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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Gift

Photo: doc of GDH, found here

Thailand | 2016 | 144 minutes | Director: Chanayop Boonprakob

I didn't plan to watch this movie. I was just going to meet up at a shopping center with a former editor of previous workplace. She's going to watch the movie and invited me to join her. I jumped at the opportunity, before having second thoughts,"Wait a minute? Thailand movie? Is it a horror movie?" Because guys, Thailand does the horror movies seriously, and I'd rather not watching or I'd be jumpy everytime I hear sounds at night for the whole month (or possibly more). Fortunately, it is not a horror movie. In fact, it's the perfect movie to open a new year. So here it is, a review and a lot of spoiler alert. Don't say I didn't warn you :).

The movie's title A Gift, with its tagline "because music is the best gift you can give", gives an initial guess at what it offers. Oh, it's a musical, I thought. 

The film opens with late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's speech on a new year celebration and also shots of the king visiting the paddy fields, giving instruction on development and meeting the people. After about five minutes, the screen goes black and the audience are asked to stand up to honor the late king. We all obliged, and there was an aerial shot of people mourning on the passing of the king.

At this point, I thought that the movie would be a documentary of the king, and was a bit disappointed. Then the three-piece omnibus movie unravels beautifully.

The first piece begins with Beam (Nine Naphat Siangsomboon) practicing hand clapping before a vacant stage when a girl asks him to become a stand-in for the Russian Ambassador. He falls for the stand-in of Ambassador's wife, Pang (Violetta Wautier), who rejects him directly and violently on his first attempt of wooing. As the day progresses, the 'Ambassador couple' learn about each other and develop good relationship. The piece features Love at Sundown.

The second piece ties in with the first as the girl who asks Beam to be a stand-in, Fa (Mew Nittha), gets a phonecall from mother, asking her to come home and see father. Fa later resigns from her job to take care of her ailing father following the death of mother. With father having Alzheimer, Fa faces difficulty to keep things normal. She then realizes that father can remember things when she plays Still On My Mind on her mother's piano, so she decides to learn playing the song. She asks Aey (Sunny Suwanmethanont), a piano tuner, to tune the piano. Unlike Fa who tries to bring normalcy into the ailing father, Aey goes along with the flow. This second piece hits home as it reminds me of D, and although his condition has been going up and down in the past five years, at least he still remembers that I am his daughter.

The handsome guys and pretty girls in the movie. Photo: doc of GDH, found here

The last piece brings audience to the former office of Fah, Fa's mother. The colleagues are missing the musical Aunt Fah, but they find solace when Llong (Ter Chantavit), a metal musician-turned-financial analyst, arrives in the office. Kim (Noona Nuengthida) asks him to help establish a band to cheer up the colleagues. They have to face supervisor Ms Supakin, who hates Thaumatrope (Llong's former metal band) because her son has been playing the band's song since he was in Grade 9. Guess who is Ms Supakin's son? It's Beam! So the movie goes in a perfect circle. The last piece ends with New Year's Greeting, a song about new year's wishes.

As the movie comes to a close, the audience are told that the New Year's Greeting is a song composed by the late king, as his gift to the people of Thai. That's when all the pieces come to one with the speech featured in the beginning of the movie.

Thank you, King. Music is definitely the best gift you can give.

Photo: found here

Friday, January 6, 2017

One Of The Best Advices On Relationship

My friend Vissia and her husband Untung during the trip to Takabonerate

I was walking into the office's praying room, and then bumped into two female colleagues having a conversation on relationship. One of the women, SP, who is younger, had just poured her heart to the older one, PA. I didn't hear what the problem was, but I think the advice is universal and applicable for all types of relationships.

"Respect him, but respect yourself first. If he does not respect you, leave him. You should not compromise your values for anyone."

"Anyway, you are young, and you will meet another guy who will respect you," she added.

"What if the woman is not young anymore? Should she compromise her values?" I chimed in.

PA looked me in my eyes, and said,"No woman should ever compromise her values. Mutual respect is important."

I'm definitely taking notes :).

Update: Respect is listed as number #3 in this list of successful relationship tips

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Learn To Cope

Found here

Rose is Rose comic always knows what lies within. Not exactly a resolution, but yeah, this year I'll learn to cope with everything. Wish me luck :).

Monday, January 2, 2017

Before Trilogy

After all these years, I finally watched Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. I'm so glad I just saw those movies now, as I can appreciate each movie with my 30-something/almost-40 wisdom.

Before Sunrise
1995 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 41 minutes |


In this movie, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are in their 20s, 23 years old to be precise. A fateful meeting onboard of Eurorail, Jesse going to Vienna while Celine going to Paris, they decide to hop off in Vienna and explore the city before the sun arises. They are aware that they may not be able to meet again after the night, so they spend the time getting to know each other.

As they walk through the city, both Jesse and Celine express their opinions on love, relationship and feelings, fear of death, their parents' parenting styles (Jesse's parents are divorced, while Celine's parents are happily married), and feminism.

...
J: You know what drives me crazy? People talking about how great technology is, how it saves the time. But what good is saved time if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work.
...
J: I kind of see love as this escape for two people who don't know how to be alone... People always say how love is unselfish and giving thing. But if you think about it, there's nothing more selfish..
...
J: You know what's the worst thing about somebody breaking up with you? It's when you remember how little you thought about the people you broke up with and you realize that that is how little they're thinking of you. You'd like to think that you're both in pain, but really, they're just,"Hey, I'm glad you're gone.
...
J: Sometimes I dream about being a good husband and a good father, and sometimes it feels very close. But then other times it seems silly, like it would ruin my whole life. It's not a fear of commitment or I'm incapable of loving because I can. It's just if I'm totally honest with myself, I think I'd rather die knowing that I was really good at something. That I had excelled in some ways than that I'd been in a nice, caring relationship.
...
C: I believe if there's any kind of God, it wouldn't be in any of us, not you or me, but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know it's almost impossible to succeed but who cares really.
...
Before saying good bye to Celine, Jesse reads a poem by W.H. Auden

All the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time

In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

This movie was not really shot inline with the movie sequence, but it has made me missing Vienna so much! Jesse and Celine take trams passing Votivkirche, listen to Kath Bloom's vinyl in a record store, stroll at Marie-Theresien Platz that is flanked by the Kunsthistorische-Naturhistorische Museums, watch sunset from Prater's ferris wheel, and Danube riverbanks. You can read more about the places in Vienna visited by this couple in this link.

Before Sunset
2004 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 20 minutes |


Nine years after Jesse and Celine met, they reunited during the French leg of Jesse's book tour, which is written based on their first encounter. Both Jesse and Celine are in their 30s. Jesse is already married with one child, while Celine is still unmarried and in a relationship with a war photographer.

While both are already in relationship/serious commitment, both are not happy with their situation.  Ah, c'est la vie. Here are some excerpts of their conversation as they walk through the City of Light.

...
C: I was thinking. For me it's better I don't romanticize things as much anymore. I was suffering so much all the time. I still have lots of dreams but they're not in regard to my love life. It does not make me said, it's just the way it is.
J: Is that why you're in a relationship with somebody who's never around?
C: Yes, obviously I can't deal with the day-to-day life of a relationship. Yeah, we have this exciting time together and he leaves and I miss him, but at least I'm not dying inside. When someone is always around me, I'm suffocating.
J: No wait, you just said that you need to love and be loved
C: Yes, but when I do it makes me nauseous. It's a disaster. I mean I'm really happy when I'm on my own. Even being alone, it's better than sitting next to a lover and feeling lonely. It's not so easy for me to be a romantic
...
C: It's funny, every single of my exes, they're married. Men go out with me, we break up and then they get married. And later they call me to thank me for teaching them what love is and that I taught them to care and respect for women.
J: I think I'm one of those...
C: I want to kill them. Why didn't they ask me? I would have said no, but they could have asked. I know it's my fault because I never felt it was the right man. Never. But what does it mean the right man, the love of your life? The concept is absurd. We can only be complete with another person.
...
C: Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to get you. I mean, all I need is a married man. There's been so much water under the bridge, it's not even about you. It's about that moment in time that's forever gone.
...
J: You know, I want a great life. I want her to have a great life, she deserves that. But we're just living in the pretense of marriage, responsibility, you know, all these ideas of how people are supposed to live
...
J: My wife is there looking at me, and I feel I'm a million miles from her. And I know that there's something wrong, that..God, that I can't keep living like this, that there's gotta be more to love than commitment. But then I think that I might have given up on the whole idea of romantic love. That I might have to put it to bed that day when you weren't there. You know, I think I might have done that.
...
C: You know it's so weird. People think they are the only one going through tough times. I mean, when I read the article, I thought your life was perfect. A wife, a kid, a published author. But your personal life is more of a mess than mine
...
J: So you're just relieved that I'm in even more deep shit than you are?
C: Yes, you've made me feel better
J: Oh good, I'm glad
C: No, I really wish you the best. It's not because I'm incapable of having a good relationship or a family that I wish everyone to be doomed like me
J: I'm sure you'd make..Be a wonderful mom someday
C: You really think so?
J: Yeah..a few anti-depressant, you know, you'll do great.
...
C: I want to see if you stay together or if you dissolve into molecules
...
The song that Celine sings in her apartment:

Let me sing you a waltz
Out of nowhere, out of my thoughts
Let me sing you a waltz
About this one-night stand

You were, for me, that night
Everything I always dream of in my life
But now you're gone
You are far-gone

All the way to your island of rain
It was for you just a one-night thing
But you were much more to me
I don't care what they say

I know what you meant for me that day
I just wanted another try
I just wanted another night
Even if it doesn't seem quite right
You meant for me much more
Than anyone I've met before

One single night with you little Jesse
Is worth a thousand with anybody

I have no bitterness, my sweet
I'll never forget this one night thing
Even tomorrow, another arms
My heart will will stay yours until I die

Let me sing you a waltz
Out of nowhere, out of my blues
Let me sing you a waltz
About this lovely one night stand

And unlike the first installment that has a random route throughout the film, the second movie is a bit more organized. Here's the link to see all the movie locations for Before Sunset.

Before Midnight
2013 | Director: Richard Linklater | 1 hour 49 minutes |


In this movie, nine years after their second meeting or 18 years after the first, both Jesse and Celine are married to each other, and together they have twin daughters. They were on a writers' retreat in Greece. Jesse struggles to maintain his relationship with his son, Hank, who lives with his ex-wife, while Celine is at a career crossroad, considering a job offer from the French government.

After they drop Hank at the airport, they have a meal with their friends. The discussion during the meal rotates between relationship, love, and life in general. Since the friends are of different age, they receive and give advice to each other.

Their friends give a night at a hotel to Jesse and Celine. So they walk to the hotel while having a conversation, just like in the first and second installment of the series. They later have a fight in the hotel room, but after spending some time alone, Jesse go to find Celine at the cafe by the pier and make up.

I don't really fall for the last installment in the trilogy. It involves too many people and stray away too far from the usual recipe (just two people, talking about anything). But this one has been real too. Married people do fight and make up afterwards. 

Do you think there will be the fourth Before movie? I'm in for it as long as it has the usual format.