Thursday, December 14, 2017

Either Becoming A Journalist Or A Communications Person, It All Starts From The Heart

A newspaper stand in Macau

In a time where print media switching to online and some even go as far as stopping publication at all, where do print media journalists find their Noah's Ark?

That first paragraph was an attempt at writing a dramatic lede, which I kind of missed (Ha! Former journo through and through).

To answer that question, anyone, journos or not, can always make the career switch. To quote the adage: You can do anything!

Tangent: I stumbled upon Justine Le Conte's You Tube video on her career story, which elaborates why and how she made the choice to change her career. She was not a famous person, so her experience was real and something we can relate to. I like that her channel gives off positive vibes.

But I digress, where was I? Oh yeah, many of my journo friends have made the transition to analysts, entrepreneurs and also, the inevitable role as public relation people. A few weeks ago, I saw one journo friend wrote in her FB status that she did not want ever to be a public relation person.

As a former journalist with around 10 years of work experience, I was once guilty of this sin too: looking down on the profession (and practitioners) of public relation. I used to think that the public relation people sell their souls to the corporations they work at and create a false utopia through the press release. Ok, this is overly dramatic, but I was young and idealistic once.

Fortunately, several years later I had an opportunity to write advertorials. Then it all came to my senses: both journalist and public relation were paid to do their work. There were times, when I was a journo, that I felt uneasy to write the news, because the news angle could not always cover both sides.

Sometimes an editor asked me to write from an angle that I did not like, other times another editor edited my news to suit his/her point of view. I was furious when I read the newspaper and saw that the lede had been severely mutilated (again, drama queen).

I love writing, always have been and will be, but I don't want my writing to benefit just one or two people. I want my writing to give impact to many people. Therefore, I decided to walk away from the profit sector and searched for jobs in the not-for-profit sector that matched my interest. I would prefer to call my current profession as communications person, instead of public relation.

Working for not-for-profit sector has its own drawbacks, though. Most jobs in this sector are usually under one-year contract, with possible extension. I consider myself fortunate, because I'm a woman, still single and my parents give full support on my decision to work in the sector. What about people who are married and have children? What would they do when the contract/the project ends?

Believe it or not, there are men, who are married and have children, in the not-for-profit sector. They work from one project to another, and they survive. These men are my reminder of Allah's abundant blessings. The ultimate factor that makes my heart at ease is the thought that Allah provides for each living being, even if we sometime (or most of the time, astaghfirullah) don't remember Him.

Blessings are not always in the form of monetary gains. Faith in God, health (physically and mentally), fresh air, a smile from a handsome fellow commuter, the rain, the sun that comes after the rain, family (parents/siblings/spouse/children), and good friends, those are all blessings. To sum it up, your life is already a blessing.

Also, I believe everything starts from the intention of the heart. I try to remind myself on a daily basis that I work not just to get money, but to have contentment in the thought that I have helped people. A good intention brings lots of good things into your life. It will also be great if my work gets appreciation through the high remuneration.

I'm not saying that everyone should just quit their permanent jobs and work as contract employees. I just want to say that each profession has its pluses and minuses (so don't look down on other people's profession), never put your faith on humans (and corporations), give the best of yourself on every thing you do while finding opportunity to grow your skills and always be grateful for everything that you have.

Oh geez, have I bored you enough with my ramblings? Wishing you a terrific Thursday, lovelies.

Monday, December 11, 2017


2016 | Director: Denis Villeneuve | 1 hour 56 minutes |

I have just watched this movie during a weekend's movie marathon. Although it's a sci-fi movie on alien, it has been giving me some philosophical thinking.

"Memory is a strange thing, it doesn't work like I thought it did. We are so bound by time, by its order." 

The words of linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) opens the movie, followed with a quick recap on her life with her daughter Hannah who later died of cancer. Then it brings audience to the day 'they' arrive. They are 12 unidentified extra-terrestrial objects that land on 12 locations worldwide. One of the objects is in Montana.

Charcoal gray and rough to the touch, the objects are suspended in the air with their tips facing downward, making a pretty cool way for an entrance. A few days after their arrival, no humans are abducted, no threats are announced. The objects stay in silence and grace, while the aliens make appearances and give messages in certain time.

Due to her linguistic expertise, Louise is recruited by the US Military to translate the messages and figure out why they are here. To be able to understand the language, Louise goes with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) inside the objects, where gravity takes a holiday. Both manage to establish communication with the heptapod duo, who are later named as Abbot and Costello, after the famous comical duo.

The movie is a bit lagging in the middle, giving audience little bits of information along the way. The conflict in the movie is built through excerpts of missed communication between the 12 countries where the objects are located, news that escalate fear and distrust among the military personnel and scenes of the expert duo working hard to translate the message. I think Amy Adams nails the role perfectly as a calm linguist who works hard to hold everyone down until she manages to get things straight.

Language and communication are the things we do every day and yet, many still can not get or send their messages right. The movie reminds us, through its many beautiful quotes on language and communication, that those fields of study most people look down are actually the ones that tie human together.

  • Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict. - said by Ian Donnelly to Louise Banks in the military aircraft, it's a passage from the preface she wrote.
  • The language you speak determines how you think and see everything. - quoting the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  • Like their ship or their bodies, their written language has no forward or backward direction. Linguists call this non-linear orthography, which raises the question,"Is this how they think?" - Ian Donnelly on translating the heptapod language
  • The weapon is their language. They gave it to us. If you learn it, when you really learn it, you begin to perceive time the way that they do, so you can see what's to come. But time, it isn't the same for them. It's non-linear. - Louise Banks

The movie also has a mind-bending ending, which is quite refreshing for a Hollywood production. There is a question in the movie that has been lingering in my mind:

If you can see your whole life from start to end, would you change things?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finding Yourself During A Loss

In the zen zone. A throwback photo of me in Seoul, South Korea, in 2010

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me messages about his bag being stolen while he fell asleep on board the commuter line. Inside the bag were wallet, mobilephone, and most devastating of all, his 15" MacBookPro laptop that he just bought January this year. He blamed himself for falling asleep in the train while leaving his bag unattended on the overhead shelf.

I could only say,"Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rojiun." To Allah everything belongs, and to Allah everything shall return. I told him to let it go and start anew again.

A few months prior, I have lost many personal photo files in my portable hard disk. I have uploaded some of the photos to this blogs and other social media, but the rest were totally gone. I grieved the loss of life mementos for a few days, then I pushed myself to see things in bigger frame.

Material things such as the mobilephone and the laptop, we can always replace them with the new ones. One may argue that the contact numbers in the mobilephone and the files in the laptop are difficult to regain. But hey, in this global era, we can find a way to connect to the people and we can always recreate the files that were started as tiny abstract ideas in our grey cells. In the case of lost photos, make new ones. Nothing is impossible, as long as we are alive and doing well.

What if you lose a person that means the world to you, such as parents, siblings, spouses? What if you lose your eyesight or a body part?

The second paragraph will still be relevant. After all, we don't really own anything. Our bodies, our parents, our worldly things, and even our souls, we borrow them all from The Almighty. We only have time, such a short time for some people, to prepare our journey for the eternal hereafter. We don't even know how much time we would have.

Just like humans are only visitors on this planet, feelings are also visitors in our hearts, they come and go. Don't stick around too long with a particular emotion. Remember that this too shall pass.

Being grateful helps reduce the sorrow of losing. When losing someone dear, we should be grateful that we have met/have the opportunity to get to know that person. When losing one of the five senses, we can be grateful that at least we are still alive. There is always a lesson we can take from a loss, hence not everything is lost.

Also, if we have accepted that we don't own anything, then the life journey would be a lot easier.

Sorry if today's post is loaded with deep philosophical thoughts. I have a lot of things going inside my head and my heart lately. Writing some of them down in this space helps reducing the noise and hopefully will strengthen me during the time of loss in the future.

What would you tell yourself when you experience a loss? 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Marlina, The Murderer In Four Acts

2017 | Director : Mouly Surya | 95 minutes

A co-production between Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and France, the movie tells about the story of one Sumbanese woman Marlina and her journey to find justice.

The movie opens with Act I, The Robbery, where the newly widowed Marlina (Marsha Timothy) receiving an unexpected visit from Markus (Egi Fedly), who nonchalantly told her that there would six more men coming to take her money and her livestock. "And if we have time, we'll sleep with you," he said while playing a small string instrument next to Marlina's mummified dead husband.

He told Marlina to prepare food (chicken soup) for his robber gang, and even demanded to be served betel nut and coffee, just like a respectable guest. Marlina does as told, but adds a secret ingredient that leaves four robbers die after consuming the soup. When she tries to serve Markus the soup, she drops the plates and then decapitates him as he forces himself on her.

Two other robbers already leave with her livestocks: 10 cows, 10 pigs and seven chicken. She spends the night burning the small string instrument in the kitchen and leaning to her dead husband in the living room.

Act II, The Journey, shows Marlina leaving home the next morning, with Markus' head in tow, to report the case to the police. She runs to her heavily pregnant neighbor, Novi (Dea Panendra), who is on her way to the city to reunite with her husband Umbu. The chatterbox Novi as well as a lady who is delivering two horses for her nephew's wedding do not balk at the sight of Marlina's weapon and "evidence". They even share tips and stories on how to have smooth labor as they share ride on a truck.

In the middle of the journey, the two robbers take over the truck when Marlina and Novi are taking pee stop in the bushes. Novi distracts the robbers to another place and continues travelling with the truck driver, the lady of the horses and the nephew. Marlina later finds a horse tied on a rope and rides the animal to the nearest police station. She arrives early at the police station and decides to have a plate of satay. A little girl named Topan (Safira Ahmad) takes her order and helps keeping a box containing Markus' head in her place.

In Act III, The Confession, Marlina has to wait for the police officers to finish the table tennis practice before she can report her case (which is rape and robbery, but not the murder). The police takes note on her case, but does not really pay attention. He told her that to prove on her rape case, they had to wait for the arrival of the medical equipment, which is scheduled in the next month. She walks out of the police station in a disappointed state, and later being comforted by Topan's hug.

Meanwhile, Novi finally meets her husband Umbu after the lady of the horses and the nephew manage to take over the truck from the robbers. However, Umbu thinks she is cheating on him because Franz (Yoga Pratama), one of the two robbers, insinuates him with the idea when he takes Novi's mobilephone. Umbu hits her and leaves her, while Franz slowly approaches. Franz forces her to call Marlina and ask her to come back home with Markus' head.

The movie concludes in Act IV, The Birth, with Novi decapitating Franz's head and then delivering the baby. Oh my God, so many blood in this movie one would think Mouly Surya tries to copy Quentin Tarantino. 

Just like many (if not all?) Indonesian films out there, this movie also has many scenes that do not  correspond well with the reality. For example, (1) a small eatery serving satay in the middle of Sumba's savana is almost impossible to exist (I'm saying this based on my own experience), (2) they use cellphone for communication, but then light up candle at night (why not show a solar panel?), and (3) in the closing scene, Marlina rides one of the motorbikes, which made me thinking:"Instead of hitching the truck to reach police station, why didn't she use the motorbike in the first place?"

Some of my friends, including those who have lived in Sumba, commented that the movie does not portray the real Sumba. They said that the movie only sold the beautiful landscape of Sumba without really showing the culture that is ingrained in everyday's life. Having visited Sumba myself, I can agree with most of their comments.

We can always criticize everything, but there are a lot of things to be celebrated about this movie. Let me mention the top three from my point of view: (1) It features women as the lead actors, and the women are not portrayed as weak, timid creatures, but active humans that resolve their own problems, (2) Despite the slightly missed portrayal of the culture, it brings public attention to Sumba (and most eastern Indonesia area), because most Indonesian films were shot in Jakarta, Bali or other western Indonesia area, so it really puts the area into the limelight, and (3) It has garnered several nominations from international film festivals.

This movie has been screened in Cannes Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sitges International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival. Marsha Timothy even won best actress awards in Sitges International Film Festival. It's not everyday that an Indonesian movie gets such a good rap. Go and catch Marlina in the nearest cinema near you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

On Aging According To Our Age

Aging is  both terrifying and exciting, isn't it? There is an unspoken rule that one should be wiser as they turn older, but it is not always the case. Everyone grows in their own pace. There is no guide book on becoming wise. On the other hand, aging will take place in real time.

As the signs of aging is upon us -- wrinkle, sun spots, grey hairs, and discolored skin tone -- many would focus on the outer appearance, which is also important to take care by the way, but mostly forget to take care the inner self. What would our soul need as it gets older? And while kids look forward to be adult, why do people afraid to be old?

I will be 38 years old in one month and still have two more years before I reach the ripe age of 40, so I intend to gather as much information on that particular age. In Islam, the age of 40 gets a special mention in Al Qur'an, on Al Ahqaf, verse 15 to be precise.

The verse says;"We instructed the human being to treat his parents kindly. His mother bore him laboriously and gave birth to him laboriously. Carrying him and weaning him takes thirty months. Then, when he reaches maturity and reaches the age of forty he says,"My Lord, enable me to give thanks for Your blessings which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the good deeds that please You, and grant me righteous descendants. I have repented to you and I am one of the Muslims." 

From the verse, I can conclude four things that we should do upon reaching 40 years old:
(1) Be grateful for every blessing that Allah have bestowed upon us
(2) Do good deeds that please Allah
(3) Have descendants, if Allah will it
(4) Repent for all the wrongs we have done in the past years

With my birthday to come in about a month, I have been giving some time contemplating on life. You may as well prepare yourself to read more philosophical posts in this space in the next month.

Do you have any advice on how to become a wise and graceful 40-year-old? Please share :).

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Burgreens Tebet

Healthy lifestyle has been on the rise in the past 10 years, giving ways to eateries that support healthy lifestyle, such as Burgreens, a restaurant chain that serves healthy, plant-based dishes made from locally-sourced produces. There is a Burgreen outlet in Tebet, so I decided to have a dish (or two) with my colleagues.

Located on the third floor of a small building, the restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining area. On the first floor is the organic vegetable shop, while the second floor houses a shop that focuses on healthy ingredients (think chia seed, flax seed, rosella tea).

The walkway to the top

At first, we called the restaurant to ask for a delivery, and they said they could deliver. But then, when we called for the second time, a few hours later, they told us they were a bit overwhelmed and asked if we could just come.

Indoor interior

Information on healthy diet plan

Outdoor dining area

Despite being completely plant-based, the dishes taste great. I had a bowl of mushroom soup, because I felt a bit under the weather, while my colleagues had Mini Quattro (the mini versions of Burgreens' four veggie burgers: Mighty Mushroom, Beans 'n Cheese, Spinach Chickpeas, and Caspian Mungbean) and the Mighty Mushroom (the real size, mushroom patty on a wholewheat bun served with chips).

Price-wise, they are pricey, yes. But if you want to invest on health, this can be one of the options, besides regular exercise and having a positive outlook on life in general.

Burgreens has so far three outlets: Pacific Place, Dharmawangsa, and Tebet. Although I have yet to commit myself to the vegetarian lifestyle, this eatery has stolen my heart and I would definitely try the other dishes in the menu if I happen to pass any Burgreens.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Courtesy During The Technology-supported Communication

Mobilephone has eased both verbal and written communications with other people. But it seems that in this era of modern technology, many people has forgotten the courtesy and often make mistakes in the field of communication.

Here are most recurring phone/Whatsapp conversations happening to me on any regular day. These could be annoying, but I found them quite funny and entertaining due to the exact similar communication patterns.

Wrong Name
Situation: Even though I have left the journalism world more than four years ago, my email inbox is  still receiving invitations for press events. Some even reach out through my mobilephone, but they got my name wrong...

#1 Misspelled Name
PR person of a company/brand: Hello, Mbak Tofa. This is so-and-so from so-and-so company. We'd like to invite you to...
Me: (cutting him/her quickly) My name is not Tofa. You must be dialing/contacting the wrong number.
PR: Oh, I'm so sorry.

I know it's just one letter wrong, but everyone should check and recheck names before placing a phonecall/text message.

#2 Totally Different Name
PR person of a company/brand: Hello, Mbak Aulia. This is so-and-so from so-and-so company. We'd like to invite you to...
Me: (cutting him/her quickly) I'm not Aulia. Sorry, wrong number.
PR: Oh, I am sorry for this mistake. But you're working for TJaP, right? (Note from the editor: please note that the PR didn't ask my name)
Me: I resigned in 2013.
PR: Can you share with us the name of your replacement? (Note from the editor: Why would I give it to someone who does not even care to ask my name?)
Me: I'm sorry, I don't know. I've heard that the person has resigned too. You can call the office, if you like.
PR: Are you still working in a media company, Mbak? (Note from the editor: Even if I am still working in the media, I don't think I'd like to come to an event that is handled by people who still haven't asked my name)
Me: No, I'm now working in a non profit sector.
PR: Ok, thank you, Mbak.

Guess what? The very same PR person has messaged me again several times after that, starting the conversation with the very same opening line and wrong name. I am seriously questioning the quality of the company now. Who the hell is Aulia and why is that name put under my mobilephone number?

Wrong Time To Call
Situation: I totally understand that some professions require them to phone other people. But there are also people who need concentration during work, and a phonecall is just the ingredient to ruin it.
Telemarketer: Hello, Ibu. We're from Bank ABC and we'd like to inform you on our latest...
Me: I'm sorry, I'm still at work. Can you call again at 12 pm, during lunch time?
Telemarketer: Oh, alright.
And then at 2 pm, my phone rang...
Telemarketer: Hello, Ibu. We're from Bank ABC...
Me: (cutting him/her quickly) I told you to call at 12 pm, right?
Telemarketer: Errr yes, I could not call you at that moment.
Me: Then I could not receive this phone call, I'm already back at work.

Wrong Attitude
Situation: When a person is being pushy, you just know that you should end the conversation then and there.
Telemarketer: Hello, Ibu. We're from Bank ABC and we'd like to inform you on our non-collateral loans.
Me: I'm sorry, but I'm not interested.
Telemarketer: How do you know that you don't need it? I haven't even explained it (in an angry tone)
Me: I just knew it. Ok, thanks for calling, good bye.

What are your pet peeves in daily communication's mishaps?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pengabdi Setan (Satan's Slave)

Indonesia | 2017 | Director: Joko Anwar | 1 hour 47 minutes

From here

[There are spoilers.]

This was the first horror movie that I watched. I watched it with Dic, a colleague at former workplace, because he promised me that he would drive me home after the movie. Seriously, watching this movie is a milestone for a scaredy cat like me.

This is the first Joko Anwar's movie that I watched in a cinema. I usually watch Indonesian movies when they are aired on local television. I am not a fan of Indonesian movies, because most (if not all) Indonesian movies have no good story plots and/or no good acting.

The movie was a remake of a 1980 movie that Rolling Stone magazine called as the scariest Indonesian movie of all time. I didn't watch that movie though, but a friend gave me a short summary, in which the movie's main message was: "If you face hard times, always turn to God. Don't go looking for solace in other place, or scary things will happen to you."

Joko's movie is different from that, it's more of an adaptation, instead of a remake. Set in the 1980s, the movie starts with Rini (Tara Basro) asking for royalty to the recording company that recorded and produced her mother's solo album. Mother has been ill for three years, and the medical expenses have taken its toll on the family. The company's director, Joko Anwar doing cameo (aha!), apologizes for being unable to help. 

Rini, who is the eldest of four, returns home and tells his father (Bront Palarae) that they don't have enough. When the night falls, Tony (Endy Arfian), the second child in the family, comes home and gives the key of the motorcycles to his father. The motorcycles has to be sold to cover medical expenses. The other siblings, Bondi (Nasar Annuz) and Ian (M. Adhiyat), who can not speak, give excellent acting performance despite their young age.

The scariest parts are the first 45 minutes when the mother (Ayu Utami) is still around. The bell she uses to call her children and the music score that plays when she makes the scene are enough to build  up the horror atmosphere. 

Some horror scenes worth mentioning: (1) when Rini dreams seeing mother stand in front of the window, then she wakes up and reliving the dream, (2) when Bondi and Ian go to bathroom and throw a piece of fabric over the mother's picture, (3) when Rini does prayer and yet, mother can still crawl under her praying outfit. I was very grateful that I didn't watch this movie alone as I could hold onto Dic's shirt sleeve during the scary scenes, and he didn't even flinch.    

In the end, I'm not exactly sure what to think of this movie, but I think I'm a bit confused. I don't watch a lot of horror movies. However, I do know that all horror movies portray ghosts as the spirits that scare human, never kill. Usually the humans will get scared and do reckless things that cause their death, but they die because of their own mistake. In this movie, the ghosts kill humans. And for me, that throws the scare factor out of the window.

It seems that Joko Anwar tries to put in as much fear factors as he can into the movie, including zombies and a satan's worshiper group. Upon seeing the zombie, I was like, huh? As an Indonesian, I have heard about Indonesian ghosts: sundelbolong, kuntilanak, you name it. But zombies only exist in a Western movie.

Other factor that puts off the horror vibe is the responses of the audience. Hearing other people screaming in the cinema opened my eyes, hey, there is nothing to scream/scare about. It's just a movie. A movie that is the first of a trilogy.

"So, are we going to watch the sequels?" Dic asked when he saw my confused expression during the credit roll.
"Hell, no!" I said.

Here's another review on this movie. Joko Anwar does a good marketing work on this movie. So far it has been watched by at least 3 million viewers in Indonesia, which is a lot for a horror movie. The last news I heard about this movie is that it will be screened abroad.

Have you watched it? What do you think? And if you haven't watched it, would you go after reading this post?

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Three Day-Four Night Stay In Bali

As an Indonesian, I have to admit that I don't know much about Bali, the Island of Gods, that attracts many international visitors. So when a friend asked me to accompany her for a brief R&R to the island, I said yes. 

We got to know each other when I was assigned in the lifestyle desk during my journo days. While I have moved on to the non profit sector, she is still writing for the lifestyle desk. Hence part of the trip to Bali was thanks to her work as she won a hotel voucher that would be void in November. 

Since we both had the same friends who work in Bali, we decided to hold a small reunion during lunch or dinner (because meal time is the key to happiness and a meaningful heart-to-heart talk). And guess what? We both brought our laptops. In the end, it was not a real holiday hahaha. But anyway, here are glimpses of review on hotels (we stayed in three hotels), food and other random things you can do in Bali.

Disclaimer: all opinion are my own, I don't receive monetary gain from writing this.

Day 1

We arrived in Ngurah Rai International Airport the night before and went straight to our first hotel, Courtyard by Marriott. Located on Jl. Camplung Tanduk, Seminyak, the hotel welcome us in the reception with a refreshing welcome drink and in our room, there was a cheese platter and two Bintang bottles. 

The cheese platter was a real treat! Slices of Camembert, Gouda and Cheddar cheese paired with pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and walnuts (my favorite!). My friend and I don't drink, so we gave those Bintang bottles to our friend who works in Bali and drink beer.   

Breakfast in Courtyard by Marriott is one extensive array of sumptuous dishes. It's a five-star hotel, so of course it has to be delicious and complete. And as weird as it may sound, my favorite breakfast menu is the bagel.

Bagel at Courtyard by Marriott Bali

Our room had a direct access to the swimming pool. But I forgot to bring my swimsuit. So I googled "baju renang muslimah di Bali (Muslimah swimsuit in Bali)" and found this store. My friend already brought her swimsuit and jumped straight to the pool. 

I ordered Go-Jek and went across the island to buy the suit at said store. Riding a motorcycle in Bali is always a fun thing to do, and Go-Jek has made it easier. Unlike Java that has many ojek (motorcyle-taxi), Bali used to have only taxis and car/motor rentals. One visitor in Bali in the past should be either rich (to pay for taxis) or able to ride motorcycle (because it's cheaper than renting a car). My friends told me stories of having to go by taxi and getting uncomfortable experiences, such as being dropped off out of nowhere in the middle of a traffic jam just because the taxi driver didn't feel like continuing.

As I scoot along the streets of Bali, I saw people preparing for Galungan, which will fall on Wednesday. The island felt a bit vacant due to Mt. Agung's volcanic activity. It was a work day, but everyday feels like a holiday in Bali.

The trip to the swimsuit store was around 30 minutes, so I spent one hour for the trip back and forth. Added with trying on the suit, my slow decision making process on which swimsuit to buy and waiting for the Go-Jek drivers, I ended up spending two hours on the road. I arrived back at the hotel at 11 a.m. and packed up my stuffs because we had to check out and had lunch with our friend at The Stones in Legian, which is also a part of Marriott group.

Our friend, Abel, who moved to Bali seven years ago, adopted five stray dogs and one of them has epilepsy. Canine epilepsy is rare, each episode can last for a few days with post seizure fever that can last for weeks, so each day is precious for her and her fur babies.  

After a very long lunch and talk with Abel, we headed to our next hotel, Yan's House Hotel on Jl. Kartika, Kuta. The hotel has 11 themes for the rooms, and we got the Homeland room.

  Found here

Then we walked to Kuta beach, which is just a stone throw away from the hotel, to enjoy the sunset. Kuta beach was buzzing with activities, as usual. But there is always a spot on the beach for thinkers, philosophers and introverts.

While we were there, the hotel held room viewing for a group of journos, followed by a six-course dinner at CodeGrafiti, the hotel's restaurant. We tagged along with the group.

The chef, Bondan Yuliarso, is a man of innovations and he brings his visions to the restaurant. He is committed to use local fruits and ingredients. He invents juices that are a mix of either kedondong, snakefruit, mangosteen and orange. He infuses tobacco and chocolate for the sauce. The portion is small, but very fulfilling and delicious. By the end of the dinner, everyone had a food coma.

The cutest dish of the night award would go to Obat Nyamuk Lime Leaf, which is made from black sticky rice and squid ink. My favorite is the lamb sirloin and the cod fish. For more photos of the six courses, please see below. The numbering is based on the order of appearance.

Day 2

After breakfast, we had a picnic by the beach, set up by the hotel. A basket of picnic treats for two is worth Rp 175.000, and you don't have to be the hotel's guest to order one. 

The hotel's staffs set up the picnic treats

Black sandwiches, crepes, plain black bread, juices and soda

I was not sure what was this couple trying to do.

Then we checked out and headed to our third hotel, Fontana Hotel on Jl. Dewi Sri, Kuta. After the check in, my friend and I went separate ways.

I went to Brownfox Waffle & Coffee to meet up with my friend Desy. She was assigned to Bali in 2009, and I have yet to meet her again. She was a single woman when she left Java. Now she is a mother of three kids.

We looked so cool, calm and collected in this photo...

...but here's what happened on the adjacent table :D

Then I went to Nook, a restaurant in Kerobokan, because my friend was there. Owned by artist Happy Salma, the restaurant is located next to a paddy field and has the trendy crowd. Most dishes in the menu are vegetable-based.


Calm amidst the chaos

Nook salad

Nook Iced Coffee

One would consider to call it a day, but these girls decided to stop by Gusto Gelato and had some cool treats before bed. I chose stracciatella and gianduia in a cone, priced at Rp 24.000.

Stracciatella and gianduia

Day 3


We went swimming at the pool, had breakfast and headed to Sukawati art market. We spent four hours at the market. I didn't buy a lot, just a small rattan bag, two hand-shaped woodcarving, a piece of fabric and a pair of pants.

Woodcarvings in Sukawati Art Market

My friend rode the motorcycle, while I had to read the map from GPS. I was not sure how, but we ended up passing the Bali Mandara tollroad, or Nusa Dua-Ngurah Rai-Benoa tollroad, which is a tollroad carried by a bridge stretching across the Gulf of Benoa 12.7 km in length.

This is probably the only tollroad in Indonesia that allow motorcycles to pass through. It even has a dedicated lane for motorcycles. Some tips if you want to pass this tollroad: (1) Since it is right in the middle of the sea, the wind is strong, so wear windbreaker or other biker approved outfits, (2) Take an electronic money card, because all tollroad gates only receive this kind of payment, and (3) Read maps and GPS, because if you make a wrong turn, it would be difficult to get back on the right track.

And as you can guess, yours truly and her friend took the wrong turn hahaha. We were planning to go to Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika in Kuta, and when we had to choose two roads between Ngurah Rai airport and Denpasar, I didn't know which to take so my friend chose Denpasar, and the decision brought us back to the first tollroad gate.

When people got lost, people showed their true self. While I took the incident lightly, my friend completely blamed me for getting us lost. She was yelling, complaining and cursing. She was hungry and tired, I understood. I also got tired in reading the map, something got into my right eye which later got red and teary for 10 minutes during the ride, but did I complain? No.

Anyway, we arrived at Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika, ordered our very late lunch and ate in silence. The meal was good and affordable, and I would recommend it for budget travelers and people with iron stomach.

A plate of rice with one type of vegetable, slices of tempe and anchovies at Nasi Pedas Ibu Andika, priced at Rp 19.000.

We went back to hotel and prepared to close the day by having dinner with our friends Yoyo, Judith and Haikal at Moringa, which is only 300 meters from our hotel.

Mie Cakalang Kuah at Moringa

A candid of yours truly at Moringa by my friend. It must be that "Damn, I had to get back to work again tomorrow" face.

I hope you can find something useful and entertaining from the post. Have a magnificent Monday!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Blood-Colored Meals

According to Islamic dietary regulation stated in Holy Quran, Muslims don't include blood in the diet. But of course we can eat blood-colored dishes. Here are several dishes I had been having in vibrant dark red color.

Red spinach clear soup

Red spinach, or Amaranthus dubius, is the red version of its green cousin Amaranthus viridis, which is more popular here. It is a good source of vitamin A and C, iron and other essential mineral, while also being low in calories.

Either being sauteed or served raw in salad, red spinach does not disappoint. However, M decided to make a clear soup out of the red spinach. The recipe is pretty easy. Just sauteed some shallots and garlic, add water to boil, then put in the spinach for a few minutes.

Red dragon fruit+blueberry overnight oat

There was a period when I had overnight oats for breakfast for weeks. This happened due to a discount on large instant oat packages at a supermarket near the office. At first, I made simple oat porridge out of the instant oat. After a few days of doing so, I got bored and decided to make overnight oats, which is easier and more fun. This red blood composition consisted of oat, plain yogurt, red dragon fruit and blueberries.

Beetroot+red dragon fruit+red spinach+banana smoothies

I have just begun to enjoy making smoothies after M bought a new blender. The latest smoothies I made was a mix of beetroot, red dragon fruit, red spinach and banana. Compared to its white cousin, red dragon fruit has higher level of antioxidant and pigment. the Here's to start the day in health and style :)

What color would you like to have in your meal?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Ten Things On What, When, How And Why I Talk (In Real Life Or Chat Engines)

I had to do a presentation in front of 300 colleagues nationwide. My facial expression says it all: uncomfortable :P

A schoolmate from primary school era reached out to me, after I joined the Whatsapp group, asking me why I never commented in the group. My first thought was,"I had to respond to every post in the WA group? Is that obligatory?" 

The said friend noticed that I had always been a quiet girl since primary school and he never knew how to get me talking. The problem was he tried to engage me talking in a big group, while I am more comfortable talking in small group. Big groups tire me out. There is a word for me: introvert.

I still don't talk much, but I know at least 10 things that could get myself talking, no alcohol included. Here they are without further ado:

1. I enjoy deep, thought-provoking discussion on any topic. I also enjoy small talk, as long as it's genuine and well-meant.

2. I don't talk to people in the first place unless I feel comfortable with the person/the group/the topic

3. Despite my work-loaded schedule, I would respond to people who has confidence and purpose. 

People who ask,"Am I interrupting your work?" as their opening line would likely receive a flat,"Yes, a bit" answer from me. If you have been out of contact and then suddenly contact me during office hour, of course I would be busy, everyone would be busy, so why did you ask? If you contact me, prepare your questions and figure out your purpose, because I don't really enjoy small talk (OMG, I sound like a nasty news source, but this is actually an emphasis to number #1).

4. Being a busy person myself, I would not talk to you if I know you're busy

5. Nevertheless, sometimes I go out of my way and still talk to a busy person, if I really care about that person

You know who you are :).

6. I prefer writing to talking

I guess it is obvious, I wouldn't keep this blogs if I like it the other way around. Also, I think it is the reason why I don't talk much.

Tangent: If anyone decide to write me a letter, for the love of God, please pay attention to grammar and punctuation marks, and please be concise.

7. I talk more after a meal/a drink.

Buy me a bowl of noodle or a cup of coffee, maybe? Hahaha just kidding, I can buy my own food/drink, alhamdulillah. But seriously, I'm much more calm and opened after a meal. If it's in a party setting, you can also try talking to me at the food stations.

8. If we have been out of contact for a long time, introduce yourself to me.

I am not an elephant, I forget things. There have been situations where unknown numbers contacting me with a,"Don't you remember me?" opening line. It may work for Adele, but it certainly doesn't work for me. Such phonecall or text message would not be answered and be put under spam.

9. If you are newly introduced to me and start asking me questions about me, may I ask that you don't repeat  the same questions?

Unless you have a short-term memory loss, repeating your questions would mean that you didn't hear my previous answer. If you didn't understand my answer, you can ask me to elaborate. But if you're asking the same question (no paraphrasing), then I would give you the same answer. I'm not a mind reader, I would not know if you don't understand unless you tell me.

10. For me, respect is reciprocal. If you give me respect, I will definitely do to. And that is how I would talk to you.

Some people may perceive some of those as anti-social articles for a communication person. But those are the things that get me talking.

What things that get you talking?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fried Cauliflower

Colleagues in my current workplace are married people who have a penchant for cooking. Sometimes we cook up food in the pantry for Friday lunch, and other times one of them go to pantry to make afternoon snacks. This fried cauliflower is one of the afternoon snacks that left quite an impression in me.

Here is how I make it:

Get a nice cauliflower. That harmless cute little passenger on 11 o'clock is the reason why I do the vegetable cutting and cleaning up.

Trimming the leaves, and soaking them in water later on. The caterpillar was rescued by a very competent SAR team.

Rolling them in Tepung Bumbu Sas* flour mixed with water.

Bon appetit!

Monday, October 16, 2017

On-board Of Jakarta's Commuter Line

The Cikarang-Jakarta commuter line started operation on Oct. 1, and it has since wreaked havoc on the lives of all Cikarang and Bekasi-bound commuters. Schedules are added, switched and disrupted, while the construction work on the double-double track remains slow as snails.

In the midst of the chaos, I'd like to bring memories of the happy time on-board of Jakarta's commuter line. After all, commuter line is like a microcosm of the capital city. It gives you glimpses of how vibrant a city is.

Public display of affection is not a common thing in Jakarta. But this couple does not seem to mind showing a bit of affection through their tangled legs.

I had to do a double take when I realized that the book read by the passenger next to me was in Japanese kanji. Did I just step into a Yamanote line?

An inspiration of this post is this link about acts of kindness on-board on New York's subway.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gulai Pakis, or Fern Curry

A fistful of ferns

Ferns are beautiful, aren't they? They are also delicious. Gulai pakis (curry fern) is a common dish in West Sumatra and it is usually served with ketupat (rice in rhombus-shaped coconut leaves). I often eat them for my after-Sunday-jogging meal. In my defense, I have burnt enough calorie, so I can have them for breakfast :).

I saw them on a few weeks ago, but was doubtful in placing a purchase. After several weeks had passed and they were still available in the market, I decided to give it a go. This must be destiny.

The edible parts are those that give a clear crack sound and easily broken down with hands. If the stalk is too old, it is difficult to break with hands, so just take out the leaves and discard the stalks. It took me quite some time to cut and clean them because...ferns are so cute!

Fiddlehead ferns, why are you so cute?

Once they are cut and clean (just soak them in a bowl of water and a pinch of salt, my usual procedure), it's pretty easy to cook these greens. M bought ready made curry paste and coconut milk in the market to speed things up. But of course, you can always make them from scratch. 

How we cook it:

(1) Cook the curry paste, set aside
(2) Cook the coconut milk, set aside
(3) Cook half part of coconut milk with the curry paste, stir slowly to avoid the coconut milk from breaking out. Then put in the ferns.
(4) When the ferns are tender enough, put in the rest of the coconut milk
(5) Add salt accordingly, and it's ready.

Gulai pakis at your service, Ma'am

You can also add shrimp/fish/meat or tempe or chili into the coconut milk to add more flavor. M and I decided to just go basic because that's how we prefer it. 

Bon appetit!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cafes In Tebet

As I've mentioned before, Tebet has a wide array of cafes, restaurants and hang out places. Deciding on which one to try is hard, but here are some of the cafes I have tried. These are just my two cents, and they should not stop you from trying the cafes.

Location: Jl. Prof. Dr. Soepomo No.45, Tebet

Kopi Buatan Istri

I love Kopi Buatan Istri, the iced coffee with milk that is served in a bottle. Kopi Buatan Istri means the wife-brewed coffee. Whoever's wife she is, she's doing a good job. It makes me feel like a badass girl drinking beer straight from the bottle. It's only Rp 20.000, and you can bring home the bottle.

Kopi Dangdut and Donat Mamak

I've tried Kopi Dangdut too, but for me, it's more acidic than Kopi Buatan Istri.

Pasta Besok Pulang and Soken

As for the food, I've sampled Pasta Besok Pulang (spaghetti bolognaise, me like), fish and chips (hmm, this dish is just so-so in my opinion) and Donat Mamak (most fulfilling snack in the place). If you're really hungry, I would suggest you go to a nearby eatery instead of this cafe.

The cafe has a nice ambiance for work, and there is a praying room and toilet. The best thing about this cafe is you can have a glass (or more) of water for free. Also, this cafe separates the smoking area with non-smoking, which is wonderful! I love this cafe.

Yellow Truck Coffee
Location: Jl. Tebet Raya No. 27, Tebet

I've been passing this cafe on my way to work/to train station, so one night I decided to stop by and try something. So far, I've just tried its Es Kopi Balok (block iced coffee), which is ice block coffee poured with milk. The coffee tastes good. I would come again to try other java.

There is a dedicated smoking area, the Wi-fi is not bad and electricity sockets are available to work on laptops. I also like that it is quite quiet during my visit.

Barista-cashier area

Es Kopi Balok. Before the milk is poured over.

After the milk is poured over.

Location: Jalan KH Abdullah Syafi'ie No. 1, Tebet

I stepped into this cafe when it suddenly rained. A step into this cafe transported me from the hustle and bustle of Jl. Abdullah Syafei to a quiet low-ceiling cafe with a dim lighting. 

The cafe has a mix of retro and garage-style interior, with telephone cable roll turned into tables, square wooden tables that are paired with iron-and-wood chairs. A dresser with round edges stands near the wall, holding a vinyl player that plays 80s-90s songs.

Vintage dresser

There is a bar table by the window for people who want to be on their own. People typed in their laptops while sipping their cup of java and smoking cigarette (!) when I was there. For me, cigarette smoke is the biggest turn off in any eatery or cafe. Therefore, I must say, no matter how good the coffee is, I probably would not come to this place again.

And by the way, the coffee is good.  The house blend is a mix of coffee beans from Java. I only had a hot cappuccino, but it was a good one.

A cup of hot cappuccino at Kopikina