Archive for April, 2011

Weekly Photo Challenge: Round

Taken during my trip to Chennai, India for a friend’s wedding, this is how they eat in that magical country: tiny little round bowls, placed on an even-bigger round plate! Everyone gets one set each, so imagine the amount of dishwashing needed!

And so, how does one eat Thali-style?

1. Remove little bowls, put them around the big round platter.

2. Get a chapatti if you’d like one, or wait as the waiter dump loads of rice on your now-cleared platter (notice that it’s already lined with banana leaf).

3. Dump the curries back onto the big platter. One-by-one or all together, on your rice or on the side, it’s all up to you!

4. Eat away! And remember, proper Indian manners require you to eat with your (right) hand.. so dump the spoon, and enjoy the true meaning of “finger-licking good” 🙂

Chennai, India

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One

My sis, the ultimate evader of self-photos, might just kill me for posting this photo. So if you guys don’t hear from me in a while, please send the Search & Rescue Team 🙂

One sister. One great beach. One beautiful sky. One amazing family holiday.

Belitung Island, Indonesia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

My first Weekly Photo Challenge! It is a late one (was meant for last week… see NYR #2), but ah heck.. I’ve already searched through my limited picture archive, so might as well go with it.

Both pictures were taken during my trips to Seoul, South Korea. The first one was taken in the uber-posh  W Seoul (Korean celebrities are known to hang out in its lounge-cum-club “lobby” during the weekends). The second one is the outer wall of the Deoksogung Palace. I have no idea of what is written on the smaller wooden boards; I just love the feel of serene old Seoul on one side along the wall and trees, juxtaposed with the modern hustle and bustle of people walking (and outside the frame, a busy main street in downtown Seoul).

W Hotel, Seoul

Deoksogung Palace, Seoul

To Sarkini, and Thousand Others Like You

My Dear TKI, My Poor TKI

Dear Sarkini,

First, in the spirit of honesty.. I’m sorry for not remembering your name! Other possibilities run through my head (Sakirni? Sarkani?) as I type this up, but I hope you don’t take this personally… I am exceptionally bad at remembering people’s names. I do however remember that you were born sometime in January, 1988 (yes, date forgotten) in a village (forgotten its name too) near Cirebon, West Java.

And that you have worked in Malaysia for 2 years as a housemaid, where you had to sneak behind your boss’ back just to make a quick phone call or send a text message to your family back home.

I acknowledge we did not meet in the best of circumstances: I kicked you out of my seat — not harshly but I admit I could have been a bit nicer (my excuse: fatigue after 5 days of travel, PMS, and the thought of having to go back to work tomorrow) — and then pretty much ignored you throughout the trip.

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How I Got My Name

Jumping straight to the conclusion, my name is a real example of the Indonesians’ love of abbreviations. Something, by the way, which I have recently learned in my to-date 1.5-years of living in Indonesia. Not a wealth of experience you might say, but it is all I have (if you discount the 7 years of childhood of which I remember nothing except for blurry images that may actually be re-enactments of what people have told me).

So, who chose it, and why? Uhm, I’m assuming here that my parents gave it to me instead of some random bum off the street. Covered in blood, eyes wide shut, and very much naked, I wasn’t really in a strong negotiating position. As to the why, I only hope nothing but best wishes and awesome parental love were the main factor.

The first part, Asti, is apparently the abbreviations from my father’s name (A. Asra) and my mother’s name (Ningti B. A.) Funnily enough however, Asti is actually a very common name in Indonesia! So much so, in fact, that during my highschool years in the Philippines, there were 3 Astis out of the total 5 Indonesians in the whole school! And so there I was looking like a complete idiot every time I asked my friend if they had seen Asti, only to have them reply “Uuuh, yes.. You?”

On the plus side, there is a whole Italian town (complete with a coat-of-arms and all) and sparkling wine (naturally, everything I touch has to sparkle) named after yours truly.

The middle part? Nuraini. (Could actually be spelled Nur aini, or Nur’aini.. but verifying it would mean looking for the actual birth certificate, and that is just asking too much at this time of the night!). It is of Arabic origin, and speaks of my Moslem heritage. “Light of My Eyes.” No complaints there, but you’d have to double-check with my parents if I actually lived up to it 🙂

The last part? Asra. Technically, “Asra” is not in my birth certificate. However, years of living abroad have forced my family to adopt a common last names simply for easing the paperwork process, (for the uninitiated, the concept of last names is not common in Indonesia and therefore it is very common for a whole family to have different “last names”)… which ended up being Asra as it is my dad’s “last name” — strictly in the sense that it is the last name in his full name, and not that it’s his family last name. My passports, university certificates, ID cards, credit cards, etc all uses Asra.

And, here’s the kicker, Asra is actually an abbreviation too! From his parents, my Dad only had one name (again, a common practice in Indonesia). However, as he was born in a remote village, government administration had not reached there yet and therefore he only made his birth certificate when he attended highschool in Jakarta. Not content with his one name, he added Asra as an abbreviation for A: Abuzar (his own first name), S: Scorpio (his Zodiac sign), R: Rahmah (his mother’s name), A: Abubakar (his father’s name).

Voila! You’ve got me! Abbreviated, Arabic and all.

[Bonus story: While my birth certificate has my name sans my Dad’s, my sister’s name in her birth certificate actually has my Dad’s full name… as in, his first name and last name. She was born in Australia, where they required a last name of “Asra”, to which my Dad objected as it is only a made-up abbreviation. His request to use his first name (i.e. his “real” name) as her last name was a no-go too. The compromise? Put his full name in the birth certificate. See, even from birth, my sister already required negotiations and agreements of a global nature. My sister, the confused TCK from the get-go.]

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