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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Notes: The Wanderer

IMG_5977This morning, I came across to an eye-opening article written by Sridhar Pappu titled “Meet the New York Bachelors Who Yearn for Something More” in the New York Times. It was published on January 7.  As a woman, I often wonder why many men (especially good looking and successful one) stay single and just like to sleep around –I am not saying that there are no women who sleep around as well-. I also often wonder whether they want to be a relationship and build a family or not. If not, why? If yes, why do they still stay single?

As I read this article, I somehow found the answers that I have been looking for that many of them actually long for something more.

It then got me thinking. When we are young, engaging in serial dating can be fun sometimes until we realize that it is just wasting our time and energy. But the sad truth is we are not getting younger.

There will be a time where we want to have someone to come home to and share our story about anything even the silliest thing. However, being in a relationship is not easy, getting married is not a magical as Cinderella story either. Why? It is because there are so many things that we have to give up and sacrifice. It even gets harder when both of them are ambitious people.

Even sometimes, you might come across to the point where your marriage or your relationship does not work anymore and it must be ended. But then again, leaving the one that we loved and started another relationship is not as easy as changing your clothes. It requires a lot of efforts. It is just very tiring.

In our life, we often long for an intimate relationship with the right one but finding the right one seems to be hard. Yet, the good news is there is no deadline to find the right one.

Notes: Women’s Voices

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015:EO]

Bali Undercover by Malcolm Scott [2015:EO]

When I published “Bule Hunter: Money, Sex and Love”  in September 2014, I received a stream of criticism in the net from many people. I would have understood that they criticized my book after they read it but they have not. They criticized it based on some media coverages. Those are including many Indonesian  women, who are in relationship with Western Men and feel offended with my writing as well as other people are who simply narrow minded.

Some of them said that it was just a bunch of gossip, some of them said that it’s not a journalism work because it’s very subjective yadda yadda yadda (Well honey, it’s hard to find an objective journalism work these days. Media is controlled by companies who are linked to govt). Anyway, there were big wave of nasty comments coming toward me. It was terrifying! 

Frankly, I was shocked reading those comments. I refused to read further for few weeks. But I must say that I am grateful because  those haters actually  inspired me  to write my next book.

So when I went to  Times Bookstore in Plaza Singapura, I saw this book and purchased one. I read nearly half of the book within few hours over few glasses of Chardonnay. Since I read the title, I already assumed that it would have similar content to my book Bule Hunter. And YES IT IS!

It talks about Indonesian women, Western men, Indonesian men, western women,money, sex and  relationship. However, it seems nobody attacking the Australian author Malcolm Scott. At least, I didn’t hear about it.

Is it because the author is a man? Is it because the author is a Westerner? Or is it because he choose a soft title instead of Bule Hunter?! Or is it because it’s written in English and doesn’t get a lot of media exposure in Indonesia (if I understand correctly)?

Oh well, we are still living in an era and place where women can hardly say their voices loudly and bluntly! 

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Notes: Sustainable Business Practice in Indonesia

ORG__DSC5792.JPGDuring Soeharto administration, the Indonesian government had little or no interest in sustainable business practice because it was just gonna benefit the ordinary people, and it would not help the elites.

Meanwhile, the elites did not care about the condition of workers, environment, jungle, the local community or the urban poor *reflection from Indonesian Haze problem and conversation with former Adidas’s sweatshop worker.

Notes: So I Run

Trying to catching up on my time [2014: E R]

Trying to catching up on my time [2014: E R]

When I am upset and depressed, I run. While I am running, I am crying. Nobody knows but I feel good about it. Nobody sees the tears behind the shade that I  wear; nobody sees that there is a weak and fragile soul behind the strong body. Nobody.

At the end, everyone has their own struggle that they have to deal with. Hence, I prefer to run. It gives me time to talk to myself and do a self reflection. So I run, I run as far and as fast as I can shake my burden away.

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Notes: Liar

DSCF1124Let’s ask ourselves these questions. Do you put heavy make-up to cover your pimple or skin imperfection? Do you need to purchase brand-name products? Do you max out your credit card to purchase fancy things that you cannot afford it? Do you use a photo filter or photoshop before you upload your photo online? Do you work in a company only for a monthly pay-cheque? Do you cheat on your lover or partner and stay in a relationship even you are no longer happy? Do you know that all of those are the form of lie and there are just many more forms of lies out there?

Well, the individual is not the only liar in our society. The governments lie, the companies lie, the religious institutions lie, the politicians lie, the religious leaders lie, the public figures lie and almost all the citizens lie. Eventually, almost all of us are liars.

However, have you ever asked yourself why you need to lie? I believe that we begin to lie because our society often tells us that we are not good enough as individuals. They say “You are not good enough because of your skin colour”;  “You are not good enough because of your ethnicity background”; “You are not good enough because of your weight”; “You are not good enough because of your job”. And you are just not good in so many ways.

Their judgment makes us feeling insecure; their judgment makes us to not accept yourself, and their judgment makes us feel to have the need to fulfil their demand/ requirements. The worse, their judgment makes you stop loving yourself unconditionally.  Ultimately, you have the need to lie. We do it consciously or unconsciously, to other people as well as to ourselves. As a result, we become liars.

We do not know anymore whether we need to keep our mouth shut and tell the truth or we just need to lie. In the end, lying seems to be much easier than being honest and truthful; being perfect seems to be more acceptable than being imperfect and that is what our society wants from us… to be perfect! Hence, we lie. Correct me if I was wrong!

Xoxo

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Notes: The Magnetic City of East Coast

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes: Social Media’s Perfect Life

ORG__DSC2332Almost everybody has social media accounts these days, be it Facebook, Instagram, Path or Twitter. Social media helps us to be in touch with our long lost friends, family members, schoolmates, coworkers as well as connects us with new people. They also give us a space to have a discussion about certain issues that matter to us. At the same time, social media also gives us the opportunity to see other people’s life. But one thing about social media is that it often makes an individual feel bad about themselves.

Since the presence of social media, many people often compare themselves or their life circumstances to other people whenever they scroll down the screen. Sometimes social media users forget that everyone has their own unique journey. I somehow feel that it is actually not healthy to be able to see other people lives through social media. Why? It’s because we start to unfairly compare ourselves to them.

Remember that everyone has their own life struggle and it just comes in different forms for each person. Not just that, some people actually find their life difficult. Unfortunately, we just do not really see the difficulty that people have. Social media users often try to post their perfect life, try to show off their life’s achievements. But who really knows the story behind all those posts?

Other than that, social media can also stop us from having real interaction with our friends because it creates a lazy form of friendship, without real-life human interaction. Even if they do hang out together, they would just be busy with their smartphone and post stuff on social media.

That is why I deleted my Path account, I deactivated my Facebook account a few weeks ago temporarily. I just find it not useful. Yet, I keep my twitter account active to keep up with the latest news and I might activate my Facebook again sometime. Gregg technology…

 

Notes: My Better Half

ORG__DSC5855Suddenly I remember that day, one day in Aug 2009. The day when we found out that I am sick. It was just one year after we met for the very first time. I gave you a choice. You chose to stay with me. You chose to stand by me.

I vividly remember that early morning. It was at 4 a.m. We walked down by the small road of Nyuh Gading. It was pitch dark, it was very quiet. And there we were, you and me. As we walked side by side, I suddenly hear you crying. You broke into tears and held me tight. You promised to stand by me no matter what.

And it was six years ago. So many tears, sadness, fight, arguments and misunderstanding between you and me. Yet, there were so many laughter, happiness and so many smiles that we have been sharing together. There was some stage of our journey where we thought it’s going to be over. Yet, we chose to take time to fix it, to improve it. Now, every day we learn to be a better person for each other.

I just feel so grateful and blessed to have a man like you in my life. I wouldn’t ask for a better man to be my better half. You are just the best that I have ever had.

Ride the bus