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Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear Madame

I wanted to know madame, how would you feel if you were me? 

He stop caring for me, you see. Your smile cheered him up more than mine. Kind words were expressed in hurry, a mere sugar coating after our fights. But it was you he really cared. Just because you are there next to him. 

Would you like to live my life madame? Of forced smile and understanding words, even though deep inside I was torn and humiliated. Oh you never know madame, the pain I felt inside. He said he needs you to help cope with his loneliness, and I gave way. What can I do? He will still look for you even if I say no, so I gave way. And I lost him. Slowly but sure his smile fades from me, his laughter and our happy days grow sparse, and he is happier with you. 

Do you know how hard he tries to justify his feeling towards you? Some days he would explain things coherently, but most days I was somehow describe as a lesser woman than you. The fat one, the infidel one, the uncivilized one. That is just it. You are the one being brought to my house but I was the one that was driven away. How would you feel if you were me, madame?

It was not your fault. He should have been better. But still, can't you feel how much he likes you? Why can't you stop and have pity for me? Now I lost him, madame. I hold my fort long and fierce, but it crumbles now. And I love him so. More than you can ever love him. This is my life, madame. The life that you unknowingly help to destroy. See it, feel it, and please don't do it again. Don't destroy another woman. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Use Somebody

"You know that I could use somebody
Someone like you" - Use Somebody by King Leon

The picture above was taken from Scala and Kolacny Brothers cover for Use Somebody by King Leon. The story is how a woman accompany her man to get prostitute because she was too ill to pleased him. Some comments said that the woman was a ghost, probably (I assume) because no right minded living woman will do that.

But I know there are women like that that do exist, devoted (and maybe even foolish) enough to go all out on their partner's happiness. As beautifully expressed by the woman in the clip, it was not easy. I can only imagine the pain one must go through to actually give permission or even helped her man to get pleasure elsewhere, and as in the clip, return by his side gracefully after he finished his "needs". It'll take a true woman with a true love for that. And also a true man that is worthy for such sacrifice.

The man in the clip looks like he was worthy though, at least he cried and was genuinely sad for having to hurt his woman. When I was still on the dating scene I got men approaching me with excuses like "Oh my wife is sick and couldn't help with my needs," or "My woman and I have fallen out of love anyway." Those men get the boots from me. If you want a woman to be loyal to you, then she deserves your loyalty too. I mean, seriously, those kind of men would hear none if they are the ones that couldn't help with her needs or if she fallen out of love with them.

As I watched the clip, I really want to drag her out of the scene. I don't want to see the sad look in her eyes. I don't want to see her have to swallow her pride and to feel defeated by her inability. I want to tell her that she did good, but she has to stop allowing that man hurt her. But I couldn't. They were just characters in the clip. And even in real life I know she wouldn't want me to interfere, because for women like her  their partners' happiness and fulfillment is more important. Not because they are dimwitted or willing to be enslaved by men, but because they can love like no others and strong enough to do so. I envy their strength and dedication. What a woman!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Being Hindu. Being Me.

Upon my news of engagement a friend come out of the blue and asked: will you join his religion? There are not many times I want to Facebooked someone (i.e throwing a HUGE book like Encyclopedia Brittanica to one's face), but this is a legit case. Such a shame I use e-book these days thus no heavy bound hard cover books to be thrown.

I remember when I was in University religion conversion was such a grand issue for our tight-knitted Hindu student community. There will be collective gasps and a sense of loss when one of the Hindu student convert to other religion. I was among one of the hardcore ones and was very aggressive defying the religion conversion. Fast forward a few years later and guess what? It stops to matter.

For one thing, religion is an extremely personal issue. One can choose whatever he/she believes, just like he/she can choose favorite artist or favorite color. Those who said any religion is better than others are sadly mistaken, and also guilty for blasphemy. Surely if God is all powerful He can just strike down all the non-followers of a certain religion He favors, why bother "helping" Him to condemn those non followers? And shouldn't He be able to differentiate human based on the religion one has, just like a chimps differ from a lemur? Why are humans so arrogant to think they can judge and condemn like Him? I imagine God would probably shook His head wearily and said, "Dude you ain't know shit. Now leave it to the pro will ya'?"

It took me a few years to arrive to this conclusion, that I have no business in interfering with other people's religion and beliefs. It then makes me questioned myself, why do I choose my religion? Retrospecting and thinking back, I knew it was because I love my religion and believe in it. I believe in the general concept of Hinduism, of seeing the universe as a whole which every single creature meet/collides one way or another with the others, of karma and reincarnation and the fragment of Himself in our soul, of thinking saying and doing good because we can and it's the right thing to do. 

Thus said, I also love the Balinese aspect. The offerings and prayers and puras, the incenses and loud musical gamelan, the great array of colors people donned to go praying. My ancestor has fashioned offerings from coconut frond since ages ago, it is insane to stop just because it does not "fit in daily life", nor because it is considered as "not the real Hindu". I am a Balinese Hindu and proud of it. The wisdom of old Bali ways combined with Hindu beliefs that has been around for ages, this is what I truly believe, this is my religion. The incense smoke and fragrance of fresh flower, the Balinese chanting and newly made sandalwood-smoked holy water, the labor of making offerings and enjoying it afterwards with your family, this is who I am. This is Balinese Hinduism.

My friend's question is wrong in many ways, but mostly because it is not his goddamn business. A change of religion/belief will not change my personality or the true person I am. Granted some beliefs do exercise a great deal of "brainwashing" to ensure their followers to stay, but if I do switch over it had to be because I really really think the other side was better than the current one and thus it is nobody's business except me and God. For this reason I also have denied my fiance's request to be a full-fledge Balinese Hindu, because I don't favor my belief to be taken so easily. He needs to know what Balinese Hindu is all about and whether he can (and is willing to) commited to it.

At this point, my fiance barely knows anything about Balinese Hindu. But the serene and calmness he had after we pray together at the Pura is good enough for me. The way he is so enthusiast about Balinese ceremony and holy days is good enough for me. His concern for me not being able to pray like I used to in Bali when I live in a different country is good enough for me. And when I am with him I feel closer than ever with my religion. He may not officially be a Balinese Hindu just yet, but he already feels so comforting and so familiar.

Whatever his choice will be, he gave me understanding and a sense of comfort to live by my religion, by what I believe, thus it doesn't matter what religion he belief because I am allowed to do what I believe. In fact he probably have way more positive attitude towards Balinese Hinduism than most Balinese Hindu I know. Anyone who challenged this and question his religion (or mine) will deal with me first, because my religion is my business with God and his religion is his business with God. So please dear busybody, mind your own business. If God thinks me and my fiance are good enough together then just live with it, except if you think you have a better judgement than Him ;)

Weaving Destiny Part 2 : Truly Inspiring

"The artist sat on the floor, working on her weaving on her traditional cagcag/Balinese weaver. Her eyes were intense, and she cared nothing except on a troublesome part that she was working on. Pictures of her design sketches were plastered in one of her walls, and on her work desk a pile of folders were arranged neatly: purchases for threads and raw ingredients for her dyes, gallery appointments and dinner presentation schedules, details of the press acclamation she received, photos and details of each of her work. Her Macbook plays a soft, soothing music, but she was oblivious to it. In her state-of-art kitchen a couple of pans are boiling with her dyes, piles of threads were on her dinner table, ready to be dyed. And on and on she worked, creating magic with her hands. Motifs were designed, threads were patterned and then dyed, and woven into a finish cloth: alive with pride and beauty, brimming with elegance and wonder." - An imagination

What can you get for USD 500? A dinner for two (or four), an exclusive Disneyland trip for one (plus expenses), a spa package for one, a pair of shoes, a cellphone (probably not a smart one). In Bali it can provide you with a slice of life. No, I am not talking about a VVIP trip to Ketut Liyer's house or other heavily-marketed Balinese healer or prominent figures. It is Balinese cloth: an object of art, made with complete dedication and has life weaved into it.

In this modern era "Art" is such a concept. Celebrated as an honest expression of the artist, art can take many forms and can be either utterly beautiful or even uncomfortably unique. A miniature set of clay animals is art, and so does a gigantic giraffe which doesn't look like a giraffe at all but instead looking like a pointed cactus shaped like something with a long neck (or to put it delicately: a symbol of true meaning of life represented by the giraffe who albeit can see far but can never evade the grip of life and that further should leaves human to ponder on what is their true meaning of life and their place in this universe). Then what is the meaning of a hand woven cloth? Made from the innocent cotton fruit, spun into threads, patterned and dyed and weave into life by careful hands and diligent dedication. In art, there is no "double", an object of art is specifically made just for that expression and there is no copy. In Balinese cloth the hand woven technique differs from one weaver to others as well as the design, and it is impossible to copy the exact same color from the natural dye as it differs by many factors, including the condition of the nature when the raw ingredients for the dyes are collected. In short, Balinese cloth is a work of art made from collaboration of a group of people with the greatest artist of all time: Mother Nature.

The best part of Balinese cloth is that it is a wearable form of art. Be it used for clothing or merely for decorating, it is a beautiful object which truly inspires. Each threads, each color tells a story, and what you saw in the final result is that story told in full. The lustrous gold thread that you see in the picture was in fact dyed from Balinese local fruit. Each color was made from different type of plants, and due to it's chemical component the more you use it/have skin contact the more it will shine. Imagine the cloth above to be tastefully fold into an asymetrically wrap-around skirt and matched it with an elegant black pumps, or have it in white with golden yellow thread and minimum barely-there motifs as a tube-dress style wedding gown. Cut and tailor made it into elegant blouses or smart exotic shirts, and use the remaining fabric to accentuate the oh-so-boring work clothes that everyone seems to have. Put it as tapestry to adorn your wall. Use it or place it where you can see or feel it daily, and be reminded of the hard work poured to make it and the uniqueness of your cloth.

There are people who can only see this art as "decadent", a mere fragment of the past that is best left behind because modernization rules. Why spend so much money on a piece of cloth weaved so traditionally when you can spend the same money (or better, more!) on modern-made (or printed) artificial fabric that screamed "Trend du jour!"? It is the same difference between a dress made exclusively by the designer and one that has the designer label but made in bulk. A unique designer items is prized for the time and thought they poured into it and the artistry used to made it. I can only imagine the price of such cloth if being made by a prominent artist in metropolitan cities such as New York or London, and sold with titles and complete details: the artist/weaver, the hours to made it, the plants used to make the dyes, the date of completion, basically the regular information you can find in paintings or other art objects. If such item can be valued highly and considered as "art", can the cloth made by the traditional weaver considered as "art" as well? The answer undoubtedly should be "Yes". But instead of telling story of the artist's struggles for creativity and his/her expressions of life, the cloth weaved by traditional weavers will tell the story of their daily life: the smile and laughter, the praying times and ceremonies, all the grace of a humble traditional life which is a rarity in this fast-paced world.

The Balinese cloth tells the story of ancient wisdom and present way of life, and it is an embodiment of graceful elegance and traditional beauty unsurpassed by other machine-made materials; a work of art that will not only please your eyes but also be a part of your life. Maybe one day my vision will come true, that it will be made by dedicated artists in their studios, marketed properly and presented in art galleries and museums. But then again, there is nothing wrong with the work of traditional Balinese cloth makers, the true artists that weave art in their everyday life. As with any art project, the proper appreciation for these traditional cloth maker will further enhance their love for their own work and a better result of their work. And why shouldn't it be? The cloth is life itself, made to be beautiful and inspiring, to be donned with pride and grace. It is something that was made with collective efforts and a symbol of life: how each things and events and decisions (i.e. threads) weaved together by mighty hands and become a completed life (i.e. clothes). Look and enjoy it, feel it, and experience it; because each cloth is unique and is truly inspiring. Be a part of the experience, be truly inspired.

Read the prelude of this story here.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Yuanfen: My Destiny

If I can only have an hour with you
Then let me spend it by gazing into your eyes
Let me twirl my fingers in yours
Let me feel the warmth of your hands in mine
And wish the hour never ends

If I can only have a day with you
Then let me spend it by making you happy
Let me make you giggle and laugh heartily
Let me see your joyful smile and silly grin
And wish the day never ends

If I can only have a lifetime with you
Then let me spend it by loving you
Let me shower you with love and affection
Let me wakeup every morning with your smile
And wish the end will never come

If I can have you forever as my destiny
Then let me spend each life time to be yours
To honor and respect you, to care and to love you
Let me hold you with assurance and joy
Knowing that the end will never come

Because you are my destiny
The one I found in this life time
The one I will find and loved in the next
The one I am and will always belong to
The one that God made for me

I love you love...

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