Posts Tagged ‘Plinky’

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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Bless the Sneeze

I don’t actually know why we say it, but I find I do say “bless you” when someone sneezes. I guess it’s more like a habit, a reflex. Similar to the heart-stopping, eyes-widening effect of the ice cream van music.

However, to another Moslem, I would say “Alhamdulillah” instead, which in everyday use can be loosely translated to “Thank God.”

In essence, “bless you” (which in completeness should be “God bless you”, since I know for sure it’s not me who’s giving the blessing!!) and “Alhamdulillah” both refer to “God” in whatever form you see “God” as, but the differentiation is simply to avoid offending a non-Moslem who *might* be thinking I’m “Islamifying” (?) them. Perhaps because “bless you” nowadays has more of a cultural reference, rather than a religious one.

In fact, a quick Google search shows up various possible origins to this expression — most of which are linked to religion in some way. One theory states that it originated during the bubonic plague, where sneezing was considered one of its symptoms. “Bless you” therefore could either mean i) a prayer for you to get well soon, or ii) an acknowledgment that your infected, and thus prays for your soul to God as they can no longer help you in this mortal world. Another theory is that because we sneeze so fast, our souls can get thrown out of our bodies! It is therefore either our souls that are vulnerable out in the open and can be snatched by the Devil… or, alternatively, our bodies are empty cases without our souls and thus the Devil can quickly take over. In either case, saying “bless you” was a way to shield our souls or physical bodies from evil spirits before they join back together.

For the Moslem, saying “Alhamdulillah” when someone sneezes has its origins in the hadith, or the narrations of the Prophet Muhammad. My (basic) understanding is simply because sneezing itself is a blessing from God, a form of relief as it releases the germs from our bodies. Thus, we thank God by saying “Alhamdulillah” (or “Praise to Allah”). Like those times when I have that I-want-to-sneeze-but-I-can’t feeling. My nose tickles then, and there’s pressure in my head and nose. And it really is a relief when the sneeze finally comes. And so I thank God.

“Bless you” or “Alhamdulillah”, either one, for me it means that I wish the person health and that the sneeze rids them of all those nasty lil germs! No harm in thanking God at the same time 😉

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What Is The One Thing You Consistently Spill On Yourself?

While this is not actually a Plinky prompt question, it is one of the questions it asks for your profile.

Oh, I could go on and on here about how I never spill anything on myself. Or how very careful I am about what I eat, and how I eat it. Or that white dresses and tops are staples of my outfits. And about how very lady-like I truly am.

But then, I will be lying. Big time. I mean, you already know my philosophy on “acting my age.”

And so, what would be more appropriate than for me to shout out “Ice Cream!”, loudly and confidently. Easiest question by far to put up on my profile page. Much easier than “describe yourself in three words” type of questions. Plus, it probably says more about me than “short.small.loud” 😀

My choice of culprit: preferably vanilla or strawberry. Even better, Haagen-Daaz’s Strawberry Cheesecake. And in a cone, please. None of this silly business of ice cream in a cup. That just spoils the fun! Hence, I guess, the spilling…

Weirdly enough, I don’t actually have a sweet tooth. I order my juice fresh, no sugar. I drink my tea dark, no sugar. I like my chocolates dark. In fact, I am actually not a big fan of chocolates, candies, sweets, sodas, etc.

But ice creams are a whole different story. Oh, how they differ! They’re fresh, fun to eat, and definitely brings images of happy summers by the beaches. In fact, I have had ice cream in the middle of winter too, while standing outside waiting for the bus. So imagine what I’m like during the heights of summer, with all these ice cream vans running around, playing that happy ice-cream-van music 😀 Pictures of me in Italy actually resembles the ice cream menu in the gelateria found on every corner of the street. In front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a cone of chocolate-mint gelateria. In St Mark’s Square in Venice, licking a scoop of stracciatella gelato. In front of Juliet’s Balcony in Verona, with pistacchio. Florence, nocciola. Milan,  lampone. So now you know just why I love Italy.. aside from all the great architecture and history too, of course.

What about you? And yes, I’m sure you all must be spilling something.. that’s why I love you all. (Secrets, perhaps?) We can’t all be perfect, can we? 😉

My Real Age vs. the Age I Feel

My first Plinky answer, and it is an easy one for me.

Do I feel younger or older than I really am, you ask? I answer with much glee and happiness (and my parents and extended family will answer this with big roll-of-the-eyes and sighs-of disapproval): younger!

I skip across town. I jump and clap my hands like a drunk penguin when I’m really happy. I get easily amused by the little things. I laugh to my heart’s content. (Needless to say, huge Toys ‘R Us megastores (or any toy stores) are one of my favorite places on earth). Pictures of me will always involve running, jumping, or at the very least, a huge idiotic grin on my face. I get *really* giddy, so easily. As in, really. I eat my ice cream in a cone (which I recently discovered is very “retro”). Plus ice cream van music is one of the best sounds in the world. If I weren’t so technologically-challenged, I’d have that as my ring tone. Seriously.

Don’t get me wrong — I do enjoy discussions on religions, philosophy and other “heavier” topics over dinner or a cup of coffee. And I am, so-they-say, well-educated. And the years of travelling and moving does provide me with some street-smart-ness (?) most people don’t think I have.

But, what I have also learnt through my formal and informal education is that happiness is truly an active state of being, not a passive one. Like the title of the movie, it has to be pursued. And so when I am happy, I express it. Loud laughters and all. (Now guess why golf, with all its “hush” and “silence please”, is not a favorite sport of mine). And I try to seek that happiness everyday, down to the smallest things. I try to avoid taking things for granted and at least try to see something new or different about it. Because if there’s one thing that travelling taught me, with all the bad and good side of it, is that you can always find beauty anywhere… you just have to look for it. Bad traffic, bad food, bad people, bad accommodation — these will always be there, just as much as the good traffic, good food, good people, good accommodation will always be there too. I just have to look harder, and see the lighter side. At the very least, “bad” travel experiences make “good” travel stories.

The grass may always be greener on the other side, but until you get there, you have to learn to love the greenness in yours.

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