Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mind Your Language

I wished I saw this before. It reminds me of my Dutch and German Classes.

Sing, Fight, Cry, Pray, Laugh, Work and Admire

...Not without us
Love this song by Ramses Shaffy, tho I prefer Bløf's cover.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Last night I was thinking that I havent been laughing as much as I used to since I dont know, perhaps since I moved back here, or maybe even before that. I used to laugh a lot every day, but not nowadays. There are times when I hang out with my cousins that I laugh out loud, even just days after dad died (I have this feeling that was part of our family way of dealing with someone passing, I know most people would frown on hearing us but it works for us), but we dont see each other that often.

I dont see my friends in Jakarta that often, because life (and traffic) happens. When we do talk (phone or chat) or meet up, we laugh. However it wasnt like it used to be. Like I said, life happens.
Therefore my goal at this moment is to laugh again everyday. They say laughing is therapeutic and enhancing our immune system, and since I think I am coming down with something, I might as well start today. This afternoon my niece, Sekar, showed me this old clip that cracked me up:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One of Those Days

Today, I played the waiting game. First, I waited for a photo session, then I waited for my meeting. It was a slow but informative day. By the time I was able to leave, it was already the beginning of rush hour. Some commented in the elevator that there are traffic jams every where according to his BB, Blackberry.

Outside, there were surprisingly less cars than normal. Weird.

I saw three guys walking by dressing in a white shirt, a tie and black pants with a name tag, reminds me of Mormon missionary. Turned out they were, two of them were Elders and happened to be Indonesian, while the other one was bule. I didnt know there are any Mormons in Indonesia, I knew there are Yehova around. I wanted to ask that bule experience being an evangelist in Indonesia in comparison with his own country (I suspect he is American). I met Mormons evangelists in NL before and they are American who learned the language to do their mission. It struck me that Mormons missionaries are always in a group of three, dressed in sober white and black, very young and very polite. They are different than their Yehova counterpart who are pushy, at least the ones in NL were.

In the area of Setiabudi on Sudirman, the lines going to Semanggi were almost stand still because there was a busway with a man body's underneath it when I passed by toward HI. I heard later that he was about to cross the road when he got hit. I feel for everyone in that Busway and for that man & his family.

It's one of those days, when you thought nothing 'special' is going to happen, and you ended up wishing that nothing special happened.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Language and How We Think

If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world. When bilingual people switch from one language to another, they start thinking differently, too.

Public Transport & Government's Ideas

Apparently Jakartan Government has this idea of banning motorcycle around some areas during peak hours. It is one of their 'solutions' to Jakarta's traffic problem. This is on top of the idea of applying Electronic Road Pricing like in London, and making schools start earlier. The governor also talks about getting Mass Rapid Transit and Bus Rapid Transit.

It is said that there are about 900 new motorcycle each day in Jakarta. Here's a thought, how about curbing the number of the new motorcycle and car for the time being? No wonder that each day the road looks more and more crowded with motorcycles. During rush hours those motorcycles look like a swarm of bees. Since most of the riders are very egotistical on the road, they caused more congestion on both side of the road in some areas.

Out of all the options the government is talking about, it seems to me that it is not well thought, and only concentrating on the benefit of private car owners. I really wish those esteem members who travel to and fro in the comfort of their luxurious cars, tried for at least one day to travel around by public transport like any average Jakartan before proposing any solution to Jakarta's traffic. Until then, I dont think they realized the state of its public transport.

Take the Busway, the better public transport in this mess, they are overcrowded, at certain time people have to wait for more than half an hour in the bus shelter made out of aluminum and glasses, with not enough ventilation (let alone air conditioning where it supposed to have), where people cant get any water to rehydrate while waiting in the crowded boiling hot shelter for the bus. If there are more busses available, more reliable schedules, more lines that is served by busway, I am sure people are more than happy to utilize it more. Even at the present state with sexual harassment and all, people still use the busway for its convenience and quicker in comparison with other public transport. Why dont the government fix it first, while waiting for the MRT or whatever they are planning next that still need to be negotiated.

The proposal of allowing certain license plate on one day and the other on the next is not really going to work. I know plenty of people who has more than 2 cars in their household. it can also resulted in a black market of having two license plates on one car/motorcycle. They also proposed that private cars of certain age shouldnt be allowed to ride. The more troublesome is the age and condition of most of public transport, they are the ones that need regeneration. I guess the reason why the government did say any thing about it is because the owners of those busses/angkot/microlets are mostly (or backed by) (ex) military personnel.

Jakarta's traffic problem is huge, it needs comprehensive solution, not just some half hearted half baked solution that would be abandon soon enough. However, I do believe a better public transport is something that we cant ignore. The better it is, the more people used them instead of any private transportation, and hopefully the less traffic jam.

Boxes of Manure

If you can't forgive, then you can't dance, you can't sing and you can't smile
There's a tradition in Indonesian kind of Islam, that is not found in other places, which is asking forgiveness at the end of Ramadan. Nowadays, people even starts asking forgiveness before the start of Ramadan. It is believe that during the fasting month people purify their heart so by asking forgiveness in essence they becoming as pure as baby. A new clean leaf of life.

Just as with any tradition, sometimes it is just a thing people do at certain time because they dont know any different so it dilutes the meaning of it. Sure, there are people who really mean it when they utter those words, both most of the time, it is a mere lip service.

It is not easy for me to forgive, and even more difficult for me to forget, despite my insistence to remember the good things people did to me, and (to try) to forget the bad things like my grandma taught me to. Most of the time I am a happy-go-lucky kind of person. However, there were moment when people cut me, I mean really did something beyond certain level and when it happened, the cut was deep. That's when the grudge sprung.

Like the time when I was trying to compare this girl magazine I bought a day earlier in Dutch and the same magazine from other country (most of the time their contents are similar) in English as I was going to buy another magazine for my 3 hours train ride at Rotterdam Central Station's Bruna. The owner told me (even though there were other people who did the same in there) loudly that if I didnt have any money to buy anything I should've wait for my train outside. From then on I've never bought anything from that bookshop again. I heard the other day my friend had similar experience with Bruna Amstel Station, the guy yelled at my friend's 2 years old son when he touched some of the books. At that time I felt discriminated.

I know logically, I should react as if someone gave me a box of manure, I could accept it or I could give it back. By holding a grudge, I accepted that box. I, and not the person who gave the box, make my life uncomfortable with the smell of the box that I keep. I know it's stupid. Had I said thanks but no thanks for that 'present', my life would be more comfortable. So now I am trying to learn to forgive, cleaning up boxes of manure in my life. I do it for my sake.

There are boxes that is difficult to get rid off. For it also contains part of my history, perhaps even my identity. It contains my raw emotions, that normally wont surface unless something extreme happens in my life.

Perhaps I should learn it from the oyster. An oyster uses the grain of sand that irritates him, and turns it into a pearl. I should learn how to turn those boxes of manure to kindness and care, so it releases the pain and set me free.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just a Cough?

I was one of those people who thought a cough is just a cough, I'll get over it if I get plenty of rest/drink/etc. The fact that my GP in NL kept telling me to rest each time I had some cough didnt help my nonchalant approach toward coughing. However, now I am more cautious about it.

I remember last year (or was it two years ago?) that John's ribcage was affected by his coughing and needed some general anesthetic (and not to mentioned) expensive treatment for it.

At the moment one of my mom's sisters (she has 7 of them, bear with me) has been coughing for several weeks now, but it didnt stop her to go out of town with my mom last week. Mom said her sister's coughing turned worst on the last night of their trip, she was coughing all night. When they got home, one of their sisters, who happened to be an ENT doctor, called my coughing aunt and asked about the trip and was given weird answers, such as my aunt had no idea about how my mom got home (the fact was: her driver drove my mom home) and things like that. So my aunt crossed check about the trip with my mom, especially about her sister's coughing. Being a doctor, my aunt was concerned that her sister's brain might be injured from all the coughing and ordered a scan. Sure enough, the scan revealed there is a lesion in my aunt's brain that impaired her mind slightly. I guess, with all the coughing, part of her brain didnt get enough oxygen and becoming affected. My aunt is now in treatment.

So you are warned. Do something about your cough, and for the love of g-d dont go spreading your germ/virus by not covering your mouth while coughing!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Negeri 5 Menara ( The Land of 5 Towers)

I just finished reading Negeri 5 Menara by Ahmad Fuadi, an alumnus of Pondok Gontor, a famous Islamic boarding school in East Java. His time and friendships at Gontor are the inspiration for this hard to put down book.

Man jadda wa jada, an Arabic saying that is drilled into every students who entered Pondok Madani (PM) meaning he who tries hard will find his reward. It is the essence of this book that tells stories of friendship between Alif, Said, Raja, Baso, Atang and Dulmajid, teenagers coming from all over Indonesia united by ear-pinching punishment on their first day. Just like at Gontor, at PM students must speak in Arabic or English all the time, and their teachers teach them with ikhlas, (to provide/deliver) a sincere heart. A word I heard many times over spoken by everyone who tried to console us when my dad passed away, a word which is easy to say than done.

Under the tall mosque minaret, the six of them dreamt of the future and far away places while waiting for the afternoon prayer. Fifteen years later, with determination, hard work and prayers the group spread out in five countries in three continents, following their paths. It send out a message: never underestimate the power of a dream.

It is a wonderful book to read, especially for kids. There are plenty things that we could learn from it. Too bad I havent heard any plan of translating this first part of a trilogy to other languages. Although I heard they are working on filming it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Arab vs Javanese in-Laws

I guess since next month is Ramadan, fasting month, it means there're weddings to attend this month. I've been to weddings every week. The last one was tonight, with a Lampungese theme. I really pity the bride with humongous headdress, she must have had a headache from it. I heard it weights more than 2kg, and since it was a huge reception (I think more than 1000 people attending), I think she stood there at the stage for at least 3 hours to receive congratulations from the invitees.

The mother of the groom is a distant family of mine, from the Arab branch, the father is Lampungese. The bride family is Javanese from Banyuwangi, who happens to be my parents acquaintances. Mom said she probably even attended the wedding of the parents of the bride. An interesting fact: according to my mom, both the bride and the groom were my dad's patients when they were little. No, he wasnt the matchmaker.

What I found pretty interesting during the reception was the fact the only Arab on the stage wore the sexiest and the most revealing kebaya out of the three ladies up there, while the mother of the bride wore modest kebaya with jilbab. Isn't it something?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Say My Name...

I go by three names: my first, middle, and the last part of my name which when I am abroad functioned as my family name (even though it is my name). Most of Indonesians pronounced my first name wrongly. So, I tend to introduce myself using my middle name to Indonesians, which is very common. I had to get used to answering to my 'last name' ever since I moved abroad. It consists of two separate words, the last part of it is also a common girl name in Indonesia. However, no one called me with that last part of my last name. Until today that is.

This lady called across the island to promote her company loyalty card after I enjoyed their service last week. She had this audacity to call me just by the last part of my 'last name'. I lost my interest by then.

The other week, someone tried to call me by my first name, but he then confused it with other female name beginning with the same letter after telling me about one of his employee with that precise name, but he recovered later in the conversation. I let it slide, since he was my client.

I've noticed that Indonesians tend to pay little attention on how to pronounce someone's name. Last year, I heard five different pronunciation of someone's name depending on their locations. I was amazed. It was a simple name, but they were managed to butchered it. In a country where its tradition has it that parents pick their child's name with great care and deep meaning, I would have thought at least we call each other using proper pronunciation, not just saying something for our own convenience without even bother asking how to say it properly. Call me old fashion, but I consider that a courtesy and part of showing our respect.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Culture and Translation

I have a thing about translation. Not that I am flawless in translating things, but I always take cultural differences into account. This article in Guardian talks about cultural gap in translating Arabic.

Watching American tv series in Indonesian telly with subtitle, I've noticed how their translator keeps making mistakes when it comes to idioms or cultural things. Most of the time they translated word for word, which of course doesnt make any sense.

The thing is, people often think if you can speak a certain language, you can translate it. It is, of course, true to some extend. However, when it comes to special subject(s), we deal with terms for that specific subject. Legalese is different than economics lingo. Medical terms is different than engineering terms.

I remember someone protested about a translation my friend did on autism, saying that it was wrongly translated. The protester also speaks Dutch, but his background was engineering. I re-read the translation and sided with my friend, which some people accused me of cronyism. That incident made me realized why my other friend upon switching from studying information technology to economics had to re-take Dutch test, because the economics faculty wanted to make sure his Dutch is good enough to study social studies despite he had been living and studying in NL for some years at that point.

So yes, everyone can translate, but it takes more than knowledge of the language to make a good translation.

Siamang & Kakaktua

As soon as I got back home from out of town I heard this constant screaming day and night from the neighbor's Siamang. It's a type of gibbon. I feel like living near the jungle or something. I have no idea which neighbor has it, but it's only since a couple of days ago. My hunch is the one with a huge plot of land near by, as it sounds from that area.

If I am not mistaken, siamang is an endangered species, so probably it is illegally obtained. Then again, it's Indonesia, where every thing goes. We are also guilty of having a kakaktua that someone gave us a while back. Mom and I are talking about giving it to one of the zoo, while joking that as soon as the kakaktua entered that zoo's cage, he is going to gnaw its cage toward freedom just as he neatly did several times at our place.

With the sound of siamang, kakaktua, rooster and chicks around all day, it doesnt feel like I am living in the middle of metropolitan city, which is kinda great in a way. But no, I still think we should give our kakaktua away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Choice

The human life made out of choices. Yes or No. In or Out.
There are choices that matter. To love or to hate. Fight or surrender.
However, some important choices are not always in our hands.
Choose wisely while you can.

I've failed.
I've been broken.
I've gone to hell and back.

I've known joy.
I've known passion.
I've known love.

Now I choose to live.

On Hospital

For most people hospital is an awful place, a place where bad things happened.
Not for me.
I practically grew up there. I spent a lot of time there. I feel comfortable there.
Correction, I felt comfortable there.

Today I walked pass by the morgue. The. Morgue.
I slowed down, and choked up again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo

Between three choices, I hope I made the right decision by choosing the one that seems like my brain and heart (almost) agreed on.

Let the adventure begins...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Being Poor and Having Twins

The story on Jakarta Globe is not the first and sadly wont be the last. I heard it many times over. Some poor family had to 'sell' their baby because they couldnt afford to pay for the medical bills. It is said they are not registered for Jamkesmas. Based on my experienced, there are a lot of people out there who are not registered because the head of their village refused to do that for some reasons.

They are supposed to be registered.

In reality however, tells a different story. One needs money to be registered. Something they dont have in the first place. It is something that we need to sort it out together, without interference of our own ego/fanaticism/sentiments. Just sit down together and put those in needs first.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Books Glorious Books

There's a book fair down at Senayan at the moment. I went there after a meeting near the area. I have soft spot for books, so I came prepare carrying a rucksack with wheels.

First, I headed to Mizan's stand. I must buy Indonesian-English Dictionary published by them. Then I went around the place looking for 'Serat Centhini', a translated book from ancient Javanese, with no luck. However, I met this guy who said he's going to contact me if he could find it at his warehouse. When I bought 'Babad Tanah Jawa' at his booth, he asked if I was into Javanese thing. Well, actually I am just interested in reading old Javanese literature at this moment. I heard about those book growing up, I think it's about time to read them. I bought several more contemporary books, and dictionaries. I am settled for the next several weeks.

I notice that almost all booths sell religious books, Koran or Bible or both. Some were selling audiobooks and they were playing them pretty loud. Horrible. In the rare books booth, they only had comics. I found one booth selling 'The little house on the prairy' collection. I remember enjoying reading them when I was little, wondering how the snow feels, how the maple syrup tastes. At one point I tried making candy from syrup on the snow like Laura, but using our freezer:)

After walking around and emptying my wallet for three hours, I decided to go home, with a detour for a pizza in Grand Indonesia.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Lovely things

Arent they the cutest?
I them both


That's the subject of a friend's email today. Apparently his friend wanted to see me about something we talked about last month. His office tried to contact my cell since Friday, but couldnt get through (something is terribly wrong with my cell, it looked ok but no calls get through). They thought I was out of the country. Finally they emailed me today.

So, I agreed to have the meeting, but the question is, I have no idea what the guy really wants. His office just said to follow up what we discussed, when I asked more specific they have no clue. We discussed politics (he was one of the founders of PAN), linguistics, economics, health care (workers and law), Bill Gates Foundation, and a bit of Ireland (he deals with Irish companies). Me and my big mouth.

Wish me luck

Sunday, July 04, 2010

How's the Baby?

I never said a word when I met someone who looked like a pregger, unless I knew that she was really pregnant. I've seen it happened. Someone asked when the baby's due, when there was no baby, just fat. Awkward.

The other day when I was with a friend, we met his friend, who I thought was pregnant. Lucky I didnt say a word about it, as she started to tell my friend she already lost 12 kilo's since the baby's born in June and still need to lose 10 more.

However, my strategy is not always safe. Once, I met an old colleague after months of not seeing her. We talked a bit, and then when she was about to leave someone said about her being pregnant. "Are you really pregnant? Congrats!" I said. She retorted, "You thought I was just fatter." Honestly, I didnt even realize she was gaining weight (she was on heavier side to begin with), but it was embarrassing.

Old Habit Dies Hard

I have a thing about teeth, and occlusion for that matter. It was a big thing actually. Big enough to get me 3 retainers, 2 fixed braces (the first one with an external head gear) and an orthognathic surgery, two surgeries if you count the time they took the plates and screws out. So, yes, teeth matters to me. A lot.

For years I used to look at people's malocclusion and did this 'what kind of treatment he/she needs' in my mind. Ok, sometimes I discussed it with my old boss too. Yes, that bad.

Since Indonesians are not into teeth (that's an understatement!) and there are not enough proper orthodontists or maxillofacial surgeons, somehow I stop doing that. Until last night. I saw this gal with severe class III malocclusion, and started doing it again instantly. It made me smile. I dont know why, but it did.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


I was at this party tonight with a friend and was introduced to his friends/colleagues. There were these two ladies amongst them, one of them was wearing a beautiful kebaya, the other was wearing long-sleeves batik with trousers. Interesting. We chatted a bit, then they excused themselves. I was later told that they were a couple.

Well, they were the first openly lesbian Indonesian couple I met in Jakarta. Good for them. I wish I was as brave being true to myself in Jakarta.

The Future Is Orange

I dont normally watch football, but I watch some matches every now and then. Last night the Dutch football team kicked Brazilian team from the World Cup. It was a great game. I was teasing a friend of mine who is a fanatic Dutch supporter 10 minutes in to the match. By the end of the match he lectured me about having a little faith. It was fun.

Tonight I just realized Indonesian media named Dutch team 'Der Oranje'. Why is that? For as long as I remember and to the best of my knowledge in NL we called them 'Oranje', if you want to use any article: 'Het Oranje'. One of my Dutch friend said perhaps Indonesian uses German grammar, but in German 'Orange' is 'Orange' not 'Oranje'.

Anyway, I do hope Dutch win the cup. Oranje Boven!

ps: I just found out, in Ternate there was a fight between Dutch and Brazilian supporters. NUTS.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Mom has been kinda sick for sometimes. It started after two of my uncles died last month. First, it was her blood pressure, then some dizziness even though her blood pressure was almost normal. Last week she complained about joint pain, that she couldnt perform certain movements. Each time I offered to take her to the hospital she flatly refused.

The other day we were told that one of our neighbor had dengue, and they did fogging in the area. Now, one of my dad's studies was dengue fever, and he told me a lot about it. When mom started to have red spot all over, I was worried she had another bout of dengue. Why? Because there are 4 kinds of dengue, with different degrees of severity. If you had one, you are only immune for that kind but it could also mean if you contracted with the other kind (even though it's the least harm kind) you will experienced it more severely than it normally would.

Finally, two days ago she agreed to see a doctor near our place because she developed some sort of un-itchy rash/swelling all over her body. Well, actually she agreed to do blood test, but to do that she had to see a doctor first. Her blood test results are normal, with a little bit of elevated hemoglobin. He said it's not dengue, nor chikungunya. Then mom called her sis who is an ENT doctor, who thinks mom has some allergic reaction.

Yesterday my aunt came over and I asked her if it is possible that mom has lyme disease. I know it's a long shot, but the most of symptoms are there. She said it's not common to have that in Indonesia, plus mom hasnt been tending her plants lately anyway. I didnt have time to ask more, as I had to do another hospital run (for someone who refuse to be a doctor, I sure spend a lot of my time at hospitals, but that's another story).

Last night mom almost lost all the swelling due to my aunt's meds. But this morning after she tried to located a door handle in her storage and got tired again, the rash returns.

I've been thinking, I know she was tired and stress out after my uncles passing away. I hate pulling the psychosomatic card, but it's weird that mom has been experiencing these symptoms while her test results are normal. It is two years ago this month that dad had his last birthday and passed away, I could only think that subconsciously it made mom sick.

Anyway, I am going to drag her to this doc I know this coming Tuesday.

Thursday, July 01, 2010


I miss you so much.
I miss talking with you.
Especially at this moment.
I wanted to visit,
... But I ended up walking around the place you loved instead.