Posts Tagged ‘indonesia’

Revenge is Best Served by A Policeman: My Biggest Frustration about Driving

Like all cool things, this post is double-titled. Triple or quadruple would have been even better. Ask Puff Diddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Sean Combs.

So the WP PostADay team asked me (yes, just me) what my biggest frustration is about driving. I don’t know if they have ever been to where I currently live — Jakarta — but I doubt it. Why? Well, the suggestions include things like “people who don’t know how to merge”, or  “the ones who leave their turn signals on for decades.” Oh, I wish these were my biggest frustrations! You hard-core fellow Jakartans can laugh along with me here.

To the rest of the world, here’s the Jakarta version of things-that-make-driving-fun:

1. Buses that stop anytime, anywhere. The world is their bus stop, apparently. Yes, even in the middle of a 4-lane road with 10 seconds left on the green light.

2. Same bus crossing the red light, while you (of course) dutifully stop.

3. Motorcycles going counterflow, on possibly every single road in Jakarta.

4. Motorcyles cutting across the lane without the slightest acknowledgment of my car.

5. Same motorcyle, with his wife and kids riding without helmets, who looked back in anger when I honked him.

6. Vehicles taking up the bus lanes dedicated to TransJakarta. There are portals blocking the lanes (they only open when the buses come) and lane barriers, but those with the  SUVs (i.e. rich people who are supposedly well-educated) just drive across the barriers after they’ve passed those portals. These include cars with the government/police/military license plates. Yes, even our Minister of Social Affairs did it!

7. Cars that go on the right lane, but you just know that they will cut in front and turn left. Vice versa for those turning right.

8. Cars that go sloooooooooowwww on the right lane in a 4-lane highway. And they are blind/deaf to all the honking and light-flashing that you give ’em. Seriously, dude. This is what they mean by “all talk, no action.”

9. Even worse, cars that hog two lanes. You can’t even pass these b*stards!

10. This is actually more heartbreaking than frustrating, but… cars that take advantage of someone’s emergency: those that tailgate an ambulance.

On a brighter note, on Friday I got my revenge on offender #7. See, usually you just have grin-and-bear-it when you see any of these Top 10 offenders… short of chasing after and ramming them in the back for the joy of it. But, lo and behold, the police was in action and actually stopped a guy who cut right in front of me to turn left! I honked, and tried to defend my lane as he inched closer, but I was already pressed against the side pavement and so I had to let him go first. As he turned left, the policeman came in front and stopped him! Yay! Eat that! Mampus lo! Rasain! Oooooooh, the joy of watching him trying to defend himself!!! *grin* You just made my day, Mr. Policeman.

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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Where am I? Exactly where I should Be. (I hope). (Fingers crossed).

The day after what is supposedly the international Day of Love, and I am feeling like I could use a bit more of love.

Spurred by the usual questions from the extended family — questions I’d rather not repeat as it is borderline obscene now simply because of its excessive use — I had the usual equally-boring discussions with my friends and cousin about it.

That, then, lead to the bigger question that I continuously grapple with each day I have been back here in the motherland. Or, to be more accurate, what people around tell me my motherland should be… simply because it is so by blood, by a little green book with the picture of an imaginary bird on the cover, and perhaps, by lack of other choice because getting another green/blue/red book is not that easy. And you need that book for everyone to identify you, and put you in a little category box in their heads. God forbid that you don’t have one.. it is pretty much like you don’t exist.

What, exactly, am I doing here? No, not in the big sense of life and Sophie’s-World-esque.. I’m being much more selfish and narrow-minded here. It’s more of the here, here.. In this city, in this job, doing the usual rat race and weekly mall runs. I don’t want another break-up, as I feel she is slowly coming back, but I do feel like I’m facing a constant uphill battle to keep her coming closer.. God alone knows what I would have to do to keep her once (if?) she gets here. I already feel like I’m slowly entering into a comfort zone, which is a definite no-go. I never remembered it being this hard to stay together, well-put, balanced.. and dare-I-say, happy content…  prior to coming back to motherland.

Is it just me that has changed, or is it motherland? If I had stayed in non-motherland, would I still be feeling lost like this? Does feeling home a matter of mind-over-matter, where if I keep repeating it often enough, loud enough.. it will come true?

I’m a great believer in mind-over-matter. It’s the engineer in me, who is always trying to solve problems.. and puts logic and reason on a pedestal over matters of the heart. And this is my engineer attempt to not feeling lost:

The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.

God circled, I arrowed. (Source: Lonely Planet)

Because if God can’t help me, who can? And if you say so, God, then I will make the most of it. Or, at least try to. I trust you have a plan, God, because for once, I don’t. And it scares the Hell out of me. My GPS and GoogleMap are pretty useless at this point — no disrespect to them — but I hope You have a better map. And I hope I can hear you when you tell me to turn right, turn left, or do a U-turn. Because right now, I’m just coasting…

Am I Past My Use-By Date?

In all honesty, I have never felt old. Yes, yes, I know I’m not really that old.. but still, it was fun to half-jokingly complain about “kids these days”, with their BlackBerries, Tweeter, Twilight and Justin Bieber, and about the fact I no longer get ID’ed when I walk into a club.. you know, during those (very rare) nights when I can muster the energy to dress up, drink up, dance away, and then wake up as usual for school/uni/work. And now, look at me, I’m freaking blogging (blogging! — yes, it must be repeated, if only to convince myself..) on my 9-year-old laptop (which has been my constant companion through 3 universities, 3 continents and 3 countries) on a Saturday night! O. M. G. (#1)

…that said, something did happen that made me really question my “use-by” date: the amazing Indonesia Mengajar program. See, this foundation will send 51 young teachers selected from thousands of applicants, i.e. the creme de la creme of young Indonesian graduates, to the distant and far-flung corners of Indonesia for one year to teach elementary school! By distant, I mean no telephones, no internet, regular blackouts and hours of car/boat rides to the nearest town. The aim is twofold: 1) to partially solve the undersupply of qualified teachers in these remote areas, and 2) to introduce these young fresh-graduates, as the future leaders of Indonesia, to the real grass-root condition of the nation. O.M.G. (#2)

see me google the application procedure, imagining the countless possibilities, and mind thinking ahead how to best frame my application letter, CV, etc etc etc. see me scroll down the page, skimming through the minimum requirements… a slight lag between eyes+brain processing information and right hand quickly moving the mouse down… waaaiiiiit, scroll back up!! “Maximum age of 25 years old”. O.M.G. (#3)




really? Really? REALLY? Ladies and gentleman, it’s official: I am OLD! Way past my use-by date. Opportunities are getting fewer and farther in between, and so it’s getting harder and harder to change the course of my life. Just like physically my body is losing its flexibility and the (little bit of) muscle tone it has, only to give way to aches and wobbly arms… so is my life losing its wonder and excitement, to be replaced with the mundane.

midlife crisis: ON.

yes, yes, I’m well aware that there’s a whole moral lesson to this story along the lines of “carpe diem”, “seize the day”, “better late than never”, bla bla bla.. but please, let the old ones rant. while we still have the energy to do so.

so here’s me, an old lady, signing out. it is, after all, way past my bedtime. meh.

ps: this post is in no way meant to dismiss the IM program, of which I highly admire and wish nothing but the best for its first batch of Young Teachers. nor is it meant to dismiss the really old people, who I highly admire too and find no less interesting than the young ‘uns.

Pelajaran di Ramadhan (A Life Lesson)

I received the following story in my inbox a few days ago. I’m not one who usually do “forwards”, but I think this one is not something that should be kept to myself. I do not know whether the events really took place, but the moral of the story does ring true. Apologies to those who do not speak Indonesian/Malay… when I find the time, I will post a translation. It’s long, but definitely worth reading.

“Bermegah-megah telah melalaikan kamu, sampai kamu masuk ke dalam kubur, janganlah begitu karena kelak kamu akan mengetahui, janganlah begitu kelak kamu akan mengetahui akibat dari perbuatanmu dengan pengetahuan yang yakin, niscahya kamu benar-benar akan melihat neraka Jahiim dan sesungguhnya akan melihat dengan ainulyaqin, pada saat itu kamu akan ditanyai tentang kenikmatan yang kamu megah-megahkan di dunia” (At Takatsur)

Bocah aneh menghendaki bercahayanya hati manusia

Bocah itu menjadi pembicaraan di kampung Ketapang. Sudah tiga hari ini ia mondar-mandir keliling kampung. Ia menggoda anakanak sebayanya, menggoda anak- anak remaja di atasnya, dan bahkan orang-orang tua. Hal ini bagi orang kampung sungguh menyebalkan.

Yah, bagaimana tidak menyebalkan, anak itu menggoda dengan berjalan ke sana ke mari sambil tangan kanannya memegang roti isi daging yang tampak coklat menyala. Sementara tangan kirinya memegang es kelapa, lengkap dengan tetesan air dan butiran-butiran es yang melekat di plastik es tersebut.

Pemandangan tersebut menjadi hal biasa bila orang-orang kampung melihatnya bukan pada bulan puasa! Tapi ini justru terjadi di tengah hari pada bulan puasa! Bulan ketika banyak orang sedang menahan lapar dan haus. Es kelapa dan roti isi daging tentu saja menggoda orang yang melihatnya.

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Ramadhan for kids

My friend introduced me to the wonderful world of Upin and Ipin yesterday, and so I thought I’ll share it with the greater world. Apologies though to those who do not speak Indonesian or Malay, as the show is shown in that language only.

In short, Upin & Ipin tells the story of two brothers as they learn about Ramadhan (the Holy Month for Moslems). The story line, though quite predictable for anyone who is familiar with Ramadhan’s basic tenets, is narrated by the twin brothers in a simple and clear animation style. It is about their first fasting experience for Ramadhan.

Upin and Ipin are bald, big-eyed 5-year-old twins. Upin is the elder of the two, differentiated with a twirl of hair on his head. Ipin is obssessed with fried chicken, and will either be holding one on his hand or dreaming about it.

The two characters are well defined and are very endearing. Their direct questions, (natural) rebellions and learning process create an easy platform for those who wish to learn about Ramadhan and also create some funny moments. I think the creators have really pinned down the average kids’ first encounter with Ramadhan: trying to learn, understand and do it. (From their website, I found that the show has been bought by a Turkish tv channel, so I suppose Upin and Ipin’s story is not unique to the Indo/Malay culture)

For more information, you can visit their website or see their show on YouTube (1st and 2nd episode, here). I have uploaded the 1st and 2nd episode below. You can see YouTube for all other episodes.

Hope you enjoy it!

My Indonesian Pride

A friend asked me recently, after listening to my not-so-Indonesian life history, whether or not I am proud being an Indonesian (the question of my Indonesian-ness, which also came up, is subject to another post). My immediate reaction: I held my breath. I honestly could not answer that question straight-up… but after a few seconds’ pause, and a fast battle between logic and heart, I said “yes….but.”

But the “but” is not why I write this post. There are lots of blog posts, newspaper/journal articles, essays and books out there that can better express this “but” than me. I too have had my share of “but” stories on Indonesia with my friends, family, colleagues and random strangers.

But, no. This post is on the “yes” part.

I personally found writing on this subject harder than I initially thought. But no country is perfect. Perhaps mine is further away from perfection than others, but it is no reason to dismiss it. Beauty is, after all, in the eyes of the beholder. I realize that, when it comes to anything, it is always easier to complain than to compliment. That’s why we have customer complaints call centers, but no customer praise ones. So I will perhaps try the other side, pray, cross my fingers and hope someday I can just say “yes, PERIOD.”

In the meantime, here are my current “yes” reasons.

1. Cultural/Ethnic Diversity

Spanning from Sabang to Merauke, I love Indonesia’s breadth of ethnic and religious diversity. I enjoy standing side-by-side with my friends from Papua, Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra friends (have yet to make friends from the other islands) and seeing my non-Indonesian friends’ mouths open in disbelief. I love having to think when answering the questions “What is Indonesian food/national dress/dances like?” only because there are so many to choose from… that we are not tied to a single particular type of food or clothing or even house. From Minangkabau’s Rumah Gadang to Toraja’s tongkonan (more description here), from Java’s wayang kulit to Madura’s bull racing to, from Aceh’s Saman dance to Bali’s Kecak. Let’s not forget the breadth of ethnic languages, some of which have their own alphabets and are totally unrelated to Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). I regret that since my parents are from different provinces, I can only speak Indonesia and none of my parents’ languages.

2. Natural Beauty and Resources

With over 17,000 islands (another fact I like to boast to my other “islander” friends), and a width spanning 5,271 km (3,275 mi) (in comparison, Dublin to Moscow is 2784 Km (1729.9 Miles)) Indonesia offers some breathtaking natural wonders. I have personally taken the role of Indonesian tourism ambassador (since our official tourism department seems to be defunct*) where I tell them Indonesia has beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, rainforests and biodiversity that should not be missed. In fact, we have the world’s largest lake on an island (Toba Lake) and also the largest island in a lake on an island (Toba Lake, too). Puncak Jaya, Papua is one of the few equatorial glacier mountains and is Indonesia’s highest point (extra point: we have the highest number of volcanoes in the world). Indonesia supports the second highest level of biodiversity and is also second in its endemism. Don’t forget that we have the world’s largest flower and lizard (weird combo, but it works.) (info from here).

3. Food

My favourite subject, but will not dwell on it for too long because I’m already starving. Closely related to cultural diversity, our food diversity ranges from its taste, ingredients (for example, some provinces use weed as a cooking herb), cooking methods and even the way it is being served (if in doubt, check out any Padang restaurant where the waiter carries on average ten plates at once and where all of the restaurant dishes are brought to your table. No need to put pictures on the menu! Come to think of it, there’s no need for a menu either.) From Padang’s spicy satay (oh-so-different from Madura’s sweet satay), Palembang’s pempek, Java’s rawon, the numerous sotos.. Not to mention the tropical and so-called exotic fruits such as durians, mangoes, salak, rambutan, etc.

4. People

I have met many Indonesians abroad and at home, and recently in the blogsphere, who are intelligent, able-bodied, analytical and realistic about Indonesia’s current situation but yet are hopeful, optimistic and committed to its betterment. They have experienced the other side and have the choice to stay where life is arguably easier, and yet some still choose to go back. While family is a common reason to return, not a small number of them profess that they hope to change Indonesia for the better, to change “what should be” to “what is.” Within Indonesia itself I also see this new batch of optimistic, well-educated generation that is tired of the status quo and want to change it (for example, the JBRB and BUAB team). In a conversation with an Indonesian lady here in Brisbane:

Lady: “Nanti selesai kuliah, nanti cari kerja aja di sini. Balik ke Indonesia-nya nanti kalo udah bener Indonesia-nya.”

My friend: “Yaaa.. mendingan bantuin nge-benerin 🙂

*I will not complain.

Note: I found through Indonesia Anonymus these interesting feel-good facts about Indonesia:

3rd biggest producer of rice
4th biggest producer of coffee
5th biggest producer of tea
8th biggest producer of fruits

(source: Pocket World in Figures, The Economist, 2008 Edition)