Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Fountain Pen

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We bought two wall units from the charity shop.

It wasn’t because we were trying to be frivolous. We have more than four hundred books among us, and only had one wobbly bookshelf which could break apart in any moment. Buying more shelving units to store our books was a necessity. But they were beautiful wall units and we love seeing them there. It’s one step closer to our dream of building our home library.

Oh yeah. One day.

But we needed to make space for those wall units. So we had an emergency summer purge last week. As usual, we ended up with a big bag of crap we could have thrown away ages ago, but lingered there collecting dust. We also ended up finding stuff that we thought we’ve lost, or something we even forgot ever having.

Mr. Fix-It came out from the spare room (the soon to be our library), smiling happy and looking smug, telling me that he got something for me. From his pocket he produced a pink-purple fountain pen.

“Oh!! You found my pen!!” I squealed.

“Oh! It was yours?” he was surprised.

I bought the pen when I was still studying few years ago. I saw one at WHS, and it was cheap. I thought it was really nice to have a fountain pen in my collection. I didn’t think it through, of course, what I was going to do with all my stuff if I had to leave this country for good. Maybe that’s the reason why it ended up in the pile of crap my husband was trying to purge.

“I couldn’t find the ink”, I said feeling a little bit upset. I wanted to give my pen a try. Hoping that it still works.

It took a while to rummage through my little box of possession. I have to say, I don’t have much of it any more. I would like to talk about it but probably not today… And the whole bag of ink cartridges wasn’t there.

***

We went to the city this weekend, and ended up buying another bag of ink cartridge for my fountain pen. Mt. Fix-It insisted that he’s going to pay for it. It was not too expensive so I let him.

The cartridge fits properly, and I had fun with it for a while — listening to the radio, and trying to write as fast as possible any words I could catch from the BBC radio 4 news. And suddenly I’ve got a flashback, and I remember my grandfather.

I haven’t had a thought of him for ages. I used to talk about him a lot when I talk about family. But it seems like it becomes less and less. It’s not because I found him less important now than before, but it’s because more and more happens, and more recent stuff sticks better to my memory bank. But the fountain pen triggers my memory about my grandfather.

My grandfather is a flamboyant man with a penchant of art, and music. One of his favourite thing to pass the time was copying interesting articles from the newspaper. Now you know why writing random words from the news reminded me of my grandfather.

His favourite pen was a silver fountain pen. Unlike my cheap fountain pen with disposable ink cartridge, my grandfather’s silver pen could be refilled. He gave it to me. I lost it after his death in 1996.

It feels bittersweet now that I remember him, but I am glad that I can still remember him. The best side of him. I even feel slightly proud knowing that there’s a part of him that stuck in me: a penchant of finer things in life — such as fountain pen.

Wow. I haven’t felt like this for ages, and suddenly have the torrent of emotion out in a writing form feels extremely good. I almost forget how it feels to be able to do this after being absent from blogging for some times. Hopefully I could do this more, because I think I do need this for the sake of my mental health. Tee hee.

Oh well.. Until next time.

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Book Review: Norwegian Wood

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Title: Norwegian Wood
Author: Haruki Murakami
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review;
Listening to The Beatles’ song Norwegian Wood, Toru Watanabe was reminded of his life when he was a Drama student in one of the universities in Tokyo. The year was the late 60s and the early 70s, and Watanabe’s life was among the modern youth movement, more and more books, great musics (which is entirely subjective to my taste. Yay!) and of course the adventure of casual sex. It was also the year of self discovery, and when Watanabe found himself in between the past and the present.

This is the first book by Haruki Murakami I have ever read. Yes. Isn’t it just surprising?

I have heard about this book for ages, and I would love to read it. From the reviews I have seen before, the readers have given this a really high recommendation. Of course I have a really huge expectation when I started to read this book, and I know I should not have done it. But never mind, this book has fulfilled my expectation anyway. I was not disappointed at all.

The book was narrated by the main character Toru Watanabe. It was interesting to access the mind of a introvert teenage boy discovering life and growing up. I found it so easy to like Watanabe, and most of other characters in the book. Heck, I love all the characters in the book, not necessarily like them, but love them nonetheless — even the most vile ones.

 

I love how this novel was written. It was written in a no-nonsense, simple, and straight forward attitude (you know like how a teenage student would), and yet it was beautifully penned (or typed…). I can still feel the presence of cultural influence, although it was translated to English (unfortunately I can’t speak Japanese 😦 ), I can still enjoy the detailed description of the picturesque Japanese countryside or the busy Tokyo.

I thoroughly enjoyed the humour. It has touched my darkest sense of humour like no other novel has ever done before. It was witty, and funny, and it could depict the most profane sex scene without being crass (if that makes sense?).

Do you know what? I can’t believe it was written only a couple of years after I was born. I can’t believe that this book is almost as old as I am and yet it seems so modern. The story feels so relevant and incredibly easy to relate even today. I am not surprised that this is considered as one classics everybody should read. I am not surprised that Murakami has been considered as one of the best living legend in the world literature history.

Obviously, I would recommend this book to everybody who hasn’t read this. I might be the last person in the world that hasn’t read this book, but if there’s the next generation reading this review, I would still want them to read this book. This is definitely one book you have to read before you die. And I would rate it 5 stars out of 5.

 

Kitchen And Women in Cultural Discourse

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Despite the fact that percentage-wise there were more famous male celebrity chefs on telly than female chefs, kitchen has always been associated with women. The never ending, and a little bit tired joke about sending women back or chaining them to the kitchen doesn’t help either. I don’t mind being in the kitchen here in my house in the UK, but somehow I feel slightly uneasy to visit the kitchen of our family home in Solo.

I did not understand why. I thought it was just merely because we had a couple of helpers to do all the cooking and cleaning, and our grandmother was pretty strict about who’s being the queen of the kitchen — that I tend to leave the kitchen alone. But I realised that that was not it after being unemployed for some times and spending many hours watching architecture and house moving programme on telly.

I realised that kitchen functions quite differently here in the UK and in Indonesia.

In the UK, kitchen is considered as the heart of the house. It is something to brag about. It is located usually quite close to the main entrance or just next to the garden. It is the place with the highest activity rate: breakfast bar, cooking, coffee-chatting, etc. You would not think twice to invite your friend to see your kitchen, showing off your new hob or just for to get a cuppa. You love your kitchen, everybody loves your kitchen.

In Indonesia, kitchen is a hidden place. You don’t speak kitchen in the living room. It is in the back of the house, where all the dark secret of the house is kept. You would not ever invite friends to have a chat in the kitchen. You would not let her see your new shiny oven, because all your friends need to know is that you can serve them seven dishes meal in the dining room. And that’s it.

How it’s supposed to reflect the society attitude towards women then? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?

Whenever kitchen is associated with women, how the family’s attitude towards kitchen is very relevant. My husband would never mind coming in and out the kitchen. He wouldn’t mind washing the dishes, and sometimes even getting me a cup of coffee when I was too comfy in the sofa with my knitting. My father, on the other hand, has never set foot in the kitchen since we finished building the house and the kitchen started to function as a kitchen.

The kitchen also reflects how women see their role themselves. When they cook they see it as their duty to provide, and the family has taken for granted the special skills needed to process the raw vegetables to yummy in the tummy. But here, everyday… every single day, Mr. Fix It would thank me for every meal, every cake, and bites of biscuits. Kitchen is where challenges, achievements and fun happen.

In a more modern Indonesia, houses has an open kitchen, but women don’t cook as often. The attitude towards women has shifted with it as well as their role in providing for the family and the households. When we lived in an apartment complex, we ordered delivery more often than we cook, and it was just the norm for every young modern families living there.

In communal place such as student dormitory, kitchen is where the gossip and drama is expected to emerge. It’s where you show off power to tell people who rules the student hall. Although that’s not always the case. The kitchen would be in the middle. It shows how equal everybody was (or should be) in the community.

Isn’t it amazing how kitchen has changed and shaped our perspective of the world? Of ourselves? And wouldn’t it answer my hesitation to start chop chop where I was in Indonesia? Why wouldn’t you take a look in your kitchen and tell me how’s your kitchen has influenced your life?

Book Review: The Bone Collector

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Title: The Bone Collector

Author: Jeffery Deaver
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

It was supposed to be Amelia Sachs last day of work in the field, but she had to be the first responder of the most grim crime she has ever seen in her life. The vistim hand was stripped to the bone before he died, and nobody knew who the unsub was.

I love crime stories. I have grown up with Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Marple, and Sherlock Holmes, and I always loved the thrill of whodunnit. I always loved the puzzle and for years been trying to read a more modern version of crime stories… And Jeffery Deaver was good.

The first Jeffery Deaver book I have encountered was The Blue Nowhere. It has been our little family’s favourite (or in this case my sisters and I, because my parents don’t read as much). Since then I always loved his works. And The Bone Collector hasn’t disappointed me at all.

Although I cannot say that I love the protagonists, I quite like how Deaver put them in the situations where the usual conflict of interests happen. I found the portrayal of the culprit however was way more interesting than the protagonists, and I found this very fascinating. I think crime stories is only as good as the cunningness of its bad guy.

 

It was quite easy to read. The only reason why it takes me a while to finish the book is probably because nowadays I only read before I go to bed. And I have been postponing this review for some times. I have a little problem with the dialogue, because Deaver use the “accented style” conversation. I don’t mind it as it might help to understand the characters better, but it was quite hard to understand for a non native speaker like me.

The storyline is quite engaging. I have to say I am not a big fan of POV-switching style as it could be confusing. But in this case, this is probably just the best way to introduce the mind of the criminal, and give a different depth to the depiction of the crime scene itself. I couldn’t imagine another way to do it.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves crime and thriller stories. I know that this is not a new book on the shelves, but if you haven’t read any Jeffery Deaver’s book, this is probably the best place to start. It has sequels too (I have read The Vanished Man, but it was translated in Bahasa Indonesia) that I couldn’t wait to get my hands to.

I scored this bool 4 out of 5 stars

The Ashley Madison Meltdown

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Actually, I was going to title this article with “How The Ashley Madison Meltdown Affects People’s Outlook In Marriage As An Institution”. But it does sound too pretentious, doesn’t it? Well, I have to make do with the current title then.

Right. So, what is Ashley Madison? If you haven’t heard about it at all, you might want to start google, or if you can’t be bothered at all, I would make it a little bit easier for you by presenting you this video:
http://player.ooyala.com/iframe.js#ec=V3MWwzdzrcsH1ge7gJAlliN8Evo-kXMM&pbid=7dfd98005dba40baacc82277f292e522

How am I for being extra generous today?

Ashley Madison is a dating site, mainly dedicated to people who are married to have something on the side. It has millions and millions of follower, but what made it to the headline is when a hacker broke in and stole personal information about the members, and gave it away in the dark web.

The Ashley Madison Meltdown, I should say.

It contains the personal information of — obviously — married people, including — allegedly — people from the UK government. There were at least one hundred UK Government email addresses found in the millions of data for public to see online. Not surprisingly, it has been ruining people’s lives.

I am not going to — of course — discuss the moral message, nor the motives behind this data stealing activity. I just wanted to know how people has seen their marriage now.

Mr. Fix It and I have never seen marriage as a sacred bond between us and god. We don’t bloody care about the sanctity of the religious mumbo jumbo, we did what we did just to make my mum satisfied that she thought she has kept her promise to her god. But those mumbo jumbo, the threat of being burned in hell is what kept many bored couple who hates each other from either killing each other or getting a divorce.

I wonder how many insecure couple would start wondering if their partner has been in Ashley Madison. One Australian lady called the radio station just to ask if her husband was on the list. She was pretty upset when she found out that he was. At least she was pretty brave to actually go and ask to get to know the truth. But, how many worried husbands or wives are now just sitting there in front of their iPad, reading the articles and thought, “what would I do if my partner was in that list?”

What would I do?

I would be surprised of course. I would ask him why he never told me that he was in that website. Obviously. Would I be angry if he told me that he has joined that kind of website? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing.

My husband and I are quite open in talking about the possibilities of extramarital sexual adventure. We talked about this before and we agreed that it might or might not happen, but we would tell each other if we are looking. I would not be angry if he joined this website to seek for a thrill, but I would be pretty upset if he wouldn’t tell me in advance.

Both of us still kept our dating site profiles, and we know each other profiles and once in a while used it as a tool to relight the fire and get the spark again. I would send him a message there just to make his day after a long time at work. He would do a creepy role play and send me a message there just for a giggle. We are best friends as we are partners and lovers. And I think that’s why I have never once questioned if he has got any secret affairs behind my back.

I think that’s what a marriage should be.

I know that I have only been married for just over a year, but I have seen many crumbling down marriage. I have been approached by some married male friends for a sexual favour — in which I always turned down for a very personal reason — despite of their happy marriages. Yes, people with an affair are not necessarily an unhappy one.

People are bored. They don’t call marriage as “settling down” for a reason. When you are settled for too long, you would start to feel the itch to move around. And when your partner don’t move with you, there would be some other bored people to get around with. Hence the affair.

Probably, it was the affair that keeps the marriage together. It could be one night thing, but some people comes home with less thing to think about. Husband is tired and old and not wanting to do anything else than watch telly and then go to sleep — find someone to go travelling with and get a hot steamy sessions so that you don’t have to come home and nag for your lack of self fulfilment. Wife is always covered in puke and poo as you just had twins — find a pair of massive boobs to fondle and a hole to poke, so you’re too tired to do anything else or complain when you come home.

Or you can talk.

Problem is… some people take things a little bit personally. Especially nowadays when people do take suggestions as blabla-shaming. “I know you could eat whatever you want, but you haven’t stop eating since your get up in the morning” is body shaming or fat shaming. “Sorry your mascara is melting, do you need a tissue” is make up shaming. “Do you want to go jogging with me” is another body or fat shaming. If you could not tell your partner that she/he needs to take a shower (because it’s an odour shaming) then you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself filling the form and writing an Ashley Madison’s profile.

Gah… It’s getting too long now. I don’t think anyone would read anything longer than this. I know that there are other things that count, but for now I will leave it at that…

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia…

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I used to love this song when I was little. I would go to our (my parents’s) garment factory to see the factory workers playing this song in their radio. I would sing along, and making a dramatic and heroic dance with this song and felt very much patriotic. But then I grew up, and had forgotten completely how it feels to be Indonesian.

It is funny that it needs a half the world away journey to remind me that. Like many other Indonesians abroad, living outside Indonesia has stopped us to take our Indonesia-ness for granted.

 

That, however, is not the end of the irony.

Living abroad, many Indonesian have become a great voluntary cultural ambassador of Indonesia. Not only that we have introduced our food, dance, clothing, we also support our country by keep our root in Indonesia. We wanted to retain our Indonesian citizenship, but it’s only logical if we also get a citizenship from the country we are living in.

The Indonesian government, of course could not have made it more difficult. Their stance is “either us or them”, instead of being flexible and accommodative. In the end, for the sake of their family, many parents would give up their Indonesian citizenships. In the end, who’s losing out so much potential?

In the spirit of Red and White.. I would like to ask you to spread the word — to remind the government not only to naturalise football players who happens to have an Indonesian ancestor, but to embrace all Indonesian Diaspora spread all over the world by allowing dual citizenship for us.

If you would love to know more about supporting Indonesian dual citizenship, you can visit the network group on facebook.

Cheers~