Day 1 - Keukenhof

pack yourself a toothbrush dear
pack yourself a favorite blouse
take a withdrawal slip
take all of your savings out
'cause if we don't leave this town
we might never make it out
I was not born to drown
baby come on

Sleep on the Floor - The Lumineers

I think that song above is more suitable to mark the day I really leave Singapore. I found this song by chance when I was preparing the playlist for my yearly pilgrimage to see the world. I particularly like the line baby, come on. Anyways, I just came back a few days ago from a trip to Austria, Switzerland, and The Netherlands. They are actually not my first choice. I had bigger plan in mind, something that's really on the life list, but then I chickened out and couldn't get myself there. I am disappointed at myself. If I had done it, it would have been awesome and amazing. It would have been the longest journey I make to get somewhere, but in the end the fear get the better of me. I tried to bribe myself with business class seats on the flights, but then I rationalized that with the business class cost, it's just too costly. This trip to Europe is cheaper by a few thousands Singapore dollars. So I thought this trip would be better and more logical. That doesn't mean I wasn't freaking out and afraid though. I truly was, really. I wish I can stop being afraid, but I'm always afraid before each trip. Perhaps that's also what makes me feel so thankful to God in the end. Though I have to admit, at the end of this trip that thankful feeling to God didn't come up as naturally strong as it should, but if I think about the many times God pulled me through (which you will learn in the coming posts) then my gratitude to God is really immense. I had no one but Him and He really took care of me as He has done in all my trips. I pray that He will continue to do so in my daily life despite of my many transgressions.

So anyways, been back for a few days now and things had been going awful. I was feeling sick the last 2 days of my trip and it continued on 'til now. I had to see Dr. Edmond the day after I got back. Got antibiotics which I finished today, but I don't feel 100% yet. My last leg of the trip was in The Netherlands and in the last few days, I was thinking that I was kinda ready to get back (maybe my unremarkable hotel room helped spur this feeling). However I'm totally not ready to come back to real life and it's been hitting me rather hard. Currently I have to deal with a situation which makes me question if I'm being stubborn or logical. The only good news that kinda made me happy since I came back was finding out that I get to pay less tax this year. Giving donation really helps. I think I will do more this year. Yeah, my reason to give donation is not noble at all, that's how bad I am. Okay, let's just talk about the trip.

I left Singapore on the 11th, just after midnight. Flight was full and I didn't have a good time. Many french in the flight and I wondered why they just didn't take Air France. I tried to get some sleep because I was planning a long transit time. I planned around 9 hours of transit time in Amsterdam before my flight to Vienna. The reason for the long transit time is because I wanted to visit Keukenhof. I didn't have difficulty in the immigration which was good news. I'll never forget the first time I stepped foot in Schiphol. I was so young then and knew nothing about the world, so so green. By the way, back in Singapore I seemed to be getting a lot of checks before getting on the flight. The officer in the gate even took a picture of my passport *sigh* Anyways, got out of the airport. Some things were kinda familiar and so I just went out into the area where I took the bus the last time I went to Keukenhof in 2011. That was 6 years ago ladies and gentlemen and like moronic contestants who didn't read their clue thoroughly in The Amazing Race, I didn't read the instruction in my booking thoroughly that I spent more than 30 minutes to finally find where the buses were. I had to ask 2 different people. Luckily people in The Netherlands generally speak English, in fact I have never met anyone who couldn't. The buses were full, but the frequency was good. Arriving in the park, I was surprised to see the new (at least for me) big entrance. It looked so professional now, not so quaint like the last time I was there. There are big spaces for parking too and seeing all that is not very charming. After entering the garden, there's a big flower bed with many tulips. I spotted free maps in the baskets and I got myself one.

Since the last time I was there, I didn't go to the windmill, I made my way there first. Apparently from here you can see the tulip fields outside the garden. The reason I planned a long transit time is to give me enough time to explore the garden as well as maybe cycle around the tulip fields. Well when I saw the tulip fields, they're pretty much empty. So that plan didn't work. The correct term is that the tulips in the field had been headed. The farmer needed to collect the bulbs for future growing hence the flowers had been removed. In this trip, I learned that the bulbs are put in a net and machine were used to plant them so it's pretty automatic. Heading the fields for the bulbs is also done using machines. Another thing I learned is that there's no black tulips, only tulips with very deep purple colour.

Seriously the best time to visit Keukenhof is like the last 2 weeks of April. A timing that I could actually make, but then I thought I should be responsible with life and so I didn't. I was also factoring my period, but they screwed me up. Going on the trip earlier would have been actually better for me, but well we have to make do with what we have. Weather wise it wasn't so cold. I was worried that I didn't bring enough, but my sweater coat was enough. In fact it got warmer as the day went. As usual, there are flowers exhibitions in the pavilions. In the Beatrix Pavilion, there's an orchid exhibition. Saw this orchid with very unique coloring. Never saw anything like it before.

There's also an exhibition with a lot of lilies where I also saw lilies with different colors in the petals. I don't know if they're painted or just grew that way. You can see the picture in here. This below is kinda a nice display.

I tried to find if I can remember the places from my last visit. Sometime I did remember a few things, like the fountain, pond, chess pieces, but overall the feeling I had was different. I think there's just so much more love that I felt the last time I visited it, which was also my first time. Perhaps it's because it's that feeling of achieving something that you really wanted or perhaps because the first time will always be the special one. This time around I just didn't feel particularly connected. There were new discoveries like the maze or little pocket of what felt like a small forest and the view were still beautiful, but I think I'm done with Keukenhof. Yes, I didn't get to cycle the tulip fields again this time around, but I think I wouldn't make much of an effort to visit it again. If somehow I get to transit in Amsterdam at the right time, maybe I'll make my way there again, but it's not something that I'm chasing anymore.

Before I left, I found the old entrance. Recognized it by the dandelion fountain and the music machine. Well it was the music from that machine that drew me there. Keukenhof is a really special garden, do visit it people if you have the chance. All and all I spent quite a long time there. Had lunch, even ice cream too. For pictures, please go here.

Then I made my way back to the airport for my flight. Was really tired when I arrived in Vienna, but I still needed to be alert to figure out how to get to the hotel. There are 2 trains that you can take from Vienna airport to city center, the cheaper one which takes like 26 minutes and the more expensive one which takes like 16 minutes. Found the machine for the cheaper one but when I saw my watch I thought I only had 5 minutes to make it to the platform and I was worried that I couldn't make it, so I didn't take that one and opted for the more expensive one. I should have gotten the cheaper one because it still hadn't left yet when I reached the platform and I would have arrived sooner. Oh well. I arrived at Wien Mitte station and had to change to the underground train. Thankfully in the more expensive machine, there's also option to get ticket for the underground train and also luckily it wasn't crowded so me lugging my luggage was not a problem for me or other people. Managed to find my hotel without any problem and I like my hotel room, it's the best one in this trip. I promptly got myself to bed because I had an early start the next day. That's a story for the next post.

:) eKa @ 9:28:00 PM • 0 comments

Indonesia Has Fallen?

Today is sad day for Indonesia. I don't know maybe not really, depending on which sides you are in. Obviously there are people who are so happy, then there are those who are devastatingly heartbroken and depressed like me, and then there's the kind like my mom who just shrugged it off and didn't really show any emotion. Well I don't know if she feels anything or not, text messages don't really convey emotion accurately.

So what happened today. It has something to do with Pak. Ahok who today is sentenced to 2 years in prison by the judges for being allegedly blasphemous to Islam. A sentence harsher than what the prosecutors asked by the way. On charges in which only truly stone-hearted, power hungry people can rationalize. Some weeks ago when he lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election (he got like 42% of the votes), it was already like we're being stabbed all over the place, especially for the minority like him and me. Today it feels like after we were stabbed and down, we're kicked all over the place, and let to roll off the cliff. I gasped loudly when I saw the news and then for every news article and tweets I read, I have to dab my eyes because of the tears that come out.

I texted mom and told her I'm heartbroken. She said what to do, either this or more protests by people who are using violence to make people submit to their demands. Our country is taken hostage by these people and apparently we're accepting it. You know, people who bully you are bad people, mean and evil, like I think many of the leaders of these protesters are. However if you keep on accepting being victimized, then you're also at a wrong. You must stand up for yourself. That being said, I wonder if it's even worth the effort. Today have shown that a person who stands up for what's right is easily taken off.

You know what I wish, I wish our president will make a comment on how stupid this is and make this go away. We elected him as a leader and he should lead the country. This country is going in the wrong direction and he should steer it off that cliff. However if anything I've read recently have some truth in them, he's in a precarious position and hence perhaps it's difficult for him to do anything.

Why do I care so much? I don't even live in Indonesia. What's with this very strong emotional response I'm having when my mom seems so calm about it. I don't know, maybe I guess I always think that's home and that's where I may eventually end up. God knows how many times I've said, no I'm not gonna stay in Singapore forever, I'm going to leave. So there's always Indonesia as home in my mind. Indonesia as a home, I want it to be a country I can be proud of, a country that can live up to its full potential and have truly wonderful people. After the election, the results make me think I guess there's truly are people who don't care about you the minority, who feel okay to put you at the bottom and don't give you a chance. Then today happens and I seriously don't feel like I can say I'm Indonesian proudly. I feel so ashamed and I feel like I need to hide somewhere.

What is this? If you look at what's happening in Indonesia and really look, we're going more and more to a path where it's hard to go back to. 20-25 years ago when I was a teen, TV series like Baywatch was shown in Indonesian TV without any censor. Today, that TV series wouldn't be able to get shown on TV. If they do, it will be blurred all over the place because of woman's cleavage and such and you think as a nation we would have been more mature now. We're actually going backwards. You may laugh at this example, but what if 10 years down the road, all women regardless if they're Muslims or not have to cover up like in some Middle Eastern Countries. Women actually should be more worried. Islamic laws practiced by overzealous Muslims tend to take away a lot of freedom from women. Do you want to always have a male permission or guardian to accompany you when you want to go places? Do you know that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive? That the first time women were allowed to vote is in 2015! Have you seen Iran's photos before their revolution? Google that and compare it to Iran now. I see that as the path Indonesia is going to. Some may think I am overly dramatic, but seriously, the minority are first to be thrown off that cliff today. Next, who knows? It could be the rest of you majority who's slightly different.

What can we do? I don't know. Going down to the street to protest is not productive. With what's happening today, I think anything we try also cannot make a difference - I am that depressed and heartbroken. Wait until the next election to put more tolerant people in power? Will it be too late? Will it even matter? I don't know. Does election matters in Indonesia when it's always about the same group of people holding actual power, people who have the money, who can always fund stupid protesters to fight their battle and bully us again and again? Are we only left with prayers and faith?

Everything looks so bleak and I feel like I have nowhere to go :'(

:) eKa @ 5:47:00 PM • 0 comments

The Freedom in Being Single

Hello peeps, how have your long weekend be? It started quite strangely for me. I was somewhat in a downcast mood. I don't know why, maybe pms or maybe it's just the way depression is, it hits you anytime it wants without any rhymes or reasons. Saturday night I had quite a big restlessness attack, the like that often takes me down on Sunday night. It's very strange considering that with the long weekend, I should be having less stress. Yesterday I called mom. She talked about how my primary school friend came to the market and chatted a bit with her, telling her about my school reunion that happened recently. I never attend any of these because it never happens when I'm in Jakarta. It is kinda funny that my mom has more of a friend relationship with my old school friends than me myself. I basically have no relationship with any of these people. I do feel thankful that they make the time to chat with my mother whenever they swing by the market. Then today, I met up with Dewi and her family (husband, son, sister, nephew, and niece). Honestly I was quite nervous about this, I think it's because of the despondent feeling that I've been having this weekend that I don't feel like socializing. Also there's kids and kids are a handful and I always find myself not having enough patience to deal with them. On any other people, I may like try to conjure up an excuse to not meet them, but Dewi is like a really good friend of mine. She told me days before she's coming and really made an effort to arrange a meet-up. You know I have had family members who came to Singapore and didn't tell me and even bothered to arrange a meet up. I know I'm not a special person or anything to be considered, but when I found out after the fact, it still kinda hurts. So I really appreciate Dewi for making the effort and I too made an effort to get out from my self-pity hole and come out to meet them.

Their hotel is in Bugis, so I swung by the temple first to pray before meeting them. It's been awhile since I went to the Bugis temple. It's a really hot day today. It's kinda nice meeting Dewi and her family. Her nephew and niece are kinda grown now and I found them to be quite well-behaved, though they did tell me that the niece cried this morning before getting on the plane. I didn't really spend a lot of time with them. We had lunch and then we took the bus to Esplanade via Marina Bay Sands. I didn't follow them to Merlion because I think they can handle it on their own and I'm just too tired to walk in the hot sun. Being with them and seeing the 2 moms, it's really something when you have kids. There's a lot of patience involved. I don't know if having kids change you. If so I wonder if it would change me. I always say I want to have kids, but today I wonder if it's something that I just say often that I think it's the truth without really seeing that it may not be the truth. When I see people like Dewi or my cousins who have toddlers, there are many times I feel thankful that I don't have to deal with all that. Today when I saw Dewi had to feed his son while his son was glued on a mobile phone and also when his son wanted to get down some steps a particular way they way his dad did it with him, I'm just like ... I'm thinking in my head how much time we can save without having to deal with these kids. That's the things with kids, isn't it? They take time and effort. If you're travelling with them, you may not be able to make a lot of plan because you have to follow their timing.

I think about all the freedom I have being single. Yes, I complained about the loneliness a lot, but today I also see that single hood has afforded me a lot too - all the freedom, all the times me walking around all the different places in the world that I have been fortunate enough to visit, doing things that I want to do. I couldn't have done all that with kids. I say maybe God sees that I'm not ready hence me making my own family is not happening (yet?) for me. Dewi said, there's no such thing as ready or not ready, just do. Well perhaps, but perhaps God really sees that I do need that alone time (maybe longer than other people) for me to do all the things that I want to do. If not, if I have been burdened with kids (though kids are blessings) before I'm ready, before I have done the things that I want to do, I may live a life of frustration and I may take it out on the husband and kids and that wouldn't be good. I'm still praying, we'll see. Maybe also I just need to be around kids more so that I can grow my patience but unfortunately here in Singapore, there's no little kids for me to hang out with :P

On other news. I gotta asked Dewi if she voted for Ahok. Of course she did, thank God she went to vote. I sometime wonder if people in her demographics are too lazy to vote. Thank God she did make an effort though the result is a sad one for us. She said that she and her colleagues are also very sad. I actually had tears that day finding out that he lost. It's very heartbreaking and I don't understand the result, how it happened. In Indonesia it's not like in America where the media or other research body will start researching how the different demographics voted and this is something I am very curious about. I talked to mom yesterday who said the lost is supposed to happen and it's better that way. In the last post, I wrote about how if Ahok had won, there would have been rage. I think this threat is real, especially to Indonesian Chinese who are the punching bag of Indonesia. 1998 was real and when you lived in that time and you're Indonesian Chinese, it never leaves your mind. I wonder if many Indonesian Chinese didn't vote for Ahok for fear of riots and such. Seriously I wonder how the breakdown of the votes go. People may say we're dramatizing things but people who refused to see it for what it is are bad for Indonesia. Unfortunately there are many of them. There are many disappointing comments coming from Indonesian politicians regarding this gubernatorial election, one of the most disappointing one for me is from vice president Jusuf Kalla who said that foreign media is not giving a balance report regarding the election. He felt that the media should focus on the fact that the election went peacefully. Well that's because Ahok didn't win. What if he had won, could you be sure that there would't have been riots. I wonder what his angle is. Is he hoping to run for president in the next presidential election and is starting to shore up support. Then Mike Pence came to Jakarta the day after the election and he said, "In your nation as in mine, religion unifies, it doesn't divide." I know he couldn't rock the boat, but seriously did you not see that radical Islam has scored a win through this election, why do you have to make such stupid comment.

When I read the news about Pak Ahok especially these days with the outpouring of supports through people coming to city hall to see him (he's like a rock star) and all the many flowers being sent his way, I still get very touched and misty eyed. It's very very sad and heartbreaking. By the way, if you don't know the news, there are many Indonesians sending flowers to Pak Ahok and his vice governor. Indonesian style of sending flowers is it's a board with some wording on it and flowers. From pictures online, some of these wording are very very funny. If only someone takes the effort to document each and every single one of these flower boards and put them online. A few days ago I read it has reached 4000 boards. Pretty sure this has never happened anywhere else in the world. This is for someone who's still alive and just because he lost a gubernatorial election. The harmless flowers were enough to make some stupid useless Indonesian politicians get agitated though. They said it's a waste of money. Wasn't it a waste of money too when you funded people to attend massive demonstration? Hello, these flowers are not foot soldiers that you can mobilize to antagonize people. What happened when you had demonstration, many of it ended up in violence. They also cynically said that Pak Ahok and his people are sending these for themselves. Seriously, come on now. For the election campaign, most of the donation for Pak Ahok came from individual people. Pak Ahok and his vice governor only donated like around 75 USD. They don't waste money stupidly. Compare this to Sandiaga Uno who donated more than 4 million USD, some source even said it's more than 8 million USD. He should be thanking God he won though he's only the vice governor. The things people do for power. You know if he had used all that money to build free clinics or schools, his name will be more honorable than the way he and his team win this election. It's like he's a joke. Indonesia really lost with this election. I cannot feel hopeful for the future of Indonesia at this current state. It's worrying and one can only pray.

:) eKa @ 9:10:00 PM • 0 comments

Thy Will

Hi peeps, how has your Easter weekend been? I suddenly thought about my Uni days when Easter weekend meant going with my the Catholic friends to mass. It was then that it was brought to my attention that it always rains on Good Friday. I haven't been going to church for a long time and I am embarrassed of it since I remember the days when I went regularly because life was really sucky and I was in such despair. In fact that's pretty much what I do, I pray more when I am in a real shit. So the post, Thy Will, you know in the last post, I wrote about how God was / is teaching me about setbacks. Well I have plans, I have timings and schedules and today this week I found out that some of my timings and schedules are not going to work out. So now there's some things that make me nervous, but as I learn from the setback that I wrote in the previous post, what God decided for me and gave for me in His time was indeed much better. So just like I know Thy Will be Done, I also need to have faith that His will is / will be the best for me, even though right now I'm still very much nervous. It's not an easy thing keeping faith, is it?

On other news, finished my second book of the year. Well it's actually a play script. I finished reading the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I just love it. The story is pretty good though after reading it, I think there's one flaw. Well I guess many people will find many flaws, but I just have one which I think is rather annoying. The story is centered on one of Harry Potter's son and there's evil to fight. So there's one part where Harry, Hermione, Ron, and also Ginny were so ready to fight and I know we love to see the gang get together, especially the lovable three, but they're older and they have kids now, so when they're so ready to just go fight evil without any regard to their other kids, I just feel that's rather reckless, especially when throughout the story the parent-child relationship is pretty much what moves the story. Yeah, there's wouldn't be a good world to live in when evil reins, but still, do they just tell grandma Weasley to take care of the kids without any second thought? Aside for that one criticism, I really really want to watch this play. The script has small writings about what should be seen on stage, but I wonder how they stage this, how they do the magic and stuff. I haven't had any number one thing in my life list ever since I visited La Sagrada Familia but this has become my number one list. I want to watch this. I'm not so keen on applying for UK visa again so I think my best chance would be watching it Broadway. I hope I'll get to do that before my US visa expires and also I know this will be very unlikely, but I hope the tickets will be easier to get than Hamilton's. Well that's another thing that I am curious to watch.

On other news. Next Wednesday is the final battle for the Jakarta Gubernatorial seat. I am nervous about this. I am worried Pak Ahok is not going to win. It's not just about who's going to be governor, it is really about the direction of the country. We're going to find what people are really like. The result will let us know if most people are really into their own religion or race or if people are really more tolerant and able to sift through all the hate campaigns and bull shits. If rising up to what's right is not happening in Jakarta, I wonder what that means for the rest of Indonesia. Whatever happens on Wednesday, it will lead to 2 equally scary outcomes. There will be rage if Pak Ahok wins and this is worrying. I wonder if it's going to be very violent. I was made more concerned after watching parts of a sermon by the leader of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI). With so much anger he was galvanizing the people of Surabaya (a different city, not even near Jakarta) to rally, stand guard, and make sure an Islamic leader win. This is how terrorists are cultivated :( If Pak Ahok doesn't win, then intolerance wins, they have momentum to make their ways into other parts of the government, then it's 5 years of going backward in Jakarta or at the very least it's 5 years of impediment to any chance of progress in Jakarta :( I am worried. I can't even bring myself to name the other candidate, because despite of his previous "good" reputation, he has shown no effort to dismiss any shameful religion based campaign that benefits him. He's not John McCain. John McCain may lost presidential election to Barack Obama but at least he stood for what's right and though certain doubts in voters at that time could work in his favor, he didn't stoop down low to make use of them. I remember the time when he rebuffed a lady who said she wasn't sure if Barack Obama is a good person or a Muslim. That shows good character from John McCain. I wish undecided voters in Jakarta or voters who are set on not voting for Pak Ahok can get enlightened and see that a candidate that as the Indonesians say it, memancing di air keruh (fishing in murky water = making profit in a chaotic situation), is not a person of good character and he cannot be trusted. He may put himself first than the people. I worry, I truly do. I wanted to make a day trip home to vote, but ticket price is kinda expensive and I'm in the middle of big spending, so I couldn't do that. I hope Pak Ahok will win. No strike that, I hope Jakartans will win because they rise up and vote for tolerance and progress and set an example to the rest of the country that there's no place for this kind of intolerance and cruelty instigated by religion. Please God help us.

Well that's about it peeps. Have a good Easter weekend everyone.

:) eKa @ 2:42:00 PM • 0 comments

Throwback to Last Tuesday

So last Tuesday was my birthday. Turned 35, gosh :( It wasn't a great one. I started the morning wanting to do something and that failed miserably. I was thinking that at 35, the present God gave me was dealing with setbacks. I'm never good with this and I think He will always test me again and again in the future. So that was a downer and I was feeling very moody for the rest of the day. After that bad morning, I went to the temple to pray and then I went to Gardens by the Bay. It's having a Cherry Blossom display in its Flower Dome. I wonder why they didn't put some at the Cloud Forest Dome too. Maybe they did, I don't know, I didn't go there. You know right now I am more curious to see Gardens by the Bay's nursery. I wonder how they cultivate plants that don't normally grow in the tropics like the cherry blossoms. I want to see how it's done. Unfortunately they don't have tour for the public for this. I'm not even sure if it's in the compound or somewhere else.

The last time I was there was July last year. Some parts of the Flower Dome of course never change, so I kinda like it when I find something different in these parts. I found sections where they have these little statues of characters from fairy tale. The characters were in vintage style. There were Alice and the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and there are those that I didn't recognize, like there's a boy, perhaps it's vintage Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh. It wasn't that far from this vintage Winnie the Pooh and Piglet that looks just so adorable. Vintage Winnie the Pooh is just the best.

Anyways, my only experience with Cherry Blossom was in Brooklyn Botanical Garden and the time I was there, the ones blooming the most are the Kwanzan Cherry trees. I actually love their crowded petals and pink colors. In Japan though, it seems they prefer the simplistic kind, white and with 5 petals. I can't remember what the blooming kind that I saw in the Flower Dome that day were. I was down remember, so I didn't really pay much attention. I don't know if there's any Yoshino cherry tree which is the favorite kind in Japan. Anyway, the trees there have mostly white flowers and some of them were weeping trees which were really nice looking. It was rather overcast that day and I was really lacking in energy that I don't think I did a good job in taking their pictures. I tried, but I am still rather disappointed with the results.

After that I went to the mall. Got myself sneaker and then I watched Manchester by the Sea. It's quite a sad movie because the main character played by Casey Affleck was so conflicted. I have a soft spot for these kind of conflicted sad characters, I think because I relate to the sadness and loneliness. I like movies like Manchester by the Sea. It may not be a box office, but I like the stories they tell, different, and it's special because these days we're just being bombed by repeated stories with different variations of special effect, explosions, and such. I also like Moonlight which I think is well deserving of the best picture award at this year's Oscar. Though it has quite a heavy and sad story compared to La La Land, I just feel it more. Again maybe it's all because of the sadness and isolation. Anyways, that's it peeps. Hope you guys have great stories of your own.

:) eKa @ 8:38:00 PM • 0 comments

The Mystery of the Missing Sock

It's been 4 days.

I live my life with routines. Maybe many people don't like routines, but for me they help to really get things done. So this week, like many other weeks before, I have 2 days of laundry. The second day was on Thursday where I washed bed sheets, towels, blankets, and such. On laundry day, as soon as I put down my packed meal on the table, I go straight to the washing machine and put in the socks I'm wearing into the machine. On Thursday I did just that, at least that's what I think I did. After the washing machine was done and I had to take out the bed sheets and such, I only found 1 sock. I couldn't find the other one. I looked and looked, I just couldn't find it. Did I not put it in? I don't know. If I didn't, what did I do with that one sock? You know what it's like when you're tired and you just absent mindlessly do things without even thinking and in the end don't really have much recollection about what you did. Is that what happened to me? Did I do something different that day? I'm very confused. I had to tell my landlady about it because I was worried that it got stuck in the washing machine and would cause the machine to spoil. She helped me look and checked in her basket next to the washing machine, but she couldn't find it too. She had used the washing machine since and it's working fine, so I think my one sock didn't get stuck somewhere in there and caused trouble.

It's been 4 days and I couldn't let it go. I feel like I have a slight OCD compared to normal people and when things are not in their order like now, it bothers me. I have to stop thinking about it, but it doesn't go away easily. I wonder if this what causes me to have grudges on people too. I cannot let go things. I remember stuff and they just can't get away. I wonder how much of it is mental maturity and how much of it is really genes and DNA. So anyway, that's the mystery of my missing sock. I do hope it'll come back though. Will it come back as mysteriously as it disappears? Well, I'll let you know when it comes back.

Moving on. Read my first book of the year, Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman. When the book first came out, the news was all about how shocking it is that one of the good main character associated himself with racist people. I didn't buy the book when it came out because I was waiting for the paperback version. After reading it, it actually resonates a lot with what's been happening in the world, especially in America. It's like finding out people you regard in high esteem and actually like voted for people or party with questionable values. Like the main character in Harper Lee's book, Jean Louise, you just started to question things, how you don't know people at all. The book is still great for me because Harper Lee is still teaching us things. Jean Louise is only in her 20s and I'm much older than her, but I realize that I react like her, that is to go as far away as possible from people I dislike and just get them out of my world. It is unrealistic in practice. In the book through the voice of Jean Louise's uncle, Harper Lee is telling us not to run away from opposing views and dismiss the people having them as not worthwhile because that would make us a bigot too. The uncle spoke about how we should actually stay and be around these people because perhaps by being there we can make changes. I particularly like the line, "the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise". It's a very adult thing to do and though I am in my age right now, I know that it will be hard for me to do so.

In my age right now, I'm still into magic. I am reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child now and I love it so much and like all the Potter books I read before, I like it so much that I'm reading it slowly so that it'll last longer. I didn't buy the book / play script when it was out because since it's meant to be a play, I wanted my first experience of it to be watching it as a play. However with me living in this side of the world, that opportunity may not come soon and in the end I just can't contain my curiosity. Reading the play, I am even more curious now on how they stage this. I want to see how they create the magical effects and such. It's such a pleasure reading this and I really really hope I'll get to see this on stage one day. Reading the play is also quite a fun experience for me, because I read the lines as if I'm an actor myself :D

So anyway 2 more days left 'til I turn 35. Good grief, what am I gonna do with my life. I know I have many things to be thankful for about my life, but when I think about the future, I just get overwhelmingly anxious. So for this coming Tuesday, I just want a good day and I don't want to think much about what's next in my life.

:) eKa @ 9:07:00 PM • 0 comments

The Trip to West Java

Hello guys, I'm back. How was your Chinese New Year? I survived it, thank God :) A few days before I went home, I actually fell rather sick and had to see the doctor. There was some weird conversation I had with the doc, all because I asked him a question that took him aback. I made him laugh though and he gave me antibiotics so all's good. The day after Chinese New Year, me and mom and the aunt who usually travels with us made our way to Lembang, a town near Bandung. Honestly I was really not keen on doing this because I know the trip will be tiring and we always have to start before sunrise :( but my auntie wanted to go and mom was in and she told me I'd be bored at home, so I went too. The driver was Ferry, a guy that my aunt has been using pretty frequently now to make out of town trip.

It was actually a pretty fast drive to Bandung and we made our first stop to Farmhouse Lembang. This is a rather weird place for me, because I was thinking what its purpose is. Then I realized it's something that perhaps wouldn't work 1-2 decades ago. This is to cater to the narcissistic social media loving people who like to post pictures online. The place has nicely decorated spots where you can take pictures. You can even rent out a Dutch costume and take pictures all around the place which my mom and aunt did. I did not because I look awful in pictures and that's why I rarely take pictures of myself. This annoys my mom. Every time I send her pictures from my trips, she complains that it's always of buildings and sceneries. There was quite a queue for the Dutch costume. My mom and aunt were after this group of ladies who were all in red. They seemed to have a guy to take their pictures and since they all looked so cheerful and I was bored waiting for mom and aunt, I just stood next to their guy and took their pictures :D
Mom and aunt got a blue skirts and I ended up as their photographer as they wandered around taking pictures. I was most amused with the big hoop skirt. They actually had 1 hour to use the costume, but I think they lasted only around half an hour. They got bored themselves. I'm not posting their pictures here because I don't even put my own pictures since I don't think it's a good idea so I'm not going to subject them to online visibility too :P Anyways, with the entrance ticket you get free milk. They have a small zoo, the favorite one seemed to be the sheep. Other than that, they sell some snacks which we didn't buy any. It is really nicely decorated and I do love some of the art pieces adoring walls and such.

Next stop was De'Ranch Lembang. It's a place with horses. Somehow ticket price also includes milk here, but the milk didn't taste as nice as Farmhouse so I only took a sip. De'Ranch Lembang has a western cowboy Indian theme to it. There are horses. People can pay to ride the horse or pony with cowboy and Indian accessories. What's with the costume? Well you need to look good for your social media pictures right? We didn't ride the horse, I guess to the disappointment of Ferry. Honestly I was quite interested, but since mom and aunt didn't want to, I felt weird doing it alone, so I didn't. We then just walked to see the non-working horses closer.
The place also has some games for the kids, like trampolines and zorb balls in a very small pool. We spent some time watching these kids. Next stop was Taman Begonia Lembang which is this garden full of flowers and also people. It's not very big and since it's quite crowded, I didn't really take a lot of picture here, except for the ones that my mom asked. Again I can see its appeal for people who like to post pictures on social media. We didn't spend much time here and then we made our way to a place which I couldn't remember the name. It's like an adventure kinda place. There are small cabins among the trees and also tents if you prefer camping. At this age, this doesn't interest me because I need more comfort, but I can imagine it being fun to do when you're younger on a school trip. Other activities include flying fox zipline and also strawberry picking. However when we were there, there's no strawberry to be picked. There were some deers though. They're quite pretty. I forget what sounds they made, but at that time I remember thinking that deer made funny sound.
We kinda went through these places pretty fast that we managed to make it to Tangkuban Perahu too. However it was raining when we were there and it became really cold so we just did a quick look of the crater. I remember that on our last visit without this aunt years ago, we actually had quite a nice hike into the other smaller crater, but we didn't do it this time because it was raining and my aunt has quite a bad knee.
That was day one. Day two was only spent in one place and that's Kawah Putih. It's a long drive, but it really made this trip worthwhile for me. Kawah Putih literally means white crater, it's this crater filled with bluish water. It feels more like a lake actually. When we were there it was very misty that I couldn't see how big the crater was. It made for a very ethereal scene. A little later on the fog kinda went away for a while that I could see that the crater is not actually very big. The water itself was not hot, only slightly warm. It's really beautiful and I love it because I've never seen anything like this before. Mom and aunt have been here a few times, but this was my first time. Facility wise, there's still a lot of work needed to be done in the area, toilet being the most important.

After that we made our way home. For pictures from this trip, you can go here. I only took my ixus and I'm not that satisfied with some of the pictures especially the ones in Kawah Putih. Love the place, but it's a really long drive to get there. On other news from home. Not much. Somehow this time around, almost everyday I would be going out with mom, like to relative house and such. We took busway a lot. Mom didn't have to pay because she's a senior citizen and I was actually quite amazed at this. It feels like the first time the Government is giving us something. It feels like progress. Seriously in this coming Jakarta governor election, I hope people will be open minded enough to vote for our current governor. He's doing good work. Seeing all the demonstration saying that people should vote for a Muslim leader is so disheartening and it's bad for all Indonesians who are not a Muslim. It's like we don't matter, it's like we're not counted, and it's like we're not worthy of the country where we were born and raised and also contribute for. All these demonstrations no matter how they package it and say it as a peaceful protest and such is at its core is intolerance and racism. I always think that when you think that you are better than everyone else because every one else is of a different religion or race, well that's the very definition of being racist.

So anyways back to home. Ate quite a good variety but the more I got to eat things I haven't eaten for a long time, the more I think of other food that I didn't manage to eat. I also managed to go to the cinema with mom and my cousin's daughter. We watched Cek Toko Sebelah. It was funny but at the same time I also felt it's quite a long. There were parts that I would rather cut and then I would add story line for the many supporting casts who are really funny. Mom enjoyed it a lot. It was actually quite an effort to watch this. We went to Central Park because cousin's daughter said there's an evening showing there, but there wasn't. I actually was pretty calm upon finding this out that I surprised myself. My normal setting on this kind of situation would be madly fuming of the mistake. Mom was insistent on watching the movie that when we found out there's a showing in Citraland, we went there. I haven't been in Citraland for more than a decade I think, it's been a very long long long time. I didn't get to see it much because we went straight to the cinema which was really nice. We made it on time. I like how retro the cinema still keeps it. In Indonesia, some cinemas will have an announcement saying that the theatre is opened and you can get in. Very retro and I love how they're still doing this. After the movie we walked back to Central Park because my cousin's daughter left some stuff there. It was actually not a very long walk, around 15 minutes or so, but I can imagine people thinking that it's a very long walk. Indonesians don't walk a lot. We had dinner at Hoka Hoka Bento which I hadn't had in years. Unfortunately I had to be disappointed because they ran out of ekkado, good grief :( Then I went to Carrefour to get some things. I love how they do away with the carry on basket and instead they provide bigger basket with a handle that you can pull. For me it's like pulling a dog around :) Maybe Singapore's supermarkets can do the same? In addition to Indonesians not walking much, we also don't seem to like to carry heavy things. I have to say seeing Indonesians, many of us are quite snoobish and into materialistic things. It's about having the bags, jewelries, cars, and all other expensive things. Sometime when I see my relatives acting rich, I wonder if they look down at me for looking so plain. I'm really just not interested in playing that game. Another thing that I get from going home this time around is that how I don't struggle. Life is not that hard for me. I may not have a lot, but I have more than enough. So right now I feel like I have to say grace more and complain less. I don't know how long this will last, maybe a week, but I guess perhaps I can just keep reminding myself that there are people who struggle more than me, but don't get as much.

A few more things before I end this post. Watched Hacksaw Ridge before I went back home to Jakarta. I actually like it very much and it's so remarkable that it's based on a true story. The person the story is about, Desmond Doss, is such an admirable person. Then today I watched another Andrew Garfield's movie, Silence in which he played another person of faith. I decided to watch this because I also read the novel it's based on, Silence by Shūsaku Endō. The movie is pretty long and it may feel quite boring at times. If I recall correctly it stays quite true to the book except perhaps for the ending. I like the ending in the movie because for me it finally makes the story complete. The book was a heavy one to read. It is a difficult story to tell and I think the movie did a good job in showing that every decision seems like the wrong one. Well, that's about it peeps. I edited myself a lot in writing this post. There are more that were swirling in my head, but I think I got lazy so I didn't write them. As usual, I hope your days are glorious :) Ciao!

:) eKa @ 10:34:00 PM • 0 comments

Back Story

So this week in NBC's This Is Us, it told the story of the day the twin was born. An expansion of the pilot. I wasn't that excited upon knowing it will all be back story, nothing in the present day. I guess it's because I relate more to the twin and their stories interest me more. I also think I relate more to them because as mentioned in the previous post, they're closer to my age and their feeling of being lost or stuck in life resonates with me. That also makes me think of how much I just don't relate to my peers who are married and perhaps in their 2nd child now. I know I want to have kids and all, but sometime when I see parents with their toddlers and all the work, I do feel thankful that I don't have to deal with all that. I wonder if subconsciously I don't like having kids. I'm praying but maybe God knows better, but hopefully He'll entrust some to me one day. So anyways that back story thing got to my head today as I heard 2 people discussing something. Suddenly I was so curious about their back story. How they got to this place. I wonder if any of you have ever been curious about the back story of the people in your day to day life. Unfortunately, unless I ask, by ask I mean thorough interview which can be seen as very intrusive, I don't think I will be able to get much detail. I have had people make unflattering remarks about my curiosity. Most of the remarks are in the line of I am being so odd, but I pride myself of it. I think it's so important to be curious in life.

TV to book. I finished reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Someone saw me with the book and told me he actually knows the author personally. Gosh, my degree of separation to a Pulitzer Prize winner is not that big. Now that I think about it, since it's a small world or perhaps because Singapore is small, my degree of separation to the Prime Minister of Singapore is also just as big as my degree of separation with this Pulitzer Prize winner. So anyway, I was telling this person I know that I was reading the book because for the past years I've been trying to read every Pulitzer Prize winner. This actually just goes back to as far as 2013 with a recommendation from Oshie I believe. Now from way back to 2013, the winners are:
  • 2013: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
  • 2014: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • 2015: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • 2016: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
I also read a 2015-finalist, The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami. I gotta tell you all the winners dating from that 2013 have quite a sad tragic story. Though perhaps some not as tragic as the others, but truly there were just moments where it was like one sigh after another for me. My favorite among those is perhaps All the Light We Cannot See. It's sad, but it's also so beautifully written and just drags you in into their world. The one I most want to see as a TV series is The Goldfinch. After I completed it, I wrote in this blog that I can see someone like Nicholas Hoult for the role of Theo, but Boris would be a hard one to cast. Now I think maybe Adam Driver can play him. Anyway I'm digressing (what else is new?). I don't quite enjoy The Sympathizer. It tells the story of this mole for the Viet Cong. The story pretty much began with the fall of Saigon during Vietnam war and there's also a lot of backstory about this character. The author used the word bastard a lot in describing the main character being the son of an erring French priest and a Vietnamese woman. The character talked about how he had to always deal with this duality and how it's like destiny that his job required him to be in this dual kind of existence. At the end of the story he even addressed himself as 'we' instead of 'I', a move that made me rather confused in reading it. I don't know if it's strange because it's in writing or because it's introduced at the back. When I watched Mr. Robot and Elliot Alderson addressed himself as 'we', it never felt strange. Maybe perhaps because it's introduced from the very beginning or it could be because it's spoken or maybe because when he's speaking to us, the audience, we still feel like a separate entity while in the The Sympathizer when you read 'we' it's like we're forced to fuse. So I think there's a lot of awkwardness there. I think in Mr. Robot making us that silent presence in Elliot's head helps us be more invested in the character. I'm curious how Elliot actually sees us. Anyway reading The Sympathizer, I do wonder if many people of mix race often feel a kind of uncertainty about what they really are, if they feel like they never quite belong anywhere. I asked the person I know about the author and if he's one of the boat people. He's not one of the boat people, but he did escape as a child and immigrated to America so he did have some first hand account about how things were for the refugees back then. Overall I don't fancy this book much. Now I am reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee which I will count as the first book of the year. I'm just gonna count The Sympathizer as book 0 since I started last year.

On movies, the last movies I watched was Collateral Beauty and Arrival. I kinda had high expectation on both, but both didn't really quite deliver for me. I found Collateral Beauty to be not so subtle in the messages it tries to deliver. It tells the story of these friends trying to help Will Smith's character to deal with grieve with the help of Death, Love, and Time. In the process of trying to help Will Smith's character, these friends helped themselves too. It's still very touching and all, but it's so direct in its delivery, it's like being shoved these messages of death, love, and time. The actors were great though. As for Arrival, I was so intrigued but in the end I was just not that satisfied. It was explained why the Aliens came, but I guess I needed more information on what they are and what they gave (if any) to the humans.

I watched Arrival last week which caused me to be late in watching the first gubernatorial debate in Jakarta. You know I think the US election has caused me to be quite traumatic. Watching the debate and reading so many amusing tweets in Twitter, I suddenly became quite fearful that it would be Hillary (do you realize that she only needs her first name to be identified) and Trump situation. It is clear that our current governor came to the debate backed up with data and substance. He was better and and yet I feel he can still lose this whole thing. Seriously the situation is quite similar to Hillary's. The current governor has a proven track record, many celebrity endorsements, and supports of the Twitter sphere, but it's possible he would lose votes from Muslims who are swayed by his (unfounded) blasphemy allegation and the poor people who allegedly are suffering so much as cited by the other 2 candidates. If we're to learn anything with what happened to Hillary then it's even more crucial right now for Pak. Ahok to talk to these Muslims to assure them that he's respectful and also to the poor people to explain his actions more and show that he's not an elitist. The annoying thing is that many radical Muslims are blocking his ways when he wanted to visit people so it seems he mostly spends campaign days in his campaign headquarter. This is not good because people coming to see him are already supporting him. What he needs to do is to capture undecided voters and voters currently lost due to attacks aimed at him. It's really important not to be complacent now.

The rules for Jakarta gubernatorial election is that the candidate must win more than 50% of the votes to win the seat. If not then a second round will be held for the top 2 candidates. The ideal situation is for Pak. Ahok to win in 1 round because that will show a strong mandate and seriously another election is a waste of money and time. This election matters for me because I feel just like in America right now, Indonesia is in the process of being divided by intolerant people pushing agenda representing just one group of people. It so happens this group is the majority and for the minority like me, this direction is getting more and more disturbing. I feel that they're encroaching our freedom and rights. The second debate will be held next week on Chinese New Year's Eve, a date which I find to be somewhat inconsiderate to Pak. Ahok who is an ethnic Chinese though perhaps he doesn't mind, but seriously how would Muslims feel if it's held on the eve of Idul Fitri or for the Christians if it's held on Christmas eve. It's like another sign showing they don't care about us the minority Chinese. I will be watching the second debate at home which is perhaps nice watching it with my parents, but I really will miss seeing the funny tweets. I'm totally offline when I get back home. It's really truly enjoyable watching the debate and the live reaction in Twitter.

As for America, truly I am sharing the despair that many Americans feel. You know with the Russian involvement allegation, Donald Trump can just say well it didn't work because there's still more people voting for Hillary, but of course he can't say that, that will just delegitimize himself. Looking at how he's been preparing so far, it's looking bleak for America and that's another reason why I'm worried about Jakarta gubernatorial election. We cannot move backwards with incompetent people. The current governor has to take leave during this campaign period and already the interim governor is making questionable actions. He's like the best campaign tool for the current governor if only people would just see it. Going back to how things used to run is awful and we'll be regressing. We need to move forward and this is not just about competency but it's also about the signal the people is sending regarding tolerance, respect, and appreciation of people who are different from you. Please God help us. Please help all Jakartans make the right decision.

So I'm going back next week. Feeling rather nervous about it. I have so many things to get done before I go. I hope I don't miss out anything. I think I will not have enough time to write again before I go and also because I'm lazy, so I just want to wish you a Happy Chinese New year and happy holidays :D

:) eKa @ 8:36:00 PM • 0 comments

Christmas 2016

Hello guys, how have your Christmas been? I spent it with movie and lunch with la Gioia. I was thinking that last Christmas we most probably did the same thing and I became quiet thankful that I do have a friend to spend the day with. It got me thinking about my friendship with la Gioia. We don't see each other often and though we do tell each other stuff, I don't tell her everything, but still I think we're good enough of a friend. I'm thinking about what happens when the day comes that I leave Singapore. Well she has her friends and family, so I don't think she'll really be so alone. Me on the other hand? Hmmm ... I can't remember how long we've known each other, but throughout all the times that I know her there were friends who come then go. Friends are perhaps a weird term to put it. It's just there were people who I used to spend a lot of time with, but somehow when I kinda stopped asking them out, they never asked me back. It's like I'm forgotten. This kinda thing made me really sad, but such is my luck. La Gioia on the other hand would be the kind of friend who after some time bothers to text me asking if I'm alive. So I do have a bigger appreciation for her. Anyways movie was Passengers and lunch was at Jamie's Italian which was quite expensive, but at least the portion wasn't too tiny. Let's talk about the movie for a bit, I'm also going to talk about La La Land too which I watched yesterday. Please skip the next paragraph if you want to watch it but haven't because there's spoilers. Well I guess perhaps ignore the rest of this post, because many spoilers ahead.

La La Land was pretty good. It was creatively executed. It tells the story of a jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who fell in love when they're a nobody. When they broke up, it launched them to a career trajectory that helped them realize their dreams. In the end they're not together, but they seemed to be in a good place, at least for Emma Stone's character who seemed happy and fulfilled with her family. However there's a scene in the end when they met again years in the future where it seemed there's a lingering sadness of what could have been. This is the part where I'm not so on board with. Sometime you're just not meant to be with certain people, but those people helped you on your ways and you should just be happy for what had happened. Now let's talk about Passengers. It's not as optimal as it could have been, I think. I was expecting more mystery, more intrigue, but there's no such thing. It doesn't have as much sadness and terror of Gravity or perhaps Cast Away though at one point Chris Pratt had a Tom Hanks' look in Cast Away. Then it had a scene towards the end that was reminiscent of one in the end of The Martian, so there's kinda a lot of unoriginal things there. Then I was quite ready for Chris Pratt's character to die, but he didn't and I was just like goodness, come on. I guess the makers just want a happy ending, a love will prevail story, but the struggle wasn't that hard to warrant that for me. Writing that and my thoughts on La La Land, I guess I am perhaps quite heartless :P I asked la Gioia if she would make the same decision as Chris Pratt to wake someone else up so that you wouldn't be alone, she said it's really hard to say you will or will not do it. I guess I'm so used to being alone and lonely that I always think I will fare quite well in such situation. In the Passengers, you actually can still have conversation with the android bartender, so it's not so bad. I thought the situation in The Martian was actually more dire, but it wasn't that depicted in the movie and that's perhaps the reason why The Martian was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, something was supposed to be sad and scary was made not so. Gravity on the other hand excelled in what it's trying to convey, because I would truly be freaked out stranded in space alone. It's unlike the situation in The Martian and Passengers, where one had quite a comfortable living condition. In fact the scary thing in The Martian for me was when the main character had to make the travel alone far from safety. Anyways, perhaps if you think about what happened after the end of Passengers, Chris Pratt's character might actually make the right decision. It wasn't shown in the movie, but perhaps they managed to make a family and life became meaningful and fuller and made even more amazing. Hmmm ... as I write that, perhaps the key to make your life better is to spend it with someone. God know I have prayed *sigh*

That also ties it to things I have been watching these days. Been watching Mr. Robot. In season 2 now. This series is critically acclaimed, but I'm not feeling it much. I do love the main character, Elliot, from the first meeting. It's because I understand his loneliness. I totally get it. In the first episode he talked about how he couldn't control the crying because of the loneliness. I don't cry as much as his character (again perhaps because I'm becoming more heartless), but I always get that restlessness that gets me pretty depressed and I do always think that if it's other people, one might go into drinking or drugs like Elliot. I don't do all that, I just get sad all the time. Anyways, the 8th episode of season 1 is where things got pretty interesting, but as things are revealed more, it kinda went rather downhill for me. It has a bit of The Fight Club theme into it so again I kinda have issue with originality though perhaps this similarity is not intended. The series also makes me wish for the days when they show programmers as people who don't actually prefer working in such a dark environment. Why do they always show hackers like that? I think programmers with their systematic way of thinking would rather have a better working environment with lights and good ventilation, not some dungeon like place. At least for me, but well maybe it's because I'm not that good of a coder myself :D Anyway I'm invested to Elliot now, so he's pretty much the only reason why I keep on watching. I just want him to be alright and happy.

Other things that I watched before this was This is Us which is really really good. I heard good things about it and it's really true, I recommend you to watch this. Some parts of the story tell about these twin and their adopted brother (same birthday) who celebrated their 36th birthday in episode 1. The adopted one, Randall, is actually doing pretty well in life. It's like he's figured it out, a good settled life, the type of life that perhaps the twin and me wish for ourselves. The twin though is not doing so well. Episode 1 showed one of the twin, Kevin, getting quite depressed on his birthday. It made me feel rather comforted to see these 36-year old siblings still feel pretty lost in their lives at that age because they're older than me so I don't feel quite like a failure to be feeling lost in life where I am now, but at the same time I also feel sad for them because I wonder if I would also reach their age and be as equally lost and sad. This series is so heartwarming and nice, quite different from what American TV been offering so far, so please go and watch it peeps. Speaking about being old and lost, I also watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I was quite looking forward for this, but I got pretty disappointed especially at the end towards Rory. Rory is younger than me and I perhaps should give her some slack, but she was so promising and smart, so her life decisions are just so confusing. The ending got me very upset. By the way, I'm so Team Jess in Gilmore Girls. That's where I first saw Milo Ventimiglia and love him ever since :P He's also in This is Us by the way.

Other unimportant things today, the Ya Kun Kaya Toast uncle purposely brought my nutella cheese order himself to me. He remembered me ordering it last time and told me it's the last day it would be served. I don't really talk much to the uncle and aunt there, but since I come in quite a regularity they do remember me and I think they do look out for me and I love them for it. Today the usual auntie who mans the cashier wasn't there when I placed my order, she came after I have ordered and since I didn't order the eggs today I think she kinda asked the other staff if they got my order correct. You know simple things like this do make me happy. Talking about uncles, there are 2 uncles I often see around my block. I think I talked about them before. One is the really slow uncle walking with a walker and another is the uncle in a wheel chair who's kinda weird and have a testy relationship with his maid. I haven't seen them for some time and I wonder if they have died :( I get quite sad when I think about it and also when I saw the shoes repair uncle sitting alone in his spot. Yeah these are my weird observations. Also observed today was workers cleaning windows in buildings. It's Christmas day but they're working, I guess they don't get day off.

What else to say guys. Today being Christmas means 6 days left to this year. It's kinda a deadline for me to really complete plans and stuff. I like this Christmas period because everything feels calmer, more relaxed, jolly even, but then I can see myself being sad and depressed when the new year comes because that means real life and it's shittiness will come and pound us again. They may come even harder as payback for being all nice during Christmas. Yeah, I may sound so pessimistic, it's just the way I am. It's kinda a good thing that Chinese New Year is coming soon. Of course me being me, I hate it how fast all the Christmas commercialization makes way for Chinese New Year commercialization. In Singapore, it's pretty much gonna start tomorrow especially considering Chinese New Year comes pretty early next year. Okay guys, hope you guys have a nicer heart than me and a more hopeful look on everything. Happy holidays! :)

:) eKa @ 9:34:00 PM • 0 comments

Maybe I'm Too Idealistic

Hello guys, how is it going? I shouldn't be blogging right now, but here I am doing it. There were many thoughts swirling in my head these past few weeks that I really wanted to put it down, but as usual laziness took over. Of course it's always a good thing to have a delay before saying everything that pops into your head. We'll see if those thoughts make it to this post. Let's begin.

Finished my 5-book a year goal last week. I am currently reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which will be the first Vietnamese descent writer whose work I read. Chose this to keep the tradition going of reading the year Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Though if I don't finish it by this year end, I guess I'm not keeping with tradition. We'll see if I make it. Anyways, here are the list of books read this year:
  1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Started this late last year and completed it this year. I never intend it to, but many times I ended up reading books with very strong female characters. A Thousand Splendid Suns are centered on these 2 females who bonded under male oppression and Taliban rule. It ends on a hopeful tone, but there's just so many tragedies that I left still feeling really sad.
  2. The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. I watched the movie too, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth. As usual, the book is much better than the movie. Overall this is not a thought-provoking book. I don't find myself highly entertained as well because there's one tragedy that just closes out all hope of a happy ending. It also ends in a hopeful tone, but by that time I didn't care much anymore.
  3. Rain by Barney Campbell. Gosh, another sad book. I love it but it was also sad. I definitely shed tears in this. It tells the story of a UK soldier fighting wars in Afghanistan. It's another book set in Afghanistan that I read this year.
  4. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a weird one for me. I don't really get all the symbolism and such. I've never been in a book club and I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with the pace, but this book might be a good one to discuss with people. It also has a sad ending. I don't know why I end up reading many sad things this year.
  5. Jejak Langkah by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. This and the next book completes my wish of reading The Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. It has been lauded as an exceptional collection of work internationally, but I'm sure not many Indonesians have read this. It is not an easy one to read because it has a lot of nation building thoughts being put into it. It's not done in a lecture kinda way. In fact I think it's trying to make the readers think about these issues too. The story took place long before Indonesian's Independence. In this book the people of Indonesians were learning to organize, but they were also fractioned by things that differentiate them instead of uniting themselves to fight the greater injustice. The quartet is really interesting and I would like to see a TV series on this, but Indonesians film makers tend to ruin things by making them unnecessarily sentimental. I think it's also quite hard to adapt this because though you could just condense the story about the characters, I really think the most important things about these books are the thought-provoking issues and these would be very hard to convey in films without being boring.
  6. Rumah Kaca by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. This book is the last in The Buru Quartet. It took a different approach by telling the story from another person's point of view. One interesting part about the story is that we could see the destruction of a man as he struggled to do things he knew was not the right thing to do. Many times you would want to say to the character, just stop and leave as what your family did, but he stayed on and be miserable throughout the book. There's also a tragic sad ending for the main character. It's one of those thing you know, sad things need to be told as well. Pramoedya Ananta Toer also wrote a strong female character in this book and when other perished, this lady stayed on until the end of the book and regardless of what life threw at her, she just kept on flourishing.
I am fascinated by men who wrote strong female characters. My favorite is of course Ursula from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Why did these men choose to write about these strong women, did they do it subconsciously? Maybe they're just acknowledging that women can just take on some much more. Unfortunately that's not what's happening in America. Last week when the election result was out, it was so depressing that I seriously felt like crying and I'm not even an American. It's not that I'm a big fan of Hillary Clinton, though you gotta admit that she is so admirable. She's taken so many shits in life and she doesn't give up and keeps going. As one of my french teachers would say, elle est formidable (she is formidable). What's sad about the whole thing is that I see those people voting for Donald Trump to have no qualm whatsoever to all the things he said or didn't say and that makes me think they're not good people. I was very sad finding out the Duck Dynasty family endorse him. As the title said, it made me wonder if I was being too idealistic. In the last Indonesian presidential election, my decision was made easy when the presidential candidate, Prabowo, was supported by FPI (The Islamic Defender Front), an organization I viewed as intolerant and should not have existed in Indonesia, but they exist because like in America, we do have freedom of speech in Indonesia. At that time, Prabowo happily took the support and that made it easier for me. Whichever side the FPI supports, I will sure be on the opposite side. So when Ku Klux Klan supports Donald Trump, shouldn't the choice be clear to Americans? Whichever side racist groups stand on, go to the opposite side.

Right now in Indonesia, Jakarta to be exact, we're waiting on the investigation result of whether our current governor (an Indonesian Chinese non-muslim) is guilty of insulting the Quran. Now I have watched the video in question, both the long complete one and the short one. From my point of view, he's saying don't be fooled by people using the Quran verse that says they cannot vote for a non-muslim leader. He didn't say that the Quran verse is foolish. However this was taken by many of his detractors as insults. They rallied the people and so many of these easily flamed out people staged a big protest in Jakarta around 2 weeks ago. Seeing the tweets about this protest is very depressing for me. People are saying things like, we may not pray regularly but when our religion is being attacked, we need to stand up. Seriously? What the fuck are you talking about? If you think Islam is being insulted, you should protest every time a terror group carries out a terrorist attack in the name of Islam, but where are you guys then? Yes, perhaps this is not about the religion, as we know it's all politics. That makes it even more depressing, these power hungry people galvanizing the mass on a weak argument which is bound to destabilize the country. Perhaps people may fault me for using syntax to defend the governor especially since I am also Indonesian Chinese non-muslim, but seriously you should see if there's any ill intent from the governor's side and I would argue there isn't and his actions so far have shown he's unbiased to muslims.

I find what happens in Indonesia currently is similar to what happens in America right now. Many people say it's the white Americans who brought the victory to Donald Trump. White Americans and Indonesians muslims are the majority in America and Indonesia. They already have the most representation everywhere. They don't get hassled as much as the minority. They never experience being targeted simply for being the minority. So why on earth these people still feel like they're being victimized, that they haven't been treated fairly? What's with the anger and all the aggression? Are they just plain selfish, mean, and bad at the core? Yes not all white Americans or Indonesian muslims are bad and intolerant, but right now seeing all these people be open and proud in their intolerant thoughts and actions just give me despair. I think it would make the world a better place if these 2 hate groups could just meet in a field and battle it out. That'll be perfect, they truly hate each other and what each other represents. They can fight it out and leave the rest of us in peace.

Let's change topic. I haven't been going to the cinema much. The last few movies I watched was The Accountant and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. I truly enjoyed The Accountant though the movie has one big flaw, don't tell me the brother took an assignment to kill a person without having a photograph of said person. It's silly, but I guess they needed this lack of information to build the climax. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk was so so for me. What's weird for me and this is a big question I have, do the US military really allow their soldiers to participate in a Halftime show in a way that seems really silly? Love Garrett Hedlund in this movie though, he looks really handsome. The next movie I'm really looking forward to is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I'm glad Eddie Redmayne is in it and he looks great in all the trailers or posters I've seen. He's a really good actor.

I've been feeling rather down these past few ... well years if I want to be honest. Maybe decade if we want to get to it. Seriously though something is wrong with my body internally and this makes me more despondent. I tried to change my diet a bit. It was showing some improvement for a few days, but right now it's going back to being bad. So I'm quite down these days :( I should start plotting on what I want to do next year, but I just don't have the mood to do so. I haven't even planned my Chinese New Year trip back home. I think it would be good for me to spend some time with the family even though they would drive me crazy, but I am thinking of just running away and go somewhere else and be alone. Being alone again after being alone for most of my days do not sound healthy to me, but right now I would like that very much. Yes, mentally I think right now I am spiraling even deeper into that depression hole. I hope you guys are having better days. Take care.

:) eKa @ 7:17:00 PM • 0 comments