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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eating My Way Down The Memory Lane

The baked potato was placed on the cashier table. The smell of the melted cheese invoked my senses. After receiving the change, I took my baked potato and cheese to a quiet table facing the window, flooded by afternoon sunlight. I ate a spoonful of the soft potato, tasting the sweet starchy bulb and the savory cheese; and I was not in a mall in Bali anymore, I was miles away in BSD's Teraskota, waiting anxiously for my date to come.

Our memories correlate heavily with our senses. I still remember how I waited in an airport in Jakarta after a work trip just by touching the certain book I was reading back then: The weight, the texture and the smell of the paper. Wont a certain smell reminds you of someone? I had a friend who associate a certain perfume with his ex-girlfriend. In Agatha Christie's book Five Little Pigs, Hercule Poirot dug down past memories by using a certain smell. And what is a "Special song" but a certain ditty that reminds you of a special someone, thus attaching the person to the audio.

For me, among others, it's the food. The smell of it, the taste of it, it can make memory flooding in on an instant. I love eating, all my five senses are triggered and (if I'm lucky with getting amazingly good food) satiated. But it was not just about the food. As with the book, I anchored my memory to the food. Thus eating (or sometimes just seeing or smelling) a certain food will lead me to the memory I kept. You can say I'm eating my way down the memory lane.

I still remember the sweetness of the hazelnut coffee I had on my first date, and the crispness of the fries. Every time I smelled that coffee and fries, I remembered I was so excited yet nervous that night I couldn't eat a bite. In fact, I think the fries and coffee is the only thing I got for the whole night. And with that I remember my first kiss with him:  a bit salty from the fries with stubble scratching my chin; lots of nervousness which then followed by a total disbelieve that by sheer chance we found exactly what we have been dreaming of. And with that first kiss, the many more we share.

The list goes on and on: the Corona that we had on our beach date, the grilled corn cob he wanted in another beach date, the delicious margarita on our Mexican Siesta date, the tasty Brazilian Barbeque on his last night in Bali, jalapenos in our pizzas, the perfect crispy duck in a dinghy restaurant near my office. Every time I missed him, I ate whatever that suited the memory I wish to relive: the silly ones, the fun and exciting ones, one where my heart flutters in anticipation, or ones where I simply punch-drunk with love. Photos can only get me so far, I can imagine him more vividly with the smell and taste of food than a silent photo.

It sounds like an ode to gluttony isn't it? I don't think so though. It is where I anchor my memory. I stole his shirt once (yes, so typical girl!), but as I used it and washed it many times his scent faded away. I cling on to a love letter he wrote to me too, but again, it started to lose its scent and texture. With food, I can relive it any time with perfect clarity: Our silly High-Five date at the pizza place, our sensuous date in the Brazilian dining, our lazy siesta date at the Mexican eatery, anything I want basically provided the food does not change much. The food is the key to my memory trove, one that I use very selectively though as overusing it will delete my precious memory altogether.

I missed him too much today. I missed his smile and his gentle voice. I missed his soft caresses and loving touch. It was one of my "Emergency Case". So I went and get the baked potato. Each mouthful reminded me of my excitement that day, when I waited excitedly for him in the bright afternoon sunlight of Teraskota. It reminded me of my own fear and worry that day, questioning was it real because he was too good to be true. And he is indeed real. So I ate little by little. Each spoonful gave me strength, given me not only nourishment for my body but also for my soul, filling my loneliness and erasing my woes. It was not about the food, it was about the memory I had which correlates with the food.  There will be time when I no longer need to rely on food to remember him, when I simply can see him and touch him and hold him. There will be time when the food was only used to remember the good times we have together, when we are already in each other's arms. One day. One day… 

Monday, November 19, 2012


Here's to the most amazing man I know

Who loves me more than Romeo loves Juliet
Who protects me better than Superman protects Lois Lane
Who is sweeter than Orpheus to Eurydice
Who has more passion  for me than Mark Anthony to Cleopatra
Who has more swing than Spiderman to Mary Jane
Who is funner than Donald Duck to Daisy Duck
Who is truer than Odysseus to Penelope
Who adores me more than Kermit adores Ms. Piggy
Who offers more excitement than Clyde to Bonnie
Who trusts me more than Samson trusts Delilah
Who stands by me stronger than John Smith stands for Pocahontas
Who holds me dearer than Aragorn holds Arwen.

Cheers Love. Thank you for being mine.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sunset, Sea, Seclusion

Friend: Let's hit the beach.
Me: I'm Skype-dating! And it's too hot anyway.
Friend: Lol. Let's find some secluded beach with shades then.
Me: Dude, I'm still dating...
Friend: Kay. See you at my place!

True, my friend can be quite insisting, which is good as my only plan for the afternoon and evening was to play with my computer. I know, it was not really a good plan for a young pretty lively woman (yes, I'm talking about myself) to spend a Saturday night. 

At first we decide one of Nusa Dua beaches, but on the road we switched and decide to go to Dreamland Beach instead. To be honest, I hate both. I found that Nusa Dua beaches were too neatly manicured and kinda lost their natural charm. The last time I went to Dreamland Beach it was chock full of tourist and have the symptoms of an overdeveloped area, where you have to pass rows of merchants selling shirts and other items. But I was hoping Dreamland would still have its natural charm, so I choose the lesser of two evils and brace myself.

As we reach Dreamland my heart sank. It was filled with people. So much people in fact that you can take a picture and try to find Wally in the crowd. However my friend lead me to a more remote area of the beach. On and on we walked, through smooth stretched beach filled with sea shells and white coral, through big boulder of rocks that has sharp edges   and we have to carefully navigate our way in order to not cut ourself, until finally we arrived at the furthest strip of beach and it was stunning.

There were nobody there, except one or two couples who decided to be as adventurous like me and my friend. There are 3 unfinished buildings there, who look liked it might have been some sort of beach club or restaurant. The abandoned structure in the middle already has a viewing porch, so we climb through its unfinished steps and spend a few minutes in awe (see the middle picture on the right). The glowing golden sun matched perfectly with the green algae-covered rocks and the white bubbly sea foam. Bliss.

I could stay there all day (well ok, at least until the sun sets. No lights or lamps in that area!) indulging in the beauty of it, but my friend told me to take a dip in the ocean. My first thought was: with all these rocks?? I'd get shredded like a cheese! I followed my friend still though. To my surprise the rocks actually made a small pool for an adult or two to dip in. Like a nature-made bath tub, only with better view. These little dipping pools are everywhere but you need to come close to measure the depth. This is because the water was too clear and from afar one would assume that they were only puddles, not pools. 

Needless to say, I did what all life-loving girl will do in this situation: I dip myself in the nearest pool and let the sea wave bathed me while watching the beautiful sun slowly set on the horizon. Some seaweeds were washed to my pool by the waves as well as twigs and leaves, but they are quite natural so it enhances the seclusion effect instead. That massive orange thing still ruled the sky and I stretch lazily in my pool, already planning a great sunset rock-pool date with my boyfriend the next time he's in Bali. The wave stroke me gently, as I sat on the edge of my pool watching the then-nearly-dissapearing sunset, and I thought how much I love Bali and Indonesia. It was really Bali at one of her bests. Sorry Tahiti and Bermuda, did you say something?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Woman at the Mall

I saw a woman at the mall today. I liked her a lot. Her skin complexion was almost flawless, and the chocolatey color of her skin was just perfect. I liked the way her hair fall on her shoulders, as if she just come out from those Salons who strive to make your hair look fall as natural as possible (with lots of hairspray though). 

I can't stop observing her. How she stand so erect, yet so lithe and joyful; it makes her chubbiness even more attractive. She went from store to store with a friend, moving gracefully and confidently. She was constantly smiling and laughing, and making jokes with her friends and various sales person in the stores she visited. But it wasn't the fake facade niceties, you can see her eyes were smiling too and she made the sales persons relaxed and laughed with her, even in stores that she actually couldn't afford to buy. 

If you look at her closely, you can vaguely see (very vaguely) traces of sleep deprivation in her eyebags, as if she didn't get enough sleep last night. But it wasn't visible except for very well trained eyes, and it appears she was not bothered by it. She was radiant, filled with confident and happiness to the brim. Apart from her boyish t-shirt and ragged jeans, she would be a great poster girl: young, confident, happy. Just what to expect from someone famous/rich heir/have an easy good life with unlimited amount of money. The kink is: she has none. All she has, and what attributes to her beautiful radiantness today are 3 words from her beloved boyfriend: "I love you".

That woman is me. I love who I am today and is feeling good about myself. Thank you for making me feel so very special and beautiful today honey. I love you too...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Confession of an (Ex) Homeless Woman

Romney, again, is making headlines with his comment: this time that Obama "give gifts" to his voter. I am not really interested in his remarks, but what really unnerves me was the comments to the story, so many of them (heck, almost all of them depends on which website you were reading the story at) called the benefit receiver with names and said they are lazy and free-loaders (yes, I only put the nice words in my blog, go check out the real stuff in the comments).

I live in Indonesia. I become homeless in the age of 20. Not actually homeless, I got a big house to live in but the over cost was so high and I can't afford to live there. My dad left us and my family had to move to Bali so my mum can work to support her 5 children, all in school-age and needs loads of money for school. You see, Indonesia doesn't have social safety net nor student loans. The situation was like a quagmire or quicksand, I got sucked deeper with any action I made. I can't go to Bali because I need to finish my school in Jakarta; the house's maintenance fee and transportation from my house to campus was higher than renting a room near the campus, but somebody got to manned the house;  I need to work because my mum can only send me half of what I really need and sometimes even none, but I can't work because my classes starts as early as 7 am and ends at 3, sometimes 5 pm (as expected from Medical program) and night time shifts start as early as 2 pm; I want to quit school and work, but quitting school will only makes me more vulnerable to unemployment in the future. I was stuck.

I tried my best to adapt in the situation though. I only turned on the light in my room and on the porch to save electricity. I started to couch crashing anytime I can on my friends' houses just to get a brief respite from my depressing house (and also, if lucky, some decent food). A handful of friends that know my current condition were skillfully invited me for dinner or buying me lunch, and my boyfriend that time make sure I always got enough to eat or to pay the bills and tuition fee. In a way, they provided my "unemployment benefit". There were times where I wish, I wish I found a huge fat wallet so I can eat to my heart's content or to sleep in a full-lit house; but I never did. I only have enough to live and no more. Should I need a surgery back then, or even a week of illness, I'm screwed.

I finally got a job a couple of years later. Technically, it is impossible for me to get a decent job as I was still in school. The way it works in Indonesia, you got paid based on your degree. My high school diploma worth nothing, and my undergraduate program was not finished yet. But I score a good well-paid job thanks to my English. I was on student leave and my classes weren't that many by then, thus I was able to work full time. I always thought getting a job will ensured me a good living. In a way it is true, as my salary was bigger than my comrades who already graduate from our University. But as I work I can no longer rely on my "unemployment benefit", and was expected to provide "unemployment benefit" instead to my brothers and sisters which are still in school. I wish I could say I provide a good deal for them to justify my loss, but Jakarta is an expensive city (as well as my undergraduate program) and I can't give much to them anyway, and I still find myself feeling totally screwed when I was ill for 3 whole days or looking envious to people who are eligible for free health care (I don't envy the poorness though).

Things, thankfully, gradually become better for me. When I was 24 as a teacher I earned enough per class that I can work half day instead and focus in my study. I finally graduate 1.5 years later and move back to Bali not long after. It took me another 2 years of adaptation period and a couple more to be in my current comfortable situation. The total time needed? About 10 years.

I understand the anger some feel towards the benefit for the poor. Be it health system, disability or unemployment benefit or whatever you called it, it really feels bad to know your money is used to paid for the poor, for a bunch a blokes that probably screwed themselves to poorness. I felt that anger when I had to give some for my family (although the truth is I can never repay my mum for all she has done for me), and I personally know a few people that will be all too happy to feed on charities and benefits. But at the same time I am deeply troubled by that stigma, that the receiver of such charity or government benefits must be a sleazy lazy good for nothing a**holes.

The sad fact is, [in some cases] they were probably right. Like I said, there are people who misused the system for their own personal gain. This people hurt the system, and most importantly other people who need the system. I remember yelling at my University Dean. I asked to be allowed to skip some classes as I was working, and she refuse harshly as she said numerous students has requested that and they were all lying. I half-screamed to her: stating that my parents were separated and I had to pay for the goddamn tuition myself plus my living cost. Eyes dead locked to hers, tears streaming on my cheeks, chin jutting; it was my pride she's hammering on. She went into a shock and relented. Another time I have to act like a frail-broken-damsel in front of a professor just to get a leeway on class schedules. I can provide job letters and even salary record to prove I'm working, but I have to resort to such low trick because so many before me have misused the system and it just stopped working.

I am where I am right now because of that "unemployment benefits", which helped me in a crucial moment of my life. The benefits provide me enough so I can live and finally get a good job and finish my school. But they were not the only cogs in the clock. My education, how I was raised, and my family socio-economical background allowed me to get that good job. I manage to convince them to see past "the poor woman with only high school diploma", and made them see a "confident woman who is socio-economically good standing with pleasant manner and great English". Where my family got those? Simple, both of them are educated. Dad has a master degree in Economy, mum got scholarship for Nurse School by a Netherland organization. Without their education, and in turn mine, I won't be writing to you now.

Sometimes the system is not perfect, sometimes it's the people who misuse the system. But yes, the social security net helped people a lot. Instead of resorting to name-calling and stigmatization I would encourage to see what we can do with the condition. Regardless of what your stance on this matter, I think all will agree that education is the key. Education will enable people to get better job, which in turns will enable people to get off the benefits and even give back instead, so push forward for better education for the society. I know hands on how difficult it is to give to others when you are cash strapped, or even to see others got free stuff just because they earn less than you. It is not fair. You have the option to sulk and pout and cuss and think them as free-loader, or you can move forward and hope whatever you gave them will help them. I will move forward. It worked for me, now it's my time to help others.

And yeah, my Dad returned last year and the family has been a complete one ever since :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Johnny Rockets in Bali!!

During our sunset session at the awesome Beachwalk my friend notice Johnny Rockets restaurant there and was adamant to try it. I have seen and noticed it for some time (it was my 3rd or 4th visit to the mall, and it was her first), but was never quite interested to try it. I mean, burgers are burgers right? Well not quite, and I am so happy that I was wrong. 

After the most beautiful sunset ever (check out my Facebook profile pic!) we headed up to the restaurant. The greeting was overwhelming and totally perk up my mood, as all the staff greet the patron in unison when they enter the restaurant. Turned out it was designed like 1950's American diner complete with the 1950s advertisement. I am a sucker for anything vintage, and vintage diners were a special thing for me. So yeah, we happy.

The menu came with a smile, and to be honest it wasn't your regular old macd's pricing. However, everything looked good on the menu. We decide on a Rocket Double (IDR 75k++) with 2 Hershey's chocolate milkshake (IDR 32k++ each). We were going to order a plate of fries with chilli and cheese (IDR 35k++), but the smiling waitress advise us to just add chilli and cheese (IDR 15k++) to the fries that came with the burger instead. We happily obliged. 

As we wait for our food to come the juke box kept on playing, and to our utter amazement suddenly all the staff were dancing and singing in unison to the music! It was really fun to see them laughing and dancing together, and it really brightened up my feeling. A 10 year old boy jump and dance together with the crew, while his parents laugh. It was so interesting that the mall patrons stop outside the restaurant just to take video of the dancing crew. They dance several times, and all was fun! Believe it or not, not all that ate there liked the commotion. A lady that sat next to us amazingly managed to keep a sneer on her face all the time, although her partner were all jolly and smiled all the time. Grouches are just everywhere.

Not long after our food came. The milkshake was so thick and yummy, and although I was never a fan of whipped cream, this one sure got me! And the burger came, and we were so relief that we decided to share as the portion was HUGE! What's better, the waitress already bring an extra set of plate and cutlery as she knew we were going to split it (not money issue, just worried about the size of the portion). And it was gooooood..... I especially like the fries and chili, but the burger was also to die for. It took us quite a while to finish them due to the portion, and the concerned manager swiftfully came and asked whether the food is ok when he saw my friend didn't finish her food (yet). We assured him that all is fine.

The bill comes up to the total of IDR 202k, but it was really worth it. The fun, the food, the service. I appreciate the suggestion to upgrade the fries, as other place most likely will just close their eyes and persuade you to buy more dish instead. The extra plate and the manager's warm welcome is also such a big thing for me. As for the food, amazingly the whopping 1000 cal milkshake didn't feel so bad, my body got worse reaction by a small caramel Starburp's; and the burger was filling without making me nauseated. The Bali restaurant was the first from the US restaurant chain that opened in Imdonesia, Jakarta to follow in mid 2012. Make sure to come over and try it if you are in Bali, or the Jakarta one once it is open. It is both fun and delicious!! 

Johnny Rockets official website:
Browse "Johnny Rockets Dancing Beachwalk" in Youtube to see more ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Negatif deh Loe Cyyyyyn....!!!

"Jadi, bila ada Gubernur yang baru dilantik dan Blusukan ke pelosok provinsi yang tak sebanding besarnya dengan Jabar, lalu booming jadi berita besar, sebenarnya belum apa-apa dibanding kang AHER yang telah lebih dulu melakukannya dalam 'diam'."

Ini caption foto yang saya temukan di Facebook, dan saya jadi berkata: well... oke... terus?????

Jujur, saya ga ngerti kenapa harus ngebandingin. Ini 2 gubernur yang berbeda toh, dari propinsi yang berbeda dan bukan dalam acara pemilukada. Taruhlah memang kang Aher ini keren abis, tetap ga ada kaitannya dengan Jokowi (asumsi saya ini yang mereka bicarakan). Desa dan pelosok itu buanyak kok, ga perlu rebutan. Saya pun ga yakin Jokowi ngincer jabatan Gubernur Jawa Barat. Jadi apa faedahnya ngebandingin?

Kalau dipikir positif, mungkin team ini cuma ingin memastikan agar kang Aher diakui media dan kerja keras beliau tak dilupakan begitu saja (dan syukur-syukur dipilih kembali). Tapi teuteup, ngapain bawa-bawa orang sih? Ada istilah: you can't make yourself pretty by saying someone else  is ugly; loe ga bisa jadi cantik dengan manggil orang lain jelek. Sure, tone/nada captionnya juga bisa diartikan kalau si akang ini seciamik Jokowi. Bila ini maksudnya, mbok ya diperhalus gitu lho. Kata-kata yang dipakai malah memicu debat kusir seperti saya dan si mbak ini. Saya komen kalau bukan Jokowi yang minta diliput, dan mempertanyakan kalau si akang segitu kerennya kenapa media ga ngeliput, dan si eneng menjawab:
"Kan qt smua tahu media pnya siapa..dan siapa berani membayar..ini fakta bkn fitnah.."

Ok, pertama fakta itu adalah kalau bisa membuktikan dengan bukti fisik bahwa media itu dibayar. Kalau ga bisa itu sebutannya rahasia umum (entah benar atau tidak). Yang kedua, saya tetep ga ngerti kenapa sensi banget Jokowi diliput. Kalau fair sebenarnya mungkin saja si Eneng ini ngomongin lawan politik si akang dan bukan Jokowi, namun kata "booming" di caption foto tersebut tetep bikin saya ngerasa kesensian tingkat tinggi dalam hal liput meliput. Jokowi gubernur Jakarta gitu lho. Mobil masuk kolam bundaran HI aja masuk berita, padahal kecelakaan beruntun di pelosok pedesaan digubris juga nggak, jadi jangan heran kalau Jokowi diliput habis-habisan. Apa ada yang tahu Jokowi saat jadi walikota Solo? Atau saat Ahok jadi Bupati Belitung Timur? Kalau mereka memang gila diliput seperti petinggi lainnya harusnya dari kapan tahu mereka sudah hilir mudik di layar tv. 

Jadi eneng dan team akang, salahkanlah ketimpangan media yang berat di Jakarta, jangan menuduh bapak gubernur lebay atau ngebayar buat diliput. Anda tahu tidak gubernur Bali siapa dan apa prestasinya? Nggak kan, padahal doi rutin di tv lokal. Cup cup cup jangan sensi lagi ya. Untuk team sukses erm maksud saya pendukung kang Aher, agak manis dikit lah mainnya. Faktanya adalah Jokowi sudah keluar masuk kampung saat dia jadi walikota Solo periode 2005-2012, dan kang Aher baru menjabat 2008. Siapa yang duluan yo...? Lagipula, bangsa ini tidak perlu tambahan konflik. Amerika yang sudah berusia 300+ tahun saja tahun ini sukses terpecah jadi 2 kubu karena kampanye yang saling menjelekkan dari kedua kandidat presidennya. Kalau berpikir (dan niat ngusahain agar) satu orang bisa naik dengan menjatuhkan yang lainnya, itu namanya egois. Dulu merdekanya bareng-bareng toh perangnya, berbagai suku daerah dan agama, jadi sekarang jangan main kasar ya anak-anak. Peace!

Tattoo, Choices, Child-making

[Photo from Eric Hartsburg in Facebook]

Dude. I mean, seriously??

A little recap, this guy tattooed Romney-Ryan logo (US presidential candidates in 2012) on his face. Yes, on his face; yes, before the election was over. The news said he was "rather disappointed that Romney-Ryan lost the race". Well, d'uh! Even if his preferred candidates won, it is still a case of (somewhat) not-so-sound judgment. I firmly believe that he is entitled to have any political views as he pleased, and he is entitled to do whatever he wants with his body; yet the tattoo will still be awkward if his candidates won but unable to deliver their promises. If it's for a lifetime, I would think people best stick with something safe like presidents or [political] figure that have been tried and tested (Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Johnny Depp – yeah the last one is a bit biased ;)). Sorry, I've been too harsh. This guy made a bet and he lost, that is all what the story is. But wow, talking about carrying your mistake for the rest of your life.

The story makes me wonder, how do people made life-time choices (uand I mean LIFE TIME)? This dude said his wife was not really approving but his 15 years old son are cool with it. Umm… I thought I would be a mad scientist when I was 15, not to mention my utter fascination with death and everything gothic; instead I become a writer with a penchant for sexy colorful bikinis (do I just wrote bikinis? I meant colorful life. Yeah, that's it). Taking a 15 year old teenager opinion for a life time choice is not a very good idea. But it is not just about tattooing, it is also about other aspects like marriage, spouses, and most importantly child bearing. To me, these are life time choices as you will get stuck (and gotta stick) to it for the rest of your life. Of course, some would argue that spouses/partners or even sexual preferences can change over time, marriages can be dissolved any time it's convenient, and tattoo can be erased or overwrote. How do you change or dissolved or erased or overwrite a child though?

It is funny that for such a weighing and important (not to mention irrevocable) decision that one have to live with for the rest of his/her life, having a child is so much less (and even disproportionately) considered. I can't give you numbers or data that proof my theory, but it is so blatantly obvious with all the unwanted pregnancies and the number of male Homo Sapiens that refuse to take condoms/vasectomies/any other protection and so adamant on spreading their seeds everywhere. I'm all with "girls gotta be smart" ideas, but to be honest I sincerely believe that the population in this world can be drastically reduce if men can hold themselves and can be held responsible for the child. You can argue some women are slut but no homo sapiens can auto copulate, thus a child will always both the father and mother's responsibilities.

When I say responsibility, I do not mean a measly 4 dollar check that a guy in America provided for his children as he fathered 30 of them (and counting, they can't place charges just because he's making babies. Oh wait, can't he be charged with child endangerment? Having 30+ siblings will definitely nerve-wreck even the strongest child. IMHO). I mean a full support for the child: food, shelter, education, chance and ability to make a killing erm living, and love and affection. Lots of love and affection. Human is probably the only species with such an extended childhood time. If a human average life till 80 years old, it takes about a quarter of their life span to reach maturity (or even more. I often met 20 year olds that act like 12 years old). These early years, this process of maturity is very crucial in human, no human can ever live by his/herself. And in these early years too the human's character and basic knowledge/survival ability is set. Yes, 20 years of your time just to make sure your little tyke/angel grows and can live by him/herself. And that's not the end of it. You'd get to grow old with him/her, see his/her family, be a grandfather/grandmother, and perhaps even great-great-grandparents. Bearing a child is a real unspoken vow of "In sickness and in health, in poorness and in wealth, till death do us part" .

Sounds like a hard work after an innocent night of partying yeah? Well honey it is. But choices are only choices if people know they have it. That is why it is utmost important for women to properly know and understand their reproductive system, the proper names for organs and body parts and what each of it do in the reproductive process, and ultimately, the options for birth control. For those men (and women) that said birth control is against God's will I am going to argue that: a) I don't think God also want children to be abandoned and unloved by his parents nor living in severely harsh condition; and b) you can ALWAYS resort to abstinence to substitute the artificial birth control method, in like not having sex until you guys are ready emotionally and financially for a[nother] child. Sure, it will probably mean 3-5 years of no sex, or ever, but it is still an option ;).

Now now boys, don't go hating me already now. On the opposite, the women need your help. Regardless of how strong a woman is, it is actually very difficult to fend off unwanted sexual approaches. I'm not just talking in physical terms as some women are actually physically stronger than men; it's also about emotional terms. One of the dirtiest tricks I knew from high-school is the old "you-don't-love-me-if you-don't-have-sex-with-me". Joe Biden said "A no is a no". With this taken in to consideration, many women are actually "raped" as they are trapped in a situation where they can't say no or their "no" are not taken in consideration. We women need men to protect us, to be more careful when making life-time decision/choices like child-making, and to take active role and hold proper responsibility on your offspring. As with the harsh accusation that said pregnancy is a woman's fault for spreading her legs, if a man finds himself in a situation where he become a father (to-be) he can only blame himself for not taking protection and/or, erm, shooting in. Remember, auto copulate is not possible among human. Some lower animals can do that, but no matter how slimy a person is I would still think auto copulate is out of the questions.

Of course, it's only fair to discuss what happens if you don't make the decision to have a child but end up with having one (or several). Well move forward then. You may not make a decision to soberly make that child, or you may think you want one but then find yourself hiding in the closet and chant "omigod omigod omigod omigod omigod" while your child was yelling and screaming "Mummy/Daddy!!!! You said I would get a new iPhone NOWWWWW!" and wish the little monster, erm, dear can go puff and disappear like Barney magic cloud. Sorry, not gonna happen. Like I said before: "In sickness or in health, till death do us part". No court or judge or whatever can annul this relationship. You bring him/her to the world, now make the best of it. It's your call, you owe it to the child, you owe it to the world.


I myself have no children, and not planning on having one for quite a while (or ever) until the conditions are met or if God trusted me with one. But I have seen quite a few people (both whom I know personally or through stories and articles in the media) who manage to successfully wrecked their child[ren]'s life because they were not prepared and one (or both) sides refuse to take responsibility. Proper child-planning is a very important issue for me and I hope it can be an utmost priority for men and women everywhere. Not only because it is fair to the child as he/she has no choice but to born to a certain [set of] parent, but also because that little adorable bundle of joy can become either a dangerous person that wreck other's life or a joyous sunshine that made the world brighter. This is also a way more important issue than chain oneself to a tree to stop deforestation. With the current population rate, deforestation will definitely go up as people need more land to live, and more stomach to fill. Go figure.  

Diskriminasi TKI: Apa (Cuma) Salah Malaysia?

Yup, lagi-lagi soal TKI. Kali ini yang diperkosa dan yang di "sale" ria. Tapi ini bukan penghujatan terhadap Malaysia. Sebaliknya saya ingin bertanya, terutama kepada orang-orang yang mendemo dengan rusuh dan anarkis: apakah memang cuma salah Malaysia? Apakah kita benar-benar oke dan bersih sehingga "boleh" anarkis ria?

Sebelum anda memulai penghujatan terhadap saya, mari saya luruskan: 

1) Saya pun terganggu dengan iklan "Sale"itu. Tapi let's be honest, mari jujur-jujuran, bukankah kita pun biasa mencari si Mbok baru lewat penyalur pembantu? Walaupun tidak sevulgar iklan Malaysia, praktek "jual-beli" ini pun lazim di Indonesia. 

2) Perkosaan TKI: Jelas ini salah. Namun perkosaan tetaplah perkosaan, terlepas dari siapa yang melakukan. Bagaimana dengan anak-anak dibawah umur yang dipaksa menikah di Indonesia atas alasan ekonomi atau dengan dasar agama (hello Syekh Puji)? Ini menurut saya termasuk perkosaan karena tidak mungkin anak 12 tahun, apalagi yang belum terpapar media, bisa secara agresif meminta hubungan seksual. Bagaimana dengan 2 polisi Sharia Aceh yang memperkosa tahanan perempuan? Atau yang paling gress, nona Novi yang difoto-foto syur saat mabuk oleh polisi? Memang benar bahwa figur otoritas dimanapun harusnya melindungi, tapi otoritas juga manusia. Bukan seragamnya yang harus disalahkan dalam kasus-kasus seperti ini, tapi orang yang mengenakan seragam tersebut. 

3) Perlakuan merendahkan Malaysia: ini yang paling mendasar buat saya. Apakah memang hanya Malaysia yang merendahkan kita? Sudahkah kita mengambil tindakan untuk mencegah penghinaan ini?

Saya bekerja di Bali sudah hampir 5 tahun, dan di pusat pariwisata Indonesia ini saya sudah kenyang melihat dan mengalami diskriminasi. Jangan salah, yang lebih banyak melakukan diskriminasi adalah orang Indonesia sendiri. Serius. Di bidang kerja saya saya lebih sering mendapat perlakuan melecehkan dari staf/vendor orang Indonesia, apalagi bila kebetulan stafnya ini cuma bawahan si Bule, hmmpf…. Lebih rese dari bulenya sendiri! Padahal orang asingnya sendiri mayoritas justru lebih terbuka dan menghargai apa yang saya lakukan. Pengecualian untuk bule-bule yang punya staf rese, mereka hampir pasti juga rese seperti bawahannya. Entah karena mereka biasa memperbabu orang Indonesia jadi menganggap semua orang Indonesia babu, atau karena mereka biasa dianggap dan diperlakukan ala tuan tanah/majikan sama babu/staf mereka jadi berasa oke berat.

Contoh lain: diperlakukan kasar oleh satpam hotel, ditolak masuk ke café/restoran/bar oleh waiter/waitress nya, belum lagi cara guide-guide yang menuntut mereka diutamakan karena membawa klien/tamu asing. Saya pernah menonton pertunjukkan Kecak dimana seorang guide membawa tamu-tamunya saat pertunjukkan sudah berlangsung, dan pakai acara memfotokan mereka yang mana itu menghalangi view penonton lainnya. Ada juga saat-saat dimana seorang guide dengan kasar meminta pelayan di rumah makan agar mendahulukan pesanan tamunya (padahal mereka baru datang) disaat rumah makan tersebut amat-sangat ramai. Jangan heran kalau orang asing menganggap kita rendah, bagaimana tidak kalau bangsa kita sendiri memperlakukan sesamanya dengan buruk.

Ingat bahwa ada dua sisi dalam masalah diskriminasi ini: Yang pertama adalah kurangnya pendidikan dan kepercayaan diri sehingga mereka merasa wajar mengalami perlakuan yang buruk; yang kedua adalah kurangnya empati dari bangsa kita sendiri. Sebelum merobohkan pagar kedubes Malaysia, ada baiknya kita bertanya pada diri kita sendiri: apa yang sudah kita lakukan untuk mereka? Apakah anda pernah memikirkan bagaimana nasib anak si mbok di kampung? Atau apakah OB anda mendapatkan kesempatan untuk maju (kursus etc) sehingga bisa mencari pekerjaan yang lebih baik? Lihat disekeliling anda, sudahkah anda melakukan sesuatu untuk mereka? Saya sangat percaya dengan pendidikan, dan saya yakin dengan pendidikan yang benar acara diskriminasi ini bisa sangat dikurangi. Pendidikan akan memberikan pengetahuan, harga diri dan kesempatan.

 Anda bisa menjadi orang tua asuh, anda bisa menyalurkan sumbangan atau zakat anda, namun saya ingin mengajak anda melangkah lebih jauh dan sekaligus mengatasi sisi lain dari diskriminasi: bersikap baiklah kepada sesama. Pendidikan setinggi apapun tidak akan membantu bila seseorang terus direndahkan oleh sesamanya, namun sikap baik akan sangat membantu seseorang. Bila dua hal ini digabungkan hasilnya akan sangat dahsyat: Seseorang yang memiliki pengetahuan sehingga membuka kesempatan, dan punya kepercayaan diri/tahu dirinya cukup berharga untuk mengambil kesempatan tersebut dan tahu apa yang berhak mereka dapatkan. Diskriminasi? Apa itu?

Jangan terjebak dalam mental babu seperti oknum-oknum dalam cerita saya di Bali. Semua manusia dasarnya sama, cuma kulit dan pekerjaannya saja yang beda. Katakan terimakasih dengan tulus dan senyum manis pada mbak-mbak yang melayani anda di coffee shop, katakan permisi pada mas-mas yang sedang sibuk mengepel lantai di kantor anda, lambaikan tangan dengan gembira pada bapak parkir yang membantu mengeluarkan mobil anda di parkiran. Mereka sama seperti anda, lihat mereka sebagai manusia dan bukan label pekerjaan nya (tukang parkir, janitor, pelayan, etc). Ada saatnya dimana hierarki harus ditegakkan (tidak mungkin toh anda sebagai bos mengerjakan pekerjaan bawahan hanya karena dia mau nonton James Bond beserta yayangnya), namun bersikap ramah dan sopan pada siapapun haruslah menjadi prinsip utama anda. Jangan robohkan pagar kedubes Malaysia, tapi robohkanlah ke-arogansian kita sendiri serta penghalang dan ketidakpedulian terhadap pendidikan yang pantas. Tabik! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rise of the Geeks

Yes, geeks are coming to rule the world, and they are sexier than ever. From Nate Silver to Obama geeks got their field day last week, and it sure was fun!

Nate Silver correctly predicted the presidential winner in all 50
states, and almost all the Senate races — he'd been hailed as the election's "other winner," who'd silenced doubters and proved the value of a cool-headed, math-based approach (read more at: Obama won the election with his data-crunching-whiz-making team. Both rely heavily on math and data, both won big. 

There are also Malcolm Gladwell who change our way of thinking with his delightful research-based books and the late Steve Jobs for Apple-ing our life, and lest we forget that sexy mohawk dude at NASA. These guys definitely does not fit the "popular jock" description. To be fair, I have never met any of them and they probably are the life of parties; but associating their work with their life (albeit an imaginary one) it is hard to see people flocking over them as they describe math program, researches or whatever. Yet they are the ones that will outlast the blue eyed blonde hunk in Bachelor season 12 (or something like that).

Some of the reaction, as you can see, was not really nice: Homophobic or racial slurs, and general non-acceptance. The way people tried to demean or even degrade these geeks kinda puzzles me. There is nothing you say that will make them less sharp and successful, or making you better than them in that matter. Besides, what's wrong with so-called geeks anyway? The geeks I know play music and do sports, and a lot of fun to be with. Yes they may not be Prom King or Homecoming Queen, and may not follow trend as a general rule, but they are still awesome to be with.

I would guess that the reason why people feel discomfort over them is because: 
a) they are somewhat different or uncommon (and amazingly people become more and more terrified with differences these days. I personally celebrate differences, after all we are not just clones from Darth Vader's army)
b) we got a nagging feeling that they know something that we don't, or that they are just smarter than us (tough luck though, there is nothing that we can do to uneducated them or reducing their knowledge/brainiac level)
[While it is true that some of them might also be difficult to socialize with but I have yet to meet anyone that was not open and friendly after a healthy dose of warm sincere smile.] 

Well you know, here's the bomb: geeks are rising and they are taking over the world, or to be exact the world needs them at an indespensable level. 

At the era where information is prized above all else, these geeks deliver complete accurate readable data which is the base of any other important project, be it presidential campaign or a simple sales approach. And don't forget the diligent geeks who wired up or design [complex] machineries such as the phone/tablet you use to read this article or that DNA sequencer everyone craze about (oh, you don't know? But it's the new "IT", darling!). Considering that not many people even know how to set proper [and safe!] privacy settings in their Facebook, this speaks volumes of the geeks' ability. It is just stupid to disregard them or treat them like they are the "lesser ones".

One thing though, I would recommend to hit the library and starts educating yourself before aiming for the cute [and super promising] geeks this weekend. No matter how Beyonce-Hot or Daniel Craig-Sexy you are, without a smart mind and confident attitude chances are they will just smile and pass you by. You are, simply put, out of their league and they are smart enough to know it. Better start studying now ;)

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