A rainy winter

The concept may sound incompatible to some of you tropical beings..but yes, it does not always snow on Winter.

It rains too.

[Physics 101 here: Snow is what you get when it rains while the outside temperature is constantly below 0 C for several hours]

Depending on the outside temperature (which can rise from -5 to 5 C in a matter of hours), you can see all snow on your garden in the morning and see all of them completely gone melted by noon.

It didn't even snow on Christmas here, since the temperature barely goes below 1 C.

So now that I can have either rain or snow during winter, which one do I prefer?

I'd rather have snow.

When it snows, it can get very cold to -11 C, but at least you don't get wet while walking outside in the cold.

While having a milder temperature of 8 C is a trite if you consider how the rain can get your feet and denim soaking wet, thus increasing your body's vulnerability to outside chill.

Sleet (partially frozen rain) is what they call it.

Yikes. I'd rather hear the word "guillotine".


Explaining radicalism: it's not really about religion after all

Whenever I mention my Indonesian heritage to the folks here, questions pop out.

Of course, they're curious. Unfortunately, the Indonesia they know are indeed the Indonesia they see on CNN..which is the 'hellish' Indonesia.

Some softened version of Indonesia is also known...the Indonesia they see drowning by the tsunami.


I even remember someone asking me if I ever have to live in fear because of the bombings on Jakarta streets. To which I laughed.

One question comes out often, and I felt that it deserved a good explanation.

"Those fanatics you have there...why do they have so much hatred towards the West? How can they be so blinded by their religious doctrines?"

So I explained to them.

That when it comes down to the basics, it's not really about religion after all. And definitely not about hating the West in the first place.

It's about poverty.

Of the 240 million people in Indonesia, around 85% is Muslim and only less than 1% of that number is actually composed of radicals.

And from those 1% so-called "radicals", only from a very small number can we find the ""radicals" who truly believe in their cause. Like those with more gifted brains such as Amrozi or Imam Samudra.

A huge proportion of the rest do not even believe in the radicalised ideology. I daresay that even if one day the European Union or USA decided to give scholarship to all of their children, they would gladly accept it without questioning.


That huge proportion, who formed a majority of the so-called "radicals", live in poverty. They have family, live in small villages or earn mediocre wages working odd jobs or harvesting during these unpredictable seasons, and there isn't much glory to live for.

They just earn money today in order to bring that sesuap nasi (spoonful of rice) to the dinner table by dusk.

Just like them, their sons don't even finish the mandatory first nine years of schooling, and their descendants are doomed to live the lives like they had.

Until the day when the "recruiters" come...asking them to join a cause to fight for. A cause to die for.

Bombing malls and Western embassies or help the insurgents in Afghanistan, why not?

After all, there isn't much to thank the Western culture. They don't own a Toyota and their childrens don't have a Nike or a Blackberry or an iPod like their city counterparts do. If anything, the portrayal of Hollywood glamours only enhance what the "recruiters" say about how corrupted the West can be...while they have to struggle to live day by day.

Furthermore, by dying for that cause, they can become a martyr. Possibly bringing more spotlight to their impoverished villages and get the attention they are seeking.

Ironic, ain't it?

So it has always been the religion that gets the blame.

And I tell people, that it's not really about the religion after all.


The yearning to speak Indonesian

I miss speaking the language.

If only at least, I could speak Indonesian with someone here.

And by saying "someone", I mean someone I can meet in real life, not online where I can only chat thru the monitor. Or thru phone call where I have to pay a hefty sum for my call balance.

"Someone" I can meet face-to-face and have a cup of tea with.

You know, as do all most newcomers to America who come from elsewhere, there is always a part of their heritage that they can still link to.

The Japanese newcomers in San Fransisco and Seattle can always find fellow Japanese there.

Italian speakers can always find anyone who speaks Italian when they come to New York City.

Pakistanis and Indians can always find their fellow people working in a grocery store or a minimart in all cities throughout the country.

And Mexicans...ah, don't ask. They're scattered everywhere in all industries, just like the Filipinos.

While it is a known fact that there is no Indonesian community here (except that one in Philadelphia), Indonesians have one common attribute when they come to the country:

A large proportion of them come to live in a big city and bring their family or come in to live close by to a friend.

While me?

Nope, no family. Unfair, I am one rare specimen. I just heard the news that Uncle R most likely won't be coming back to the USA too.

Gee. I thought he and I could live together once he's done with his business over there, if not close by.

No Indonesian friend nor family.

I believe that there is even not a single person who can understand Indonesian within a radius of 200 kilometres from Florence, because in order to find an Indonesian interpreter, one has to go to the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

What about an Indonesian restaurant?

There was one in Cincinnati, Ohio (where a plate of nasi goreng was sold for $17). Until last September, when the owner decided to relocate to Bali for good.

There is absolutely nothing in the region to link me with my Indonesian heritage, save for the internet.

Sad, ay?

I know..I'm exiled from any Indonesian links.

So I have made it a habit that when I send my prayers to God, I pray in Indonesian. I used to pray in English all the time when I was in Indonesia, but now that I can only speak English (or sometimes French) on a daily basis, I realised that God is perhaps the only single being left who can understand my native tongue.

And I also sing in Indonesian every now and then. Just sing out loud the known popular songs by Chrisye, Bunga Citra Lestari, Nidji, Letto, Gita Gutawa, Sheila on 7, Audy...


kinda lonely

picture courtesy of http://onherway.tumblr.com
I am waiting here
feeling kinda lonely..so will you..
accompany me?


100 things to do before I die

Ambitions, desires, dreams, obsessions, you name it. I'll be visiting this post from time to time, to cross out which items I have completed with the completion date next to it. I wish God would grant me a life long enough to achieve all these (^_^)

1. Travel by Eurail
2. Continue learning piano
3. Obtain Master's degree
4. Visit New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland
5. Taste a Swiss wine from its local vineyards
6. Be entirely fluent in six languages
7. Watch Czech Philharmonic Orchestra live
8. Author a book
9. Participate in a Shinto pilgrimage
10. Have an American road trip from coast to coast
11. Date a French (or French-speaking) girl
12. Take kendo lessons
13. Have an audience with the Pope (or at least attend his Vatican mass)
14. Watch a FIFA World Cup match live
15. Live in a European country for at least two years
16. Ride a camel in a Middle eastern country
17. Exile myself to a Tibetan monastery in Mongolia
18. Lower my handicap in golf
19. Go on a cruise
20. Master the art of solving Rubik's cube
21. Obtain a deep diver's certificate
22. Ride a gondola in Venice
23. Milk a cow
24. Have read at least 1,000 books during entire lifetime
25. Have watched at least 3,000 movies during entire lifetime
26. Have visited at least 50 countries during entire lifetime
27. Ski in the alps
28. Go without watching TV for 90 days straight
29. Have a passive-income job
30. Stay in a Tokyo capsule hotel with my girlfriend/wife
31. Take ice-skating lessons
32. Try fencing
33. Take salsa lessons
34. Go on a helicopter ride
35. See the fjords of Norway
36. Work for a travel magazine
37. Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world in Chile
38. Get married
39. Be a regular blood donor
40. Audition for Amazing Race
41. Stay with a jungle tribe
42. Create a trust fund
43. Swim with dolphins
44. Be a groomsman at a friend's wedding
45. Become a vegetarian for a week
46. Grow bonsai tree
47. Join a bowling league
48. Stay in an Indian ashram
49. Go to a St. Patrick's Day parade
50. Learn how to make sushi
51. Sleep under the stars for three nights straight
52. Adopt an accent for an entire week
53. Own a gun
54. (...will jot down more as soon as I get new ideas to fill in)


How's Friendster?

I was bored and I opened my Friendster account. Check it out, they have a funky layout today.

It's just that there ain't much difference in its features, no wonder most people's Friendster accounts are mostly dead these days.

Anyway, I happened to sift thru some of my old comments (or "testimonials", as they used to call them in the early days) and it indeed brings back some nostalgia.

And that old lingo I use with her. It used to be what my girl friends call "normal" but hey, since when did it actually change to its present state?


on Writing in French

In an unusual way, I find writing in French in my other blog to have a meditative effect.

Relaxing, I say.

Writing in English (which is primarily for this blog) is only done when I want to be understood by the outside world. When I want my voice heard.

Or perhaps I'm just feeling too lazy to write in any other languages.

But writing in French gives me the freedom to "write as if nobody's reading", because it's true...none of my peers and folks in Indonesia reads it anyway. Other than the obvious fact that I need to practice my mediocre French too.

Which is the reason why I did not lock it for outsiders.


Signs that communism is flourishing in Indonesia (or is it Neo-nazism?)

It has been making quite a news lately of how the Indonesian Attorney General office just announced a fresh ban list of five titles. One of them has something to do with the leader and his scandal in a bank.


The populace by large claims that communism is incompatible with Indonesia — what with the religious shit they have and all — but they're not mature in implementing values of democracy themselves.

Or perhaps it is neo-Nazism.

One need not look far to ask for an evidence...what do Indonesians think of the Jews? Surprisingly, you'll find that they agree with Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele much more than the Germans do nowadays.

Indonesians "love" the Jews.

Because even today, most Indonesians tend to see Holocaust as a mere exaggeration by Israel in order to rouse sympathy. They even shut down the sole synagogue that exists in Indonesia.

Heil Hitler, then.


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