Saturday, August 16, 2014

Apparently, We Don't Need Much

Usually on the weekends we have water rationing in our neighbourhood. Means we won't have water during the day on Saturday and Sunday.

So far I feel lucky that at least we have water for the rest of the week. Many people on the other side of the city will not have water for two weeks, or even more, without knowing when it will be available. Moreover the apartment itself has its own water tank, huge one, that can supply the twelve families who live here for the weekend. As long as we use it cautiously *I think there's another word for this, but I can't remember it for now.

Anyway, since 12 am last night, officially it's Saturday 00.00, we don't have water at all. Nothing, none! I suppose somehow the pump stopped working since yesterday, so the tank was not filled as usual. Yesterday night we had Eid dinner for several friends from the office, so yes I had a big pile of dishes and utensils that could have done something bad for my temper this morning. Luckily we have finished clean it up right on time, which is 00.30 am, so I could wake up feeling relieved.

With no water, the four of us have all the reason for being chillax the whole morning. After time passed 12 pm, it just didn't feel right anymore. So the boys went to school to swim and take a shower, and I stay home trying to take care some dishes from the breakfast and figure out how to take a bath myself.

The dishes were done, with half bucket of water (we do have couple of big bucket of water and some refill bottles, so it works for now). Take a bath? That can be a problem, since I loooove taking shower. After working around it for a while, I found out that I just need 5 scoops of water to clean up myself. Plus 3 scoops of water to do the ablution (wudhu'). That's all!

Thinking about that, I was reminded on how little actually we need. I've done it before, I mean 5 scoops of water para bañar, when we were in Semarang and needed to go to the water company (PT PAM) every once in a while after school to collect water and bring it home. But doing it again after all this time and after got through many thing in life (I mean: old...) is just refreshing (?, again not sure if this is the right word). I just realizes that after all, we only need a little of everything. We don't necessary need many things that we collect or buy or have right now.

Unintentionally we have been doing it, I mean try to minimize things. The fact that we have to move every now and then make me realize that the less the better. You don't want to spent the last months of your stay in a country sorting things out, which ones should be sold, which one should be donated, etc etc.  Last time I moved to this place, I remember that we only needed some clothes, documents and a rice cooker. And around six months we lived with that (plus some plates and utensils). I also bought the bed sheet that we use for the master bed four years ago. Since then we just wash it whenever it needs to be cleaned and right away we use it again. One bed sheet for the whole four years! And that's apparently enough ... When we are travelling we also try to minimize our luggage and bring only a carry-on for each of us. Less fuss, less stress and it works well! I even wrote a piece about travelling light on

How little we actually need. So why waste on things, materialistic things?
This is me asking myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Learn from South Korea

I spent time to have coffee with a friend from Seoul, South Korea this morning.
Over cookies and coffee cake, we talked about many things. From our children, our summer to our professions (that sometimes ago we had).

What I love from our conversation was that I learned so much from her.
Once she told me a story of Japanese occupation that changed Korea a lot. Something that I 've never heard before. On another time she told me a story about how people of South Korea has worked so hard to be able to be like they are today. The lesson learned from every story never fails to impress me.

Today when we talked about our job before our decision to be a full-time mum, I realized on how people of South Korea understand the importance of education to develop their country. Basically, they realized that education is the only way to make South Korea categorized as first world country.

A teacher in South Korea has a very good salary that they can live with dignity. (OOT, even in France a teacher should come from middle to upper class society, so they are also well-respected). It's not what knowledge or skill of the teacher anymore that they concern about. It's the fact that a teacher, the most important person in educating our children in order to advance the nation, should be treated well and respected by the community and the government, so the children can learn from a very well-respected and well-educated people.

Meanwhile, the government and/or an education council themselves determine the ideal condition that the nation wants to achieve (big mission/vision?), set the goals and objectives, what competences that need to be taught in order to achieve the goals and objectives, design a curriculum all the way to an action plan to be executed by the teachers. But again, because the frontliners here will be the teachers, it's crucial to attract the best, brightest and passionate people to become teachers, and make sure that if they choose that profession they can live with dignity too.

In South Korea, teachers face a strict law on how they should treat students. On the other hand, they are also working under a good law that make them can have peace of mind about what they are doing as government almost like "guarantee" that they will have their job. Of course unless they do something terribly horribly bad. Also, to attract more bright people to become a teacher, they fully support those who decides to study to be a teacher, financially.

All in all, what the country does to make sure that they have enough teachers for the whole nation and that teachers can live properly so they can focus on their job, shows that they consider education is very very important.

Shall we do the same?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Super Random Thoughts

August, the time when it starts all over again.

Coming back here has never been the easiest thing to do. Nevertheless, it's good to be back home. Where the routines are waiting for you and the people you talk to understand about what you're saying.

Only certain people knows how it feels to be threatened by the immigration officer who said that you couldn't leave the country because you didn't bring certain documents or because the signature of your husband on the travel permit was sliiiightly different from the other document. Only certain people understand how it feels to stand in front of the cashier that kept saying that your card didn't work even though you're 1000% sure there's enough money, while you had four bottles of precious oil in your cart that could make you cry if they took them away from you...

This year though, as it will be our fifth year here, I started to realize that all those challenges can be faced everywhere in the world. Maybe in different form, but still a challenge. The thing is I have to admit that what happens to me now is the result of the choice that I made a while ago. It's not that it fell from the sky. I chose to live like this. So I learned to shut my mouth, when we see our family or friends back home, from telling them of what we face here on daily basis. If I ever telling them the story, merely to let them know that no matter what Indonesia has a bright future as a big country if we choose or decide to be one. I would tell the story on how is life in Venezuela only and if only we can learn from it, and make a better decision about our own country.

Learning from where we live now, I think the most important thing for us is putting the bigger goal above all. Me and you, can have different opinion about almost everything, right? But just because we're different, should we argue over every single "small" things, waste our energy to criticize others and put aside the fact that we want a GREAT country for OUR CHILDREN to live years and years, even after we're gone?

Whether we like or not, diversity is the most universal thing in the world. Same thing in Indonesia. We will meet and live with different types of people, in race, religion, language, culture, value, and so on and so on. Just understand that we are different, understand the difference, then respect the difference.

As simple as what this surah said (Quran 109):

"I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship.
And I will not worship what you worship, nor will you worship what I worship.
Your way is yours, and my way is mine."

Understand that people are different, but our treatment should be the same to all: kindly and fairly

If we sincerely care for people around us, especially our own people, our own nation, we can make our country big. Start by small choices we can make everyday. It can be as small as deciding to give a smile to the first person we meet on the way to school/office/etc - whoever they are, or as easy as deciding only saying a positive thought for the first conversation we have today. It can be anything positive! If we spread generosity, kind to others, soften our heart and show that we care, it will be easier to focus on a bigger goal: making Indonesia a great place to live for our children and to be proud of.

Umar (ra) said, “Generosity is an easy thing. It is a smiling face and kind words.”

Understand that people are different, but our treatment should be the same to all: kindly and fairly

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Live in a Bubble

Nevertheless, I can feel it.
The fear, the frustation, the desperation, the anger.
Imagine, a place where sugar is a luxury, milk is a basic needs you should fight for (literally physically fight for it), finding cooking oil is as difficult as finding gold in the river, and bottled water only can be found every once a while.

Lately we have rationing on running water. It means every week, we have two days without running water. It's not bad at all, fyi. Some people can not have water for dayssss, and some people can only have water on certain time every single day.

But you know what, it should be worth the pain. The school is one of the best you can find in this continent.
That's all?
Well, I can not complain, we are healthy and safe. Gracias a Dios. Alhamdulillah ...

The other thing that bugs me a lot is the fact that nowadays we have less and less options to go out from here. Airline tickets is like a lucky draw!
There's a feeling that you're trapped, and that's not the best feeling you can have.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gorgeous Batiks, Crazy Meticulously Made by Bayu Aria

by Hot Wax Jogja and his Sidang Batik Online.
Never seen any batik like these before, especially the colors and the details!
More info to come, and you should see my finding from the event :) It's one of a kind.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kita, di Indonesia, BISA!

Setelah tiga tahun lebih tinggal di sini, saya masih belum mengerti kenapa begitu sulitnya common sense dipahami di negeri ini. Sejujurnya sih di Indonesia juga masih jadi masalah ya, tapi lebih karena kita masih punya banyak pe-er mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa.

Selain konsep toleransi dan kebangsaan di negeri ini yang rasanya tidak sekuat di Indonesia (kalau yang ini pendapat subyektif penulis ya), di sini kelihatannya masalah diperumit dengan fakta bahwa hedonisme sudah mengakar sampai ke lapisan terbawah. Bahwa memperoleh kebutuhan dasar seperti gula, tepung, susu pun adalah tantangan. Bukan karena harganya mahal, tapi karena barangnya tidak tersedia. Harga gula sekilo di sini tidak sampai 1000 rupiah, bensin setanki penuh mobil besar juga sekitar 1000 rupiah, sekolah gratis, dll. Tapi ternyata harga murah juga bukan jaminan rakyat senang. 

Untuk ilustrasi, nilai tukar uang lokal dibandingkan dengan uang Amerika resmi/legal adalah 1:6.3. Sementara nilai tukar riilnya adalah 1: 60. Memang di mana ada kesempitan selalu ada peluang, terutama untuk mereka yang menjadikan uang sebagai komoditas, yang haram dalam Islam. Tapi untuk pengusaha, faktanya mereka harus membeli barang dengan harga riil, untuk dijual dengan harga yang wajar. Mosok dia beli tv 200 lalu harus dijual 50, hanya karena nilai uang harus dipatok pemerintah. Dari mana pengusaha harus membayar selisihnya? Bagaimana dengan nasib pegawai yang kerja untuk mereka? Mau dibayar dengan apa kalau pengusaha tidak bisa mengembalikan modal yang dikeluarkannya? Belum lagi biaya transportasi, dll. Mau dibayar pakai apa supir dan orang yang membantu membawa barang tsb dari pelabuhan ke warehouse dan ke toko? Itu baru hitungan yang paling sederhana dan naif. Masalah sebenarnya bisa jadi jauh lebih kompleks dari pada hitung-hitungan ekonomi a la ibu-ibu macam saya, karena buntut politik pun terseret di belakangnya.

Parahnya, saat pengumuman bahwa harga semua barang elektronik harus "disesuaikan" dengan ketetapan pemerintah (yang bisa jadi nilainya sepersekian dari nilai barang tsb pada saat dibeli pengusaha), orang lalu memanfaatkannya dengan menjarah toko-toko tersebut. Kok bisa? Kan harganya sudah diturunkan, ya mbok at least dibeli to dengan harga yang sudah ditetapkan. Lah kok ini malah diambil, seolah-olah hak mereka. Di mana value, dignity dan honesty sebagai manusia yang beradab? Ngambil milik orang di agama apa pun dianggap sebagai mencuri. Mencuri ya dosa. Lalu yang saya ndak ngerti, tindakan itupun seolah-oleh 'direstui' oleh pemerintah. Malah tentara dan polisi yang menjaga juga ikut mengambil barang-barang elektronik tsb. Bayar atau nggaknya, wallahu alam...

Rasanya yang bisa dipelajari dari hal ini adalah di Indonesia kita harus mulai menghormati hak petani bawang, petani kedelai, peternak, nelayan, dan penyedia kebutuhan kita lainnya (sampai dengan tukang kayu yang membuatkan kita meja belajar, tukang batu yang ikut membangun rumah kita, asisten di rumah, dsb dsb) untuk memperoleh kehidupan yang layak. Bayar jasa dan produk mereka dengan harga yang pantas. Bukan hanya harga yang murah. Kita maju, mereka maju, semuanya maju, kalau mau bekerja keras. Saya rasa yang diperlukan bukan menurunkan harga, tapi meningkatkan kemampuan/daya beli rakyat. Caranya? Ya permudah urusan pendidikan, supaya rakyat jadi pintar, sehingga bisa meningkatkan kualitas hidupnya dan memberdayakan diri dan lingkungannya sendiri.

Mahal atau murah sangat relatif. Tapi selama kita fokus membangun kekuatan ekonomi rakyat Indonesia, maka yang dicari bukanlah harga yang murah tapi kualitas. Fokus dengan harga murah malah menyebabkan pemerintah harus mengimport beras, kedelai, sampai batik pun harus diimport dari Cina. Akibatnya, potensi kita untuk swasembada pun jadi menurun.

Di masa yang akan datang, anak cucu kita yang bakal menanggung akibatnya kalau negeri ini tidak bisa memenuhi kebutuhannya sendiri. Demikian pula pengiriman TKI ke luar negeri yang dilatar belakangi oleh 'kebanggaan' dan 'promosi' bahwa tenaga kerja Indonesia itu murah, sudah waktunya dihentikan. Promosikan kalau TKI kita pekerja keras, mau belajar, ulet, endurancenya tinggi, dsb dsb. Jadi bayar mereka dengan harga pantas, bukan murah. Mari fokus bagaimana pendapatan dan kualitas hidup rakyat kita meningkat.

Harga murah terbukti tidak bisa menjamin kesejahteraan rakyat. Setiap hari saya melihatnya di sini. Bensin murah, tapi rakyat harus menjarah untuk mendapatkan sembako? Ndak masuk akal. Beras murah, gula murah, minyak goreng murah, tapi rakyat hidup tidak tenang karena negara tidak aman? Yo opo rek? Nodong pun jamak di siang hari bolong, seakan sudah jadi profesi (cek video ini ( terutama di menit ke 2:15). Naudzubillah...  Sekolah gratis, ke dokter gratis, tapi tidak tersedia perban/obat-obatan/matras tempat tidur?  Karena pengusaha tidak sanggup mengimpor, karena selisih nilai tukar uang yang tadi diceritakan di atas. 

Lalu bagaimana meningkatkan kualitas hidup rakyat Indonesia? Satu-satunya cara: pendidikan. Ya, memang mahal. Ya, memang ndak kelihatan hasilnya secara instan. Ya, memang sulit. Ya, memang buanyak rakyat yang harus dididik. Ya, memang kelihatannya tidak berhubungan. Tapi definitely is the answer. Dan harus dimulai, sekarang.

Setelah melihat wawancara seorang ekonom di Singapura, ada satu kalimat yang akhirnya menyadarkan saya bahwa yang perlu kita usahakan adalah bagaimana seorang warga bisa menjalankan profesinya (apapun itu: guru, dokter, pengusaha, petani, nelayan, mekanik, tukang kayu, dsb dsb) dengan profesional (baca: berilmu dan berketrampilan), deserve penghasilan yang baik, happy dengan incomenya dalam menjalankan profesi tsb, sehingga bisa hidup dengan layak bersama keluarganya (nb: kebutuhan dasar terpenuhi dengan standar yang baik, pendidikan dan pelayanan kesehatan terjamin, hingga kesehatan jiwa dan raga yang terjaga).

How easy will that be, if everyone understand it and being considerate one to another, focus on moving forward as one big nation (sans labeling each other by the color of their skin, their religion, their status, etc.).

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Sabtu lalu kami punya rencana mengantar si bungsu ke turnamen karate.
Seperti biasa pagi-pagi setelah sarapan dan bersiap kami segera turun ke garasi. Si sulung saya memilih tinggal di rumah, dan karena belakangan ini dia punya banyak sekali pekerjaan rumah kamipun mengijinkannya tinggal sendiri di rumah.

Saat di garasi (ngomong-ngomong ini garasi bersama ya, karena kami tinggal di apartemen yang dihuni sekitar 12 keluarga) dan akan membuka pintu samping saya pun menjerit dan terbengong-bengong mendapat jendela kaca samping pecah berkeping-keping. Suami, yang saat itu alhamdulillah ada di rumah dan sedang memasuk-masukkan bekal ke bagasi, seperti biasa hanya komentar ,"ada apa siiiih..." dengan kalemnya. Tapi waktu melihat mulut saya yang masih menganga sambil menunjuk kaca mobil, suami pun menyuruh kami segera masuk ke dalam mobil.

Saat itu saya tidak sadar kenapa dia malah menyuruh kami masuk mobil yang masih penuh pecahan kaca. Tapi setelah semuanya mereda saya pun jadi 'engeh' karena bisa jadi sang pelaku masih berkeliaran di garasi itu. Karena hari sabtu pagi umumnya tidak sesibuk hari kerja, garasi pun terasa sunyi mencekam. Si sulung pun cepat-cepat dipanggil untuk ikut mengantarkan adiknya. Membiarkannya di rumah sendiri rasanya tidak tenang.

Yang membuat saya shock adalah saat memikirkan bagaimana sang pelaku bisa masuk ke garasi. Karena situasi kota yang sangat amat tidak aman (kabarnya kota ini menduduki posisi nomor dua sebagai kota paling tidak aman sedunia. Sumbernya? Nanti saya cari link nya dulu ya. Tapi paling tidak tahun lalu ada 70 orang polisi yang terbunuh di negeri ini. Bayangkan kalau polisi saja terbunuh, bagaimana dengan penduduk sipil?).

Kembali ke maksud kalimat sebelumnya, karena kota ini dikenal tidak aman, lazimnya orang tinggal di apartemen yang berpenjaga, komplit dengan kamera di mana-mana, kunci di mana-mana. Mau masuk rumah, paling tidak saya perlu 3 kunci, gerbang/pagar, elevator dan pintu rumah. Pintu rumah pun terbuat dari besi. Sementara pintu masuk dari belakang ada dua lapis. Satu pintu besi dan satu pintu jeruji.

Jangankan orang asing, kalau kami kedatangan tamu maka sang tamu hanya bisa masuk ke lobi apartemen setelah penjaga mengkorfimasi bahwa tamu itu memang kami kenal. Setelah itu pun kami harus menjemput tamu ybs karena untuk bisa menggunakan lift harus ada kunci khusus. Pendek kata ribet  ribet ribet, saking tidak amannya. Karenanya saya bingung, bagaimana bisa orang asing masuk ke garasi, bahkan merusak empat mobil, dalam satu malam. Mobil yang terakhir dicoba dirusak tidak sampai pecah kacanya karena mobil tersebut kacanya dilapisi anti peluru. Begitulah kriminalitas di negeri ini, sampai-sampai mobil anti peluru pun tidak hanya dimonopoli pejabat negara.

Alhamdulillah, suami ada di rumah saat itu terjadi. Tapi karena dia seringkali harus pergi, maka setelah panik sedikit mereda, kami lebih fokus untuk mencoba memperkecil kemungkinan kejahatan terjadi di waktu yad.

Setelah sekian tahun tinggal di sini, kami betul-betul belajar menikmati rumah dan apa saja yang ada. Hampir setiap akhir minggu kami hanya tinggal di rumah, ngobrol, tidur, atau kadang main badminton di ruang tamu :) Jadi kalau urusan pergi-pergi, sudah sangat dikurangi sejak awal. Undangan penting dari kantor suami dll pun dengan hati-hati dipilih. Kalau tidak penting sekali sebisa mungkin kami hindari. Tapi saat intruder bisa masuk ke garasi, perasaan aman saat di rumah pun jadi menipis. Kadang di pagi hari saya harus turun ke garasi karena harus mengantar anak ke sekolah dan menyetir sendiri. Karenanya setelah kejadian ini saya jadi lebih paranoid.

Ternyata rasa aman adalah kebutuhan alamiah manusia. Terus terang di hari itu saya stress luar biasa. karena merasa tidak aman berada di apartemen yang sudah tiga tahun kami huni. Alhamdulillah suami relatif bisa mengerti, tetap berpikir jernih dan positif. Setelah mengontak sekuriti kantor, kami pun cuma bisa menunggu investigasi mereka. Lapor polisi sangat tidak dianjurkan oleh mereka (terbayang kah, kalau polisi pun bukan lagi tempat mencari perlindungan?). 

Tidak lagi penting barang yang hilang dan rasa takut yang ditimbulkan. Alhamdulillah kami semua masih dalam keadaan sehat dan selamat, berkat perlindungan Allah SWT. Yang bisa kami kerjakan adalah berserah diri sepenuhnya pada Sang Penguasa, menambah kunci penguat di pintu-pintu rumah, dsb dsb. Insya Allah, semua usaha sudah dilakukan. Selebihnya hanya Allah SWT yang bisa melindungi kami. 

حَسْبِيَ اللهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
Hasbiyallah wa ni'mal wakiil
Allah is my availer and protector and the best of aids