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

 

Notes: A Conscious Consumer 

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Those make me horny! [2013: Oktofani]

I don’t know exactly how many clothes I have been purchasing in these last ten years. It must be hundreds or could have been thousands. And where are those clothes now? Most of them have been donated, given out or thrown away. Why? Those were either already washed out, destroyed or simply out of trend. Well you know…I was one of those consumers who “see now, buys now” but I have been trying to change to be a conscious consumer in the past few years now. Why? Here is my story
Back in 2011, I had an interesting conversation with the domestic assistant who worked in my apartment in Jakarta. She told me that she used to work in a garment factory. She also mentioned about her workload, about her salary as well as a heartbreaking incident story where she was pregnant but unfortunately she had a miscarriage when she worked over-time in the factory. She lost her baby. I am not sure whether it was work-related or not. Since then, she decided to leave her job in the garment factory and worked as a domestic assistant in South Jakarta.

A few months later, I went to Canada for Christmas. I went for Christmas shopping in several shops including GAP, Zara and Timberland. As I was checking on the price tag, I found out that those products are made in Indonesia and the price was high. I must say that I was slightly shocked. Why? It was because I remembered my conversation with the domestic assistant of mine. “Wow! This is crazy! Why would I purchase this while the labour is not getting paid fairly,” So I walked away and entered other shops? Again, I found many apparels is made in Indonesia. I then decided to look on the Internet.

As I looked on the internet, apparently many garment and footwear products which are distributed and sold in North America are made in Indonesia or China. Although it got me proud to see those products are made in Indonesia, it somehow got me upset because many labours who made these products only earning peanuts. I understand that other costs are also added but still, it got me sad. I decided to not purchase any that time.

Those events actually change the way I consume garment products.
Do I stop buying clothes? Not yet!
So how? I start to buy less and less.
Why? It is because I don’t need it. If I feel that I want or need new clothes, I tend to have it made. At least, I know who makes my clothes and pay accordingly. Alternatively, I will get clothes from local designers who are transparent about its supply chain. Or sometimes, I purchase pre-loved collection which is still pristine. Otherwise, I only purchase new clothes in a couple of occasion in one year. Not just that, I am also pretty picky about the brand. I tend to look for information regarding how ethical the company is. Although I must admit that we cannot really trust those report 100%. Most importantly, I refuse to pay at full price. Why? If a brand can sell their products with 70% discount, it means that a brand still makes a profit from that price and I don’t want to get ripped off 🙂. Hence, it is very important for me to keep myself fit so I don’t have to purchase new clothes simply because it does not fit me any longer.

Other than that, these days, if I go out purchasing clothes, it must be for my seven months old baby boy. Yet, I don’t purchase it simply because it looks cute so I want to buy many but simply as we need it. For me, this is my way to train myself to be a conscious customer. It is not only good for the environment but also for my saving. As you can imagine, how much money I have been spending on clothes which are eventually not being worn and forgotten or thrown away.

In the end, I believe that the way the consumers consume garment products can eventually force the company to be more ethical in producing their products where it should be good for the society as well as the environment.

Ride the bus

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

Review: Snowing in Bali

The upcoming third batch of the execution of drug convict has once again triggered controversy. Supported with official data, some have stated that  the death penalty is actually not the answer to Indonesia’s drug problem. Some have even stated that those, who were busted and sentenced to death, are only courier and not big dealers. Most of them are coming from lower middle income family. I asked myself Is that statement correct? The controversy actually raises a lot of questions in my head, such as “What do we really know about drug syndicates in Indonesia? Are those who were arrested  just victims and being trapped? Or, are they professional drug runners? What do we really know about the Brazilian drug runner Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, who has been executed in early 2015? Was he just a courier? What about Mary Jane Veloso? What do we really know about the world illicit in Indonesia?” I have heard some stories but honestly it was still unclear to me. But when I read Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World, much was reveled.

Written by Kathryn Bonella, the author of Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail, Snowing in Bali highlights the drug world in Bali with interesting details. It opens the readers eyes about why people choose to enter the drug world, how the drug syndicate works, who those drug convicts are, how drug syndicates deal with the Indonesian legal system and what drugs can do to people.

One of the characters identified as Rafael, who is described as a former Brazilian cocaine boss in Bali, reveals stories of Peruvian and Brazilian’s drug syndicate in the island of God. The Bali-based Peruvian and Brazilian drug syndicate has been trafficking drugs in Peru, Brazil, the Netherland, Sweden, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia as well as Australia.

Despite the fact Rafael appears as the main character in Snowing  in Bali , it also highlights the story of Brazilian Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira who was executed  by firing squad in early 2015. Apparently, Marco has been a long time player who started his business in the 90s as a marijuana dealer in Indonesia. He imported top quality marijuana from the Netherland to Indonesia. Among his peers, Marco was known as a Lemon Juice’s King. Interestingly enough, Rafael actually started his career as a freelance marijuana salesman for  Marco.

As a freelance marijuana’s salesman, Rafael generated a huge profit which can pay for his fancy lifestyle in Bali. Knowing how easy it is to make fast cash through drug trafficking, Rafael has turned himself from a salesman to  drug runner and quickly to be one of the biggest cocaine player in Bali. He trafficked cocaine from Peru to Indonesia as well as Australia over the years. He had huge villa, nice cars, fancy motorbike, designer fashion collection and also a hell lot of money.

Surprisingly, many people who want to earn fast cash and enjoy a good life but do not want to do a real job, some would sometimes go to a dealer and request for ‘a job as a drug runner’. Although it is a risky job, many would take it anyway.

An older Brazilian woman, who has been living in Bali for 20 years, sidled up to him at parties hustling for a chance to run. “I need a job. I can do it – nobody is going to stop me because I’m old. Let’s do it.  (p.56)

However, every party must come to end sometimes. Many of Rafael friends, includes his own wife Anna, were arrested by authorities across the globe. Not forget to mention his former ‘boss’ the Brazilian Lemon Juice King Marco who had always been very confident that he would be able to escape from the authorities or even the death. Luckily, unlike Marco and Anna, Rafael managed to escape from the authorities and did not end up in jail. Nevertheless, he still has to face another consequences. His wealth slowly went down to the drain, he could not even pay the basic bill.  Rafael then decided to leave the game.

In the end, after all the glamour, I don’t feel proud. I try to forget this shit. Because I don’t think it is cool. I poison people here with this shit just for money, nothing else. Poison people, fuck families, even make people die from overdose. I like to show off in that time. For what? Now I have different value for life. (p. 387)

Reading the 401 pages of book actually makes me thinking twice whether I have to feel sorry about those drug convicts who are facing death penalty or not. Should I feel sorry for late the Brazilian Marco or Rodrigo Gullarte in the same way I feel sorry for the Philippine drug convict Mary Jane Veloso? The answer is NO.

Marco and Rodrigo are not the same as Mary Jane. Marco is a dealer, Rodrigo is a horse and Mary Jane is a mule. So what is the difference? Well, Marco and Rodrigo were aware with the risk meanwhile Mary Jane could have been trapped by greedy heartless dealer.

Mules are not the kind of people who work for me, people who come to Bali and enjoy life, this is a real horse. But mules are really, really desperate people. Really poor people, don’t speak English and they fall like flies– Andre, drug dealer (p. 166)

Rodrigo Gularte is a 32 years old rich upper middle-class guy from South Brazil. He was the black sheep in a rich family. He’d started sniffing solvents as a teenager and despite his mother trying to set him up in various careers, he chose to traffic drugs (p.286)

Overall, Snowing in Bali is very intriguing. I could not even stop reading the book. At the end, the readers actually can see the red line between many drug cases especially in Indonesia if only  those drug cases have been exposed by the media continuously and properly. Reader don’t have to believe whether it’s objectively written or not but It is worth reading.

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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]

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Music: Take Me To Church

My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner

If the heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

“We were born sick,” you heard them say it

My church offers no absolutes
She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom.”
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you

I was born sick
But I love it
Command me to be well
Aaay. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice

Drain the whole sea
Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course
That’s a fine-looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful

That looks tasty
That looks plenty
This is hungry work

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me my deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

No Masters or Kings
When the Ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
Ooh oh. Amen. Amen. Amen.

[Chorus 2x:]
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

Ride the bus

Indonesia: About LGBT

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Goodbye 2012! Hello 2013

You know what makes me upset about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) debate these days in Indonesia? Well, let me tell you.

Last night, a good friend of mine sent me a message telling me how concerned (s)he is about all these LGBT debates. (S)he wondered what the government/parliament next step toward it whether they are going to ban it altogether, ban foreign funding for LGBT activity (including reproductive health awareness) or even worse if they plan to stop distributing subsidised ARV in the country. (S)he is wondering. 

Honestly, this condition would not just have a negative impact to the LGBT community but also all the patients, let me repeat myself again ALL PATIENTS, (which also include heterosexual people) who have been getting ARV for free so they can survive and live their lives as a healthy person. So, I said to a good friend of mine that everything will just be fine. Let’s have faith in it.

Since the fall of  President Soeharto in 1998, religion has been used as a political commodity to control people. Sometimes I am wondering whether we, the people of Indonesia, can have a discussion about certain issue without bringing a religious perspective or not.

It is very devastating because I feel that this country is heading to a dark age than moving forward to the future. What about if we discuss what really matters and crucial to citizen’s daily life such as food supply, education, health and infrastructure, instead of the sexual orientation or religious preferences, which are very personal?! Can we?

PS: If you do not know what ARV is, you can search on the internet. It is very googleable.