Post Chinese New Year Break

Hello guys, how is it going? How was your Chinese New Year break? I came back last week and life has taken its usual dull ways. Pretty immediately I'm having trouble sleeping. When I was home my cousin who could sleep easily asked me what I'm thinking about that I couldn't sleep. Most of the time, I think about how I really need to sleep actually. It's weird, I get sleepy and all but when it's time to lie down, my brain is just so awake that I have a hard time to fall asleep and then when I do I either get weird unpleasant dreams, I get awoken way earlier than I want to and then have difficulty sleeping again and when I finally sleep it's time to really wake up, or on the even annoying situation like one early morning this week, I just suddenly got awoken way early and started sneezing. So yeah what I think about during those time is please please God let me sleep. The sneezing is something I've been having since I'm back. I don't know if I'm like down with something or there's just something in the air that I'm allergic too. Well, it's back to the usual life with all its things for me to complain about. Let's just talk about what I did at home.

I pretty much didn't do anything at home. Brought my kanji notebook with the intention of getting some learning done, but I didn't open that book even once. If I had learned 5 words a day, I would have gotten quite a few words, but I didn't. I was so lazy. Indonesian TV which still contain a lot of rubbish really did entertain me. I found myself liking Upin & Ipin and made sure to be ready to watch it during its block screening twice a day. I enjoy it most when they're telling stories about their kampung (village) life, not so much when they're imagining things like fighting alien and such. My mom likes to watch Indian TV drama. The recent craze is Indian and Turkish TV drama. I wonder who watches these things. There's my mom and when I find out that even my aunt and uncle watch them, I think yeah I guess you just put this on TV and people will just watch it. It's hopeless to think of irresponsible Indonesian TV channels who time and time again are providing brainless content.

One of the thing that irked me the most was when I saw a Chinese New Year themed content on TV that I think is offensive. First of all, during Chinese New Year, all the TV channels pretty much show the same content as the year before, there's the segment on Chinese new year decoration and Indonesian Chinese tradition, the prediction of the zodiac, the coverage on the different temples, then how Indonesian Chinese celebrities are celebrating Chinese New Year. Every year it's the same. I wonder if that's all there is to it. All that maybe boring, but not offensive. Then I saw Pesbukers on ANTV. A TV programme whose existence I don't know what ever for. In their Chinese New Year themed content, they had these people who are non-Chinese Indonesian in silly Chinese costumes, of course talking in weirdly accented Indonesian which doesn't represent Indonesian Chinese at all. I don't know why these people keep on insisting to show that Indonesian Chinese speak like Mei Mei in Upin & Ipin. Maybe Malaysian Chinese speak Malay like that, but I hardly find Indonesian Chinese speaking like that. I speak Indonesian like a Jakartan and Indonesian Chinese in Java speak Indonesian with a Javanese accent, so all this time portraying us speaking Indonesian with a weird accent is getting old and now just feel insulting. The most offensive of all however was when their 2 hosts appeared with tape (not a very good one at that) on their eyes to make it slanted and made fun of that. WHAT THE FUCK?!?! I was really offended by that and I came to think of blackface in America. I tried to calm down and asked myself, do I find it offensive because of my knowledge that blackface is offensive in America? Am I using American standard to find this portrayal of Indonesian Chinese in Indonesia to be offensive? I wanted to ask my parents how they feel about it but I didn't because I didn't know how best to phrase this. To be fair this kinda thing don't get discussed. As Indonesian Chinese we have bigger issues to be concerned about. I know that discrimination or fear of being targeted for being Chinese is still a constant worry for my parents or many Indonesian Chinese. So if these non-Chinese are going to make fun of us, it's so small compared to the bigger issues, so let them be? Perhaps that's the mentality that they have.

However, the more I think of it, the more I think it's not right. Why is the physicality of a Chinese be the butt of the joke? Why is it funny to make fun of how we look or perhaps talk? Both things are not characteristics that I and many Indonesian Chinese have. Again, I speak Indonesian without any weird accent and I have big eyes with double eye lid that I'm grateful for. So these portrayal are inaccurate and they use this for the purpose of being comical. It's not right to make fun of these aspects of us and it's disappointing that some of the hosts who have Chinese wife or brother with small slanted eyes are okay with it and laughing with it. If the table is turned, for example if they start appearing in blackface to portray people from Papua or if a Indonesian Chinese start to accentuate certain aspects of a Javanese to make it funny or idiotic, will it not be deemed as offensive? I hate how this is happening in Indonesian TV. The TV show is popular, that's why it's on the air for so long. The hosts are like influencers since they have a lot of fans. However they are irresponsible influencers for not using their brains. I don't care if they have another show on TV where they all like drama mama crying their eyes out trying to help poor people. I think when you know what you say and do can influence people, you need to be genuine and be smart about what you say and do. There's no denying that there's a need for the whole country to change its mindset, just like what our President says time and time again with his #RevolusiMental (Mental Evolution). There are many things that we Indonesian should change and people on TV could help a lot on the cultural aspect. First simply by watching what they say and do and next by seriously providing good content where Indonesian can actually learn something from TV *sigh* Every time I go home, I seem to always have things to complain about Indonesian TV :(

Still on Indonesian TV, when I was home I sometime watched Dangdut Academy in Indosiar. It's a singing competition specifically for the Dangdut music genre which I don't like. I normally skipped the singing part and watched when the judges and commentators commented the performance. Yes they have both judges and commentators and they don't care about duration, they would just talk and talk and so the actual commenting is longer than the performance and for like 6 performers every day, I think the show runs for 4-5 hours live. Indosiar for some reason is good at this stuff. Either they don't feel like buying content or it's actually cheaper to just do this every day where everything is in the same set and the routine is more or less the same. Why I like the commenting part is because sometime they're really funny and also the commentators, the Gunarso family (Ivan Gunawan, Nassar, Soimah) actually have really good things to say. These 3 people would comment on the costume, performance, and vocal. You know how very often in a singing show the judges would make comment like you sound pitchy, sharp, etc and the contestant would be like nodding their head like they understand everything being said, well in this competition with the 3 commentators, they would pin point exactly what's wrong and then show how it can be fixed. Why a certain dress is of the wrong length, why the hair or accessories is of the wrong style. What's wrong when the contestant is walking down the stairs, how to pose, or move their bodies. Also how to fix the vocal on parts of the song, the commentators will show them what should be done and ask the contestant to try it on the spot. Yes perhaps this should be done off stage before the performance, but seeing these actual critics and how to fix it is very informative and as much as they are very silly, these commentators really know their stuff and their feedback are always very useful, you actually learn something. I found it refreshing because instead of comments that can be abstract, you actually see it in practice and you can see how the performance could be made better.

Also still on TV, one night I flipped the channel and it landed on these discussion on LGBT in Indonesia. I don't know if it's like a cause of concerns in Indonesia currently, it seems so that's why they're having the discussion. One would think we have more serious and pressing issues to deal with, but there it was. People in LGBT community all over the world might be disappointed with the acceptance level of LGBT in Indonesia. As I was watching it listening to the lady making her points that it's the fault of the family for not guiding their children to the straight path, I thought of how when the majority of the culture is thinking this way, one could really be conditioned to reject LGBT. Maybe I wouldn't have been as liberal if I have lived this past decade in Indonesia, not that there's a big acceptance itself here in Singapore. It's not the first time I heard of the argument that lady who I think is a psychologist made. I've heard another Indonesian doctor said the same thing, about how parents should steer sons to masculine activities since young and girls to feminine activities. It is a complex things with LGBT. One side would like to be able to live their lives openly and the other side would like to preserve what they think to be a righteous life which would be difficult if you have gay couples out openly in public holding hands and such. You can't deny the effect this will have on children. Kids would think it's alright to be gay when their parents are trying to steer them to be straight. I think perhaps what would help in Indonesia is to have a gay person in public who is decent and successful. If this person can gain the respect of the society then it might help to open bigger acceptance for others. I do feel sad when in Indonesia it seems it's alright to marginalize these people and I know for sure there's group who think violence is not an over the top reaction for this group *sigh* I really hope Indonesians can treat others with respect and care regardless of what they are.

Okay now, let's talk about something positive in Indonesia. Mom told me to go to the bank. I went to the same BCA Tomang Raya that I wrote about some years back, or maybe last year I can't remember. Let me first just say that I'm just a normal customer, not some privilege premium banking customer. Perhaps in Indonesia when you're some privilege premium banking client, the bank will come to you instead of you having to come to the bank. So anyway, arrived at the bank with dad in motorcycle. Perhaps it's a slow day that the security officer at the parking lot didn't have anyone to shelter with his umbrella that he approached me and tried to shelter me from the not so hot sun. I felt weird but since the last time I was there I didn't get this treatment, I can't deny I was secretly pleased. I wonder if they would provide more people doing this when it's a rainy day. The security officer was so friendly with his greeting and then of course there's someone to open the door who's also all so friendly with his greeting. I had to go to the second floor where another security officer greeted me with all friendliness and asked if he could help me. I said I was fine and went to do my thing. There wasn't any queue so that was great which also meant there wasn't enough time for the office boy to come around and offered people drinks. I did my thing and once I was done, the teller in all friendliness asked if there's anything else she can help me with, thank you for coming, hope I have a good morning, and hope I'm successful in what I do. That last part is weird when translated in English but sounds so right in Indonesian. I have written before how in Western countries I often get stumped when people in service started saying things like hi, hello how are you, thank you for coming, have a great day, etc. Now in Indonesia, I was again stumped with all these Indonesian friendliness. I wasn't prepared to answer, how do I answer with all that. Mind you this happened 3 more times with all the security officers I met on my way out, thank you for coming, have a good morning, great success to you. They also sometime put their hands together and gave a slight bow. Truly I was overwhelmed with Indonesian friendliness. It's really good they did all that. It was just bad of me not being able to respond properly. In my defense this past decade in Singapore don't prepare me or condition me for such pleasantries. Seriously, I went to the DBS bank here in Singapore last week and I don't recall any greeting, no thank you for coming, and the teller didn't ask if there's anything else she can help me with when I was done. The queue was long and there was nothing to help ease the boredom, no one offering drinks or snack. I guess at least some of us got to sit. One curious thing I notice in BCA Indonesia is that, aside from the teller there's this staff who sometime get called by the teller and that day it was a lady, she then had to give her fingerprint on a device. I guess it's an extra layer of protection but I wonder what kind of transaction requires this other staff to give her fingerprint.

By the way, this greeting of hoping success for someone was like the first time I encountered in Indonesia. I wonder if it's the common thing now when I heard it for the second time from the Blue Bird taxi driver who took me to the airport. I'm not a Muslim, but I can't deny feeling comforted when he said, Bismillah, as we started driving. People who believe in God, who's not an over zealous extremist, really do make me feel comforted. Anyway for the first time, the taxi driver actually told me to pay less. The fare was 155,000 IDR and he said just give him 150,000 IDR. However I was already planning to give him 170,000 IDR. He was stunned with the extra and told me it's quite a lot. I said it's alright and it made me think. If something should happen to the plane I'm on, at least one of the last thing I did was something nice to a person. I think I should really do this from now on. If I'm going to leave on a journey, the last things I do should be something really nice. Anyway, the fare might be too steep for one of my aunt who's Uber crazy. She loves taking Uber everywhere. We used Uber when we had to go to the airport for our day trip to Bangka and it cost less than half of what I paid.

So yes, me, mom, and my aunt went to Bangka for a day trip. Some people who heard thought it was crazy, but it's totally doable. I'm actually very interested to do a day trip Singapore - Jakarta one of these days. That sounds crazier. Anyway it's mom's last minute crazy idea. Mom loves first flight out which means 6 am something which I dislike. The getting ready in the morning is totally not fun. The flight back to Jakarta was supposed to be 6.30 pm something, but it got re-scheduled around an 1 hour later and it's also delayed like half an hour later. It was a very tiring wait. We went on the third day of Chinese New Year. Some parts of Bangka were actually flooded during Chinese New Year because of heavy rain, including one of my cousin's house. It was very sad, the damage was pretty devastating. We're picked up by another cousin's husband and he and their family proceeded to take us around that day. It was my first time meeting them actually. First stop was a noodle stop. It's like this cousin's husband read my aunt's mind. I was so surprised. I was expecting the standard noodle in a bowl, but then we got a dry darker colored noodle in a plate with a side of soup filled with very tasty different kind of fish balls thing. I was like, I grew up in a Bangka household and that was the first I discovered this, what on earth is happening? The whole thing was really delicious. The place was packed and as we waited for the takeaway order for my cousin, I curiously observed how the dishes were made. A lot of msg was used which was not a surprise, but perhaps it's alright once awhile since it was really really good. Anyways, the day continued with visiting several places. We went to my grandfather's village both from mom and dad side. I was thinking that this was perhaps the most rural of Indonesia I've been and yet it's not so rural. There's electricity and the road was well paved. It's just it's not one house next to each other like in the city. It's one house, open space, another house and so on. There are large green areas and there's no fences or gates. My mom's village seemed to be quieter. I feel it's like what happened when all the young people have gone away and only older people are left, but perhaps I was wrong. Maybe it just so happened it was quiet that day. My dad's village seems to be have more youths in it. Well my cousin who lives there do have young kids. It was different seeing them now. I can't remember when the last time I was there. Maybe it's been 3-5 years on another day trip to Bangka, but with my dad. My aunt was still alive then. Anyway, we also went to a big pagoda temple like compound near my dad's village. You can see the white open sea from there. Pretty nice but it was a cloudy drizzly day that day. We didn't do many thing aside from visiting family members. The one thing which wasn't so nice was that I get bitten by a lot of mosquitoes, aedes aegypti kind which made wonder if the zika and dengue virus could co-exist, or if it would just destroy each other, or will it make some kind of super virus. I just attract mosquito, I don't know why. Everyone was okay, but not me, I attract them like magnet. As much as it will hurt, I actually wouldn't mind to participate in a study to find out why people like me just attracts mosquitoes :(

March is coming which means the inevitable is happening. I'm getting older. These days I'm mostly on the down swing of mood where I feel pessimistic and overwhelmed with the things I have to do :( This is despite of many things have turned out okay for me and some things have turned out wonderful. I guess I just cannot shake the feeling that my luck would run out and a disaster would strike me. Paulo Coelho wrote that some people just don't believe that they deserve the blessing that they get. I guess I'm one of those people :| As usual I guess I just need to be brave and march on to the journey I choose for me and know I will love it as I always do.

:) eKa @ 5:22:00 PM •


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