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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me....

It's my birthday today, and I feel estranged. 

I have just recently move to a new city in a different continent. I haven't been here long enough to make new friends, and given to my shy nature, it will be a while before I can have best buddies here. Another problem is that my hometown has 15 hours time difference with this town, so all my friends and family already said their greeting and well wishes tomorrow. It feels so awkward to wake up in the morning of my birthday, and knowing it is already "tomorrow" in my hometown. It feels so lonely.

I remember when 2 of my university friends sneaking out from my room to bought me a cake when I was in the shower, AND leaving my room door wide open. I remember taking a time off on my birthday when I was in Jakarta, because it was such a luxury between my work and medical classes. I remember being ecstatic and joyous when celebrating my birthday at my Bali office (Boss, if you read this, I just want you to know I never forgive you for destroying the company). I remember the last birthday dinner that I cook on our small rent house: Shepperd pie and Lasagna in white sauce. I remember the lunch on the year before that: Pork on skewers, grilled on my front yard; and grilled mantis shrimp for pre-birthday party the night before that. I remember my first birthday dinner with my dad and my family, reunited again after almost 11 years living separately; I was so happy that we are together again, so sad because my ultimate birthday gift (an engagement ring) was being held by FedEx+Indonesia's custom (and eventually lost), so in love because my fiance gave me a virtual birthday date on Slovenia's beautiful forest and meadows through texts and photos. They were fun moments.

I always try to give myself a little luxury on my birthday, after all you only born once hehehe. But as I grow older, I also use the birthday as a moment of retrospection and setting goals, asking to myself: I got more time to live, what will I do next? This question hits me hard on certain "milestone" ages: 25 because I am technically grown up, 27 because that's the limit of getting a new career in Indonesia, 30 because I am officially mature (and boy do I feel sexy that day!), and now 31 because I am officially aging lol. It really is hard to decide on what I will do for the remainder time of my life when I can't see people that I know and love and the reason I live for. And fear paralyze me, that just as they are literally one day ahead of me now, they will also leave me behind soon enough and move on with their life without me.

Then my high school friend Skype me. We talked and giggled and gossiped over her latest crush, and in the end she said thanks for the fun and for giving her positive thoughts. Then my fiance and I discussed about the many aspects of Zimmerman trial. Then I read news about an American being murdered by his taxi driver in Thailand over a dispute regarding $1.6 fare, and an outrageous commentator that wrote: are they THAT poor to kill over only $1.6 ?? (to which I will say: for some people in some part of the world, $1.6 can feed a whole family for a day). These so happen are the things that I discussed in this blog: how to make you feel good about yourself and how to be good to others, how to stop inequality and how to start treating people as equal, opening eyes and broaden mind of what others might think or how they perceive thing. This is what my writing is all about, quest for a better understanding of ourselves and others, to simply be a better person. 

Then my other friend contacted me on Facebook, and through our conversation I have ideas on what I will do professionally. Then my fiance contact me again and made me realize, what I have lost briefly during my depression this morning, how much we love each other and how fortunate I am to have him in my life. If I am Orpheus then he is my Eurydice, and I will not think twice to go to the underworld to save my beloved. That is how much he means to me.

So in a nutshell in just 3 hours I got my life goal back, my job/future career laid out in front of me (which is still a bit hazy, but I know I will figure it out), and my "Happily Ever After" set dead in stone. This bizarre sequence is, in my mind, God's way to say: Chill out girl, I got your back. And you know, what? He always will. That's just how it goes. People come and go,and the world will not stop for any of us. I can spend my remaining time on this world in fear and watching my past move on without me, or I can lift my head and live my life to the fullest even if it takes me to uncharted territories. World will not wait anyway, better go and make sure I live (and love) it to the max.

Thanks for reading this and be a part of my birthday, experience a slice of my life albeit only the 5-10 minutes you take to read this article. It was a great pleasure meeting you too :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Honoring The Past

"Also, I paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The worth of a bull is little, but Bagheera's honor is something that he will perhaps fight for," said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.
"A bull paid ten years ago!" the Pack snarled. "What do we care for bones ten years old?"  
- The Jungle Book

The dialog above was taken when the wolf pack wants to kill Mowgli, although his safety has been bought and vouched by their elders 10 years ago. How fast the young forget. Or perhaps, they never understand the cause from the start?

This probably speaks true for these youngsters that opens a cafe in Bandung, Indonesia which stated as the only cafe in the world with decorated WW2 German. Or as a blogger says: a cool place to hang out for fans of Third Reich. A period of mass killing, of cruelty and distress, and these - children - thought it was just a cool era. It was especially laughable because Indonesia never even experienced direct effects of the Nazis. It seems it was just fun and games for them, like cos play or donning costume not unlike fans of Star Wars or Japanese Manga. But the thing is, they never have to shed blood. Once they are done play acting, they will be back in the comfort of their home, the normal daily routines that dearly safeguarded by the government. They never feel the real terror that it evokes.

Even though I have ideas on how bad the Nazi era is by means of reading and watching documentaries, I myself never feel that horror, I was lucky enough to be born in stability. But 2 generations before me experience what we called PKI Massacre, in which the Indonesian attack and killed people (suspected to be) affiliated with the Communist Party Indonesia. It was Salem witch hunt in a grander scale. My grandfather witness one of the killing, when a couple of his fellow sailors killed by the rest of the crew on the boat they were sailing on. There was no escape, he can only view helplessly else he got killed instead. It ruined him for good. At times he will have that trapped and panic look in his eyes and mum will swiftly tell us to go somewhere else, sometimes he will sat with us and launch a tirade on how bad communism and some incoherent conspiracy theories, or stuffed papers underneath my door chock filled to the brim with his writing in, again, incoherent conspiracy. He had to stuff his ear with cottons because he was "hearing voices". This is what living in terror is all about.

A commentator in the blog wrote: If they want to reenact something, why no reenacting the PKI era? Touche. I guess they couldn't though, not without seriously offending a lot of people. It goes the same with reenacting the VOC/Dutch colonialism era or the brief but deathly Japanese era, and saluted/honoring their cruel deed. This is what makes me strongly believe they are nothing but children playing with their toys. Yet can ignorance really be forgiven? I can't imagine how damaging it was, how hurtful it must have been to people that have lived and experience the actual horror, to saw their source of grievance played casually in child's hand.

I agree that there are always two sides of everything. The amazing Sun Tzu or Alexander the Great which greatly admired and hailed for their brilliant war tactics might have been a real terror to their opponents, or to anything that stands in their way for that matter. Yet time heals all, and perhaps a few hundreds years from now people can see and admire the brilliantness of Nazi's tactic as we do with Sun Tzu's. Of course, the fact that Sun Tzu's and Alexander the Great's conquest was solely to unite and expand their kingdom is probably consider slightly more acceptable than Nazi's Aryan supremacy which entitles with genocides to purified their race.

To Indonesian people that thinks this Nazi stuff is okay, I just want to kindly informed you that race supremacy is alive and well. As many commentators in the article have pointed out, if the Neo Nazi gets your ass, or heaven forbid, rules again, you better run for your life since you are definitely not Aryan. My previous employer casually cuss about "Fucking Balinese" with the most disrespectful tone ever in a project meeting with another foreigners even though I was there next to him, a true blue Balinese. The client was not impressed and needless to say we didn't got that project. And this guy has lived in Bali for almost 9 years. This is but a few of my experiences in "race supremacy", which thankfully is not many yet enough to give me an understanding that for some people no matter how good or how skilled you are you will still be considered as "less" just because you are not of the same race. This, is the real life cos play boys.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Simple, Simple Happiness

What constitutes "happiness"? For the people that has to work in the blistering summer heat, a glass of cold water or even a few precious minutes in a cool air-conditioned store can induce such happiness. The same goes with the hungry that will be beside joy with just a dinner roll, or the the weary with a quick undisturbed nap on a comfy bed. We can justly say that getting what you need most (or sometimes, what you want most) will give a certain degree of happiness. But what about things you don't need, or don't necessarily want/desire at that time? Will those random things generate happiness too?

I was sitting on the bed with my fiance last night, eating cereals while watching Despicable Me, when I want to laughed uncontrollably because I feel just so happy. To break it down: a) I love that movie; 2) I love that my fiance love me so much he is willing to watch the movie with me although he was not into children/animation genre at all; 3) I love how absurd the situation is, when 2 adult relaxed with animation and cereal like little children would. Did I specifically need or want to do it? Not really. It just.... happened. And I enjoy every second of it.

Somehow this has been my Modus Operandi in life: rejoicing in the smallest things. Looking in awe when a duck approached us in the park, squealing in delight when my favorite cake was sold at discounted price, melting with happiness when I saw my fiance's smile. One can always set goals and standards, and some will probably set higher bar for happiness, or just different ones. But whatever it is that you think will make you happy, the world is oblivious to it and just run its own course. The funny car plate number you saw while driving, the cute sandals you spotted on someone while doing your grocery, the pretty fuzzy yellow flower growing near the beach's sand dunes, there are just so many things happened in the world at once and we are welcome to enjoy and savor them. No bars needed.

The famous saying goes: The only one that can make you happy is yourself. While this is true, there is also another saying that says: You can't simply wish yourself to be happy just as you can't simply wish yourself to be 6 inch taller. Happiness is in the eye of the beholder, but it is understandable if you can't be happy all the time. Sounds so complicated, isn't it? Actually no. Both saying implies that the happiness is indeed in our hands, and accepting that we are not in a "happy" place is a way to gain the said happiness. Be happy and enjoy the world. And if you can't, well screw that. Just enjoy your unhappiness a bit longer till you had enough and shake it like a dog shake water from its body and smile again. The world wont wait for you, but it rolls out more awesomeness every day ;). Be happy, precious.

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