on flight carriers

It is a well-known fact that I've spent most of my life here in Indonesia.

But ironically, the first flight that I took alone (meaning: totally NOT accompanied by parents or friends or anybody else I know) wasn't from Indonesia to elsewhere, but the other way round: from Singapore to Indonesia.

I was 15 when I took that first flight (alone) and it was a peculiar experience indeed. I purchased a one-way economy for SG$220 (the cheapest available seat to Jakarta) for a Cathay Pacific ticket. Gee, I really loved that plane...

Cathay, oh Cathay!

I've taken Singapore Airlines during my school's study tour to Vietnam and Cathay eight months later. Frankly, I prefer the latter. Nothing in particular really, except for the fact that the Cathay seats were much more spacious and comfy and everything else that made me loved it.

During my subsequent three visits back to Jakarta, I tried to book a Cathay to no avail, because their tickets were just too pricey. I was then obliged to have ValuAir once and Garuda Indonesia twice.

(Regarding ValuAir, I hardly recommend anyone to try it, because it doesn't have much difference with Indonesian budget airlines in terms of safety, despite the fact that it's Singaporean)


Indonesian soap operas focus a tad too much on Jakarta

Indonesian filmmakers seem to have no other place to shoot their movies than in Jakarta... And it's just pathetic of them.

Some may argue that sometimes the characters in the film also go to Yogyakarta or Bali but wait a sec!

Where do the main characters live?

The poor women and her lover and her monstrous mother-in-law still live in their typical Jakarta mansion, with the BMWs and other parade of automobiles that turn their humongous garage into a car showroom.

The Indonesian Tourism Ministry should wake up to the fact that before they could hope to successfully promote the country to the outside world, they should firstly take a domestic approach in this.

And they need not spend too much on investments.

Invest a bit on moving the sinetron story settings from "the Bloody Wealthy Jakarta " to "the tropics of Palembang" or "the exoticity of Manado" or "the beauty of Pangkal Pinang" would suffice in attracting the ordinary Indonesian families out to visit those areas.

Eiffel I'm In Love, which was starred by Samuel Rizal and Shandy Aulia, was one blatant example of an Indonesian film that has gone too far. It has the characters living in Jakarta, but in the end they decide to go move the story settings to Paris, which was of no help whatsoever to the Indonesian tourism. If anything, it attracted Indonesian moviegoers to go to France instead of visiting their own natural beauties

(For the record, France has been the most tourist-visited country in the world for several consecutive years... So I guess they wouldn't need any help from the Indonesian filmmakers to promote their country any further)

I haven't watched the Eiffel movie (nor do I have the intention to watch it ever), but I guess anyone could've guessed the movie's plot and locations from the glaring title given.

Writing this post, I just hope that someday we could have Intan or Berlian or Melati (or whatever stupid names they give to the main Sinetron protagonist) living in the antiques of Yogyakarta or the heat of Pontianak together with a simple storyline instead of the high lives they always live in the riches of Jakarta.


Indo-lyric: Arti Sahabat (Nidji)

English translation:

The Meaning of Friendship

it wasn't easy to face
this large difference
it wasn't easy to traverse
all these hindrances

you're still standing there
we're still here
we're showing to the world
the meaning of friendship

you're a real friend
we're real friends
let's face this world together
hold my hands

it wasn't easy for us to realise
and listen to each other's hearts
it wasn't easy to comprehend
and share this feeling inside our hearts

you are...
the place where I share my stories
you're complete
when you become a part of me
whatever disadvantages you have

Original lyric in Indonesian:

tak mudah untuk kita hadapi
perbedaan yang berarti
tak mudah untuk kita lewati
rintangan silih berganti

kau masih berdiri
kita masih di sini
tunjukkan pada dunia
arti sahabat

kau teman sejati
kita teman sejati
hadapilah dunia
genggam tanganku

tak mudah untuk kita sadari
saling mendengarkan hati
tak mudah untuk kita pahami
berbagi rasa di hati

kau adalah...
tempatku membagi kisahku
kau sempurna
jadi bagian hidupku
apapun kekuranganmu

[suggested by Undine]


A moment for contemplation

Have you ever wondered how does it feel to be handicapped?

To be blind, deaf, or mute?

Being a person with limited access to the all the sensory that we as ordinary human beings are privileged to have, must surely be a pity (a franker word would be bane, but I'm refraining from using it as not to discriminate the underprivileged minorities).

Which is exactly why you should contemplate once in a while to thank God (or whatever kind of Higher Powers you believe - you name it) that you are not blind. Otherwise, you could not be reading this blog right now.

And thank the Higher Power too that you could have this PC/Laptop/PDA/Smartphone/Handphone to browse the internet right now. Around one billion people (which is one-sixth of the world's population) are not as fortunate as you are.


Take caution when talking bad of strangers

Here are two of my personal experiences in dealing with strangers whose nationalities I didn't know of. Apparently, speaking of others in a so-called "less-common language" doesn't always guarantee you privacy.

Back in November 2006, I remember this one particular scene in Soekarno-Hatta airport when I almost made an embarrassment of myself.

Julz, Bagus, Dana, and me were on 2 different queues to get our passports checked and stamped by the officers.

I was ahead of my queue (with Dana behind me) when an Oriental-looking Indonesian girl about three years younger my age cut my queue, apologised to me that she was in a rush, and quickly took her spot to the passports officer.

I hadn't given her the permission to cut my queue yet (and indeed I wasn't going to give her any), but she seemed to take it for granted.

I was about to utter my curses in Japanese with Dana (who was much more fluent in the language than me) about how infuriated I was of her. I didn't care if she heard it, it wasn't like she would understand it anyway... but my first syllable was interrupted when that girl called out loud to someone behind Dana's queue:


(which is the Japanese word for "Mommy")

Then I saw her passport... which was RED.

Oh freak, I almost made an embarrassment of myself! I told Dana about this (in low voices of course, as I've found out that both of them were Japanese Indonesians) and he grinned at my near-miss.

LOLS, that was close to making a scene...

Now let me go back to a much earlier scene where I made a real shame of myself. This one below happened in my school's dormitory hall lounge in November 2004.

Having stayed in Singapore for less than a month, we still thought of Singapore Dollar as a superior figure than Rupiah, hence we still deem it kinda wasteful to spend too much money on food.

(this perception totally changed after we've stayed for two months, because apparently we found out that food were the cheapest of all basic necessities we could purchase in Singapore)

Boon and me were walking from our room to take some fresh air outside when we spotted our halltutor (with whom we weren't acquainted yet) in the lounge, eating bread.

I voiced my concerns out loud to Boon in Indonesian language, "Ih Boon, itu orang kok makan roti melulu ya kerjanya?" ("Boon, why does that guy always seem to be munching breads every time we see him?")

Boon's response was only a short "Tau tuh.." ("Dunno").

All of a sudden, that guy whom we talked about looked straight at us both. I was frozen to death when he stared at me with such a hawkish look.

Boon was aware of this too and we paced ourselves away from the lounge. Thankfully there was no respond whatsoever from that guy.

When we were far within his earshot, Boon asked me "That guy seem to understand what you were saying... Was it because the manner you talked?"

"Perhaps... Or it's quite possible that he is..."

"an Indonesian?"

"Hmm yep, but he looks Chinese... I thought he's a Singaporean", I looked worried, fearing for the worst.

"Let's go and find out his name and nationality later"

That night, we found out that the halltutor on whose face we spoke of was in fact a Malaysian. A true-blood Chinese Malaysian. So he understood Malay then (which is mutually intelligible with Indonesian)

Oh dear, it was just fortunate of me that he was a kind chap that he didn't hold out any personal grudges against me, hehe.


Hunting ban

In this technology-savvy world where we humans have almost all the access to any kind of items we dare think of, I still wonder why haven't the world governments banned hunting.

In contrary to the ancient human beings who hunted the wild animals for their daily necessities, with the skins being used as clothes during winters and meats eaten as food, hunters nowadays hunt just for fun!

And think about it, the terms "poaching" and "hunting" are not that very much different anyway. Well, some hunters may argue that since the birds or bears or lions that they hunt are killed with a single fatal shot, it constitutes a humane treatment that should be legalised.

Humane treatment my arse.

The animals hunted are still living beings, for God sakes!

When they killed the elephants to obtain their tusks, have they ever thought that elephants are going to be extinct in the next 80 years or so? When they killed the pandas in Chinese forests, do they know that panda is now an endangered species?

Those hunters who hunted animals just to add new "furniture collection" in their living room should realise that those bears and lions and whatever kind of species they hunt also have their own cubs to take care of.

For you hunters out there, just imagine if your own beloved ones are killed with the so-called "humane single fatal shot". Are you still intent on hunting animals as a hobby?


How on earth could an author afford to drop a vowel?

Seeing the book title and cover, you may be forgiven to think that I'm reviewing this novel today for its potential sauciness.

But you're wrong.

Below is a short review of why am I amused by this book

Unhooking a DD-cup Bra without Fumbling

by Adam Adams

Amazingly, this intriguing 60,000-word novel, set in Southeast Asia, contains no E's! Lipograms are works that avoid a certain letter of the alphabet and in this novel the author has used no words that contain the letter E. Featuring many mind-bending word puzzles, this is a fascinating and very original read.

I haven't taken a flip thru any of its pages, but planning to do so in the near future.

In the meantime, I'm still wondering how Adam Adams could manage to skip the letter E's all the way from the beginning till the end.

It truly is a marvel, because the letter E apparently exists in all the basic English words such as:

We, She, He, Me, See, Let, Get

Adams must have gone thru pains in substituting all the E-words with another without sacrificing the clarity of his story. And think about it: as all the regular verbs in English end with -ed, there is a large possibility that he uses Present Tense for this work.

However creative it may be, I think I could safely assume that it would lose its magic touch if this English novel is translated into another language.

But I'm still bloody curious though. And I'm planning to devour the book sometime soon.


Silly Friendster ban

(FYI, I'm not naming my school here as not to taint my own school's reputation, but feel free to trawl my archives for its name if you're curious enough)

Back in my Singapore days, my school library had a ludicrous rule that always made most of us students feel deeply annoyed.

The rule is to deny the students any access to our Friendster accounts.

During my first months at the school, we the new students were deeply bothered with such a rule. I mean, what is the logic behind such a ban anyway? Why are they putting Friendster on the same par as pornographic websites?

If we look far enough, we could see that the logic behind the Friendster ban is actually quite simple:

The school management knows that posting one's own personal pictures on Friendster increases the risk of getting stalked by bad guys, hence it would be better off to ward the students from the website at all costs.


Apparently all those people who ban websites, such as the retarded anti-Youtube government we read in the media a little while ago together with my anti-Friendster school have never learned a thing.

If you people want to ban any websites, don't forget to ban the proxies too, for God sakes!


It's just sickening to see the way they could group some websites into certain stereotypes, which in turn puts themselves into objects of ridicule.


Stop promoting Bali too much!

At the moment, you may be frowning at the title above (after knowing that I lived in Bali for two years and loved every minute of it) but no, it's not what you think.

Experiences tell us that, if we are overtly dependent on something, we would lose our balance when that "thing" is lost.

Which was exactly the reason why people of the Indonesian tourism industry were freaked out when the first Bali bombing rocked Legian.

Why should we be afraid?

Indonesia has more than 17,300 islands, and losing the tourist revenues coming into Bali should NOT be a big problem.

But apparently, it IS a problem.

Because we have idiots running the Indonesian Tourism Ministry. They launch the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 with Bali, Java, Lombok and Bangka as their main arsenals, with only a little bit of everything else promoted here and there.

Indonesia is not targetting much this time round with no more than 10 million international visitors in 2008 (in comparison, the tiny state of Singapore was able to attract 20 million visitors in 2007). The Indonesian ministry indeed have a realistic target, but what's the difference between year 2007 and 2008 if they couldn't exceed the number 10 million visitors?

Trust me, it just sounds pathetic for a country this big to have our tourism figures beaten by that dwarfish Singapore.

If Bali is no longer capable to generate the main income for tourism industry, we shouldn't fret. We still have 17,300 other islands in Indonesia to depend our tourism upon, and hence we should make the amenities and infrastructures more accessible to the outside visitors.


Indo-lyric: Ingkar (Bunga Citra Lestari)

English translation:


as love started to bloom
I should've felt it
as the desire deepened
I should've reciprocated

from this heart I've realised
I shouldn't have loved you
if this heart isn't ready to relent
the feeling should've been buried instead

I should've loved you
I should've held you dearly
please forgive me if
this is all I could offer you

from this heart I've realised
I shouldn't have loved you
if this heart isn't ready to relent
the feeling should've been buried instead

[repeat reff]

Original lyric in Indonesian:

disaat cinta tercipta
semestinya aku merasa
di kala hasrat mendalam
semestinya aku berbalas

dari hati kini kusadari
tak semestinya aku berkasih
jika hati tak dapat berbagi
baiknya rasa itu tersimpan dalam

semestinya aku mencinta
seharusnya aku menyayang
oh maafkan jika
semua ini yg kuberikan untukmu

dari hati kini kusadari
tak semestinya aku berkasih
jika hati tak dapat berbagi
baiknya rasa itu tersimpan dalam

[repeat reff]

(requested by Tam from Canada)


Ambiguity of "naïve" and "loneliness"


Is "naïve" a positive-sounding word or a negative one?

Those who side with the better connotation choose to associate the word with a childhood innocence that shows the purity and untainted characters of the person concerned.

On the other hand, those who argue otherwise choose to associate it with a complete ignorance of many aspects in one's life.

It's up to you to decide but as for me, I prefer the first association.


I sometimes wonder if there is any better synonyms for "loneliness". Despite the fact that one may enjoy being alone, people most often associate the word with the sadness that ensued after one is forsaken.

Simon suggested a great alternative for the noun though:

[Having holiday here in Jembrana, Bali] was undeniably the true meaning of getting away from it all. I had a delicious sense of, not so much loneliness, as that word is usually taken to have negative connotations. Perhaps aloneness would be a more neutral word. It was an innate peace devoid of 6000 W speaker systems, car horns and advertising jingles; a meditative splendor that one is obviously never afforded back home in Jakarta.

blog it

"Aloneness" is a brilliant word. I just hope those lingo nerds in Oxford would soon add this word to their blue tome lexicon.

PS: Just in case you wanna deny my assertions above; Nah I say to you, "Solitude" and "Loneliness" aren't synonymous. (^_^)


Brillante Weblog Award 2008

thanks to Bijuk for the nomination of Brillante Weblog Award

herein the rules :
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on yours.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

My nominations are :

  1. Therry
  2. Treespotter
  3. Anita
  4. Cisayong Girl
  5. An Englishman in Osaka
  6. Isman Suryaman
  7. Tasa Nugraza Barley


More of a pet-lover

Whenever I visit a house where there are both toddlers and pets, I naturally spend my time more with the pets than the kids.

It's not really that I'm not fond of kids though, but the thing is; I just don't have that much affinity to connect with babies and their likes. Which is the reason why, in my current young age of 18, I don't very much favour having children as soon as I am married.

I still don't know if this decision of mine should change one day later though. Because as I know it, learning process towards maturity could take one's lifetime and any events or events I may have down the road later on may force me to change my approach towards this issue.

But in case you're wondering: yes, I love pets very much. As a matter of fact, I really couldn't stand living a single year without embracing any cats or patting any dogs. If I'm about to live in small spaces like dorms or flats in the future, I think little animals like the bunny rabbits or fishes in aquarium would suffice, though I would still very much hesitate to take scaly reptiles to live with me...


Song fetish

I have a fetish for songs, which means that if I chance upon a new muzak that got my ears hooked, I must be able to download that song (for free of course) on that day no matter what.

If I don't know the title of the song, the best thing that comes up in mind would be to google the lyrics. This has proven applicable to the English, Japanese, and Indonesian songs I've googled (no, I don't download French songs... Despite having studied the language for 3 months now, their tongues are still a bit too fast for my ears).

But what if the song is instrumental? I have no other choice but to let it pass.

The kind of instrumentals that caught my ears is mostly the groovy ones, with the typical Stardust or Bali Lounge-ish kind of songs... They are the kind of songs that most ordinary Indonesians don't like, hence it is of no use if I ask around what the title or who the artist is.

If only those Silicon Valley nerds have created a software that could google instrumental songs with certain tunes (e.g. an unknown song that starts with C-C-D+C-C-D-D+C), I'd like to have one, please!

(and in case you're wondering: No, I don't google for Classics, despite my deep liking towards that genre. I have got too many classics on my hard disk that I'm content with them already)


My fave bookshop

Nah, it is NOT Kinokuniya.

Kinokuniya may always have the largest in terms of area and book collection and everything, but apparently size isn't everything when it comes to a bookshop's likeableness.

Instead, if I am to nominate my most favourite bookshop, it would be Borders.

If I am to compare which bookshop has the larger collection of books, it would no doubt be Kinokuniya. No matter where it resides, Kinokuniya always seem to hold the top spot in their book collection (the Kino bookshop in New York occupies an entire city block, do you know that? Such a size is more or less equal to the Mal Taman Anggrek in West Jakarta!).

The Kino I often visited in Takashimaya was per se the largest bookshop I had visited. For my Indonesian readers, it was by comparison 4 times larger than the Kino in Plaza Senayan, South Jakarta.

Too bad Jakarta has no Borders yet. So let me get to the one I visited in other country as to make my point.

It has been nigh 2 years since I last visited the Borders in Singapore, but I would try to recall as many details as possible.

The only Borders bookshop I have visited was the one adjacent to Orchard MRT station, but I have loved it from my first visit. Starting from the moment we enter its sliding doors, visitors are greeted with a handful collection of audio CDs and the newest collection of DVDs as displayed on its LCD screens.

A mild woody fragrance (Or was it some other fragrance? Forgive my poor memory. Duh) filled the shop with a sense of homey ambiance. This is in good alignment with the bookshop's strong presence of the wood element in their shelves, floors, and everything else.

In direct contrast to the Kino bookshop located 500 metres away where browsing books seemed to be discouraged, Borders seemed to put "browsing books" as the top priority in their selling-point. This is proven by the abundance of seats available on every corners of the shop.

I once said that I could literally spend a whole day in Kinokuniya. Well, that would be a tiring day indeed if I were to spend one, because I have to compete with other visitors for the limited seats available, otherwise I would have to sit on the rug instead.

But in Borders, I could literally enjoy my whole day there. Borders is indeed the comfiest bookshop in the world, and it's so fortunate of me that its headquarter is in the States that I am going to visit one in the near future.

This is one of the several things that make me look forward to my moving there.


Jakarta's sickening development

Yesterday (15/7), the Seputar Indonesia newspaper ran a special coverage on its Lifestyle section which discusses the existing apartments in Jakarta and apartment projects which are to start in the near future.

The price of apartment units there range from Rp 500 million (€ 28,000) to Rp 4 billion (€ 224,000), which is way beyond the purchasing power of most Indonesians.

The startling thing was not the fact that more Indonesians are able to purchase those units; because it has always been a common knowledge that the Indonesian riches are getting richer day by day. But one thing I found appalling was the way the paper itself put such a coverage in a very positive outlook.

Oh, the Indonesian media bias and its idiocy!

While the world over are fussing over their worries in food price crisis, American credit crunch, and the upcoming impacts of climate change; the elites of Indonesia seem to care not a single bit for such things.

The rich still splurge their money on branded craps with their European-sounding fashion names and live in ultra-pricey "castles" (Bellezza or Regatta, anyone?): all of them are the "basic requirements" to be accepted as a part of the prestige. I don't condone the rich of course, except for the irony that there are still starving people in South Sulawesi, the Papuans still have their private parts uncovered, and the kids are still suffering from diarrhea outbreaks in Nusa Tenggara (not to mention that we still have those beggars in Jakarta streets too).

On the other side of the globe, Indonesia's counterpart in terms of income disparity —Brazil— have taken their first steps to transform the notorious few of the 600 favelas (drug haven slums) in Rio de Janeiro into more established residential areas with schools, banks, and other well-functioning establishments throughout the city. They do not dare think to build those freaking elite apartments yet; because their government know that their main priority should lie in the interests of the nation's poorest.

In terms of income disparity, Brazil is currently the worst in the world; with a mere 10% of the population holding 75% of the nation's wealth.

But if we speak in terms of significant improvements in the long run; Indonesia is way behind Brazil in achieving anything for the nation its entirety.

In fact, we are heading for the worst and we seem to be unaware of it.


Talc and the finance minister

Mom used to tell me that pouring talc all over your itchy skin could help in reducing the rashes, but I don't think I'll take that age-old belief anymore.

And hey, such a belief has no scientific basis right? I don't have to google nerdy articles for my denial of such a belief, because my logic tells me so. Perhaps the only talcs that could help are Dettol and some other medical-sounding brands of powders, and not Johnson&Johnson's like I always use.

Oh well.

Last Saturday I read an article in The Jakarta Post by John McBeth (sounds like a Scot living in Singapore) about Sri Mulyani Indrawati who is the incumbent Finance minister of Indonesia. Long story cut short, it tells us of her achievements in transforming the Finance Ministry from a highly dodgy kind of gang into one with integrity.

It wasn't the first time I read an article lauding Indrawati's virtues. In a young age of 45, coupled with humbleness when it comes to interacting with her chums, she pretty much reminds me of Barack Obama.

It's just too bad that she is more of a technocrat than a politician that she's not a member of any political parties. If only the 2009 presidential elections allow independents to contest, I'm sure she would strike quite a figure among elites and plebeians alike.

Indrawati for President, anyone?

Count me in!


My trademarks

Lately I realise that I've created quite a heap of aliases and trademarks in the internet that I think it is necessary to elaborate how and why I pick every single one of them.

1. Toshi.

It used to be Toshihiko Atsuyama until I truncated it in favour of a catchier name (think of it, Titi DJ is much catchier than Titi Dwijayanti, right?). The origin of the name Toshihiko Atsuyama was explained a couple of months back; you may dig my archives if you like to.

2. Missing Samurai.

This is the ID of my MSN and Gmail. To be honest, I actually regret the choosing of this ID because I don't think it is in anyway relevant to my persona or alter ego as a whole.

3. Kansai2Kansas.

I use this alias for a few of my accounts, and my Friendster account is one prominent example. Kansai is a region in Japan while Kansas is an American state. I choose to combine them together because I've always adored Japan for its culture and America for its marking as my birthplace. The number "2" in the middle is of course nothing relevant: it merely serves as a liaison between the both of the similar-sounding names.

4. Foreign Prophecies.

The "Foreign" part is attributed to the fact that no matter which country I go to in any part of the world, people would always find a way to treat me as a foreigner. Or rather, it is me who often feel as such. I always feel that I am Indonesian just as much as I am an American, and this should pretty much explains everything. On the other hand, "Prophecies" holds no special value whatsoever, and this is due to the fact that I was heavily influenced by Harry Potter, Narnia, and Eragon literatures back when I picked the name in 2005 that I came to choose a fantasy/wizardry-sounding name.

5. 48th Ronin.

Do you know of the legend of the 47 Ronins? Well, this 48th Ronin is just one thing I made up myself, but I think a lot of people out there have patented this trademark earlier than me, so I guess I won't very much use this trademark.

* An Ethereal Shard (deleted).

Used to be the title of this blog until I decided to obviate it due to the fact it holds no special significance whatsoever. It was a totally random pick when I took this name in mid-2007, really.

* The Cursed Knight's Lost Fragments (deleted).

This was the title of this Foreign Prophecies blog during my Singapore days (from 2005 till 2006). This title; though quite magical/fantasy-sounding, could bring a real harm upon me if I stick with it, and hence the change to "An Ethereal Shard".


TV Channels and Reverse psychology

I used to tune in to Animax and Star World for daily doses of serials, but not anymore. Following serials have become a bore to me, especially since they oblige me to have some sort of regularity when it comes to watching TV.

As for now, I only tune in to these channels when I turn on the TV:

  1. CNN. Seeing what's hot on the news.
  2. Channel News Asia. Simply the best channel to have your news delivered from a very Asian-oriented perspective.
  3. Al-Jazeera. A channel where we get to know which new places in the Middle East are bombed everyday.
  4. BBC. Nothing special from this channel really, except for the fact that I love emulating British accent.
  5. MTV. Seeing what's new on the music world.
  6. MNC Music Channel. A daily dose of Indonesian music.
  7. Metro TV. Indonesian news-oriented channel.
  8. Trans TV. An informative channel with good shows.

In the past I loved to watch Indosiar, which used to be the most couch potato-friendly channel in Indonesia, but ever since it substituted its Korean and Japanese drama series for the freaking stupid Bollywood-ish Indonesian sinetrons (soap operas), I ceased to watch it. I hope the people in Indosiar are offended by this blog entry, because this is of course meant as a constructive criticism.

Lemme get to the second topic.

Over the last couple of days, I have been playing some sort of reverse psychology in front of my closest people.

Of course I don't lie to them: I despise dishonesty above all else when it comes to people's traits.

The only thing I do is just creating the impression by dropping fake "little hints" here and there on my Friendster, Facebook, MSN, and YM so that they generate the impression that Í'm doing something that I really don't do.

And when they ask me questions like, "Toshi, are you doing this?"

I would answer honestly with a "No, I'm not".

They wouldn't believe me of course, because I always make sure that my honest answer looks like a lie.

Man, I really am nasty, aren't I?


Such is the joy of reverse psychology that I don't think that I will stop this game at anytime soon.

Well if you read this blog entry today, I suppose by now you have figured out what kind of reverse psychology I am playing. And you should be happy that you are lucky enough to be my regular reader that you won't get fooled by this little trickery of mine.

PS: The last paragraph above is directed to three of my regular readers; one in Bandung, the other two in Singapore (^_^).


Is it worthy to commit suicide because of a broken heart?

Worthy my arse.

Over the last two months, there has been a kinda spooky story circulating around the Indonesian housewives and students about the "Tinggal Kenangan" song which was written by a girl who was dumped by her boyfriend. Soon after the song was written, she committed suicide.

The song has reached an odd kind of popularity due to the fact that it brings some sort of mystery within it.

Now aside from the mystery itself (I don't give a shit whether the story was real or not), I think that if a person commits suicide because of a broken heart, that person really deserves some time with Satan down there in the inferno.

That is, if the person in question believes in the existence of afterlife.

But what if he/she doesn't believe in such stuff? His/her soul would simply cease to exist, right?

Love is just a plain stupid cause to die for.

This is exactly why I've always treasured friendship over love relationship. You may have your ups and downs with your friends, but unless you lose contact with them, a friendship usually remains forever.

On the other hand, love relationship tend to go for the extremes. When one is head over heels for the person, one would sink into his/her world, and everything about him/her fills in every page of one's life.

But the thing has it that when people break up with their lovers, most tend to have a 180° attitude towards the person concerned.

So... what should you do if you have suicidal thoughts after breaking up?

Stop blaming yourself would be a good start.


Even if you know that you're the one who is at fault, you still should look for anything in your loved one that could make you hate him/her.

Because it really isn't worth the cause.

And trust me, friendship is always much more valuable than love relationship.


A full year has passed...

without my Grandma, Nin.
(note: "Nin" is the affectionate Sundanese term for Grandma)
Everyone has always loved her.

She was born in the West Java town of Tasikmalaya around 12 years before the Indonesian Independence. When I was a child (and even till I reached my teenagehood) she often told me stories that, despite having withstood a much cruel colonialism under the Japanese with all the starvations and stuff, she actually preferred having the Japanese people instead of the Dutch in our country.

Wanna know why she liked the Japanese?

No, it wasn't because her parents were pro-Japanese, as her family accepted the Independence wholeheartedly when it finally came. And the town where she lived was well-known nationally to be one of the leading fronts against the Japanese colonials (refer to Singaparna incident).

Instead, she liked the Japanese simply because the Japanese teachers sang a lot. And she loved singing very much.

If anyone asked her an account of how the Japanese treated Indonesians in the colonial era, she would indeed spoke from the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.

Starvation was rampant with the Japanese rule of limiting the food rations, but she lived in the rural side of the town, with all the rice fields and other food supplies, thus her family always managed to get aplenty of food to eat somehow.

The only drawback was in the clothes that her family had to wear: they were obliged to wear gunny-sack clothes once under extreme duress.

Since her father was the owner of a bakiak(wooden sandal)-producing company, the Japanese always placed a large order to her company and hence her parents were able to live a quite "normal" life during the colonial period.

Several years after Independence, her future husband, who was my Grandpa Kakek, came to the town and met her.

As arranged marriages were common during those days, everyone in the town wouldn't be surprised at all if they finally got married. Nin's family belonged to one of the highest social strata amongst the Sundanese, and Kakek was a pure-blooded Gayo Acehnese royalty. And both of them were highly attractive too.

They went to Jakarta; got married there, and lived in the South Jakarta district of Setiabudi for decades afterwards. Being an arranged marriage, nobody would say that their union was a happy one. But being a high-class Muslim family, whom everyone back in their kampung always look in high regards, Nin and Kakek withstood their family problems until they had their fifth child, who is my Uncle O, in the 1970s.

Their marriage ended in divorce, and because Kakek was a reputable lawyer, Nin won almost nothing (including all the five children) during the court hearing afterwards.

But being a tough person, she wasn't the least bit intimidated by Kakek's power. She was oft quoted saying this as a response to Kakek in winning the five children:

"Oh, so he had won? And why should I care? Three of my five children are big enough and in the end they would decide how to live their own lives without the interference of either me or him"
She was correct. Nin's eldest son (who is Uncle W) and her eldest daughter (who is none other than my Mom) soon went abroad to look for work in cruise ships.

She worked in producing embroidery during the 1980s and 1990s (and her products were loved very much by Ibu Tien Soeharto, the then First Lady of Indonesia that she became acquainted with her).
She retired in the late 1990s and chose to stay in the remote Tangerang area of Pamulang where she lived close to her children. Then, desiring for a solitude, she moved back to Tasikmalaya where she planned to spend her old years.

She passed away peacefully in deep slumber at my Aunt's residence on this day last year. It broke my heart to see her leaving so soon, especially since I hope that Nin would attend my future marriage. But since she had been suffering from an ailment during the months before her death, in the end it does provide a sigh of relief that she had finally reached a level of happiness above there: in the heaven.

I personally remember Nin as a cheerful, humble, and tough person. She seemed to prioritise humility above all others, but when the time came for her to play tough, she WOULD play as tough as she could, even though she knew that deep down inside she was indelibly hurt (this is perhaps a characteristic I've genetically inherited).

I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her when I last met her (two weeks before her passing away). But I was just happy that two months before that, I had the chance to ask her forgiveness for all the pains I had caused her, either thru my disobedience as a little kid or thru my insolence as a teenager. And she forgave me wholeheartedly with a teary-eyed smile, I'm delighted for that.

If I had the chance to meet Nin again for an hour, I'd like to have a session of playing cards or dominoes. It had been years since I last played cards with her, but as a little kid I always remember how fun it was to play cards with her and receive a bar of Silver Queen chocolate at the end of the games.


Stuff I'm allergic to

Here's a list of stuff I'm allergic to. The list ain't exhaustive, but I strongly recommend you against giving them to me, ever.

1. Coffee. Drinking it makes me more sloshed than drinking vodka.
2. Prawns. My throat gets itchy whenever I consume them.
3. Melon. Can't stand the taste.
4. Sate Padang. This one makes me sick too.
5. Happy Tree Friends. This cartoon is seriously sick.


Centipede fear

I've always had a morbid fear of centipedes. Or milipedes as some would call it (I think the basic difference lies only in their number of feet).

But the thing about my fear is that; unlike my allergy towards coffee, I could still hide it whenever I need to.

There was one time when three of my classmates in my Bali school (Santo Yosef) back then were playing with an alive (or perhaps, half-dead) centipede and go chasing all the girls (and some boys too) out of the class. A funny kind of bullying indeed, but I've decided that I wasn't going to be intimidated by them.

"Hey, there's Toshi" one of the gang members pointed at me.

I was sitting on a seat at the back of the class, doing my unfinished homework at school. I did my best to feign ignorance.

"Hi, Toshi..." one of them smiled at me and gave me an uneasy look.

A girl not sitting far away from my seat mouthed me the words "There izz a Cen-ti-pede" as to warn me. I glanced at her and gave her the "Thanks-but-I'm-OK-with-that" look and turned facing the three of them.

One of them held the centipede proudly in their hands.

"Umm.. what's that?" I pretend naivety.

"Eh?" they seemed perplexed. "This is centipede, you idiot!"

"Oh, so that's what you call centipede!" I gave a surprised look, "Poor thing, you shouldn't be playing around with it!"

In fact, I couldn't care less if the centipede was dead. If it was alive in the first place, I definitely would have stomped on it with my foot.

Before they went chasing other people to bully, one of them held the centipede dangling on his fingers very closely to my face. I did my best to stay calm and not freak out.

Thank God, I succeeded.

"Ah shit, Toshi's not scared..."

The tallest of them compounded, "Yea, how boring he is.. Let's go!"

There were several other pupils inside the classroom who also looked as if they could care no less, but apparently they have decided to look for other people to bully in other classes.

Haha, bunch of idiots.


No, 'reading' is not my hobby

It's OK to love reading.

In fact, educators and plebeians alike always encourage each other to nurture a love for gulping down books ever since they could comprehend the ABCs.

But I'm not going to say that 'reading' is my hobby.

As uncle O filled out an insurance-related form and asked for my personal bits, he asked for my hobby.

"Reading", Mom answered for me, "That has always been Toshi's hobby since childhood"

I protested amidst the IM chat in my handphone, "Nah Mom... You can't say that reading is my hobby!"

"And why is that?"

"Because it sounds gay"

Mom and Uncle O looked at each other and threw me a puzzled look.

"Huh?" they seemed perplexed.

Mom asked, "What's so gay with that? I know you've always loved reading. In fact, we all know"

"Trust me, it sounds gay. So um... Just fill it with 'swimming' instead"

"But I've never seen you swimming...", she sneered.

"Well I swim once a week FYI, thank you"

And I returned to my handphone.

You know, it's a commonly held notion amongst 8Days (a magazine in Singapore) readers and other American-oriented magazines that if you fill in your hobby as 'reading', they would deem you as gay.

It's an asinine stereotype indeed, but I'm certainly not going to let myself be trapped into being made fun of in this kind of trivia.

For guys (especially nerds) out there, no matter how much fervour you have for munching the tomes, beware not to fill in your hobby as 'reading'. Just a safety precaution of course, if you don't want to be made a laughing stock by others.


Masturbating helps to prevent prostate cancer?? Ugh.

This New Scientist report tells us how masturbation could help us males in preventing prostate cancer. According to the statistics, prostate cancer is the second leading cancer among men after lung cancer.

An Australian team of the Cancer Council Victoria from Melbourne concluded that the more men ejaculated between the ages 20 and 50, the less likely they were to develop prostate cancer.

Wow. In that case, those who live celibate lives (i.e. Catholic priests and certain Buddhist monks) must have the highest risk of developing prostate cancer, then.


The irony of it all

I used to hate writing.

Very much.

In fact, I considered writing to be an ordeal during my days in Jakarta primary school that I could never produce any essays more than half a page that time.

It all gradually changed when I moved to Bali.

So how did I turn my hatred towards the love of my life? Simple.

If you click on the "Poem" label tag on the right-hand side of this page you would see that my earliest poems were actually composed when I lived in Bali.

And they were composed for just one girl.

I showed it to some of my confidantes and they called me a good poet and then....

Yep, I think that's the turning point where my love of the literature world started.

I did not compose any single poems when I went to school in Singapore -- not because I hadn't fallen for anyone there, as I had actually fallen for two of my seniors -- but simply because I was too busy and there were more important things to do than composing poems.

Now Literature aside, Maths was subjects that I used to love.

Very much.

In fact, my name was once made synonymous with perfect score in Maths tests because as everyone knew it; I rarely scored below 95% for any of my Maths exams. And I rarely opened my Maths book there.

It all changed when I moved to Bali (Now why on earth had Bali reversed my life in such a way??!), because the teachers there weren't as interesting in their pedagogical skills.

As a result, I rarely scored above 80% in Maths during my first year in my Balinese school.

Eventually, I learned from my mistakes and studied hard in Maths as to regain my former standings. I scored a so-so aggregate when I graduated there.

Biology is another irony.

I used to have high grades in Biology in my Balinese school --even till the point where they send me for the Provincial Biology Olympics in SMUN 4 Denpasar-- but it all changed not long afterwards.

This time, the turning point is Singapore.

I've never hated Biology, and in fact that's one branch of Science I love most. But the thing was, I found it hard to score even an average B in Biology during my Singapore days.

And so be it, I had no other choice but to drop the subject.

Now reminiscing the past and comparing it to the life I'm living today, I've come to a conclusion.

Although I always seem to hate Maths and Science, the fact remains that I never really dislike them in the first place. I'm just weak at them and frankly speaking, I still hope deep down in heart that I could exchange my current linguistic abilities with my old Mathematical adroitness.

But just like the Tao adage say, whatever has passed is the past.

I guess I'll just go by the flow according to whatever my neuro-wavelengths want with me at any given time, ay?



Is it that hard to pronounce "Carrefour" correctly?

"So where did you buy it?" he asked.

"Carrefour (pronounced: CA-Foo)", I answered.


"Carrefour (still pronounced the same way)"

"Ca-foo? what is that? is it a new shop or something?"

"Carrefour (pronounced: CARE-FOUR), for God sakes", I finally relented to his brain limitation.

"Oohh... CARE-FOUR! Why don't you just say so from the beginning...?"

"You want me to kill you or what?" I showed an annoyed look.

Till today, most people who are familiar with English language find it so damned difficult to pronounce that French hypermarket correctly.

If pronounced accurately, it should rhyme with the Sudan capital of Darfur, and not Care-Four like 80% of the globe population (who don't speak French) have always thought.

I don't know how do the Carrefour management elsewhere choose to connect with the public, but the Indonesian branches of Carrefour have apparently chosen to also relent to the general public's unawareness.

Their famous catchy slogan as advertised on the TV and radio is "Ke Carrefour aja, ah..." by using the Care-Four spelling instead of CA-Foo.

No wonder the public could never be educated about the accurate French reading.


Free soccer balls

Living in a house located just behind a soccer field could offer you a lot of benefits.

For one, I don't have to go very far in order to play soccer.

But even though none of my family members have ever been a large fan of soccer, we consider it a blessing to have a soccer field behind our house.

Every month or so, my family gets soccer balls "delivered" to us due to those who kick too high that it gets into our own backyard.

Indeed, none of the responsible players have ever approached our house to obtain the ball back: they're afraid that they would have broken something and thus they consider it a lesson for themselves!

As a matter of fact, they couldn't break anything in our backyard; there is nothing apart from a small pond and a little bit of greenery there!

We have obtained at least 15 balls since moving to this house last year, but my saintly Mom is apparently too kind to return most of the balls to the soccer players.

On the other hand, my Sis and I are quite logical in keeping them to ourselves. As for now, we are keeping three balls, and here are two of them:

Just in case any of the players knock on our front gates, I always have the answers ready. Here's an imagined scenario that I have visualised in mind.

SP: Soccer Player
Me: Toshi

SP: Permisi, Mas... (excuse me...)
Me: *feigns annoyance* Yah, can I help you with anything?
SP: Um... I'm afraid I've kicked my soccer ball to high and it went to your backyard.... Umm...
Me: So.. it was you who kicked it?
SP: Yes, so.. Can I have it back, please?
Me: Before I return it to you, let me ask you something. Do you know how much a vase that my Mom bought in Shanghai would cost?
SP: Umm nope. *biting lips*
Me: It costs 300 yuans, or 300 thousand in Rupiah currency. Well I'm afraid you've shattered it into pieces with your bloody kick! So do you still want the ball or do you want to forget about it?
SP: I guess you can have the ball, then.
Me: Good! Be careful next time, OK! *smiles*

Of course my Mom has never been to China, but I'll always have this fabricated story on hand if anyone approaches me for the ball. (^_^)


How do dyslexic East Asians read?

While dyslexic people on most parts of the globe are lucky enough to have only 26 characters on their Latin alphabet, I always wonder how do dyslexic people in East Asia manage to grapple thru reading in their daily lives.

A confusion amongst 26 Latin characters would be a much simpler difficulty than one amongst 2600 Chinese characters!

Dyslexic Koreans and Greeks are luckier though, because they only have 24 characters to struggle with.


Indonesian hypocrisy regarding movie titles

In the 23 February 2008 issue of The Jakarta Post, Veronica Kusuma, a student with the film department at the Jakarta Institute of Arts (IKJ), made a very interesting opinion article regarding film censorship in Indonesia.

Amongst heaps of stuff she discussed there, there was one particular point that intrigued me. In that article she reminded us about the Buruan Cium Gue (Kiss Me Quick) movie title case that made it into the headlines in 2004 due to its title which was deemed unsuitable for the mostly conservative Indonesian population. Widespread protests led to a change in the movie title and the withdrawal of its distribution.

This bothered me a lot. Why? Because, however promiscuous the title may seem to most Indonesians, there are other –more recently released— movies with more provoking titles that had oddly escaped public uproar. Maaf, Saya Menghamili Istri Anda (Sorry, I Banged Up Your Wife) and Kawin Kontrak (Contract Marriage) are two good examples.

There are indeed controversies regarding the Maaf, Saya Menghamili Istri Anda movie, yes, but if they want to ban one movie, they should be consequent in their principles and ban ALL movies that have similarly agitating titles.

An interesting hypocrisy indeed.

There is another unique stuff that she did not forget to point out:

“Since there is only one film school in [Indonesia], many filmmakers who work at the community level are self-taught. The rise of pirated DVDs is one of the important phenomenons [sic] because it enables many people to access movies – a privilege that in the past was only available for those with money.”

This shows a good side of the having illegal DVDs sold everywhere, apart from the movies having more accessible prices for the average Indonesians. I guess there is always pros and cons to everything, isn’t there?


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