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: 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: 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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Catatan: Olahraga Waktu Hamil?

SONY DSCBagi beberapa-banyak orang, berolahraga saat hamil adalah ide yang sangat gila. Banyak yang khawatir bahwa olahraga dapat menyebabkan keguguran. Bahkan banyak bapak-bapak atau laki-laki kabur setiap kali melihat saya masuk ke ruangan gym dengan perut besar. Tapi apakah betul bahwa perempuan hamil enggak boleh neko-neko dan lebih baik duduk anteng dan makan sebanyak mungkin? Well, saya ingin berbagi pengalaman saya. Bukan sebagai dokter kandungan ataupun personal trainer tetapi sebagai fitness enthusiast.

Kalau boleh jujur, saya seneng dan juga agak sedih ketika saya tahu bahwa saya hamil. Lho kok gitu? Well, mungkin karena saya sangat egois, saya tidak ingin kehilangan bentuk tubuh yang sudah saya bentuk selama tiga tahun terakhir ini. Mulai dari legs, abs, shoulder, back and also chest. Dibutuhkan disiplin dan ketekunan selama beberapa tahun untuk mendapatkan otot-otot tersebut. Saya enggak mau kehilangan semuanya itu begitu saja. At the same time, I was very excited with the little one inside my womb and I want him to be healthy and happy baby. 

But then again, there was a fear within me. Kenapa? Well, sebagai trailing spouse yang baru saja gave up my job and beradaptasi di tempat baru, saya takut tiba-tiba mendapatkan anxiety attack or even worse depression. Di mana dulu, tak jarang, saya mengkonsumsi xanax ketika kedua hal tersebut menyerang ketika saya tinggal di J-Twon. As a result, saya takut untuk mengkonsumsi obat tersebut. So, how can I have a healthy pregnancy? Being fit and staying sane.

Luckily, seorang kawan memberi saya buku berjudul What To Expect When You’re Expecting yang ditulis oleh Heidi Murkoff dan Sharon Mazel.  Pada Chapter 3 buku tersebut yang berjudul Pregnancy Lifestyle, Murkoff dan Mazel menulis “Workouts are not only a-can-do for most pregnant women but a definitely do. In fact, the vast majority of workout work well with the vast majority of pregnancies, which means you can almost certainly count on continuing your usual routine through your 9 months.”  langsung loncat-loncat dong waktu baca chapter tersebut. So that was the answer! Saya enggak perlu anti depressant dan lain-lain untuk tetap waras selama hamil.

IMG_4492Lalu apa keuntungan berolahraga saat hamil? Well, banyak! Baik untuk ibu hamil maupun janin. Untuk ibu hamil, olahraga dapat meningkatkan stamina, kualitas tidur, kesehatan, mood, otot dan punggung serta menjaga sistem  pencernaan agar lancar. Plus, lebih cepat sembuh setelah melahirkan. Sedangkan untuk janin, meningkatkan peredaran oksigen dalam tubuh dan dipercaya akan jauh lebih pintar.

Nah selama hamil, saya justru tidak melakukan yoga tapi tetap melakukan jogging, running dan weightlifting. Saya berolahraga setiap hari dua sampai tiga jam per hari. Hasilnya, saya hampir enggak pernah merasa depressed selama hamil. Boleh dikatakan bahwa olahraga saja enggak cukup. Makan makanan bergizi pun penting terutama buah-buahan, sayur-sayuran, susu dan juga daging-dagingan. Kalau bisa, jangan terlalu banyak konsumsi makanan yang mengandung gula. Selama hamil pun berat badan saya  naik 12 kg dan sekarang tinggal 2 kg. Saya masih punya banyak PR untuk membawa tubuh saya kembali kebentuk semula. Bukan, bukan kurus namun sehat dan berotot.

Tentu banyak orang yang berpendapat berbeda-beda namun saya akan jauh lebih mempercayai hasil riset daripada mitos tentang ibu hamil. Oleh karena itu, kalau ingin sehat dan dapat terus berolahraga selama hamil, alangkah lebih baik jika mulai menyukai olahraga sebelum hamil sehingga badan kita enggak kaget dengan berbagai macam perubahannya. Bagi saya, sembilan bulan hamil bukanlah waktu yang susah, gamping banget! Yang susah justru tiga hari setelah melahirkan apalagi saya melahirkan secara c-section. Bahkan sampai sekarang kalau saya enggak olahraga bekas jahitan malah sakit.

Btw, saya baru bikin akun Instagram yang berisi fitness dan makanan sehat. Follow @ibuksehat yuk!

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Catatan: Playdate

SONY DSCSalah satu alternatif bagi anak-anak ekspatriat yang tinggal di Dhaka untuk dapat berinteraksi dengan anak-anak seusia adalah dengan mengikuti playdate. Selama ini playdate diorganisir oleh ‘ayah‘ atau ‘baby sitter‘, diadakan dari rumah ke rumah, diikuti oleh anak-anak sepantaran dan diadakan selama dua jam pada hari kerja. Boleh dikatakan, sebagian besar orang tua dari anak-anak tersebut sibuk bekerja atau keluyuran seperti saya sehingga daripada mereka di rumah berdua dengan ‘ayah’ saja maka mereka lebih baik bermain bersama anak-anak seusianya. Lalu bagaimana aturan mainnya?

Well, tidak ada aturan khusus. Hanya saja, orang tua diharapkan menyiapkan ruangan khusus atau playpen sehingga anak-anak tersebut dapat bermain dengan aman. Selain itu, tuan rumah diharapkan untuk menyiapkan snack baik untuk anak-anak maupun ‘ayah’; baby snack untuk anak berupa buah-buahan seperti apel, jeruk atau anggur dapat pula berupa baby biscuit sedangkan untuk ‘ayah’ berupa cookies dan minuman baik teh atau soft drink. Meskipun diorganisir oleh ‘ayah’, ada saja orang tua yang berpartisipasi untuk mengawasi anak-anak yang biasanya berasal dari sang tuan rumah.

Nah sudah satu bulan baby A mengikut playdate dengan anak-anak sepantaran. Sejak ikut playdate, keseharian baby A jadi lebih teratur mulai dari  jam makan, jam istirahat, jam minum susu, jam bermain dan jam tidur. Selain itu, makan lebih lahap, mau berbagi dengan orang lain dan enggak nemplok terus sama Daddy atau Ibu. Akhirnya kami pun bisa istirahat dengan lega hi hi. Selain itu, playdate merupakan stress reliever bagi orang tua karena anak jadi punya aktivitas dan enggak bosan. Meskipun demikian, kadang saya khawatir kalau lagi ada yang meler idungnya bisa ikut ketularan. Tapi sejauh ini hal tersebut belum terjadi.

Bagi saya, playdate adalah cara yang bagus untuk anak-anak dapat bersosialisasi dengan orang baru, belajar berbagi atau berinteraksi serta belajar berkomunikasi lintas budaya. Selain itu, orang tua dapat berbagi informasi dan bukan saing-saingan. Tak ada pula yang peduli dengan embel-embel suku, agama atau kelas sosial. Sayangnya, sebagian besar dari mereka adalah anak laki-laki; hanya ada dua anak perempuan yang kadang-kadang ikut.

Belum lama ini, saya dengar bahwa akan ada satu anak yang akan pergi meninggalkan Bangladesh karena orang tuanya harus pindah tugas ke negara lain. Entah kenapa, saya jadi sedih. Saya jadi membayangkan ketika baby A harus say goodbye dengan mereka. Apa yang akan dia rasakan? Mungkin mereka akan merasa sedih juga? Meskipun boleh dikatakan, mereka terlalu muda untuk mengingat hal tersebut. Jadi mungkin yang sedih ibunya ha ha ha.

Anyway, ini beberapa foto dari playdate hari ini di rumah. Kami sengaja enggak membeli terlalu banyak mainan karena memang belum diperlukan. Selain itu, mainan di sini mahal, kualitasnya tidak begitu bagus dan tidak begitu banyak pilihan educational toys. Saya juga sengaja tidak memposting wajah mereka karena belum tentu orang tua mereka menyetujui kalau foto mereka diunggah.

P.S: Playdate tidak harus dilakukan oleh expat family lho

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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]