Posts Tagged ‘life’

More Time, Please!

If there ever was a list of eternal questions, pondered across the generations (well, generations since the invention of money that is), this would definitely be in the top three:

“Do you wish you had more time or money?”

As they say, when we were students we had all the time but no money… and when we’ve joined the rat race and are paid employees, we have all the money but no time!

And since I’m now in the latter category, then my answer is a resounding, “More time, please!”

Some people chose time because with more time, you can get more money (e.g. work more) but you can’t buy more time with money. However, I’m lucky enough to have found a job that pays the bill, and then some. The problem then is that I have never been, and don’t think will ever be, a big shopper.. which would have made it easier to spend and enjoy my hard-earned money: drive straight to the nearest mall, then shop. No, I am instead a big traveler.. which means I require time as well.

My government is stingy enough with only 12 days of leave given each year… compared to the 25-35 in European countries. Plus, public holidays that fall on a weekend do not get replaced! This means that for September-December 2011, i.e. from now until year-end, there will be no public holiday here in Indonesia as Christmas, New Year’s and others fall on the weekend! That is why I am not taking any leave even during the big Eid festival at the end of the month, and nor will I be joining my friends to a diving trip to Alor. I am saving all of my holidays for my upcoming Tour de Middle East with my good friend Amel! Yay! (To Amel: I’m giving up Alor. Huge sacrifice. So this better happen! 🙂 )

But I wonder if this emphasis on enjoying our hard-earned money, on work-life balance, is a new phenomenon? Recently, two managers in my office were discussing the pay in our company and what the employees thought of it.  They noted that their generation were focused on the bottom-line, i.e. money, and were willing to work hard and late to earn it, and save it for their family and kids. They look forward to retirement, when they plan to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour.

However, they see that the Gen Y (moi?) – which means the new entrants to the workforce – have a different perspective. They (we?) do not see much point in earning lots of money, and yet having no time to enjoy it. They (we?) don’t want to wait till retirement to enjoy it. No, we (they?) want to enjoy it now – while we are still young, free, and physically able. So no, it’s not all about the money.

There goes my two cent’s worth.. or two second’s worth (exchange rate: 1 cent = 1 second).


It’s the Small Things…

…that makes life wonderful. Really and truly.

After the depressing wake-up call from my Thailand trip, I thought I should try to find a lil bit happiness in the everyday madness of Jakarta.. at least to keep me sane until my next lil travel fix. So what better time to start this list than on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Here goes, the list of small things that makes me happy (for now, at least):

1. Lazy Sunday afternoon, which started with a busy morning and will end with dinner with friends *bliss*

2. The lil endorphine-kick (and ego-boost) after a gym session.. on a Sunday morning no less! Yeah, baby, I’m ‘a get me some muscles mwahahaha (thanks to Dad for waking me up at 7:30am and asked for a ride to his friend’s place…)

3. Having a KFC meal, and ice cream for dessert after the gym session.. and not feeling guilty about it! (edit, delete note about muscle in #2).

4. The fresh smell of newly-washed hair, and the additional satisfaction of having it nicely blow-dried.. now the shop assisstants actually attend to me!

5. Having the house to myself…

6. …while knowing that my family is safe and sound, busy with their own activities. (right, God? please?)

7. Chocolate-covered, almond-stuffed, dates… yum! (and still not feeling guilty about it!)

8. Having something to write for #7 (was stuck there for a few mins..)

9. Writing again.. I am neither a good nor prolific writer, but the I do enjoy the lil bit that I do and always wish I have the discipline to write more.

10. Typing this lil post in my green backyard, listening to the rain and watching the fish and turtles lazily swimming away in the pond.

Have a great Sunday, people.

Breaking Up with Myself

Scene: A business trip to Bangkok by day, and a tourist/traveller by night.

But the point of the story is not the business trip (who wants to read about boring business stuff anyways), nor is it Bangkok (though it is a great city).

The point is this: it was a wake-up call. A depressing one, but a necessary one.

You see, I met a group of travellers/backpackers during my night out in Bangkok.. and with one of them, I further explored Bangkok’s street life. For those two nights out in Bangkok, I was happy, relaxed, open and free. The night was forever young and anything could happen. There was nothing in my mind apart from the here and now, that very second at that very place.

It wasn’t until this morning, as I was checking out from the hotel, that I started to feel utterly depressed. I absolutely did not want to leave Bangkok, and I was dreading coming back to Jakarta. The thought to just stay in Bangkok, and basically abandoning everything here in Indonesia, flitted across my mind.. but the pragmatic and realist side of me quickly took over, and I got into the cab. “Airport, please.” Let it be said that I have never felt so down in a long time.. and the sheer suddenness of that sadness is probably what shocked me the most. Usually, you know when you will be sad… or more importantly, you know why you’re sad. Maybe a friend is leaving, or maybe you are leaving, or maybe it’s a long-overdue break-up… whatever.

But what I felt then, that was just unexplainable. Bangkok is not that much different from Jakarta, and it is so close and accessible that I can easily come back anytime. I have my family, friends, a home and a good job waiting in Jakarta, while in Bangkok I have, well, nothing. Plus, I was only there for two days on business, so the going out and shopping was just a bonus. So then why the inexplicable dread of leaving??

…and then it hit me. It wasn’t that I did not want to leave; it was more that I did not want to return. To Jakarta. To Indonesia. To “home.” Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Buddha’s Pink Slip

A few weekends ago I went to the Buddha Birthday Festival here in Brisbane. One of the stalls offered a big glass bowls filled with little pink slips, each with its own predictions/wise words/poem. Mine says (in the original punctuations and grammar style):

Most wonderful is the eye that can

See boundless scenery. And so is the

lamp that can light up. Heaven and

earth. ten thousand families live

beyond dense willow trees and the

bright flowers, you knock a door any

place, someone will open it for you.

If we break it down, the following sentences emerge:

Most wonderful is the eye that can see boundless scenery, and so is the lamp that can light up heaven and earth.

Looking up, I’m afraid my boundless scenery is blocked first by my laptop screen and then my bedroom wall. If I can see through the walls, then I’ll see my bathroom. Where is my boundless scenery? Note to self: go to a poster shop and get a huge nature picture of boundless scenery.

As for my lamp, I personally think it’s the most awesome lamp in the world. It keeps me company while I’m awake, and keeps me awake when I don’t want to. Pretty powerful little lamp, I must say. But to light up heaven and earth? Man, that’s a tall order for a 20W bulb! Maybe one at a time, but definitely not both 🙂

Ten thousand families live beyond dense willow trees and the bright flowers, you knock a door any place, someone will open it for you.

As I have recently re-watched Lord of the Rings, the description fits either the Elvish wood of Lothlorien or Rivendell. But whether or not they have a population of ten thousand families will remain a mystery. Any suggestions of a similar place in our world? Then I might go there, see boundless scenery along the way, and knock on a door where the lamp of heaven and earth is kept.

Growing Old in Indonesia

Yesterday I attended a friend‘s half-thesis defense on the subject of Aging in Place. In essence, her project aims to discover ideas on how to design Smart House technology that will help maintain social contact for elderly people who are living alone.

I am fortunate enough to have three grandparents alive and well, and they are currently living with my aunts and uncles. It is my basic understanding that the Indonesian, and perhaps the wider Asian, culture dictates that the responsibility to care for the elderly falls on the children. The Singaporean government even goes as far as making that “cultural” attribute into a national law, thus allowing parents to take their children to court for inadequate support/care.

However, as my friend’s thesis suggests, social contact (as well as financial support) plays a vital role in the well-being of elderly people. Though living with their children and grandchildren provides *some* social life, today’s busy and fast-paced lifestyle might mean that this benefit from living with family is overstated. The now-adult children will be out during the day in the office, and the kids will be busy with schools, friends, music lessons and extra tutorials. This means that the grandparents would be left most of the day at home, alone with the maids.

Over-protective family could also lead to safety measures that limit the movement of the elderly outside their homes. In developed nations such as Australia and England, I can see a large number of elderly people out and about: in the city, on public transportation, and even in University. In my opinion, public safety and facilities are the main reason that allows this freedom and independence for them to brave the busy hectic world that is usually reserved in Indonesia for the young and healthy (and brave?).

Perhaps a simple solution would be similar to SAGE. Here, while they do not provide around-the-clock live-in accommodation, they provide a venue for the elderly to meet and socialise — something similar to YMCA for the youth perhaps? I think this is an amazing idea: to provide activities suited to the aging population, where they can meet others from the same generation. It’s hard enough to make and keep friends for the able-bodied, with Jakarta’s infamous traffic jams and the growth of sprawling urban cities. I can only imagine how hard it is for my grandparents to meet and make new friends. An organisation such as SAGE provide a mutual meeting point for the elderly, allowing them to continue exercise their physical and mental capability while simultaneously fulfilling their social needs. Numerous research has proven that a healthy social life can contribute to their health. The “center” also provides the additional benefits for the adult children as they do not have to worry about leaving their aging parents alone at home. They can safely be assured that there are other people around to keep a watchful eye on their parents, and provide fast notice and help in case of an emergency. Maybe instead of drawing an analogy with YMCA, perhaps it’s more similar to a daycare service for kids with working parents?

I am interested to hear if there is a similar facility in Indonesia. It could perhaps be joined with an existing retirement home, where elderly people who are staying with their family outside could still (maybe for a nominal fee) come in to join the activities and use the facilities provided by the retirement home. It’ll provide additional income for the retirement home, and new friends to those people in the retirement home (especially beneficial if we assume that they are living in the retirement homes precisely because they do not have family outside to care for them).

This post is dedicated to my beloved grandparents in Jakarta and Lampung… and the one I’ve never met.

Pictures are taken from here and here.

Counting My Blessings

With exams and deadlines looming, I have unfortunately been using my brain too much while neglecting the heart. I find it harder as the days go by to concentrate and focus — the brain knows what it has to do, but not why.

So this little post is meant to let the heart take control for a few minutes and talk to the brain. So listen up, up there.

1. God

The one constant force in my life. She might not always be at the forefront, but She is always there nonetheless. I may not adhere to Her advice all the time, but I hope I can always hear it.

2. Family

A very close second to God. My parents are exceptional people, who truly give their all for my sister and me. My only aim and prayer is their happiness. Simple.

My mom is the firecracker, who will go BANG unexpectedly (though never provoked). We had our differences, but then again I was a very bad teenager. She is now my anchor, and the engine that keeps the family running smoothly amidst all the changes. A strong-headed woman who gives her all and her best to anything she does.

My dad is the goofball, the good cop to my mom’s bad cop. My debate partner, my reference point, and my joker. A hardworking man who takes life in strides because he knows he has done it right.

My sister is the knock-in-the-head, toe-stubber that jolts me back to the reality. I love her deeply for that (or maybe inspite of that?), and for providing me with endless entertainments (mostly at her expense).

The three people I will willingly give up everything for.

3. Friends

As is often said, “Friends are the family you choose.”

Since I left my born-into family over seven years ago, separated from them by thousands of miles and hours of dull flights, I have full faith in this adage. I have been lucky to have such amazing friends, who have opened up their hearts, minds, and homes to me. They moved my stuff from different homes/cities (even when I’m not there to help them!), drove me up and down England for various purposes, cooked food, proofread my assignments (and handed them in while I recover from stress), made chicken soup when I was ill, bungee-jumped with me, and some even braved the heat of Indian summer with me! But mostly, and most important, they were there for coffee and random ramblings.

To name them all will be both pointless and tiring, but suffice to say I owe them all I know and will learn.

4. Health

Often take for granted, but I include it in my prayers.

5. Opportunities

I have been extremely fortunate to have the world as my oyster. Truly. I have travelled extensively, lived in several countries and schooled (and uni-ed) around the world. As mentioned before, I started where most people aim to end. Compliments to my beloved parents for all… and for continuing to support me to explore all the world has to offer.

May I never take for granted all that I have been given, and may I make the most of it all.