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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who said Earth is doomed?

"Let's be clear. The planet is not in jeopardy. We are in jeopardy. We haven't got the power to destroy the planet - or to save it. But we might have the power to destroy ourselves." Ian Malcolm - Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

If asked, do you believe in global warming and such? Do you believe that the animals and plants will soon come to extinction as predicted by the environmentalist? Or do you think like me, it really doesn't matter because Human will eventually survive. Will we?

Global warming, climate change and so on has been such a hot topic in previous years. Some chase this issue so fervently it was almost like defending their religion. Perhaps it was. But to others this issue is a load of crap. Let's face it, there aren't any direct connection that is visible to the naked and untutored mind between the ocelot's population and human's population in general. By the way, you do know what an ocelot is, right?

But how about thinking about the global warming thingy this way: Scientist connect global warming to climate change (extreme rain and flooding) >> those extreme rain and flooding wreck the crop and debilitate our movement >> food and other items become expensive >> poverty rise >> bye bye human. The World Bank already announce the food price has reached dangerous level and it will lead to continuous poverty. Hungry people are angry people, war is predictable. And all because we don't care enough about our earth.

You might think I'm saying hocus pocus, but do stop to think for a moment. Is it really normal to rain all the time in drought season and dry all the time in the rainy season? Also those blizzard and extreme flooding in area which shouldn't even had any chance of blizzard and flood? I my self notice that my sick leave has been increasing compared to the first time I arrive in Bali. And as I work in photography I can't help but also noticed that the weather has also been unpredictable. Try to think, does it happen to you too?

The problem is, I know for certain earth will survive, I share Ian Malcolm's point of view in this case. It's unthinkable that earth, for all her long age and all the turbulence she suffer (huge devastating meteorites for example) will cease to continue. Dinosaurs born and extinct, plants evolve and dies, why are we so certain that the extinction of human will make a huge impact for earth? I'm not trying to save those beautiful tigers or those cute marmoset here. I'm trying to save my precious self, my beloved friends and family.

If you think saving your self is difficult, and you have to go "green" and "vegan" all the way, you can't be more mistaken. In the Earth Hour website people post their ideas on how to be "green", and you'll be amazed on how easy it is. Using less plastic (obviously!), try to plant a tree, and so on and so forth. But they also have ideas like "only drink local beer", or "open the car sunroof so no AC is needed". It's simple ideas, but imagine if it can be applied. Drinking/eating locally means you're reducing your carbon footprints compared to the imported products; using sunroof instead of AC means less gasoline (even if only very few saving, it's still saving), and you also got to get closer to nature. Balinese have Seclusion Day/Nyepi to celebrate their new year, which is a 24 hours of Earth Hour :).

Anything that will allow you get closer to nature, even reducing the time amount you use with your iPods, cellphone, laptop and such, means you have save the necessary electricity and energy, and you will less likely to do something harmful to Nature if you appreciate how beautiful it is, and how generous it has given us.

If, by the this last paragraph, you are still not convinced, why not just try it? There aren't any side effect in trying to do these "green" things, and the ideas in the earth hour website is also fairly easy to do and won't cost you a thing. Just give it a go. We might not be able to save ourselves from extinction, but we might delay it for a while.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Nyepi, Balinese Day of Silence

Prologue from Wikipedia: Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to Bali's calendar (in 2011, it will be on March 5th). The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

5 March 2011

7 AM Bali Time: It's quiet. Absolute quiet. I can hear the sounds of the rain, the sounds of the birds chirping, the sounds of silence. This day it is prohibited to make loud sounds, so no dangdut or melayu music this morning, no motorcycle sounds, no children or any kind of unnatural sounds. As the neighbors around my house have conveniently leave for their friends and families houses, there are no sounds of human whatsoever.

The silence engulf me, leaving me awestruck and amazed. All of my days were seemed to be filled with noise from the outside: friends, families, strangers, TVs, music. Today, all TV or radio is off, I couldn't communicate by phone or internet without the risk of embarrassing myself as unfaithful (after all, I were specifically told to meditate and contemplate myself on this day, not leisuring around). So there I was, sitting on my porch, hearing myself and my conscience (I finally found her again after so long), enjoying the silence. The rain slowly starts to fall again.

9 AM Bali Time: My little brothers and sister already woke up and huddle with me in the living room. As they were only teenagers, I let them blast zombies on the computer. However, I strictly confiscate the modem and also hide my mobile phone (after put it in silence mode) to prevent any "Social Media" temptation. They were not allowed to venture outside the house as well, though several of their friends were seen wandering around (shortly before the Pecalang came).

At first, they were restless and agitated, however we manage to smooth things and end up laughing and talking about everything. Just like my new found conscience, this is also new for us. It is a rare thing to sit together and have a quality time with my family, as they all have their own agenda even in holidays (just like all "modern" people, I guess). I never realize how pleasant my brothers can be, and they were not God-sent annoying little critters. Not always. And yes, they see me in new light, not the ever-busy-angry-easily-miss-touchy. We're family, after all.

2 PM Bali Time: Time seems to stop. I felt like I've been living almost a week, perhaps even a month swayed in the silence. My brothers and sister have all but sleeping around on sofa and carpet, playing with my dog and cat, and then cuddle up with Mahabharata and Ramayana (they're running out of books and comics. period). It amaze me to see the clock barely strikes 2.

I can't tell you how enjoyable it is for me. Even in my holidays and leaves, I always manage to get "What?? It's this hour already??". But today I can't go out, not even to buy snacks from the nearby stores, or to wander around doing (un)essential things. Thus, my confinement makes the time stops ticking. And there are no TV or radio or other means to check with the time on the outside. I also don't need to ruin my emotion by reading or commenting rude remarks that so often exist in the internet. The outside world just doesn't (seem to) exist.

7 pm Bali Time: Darkness fell. No lights of whatsoever. But stars shining brightly, so brightly I lost my breath upon seeing them. No flashy neon lights, no over-bright house light, no light in any kind of form to distract the brightness of the stars. But no moon as it was new moon.

But I'm scared, dreadfully scared. I'm afraid of the dark, and Balinese horror stories pop up in my mind. The silence and total darkness engulf us and depressed us. We huddled together in my bedroom, all of us sleeping on my little bed, trying to calm each other and in time, pray to God that nothing will befall us till we fall asleep. So if I manage to find myself and my family through out the day, at night I found God. Quite productive for a day's work isn't it? :)

6 March 2011, 7 AM Bali Time.
The air and the world look so clear and beautiful. So pure. Cars and motors are back, people are back, but they looks much nicer. Perhaps not only the world has change and have time to purify herself, I have also purify myself, and perhaps also people around me. It's New Year already.

I know and fully aware that what we Balinese do at Nyepi is probably considered as "Impossible", and images of the horrid day probably sprang to mind. But we did this every year, and without hesitation or exemption. For nay-sayers, please consider these for a minute:
1. Silence is golden. In fact, it worth its weight in gold. Do you know how much major hotels and resort charge for their "exclusiveness", or in another word to keep as silence as possible for their esteemed patrons? In Bali it can range thousands of dollars for a night, yet at Nyepi we got it fairly free.

2. Finding Neverland. Discussing and have a quality time with yourself, your family, and your Creator may be quite like finding Neverland. It's there, but not everyone can find it. Of course, one may differ in this matter, and the so-called social creatures will never approve a day without their friends and peers (even in internet). But think about it, we use to have the quiet time in our mother's womb and it was quite good I think (have you seen an evil baby? Evilness don't come later, and I tend to think it as disease which is infected through other people. We learn to be bad). A bit of silence won't hurt you, just like a bit of fasting. You can always indulge later ;).

3. Earth's day off. Yes, this goes to you vegans and Greenpeace lovers and (so-called) green living addict. What better ways to help our ailing earth than to release her from her daily dose of pollution (sounds, lights, land, water, air, any kind of possible pollution in short). It's just one day, it's only in one area (Bali), but it helps a lot. Bali's Electrical Department (PLN) said they save almost USD 900,000 (IDR 8 Billion) for just one day, and they could have save a whole lot more if the electric-guzzling hotels and resorts join the silent celebration and turn off their lights.

We have "Earth Hour", but Balinese have "Earth Day". It is my sincere hope that the Indonesian government can preserve this beautiful and unique holiday, as there has been increasing urges from the non-Hindu and non-Balinese to make exceptions. If seen from religion point of view, it is understandable. Why should non-follower join the ritual of Hindu Bali? But let's see it in clear light. See what it has to offer for Earth, for your self, for people around you. Be honest with yourself and believe me, you will see it really worth the effort. Come join us next time will you, and indulge in the unique celebration of beautiful silence.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nyepi 2011 (Ina)

Prologue: Untuk merayakan Tahun Baru Saka masyarakat Hindu Bali melakukan ibadah Nyepi, dimana mereka menjalani satu hari dengan 4 pantangan: Amati Geni (tidak menyalakan api/cahaya); Amati Karya (tidak bekerja); Amati Lelunganan (tidak bepergian); Amati Lelanguan (tidak bersenang-senang). Apakah anda berpikir ini horor? Tidak juga :)

5 Maret 2011

Apa yang berbeda pada hari ini dibandingkan hari-hari lainnya? Yang pertama saya sadari (dan yang paling signifikan) adalah kesunyian. Pagi ini rasanya semua begitu sunyi dan damai. Tumben banget bisa dengar kicauan burung, ga tenggelam sama musik dangdut (or worse, the melayu's) atau suara-suara aktivitas lainnya. Bahkan udara di sekitar rasanya lebih ringan, lebih damai. Kesunyian ini bukan hanya karena ibadah Nyepi yang dilakukan masyarakat Bali, namun juga karena tetangga disekitar rumah saya dengan manisnya pulang kampung/menginap di rumah sanak famili lainnya. Saat saya masih setengah sadar menikmati kedamaian pagi itu di teras rumah saya, hujan pun turun. Pagi itu saya tak mampu berpikir, tak mau berpikir. Hanya ingin duduk dan meresapi indahnya hujan dan kedamaian yang ada.

Ini mungkin terdengar aneh dan tidak penting ya, bengong sendirian. Tapi buat saya ini sungguh sangat melegakan. Dalam keheningan ini saya mampu "berdiskusi" dengan diri saya, apa yang harusnya tidak saya lakukan dan apa yang harusnya saya lakukan. Biasanya ga ada waktu untuk tenang sendiri, saya selalu merasa saya dikejar waktu, dan dikejar keriuhan yang ada di sekitar saya. Kapan anda pernah memiliki waktu tenang, dan maksud saya benar-benar tenang untuk mengambil sebuah keputusan? Biasanya kita harus selalu mengambilnya dalam keadaan cepat, dan dengan berbagai masukan/pertimbangan walau sebenarnya nurani sudah menyalakan sirene bahaya.

Itulah yang berikutnya yang saya sadari, bahwa waktu seolah berhenti. Larangan keluar rumah membuat saya tak bisa melakukan aktivitas apapun. TV yang tak siaran dan DVD player yang rusak (thank goodness!) membuat saya terpaksa duduk diam dan menikmati hari itu. Untungnya HP saya sudah saya silent dan saya sembunyikan dari malam sebelumnya, sehingga mengurangi godaan untuk nge-tweet dan update status FB. Akibatnya? Waktu berjalan begitu lambat. Hujan yang turun pun berhenti, lalu disambung hujan berikutnya. Adik-adik saya bangun dan kami menghabiskan waktu berbincang-bincang, bercanda dan menikmati kehadiran satu-sama lain. Ini juga suatu berkah, karena biasanya kami nyaris tak bertegur sapa, di hari libur sekalipun, karena semua memiliki agenda masing-masing.

Saat gelap menjelang, harus diakui keheningan menjadi semakin mencekam. I'm afraid of the dark. Kami bertiga bersama dalam kamar saya yang kecil, berdesakan sambil menghibur dan menenangkan satu sama lain. Sebenanya tidak ada yang harus dikhawatirkan, namun manusia pada dasarnya tidak menyukai apa yang tidak mereka ketahui. Dan kondisi yang begitu hening, gelap dan mencekam sedikit banyak mempengaruhi mood semua orang. Yang kemudian menghasilkan efek yang dimau: berdoa sepenuh hati pada Tuhan agar dilindungi :). Kami berdoa, kami menghibur satu sama lain, dan pada akhirnya, terlelap dengan damai bersama. Dan sebelum tidur, saat saya menyempatkan diri mengintip keluar, Bintang-bintang tak pernah terlihat sedemikian indahnya, sedemikian terangnya. Keindahannya benar-benar sempurna karena tak harus berkompetisi dengan lampu neon dan lampu buatan lainnya.

Mungkin tulisan saya ini terdengar sangat kikuk, tapi saya benar-benar tak mampu mendeskripsikan betapa indah dan menyenangkannya hari ini buat saya. Satu hari ini membuat saya merasa jauh lebih segar daripada cuti 2 minggu penuh yang saya ambil akhir tahun lalu. Sangat mudah mencaci hari unik ini, apalagi bila bukan pemeluk Hindu Bali dan/atau bukan berasal dari Bali. Namun seperti saya jelaskan, hari ini membawa berbagai faedah: keringanan untuk bumi dan lingkungan, kedekatan anda dengan diri anda sendiri, kedekatan anda dengan keluarga, kedekatan anda dengan Tuhan. Saya yakin banyak orang yang menganggap ini horor, tapi percaya deh, it's really worth it.

Sekedar informasi, hal yang paling dihargai/dibanderol dengan mahal di resort-resort Bali adalah kesunyian. Semua hotel/resort yang dibandrol ribuan dollar per malam menjanjikan 1 hal yang sama: ketenangan dan eksklusivitas. Dan di hari Nyepi kita mendapatkan hal ini dengan gratis. Buat para pencinta Green Living (atau paling ga mengaku demikian), apa lagi cara paling baik untuk menyelamatkan bumi (dan Manusia) daripara membebaskan bumi dari beban polusi (listrik, cahaya, suara, etc) selama 1 hari saya? FYI, PLN Bali menghemat 8 MILLIAR rupiah selama Nyepi 1 hari ini, dan harusnya bisa jauh lebih banyak kalau saja resort dan hotel ikutan mematikan listrik.

Di saat semua orang sibuk promosi "Earth Hour", Bali memiliki "Earth Day". Masyarakat dalam dan luar negeri (yang beradab) juga sangat menghargai hari raya ini. Atas alasan-alasan diatas saya sungguh berharap tidak akan ada perkecualian-perkecualian selama Nyepi karena cuma di Bali yang bisa melakukan hal ini. Mau minta New York atau London melakukan ini? Jangan mimpi... :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nyepi, Sesusah Apa Sih?

Bayangkan hidup tanpa listrik (well, setidaknya tanpa lampu), tanpa keluar dari rumah anda, dan yup, tanpa TV...

Ok, ga usah panik LOL. Saya sudah bilang belum kalau Internet juga mati?

LOL... :D
Tapi serius lho, hal ini bisa dilakukan. Masyarakat Bali mengambil cuti sehari dari, ehm, dunia, untuk merayakan Tahun Baru Saka (Internetnya masih nyala sih). Walau terdengar horor, ini bener-bener terjadi dan merupakan salah satu hari yang terbaik di Bali. Penasaran? Stay tuned, will keep you posted ;)

Acknowledgment: Brewster Rockit comic strip by Tim Rickard

Nyepi, How Hard Can It Be?

Imagine living without electricity (ok, at least without lamps), without stepping out of your house, and yes, without TV...

Ok, no need to get panic LOL. Did I tell you that internet is off, too?

LOL... :D
Seriously, it can be done. Balinese take a day off from, well, world, to celebrate Balinese New Year. (the Internet is still on, though). You think it's impossible? Nope, it can be done, and it is one of the best day of the year. Will keep you posted, so stay tuned ;)

Acknowledgment: Brewster Rockit comic strip by Tim Rickard

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This One is For You, Mum

Mumpung hari Wanita se-Dunia (telat sehari sih), saya ingin bercerita tentang Mama. Yeah, pasti malas banget ya baca tentang keluarga orang lain. Tapi saya harap anda mau terus membaca sampai habis, siapa tahu ada pelajaran yang bisa ditarik :)

To get started, semua Mama pada dasarnya orang yang kuat. Laki-laki boleh berasumsi dia yang paling kuat, namun kekuatan yang sebenarnya buat saya terletak pada Wanita, apalagi seorang Ibu/Mama. Keteguhan wanita untuk melindungi dan membahagiakan anak-anaknya plus pria yang dicintainya benar-benar tidak ada duanya deh. Hampir ga mungkin seorang pria bisa merasakan maternal feeling itu, makanya ada istilah "Surga ada dibawah telapak kaki Ibu".

Mama saya adalah orang yang amat sangat kuat, dan dia mampu memilih untuk menjadi bahagia walaupun diterpa berbagai cobaan. Dari semenjak saya kecil hingga dewasa, saya hampir ga pernah melihat Mama menangis di depan anak-anaknya, ga peduli seberapa beratnya pun masalahnya. Saat papa ga ada dan beliau harus menghidupi sendiri ke 5 anaknya, Mama tetap berjuang dan menerima semuanya dengan besar hati. Bayangkan, saat itu 2 anak beliau kuliah di luar pulau dan 3 orang lainnya masih SD, dan Mama sama sekali tidak punya pengalaman kerja karena Papa melarang mama bekerja. Yang papa tinggalkan hanya sebuah toko listrik/fotokopi kecil yang juga baru dibuka (mereka baru pindah dari Jakarta saat itu). But she did it, dan berhasil membuat toko tersebut menghasilkan hingga sekarang.

Dengan semua itu, Mama masih harus bertahan dengan cercaan dan kabar miring yang justru dilontarkan oleh orang yang ia sayang, yang harusnya mengayomi kami. Baik dicerca langsung oleh orang tersebut maupun sindiran-sindiran orang, beliau sudah mengalaminya. Fitnah ini sampai membuat tak ada yang mau membantu kami, walaupun sebenarnya saat itu kami sangat butuh bantuan baik moril maupun materil. Seolah kami ga punya teman ataupun keluarga. Apa yang Mama lakukan? Beliau justru menekankan pentingnya cuek dan menjaga emosi. Kasarnya, "He's an ass. Let's not be an ass, too.". Saat orang yang ia sayang tersebut dalam kesulitan, Mama tetap mengulurkan tangan dan membantu dengan tulus. Beliau ga pernah meninggalkan kewajibannya sebagai seorang wanita.

Apa hasil dari keteguhan Mama? Perbaikan kehidupan. Anak-anak yang pintar dan mampu berdiri di atas kaki sendiri. Berbagai hal yang ia butuhkan. Tuhan ga tidur. Keteguhannya untuk tidak membenci orang yang menyakitinya membuat kami pun berusaha tidak melakukan hal itu. Tekadnya untuk melindungi dan membahagiakan kami mampu membuat kami pun berusaha menjadi bahagia demi dirinya. Dan ya, semua yang beliau butuhkan selalu diprovide oleh Tuhan. Semua permintaan-permintaan polosnya selalu terpenuhi walau terpenuhi dalam kondisi yang mungkin mengagetkan (her good samaritans are just everywhere).

Sangat mudah untuk menuduh semua kabar miring yang dihembuskan orang itu benar, karena beliau tidak mau membuang energi untuk membantah atau bersikap sebagai "korban" ala sinetron. Jangan bayangkan Mama saya seperti di TV-TV, yang menangis perlahan, "ya Tuhan, kuatkanlah aku" sementara kamera sibuk men-zoom. My Mama rocks. Semua hal ditanggapi dengan cuek dan ga pernah sinetron mode. Tapi bukan berarti beliau tak terluka, beliau cuma memilih untuk "nelan" semua itu dan cuek. Menurut beliau masih banyak orang yang lebih susah dari kami, dari beliau, so why bother? Dan juga, Mama tidak ingin kami terluka, jadi lebih baik beliau bersikap cuek sehingga kami tidak sedih melihat beliau bersedih. Children's First, motto Mama.

Karena terlihat kuat dan makmur walau tanpa Papa (padahal kami masih berjuang lho, hidup adalah perjuangan), maka orang berpikir kalau kabar tersebut benar. Padahal kalau mau pake otak, coba lihat apa yang telah di achieve Mama saya. Semua anak-anaknya anak baik-baik. Walau dalam kondisi ekstrim tak satupun dari kami terjebak dalam pergaulan yang salah. Ga ada satupun anak Mama yang terkenal karena keburukannya (e.g. matre, piala bergilir, etc). Itu saja sudah jauh lebih baik dari banyak orang dengan keluarga utuh. And we all love her, dan rela melakukan apa saja demi beliau karena beliau pun rela melakukan apa saja demi kami. Apa itu bisa dicapai bila fitnah tersebut benar? Jelas nggak. Nothing good will come from bad stuff. Dan sebaliknya, nothing bad can come from good stuff.

I love her, dan hanya ini yang bisa saya lakukan untuknya. Saya ga mampu membersihkan nama beliau, melenyapkan semua kebohongan yang orang katakan tentang beliau, tapi saya bisa memberitahu semua orang what a great woman she is. Dia ga sempurna, she has her faults, but I love her all the same. This one's for you mum. I love you.

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