia, or the US, too?
DN: Which has better chance of getting fired?
L: Instead of getting fired, you'll only be charged for ethics. You should come up with a better plan.
All: (did a double take on L, and then laughing hysterically)

#2. On Finding Post-Project Activities

Situation: as I said, many sees the end of project as a moment to have a career break. So here's what you possibly hear from some of us if you ask us,"What would you do after the project closing?"

PH, 70 yo: I will return to Flores and see what I can help there
PA, 55+ yo: I'm scheduled to do pilgrimage next year, so I would probably prepare the things for my departure
AH, 38 yo: I want to return to academic sector, start on my PhD
IL, 39 yo: I want to start a small business using the severance pay
Me: I want to do Ramadhan fasting at peace, so I'd be most likely postpone the job search for 1-2 months

#3. On Scheduling The Farewell

Situation: Big Boss is taking leave, while we are planning the farewell

SR: I think it's better to hold the farewell on Dec. 29, because Big Boss is taking leave until Dec. 27. However, this would mean WA, whose last day is on Dec. 23, would not be able to participate.
AH: Who will pay for the food at the farewell?
SR: Big Boss
AH: Oh that's great, the food will be abundant and delicious if the Big Boss pays. Ok, we'll hold it on Dec. 29 then.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Some Tips For First Time Hijab Wearers

January is the perfect time to make resolution to be a better self.

Recently I met two women in separate occasions. Both have just donned hijab and asked for my opinion in hijab wearing. One is a journo friend, who had just came back from a pilgrimage trip and had a thought of wearing a hijab. However, she  was wondering if she was really ready to wear it as she felt distanced from the values of Islam. Her one big question was,"Am I really ready for the hijab?"

Another is a friend's friend, who also just returned from the Holy Land, decided to wear hijab and was admonished by her friends for wearing ripped jeans (she wore opaque stocking underneath, though). She was surprised to get such treatment from people she had been hanging out with.

I told them that no matter what they did, people would always have something to say. If they didn't wear hijab after the pilgrimage, people would comment,"Hey, why don't you cover yourself after the pilgrimage?" And if they did wear hijab, people would criticize the way they wear hijab. But that's okay, because it would allow them to see who the real friends were and who would take them as they are, either with hijab or not. 

I also reminded them that as a human, we are growing, from fetus to baby to toddler to teenage to adult. We will still be growing inside, either our belief system or our fashion sense, until the day we die. Therefore, they don't need to worry about what they are doing or wearing today, because it is just a step ahead to get them to another phase in life.

Also, the last thing I told them that they need to read more, discuss more and surround themselves with Islam and people who they believe will bring them closer to Islam. A human's heart changes from time to time, we should always pray to God that our hearts stay in the right path.

Enough with the preachy stuff. I remembered wearing hijab the first time and trying to decide what to wear while maintaining to be color coordinated at once. So here are some tips:

1. Always remember the main reason you're wearing hijab. It's not for you, it's not for other people, but it's for your Creator. This should block all negativity out of your mind :).

2. For first hijab buys, stick to basic colors: black, white, gray. This will be a good investment for a lifetime.

3. Asses your current wardrobe and find ways to hijab-modify them

4. Figure out what suits you best 

Another tips is to follow hijabistas on Instagram and pick up some fashion clues from their feeds, such as this young Iranian fashion designer/illustrator Shagayegh Seyedi (@shagayegh_syd). Her style reminded me of my first hijab experience :).

Group hug to all first-time hijab wearers out there!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Farm Life In Garut

I went to Garut, West Java last weekend with several friends to start a little project (which I can not fully disclose at the moment). Garut is about four hours away from Jakarta and we did a very quick day trip there. The client owns a plot of land, where he plants vegetables, fruits as well as breeds goats, chickens, ducks and geese. I had geese as pet (I was a weird kid, lol), so it brought sweet memories of my childhood.

Trivia: Did you know that actor Charlie Chaplin went to Garut twice? Yep, it was such a lovely place to visit.

Anyway, here are some pictures of my day trip to Garut.

View from the farm. I'd love to wake up to this every morning.

Water hyacinths fill up one corner of the fish ponds

Garut is known for its rams. Such beautiful horns sometimes bend into the animal's neck, putting the rams in a life-threatening situation, so there are horn-bending saloons for the rams. Yes, I am serious.

The flock of geese is as effective as a guard dog :)

These babies huddle in the pen. So cute :)

A worker tending to strawberries in plastic bags