Notes: Let ‘Em Talk!

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As I scrolled down my Facebook’s newsfeed, I came across to an article by The Guardian on a Philadelphia born model Amber Rose titled “Amber Rose interview: Even when I was a virgin, I was called a slut“. I must say that I have been admiring her spirit, I have also been listening to her interviews and following her Instagram as well as Twitter account to understand her perspective on women’s world, as a result, I immediately read the article because I think that Amber is an awesome woman who is outspoken about woman issue. So, I assumed that this article would be worth reading.

As I finished reading the last sentence, this article got me thinking about my personal experience. As time passes, we grew up, we learnt and we choose our own value of life. However, everything that we do, it often becomes the subject of discussion for others.

Why? First of all, because they have nothing else to talk about. Secondly, that is how society taught us. Our society constructs standard what we can and cannot do, the standard of what is right and what is wrong. I would understand that those standards are constructed based on scientific research with sufficient evidence but when it is based on morality, it is very subjective.

In my own experience, I have been called slut or gold digger even right in front of my face over and over again. It still happens until today sometimes. At first, I felt hurt but I grow thick skin by now. At least, I do something real and some (or many) recognise it.

So, if I may say….. do whatever you want to do as long as you do not hurt other people, as long as you are being responsible about it. Never do something just to please others while you are suffering from it.

Catatan: Tentang Mendidik Anak

Jujur saja, saya bukan pecinta anak kecil. Biasanya saya cenderung cuek kalau ada anak kecil di sekeliling saya, mau anak temen atau bahkan saudara, saya cenderung tidak tertarik untuk berinteraksi dengan mereka.

Apalagi yang aleman atau suka cari perhatian. Kalau terpaksa harus berinteraksi, saya pasti kaku dan ingin cepat-cepat menghindar. Buang-buang waktu pikir saya. Tetapi beberapa bulan yang lalu saya bertemu dengan anak kawan saya.

Usianya 8 tahun, keturunan Yahudi. Dia sangat, sangat, sangat cerdas dan pintar. Dia lebih tahu nama jalan dan juga jalur streetcar plus subway di Toronto ketimbang orang tuanya. Dia juga hapal nama negara dan ibu kota nya di seluruh dunia. Bukan cuma itu saja, dia tahu ongoing war/ konflik di negara tersebut. Intinya, dia tahu lebih banyak ketimbang saya yang orang dewasa. Belum lagi dia bisa bernarasi dengan cara yang apik tentang pengetahuannya tersebut. 

Saya tanya pada orang tuanya, kok bisa printer banget sih? Ternyata di dapur di mana mereka makan, si orang tua memasang sebuah atlas karena memang orang tuanya suka traveling. Dari kecil, kedua anaknya selalu bertanya tentang negara-negara di dalam peta tersebut dan bertanya ada apa di sana sehingga mau enggak mau orang tua pun harus belajar lagi.

Saya takjub sekali dengan cara kawan saya mendidik anak mereka, mereka dibekali ilmu pengetahuan sejak kecil dengan berbagai cara sederhana termasuk memasang atlas di dapur, membelikan ensiklopedia dan juga jalan-jalan ke museum.

Ride the bus

Jakarta: A Father, A Janitor and A Scavenger 

When I returned to Jakarta from Canada, I just realized how polluted Jakarta’s air is. This condition has made me thinking twice about my morning routine of doing street running on daily basis. However, instead of discontinue my morning routine, I decided to run very early. Normally I do it at 4 a.m. It might sound crazy but that is the only time where I can breathe a little bit of fresh air in the city.

My new activity somehow has opened my eyes about the other side of life of Jakartan. At 4 a.m, there are still many young people hanging out in one of the most popular Jakarta public park Taman Suropati. Based on my observation, some of them are having a fun chat, some are having a serious discussion, some are singing or dancing and some are having a very very very late dinner or super super early breakfast. Meanwhile, the city janitors are getting ready to sweep the street and some street food vendors are cleaning up their cart, eating utensil and getting ready to go home.

At the first early days, I somehow notice how dirty Taman Suropati is. Many people just leave out plastic waste, tissue or paper at the park. They simply do not care to throw it a proper place. I must say that it is very upsetting to see Jakartans just throwing plastic waste in the park. It just made the park look dirty and ugly. Yet, I also notice that some scavengers actually take the advantage from the dirty environment whereby they can collect those garbage and turn it into some cash. Still, it does not mean that I agree that they do not throw the garbage to the bin. So, I decided to talk to one of them.

Khodir, a Jakarta-based janitor [2016:EO]

His name is Mr. Khodir. He is a 47 years old janitor, who works for Jakarta Provincial Government. His duty is to sweep the street along Sunda Kelapa Mosque area and the official residence of vice president in Menteng area. He works eight hours a day and starts at 5 a.m. Normally, he would finish his job by 5 pm with four hours of break in between.

As a janitor, he told me that he earns 2.7 million Rupiah. Unfortunately, he sometimes receives his salary once in three months whereby his salary will be piled up within three months. Although he receives a huge amount at the end, he simply cannot support his family properly because he does not have enough saving. As a result, he has to collect plastic waste and sell it. From that activity, he could generate money for approximately 50,000 Rupiah.

It is actually very saddening knowing the fact  that while he believes that he has a steady job to support his family, this condition somehow has “forced” him to be a scavenger to make sure there is always an adequate food for his family on the table and provide a proper education for his children. 

Life is hard in Jakarta. It might be just as hard as another’s life in big cities across the world. For ordinary yet uneducated people, some of them would prefer to work their ass off, earn small amount of money and stay away from the dirty jobs, meanwhile some would choose to engage in dirty activity to earn big buck simply to meet up with big city’s lifestyle. It is you choosing it for yourselves.

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Notes: Faith and Relationsh!t

LRG__DSC6447I often heard people saying “I cannot marry this person because we do not have same religion” or “I cannot marry this person because (s)he doesn’t wanna convert into x religion”. It got me thinking and wondering what love really is.

Frankly, I just do not understand when a lover asks, demands or even worse sometimes FORCES their partner to convert into certain religion or belief simply to get married, simply to prove that (s)he loves him/her.

What is the point to make them convert into certain religion, has it on the paper but they just do not believe it. Even worse, it is not uncommon that some of them would make fun of it and disrespect it because they do not believe it.

Meanwhile, if (s)he does not convert, one of them will consider her/him for not sincerely loving them. And sometimes, if (s)he does not convert, it is often translated or concluded or defined that their lover does not respect one’s parents. Really?! 

First of all, your love should not be measured based on their belief, race or social status. Secondly, you marry her/him and not her/his parents. And last but not least, you just cannot force one to convert into something that they do not believe in. I just find this dumb and stupid!

Sadly, it is pretty common practice in Indonesia because regulation only allows the legalization of marriage to be done in a religious institution. You cannot just go to the civil registry. Even worse, those religions are imported religions in this country.

Forcing an individual to convert into certain religion means that one forces others to lie to themselves. If one can lie to themselves, it is not impossible that (s)he will lie to their partner too.

You see how religions play with people’s mind. Lovers forget what love is. Lovers forget that when you love someone, you must love them unconditionally.

Notes: To Sacrifice or Not To ?

ORG__DSC5026.JPGAs I scrolled down my Facebook’s news feed this morning, I came across to a piece titled “I didn’t realize my husband was depressed until we divorced“. It was published by British media outlet Telegraph. It is a very interesting piece. Worth reading. And when I read it, I feel like deja vu.

Over the years, I learnt that the key to understanding that other people are being depressed is by looking into ourselves first. Whether are we at the right stage of mind or not? And then, we will be able to see other people’s problem.

When we are in a serious long term relationship be it being married or engaged, communication is very important to keep the relationship going. It is true that we should not ignore any behaviour-changing of our partner as humanely as possible. However, it is not as easy as it is said especially when both of them are not at the right state of mind.

In that situation, the couple then normally will not be able to communicate rationally, the couple will not be able to see things clearly. The woman will always sound nagging and the man will always sound angry all the time. And if the couple is not willing to see it within themselves and admit it (that they are not at the right stage of mind or depressed), it’s hard to change the situation.

The thing is many people do not want to accept or admit that themselves or their partner are being depressed because many still consider or associate depression with mental illness, which is embarrassing for many.

It then causes depression rooted in oneself and makes the situation worse because of ignorance. Screaming. Yelling. Glass shattered. Hospital. Self-harm. Committing suicide. Getting drunk. Saying nasty things to each other. Etc. It can be very horrible and traumatic.

For me, the only solution is that I have to learn to love myself before I love other people. “Loving yourself” might sound easy but if you are an ambitious person and living in the fast-moving world yet competitive, it’s just not easy.

Why? You just want to achieve more and more for yourself. And when two ambitious people get together, “loving yourself” becomes difficult because the individuals have to sacrifice one thing and another for the sake of the relationship. The question is are we ready to do so, place the relationship before the career?

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Notes: Fear Nobody

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ISIS-linked terrorist group attacked Jakarta on Thursday (Jan. 14, 2016) [2016:EO]

The Jakarta terror attack, which occurred in Jalan MH Thamrin on Thursday (Jan. 14), was shocking for many. It occurred during the day light with the location nearby to Presidential Palace, Foreign Embassy Offices as well as government building. It was even shocking that the terror group did not only use assembled bombs to create chaos in the city but they also conducted assault by firing gun to the police officers. It was pretty frightening.

Anyway, Friday morning, I nearly cancelled my morning routine, running on the street, because I was worried. I said to myself  “What about if those douchebags still go around the town and spread the terror? What about if they suddenly pull AK 47 or M16 especially I run Taman Suropati, Menteng.”

I kept thinking while I turned on my computer to write articles. I opened my browser to see what the latest update. Unfortunately, my internet did not work. I kept restarting but it still did not work. “Fvck it! I’m going to run. I am not afraid!

Over the years, I learnt that I must not fear any radical or terrorist group or anybody because that is what they want us to be, to be afraid. I am not afraid to any radical group or anybody, I am not even afraid to die.  If it happens to be our last day, I just have to be prepared

 

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Jakarta: Pasar Pocong

Mrs. Atun has been a traditional herbal drinking beverage jamu seller for decades in Pasar Pocong, Jakarta [2015: EO]

Mrs. Atun has been a traditional herbal drinking beverage jamu seller for decades in Pasar Pocong, Jakarta [2015: EO]

Selama lima tahun tinggal di Jakarta, baru beberapa bulan terakhir ini saya dolan ke Pasar Pocong, sebuah pasar tradisional di Kelurahan Menteng Atas. Hampir setiap pagi saya ke Pasar Pocong untuk  berbelanja kebutuhan sayur dan buah-buahan. Selain untuk mendapatkan sayuran dengan harga lebih murah, saya pun bisa berinteraksi dengan para pedagang dan mengetahui cerita masyarakat yang bekerja di luar gedung perkantoran maupun pusat perbelanjaan di Jakarta. Cerita masyarakat biasa yang mungkin jarang saya dengar di food-hall shopping center, bar atau restaurant-restaurant di Ibu Kota.

Enggak jarang para pedagang bertanya pada saya mengapa saya lebih memilih untuk ke pasar seorang diri ketimbang meminta pembantu saya untuk berbelanja, termasuk Mbak Tatik, seorang pedagang buah asal Klaten, Jawa Tengah “Ngapain mbak ke pasar? Kan bisa nyuruh pembantunya ke sini.

Saya bilang ke Mbak Tatik bahwa dari dulu saya memang suka ke pasar tradisional untuk berinteraksi dengan masyarakat pada umumnya. Selain karena harganya lebih murah ketimbang belanja di supermarket seperti FoodHall atau Farmer Market, saya pun juga bisa kenal mbak Sri pedagang sayur, Bu Atun penjual jamu dan Mbak Gethuk penjual tiwul.

Dari mereka, saya bisa tahu kapan harga pangan naik dan turun, saya bisa tahu apakah akan mempengaruhi penjualan mereka dan lebih tahu kehidupan orang-orang yang mencari uang di luar gedung kantor atau shopping center.Mana bisa saya berinteraksi dengan para pelayan di supermarket yang cenderung jutek setiap kali melayani pelanggan.

Memang sayuran di pasar tradisional enggak seindah atau sebersih sayuran di supermarket. Bahkan saya harus mencucinya berulang kali saking kotornya. Belum lagi, akhir-akhir ini saya mulai kecewa karena brokoli, daun mint, cilantro dan beet roots cepat busuk. Sayangkan kalau dibuang begitu saja?

Jujur aja, saya sebenernya sempat berpikir untuk berhenti belanja di pasar tradisional karena buang-buang uang. Harga murah tapi cepat busuk. Buat apa? Namun, saya tahu bahwa saya tetap ingin ke sana untuk mendengarkan cerita para pedagang Pasar Pocong.

Untung aja setelah berbagi cerita ini melalui Facebook, beberapa kawan saya di Facebook menyarankan agar saya merendam sayuran tersebut ke dalam air es selama satu jam. Sayuran tersebut kemudian dibungkus di dalam koran lalu di lemari es. Dengan begitu, sayuran akan tetap segar.

Nah dengan begitu, saya enggak perlu khawatir untuk belanja sayuran di pasar tradisional lagi dan terus mendengarkan cerita para pedagang pasar yang diiringi dengan lantunan musik dangdut dari pedagang MP3 di Pasar Pocong.

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Indonesia: Foreign Investors and Sustainable Business

It seems that the Indonesia government doesn’t want to or cannot impose sustainable business practices tomorrow because foreign investors would not come meanwhile Indonesia wanst to have foreign investment in the country because it helps to create job.

On the other hand, Indonesia government desperately wants sustainable business practice appear because unsustainable business practice damages the country and harm the workers. Dilemma!

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You Never Miss What You Had Until It’s Gone

ORG__DSC6329It was 10:06 p.m. when I stepped into the house last night. I just got home from watching the premiere of Indonesian film “A Copy of My Mind” at 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. I felt restless and extremely exhausted. All I thought about was good night sleep. After I finished the shower and got ready to bed, I heard my phone beeping. It was from a good friend of mine. Yet, I did not answer his message until I woke up this morning.

Beb,” my friend wrote.

Yes,” I answered.

“I want to break up (with my lover). I’m a sex addict and he said to me that if I slept with other guys, we’re done” My friend wrote.

“Well, if it is the best for you then go ahead. But remember, we have a certain condition that everybody cannot just accept it easily. Unless you enjoy being alone and do not need or want to have somebody to come home to or make you feel complete, then you should break up and continue the adventure.” I went on,

“At the end, casual sex only gives us temporary happiness and temporary sense of acceptance. Those hot, rich and handsome guys normally give no shit about us at all. As soon as they’re done, they are just gonna go.” I continued.

“So I think, we have to ask to ourselves ‘Why do we want to trade one great guy with a beautiful personality and most importantly loves us so much, who also can accept us the way we are, with those dickheads? What are we looking for?’. As they say ‘You never miss what you had until it’s gone.'” I said.

True,” he answered.

Sometimes we just take our lives for granted until we lose everything and regret it. When it is gone, it is gone.

PS: This writing was inspired by my conversation with a good friend of mine. Of course, I shared this story with my friend’s permission.

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.

Catatan: Tentang Bule Hunter

Setelah membaca tiga buku (Bumi Manusia, Semua Anak Bangsa dan Jejak Langkah) dari Tetralogi Bumi Manusia karya Pramoedya Ananta Toer, dapat saya tarik kesimpulan bahwa fenomena Bule Hunter sesungguhnya berawal dari jaman penjajahan Belanda. Yang menarik adalah laki-laki pribumi yang haus kuasa akan menyerahkan anak gadisnya pada jendral-jendral Belanda agar dapat jabatan di perusahaan-perusahaan Belanda waktu itu. Sehingga bisa dikatakan pada saat itu yang sesungguhnya Bule Hunter adalah pria pribumi yang haus kuasa, haus harta.

Bukan hanya itu saja, relasi perempuan pribumi dan laki-laki barat waktu itu justru memalukan bagi masyarakat pribumi dan bukan keren. Kenapa? Karena perempuan pribumi dijadikan tumbal oleh pria pribumi (biasanya bapak) yang haus kuasa. Oleh karena itu enggak heran bahwa relasi perempuan pribumi dan laki-laki barat kerap dihubungkan dengan harta dan birahi semata, di mana stigma terbentuk setelah Belanda menjajah nusantara selama 350 tahun lamanya. 

Stigma tersebut terus berkembang di kalangan pribumi meskipun nusantara merdeka dan menjadi Indonesia. Stigma tersebut terus melekat pada perempuan pribumi yang menjalin hubungan dengan pria barat meskipun kita memasuki jaman modern. Sekarang saya paham kenapa masyarakat kita kerap memberikan stigma negatif pada perempuan Indonesia yang menjalin hubungan dengan laki-laki barat.

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