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

 

Catatan: Pilihan

27336515_10155917153960761_1938783188027321975_n-e1519796007923.jpgMenjadi ibu rumah tangga atau ibu bekerja adalah sebuah pilihan. Tak ada keharusan di mana setelah memiliki anak, ibu harus di rumah. Tak ada keharusan pula bahwa ibu harus bekerja. Semua itu tergantung pada pilihan masing-masing berdasarkan berbagai macam pertimbangan.

Kalau aku, aku memilih bekerja. Menapa? Selain ingin meraih suatu prestasi baik secara finansial maupun kemampuan, aku juga ingin selalu siap jika bencana menimpa. Aku ingat ketika gempa bumi terjadi di Yogyakarta pada tahun 2006 lalu. Waktu itu, Bapak baru pensiun, aku akan kuliah, adikku masih SMA dan rumah kami rubuh. Ibaratnya sudah jatuh, tertimpa tangga, tercucuk tai kebo. Akhirnya, aku terpaksa memilih kuliah di UGM hanya karena murah (300,000 rupiah saja) padahal aku tak tertarik dengan teknik pertanian. Untung Bapak punya simpanan dan Ibu masih bekerja sehingga kami dapat terus melanjutkan kehidupan kami meskipun dengan berbagai macam adjustment. Termasuk pindah ke universitas lain, mengambil jurusan yang aku sukai.

Itulah sebabnya mengapa aku pikir penting kiranya untuk berpendidikan tinggi dan bekerja meskipun aku menjadi ibu apalagi mengingat betapa peliknya kompetisi di dunia kerja di era modern ini. Jika terjadi sesuatu, aku sudah siap. Kita tak pernah tahu apa yang akan terjadi, serangan terorisme, penyakit akut atau kecelakaan dapat menimpa siapa saja dan kapan saja. Pengalaman mengajarkanku bahwa aku harus selalu siap. Seperti Bapak selalu bilang “Sebuah gerobak lebih baik ditarik dua kerbau daripada satu. Kalau satu kerbau sakit atau mati, setidaknya gerobak masih bisa terus berjalan,” dan itulah pilihanku.

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 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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Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail

Bali has been known as a paradise for surfers, beach lovers as well as party animals. Bali’s natural beauty and distinctive culture somehow have been able to attract millions of travelers to visit the Island of God annually for decades. Yet, the Island of God is not free from the dark world including drug cartel. Wide range drugs from  weed, cocaine to heroines with various qualities are available in the island. Anyone who wants it, they can get it as long as they have money for it and know where to get it. However, drug is illegal in Indonesia. Even small quantity of drugs can bring anyone to long jail sentence, heavy fines as well as cost thousands of dollars to get your freedom back. A Nepalese inmate Den was quoted in the Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail saying that “If you want to have a little bit of freedom, you need to pay money, including for beer, movie or even girl (sex worker).” Otherwise, you will end up living miserably in the jail cell.

Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali’s Notorious Jail is written by an Australian journalist, Kathryn Bonella who is also the author of No More Tomorrow Schapelle Corby as a warning for travelers. Any holiday can turn to be a nightmare any moment as soon as they are dealing with drugs in the Island of God. With the main source Ruggiero, a Brazilian inmates who was arrested for possessing 146 g of hashish, 43 g of cocaine and one green ecstasy pill, and few other foreign national inmates, Ms. Bonella is trying to bringing the readers inside the Hotel K. Not a fancy villa with private swimming pool and hot shower but a pig house with filthy bathroom, dried poops and dead rats in the water tank. It is just dilapidated.

Through 301 pages of book, Ms. Bonella describes how complicated dealing with Indonesian justice system is and how corrupt Indonesian justice system is -be in the police station, the court as well as inside the jail- is. Really? Is Indonesian justice system corrupt? Yes and it is not surprising. Previously, one of Indonesian top lawyer Hotman Paris was even quoted by various international media outlets including  New York Times and The Age  saying how unclean Indonesian justice system is.

And yet, life does not get any cheaper as soon as one goes inside the prison, one would need to continue to pay their bill as if they are freeman as there is nothing free inside. Interestingly enough, inmates are not only able to buy mineral water, soap or instant noodle but also  beer, weed, cocaine as well as heroin inside Kerobokan prison. What? You could even purchase drugs inside the prison? Yes. That is indeed interesting.

 “Kerobokan is drug paradise. Drugs all the time. No special time for drug. Drugs twenty-four hours. You smoke cigarette, you smoke shabu. The party was daily. Every single day after lunch we’d sit outside and get pissed, those who want to smoke shabu, smoke shabu; those who want to use smack, use smack. That’s on daily basis. ” Brazilian inmates Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella. (132)

So the question is now being “Does arresting drug dealer/runner actually have a significant deterrent effect to them? Will they ever stop of doing their drug business?” No, it does not seem so.

Arman wishes to become Hotel K’s drug lord. He was selling huge quantity of drugs inside and outside, paying Laskar (Bali) for protection, and prisoners and guards to work as couriers supplying bars and club across Bali. Arman made at least 100 million Rupiah a day, sometimes 300 million Rupiah a day. Many times I saw the guy folding up the whole lot of money. He sold shabu, heroine, ecstasy  ganja, hasish, cocaine.” (196) 

I must say that it is slightly shocking but I believe that public actually has acknowledged it through media reports over the years. Even recently, a drug lord Freddy Budiman, who was sentenced to death in 2013, openly admitted that he is still running his business from the jail cell with the help of prison guards because the China-based  drug syndicate does not have any other ‘distributor’ in Indonesia.

Honestly sometimes I wonder how dangerous drugs are? Hotel K gave me clues and  I found it interesting

“With Laskar and Arman pushing drugs and offering unlimited credits to westerners, many inmates let their drug bills spiral out of control. If they couldn’t pay up when Arman called in the cashed, the consequences were deadly.

Many of the westerners who lost control of their drug bills got cash from their parents or friends to avoid being bashed.

Juri (an Italian inmates) lied in any way necessary to get cash from friends and family for his heroin bills.  (198)

You see? Reading Hotel K makes me understand why President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has declared war on drugs. As a president, he refuses to grant president clemency to drug dealers or runners because the drug dealers and runners cannot just be stopped and they do not want to stop. Other than that, an addict would eventually not just hurt themselves in many ways but also their family.

Interestingly enough, it is not only drug dealers who cannot stop themselves from committing crimes when they are in prison. Other criminal still do including  scammers and thugs.

Benoit was one of three Africans doing time for a fake American dollar scam. All three were now acting in sync in Hotel K to find investors among the wealthy drug bosses. Benoit was working with Afong and the third African named Karim. (178)

I must say that I enjoyed reading Hotel K because it was produced through interviews and document research which means it can be quiet objective. It opened my eyes. It brought my imagination inside Kerobokan Prison. It shows the readers what kind of people end up in the prison and what kind of life inmates have inside the jail. It is scary. It drives you insane and brings depression. It kills your soul. Other than that, even though you can buy your freedom by bribing the guards, it is not a life inside the jail cell. For me, it would be very wise to not ignore the warning while you are visiting Bali, the Island of God, the paradise as your holiday can turn into a nightmare any moment.

Yet, I asked myself “Should I buy Ruggiero’s stories especially Ruggiero told Ms. Bonella  the Balinese hate foreigners, they are so jealous simply because only one Balinese guy snitched on him?” He seems like to generalize things and many of his comments sound to be angry or coming from a talker. Well “Snowing in Bali: The Incredible Inside Account of Bali’s Hidden Drug World” has more stories to tell and makes the readers understand about who Ruggiero is. Juicy and eye-opening!

 

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