Sunday, October 11, 2009

Feature

Ayam Penyet: Unique Taste of Indonesian Cuisine
by Geeta Ariani



Living overseas in Malaysia is very different from home and quite an experience. Food sometimes can be an issue since I come from Indonesia where almost every dish is accompanied by cabe rawit (bird’s eye chilli) or sambal (a spicy homemade condiment made of chilli, spices, tomato, and vegetables) that always gives you a pleasing sensation of intense flavour. Indeed, I am a lover of hot and spicy foods.

Indonesian cuisine is one of the hottest cuisines around the world which is also best known for its spiciness and blazing cooking all chilli heads will love. Still, it is unique and world renowned for its exotic blend of distinctive regional dishes, which each region today boasts its own specialities and some become the national favourites, drawing several cultural influences from both local Indonesian culture and foreign influences. The culinary world of succulent delights such as Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, British, Chinese, Indian and Arab cuisines has become a major influence and reached its epitome in the Indonesian kitchen. It is somewhat clear from the country’s present-day cooking techniques, ingredients and food presentation.

One of the well-known Indonesian dishes favoured not only in the country but also in Malaysia and especially in Singapore is ayam penyet (flattened fried chicken). Don’t judge the dish by its funny name – to some extent the name sounds weird, but when it comes to taste – the mouth watering dish can be so addictive that makes you want to sit down, eat slowly and savour the moment with a hearty serving of delicious hot sambal. What is actually ayam penyet? Ayam penyet is just a fried chicken, slightly smashed or flattened with a wooden pestle to make its meat loosen from its bones, increasing the tenderness of the meat and thus the apparent sensation of juiciness, for easy eating. It is also the “flattened” or “smashed” thingy which makes ayam penyet stand out from the other fried chicken. The chicken is actually marinated with various spices and herbs and is then half-boiled before it is deep-fried to golden brown and crispy.

The highlight of the eating of ayam penyet is its spicy condiment, also known as sambal. It is an important side dish that feels like fiery flames down the throat, firing up your taste buds, but the kind that may knock your socks off or even make you scorch your plate. So those who shy away from the fieriness will miss out on the best thing. Adding to its attraction, ayam penyet is also served with a piece of fried bean curd and tempe (fermented soy beans), a batch of boiled kangkong (swamp cabbage) and fresh cabbage. It also comes with kremesan sprinkled on top of the crunchy chicken – also known as golden brown fried fritter – just melting over your tongue with explosions of rich, crispy goodness when you take a couple of bites.



This traditional Indonesian food hails from Surabaya, the Indonesia’s second-largest city as well as the capital of the province of East Java. However, this unique type of fried chicken has become a hit in Malaysia because of its alluring flavour. Mrs. Uun is an Indonesian who has been a right-hand woman of the owner of the restaurant Ayam Penyet Ria in Kuala Lumpur for approximately three months. While sitting comfortably in her chair, sipping a steaming glass of tea served by her staff, warming herself from the inside out – she expresses her view that what makes ayam penyet reach the height of its popularity in Malaysia is its distinctive name and taste. “There is no fried chicken which is flattened or smashed in Malaysia. Also, the taste is unique because it’s marinated in a blend of spices before it’s fried to certain crispiness,” she said.

Praised for the authenticity of their Indonesian dishes as well as the originality of their recipe, Ayam Penyet Ria never feel satiate when showered with compliments from both their new and repeat customers and always try to refine the quality of their cuisine. The popularity of the franchise and their signature dish ayam penyet has travelled from its homeland, Indonesia, to Singapore and Malaysia like the aroma of the dish itself. It’s also quite popular with students and office workers who flock at the restaurant during meal times, hence all the hype surrounding this restaurant that makes other people crave for a try. “Our customers are not just Indonesian people but also Malaysian people, including 65 per cent of Malays and 35 per cent of Indonesians. Our guests are also sometimes foreigners from other countries. They like to order ayam penyet and some other Indonesian dishes served here,” Mrs. Uun said with a proud smile carved on her face.

A plate of food is like a picture, and the rim of the plate is the frame – sometimes you need to figure out in what kind of frame you want to mount your picture so that you can get a pleasing arrangement. This analogy seems to work for ayam penyet presentation like how the food is plated and garnished which also affects how people think it tastes. The flattened fried chicken and its garnish are usually served in the Indonesian wooden bowl or mortar called the cobek instead of normal plates. Buswani, the Malaysian owner of the restaurant Baso Indonesian Cuisine who has fallen in love with Indonesian cuisine since his first visit to the country, gave a reason for using the cobek to present his guests with ayam penyet. “Cobek is typical of serving style in Indonesia. Serving ayam penyet in the cobek itself can provide customers with an Indonesian cuisine dining experience since the mortar represents the country.”

Sometimes spicy foods can make people go very red in their face and burn their tongue, especially those who cannot take spiciness. It is not a surprise to owners of ayam penyet restaurants or outlets in Malaysia when some of their customers complain to them about the fiery hot sambal. When asked about his reaction to it, Buswani says, “I just follow the same recipe in Indonesia to retain the originality. I don’t want to change its spiciness, even though 15 per cent of my customers complain about the condiment because it’s super spicy.” It jogs my memory of the first time my Malaysian friends ate ayam penyet – a few of them appeared to be suffering from a burning tongue, the skin of their face turned red with sweat running through their faces. Rohini, my Malaysian friend who also falls in love with ayam penyet, reminisces – “With my first taste of the chicken, I could feel my taste buds tingling with its spiciness, the combination of ingredients incorporated into the seemingly simple chicken created bursts of flavour in my mouth.” To deal with this issue, both Buswani and Mrs. Uun usually will offer to separate the sambal from the fried chicken by serving it in a mini condiment bowl if their customers start complaining.

Addie, a Malaysian businessman, started his first outlet, Restoran Ayam Penyet-AP a year ago at Subang Jaya, Kuala Lumpur – and built a very experienced team in serving and cooking ayam penyet as their main speciality. Although he is considered young in this business, one of his outlets at Bandar Sunway Mentari is already pulling in many customers and also popular with youngsters. “As a businessman, I would like to venture into something that has a great potential regardless whether it is from another country. And I have found ayam penyet to be one of them,” he said. He also thinks that opening ayam penyet outlets is such a good business in Malaysia since only a few Indonesian restaurants can be found in the country. “And a good one will do well,” he added.

Cuisine can be another reason to savour the taste of a country and understand its own unique culture and way of life. Experiencing a tingling sensation of blazing hot crispy ayam penyet can also be an exciting journey into the world of Indonesian cuisine – this is indeed the taste of Indonesia.


P.S. Feature was written by Geeta for the sole purpose of a college assignment. And the pictures were taken by Geeta for an additional purpose.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Opinion Piece

Say no to culture and tourism war – ­­­and yes to peace

by Geeta Ariani

Coming to study in Kuala Lumpur, metropolitan city of the Petronas Twin Towers, having many good Malaysian friends and experiencing a taste of great cultural diversity have provided me with a wider perspective on issues and helped me see how people from different parts of the world have different ways of approaching life. But when one of my friends in Indonesia suddenly mesmerised me with his dramatic tale, writing on my Facebook wall: “Malaysia just stole our Pendet dance. Ganyang Malaysia! (English: Invade Malaysia!)” – the stealing claim went right over my head and made me a little upset.

My friend’s Facebook posting enticed me to “google” the controversy. I was flooded with news stories about Malaysia’s claim over the Pendet dance, splashed across the front pages of the online edition of Indonesian newspapers. It must have hit the headlines in my country, but seemed to be ignored by the Malaysian mainstream media since I found only one Malaysian online newspaper covering the story. Furthermore, I didn’t hear a single word about it in any Malaysian newspaper.

Is it just Malaysia’s authoritarian press system in which journalists have very little rights when it comes to criticising the government, or is there anything fishy going on? Anyway, the situation in Indonesia that time was in marked contrast to the media’s silence in Malaysia.

About a month ago, many Indonesians protested the image of two Balinese dancers performing the Pendet dance that appeared in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia aired on the Discovery Channel. The issue also sparked an emotional debate among Indonesian culture experts, political scientists and artists, with Malaysia being condemned as ripping off the traditional Indonesian dance. Shortly after the protests, this fact was brought to light: Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific was at fault for using the image of the Balinese dancers to promote their documentary series Enigmatic Malaysia. Apparently the image itself was sourced from an independent third party that had nothing to do with the Malaysian government’s tourism ads. Fair enough.

But it did not stop there. The Indonesian people went further in accusing Malaysia of claiming Wayang Kulit and Batik as their own. Perhaps many Indonesians do not know that the leather shadow puppet, also known as Wayang Kulit, took root in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Kelantan, more than 250 years ago. The origin itself remains a mystery, as the puppet show today is widespread throughout Asia in various guises. How about Batik? This ancient art form took root and reached its golden age in Java, Indonesia. During industrialisation, Indonesian immigrants brought Batik with them to Malaysia; therefore the Malays learned the painting and dyeing techniques and adopted the designs.

Please note, Indonesia and Malaysia shared the same culture and language many years ago, as most Malays in Malaysia originated from Indonesia. No way are we going to blame our ancients for this pointless polemic between Indonesia and Malaysia on the claim over cultural heritage. Because at the end of the day, it will never address the main issue but cause a serious deterioration in relations between the two countries.

After all, it’s time for us to let bygones be bygones. It is not a breeze, but this issue may serve as a challenge and wake-up call to my fellow Indonesians, particularly the younger generation, to start preserving our very own culture instead of blindly aping western culture. Last, hopefully peace will always reign in the two countries and there won’t be either tourism or culture war anymore.

P.S. This opinion piece is part of my 'Advanced News Writing' assignments.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Splendid Breaking of Fast in Ramadan '09

It was the 2nd week of the fasting month, Ramadan 2009 - a time when Li Ling, Nahda (a friend from Dubai) and I were heading toward Sunway Pyramid mall to break fast together. Actually, we'd planned to eat at Secret Recipe earlier - couldn't wait to have a slice of their cheese and chocolate cakes. Well, forget those cakes that might make us drool like Homer Simpson; to our great disappointment, all the tables in the restaurant were reserved by those who were gonna break fast too, so we finally ended up going to a seafood restaurant, Manhattan Fish Market (MFM).

During Ramadan, many restaurants usually serve Muslim customers with free dates or another sweet meal or drink to break the day's fast. So did MFM that time. But the dates looked so ugly that we complained about them. Perhaps MFM needs to replace them with ones from Tunisia - LOLZ.


Garlic Butter Mussels - just melting over my tounge with explosions of rich, buttery goodness. Can you imagine?


What a perfect starter - Garlic Butter Mussels (one of MFM's delicacies). The kind that makes you want to eat slowly, savour the moment with a bucket of Garlic Bread dipped in the buttery, creamy sauce. Oh, I have a weakness for it.


Hohoho, here it comes - the Manhattan Seafood Platter for Two consisting of deep fried fish fillet, calamari, oysters and prawns coming in flames, served with chips and garlic rice. Don't you just love SEAFOOD? I can't seem to get enough of it that always makes me want to go back to hometown - a haven for seafood lovers.


What's for dessert? Mmm, how about a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream for those who have a sweet tooth? I mean just look at the picture. Can you stand it?



O.O the food vanished into thin air - hehehe I know! There was nothing left on the table since we finished all the food. We were so full that we couldn't even get up off our chairs.


Alright, we'd taken some pictures before we left. Appetite and hunger suppressed, we left the restaurant with full hearts and on full stomachs. Anyway, we really had a great time breaking the day's fast together at MFM - so have my pictures given you a good stomach for breaking fast next time?

Monday, August 31, 2009

My response to appearance of Pendet dance in a Malaysian tourism ad

Source of picture: Malay Mail Online

Having been studying overseas for over than two years and experiencing a taste of great cultural diversity in Kuala Lumpur, metropolitan city of the Petronas Twin Towers, always make me think that Indonesia is indeed my country, but Kuala Lumpur is my hometown. Oh, scratch what I've just said or I would have trouble - ha ha ha.

Well, this is what I heard last time from my friends in Indonesia that has recently been over my head - "Malaysia just stole our Pendet dance. Ganyang Malaysia! (English: Crush Malaysia!)" And I was like, "What??!!", rolling my eyes. Firstly, I thought it was not more than just a rumour, but I couldn't stand to pretend to keep my head, so this is my personal view.

Quoted from the Jakarta Post published on 23 August 2009 - "The presence of Balinese dancing and a leather shadow puppet in a Malaysian tourism ad has once again upset Indonesians, who are saying it is an attempt to claim the art forms as their own." Commenting on this issue, I would say that the leather shadow puppet, also known as Wayang Kulit, has been popular in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, where it took root more than 250 years ago (thanks once again to Google for this info). Actually, its origin remains a mystery, as the puppet show today is spread out across Asia in various forms and guises. So in this regard, we can't claim that Wayang Kulit was completely originated in Indonesia and therefore accuse Malaysia of stealing Indonesia's cultural heritage. Also, I don't even think that Malaysian people know what the Pendet dance is. They don't even know what the word 'Pendet' is.

However, protests over the image of two Balinese dancers performing the Pendet dance appearing in Malaysia's tourism ad titled 'Enigmatic Malaysia' still continue in Bumi Pertiwi, Indonesia. Understanding the reason why the dance appeared in the Malaysian tourism advertising must not be a breeze, as we know that the Pendet dance has its origin in Bali, Indonesia. But, according to the Malay Mail Online (25 August 2009), "Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific stated the image of Balinese dancers were used in a clip, aired on Discovery Channel, to promote the documentary series Enigmatic Malaysia and the image of the dancers, performing the pendet, were sourced from an independent third party." Therefore, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific felt sorry for using the Pendet dance in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia aired on the Discovery Channel.

Well, at least, we all know now that it was the fault of the third party for using the Pendet dance in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia. To my mind, the Indonesian government should have verified again with the government of Malaysia before they alleged that Malaysia had stolen Indonesia's traditional dance, so that this issue wouldn't have provoked anger among Indonesians.

In a nutshell, let's hope both of the governments will be able to deal with this issue as soon as possible. Please note, Indonesia and Malaysia shared the same culture and language many years ago, as most Malays in Malaysia originated from Indonesia. So, it is little wonder that today we can find some similarities in their culture and language. In my view, this issue can be a challenge and wake-up call to all Indonesians, particularly the younger generation (including me, of course), to stop blindly aping western culture and start preserving our own culture. Last, let peace reign in both of the countries.


P.S. Click here to watch a clip of the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia on YouTube.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Through My Lens

Well, this post is actually a shot at blogging about photography, as I take a personal interest in the progress of my skills in capturing a great moment and writing about it - kidding, lolz.

I'd thought of creating a photography blog before I bought my Canon EOS 40D digital SLR. But after getting my photography gear (lolz), I didn't start making it. Yeah, call me 'hopeless' or 'sluggish'. Actually, I went outing a couple of times and captured some of the sweet moments I spent together with my friends, but I was just quite lazy to upload the pictures and blog about them, until one of my friends suggested that I start blogging about my pictures I captured. I was like, "Ok, I'll give it my best shot. And let's see how long it will survive. Ha ha ha."

Bien, let me start by blogging about some of the mish mash of my photos I posted on Flickr - this is my special photo sharing application. Click here if you wanna check it.


A Row of Assorted Creamy Cupcakes

I went to this place named 'Cuppacakes' - somewhere in Damansara Uptown PJ (unless I'm mistaken). They sell homemade cupcakes in beautiful colours and designs - and they, of course, offer yummy flavours that make you want to have more than a bite. The place is quite nice, designed in a good vintage style - a lovely setting for hanging out, or just having teatime with your family or friends.

I took the pictures of some of the cupcakes my friends and I bought and arranged them in a row - finding a nice angle to shoot and adjusting the lighting. Well, it was my first experience with food photography. That's why it took me a long time to find a nice angle and it was pretty much annoying to my friends who were waiting to eat their cupcakes until I finished taking the pictures (so sorry).


Anomaly

This is one of my favourites. In nine ball game, whatever balls you have entered, the nine ball always appears salient and is expected to enter in the end of the game, then you can win. This is how the idea came up. The nine ball depicts an anomaly for me. Btw, I took this picture in a poolroom at college while playing together with my friends, Mas and Jo.


C'est La Vie!

Ah, you must be familiar with this picture. Correct! It's currently my banner. Actually, it's a pendant I bought last year from Forever 21. I bought the necklace just because of the Eiffel Tower pendant, lolz. Mais, c'est magnifique! J'aime beaucoup la Tour Eiffel et Paris.


One in A Million Malaysia 09

Despite using Canon EF-S 18-55mm, the original lens still managed to reach the stage as I had to get towards the front first so that I could capture the great event. Going to the finale and watching the contestants performing live that night were such good experiences.


Emo Chic

The girl in this picture is my friend, Pash. She was posing randomly as I was taking her pictures until I realised how nice the pose was. So I asked her to do the same pose. I changed the colour into monochrome so that the picture would portray emotional punk rock. This is my first portrait photography experiment and I experimented a lot with new effects while editing this picture. Well-done!


One of the Supers

One of the Petronas Towers, hence the title. I took the picture of the tower from a different angle, showing as if these weren't twin towers. In my view, architecture photography is not easy, especially when it comes to twin buildings. However, I think of not only balance or symmetry when looking at this picture, but also singleness which still looks super to me.


Ring of Love

Oh...this picture is just wow for me. I love the visual composition, lighting, colour, and of course the shadow. It's the most romantic picture I've taken, lolz. Actually, I found the idea from Flickr and had experimented the light effect to make this shadow with my roommate's boyfriend - he's also a photography enthusiast. Shortly thereafter, I experimented with a different angle and colour. And it took me a long time to adjust the position of the ring on the book and lighting itself. For the lighting, I used my roommate's desk lamp. Then, I switched off the lights in my bedroom so that I could create the shadow.

Well, I love this picture. The ring belongs to my friend, by the way. But I always wish the ring would be from someone I love, and I would show him the real shadow of my heart through this ring. Oh my gawd, so emo like wth!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bonjour Big Spender!


Bonjour.

Moi, I'm Geeta Ariani and a big money spender.

In fact, I'm still not sure yet whether or not I am a truly big spender, but my expenditure exceeds my income every month which my dad has no idea about this. My budget balance has been in deficit since I entered college -- since I started having this passion for clothes and cosmetics. O.M.G. I know!

Yeah, call me shopaholic. Or just a girl who can't help buying stuff before leaving stores with full hearts and shining eyes, but with great regret after reaching home and checking the receipts to find out how much she's just spent. She will mostly end up saying, "Am I f**king kidding myself? 110 ringgits for a pair of peep-toe shoes which I'm not even sure to wear???"

Yes, it sounds so me. When I was in school, I used to do shopping in bookstores, not in clothes stores -- I was a bookworm. Well, although I usually did hang out in shopping malls with my clique, I didn't suddenly appear at home with shopping bags, filled with a pair of shoes, a tee, a pair of skinny jeans, a headband, a lipstick, an eyeliner or maybe snacks from Carrefour which I wouldn't even bother to eat. I am pretty much aware of changes in people's lives, but changing into a big spender is really uncool and an exception. I've tried to cut down on my monthly expenditure by listing the things on which I've spent money. However, it doesn't seem to work for me.

Women and shopping. It's just part of our nature to shop. There's a saying: when we're up, we shop, when we're down, we shop even more. And that's pretty much true. Every time I have a problem or feel depressed, I tend to shop and in the meantime my mood gets uplifted again. There's nothing more remedial than retail therapy (lolz). It's just wow. You will even forget what's just happened to you before tracing the sweet smell of stores. But it turns out to be a bigger problem when you find out about the huge expenditure of money - and it's your dad's money you've just spent. Don't you feel guilty about having used your dad's money with no concern whatsoever as he has to work hard and earn so that his family can live on?

It earns me feelings of guilt. I don't know how to change my life through better money management by cutting spending waste and starting to save. I tried to work part-time and wished I'd have been more aware of how hard it is to earn money. But I keep thinking like a pair of long pants for RM65 after 50% discount is very reasonable; furthermore, it's from SEED which is too hard to pass over and I need those pants for my first day at work. Also, I will get paid next month, so I can use the money to cover it. Or maybe, it's ok to have dinner in a fancy restaurant and pay RM30 for seafood spaghetti and light coke, including government tax and service charge; well, I can cook instant noodles for dinner tomorrow, right?

OH MY GAWD, help me!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What have I been up to?

So...this is what I was doing shortly after I finished all of my assignments. FREEDOM!!! Yeah, you know I couldn't wait to finish all that stuff that's been torturing my life - thanks once again to my college. I even forgot what I was writing in my final essay for International Media Communications; what I can remember is I wrote about swine flu. And...it was all crappy. Lolz.

At least I really had a great time with my friends in Kuala Lumpur. I played pool with my pool fellow, Mas (lolz), I went to see my friend's performance of play in KL Performing Arts Centre - the title was 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead'. Super, Dinesh! Firstly, I didn't expect the drama to be comic - I thought it would be a typical serious theatrical performance like Shakespeareana with all those literature and language I'm not familiar with, but thankfully it wasn't.

The following day, Rubee, Rohini, Mas and I went outing in Suria KLCC. I snapped some pics of KL Twin Towers and grabbed some time to find good angles. I could see how obviously bored Mas & Ro were while waiting for me taking the pics of the twin towers. Hahaha, but I shut my eyes and continued experimenting with my gadget (once again, so sorry Ro and Mas...lolz).


Yeah, we were busy doing our own stuff. You can see from the pic I was busy taking pics, Mas was checking some vids in her video camera and Ro enjoyed a nice view of the public park behind KL Twin Towers. And Rubee, she was taking this pic.


I snapped this pic just for kicks, but I then realised that both the angle and colour were nice. I'm certainly gonna miss this moment, the days we'd spent together on and off campus before Rubee and Mas left for Adelaide.

Speaking of Rubee and Mas, they are going to leave tomorrow btw. I will very likely meet them again, as I will spend my next sem break in Indonesia and next year, shortly after I finish my studies, I will go back to my country and will likely come to Malaysia again. That's why it hit me so hard when saying farewell to them. They've been such good friends and I unexpectedly had to say good-byes. The days and moments of hanging out together, bugging one another while doing assignments, bitch-ing, spending the nights in poolroom with Mas, having late dinner at Mentari, complaining about assignments, playing cards and laughing will be missed. However, friends always come and go. A farewell is certainly necessary before you can meet them again, rite? : )

Oh yeah, I was finding a holiday job too during the semester break. And I've eventually made it through the hurdle of getting it (lolz, kidding). I'd applied for a part time job in Hospitality & Tourism office before I was recommended for a post in International Office on campus by my ex-roomie. I know...luckily me.

Well, as I am currently busy working, I also grab some time to do my leisure interests including reading and doing Body Balance at home. I'm currently reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen to satisfy my curiosity about Twilight. It's said that the story is nearly the same. Hmmm...let me finish reading the book first before my comment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My First Video Production



I eventually finished one of my final assignments, a final video production. Btw, I enjoyed myself during the making of the movie, starting from preparing the pre-production stuff, creating the flash animatic movie, to shooting and editing the vid. This vid has to show a physical task. And I chose the task, making a natural remedy for a sore throat, simply because I think ppl today need to start treating the mild illness with natural or organic remedies instead of lozenges. Hope it will be useful and get better soon!!! :D

G

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Pain of Love


It pains me to fall in love with you
Yet I can't get enough
Every time I try to get over you
You always seem to give me a glimmer of hope

This heart always sinks
When I see it's too impossible to love you

You keep shutting your eyes
Never aware of how much I love you
So simple, so true, so painful

Your eyes somehow speak to me
And whisper something I've longed to hear
Yet I can't stop the voice inside my head,
Telling me of your love for somebody else

Each night I go through hurt feelings
I have to say I wish you could tell me
How I can get over them and move on
Yeah, I guess I am so weak
That I am dying every time I think about you

There is something you need to know
I've been hiding this feeling for long time
Don't want to let you in on the secret
Because I'm too scared of losing you
And it would really hurt if you walked away

There's only one happiness in life,
To love and be loved
But I won't have a piece of it from you
And this love is like a song
That you will never sing along

Written by Geeta

Monday, May 11, 2009

Profile Piece

Experience is My Father’s Best Teacher

“Hey, wake up, lazybones!” Papa yelled at my 24-year-old cousin who stayed with us shortly after he had completed his Business and Management Studies. But the lazy young man kept sleeping.

“Wake up, young man!” Papa yelled again. He began to angrily knock on his bedroom door.

This time the door opened slowly as my cousin was still rubbing the sleepy sand from his eyes.

“Do you know what time it is? It’s high time you were in the office for the sake of doing your work. The early bird gets the worm, lazybones,” Papa said to my cousin in his deep, gravelly voice.

Papa always says that people who wake up early in the morning are healthier, wealthier, and wiser than people who wake up late. He likes to get to work before anyone else. Although the fine wrinkles around his unfriendly dark-skinned face make him look old, he still retains the same energetic sprit as a young man does.

Papa is someone you’d fear when you first see him. He has cold eyes that always appear as if they spoke and whispered something you need to know that his life is not a piece of cake, but the one that has traced the stench of failure to the sweet smell of success. His demeanour is self-assured and sharp, but his congenial nature makes him well-loved in the family and workplace. Beneath his gruff exterior, he is really very kind-hearted.

Life doesn’t always go your way. The words Papa spoke always replay in my head. At that moment he also told me about his bittersweet memories of childhood. He was born in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan in 1952. “My parents were divorced when I was still a kid,” he said. He was raised by his father’s cousin who didn’t have a child. “I must say that living with my foster mother was the happiest memory of my childhood because she always treated me like her own child,” he added.

Things went from bad to worse. “Soon after my father had remarried someone else, my mother passed away,” Papa said. He then spent the school year with his foster mother.

When Papa turned 13, he missed his biological father terribly. He went to visit his father and moved in with him, who had been living in Tarakan during the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation over the future of the island of Borneo in 1963-66.

Papa didn’t complete his secondary education in junior high school at that moment. He began following his father into gambling and became addicted to alcohol. It was around this time that he joined a gang and engaged in delinquent behaviour. “Things were just awry in my life that time,” he said, looking upset.

In 1974, Papa moved back to Balikpapan looking for work to live a better life. He got a part-time job in logging industry. His uncle happened to run his own company in the town and always let Papa use a typewriter in his office to learn to type, eventually working for the company and still breaking new ground.

Then Papa left his job at the company and began working a roustabout in a drilling industry for the Scan Drilling Co Inc in 1980 as a few international oil and gas companies such as Total E&P Indonesie and Unocal Corporation started opening offices in Balikpapan.

“I didn’t know how to speak English with bule (an Indonesian slang term meaning foreigner or white person) in the company. But what I used to do was make gestures at them,” Papa said with a giggle. Then a slight tinge of red suddenly spread over his cheeks. But he didn’t give up. He learned English and started reading some English-language books about drilling operations and techniques. Slowly things began to improve and went smoothly.

Around 1988, Papa met my mother and they were kindling a romance. As time went on, they wedded. Starting a family was his main motivation for working hard, he said. He worked on an offshore oil rig from early morning until late evening, and then had anxiety about leaving his wife and little daughter alone at home for weeks. But he refused to complain, as he believed that “every gray cloud has a silver lining”, he said.

While many companies today prefer a college degree, people struggle to gain higher education so that they will succeed in getting a job after finishing their college studies. “And I will never be one of them,” Papa said, shaking his head.

But he never let an infinite spectrum of possibilities vanish into thin air. He joined some training programs conducted by the industry – honing his skills, and hoped it would finally give him a step up on the ladder. He first joined a training program at the Sedco Forex Drilling Company and climbed the ladder. Then, he flew to Singapore to join another training program and his efforts bore fruit. After completing all of his training programs, another oil rig company offered him a drilling position job at PT Apexindo Pratama Duta in 1992. He stayed with the company for 15 years, eventually becoming an assistant rig superintendent until today.

“You know, there’s always a painful lesson in life for everyone. It just depends on how you will get it accomplished,” Papa said with a winning smile placing on his face. My fingers felt as though they had attempted to wipe away a new wave of tears collecting behind my eyelids after hearing all of his words. But thank goodness I didn’t cry or I could have felt my cheeks burning if I had cried in front of him.

One of the many things that I have learned from him is that experience is the best teacher, and nothing ventured, nothing gained. Failure and hardship have made him as strong as concrete. And I will always remember that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Yoga: Is it really 'haram'?

You may keep this issue fresh in your mind - an Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued fatwa (edict) after its Malaysian counterpart banned yoga. It's pointless even attempting to make sense of it.

Well, as Wisnu described (2009) in his article titled "Yoga in-sync with Islam, experts say" in the Jakarta Post that 'Islam and yoga share more similarities'. Indeed. In what ways? In some ways while praying or shalat, the moves are quite similar to the moves practiced in yoga - for instance, the way we stand as a start, the ruku (bending over with the hands over the kneecaps), the sujud (kneeling with the face down on the floor) and the way we sit after the sujud - we can see all of the moves in yoga.

Salman Harun, a professor at Jakarta's Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University and a noted Koranic scholar, said the moves in shalat prove beneficial to people's health. Indeed - because the moves in shalat are very good for our circulatory system. Regarding health, many forms of yoga incorporate breathing exercises that are also good for our respiratory system. So, yoga has little to do with any incantations or any context of worship instead of healthcare. This has been emphasised by Salman who argued that most forms of yoga practiced today are not Hindu by nature, but it's an age-old method to connect to a cosmic force.

Yet still, it isn't clear why the MUI suddenly issued the edict which seemed more motivated by political and economic factors to me. A similar thing also happened when the MUI issued fatwa (edict) on the ban on smoking. Why 'just now'? Why not many years ago? I totally agree with the ban concerning people's health - but it would be an exaggeration to say smoking is 'haram'. In a way, smoking is still deemed makruh (blameworthy) for Muslims, not haram. The MUI might have had an exaggerated sense of their own ambitions, I think. If they'd intended to discourage smoking, they shouldn't have implicated smoking as a sin or an estrangement from God.

So, it's currently up to us. We're mature enough to know right from wrong, aren't we?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

E-cigarette is burning to introduce a new innovation of smoking



As soon as I got up, I went downstairs to the kitchen. I boiled some water to make a cup of mochaccino and then searched the fridge for brownies I bought the other day. Appetite suppressed, I went up to my room to grab The Jakarta Post published on 19 February 2009 and sat down in a balcony. When I turned and looked over the pages of the newspaper under “Lifestyle”, I was hooked by this article titled “The E-Smoking Revolution”, preceded with the first statement: ‘good news for all the world’s smokers – especially those who want to quit but just can’t seem to.’

Well, let me begin by telling you that I am neither a smoker nor a drinker. OK, I drink wine – but only a little. I am such a girl who is really concerned about health. I am very careful about what I eat and drink and I also exercise. In contrast, my dad is a heavy smoker – he has become a tobacco addict since he was still young. He can light two packets of cigarettes per day. His health is my major worry. In fact, I’ve ensured that cigarette smoking is dangerous to his health. I often try to tell him to stop, but it seems a vain attempt for him to give up smoking. Did you use to follow the comedy series FRIENDS? If yes, do you still remember a time when Chandler told Joey to view the cigarette he was holding as something that had been missing, and holding it made him feel all right and complete. My dad might probably think the same – in which smoking cigarette may be his freedom of choice and forcing him to stop may be an intrusion into his personal freedom.

Although most countries put restrictions on the smoking of cigarettes, over a billion people smoke every day – according to World Health Organization (cited in Microsoft Encarta 2007), 31.4 per cent of total population in Indonesia smokes and my dad is included. Banning smoking will be forever impossible if people still buy and smoke cigarettes, and tobacco companies still deliberately produce this addictive stuff and make it into a big business, and cigarette advertisers keep persuading people to buy their products. OK, I used to join a debating society in high school – and a topic about smoking came up in discussion a few times, questioning if smoking should be banned. Well, it was a stroke of luck that I had to give reasons in support of this key question frequently. However, I’ve never come up with a brilliant solution except for the restrictions on the advertising, selling and smoking of cigarettes – I might have forgot that the economy of Indonesia is very dependant on taxes from tobacco sales. WOW!

Thanks to our technologically driven world that makes everything possible – technological advance today enables smokers to experience the most harmless smoking by inventing an E-cigarette, or also called an electronic cigarette. According to The Jakarta Post (2009), ‘it’s an electronic smoking device which is a non-flammable product and uses micro-electronic technology’. Unlike a real cigarette, it doesn’t contain tobacco, tar, or carbon monoxide which can be dangerous for health. Its body is constituted of three parts: a nicotine cartridge, an atomisation chamber and a chip with a lithium battery. It looks like a cigarette; when puffed, an operating indicator light in the front tip gets red. As the nicotine cartridge heats up, the atomisation chamber produces a vapour without delivering any nicotine to the nose.

This electronic device is equipped with an E-cigarette kit, including cartridges available in various powers (high: 16mg nicotine, medium: 11mg nicotine, low: 6mg nicotine, and none: 0mg nicotine) and different flavours (apple, cherry, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and mint), two rechargeable batteries, a charger adaptor and a power cord. Yeah, that’s right; it doesn’t cause any pollution because it doesn’t create any smoke of chemical fumes. Also, it is rechargeable that cigarettes butts and ashes are no longer environmental issues.

Unfortunately, the E-cigarette is only available in the US now. It requires the Internet in the process of shipping. As you know, the Internet still seems too rare in some countries, especially developing countries. If many developing countries surprisingly have more than 35 per cent of total population who smokes, how can the E-cigarette be an effective smoking cessation method? And with all these technological features, the E-cigarette must be very expensive. Furthermore, what calls it into question is inappropriate use of the E-cigarette for those under the age of 18 years and pregnant or breast feeding women although it is considered fake. The question is: WHY???! That makes me wonder about the possible health effects of the E-smoking. What are the possibilities that this very sophisticated way of smoking will be able to harm people’s health? How effective is the ability of the E-cigarette to help smokers give up their smoking habits? That’s what we also expect the E-cigarette companies to answer, huh?


Additional information: Wanna know more about E-smoking? Click here!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Picks for Reads

The Art of French Kissing
(Little Black Dress Books)

Author : Kristin Harmel
Publication date : 2008
Publication place : Great Britain
Publisher : Headline Publishing Group
Pages : 1 – 308
Price : RM 19.90


Set in Paris, beautiful city of the Eiffel Tower, this is a chick lit that will have readers take part in a tour to visit Parisian locales. Emma Sullivan is a PR coordinator to American boy bands in Orlando, city in central Florida. Firstly, she thinks she will have a happy marriage with her perfect fiancé. Devastated when her fiancé suddenly dumps her and her boss fires her, she thinks that the best person who could help her would be her friend who lives in Paris, Poppy. She moves on by deciding to leave her hometown to stay with her friend who offers her a PR job for crazy French rock star, Guillaume. She comes to realise that her stint work requires her to spend most of her time talking him out of getting into scrapes and making the false stories up to tell journalists who are always thirsted for his news. At work, she meets an exquisitely handsome French reporter, Gabriel, who draws her attention. But she tries to fend off the attraction after she knows he can harm her client’s reputation by reporting the truths. Her problems get worse when Guillaume’s actions have been increasingly crazy, her ex-fiancé wants to get back together with her and she can’t stop thinking about Gabriel. The Art of French Kissing is a chic story about a young and sophisticated woman in the pursuit of the perfect kiss and Mr. Right. This is a romance fiction that you end up hoping that the central characters will live happily ever after. You’ll be hooked by the taste of Paris which this story has.


Twilight
(Megan Tingley Books)

Author : Stephenie Meyer
Publication date : October 2005
Publication place : New York
Publisher : Little, Brown and Company
Pages : 3 – 498
Price : RM 33.55



Attempting to combine suspense and romance equally, Twilight succeeds as an unusually romantic story. Seventeen-year-old Bella Swan decides to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington to live with her father who is divorced to her mother. She goes to the local school where she then meets Edward Cullen, a vampire who is actually over 100, although he looks much younger like a teenage boy. Edward is a very strong vampire; he can simply read the thoughts of any one around him, but Bella’s. He thinks she has the most pleasant smell of blood which any vampire can’t resist. At the same time, she is very curious to know who he really is and the mysterious background of his family. In every way possible, she tries to find out about him by getting close to him. In fact, he also does the same thing. But then they fall in love with each other, although they are aware of the problems they will cause. In this way, their forbidden relationship may put them all in danger and cause a death. This first book of the Twilight Saga is the basis of the recently released motion picture that is believed able to follow the same success of Harry Potter. As what is expressly stated by the author, this is a love story with bite. This story will keep readers feeling a thirst for the suspense of unconditional love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cine Review

The Da Vinci Code

Distributors : Columbia Pictures
Genres : Adventure Adaptation
Directed by : Ron Howard
Starring : Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno, and Etienne Chicot.


Based on the international best-selling novel, this sensational movie starring Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks and French actress Audrey Tautou is more than just a thriller. Regardless of great controversy due to its religious issue, The Da Vinci Code succeeded as a blockbuster that made millions of dollars after it had been showing worldwide on 19 May 2006.

When American religious symbology expert Dr. Robert Landon (Hanks) is in Paris, the investigative agency of the France government, led by Captain Bezu Fache (Reno), summons him to the Louvre. He soon discovered that a curator at the museum with whom he had been scheduled to meet was murdered. Langdon is assisted by a French cryptographer and government agent named Sophie Neveu (Tautou) to search clues that were purposely left by the curator. In the process of searching, they are astonished after discovering a chain of cryptic codes and puzzles behind the famous masterpieces of Leonardo Da Vinci. Langdon’s problems get worse when the investigative agency suspect him of the murder. And situation gets more intense for him when he feels he is actually connected to the process of unravelling a huge mystery that has been concealed for centuries. Using their talents, Langdon and Sophie have to decipher the labyrinth of codes and puzzles while they try to run away from Fache’s lawmen, wander Paris looking for more clues, and eventually fly to England.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Deep In a Discussion about Twilight


The cover book of Twilight.


1. Is the fact that Edward can’t read Bella’s thoughts more important than it seems? Do you think it will it serve a larger purpose?

Actually, I’ve been curious to know why Edward can’t read Bella’s thoughts since I read what he said to her, “It was unquestionably a complication that I couldn’t simply read your thoughts to know what reaction was to me.” As we know, Edward is very sensible to the thoughts of anyone around him, even vampires’. That’s one of the strengths which he brought. He could even see James’ mind – a vampire from a different group who really wanted to hunt Bella. There is nothing but a larger reason behind this fact.

2. Bella faints at the smell of blood. If she were to become a vampire, how might this serve a hindrance? How might it be an asset?

Well, it might serve a good purpose like she would probably be the nicest vampire who didn’t suck blood from the living. In this way, she could be a role model for other vampires (kidding). But she could possibly suffer from blood hydration and that would certainly make it difficult for her to survive.

3. Is Edward selfishly putting Bella in danger, or is Bella being too stubborn for her own good? Is it a little bit of both? What are the threatening factors facing Bella and are there ways to avoid them?

I don’t think Edward is selfishly putting Bella’s life at risk, but her stubbornness and reckless behaviour have put them all in danger. Therefore, Bella would probably be facing death. It’s an either-or death – either Edward’s or Bella’s. There’d be no ways to avoid it unless they stopped seeing each other.

4. Temptation is a major theme in Twilight – more accurately, resisting one’s temptations. Discuss the subplot of Carlisle’s job as a doctor in relation to this major theme. How well does he handle temptation? What do you feel would be the most difficult part for him in his role? Why does he remain working as a doctor when the Cullens don’t seem to need his income?

Carlisle couldn’t find a companion like him – he was very lonely. When he was working in a hospital in Chicago, he was thinking of creating one. At first, he was actually loath to transform Edward into a vampire, but there was no hope for Edward because he was dying when the influenza epidemic hit. Well, I think these are Carlisle’s temptations – to build a new family and to protect them from death and to make them immortal. And I think he handles these temptations quite well.

Although he is immune to human blood, the most difficult part for him as a doctor must be to resist this natural food source. Nevertheless, he keeps doing the work in order to help humans who need medical treatments from him. He is a good vampire, isn’t he?

5. The Cullens live, act, and care for one another as a family. How much of their ability to do so is dependant on Carlisle’s rule that they live in a manner that contradicts their nature – hunting animals instead of humans? Do you think that they would be able to maintain their bond if they weren’t all committed to his plan?

Carlisle is a father figure – the Cullens are very dependant on him. He must have exerted a great deal of efforts trying to instil aversion to human blood in his family. And it, of course, is not easy for them. Speaking of his plan, I’m not really clear about what he intends to do – but I don’t think they would be able to maintain their bond unless they were all committed to his plan.

6. Edward saves Bella on more than one occasion. Discuss the different instances and how Bella reacts before she knows what he is and after. Also discuss how Edward reacts after each instance both before and after she learns he is a vampire.

Before she knows what Edward is, she is very inquisitive to know who Edward and his family are and why he becomes such a cold person to everyone, chiefly to her. And after she knows he is a vampire, she becomes increasingly reckless and irrevocably in love with him. Unlike Bella, Edward always becomes protective toward her life and tries to alarm her of danger and bad consequences that might be invited by their forbidden relationship even though he falls head over heels in love with her too. Beforehand, Edward is also curious to know how he can’t decipher Bella’s thoughts and thirsted for her blood.

7. Alice explains to Bella the theory of how vampires have come to exist. She mentions that most have some memories of the transition and their life prior to it. How does what we learn from James about Alice’s past explain her lack of memory?

Like what Bella said to Edward after she’d heard Alice’s mysterious past from James, “She was always in the dark, that’s why she didn’t remember.” Unless I’m mistaken, Edward stole her from the asylum where he worked when James was to prey on her. James said, “She didn’t even seem to notice the pain, poor little creature. She’d been stuck in that black hole of a cell for so long. A hundred years earlier and she would have been burned at the stake for her vision.” Accordingly, I guess Alice might have been mentally ill for so long that she suffered from memory loss before Edward and Carlisle changed her into a strong new vampire, so there was no chance James would try to hunt her again.

8. Once Edward has tasted Bella’s blood, do you think it will make it harder to resist Bella – specifically her blood? Will the fact that he is able to control himself make Bella want to be changed into a vampire? Do you think that it is fair of her to ask that of him? Do you think it is fair of him to refuse?

Hopefully, this is not about addiction we are talking about, right? Like Bella addiction or Bella’s blood addiction (hehehe). But I think what will make it harder for him to resist her is his very strong affection toward her. Of course, he will find it very hard to resist her blood – like a shark can’t resist any blood. And I’m not sure that he will always be able to control himself – remember a time when he kissed her? He almost lost his control. Just suppose he made her lip bleed when making out, what would happen? We would never know.

That is Bella who wants to be changed into a vampire because she doesn’t want to get old when Edward is forever young – also, he doesn’t wanna be a toy boy (kidding). Well, I think the changing of Bella into a vampire is not a fair decision at all. It is unfair of her to ask that of him because her parents still love her and it is unfair of him to accept because she still has a family.

9. Jacob Black tells Bella a story about his tribe and the “cold ones.” He doesn’t believe any of it but says his father clearly dislikes the Cullens. If Jacob’s father believes the Cullens are dangerous, why doesn’t he warn Bella or Jacob? Is he hiding a secret of his own?

Yeah, I still remember reading what Jacob told Bella that the cold ones were blood drinkers who were very dangerous, even if they’d claimed that they hunted animals instead of humans. And he also said the Cullens were the same ones. There must a hidden reason behind the fact that his father doesn’t warn Bella or Jacob on his own, seeing that he is also a tribal elder.

10. Stephenie Meyer has noted that each of the novels in the Twilight Saga pays homage to other literary classics. For Twilight, she has said Pride and Prejudice was the key inspiration. Pride and Prejudice is often described as a “romantic comedy.” What parts of Twilight are romantic? What parts are comic? Describe the similarities between Elizabeth Bennet and Bella Swan, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Edward Cullen. What role would Bella’s friends play in a “remake” of Jane Austen’s classic story?

Well, I’m not sure that Twilight can also be described as a “romantic comedy”, as I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice before. But, I would say that Twilight is supposed to be a love story with bits of suspense that is different from other romantic teen flicks. I find it very romantic when Bella said she wanted to give up her life in exchange for living with Edward forever. I just said, “Wow!” But I don’t have any idea which parts of Twilight are comic because I don’t find this story funny at all. And seeing that I don’t know anything about Pride and Prejudice, I can’t voice my opinion of the similarities.

Additional Information:
Well, these questions were excerpted from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I'm also tagging those of you who have read this book. Share what you've got from the first book of the Twilight series.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've been tagged



I have been tagged by Fadil at edgeofuniverse. The rules are to post the 4th picture from the 4th folder on your computer where you store your pictures, explain the picture, then tag 4 of your friends to share their pictures, too. Don't forget to let them know they've been tagged by leaving them a comment on their own blog.

Now I'm tagging:
1. Rubee at a Little Bit of This & That
2. Joash at blank Page
3. Monica at Love the Loly Life
4. Vira at Mesmerizing Ecstasy

Well, this is the 4th picture in the 4th folder of my gallery that reminds me of my school days. As can be seen, it is the picture of the time of my 16th birthday (unless I’m mistaken). I took it with my clique, called Girls By The Way, several of my younger cousins and my friend while we were celebrating my birthday in Pizza Hut. I used to treat my close friends to lunch there every time I celebrated my birthday. It was also a place where we started a clique. I miss those moments greatly. Now, everything is no longer the same.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

C'est Moi!


Source: http://www.soysaucecarnival.com/haiku_images/soy_sauce_francais.png

On pourrait se présenter, moi c’est Geeta. Je suis indonésienne, je viens de Balikpapan, j’habite en Indonésie. Néanmoins je suis arrivée à Kuala Lumpur il y a un an. Je suis arrivée en Malaisie pour étudier. Je fais des études de communication au collège. Je suis née le 22 avril 1989. J’ai 19 ans.

Je n’ai pas de frères ou de sœurs ; je suis une enfant unique. Mon papa s’appelle Harris. Il travaille pour une entreprise de pétrole. Ma maman s’appelle Sumarni. Elle est une femme au foyer.

Je mesure 1,71 m – je suis grande. Je pèse 56 kilos – je suis maigre. J’ai les cheveux noirs ; j’ai les cheveux ondulés. J’ai les yeux marron foncé. Je porte des lunettes.

J’aime lire et écouter la musique. J’adore la musique pop et le punk rock. Moi, je préfère Avril Lavigne – elle est belle. J’adore les films. Je vais souvent au cinéma avec mes amies. J’aime regarder Friends aussi.

Je fais du sport – j’aime nager à la piscine et jouer au badminton. Je sais faire du pilates aussi – je vais souvent à la gym. Je parle indonésien. Je parle très bien anglais. Et j’ai fait de français pendant 4 ans, mais je ne parle toujours pas couramment le français parce que c’est plus difficile qu’anglais.

Quelles choses préfère-je ? Je préfère la cuisine italienne. J’aime les croissants et les fruits de mer. J’adore le café au lait et le chocolat. Pour petit-déjeuner, je prends toujours du café au lait et du pain grillé avant d’aller au collège. J’aime le vin rouge aussi – mais je bois un tout petit peu de vin. J’aime faire des photos. J’aime la mode – j’adore les robes.

Quelles choses déteste-je ? Je n’aime pas du tout les cigarettes. Je n’aime pas les animaux. Je déteste le lait.

Pour conclure, je suis sympa. Je suis travailleuse. Et j’adore ma vie bien que j’ai eue le cœur brisé il y a un an à cause de la rupture (MERDE !)

New Year's Eve

In the last evening of the year 2008, people at home planned to celebrate the dawn of the year 2009 by making a barbecue in front of garage. Only a few people were invited because we planned to make such a very small barbecue where they could eat food and go home (giggling). Several of the people who stay in my rental house came to join us. My uncle together with his wife and only daughter also came to help us prepare some food. We (girls) filled kitchen with our noise while we were busy marinating meat before cooking it on a grill. Mom and my young aunt were busy marinating pieces of chicken and fish and making chilli sauce, also known as sambal, while the other girls and I were piercing meat balls, pieces of beef sausages and a red pepper and a green pepper with wooden skewers. Sounded delicious, huh?

Dad and my cousin were busy burning charcoals – trying to light the grill. Thankfully, the rain didn’t mess up our plans for the barbecue that time. I still remember grilling meat outdoors with Mom, my young aunt and my cousins in my old house on a new year’s eve. It was cloudy and cold. We knew it was going to rain. Still, we kept trying to light the grill. The charcoals were damp, so it took so much time until the grill was ready to use. All of a sudden, it was raining heavily while we were still grilling the meat. Forcedly, we had to bring them into the house. We’d had no idea what to do with the half-cooked meat before we decided to join in grilling it with our neighbours who were also having a barbecue. Bloody-hell! It was pretty funny though. The rain did really mess up the barbecue.

My uncle, my cousins and I then lighted small fireworks, which my uncle had bought, after all of us had finished eating. I took several of the photos. It was very enjoyable to be among the people and relatives. I had a real laugh with them. At around 10 o’clock, we tidied the place up after two of the girls left – it was left in a terrible mess after the barbecue. Thereafter, we were sitting at terrace, waiting for the soon-coming year while Dad and my uncle were enjoying their beers. Unlike last year, there were only a few people coming to join us this year because other family members were celebrating in their own places. However, we seemed to enjoy ourselves.

One more thing – well, I haven’t made any New Year’s resolution yet, but I wish I would find someone who knows what these three words ‘I Love You’ mean, and he really means it. I know the year 2007 is the most unforgettable year for me – a time when I eventually met my first boyfriend. At first, I never thought it would be a fling. Last year, I struggled to get over my hurt feelings after I’d known he had been dating someone in his country by the time he became my boyfriend. It was painful, you know. It was easy for him to move on – not for me. Now, I am moving on, trying to bring focus to my study. My academic grades have slightly descended since two semesters ago and it was such a disaster for my parents – especially for me. Sigh. Well, I think I will concentrate on my study a lot more than other things. If I didn’t find anyone yet this year, I would keep waiting until I find the one. Go, Gege! Go, Gege!



BBQ indulgence of meat lovers!


Fireworks sparks to the year 2009.


Fireworks of the New Year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Home Sweet Home


My little office - where I've spent a lot of time at home.

On n’est nulle part si bien que chez soi
, when translated in English, means “Home sweet home, there’s no place like home.”

I have been staying at home in Balikpapan, in Indonesia, for over than a month. To be frank, I thought coming home would probably be as awful as last year when the moment of the break with my ex-boyfriend hit me so hard that I couldn’t enjoy my four-month semester break instead of going through hell and crying over my failed very-short-term relationship. Dang it!

Nonetheless, it is great to see Mom and Dad and my family again. This is a happy home – full of love. When I arrived back one month ago, I saw everything in here look the same as always. Only a few changes were made when I was not here. Well, not only did my cousin whom I consider as my own brother leave nearly four months ago, but the person who used to take good care of our house also left – he is currently responsible for another house where we rent rooms. The change – I felt a bit lonely after they’d gone.

Since I arrived, I have done only a little stuff. Actually I’d desperately wanted to get home by the time I came back from Kuala Lumpur. I’d already stuffed my mind with a lot of ideas. But it’s just stuff – if you know what I mean (grinning). I’ve been busy learning French recently to improve my language proficiency. As you know, I’ve enjoyed mastering languages, from English and my native Bahasa Indonesia to French since I was in school – which may become handy when I have job. Yet, I have to fight against my own laziness. Seriously! I bend over backwards trying to assure myself that I can’t rest on my laurels. Pas de problème, je vais me débrouiller – no problem, I’ll manage it.

Another leisure activity I’ve been doing since I came back is reading novels. I had bought the first novel of the Twilight saga, Twilight, before I went back to Indonesia. I couldn’t grab time to read the novel when I was still in Malaysia, so I decided to read it as soon as I got home. I finished reading the book a couple of days ago – I settled down for a long read (giggling). It’s about a pair of star-crossed lovers whose forbidden relationship changes Bella Swan’s life like hell after dating Edward Cullen who is secretly a vampire. According to the author, Stephanie Meyer, it’s a love story with bite. H’m, so mysterious, huh? And I can’t wait to read the other series, including New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. A lot of people think that Twilight could possibly surpass the success of Harry Potter as an earlier phenomenal saga. I’m sure that most of you have already known that Twilight becomes a motion picture now. I haven’t watched it though, but I will. It’s a must-watch movie because Robert Pattinson, the young British actor who starred as Cedric in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, plays Edward in Twilight. Don’t you think it’s cool?! Every girl loves Cedric. And I’m quite sure that every girl (like me) can’t wait to watch Twilight just because of Edward’s charms. Hehehe, you bet!

Well, not only does reading novels interest me while I enjoy my three-month semester break, but watching Friends on Star World also becomes my day-to-day leisure activity. Nevertheless, compared with last-year semester break, I don’t seem to be a couch potato this year. It seems rare for me to spend much time watching idiot box – if you know what I mean. But I can wait for the serial until it starts at 8 o’clock from Monday to Friday (grinning).

I’ve gotta enjoy this semester break before classes start - that it means absolute hell for me. Sigh. Life can be a bore if you spend the whole semester get all assignments finished on time while bloody worrying about the whens and hows of the things. I felt like I was in a rut when I had to stay up the whole night doing all of the assignments. Even worse, lack of sleep made it hard for me to concentrate. It sure felt like hell, you know. Sigh.