Notes: Thank You

42369967_10156506191355761_2935482642121883648_nI am going to leave Dhaka to study in the UK in a few minutes. I would like to say thank you to (Mostofa Kamal Salim)for being very kind, patient, friendly and helpful in introducing Bangladesh to me. Have I not met you or got to know you, I would not enjoy my stay in Bangladesh as much as I have been in these last few months. Thank you for taking me around the town, introducing me to the local delicacies, hospitalities and show me how most people live in BD. It added colour to my stay

I vividly remember when one Bangladeshi lady said to me “Fani… if you want to know Bangladesh. Try to go out of the expat bubble (Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara).” So I asked him to show me around and he agreed. We did that while we did a long distance road running or photography hunting.

Sadly, some people said that I should not hang out with him because we are not at the same level. I just laughed and asked “What is the god damn fvcking level? No matter how much money you make/have, you take the knife and cut yourself, your blood is still the same with the rest, RED. And when you die, you all turn to be dust.”

I am glad that I ignored what they said and followed my value ~Respect and value people not based on their money but their character~. As a result, my BD life is more colourful. Once again, thank you. Take care of yourself and see you soon.
Photo by @scholastikasastranegara.
Ps: let nobody undervalue you, stay humble and be kind even to those who have done wrong to you. #loveislove #bangladesh #herstory #dhaka

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Notes: Recovery

www.It was all started in 2009 when a doctor told me that I would only have another 10 years to live if my liver problem was being treated. He did not give me any choice because he saw me as a poor student and the treatment was expensive. I was only 21 years old university student back then. So he only gave me some dodgy vitamin. I was afraid & terrified.

What would I have achieved by the age of 31 y.o? Would I be a successful woman?” I was terrified. I was in a relationship that time, I told him & gave choices either to stay or to leave. He stood by me, so he said. He did, he still is. He then found one of best doctor in Southeast Asia.

We met her in SG. After test & consultation, she told me that everything would be okay as long as it is treated properly. I was not really convinced but we went ahead with the treatment. It was a strong drug. After 2 years, it showed a significant improvement and the doctor stopped the treatment. I was very happy. I thought the first doctor was full of b.s.

Yet, I was still afraid that I might die at the age of 31. So I worked so hard to achieve everything that I wanted in life. “I only had 10 years, got no time to waste.” That’s what I said to myself. Jakarta’s life was not that easy & it made life circumstances harder. This led me into #depressionand #anxiety.

I must say that time I often felt that I was worthless, no point of living this life and I always kept distance from anyone. I became an unpleasant person to be around with and I built Great Wall from my friends and family. I would not talk to anyone unless I wanted to. It came to the point where I tried to kill myself and landed in hospital several times. Pills, knife and car accident. I was out of my head. And yet, I was still alive.

Nobody told me that I needed a help but I thought that I needed professional help. So I looked around and found one. Unfortunately, some physicists that I saw were being judgmental. It didn’t work. Yet, they prescribed me with anti-depression. I become dependent. From 0.125 mg to 2.5 mg. Higher & higher. The 2.5mg didn’t work anymore.

Out of the unknown, these anti depressant pills were bad for my liver. My problem returned & worse. It got me more depressed. I then started believing what the first doctor said that I am indeed going to die by the age of 31 y.o I was lost & didn’t know what to do. And one day, a friend took me to #running track to cope with my depression for the very first time & it was hard

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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.

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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.

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Catatan: Dupata

www.catatanfani.comPada suatu kesempatan, seorang kawan laki-laki dari Bangladesh mengatakan pada saya bahwa banyak perempuan Bangladesh tidak menggunakan dupata (scarf) untuk menutupi payudara mereka. Apalagi tak sedikit dari mereka memiliki payudara yang besar. Dia menganggap bahwa hal ini sangat tidak baik karena banyak laki-laki yang akan melihat payudara yang perempuan tersebut dan menimbulkan niat jahat termasuk pelecehan seksual maupun pemerkosaan. Mendengarkan pernyataan tersebut, saya pun mengernyitkan kening.

“Kenapa perempuan yang salah?” tanya saya.

“Karena mereka tidak menutupi payudara mereka,” katanya.

“Lho mereka sudah menggunakan kameez, berlengan panjang dan gombrong pula.” kata saya.

“Ya tetap kurang!” katanya kekeuh.

“Kalau laki-laki yang menjadi bernapsu, kenapa perempuan yang repot? Bukankah kalian harus mengontrol napsu kalian?” kata saya mempertanyakan pendapatnya. Kawan saya pun terdiam.

“Nah, saya selalu datang ke gym ini menggunakan sport bra atau tank top dan celana pendek. Kalau ada yang melecehkan saya, apakah kamu akan bilang itu salah saya?”

Dia kembali diam. Mungkin mengiyakan pendapat saya.

“Dulu saya pernah dijambret. Seorang ibu mengatakan itu salah saya karena saya pakai kutang. Aneh kan? Wong penjambret mau emas kok baju saya yang disalahkan? Lagipula kamu punya dua anak perempuan, suatu saat mereka akan memilih jalan mereka masing-masing. Apakah dengan memberikan baju yang tertutup berarti melindungi mereka dari pelecehan seksual? Tentu tidak! Berapa banyak yang diperkosa karena menggunakan hijab atau burqa?” kawan sayapun tetap diam.

Diam entah karena tidak setuju atau diam karena tidak bisa mengekspresikan pendapatnya dalam bahasa Inggris.

Bagi saya, laki-laki yang tidak bisa mengontrol nafsu mereka tetapi kenapa perempuan yang harus repot. Melihat tetek sedikit ngeceng, ngelihat kaki ngeceng, melihat lengan ngeceng. Hadeeeeh! Percuma beragama tapi berkelakuan seperti binatang. Ya toh? Tentu hal ini tidak hanya terjadi di Bangladesh saja tetapi di tengah masyarakat tradisional mana saja.

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Notes: Losing Your Body? Nah! (1)Many people say that once a woman becomes a mother, she will lose her body, become fat and have jiggly yet flabby body especially those who has baby delivered through c-section including me. Don’t even dream to get your body back, so they say. But here I am, I prove them wrong. You can still have a well-shape body even you have many children be it through normal delivery and/or c-section.

I started getting back to my training regime at seventh weeks postpartum. I must say that I didn’t find it easy. Sometimes I got frustrated because I didn’t seem to lose any baby fat after working out for one month. Sometimes I got frustrated or even depressed because l only run at the slow pace. Sometimes I even gave up, just sat down, did no exercises for hours and just played with my phone because I felt that I did not make any progress. 

But one day, I said to myself “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just started again,” so I started to take it easy that time. I just forgot about the aesthetics result and just focused on the form of my exercise as well as my diet.

At the end, aesthetic result is not my main exercise’s goal but sanity is. As a result, I got my body back faster than I expected as you can see on the picture above. 

Ps: no whey protein is being used. It’s all natural diet.

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Catatan: Kosong

IMG_0941Waktu malam menjejakkan kaki, tak jarang kekosongan mengekor. Seolah dipanggil, ia selalu ramah menyapa dan aku selalu ingin mengabaikannya. Ia, kekosongan, memaksaku untuk berbicara dengan mereka-mereka yang nun jauh di sana. Basa-basi di balik layar, ngobrol ngalor-ngidul tanpa arah. Malam makin larut, mereka menghilang satu persatu. Dan hanya kekosongan yang lagi-lagi menemaniku.

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Catatan: Aku Ra Po PO

Beberapa hari yang lalu Presiden Joko Widodo melakukan kunjungan kenegaraan ke Bangladesh. Dalam kunjungannya Presiden Jokowi melakukan berbagai pertemuan bilateral termasuk dengan Perdana Menteri Bangladesh Skheih Hasina untuk membicarakan kerja sama di bidang ekonomi di Dhaka. Pertemuan tersebut kemudian dilanjutkan dengan kunjungannya ke kamp pengungsi Rohingnya di Cox’s Bazar Distric. Sayangnya, Presiden tidak berkesempatan melakukan dialog dengan komunitas Indonesia di Dhaka. Padahal ada kurang lebih 400 WNI di Bangladesh dengan problematika dan kisahnya masing-masing. Well, kita sempat berebut undangan dan berdrama ria untuk ‘penyambutan’ yang ternyata hanya berlangsung kurang dari 5 menit dan hanya untuk bilang “Hallo Pak Presiden” atau “Selamat sore” Ha ha ha What a joke?!– Mungkin beberapa tak masalah yang penting foto dengan Presiden Jokowi tapi tak ada outcome berharga selain sehelai foto.

Saya kemudian menduga, berpikir dan bertanya pada diri saya sendiri “Apakah ini karena profil WNI yang ada di Dhaka sehingga Presiden tidak dijadwalkan untuk berdialog dengan masyarakat? Buat apa?” Boleh dikatakan bahwa sebagian besar WNI yang tinggal di Bangladesh adalah mantan pahlawan devisa yang kemudian menikah dengan sesama pahlawan devisa Bangladesh yang mereka temui di Saudi, Malaysia atau Singapura dan kemudian hijrah ke Bangladesh. Namun berhubung mereka tak lagi berkontribusi bagi negara atau malah bisa jadi beban negara jadi tak penting untuk dilakukan dialog. Ya toh? Buat apa?

Padahal banyak topik yang bisa dibicarakan seperti : banyak sekali dari mereka yang merupakan perempuan tangguh bahkan beberapa dari mereka berusaha memperkenalkan makanan seperti tempe rumahan. Namun karena keterbatasan finansial, usaha mereka hanya itu-itu saja. Sedangkan potensial vegetarian di Asia Selatan pun besar. Akh siapa peduli toh?! Lagipula, dulu saja kabarnya kantin KBRI Dhaka sangat terkenal di antara komunitas ekspatriat karena enaknya makanan Indonesia. Tapi sayang, kabarnya dubes saat itu malah malu karena KBRI Dhaka lebih dikenal kantinnya. Oh well, berarti ada yang salah dong dengan kinerja dubes sampai-sampai yang dikenal hanya kantinnya. Sedangkan banyak negara di dunia maju, KBRI difasilitasi untuk mempromosikan makanan Indonesia. Ingatkan bahwa Pak Presiden ingin makanan Indonesia dikenal. Tapi ya itu, it’s not a million dollar bussines jadi buat apa? Apa untungnya? Belum lagi banyak kisah KDRT.

Dan tentu saja, profil WNI Dhaka tentu sangat berbeda dengan profil diaspora yang berada di Australia atau Amerika di mana sebagian besar merupakan pekerja kantoran atau mahasiswa. Namun tentu juga berbeda dengan profil diaspora Indonesia yang berada di Korea Selatan atau Hong Kong. Tentu menjadi seorang pemimpin negara sangatlah sibuk, mau merem pun susah. Namun jika presiden bisa berdialog dengan komunitas Indonesia di negara maju, kenapa tidak bertemu dengan mereka yang tinggal di negara dunia ketiga? Jangan hanya berinteraksi dengan wong cilik saat kampanye saja atau di dalam negeri, banyak wong cilik kita yang berada di luar negeri. Apalagi sebentar lagi Pemilu 2019, Fadli Zon saja melakukan dialog dengan WNI di sini meskipun kami tak boleh bertanya beberapa hal. Setidaknya ada kekayaan! Jadi jangan diskriminatif. Kalau Bapak membela Rohingnya yang diperlakukan secara diskriminatif oleh pemerintah Myanmar, kenapa juga melakukan yang sama terhadap masyarakatnya sendiri meskipun dalam bentuk yang berbeda. Sederhana saja!

Anyway, ini hanya sebuah buah pikiran, kritik dan masukan bagi pemerintah Indonesia dari segala level. Jangan mudah tersinggung dan dimasukkan dalam hati. Justru seharusnya menjadi masukkan.


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Catatan: Suratmi dan Problemanya



Ini adalah sebuah cerita tentang Suratmi. Suratmi adalah seorang asisten rumah tangga yang enggak kenal lelah. Bahkan, kalau diajak plesir, dia linglung dan bingung karena enggak ada yang dapat dia lakukan secara rutin. Luntang-luntung sana-sini, hanya bermain dengan Bejo, putra Bu Nuning. Asyik memang tapi kalau Bejo sedang tidur, lagi-lagi dia nganggur. Pusing bukan kepalang rasanya. Sebaliknya, dia sangat giat kalau diminta lembur apalagi Bu Nuning enggak enggan memberi upah tambahan.

Hari itu, hari Selasa. Jam dinding menunjukkan pukul 19:38. Suratmi masih berada di rumah Bu Nuning, dua setengah jam sudah dia lembur. Meskipun sudah tak banyak lagi yang harus dia lakukan, rasa lelah mulai menggerogoti tubuhnya. Dia ingin segera menyelesaikan pekerjaannya lalu pulang. Kebetulan, malam itu Bu Nuning memberinya kepala ikan kakap merah yang bisa ia gunakan untuk membuat kari ikan sayur sebagai santap malam keluarga. Sambil berdendang, Suratmi mengepel lantai dapur.

Kringggg….. kringgggg…..telepon seluler Suratmi berdering kencang. Biasanya Tukijo, suami Suratmi, atau Ratri, adiknya, yang menelepon untuk memastikan bahwa Suratmi baik-baik saja. Maklum, hari sudah mulai gelap. Tanpa melihat siapa si penelepon, Sutami langsung mengangkat teleponnya.

“Hallooo……” sapa Suratmi girang.

“Heee Suratmi…. Aku tahu di mana kamu bekerja sekarang. Jalan Samudera No 50 kan? Nanti, aku akan menunggumu di pengkolan jalan. Tapi jangan berharap kamu akan pulang ke rumah dan bertemu dengan keluargamu kalau suamimu tak segera membayar hutangnya,” kata seorang lelaki di balik telepon Nokia berwarna hitam miliki Suratmi. Suratmi tertegun, terdiam.

“Siapa kamu?” kata Suratmi singkat.

“Kamu tahu siapa aku!”

Suratmi kembali terpaku. Mukanya merah, keringat mulai bercucuran di dahinya. Takut dan bingung, itulah yang Suratmi rasakan.  Dia sangsi apakah ia harus memberitahu kejadian tersebut pada Bu Nuning atau menyimpannya dalam hati. Namun kalau Suratmi tak cerita, dia pun takut pulang. Bagaimana kalau laki-laki tersebut betul-betul menculiknya?

“Nyah… boleh saya bicara? Malam ini saya takut pulang ke rumah,” kata Suratmi memulai perbincangan. Suaranya sedikit bergetar. Bu Nuning hanya mengernyitkan dahi, penasaran. “Lho kenapa Mi?”

Suratmi terdiam sejenak lalu mulai menceritakan kejadian yang baru saja ia alami dan asal mulanya.

Tukijo adalah suami Suratmi. Dia adalah pemilik sebuah apotek kecil di Mymensingh, sebuah distrik di Bangladesh. Cerita punya cerita, Tukijo ternyata gemar meminjam uang dari renternir sebagai modal menjadi renternir. Sialnya, para peminjam kabur semua dan meninggalkan Tukijo dengan hutang yang cukup besar sebanyak 65 juta rupiah dalam 10 tahun terakhir ini. Meskipun dia berusaha untuk membayarnya, bunganya terlalu besar 40 persen pertahun.. Jadi hutangnya pun tak kunjung lunas.

“Akh… lagi-lagi perkara uang,” pikir Bu Nuning. Bu Nuning pun diam sejenak.

Jujur saja, mendengar cerita tersebut, Bu Nuning enggak langsung percaya. Siapa tahu itu hanya alasan Suratmi untuk meminjam uang. Pasalnya, beberapa bulan yang lalu Suratmi mencoba meminjam uang dari Bu Nuning dan Pak Prapto, suami Bu Nuning, tetapi mereka menolak permintaan tersebut. Tuman, kalau diiyakan terus. Ya toh?

Tetapi, kalau cerita tersebut memang benar adanya, bagaimana kalau debt kolektor datang ke rumah dan melakukan hal-hal yang enggak diinginkan sama sekali, seperti pembunuhan misalnya. Celaka dua belas bisa-bisa! Memang, Bu Nuning terdengar berlebihan. Namun, belum lama ini, asisten rumah tangga Pak Tebu baru saja dibunuh di rumah Pak Tebu saat Pak Tebu ke warung seberang. Bayangkan saja, hanya ditinggal 20 menit dan mati sudah si asisten rumah tangga! Mengerikan bukan? Jadi enggak salah jika Bu Nuningpun was-was. Ya toh?

Sebenarnya hal ini merupakan hal yang sangat menyedihkan karena meskipun kota tinggal di abad 21 dan berbagai negara berlomba-lomba mengembangkan dan mengimplementasikan internet finance and banking, masih banyak orang yang tidak memiliki akses ke dunia perbankan atau koperasi. Namun meskipun tak sedikit pula yang memiliki akses ke dunia perbankan, tak sedikit pula yang menyalahgunakan untuk hidup hedon padahal ngutang. Kalau sudah begini, dikejar debt kolektor, mau lari ke mana? Ya toh? Suratmi! Suratmi!

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Catatan: Pulang


Pulang [2016:EO]

Masih ingat beberapa minggu yang lalu saya menulis catatan tentang kawan yang tiba-tiba menghilang. Dia mendadak sirna. Empat puluh empat hari lamanya, keluarga dan kawan dibuat resah. Berbagai media memberitakan tentang kejadian tersebut dengan berbagai teori. Tak hanya media saja yang berteori tetapi juga jaringannya. Dan sebuah kabar, akhirnya kami terima pada hari ke empat puluh lima, adiknya mengabarkan bahwa ia telah kembali. “Syukurlah!”  Betapa senangnya hati ini bahkan saya pun sempat meneteskan air mata.

Jujur saja, hati saya sempat hancur karena  kami sempat mendengar berita bahwa dia tewas. Dan pagi ini, saya menyapanya dan mengungkapkan betapa senangnya dia telah kembali tanpa berharap dia membalas karena mungkin dia masih merenungkan kejadian yang baru saja dia alami. “Aku menyayangi kalian bertiga. Sampai ketemu lagi secepatnya” begitu ucapnya dan saya sempat meneteskan air mata membaca pesan tersebut.

Dia adalah seorang kawan. Dia adalah satu dari 55 orang yang mehilang secara misterius di tahun 2017. Dia adalah satu dari 10 orang yang kemudian kembali dengan selamat. Ke mana dia selama ini? Saya tak akan bertanya hari ini.  Yang utama, saya bersyukur akhirnya dia kembali dengan selamat.

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