Notes: The Wanderer

www.catatanfani.comRunning has always been my thing and I have always been into outdoor running. Unfortunately, since I moved to  Bangladesh in early 2016, outdoor running did not seem to be visible. It is because I cannot wear my ‘normal’ running gear -sport bra and short- as it is culturally inappropriate. As a foreigner, I just have to respect the local culture. Additionally, the 2016 terrorist attack which occurred in July 2016, has also limited our movement. Therefore, I decided to give up my hobby partly and started doing indoor running at the gym.

I must say indoor running is quiet boring because all I had to do was just staring on the screen all the time which then led me to think ‘When am I going to complete this run?‘. I did not enjoy it all. Yet, what to do? I had no choice. I had to force myself to fall in love with it. After months of training, I become used to it and I did not mind one way or another as long as I run.

For me, running has always been an important activity to me because it provides me a good dose of endorphin which puts me on a good mood. Additionally, it also helps me to cope with my anxiety and depression problem. Hence, there is just no way for me to skip one run unless I am on the plane or being hospitalized.

Anyhow, three weeks ago, I started to do an outdoor running again, here in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Of course, I still cannot wear my normal running gear but what to do? At the end, I have to compromise and that is okay. I must say that despite the fact it was extremely hot having myself covered with long sleeve shirt and long pants, it was not bad at all actually. As I run around the park, crossed the street and went inside small alleys, I discovered so many things including the road, the beauty of local attire and the contrast of people’s lifestyle which I would never see if I only run in the gym. And I must say that since I arrived in Dhaka, other than the birth of my son, I have never been happier because I was able to run outside.

Outdoor running  means a lot to me. It gives me the sense that I am a free social being  and  I am not trapped. I can see what kind of place and society I am living in. I wish this place doesn’t have security problem so I can explore the city by running every morning without any worry.

Ride the bus

Notes: Good People, Good Heart

www.catatanfani.comSometimes I wonder, where are the good people going? Sometimes, I feel that there are not many good genuinely kind people around. If some are being  too kind, I often think that there must be motivation behind that. Or if some are being too friendly, sometimes I think that they would just blast me in the back. But then, I guess I am wrong. I guess I am too blind to see the fact that actually there are so many genuinely good people around me.

So today, I went to Coldstone, an ice cream shop in Gulshan 1. I went there, not to have ice cream but to have a cup of cappuccino and a piece of brownie. I love their coffee and I love their brownies because it’s not too sweet and very moist. It’s just finger-licking good and it seems that I am addicted to it. “Oh nooo…..! Is it gonna be another coffee cake disaster again?

Anyway, as am in love with their brownies, I somehow become their regular customer for coffee and brownies, not their ice cream. Even one of the waiters started noticing me and always remembering my order. I vividly remember when I ordered coffee and brownies without ice cream for the very first time, he raised his eyes brows and asked “Only brownies?” and I said “Yes, only brownie!

It came across to me that somehow he  found it strange because many of them came to Coldstone to have ice cream but I only ordered coffee. So he tried to assure himself that what he heard was correct and asked me similar question every time I went there. “Ma’am, you don’t want ice cream?” and I answered “No. I just want coffee and brownies please. I love your brownies because it’s not so sweet and very moist,

As I finished having my coffee, I asked for bill and this waiters somehow surprised me by giving me four pieces of free brownies. “Ma’am, this is for you, from me.” He said politely with friendly sweet smile. I was somehow moved by his act of kindness.

I must say that this is not the first that I encountered with this kind of circumstance. Yesterday for instance, my personal trainer gave me a big surprise, one unit of bicycle. I know some people might find it strange but it doesn’t matter to me. Or last year for instance, my nanny gave me a set of clothes for baby A when he was born. It was a set of nice clothes. Or, the day when my driver brought me green coconut or fruit or vegetable from his villages. Or, my Indonesian friends who invited me to have some homemade mouthwatering Indonesian food in the last minute. Or, the day, one of wise Indonesian lady dropped me a package of vegetable.

These occasions got me thinking and reflecting that some of these people are just ordinary people. Some of these people might not earn a fortune. Yet, they always try to give the best to their boss or friends by spending large amount of money to give the best present to their boss as a form of gratitude or the best gift to their friends as an act of kindness.

Although I must say that some of us sometimes might think “Oh, they want more money that’s why they give us this kind of gift,” or “Oh, it’s just a way for them to show their gratitude for giving them job and treating them well as they know that some of their peers are not as lucky as they are. So they are just genuinely being kind,” or they are just simple people with good heart, expect nothing in return. Right?

Meanwhile, we, the upper middle class or the educated people, often time count how much money we want to spend on gift to a family or friend, which is also not bad as we must always be aware with our cash flow. Or, some even have to brag how much money they have spent on a gift to their friend and complained how cheap and worthless gift they got as a return simply because they wanna show how generous they are while the rest are just plain old cheap people. “Ooo boy

As a conclusion, the occasion taught and showed me that many ordinary people tend to have genuine heart than the upper middle class people who tend to be busy counting every penny that they have and/or or being suspicious or being to calculative in their move. Of course, we cannot generalize them all. Yet, I believe that being kind is so easy and it is free of charge. Yet, sometimes I wonder why aren’t we doing that more often?! I asked myself and I don’t know the exact answer. I guess we are too critical or too suspicious or too calculative in our move. Hence we often have trust issue with people around us.

Ride the bus

 

Photo: Yangon’s Sneak Peek

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The famous Thanaka Wood, the ancient natural sun protection from Myanmar [2017:EO]

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Enjoying their lunch on the side walk [2017:EO]

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Myanmar style rickshaw [2017:EO]

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Drying [2017:EO]

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Can I have cosmopolitan please? [2017:EO]

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Visitors [2017:EO]

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Source of life [2017:EO]

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Ain’t bad restaurants [2017:EO]

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Decoration [2017:EO]

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Buddhist Ritual [2017:EO]

Ride the bus

Photo: Bangkok’s Foodie

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The Glorious Stink [2016:EO]

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Bangkok’s Street Foods are The Best [2016:EO]

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Lek & Rut Seafood in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown [2016:EO]

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Papaya Salad’s Ingredients [2016:EO]

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Yaowarat’s Vegetarian Food Festival [2016:EO]

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Sago [2016:EO]

Photo: The Legendary Mbah Lindu

Gudeg is a traditional cuisine from the city of Yogyakarta. Gudeg is a slow cooking spiced young jackfruit which is being cooked in the claypot for hours.  Gudeg is normally being served for breakfast with white rice and chicken. Hence, as a traditional food, you can find gudeg in every street corner. One of those seller is Setyo Utomo who is also known as Mbah Lindu. Many believe that Mbah Lindu is the eldest gudeg maker in the town.
 
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Unlike many elderly people who choose to stay at home and take rest, Mbah Lindu choose to continue working at her old age by cooking and selling gudeg.

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The 96 years old lady has been cooking and selling gudeg since the 40s before the Japanese troops occupied Indonesia in 1942

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Everyday, the mother of five would make 15 kg of gudeg along with other dishes such as areh and sambel goreng krecek which then would be sold in the following day at her street stall in Jalan Sosrowijayan. Her stall opens from 5 a.m to 10 a.m . She is normally being assisted by her youngest daughter Ratiah who acts as a cashier.

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Mbah Lindu mentioned that she decided to continue selling gudeg at her old age because she feels healthier for being active. For her, age is just a number. It does not stop her tough yet hard working spirit from working on daily basis. Clearly, she does what she loves, cooking and selling gudeg.

Therefore, if you happen to visit Yogyakarta, you must try gudeg especially gudeg Mbah Lindu. Mbah Lindu stall is located in Jalan Sosrowijayan in Malioboro area.
I personally like it because it is not very sweet. Other than that, it is somewhat a different experience if you have gudeg which is made by the oldest gudeg maker in town.

Ride the bus

Photo: The Street of Bangladesh

One of the world creative entrepreneur, a street ear wax cleaner [2016:EO]

One of the world creative entrepreneur, a street ear wax cleaner [2016:EO]

Another little boy who is lost in the cruel world [2016: EO]

Another little boy who is lost in the cruel world [2016: EO]

Give no shit, take no bullshit and lice your life [2016:EO]

Give no shit, take no bullshit and lice your life [2016:EO]

 

It is ironic that Bangladesh is one of world garment manufacturing center for many of the global fashion brands and yet it is still extremely poor and under-developed [2016: EO]

It is ironic that Bangladesh is one of world garment manufacturing center for many of the global fashion brands and yet it is still extremely poor and under-developed [2016: EO]

He earns less than a glass of gin and tonic a day [2016:EO]

He earns less than a glass of gin and tonic a day [2016:EO]

Grateful [2016: EO]

Grateful [2016: EO]

.

 

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Notes: The Magnetic City of East Coast

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“Straight Outta Compton” Film of NWA will be released on Aug. 14 [2015: E O]

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that most of the fans of Sex and The City television series have the desire to visit New York City in the United States of America. Just from the SATC TV series, NYC always appears to be very magnetic and magical; its lifestyle, its fashion and its environment seem to be very electric yet unique. Since then, it becomes one of my top travel list destination over the years and finally, my dream came through. Last week, had the opportunity to visit NYC for five days. I was super super excited.

Considering to get in touch with local people, I tried to book accommodation through the famous site AirBnB. After a few e-mail exchanges with one of the host, the host mentioned that she had room for me. I was glad that I would stay at a local’s house, but it did not happen. My request was cancelled just a few hours before my flight.

I was so worried. I was freaking out. It was about 10 p.m, my flight would be at 8 a.m and I realized that I would not have accommodation upon my arrival. It must be a joke! However, it was not a big deal, it was manageable. I immediately booked a room from booking.com. Even though it was manageable, this experience gave me the impression that my NYC trip might not be going to be as fun as I thought it would be. Nevertheless, I was still excited anyway.

***

Friday morning, I arrived in the U.S. It took me an hour and half-hour of flight from Toronto Billybishop Airport of Canada to Newark Liberty International Airport of the U.S. I have not reached my final destination yet. I still had to take another 30 minutes of train ride from the airport to New York Penn Station with NJ Transit Train to get to downtown Manhattan.

However, as soon as I stepped out of  New York Penn Station, I got my heartbroken. My excitement level dropped significantly. The city does not appear as magnetic as it is on the television. In fact, it is very repellent. New York City is just very dirty, messy and crowded. There are just too much traffic as well as construction works. This condition made me thinking to cut my trip short before I even tested the water.

Are you sure? I asked myself. No! I guess I am just tired. It is not wise to make a decision when I am unhappy. I answered.

It was only 11 a.m when I reached to Manhattan. I immediately checked-in to the Rogers New York Hotel in Madison Avenue; unfortunately, I could not get into the room until 3 p.m. I wondered what I should do for the next four hours and where I should go to. I do not know. As this was my first visit to NYC, there were just too many tourist attractions that I wanted to visit, including Times Square, Liberty Statue, Ground Zero, Central Park, etc.

In order to go to those places, I had to use google maps on my iPhone because I simply was not familiar with the city; but then again, I had other problems because I only had 40 per cent of phone battery power and I had no portable charger. On top of that, I was so starving. Darn!

It made me more annoyed, cranky, devastated and also frustrated. The perfect combination to be grumpy and dislike NYC. Nevertheless, I must not let it ruin my weekend gateway and all I need to do is to grab some foodie before I wandered about and did anything.

***

As I walked down in 33 Street to grab some foodie, I saw some grey line city bus tour‘s salesman offering their services to tourist. It attracted me so I seek for the information about what kind of deal that they had for me. After 10 minutes of conversation, they offered me 51 bucks of NYC Pass. NYC Pass can be used for Downtown, Brooklyn, Bronx as well as Night Tour within 48 hours. He also mentioned that the NYC Pass is including a ferry ticket. So I guess, it was not a bad deal at all!

Considering the deal that they offered me, I decided to use their services to stroll around downtown Manhattan on the top of the bus. I thought it would be the easiest way to get Lil bit of everything in the city. That way, I did not have to depend on my phone and keep some battery.

Frankly, I used to be very sceptical about the city sightseeing bus services, it seems very tacky to me. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the tour and got a sense of downtown Manhattan. It was 5.30 p.m; I ended my bus tour in Rockefeller Center and walked down to Times Square, the most crowded tourist attraction that I have ever been and I H.A.T.E it!

***

Since I left Toronto, I was up for 14 hours and had only 3 hours of sleep. I just felt very drained out. I really wanted to go back to the hotel and took a nap. However, I had no idea how to get there. My phone was off, the almighty google maps were unable to help me. I tried to grab a cab but I could not get any after hailing cabs for nearly an hour. I was about to cry.

Geez…. what a start?! I wore the wrong footwear to walk around, I got lost, I got sunburn and my phone was off. I just want to lay down now but how?!.

I looked away to solve my minor yet devastating problem. I said to myself that I need a portable charger. So, I went to the nearest electronic shop to get a portable charger. However, after purchasing the portable charger, I realized that I actually did not bring my iPhone cable. What a drag?! How could I turn my phone on?! Should I purchase for iPhone cable (again)? No way! I felt so stupid. 

Recognizing that I had a problem, a friendly Israelite shop keeper showed me how to get back to my hotel. He told me that my hotel is actually only three blocks away from his shop. I was so happy to hear that. I just could not wait to lay down and catch some sleep after all the long walk in uncomfortable footwear and the sunburn. All I wanted to do was sleeping.

Honestly, I  actually hate the idea of using it because it can shorten the longevity of battery; but, somehow it just is the best life safer while you are travelling.

***

On my way to the hotel, I stopped in a convenience store to get myself some snacks; I was extremely starving and thirsty. A friendly New Yorker said hi and talked to me; he asked how my day was going. As I was tired and upset, I started rambling. I just told him that I got my heart broken because NYC is not as magical as it is in the film or tv series; the city is dirty and crowded; it was just hard to get around to and thought to cut my trip short and return to TO.

Don’t cut your trip short, I can give you a lot of recommendation for places or things to do here,” he said. “And I’d love to take you out for a drink. Perhaps that way you won’t think that everyone in NYC is an asshole,” he said.

He also offered me to go to the beach to celebrate “Beach Day” with his friends because the country celebrates “Beach Day”, I am not sure what Beach Day actually is. Another stranger offered me the same thing because the city celebrated “Beach Day”.

I was so surprised that a total stranger could just talk to me and ask me to go out for a drink like that in NYC. It did not only happen once but a couple of times in a coffee shop and convenience store on the daylight. I mean, I understand if it happens in the bars or social media; but in the convenience store or coffee shop on the daylight?!  Really?!

I mean, not trying to show off but I often got compliments in TO as walking down the road, either because of my hair cut, my shoes, my shade or my outfit by total strangers. But getting an invitation for a drink, coffee and dinner by a stranger on the street? It is surprising!

Other than that,  some people also said that New Yorkers are ignorance and rude; yet, it did not appear that way while I was there. I was wondering whether it is just the nature of New Yorker, friendly and nice, or is it something else? I must say that even though it is surprising but it made me feel very welcome and flattered at the same time.

After all, It was a fabulous five days NYC trip, I will definitely return to NYC while I am in this region.