Tentang Indonesia

So I went back home for Chinese New Year last week and have only arrived back in Singapore on Monday evening. My mental state upon going back home was really bad and there was doubt in me that going back home would recharge my energy. It was pretty strange being home this time around. Obviously Indonesia is a different country but the differences were pretty big that I felt it's like entering another dimension or like a different world where what you know as north is not north anymore. I'm not sure how to explain this. It's the way Indonesians carry themselves perhaps. I spent most of my days in front of the tv so my point of reference are that on tv. People just seem lighter and happier and I think it's because all the things that carry much weight and importance here in Singapore carry less weight back home. People don't seem to fuss as much or stress as much. Of course, there's my family who in general always put happiness first so it's all about taking it easy and not be too burdened over things which they view as not that crucial for my existence. I don't know if I am making any sense.

There were conversations about how I should perceive my current situation. I think the best words came from one of my best friend, Emilia. It made a whole lotta sense and I was feeling like perhaps I could deal with my life but then as I entered Singapore, those feeling evaporated. This was in spite of me seeing really cool rainbows during the early part of my flight in. Rainbow is the sign of God's promise. At that time I was thinking if it's God promising me that all will be alright. I don't know, but this week I've encountered many moments when I feel like I'm ready to give up and I hate that. Giving up is for losers but I don't have the energy to tell myself that we can power through this or even to put some inspirational songs with words like when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So I guess basically after going going back home, I'm still as down as ever being here. February is ending soon. For the past 2 years, I was focusing my energy on something good at this time of the year, but right now all I see are just more bleak days ahead :( So with that, I'm not gonna talk more about my life.

Let's try to talk about things in Indonesia. For the first time, I got really frustrated about how things are done in Indonesia that I feel like I cannot accept that things are this way. Oshie, obviously having been changed by the Indonesian culture after returning home for good, was telling me that I put too much thoughts on things like this. He feels that one will adapt to the ways back home and all these things which one thinks as awful wouldn't be as bothersome anymore. So in no particular order.

1. Indonesian's infotainment. Oh so many people have criticized this but it's like drugs. You just can't quit them. No matter that the different channels show the same news, you just find yourself watching them over and over. Information + Entertainment = Infotainment. It's basically news about celebrity. Very little actual news, more of narration of the news which are used to shape public's opinion on certain happening or people. When I was there, the news that took over the infotainment every day was of a young Indonesian celebrity by the name of Raffi Ahmad. Apparently he was found to be using drugs and people were rallying wanting him to be set free. He had to spend his birthday in police's custody and on one of the tv shows that he hosted daily, his fans, family, and colleagues were like crying and saying that they hoped he would be set free soon. There were crying like the guy had died. They hope that he wouldn't face criminal charges and they argue that drugs user should be helped and rehabilitated instead of being punished. Perhaps there is some truth in that being the best course of action for drug users. However all these adoration (he got at least 2 songs made for him) putting him as being vilified annoyed me so. He did wrong and all these people want him to be set free on the basis that he's a good guy. Good guy or not, he definitely knew what he was doing and he chose the wrong thing. There should be consequences for that. Why is the public opinion so skewed that they do not seem to see he's wrong. If they want to support him, they shouldn't demand for his release but instead be there during all the legal proceedings. He shouldn't be able to just walk away free. What are we teaching all the young kids who watch him everyday and actually like him. Not to worry if you do something bad because if you're famous, people will love you anyway and demand for your release? It's like the case of the singer Ariel, who was thrown into jail for having his sex tapes leaked out. While I disagree about the court decision for putting him in jail - since he wasn't the one who distributed the tapes - I hated the public's reaction that still worship him. The guy is an ass and people still rallied around him like what he did with the so many different girls are not bad? In Indonesia, the compass feels like it doesn't point north. On the other hand, I have to say that all these do show one good aspect about Indonesian, that it's less about judging, that people can be really supportive no matter how big the mistakes you make. I have to note though, that this privileges are only for the really famous ones and people who appears nice. There was a small news about a guy who was taken into custody on complains that he assaulted his celebrity girlfriend. I didn't see people rallying around him. He's not that famous. I didn't even really know him or the girlfriend.

2. On the other side of Raffi Ahmad's case is Rasyid Rajasa. He's the son of an Indonesian's minister. His sister also happens to be married to the president's son. He was involved in an accident that killed some people during the new year. He wasn't using drugs and he denied of being sleepy on the wheel. Perhaps it was just one of those thing that happened. Here people are demanding that he doesn't get preferential treatment. The thing is, if it happens to be a common people involved in the accident, as long as the victim's family are happy with the compensation that surely will have been discussed, the person can usually walk free. For Rasyid's case, it seems he and his family had been very responsible in the aftermath of the accident. Unfortunately since his dad is famous and he's under the public scrutiny, he still has to go through the legal preceeding. It is a pity that this guy may lose some part of his life in prison. It is the right thing though if he goes to prison. However I just feel that it's rather sad that if it had been other people, this case would have been closed and people can just move on with their lives.

3. Still on Indonesian tv. I suddenly realized that they blur any cleavage showing on tv. I was like, whaaaaaat!?! Not that I love cleavage a lot or anything. I just think it's stupid. I even think Indonesian women should do a protest and wear cleavage revealing dresses, but then I think I wouldn't participate in that. It's just me though, I am not confident showing my cleavage around. Noone needs to tell me but I know that the reason why cleavage is being blurred on tv is because the people on top (obviously being pressured by the major religious group) are forced to censor it because it can be a bad influence for youngsters and somehow encourage young women to dress that way. What is crazy is that you can be overly sexy even if you are fully dressed. I was watching another tv show where there were guys and women who were dressed politely, but then they started gyrating like crazy. These things don't get cut. Seriously? I would be more afraid and be totally embarrassed if young kids emulate this. It's not just the cleavage, it's a hand holding a cigarette and other things. One time I happened to stumble to this korean drama on tv and half of my tv screen was blurred and at first I thought there was just something wrong with the video they were showing and then I realized it was all the drink bottles because the scene was in a bar. At this rate, it's possible that one day you only hear sounds like watching a radio with everything is being blurred out. Also, these things don't actually deter celebrities being out there showing their cleavages or smoking or hanging out at clubs drinking. So whatever thing the people censoring these things trying to achieve, it's all so futile. It's ridiculous and it's sad. It was already sad that many years back they started cutting out kissing scene. When I was young, the tv wasn't like this, there was kissing scenes on tv and english cartoons are not subbed but we have subtitles. It's also one of my annoyance. Cartoons in english are subbed. Why is this? Kids can learn both english and read better if it's subtitled instead. Isn't it a good thing? Some kids don't have good access to english education and seriously Indonesian curriculum on english is weak. Instead what we have is Malaysian cartoons in malay being able to air in its original language with Indonesian subtitles. Why is this? Another ridiculous thing. Especially since I will tell people who's thinking of learning either Malay or Indonesian, to choose Indonesian instead, since there are more Indonesians than the whole malay speaking population in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. Learning Indonesian will be more advantageous.

4. I told you I watch a lot of tv in Indonesia. It's fun to watch American Idol since it's not on the local tv in Singapore. Darn how Ryan Seacrest looks much older now. Then there's X-Factor Indonesia which I was pretty curious about. They got Anggun in as one of the judges and I have mix feeling about her. It's a difficult thing with X-Factor. I think the goal should be getting a singer which can have a shot of being famous internationally. The talents are not the problem. I think all the final contestants are really talented except for perhaps 1 girl group. The thing is the judges are perhaps still having an Indonesian view of the whole thing instead of aiming higher. Even Anggun who supposed to be bringing the international exposure doesn't seem to be bringing much of it in so far. Well it's just my opinion. I wonder if there is much that she can bring actually. France is not actually dominating the world music landscape right now, so her experience and knowledge may be just as much as the rest of the judges. So for so much hype surrounding her, I just feel not so satisfied with what she brings to the table. I don't think the winner will be from her group. Personally I am rooting for Shena from Rossa's group. The interaction between the judges are pretty funny and it's great that way. That should be where the Indonesian flavor is. As for the contestants, hopefully they'll get better. Another thing which is a shame about Indonesian tv (oh I have many) is in relation to the hour they are showing their programmes. X-Factor is showing at 9pm and with the way things are run in Indonesia, they can run until after midnight. Isn't this suppose to be a family show where the whole family can enjoy and watch together? Don't people need to sleep to go to work the next day? Alright it's on Friday night that people perhaps don't work on Saturday but don't we also have kids that sleep earlier? Why don't they push it down to 8 pm or 07.30 pm and aim to finish at 10.30 pm the latest? I wonder who ends up watching X-Factor Indonesia. Anyway as in America, we also have The Voice Indonesia, which I think do (try to) start at 8 pm, a smart move. I like watching this because the people coming for audition are already good so I get to be in awe of the talents in Indonesia. I am most surprised with how the people chose the judges. I would have thought many people would have chosen Glenn because he's awesome. That wasn't the case. Giring was like a version of Adam Levine, who turns his chair most of the time. Again, the interaction between the judges, especially the 3 male judges are great. One thing I learn after watching the indonesian version of X-Factor and The Voice is these shows are not necessarily that good for the artists. In The Voice, the judges chose people whom they feel they can work with and understand. The judges' influence will ultimately change certain things about the artists. In X-Factor, the judges have a lot of influence in packaging the artists, not necessarily to what the core of the artists is. So to keep that core, perhaps it's better to join Idol where the artists fight on their own, they can keep as much of themselves and not be changed in the direction which are not really them in the first place.

5. Indonesian politics. Since I don't live in Indonesia, my exposure of it are very little. Being back, it gets pretty overwhelming. People are already declaring that they want to be president since last year, 2 years before election in 2014. I don't recall it was this way like a decade, 2 decades ago. I am very disappointed with the people who get voted into positions in the government, what with the corruption charges and scandals all around. When I was there last week, the hype was surrounding Anas Urbaningrum who at that time was the chairman of the democratic party, the party where our current president hails from. There was investigation that he might be involved in corruption but wasn't named suspect yet. The guy felt like since he's not guilty and not named a suspect yet, he would stand firm in his place as chairman despite of news about him floating around and obviously damaging the reputation of the party. It was bad enough that the council of the party including the president had to convene specially to discuss the next step. I think he should have just resigned. He was putting his interest first instead of the party and that's like the position many of these people are taking, putting them first than the greater good. It's disappointing and not encouraging to see how our country can move in a better direction. This week, he's finally named a suspect and he finally resigned in his post. I feel pessimistic about things moving forward. I feel pessimistic about having good candidates for presidency next year. I think it's possible that the president comes from a different party that will occupy the parliament, which will make governing difficult, but that is just the way Indonesian politics is. I wonder why people can't just be sincere in their post serving the people. It's disappointing that for some reason people get changed when they have power. It's also frustrating that there are stupid people who's saying stupid unimportant things for I believe personal fame, like (Shut the) Fucked-Up Abbas (I will style his name this way) and make themselves appear like they're a representative of what Indonesians want. They make us look stupid to the outside world and I believe we are not that idiotic.

6. Things I don't understand or amuse me. There are things that I don't understand or amuse me in Jakarta.
People start the day super early in Indonesia. My parents like wake up at 3. The day ends late too in Jakarta. I can still hear the sound of the bajaj at close to midnight. How much sleep do people have? How do they function?
The sky behind my aunt's house light up in different colors at night. That's because there's a mall behind behind there with big white screen that shows advertisement at night. On my way home from the airport, my taxi passed the mall and we had to wait for the traffic light and it was really something watching that big screen. It feels weird at the same time. It's weird how bright the skyline behind my aunt's house get, what with the big bright building visible as well.
I got a glimpse of some fireworks from my house the saturday before chinese new year. I was most delighted. I don't think it's particularly for chinese new year. Indonesian chinese tend to try to stay low key. The popping sound was all around and the fireworks appear from different sides. I couldn't figure out where they came from, the one I saw was from one side of my house but mom saw another from a different side of the house when she was in the rooftop. I was guessing that there's a fireworks factory nearby which is both unlikely and likely at the same time. Then I came to the most logical explanation that I can think of, it's for a wedding. That would explain that my parents said they often go off during weekend.
Indonesian's economy is said to be doing well. It seems so but I don't get how. I went to the mall and there are many shops which employ many people. Some shops even have their own personal security guard. There weren't many customers when I was there though so I wonder how do these shops sustain themselves. I wonder how things work.
Speaking of the mall, I spent all of it in Central Park this time around. I got disoriented the first time I was there. I felt weird with things. I became a pompous ass for speaking in english when I asked for things because it was more natural for me. I do try though not to do that. The good thing was that the people I spoke to seemed to be able to understand what I'm saying. I have to say that people who work in the service line in Indonesia are pretty amazing and chirpy. I went for dinner with my best friends. They are not actually easy to deal with (according to me) but the waiter and waitresses were great. It could be because all Indonesian can be really demanding in restaurants so it was usual for them, but for me I think they wouldn't be handled as well in Singapore :P I also watched Django Unchained back at home and the people who sold me the ticket and in charge of the entrance were really nice and made sure I got my ticket right and know where the toilet is and all. They took time to explain things and made sure everything is good for us. You don't get this much attention in Singapore.

7. So I watched Django Unchained in Central Park. It is that rare moment when Indonesia gets a showing of a movie way ahead than Singapore. The cinema in Central Park wasn't bad but wasn't as amazing as the one in Taman Anggrek Mall that I experienced last year. Django Unchained is truly a Quentin Tarantino's movie. It was pretty entertaining. I particularly like Christoph Waltz's character Dr. King Schultz. I think he's the real hero despite of the movie is called Django. I don't think the movie represents slavery well as many critics have pointed out. Does it make fun of the African American? I'm not an african american to answer that. I did feel like rolling my eyes when during the shooting scene by Django in the house, rap song was used to illustrate the scene. I felt it's like playing to the stereotype.

I'm pretty sure there are more things in my head that I didn't get to write down. It was rather difficult to be in Indonesia this time around, to accept how things are. As much as I am so ready to leave Singapore, I feel like I cannot live in Indonesia as well. Maybe I'll adapt. I don't know. It just feels depressing feeling like you cannot be anywhere :(

Back in Singapore, I made it to the movie too. I watch Lincoln yesterday. I think the scriptwriter is amazing. The lines were so witty and I was really entertained. I wonder if they really spoke that way that time. I know nothing about American history and I was surprised that it was the republican party who pushed for the end of slavery. Especially considering that these days they were hesitant about having the first black american president and the first american president came from the democratic party and the south which at Lincoln's period should be leaning more democratic is now more republican. Hundred of years can really do change thing. Daniel Day Lewis was of course a fine actor, but I think the best actor there was Tommy Lee Jones. His competition for Oscar is rather hard, but I really love how he played his character in Lincoln. It is interesting to watch how the politics work. I think some things never changed. It was really funny watching the lobbyist working the vote :D It's definitely not the movie for everyone but if you want to watch something smarter, I do recommend you watch it.

So I've watched all the movies nominated for this year's Oscar best picture except for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The one I like the most is Silver Linings Playbook, simply because it's an uplifting story about normal crazy people. I mean we all get crazy in our head sometime, don't we? My order from the one I like the most would be: Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Les Misérables, and Amour. I think the one who should win is Lincoln though. I think everything about the movie, actors, direction, were just great and it just has an awesome story to tell.

So this is where I stop. I really hope your days ahead are great. I know how it's like to be really sad so I wish all of you to be happy and hopefully somewhere in the universe, someone is wishing for my heart to be happy too.

:) eKa @ 1:49:00 PM • 2 comments