The Grass are Brown

Yes indeed. The grass are brown or perhaps they're not brown, they're just dead. I came from no-sunlight Jakarta into unrelentingly hot Singapore. I did feel like the rainy season came early last year and it seems the dry hot season is coming early too. Way way early. Another sign of the hot weather is when you see the bougainvillea blooming gloriously. A little trivia for you: what you may think as the flowers are actually still their leaves. Really, check it out yourself. Their shapes are really similar like their leaves, but they just happen to have colors. Their actual flowers are actually really small surrounded by these colourful leaves. Since it's been really hot, I was thinking if it's their survival skill to bust out these colourful leaves, since I assume these colourful leaves don't really have chlorophyll in them and chlorophyll are needed for photosynthesis. More leaves with chlorophyll means the plants need to get a lot of water and in this hot weather, it's not sustainable. So perhaps this is the bougainvillea first mode of self-preservation before they do what many trees have done, which is to shed their leaves. Well that's my theory, maybe it's all wrong. Other plant observation in this hot weather is how the ground which are normally covered in grass all went brown. We're so early in the year and we're already facing such hot weather. It feels rather scary to imagine how the next months gonna go. During Chinese New Year holiday, the Chinese fortune tellers invited to share their insight on TV in Indonesia did say we should expect for hot dry weather. Not sure if it's the same in Singapore, but we already had another volcano burst out in Indonesia so yeah, kinda scary to imagine more heat coming our way. Anyway, isn't it crazy that there's only a week left in February? We have gone through 2 months in 2014! Time really flies!

Managed to watch a few films in the past 2 weeks. I watched Dallas Buyers Club and I have to applaud Matthew McConaughey. He was so frail and skinny in this film, it's sad and really shows how committed he is into the role. Jared Leto was also awesome, truly truly awesome. It's like there's not a trace of masculinity in the character he played. Overall I thought it was a good film. Then I watched The Wolf of Wall Street in a cinema. Matthew McConaughey also had a small part in it and he was still skinny in the movie. I really really hope he's going to go back to his normal weight soon. It's really disturbing seeing him skinny. A good thing that they're planning Magic Mike 2, so I guess he'll have to go back to his healthy weight for that movie :) The Wolf of Wall Street in Singapore was censored in some parts. I felt 2 parts were cut and I checked and I was correct. The first scene was the sex party that the gay butler had in the condo and the other one was the honeymoon scene in the plane. I'm not sure if there were other scenes which were cut. While I agree that these scenes were obscene as are many other scenes in the movie, I still do not like the fact that a movie get cut. It should be presented in its entirety and if a person feel uncomfortable watching it, they can just walk out. By the way, a part of Delivery Man that I suspected was cut was indeed cut. It was the scene when one of the biological son kissed other guys. I felt more annoyed that these scenes get cut than the scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street because I think the scenes in Delivery Man were pretty harmless, but since Singapore is obviously trying to suppress homosexuality, all these must be thrown away. I wonder how the censorship on these movies goes in Indonesia. Anyway, perhaps because The Wolf of Wall Street is so outrageous, I don't love it much, but I do think it's pretty well made. I also managed to watch The Monuments Men. It wasn't as good or as funny as I expected it to be. They have many good actors in it, but the movie wasn't satisfying for me so it's quite a shame :( It's still a good story though and a good thing that George Clooney brought this story into our attention. The landscape of European culture would have been so different now, if these people hadn't worked hard and risked their lives in preserving all those works of art. Lastly, I watched August: Osage County. Meryl Streep as expected was awesome in it, but I also thought Julia Roberts was great. Wow, August: Osage County is draining to watch with all the family drama :P You will be thankful about how tame your family feel like after watching this, unless your family is worse :P

Another accomplishment I had was that I finished my first book this year. I finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It was interesting as it began with all the mystery, but I thought the conclusion wasn't satisfying. I guess I was expecting more, just like perhaps many of the characters in the book. It kinda made me think of Sherlock series 3. You have so much expectation on how the story would go but at the end, in this case episode 3 of Sherlock series 3, it was so disappointing that you look at series 3 or the book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, as a whole as so-so and even perhaps quite a let down. Anyway, the book I am on now was given by the peeps back home. It's kinda a motivational book which is not my type of book since I detest self-help book. However since I have been feeling all depressed last year, it's perhaps a good thing that my friends got me something to motivate me, especially since I wouldn't choose this myself. It's a book from Ajahn Brahm which in Indonesian is called Si Cacing dan Kotoran Kesayangannya. In English, I think it's called either Opening the Door of Your Heart: And Other Buddhist Tales of Happiness or Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?: Inspiring Stories for Welcoming Life's Difficulties. I first heard of this book from my brother but I have never read it myself until now. It's a collection of short short stories and though I haven't read much, I already felt like being slapped because one of the stories relates to how I often look at my situation, which is a tormenting way of doing it since I obviously feel shitty all the time.

I guess that's about it guys. I wish you great wonderful things in your side of the world :)

:) eKa @ 6:34:00 PM • 0 comments

Writings From Home

Wow only 1 post in January and I disappeared. Laziness for sure and then I went home for Chinese New Year break. Was thinking of writing something before I go, but I was pretty much rushing it out before I left. So anyway, what have I been doing since I last wrote? Well I managed to watch Delivery Man which I suspect had a bit of censorship going on. There was this one part which felt a bit weird, like it was being cut strangely. I also managed to watch HER which I didn't enjoy much. The story actually moved rather slowly. A lot of people think it's touching and stuff and while I think it's nice to have someone who by default you can talk to even though it's a computer, I think having a relationship with an actual human is more worthy of your time. There was a scene which was rather distressing, when Joaquin Phoenix's character realized that the people all around him in the subway station were most probably speaking with their computers. If right now we feel that people are already so dependent on their gadgets, imagine when their gadgets could provide a real sense of companion, people may not feel the need to build a relationship with people and so that's why I felt it was rather distressing. Anyway, here are some things that I managed to write here and there when I was at home. I typed these thoughts using an iPad. It wasn't a fun experience, especially when I had to form HTML tags.

For the 2 weeks I was at home, there wasn't a real blue sky. The sky was always grey and dark. It felt like the 1 hour before sunset and not the romantic kind, the kind where the light was disappearing slowly and this sky was like that from morning to the actual sunset and so it's weird and the sun, no matter how hot it gets here in the tropics, is really something you're going to miss. The mood was just so not encouraging with this kinda of sun and Jakarta was also having a hard time this month with the flood and everything. Thankfully despite the weird crazy rain, the area where my house is was pretty safe. So in the word of the Indonesians which is often uttered by non-Muslims alike, alhamdulillah.

Indonesian Idol is on right now and apparently it's been 10 years. Pretty insane! Didn't enjoy it much, though did see one contestant whom I thought was amazing but stupidly the judges were on the fence to let her through saying she's too young and needs to learn more. Crazy, some of the people they let through weren't even as good as this girl. Anyway, I actually tried to keep up with the latest season of American Idol before I left because Harry Connick Jr was in it and along with JLo and Keith Urban, they were really fun judges. I have to say though that I am always mesmerized by the beautiful eyes of Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr :p

They're still blurring cleavage in Indonesian TV. Last year I wrote about how stupid it was. We're really moving backwards. When I was young, Baywatch and Wonder Woman were actually shown in tv without any censoring. Fast forward around 20 years later to now, so many things will be blurred if they're shown on today's tv. Seriously stupid and seriously we're moving backwards. I hate all the religious pressure into this and all coming from one religion only, which is not representative of the whole of Indonesia.

I was thinking coming back, it gives me a chance to learn more about Indonesian politics so that I'll have a good idea on whom to vote for this coming election. So far though I have learnt nothing. It's gonna be a hard election for me since I don't feel like voting any of the people. Sometime the person is okay, but the party is not really so and sometime the party looks okay but the person has big flaws :( I may end up choosing someone people think really bad. I guess what matters for me these days in Indonesia perhaps more than a cleaner government is to suppress extremism which has its hold in pretty much everything. Perhaps the government loves them because they're a tool to direct the conversation from bigger things, like how shitty our government is.

Anyway who to choose in the upcoming election is like choosing someone to avoid the worse candidate or party to win. A bit like the latest in Indonesian infotainment where the most annoying person there is currently in Indonesia, whom I styled as FuckedUp Abbas, is being sued by another annoying person Ahmad Dhani. I don't like both persons but I have to say that I think it's a good thing that Dhani made a police report for the stupid comments that this guy made towards him and his family when Dhani's 13-year old boy illegally (obviously) drove a car and killed some people in an accident. Yes these are the moronic things Indonesian so called celebrities impose on the Indonesian people and yes Indonesian police apparently deal with I this kinda shit instead of more important things. Also the wife of FuckedUp Abbas has finally got enlightenment that she decided to get a divorce. I do wonder all the time what kind of family stand behind this kind of narcissistic idiot.

I actually got pretty bored at home. Maybe it's the first time feeling so. I actually spent a lot of time playing games on the iPad. Managed to install 3 games and I think I even completed one of them. It's like a mission now to complete all in these 2 weeks time. The games were easy when I started but now it's getting tough. Since they're getting tougher, they've become rather addictive, enough to make me consider the benefit of having an iPad. However then I thought it would be a rather pointless use of my time, I mean I already fill my time with useless things. Filling it more with playing games on the iPad seems even worse. I have to say I can see how this gadget can be so addictive. However when my time came to part with it, I didn't find it hard to let go. Mom got to try it awhile because she was curious about the games I was playing and my cousin on order of my aunt took note of the games I installed so that she can find it for her mom :D

I also experienced a black out, in typical Indonesian fashion. It caused me to go arrrgghh!!! Although I have to say that I wasn't doing anything important. I was basically flipping the channels to watch the different infotainment shows which are still peppering Indonesian TV. Will they ever get old in Indonesia?

I wonder if a child has the right to choose his or her religion. One of the cousin and her kids came by to my house for our traditional prayer before Chinese New Year prayer. She didn't go to her parents' house when her parents were doing the prayer the day before because of the flood situation so when the sky cleared up the day before Chinese New Year, she decided to bring the kids and pray in our house. The kids were young, kindergarten age. The eldest daughter didn't really want to pray but of course the kids were forced to do so. I think the eldest daughter felt it's wrong and against what she believes in / taught in her catholic school. That made me wonder how kids don't really have a choice in what their religion should be, we'll perhaps in countries like Indonesia at least when the belief system is pretty visible in the family. Anyway I had had my own conflict growing up in a traditional praying Chinese family and a Christian school. In the end like now, the two things cease to become a conflict and I just feel comfortable doing 2 prayers equally the same, well perhaps not equally the same. I still run away from overly zealous Christians.

Update: So I asked my cousin about it. She said no, the kids didn't have any moral conflict, so most probably she was just having a temper tantrum. I also want to add that it was refreshing seeing my cousin who's actively serving in his church not trying to draw our family into Christianity and instead he and his wife were pretty okay about my mom and his mom wanting to do the traditional Chinese prayer.

On the topics of kids, I wonder if current Indonesian parents deprive their kids of candies. The little children who came to my house, all seemed to go straight to the candies bowl like they have never seen such treasures in one place before and then the adults with them will always be like no No NO, or only one, only ONE!!! It's kinda sad seeing these kids being denied one of the things that define what being a kid is all about. I wonder if Halloween for kids will ever catch on in Indonesia. Perhaps all the parents will be like it's an abomination.

Blue bajaj. It sounds like a name for a drug or something. Anyway if you're familiar with the transport options in Indonesia, I just want to say that I love the blue bajaj and how I wish all bajaj in Jakarta can change to this blue one who seems to be more environmentally friendly. It runs smoother and with a quieter sound so the trip with it is much more comfortable. Especially since most of them are new, they just look nicer and cleaner. Traffic though was a real nightmare and I am talking about my area. There are just so many people and vehicles. When my mom asked me to walk somewhere, I felt like anytime I could get killed after getting hit by something :( Hate it so much.

The weirdest thing, in one of the tv show, I think the one with the highest rating in the evening, a Muslim mom dared her Muslim son who's the host of the show to pet a dog. That mom looks pious with the Islamic clothing and it's so weird that everyone were just laughing at it and no one sounded a protest. I wonder if the show will get complain or is it just another plot to increase rating?

I was looking for the third and fourth books from the Buru Quartet from Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Last year I found the second book in Gramedia, but this year Gramedia couldn't help me. A shame that they don't stock classic Indonesian literatures. I suppose I have access to the English version of the book, but I would really prefer to read it in the original Indonesian.

My brother was asked if he experiences racism where he works being the place where he works are not known to have many Chinese in it. He said it's actually alright and he said that perhaps it's because he works in the main headquarter in Jakarta. Being Chinese in Indonesia, you do perhaps get one sided seeing how discrimination is, however sadly this time around I witnessed unnecessary rudeness and open intention to discriminate from the Chinese themselves. I feel like I sound self-righteous here, but all this attitude of having to school people or feeling that it's better to be with our own kind are pretty much what fuel the distrust. It's not right. It's totally not right and to see the unwillingness happening in my generation, that's just sad and upsetting :(

Overall I seriously didn't do much, but stay at home despite of me spending longer time in Indonesia this time around. My mom even told me that I didn't go to the cinema this time around. Well yes, I even only went out the mall twice, though I did go to Starbucks twice as well because of the wifi and that truly kinda broke my heart. For some reason spending good money on Starbucks is like a no no for me. A good thing I don't drink coffee. So anyway most of my time was spent sitting down at home. I was telling my cousin that I felt fine with it which is weird because doing that in Singapore normally sends me to the depression hole. My cousin said it's because I am at home. Like even though I am alone at home, I know that my parents will come back from work and I wouldn't be alone and yes that pretty much makes a whole lotta difference. One of the first thing I did at home was laughing wholeheartedly because of what my parents did or said and I know it was a wholehearted laughter because I tried to speak but I couldn't because I couldn't stop laughing. That is really something because I don't think I laugh often in Singapore and even for sure none of those rare moments was with all my heart, more like a polite kind of laughter :(

Before I end this post, here are some pictures I took on this trip. We begin at Changi airport. Being that it's the horse year this year, there's a big Trojan horse like green installation art(?).

Then there's Spongebob and Patrick. There's also Gary too actually. How on earth do I know which one is Gary, well because I heart Spongebob Squarepants.

Then there were these lovely flowers which upon closer inspection turned out to be real! It was put side by side with the fake one though, so at first I was dismissing them as fake.

These next pictures are from home. I only went to the mall twice this time around, both of them in Central Park. First trip to the mall was with mom and dad. Took a picture of this display in Sogo Central Park and a security guard came after me, asking if I didn't see the sign of no photography. What the ... ?!?!? What's up with that Sogo Central Park? What on earth, what if people want to tweet, instagram, facebook your nice store there? I got annoyed but I am still gonna post this picture. I love the flowers sweeping the horse.

Central Park also has some lanterns going on in their little pond and park. Not as amazing as last year it seems. The no zodiac lanterns with the fortune forecast was kinda disappointing for mom.

On the way back, I was intrigued with the light mapping(?) on the mall next door, Taman Anggrek, which sadly I have neglected these past 2 years? I haven't been visiting it at all. The projection seemed pretty cool and upon seeing this picture, I realized that you can tweet them and have your tweet shown on the animation. Very cool.

Second time to Central Park was with the cousin and to meet Dewi and baby Gerald. Somehow I feel the window displays in Jakarta mall are much cooler than in Singapore, of course you cannot compare it to high end stores in Singapore, but generally for middle class stores, the Jakarta's ones seem to be putting more effort.

This last picture is from the ceiling of a small ramen shop the girls had dinner in. I thought it's pretty cool.

:) eKa @ 10:06:00 PM • 0 comments