Monthly Archives: May 2016

Spring is Coming

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Well… it is been here for a while, but I was too busy enjoying it, and forgot that I have this responsibility to write. Write. Yes. I do feel a little bit (or a lot) embarrassed that I haven’t been able to write properly lately.

Writer’s write.

If I want to be a writer one day, I should stop doing other thing and start writing again.

As a token of a good faith, here I am today, writing again. Only a bit of an update though, not quite like what I usually do. But I suppose it would be enough to break down the writer’s block. So, bear with me ūüôā

Since Rae posted about her exercise and weight loss routine on her blog some times ago, I have been thinking about it. I am 30 this year, and I wouldn’t be 30 for long. Not much has changed in my life and I know I would have to start making some changes. So Rae and I have been in contact to talk about this weight loss thing about a month ago.

She sent me an example of what should be done. And it does seem like a torture.

But this is the difference between Rae and I, that I noticed when we were talking about this weight loss plan. Rae seems to be an active person, she likes what she is doing and inspired and challenged by this thing. I don’t. If I do it the way she does it, I know I will stop before I start, so I decided I have to do it differently than what she does.

I don’t dedicate exercise time. I tried to be more active, walking more, and actually quite enjoyed what I did in the city. Cleaned the house more than usual, and even do some gardening. It does take energy and I found myself feel better doing it.

And, I don’t believe in clean eating. I like the idea of it, and I love eating fresh fruits and vegetables. But, to be honest with you, I don’t think clean eating is sustainable. I don’t believe in depriving myself from KFC hot wings, or big gulp of ice cold Carling, while munching potato crisps. What I did instead is start logging and counting the calories intake. I do invest in a digital scale for this.

Almost a month now, and I have lost 2 kg just for doing this. It also means I have lost a total of 5 kg since I have stopped taking contraception pills. I have a good feeling about this. Who knows by the end of this year I would be able to shed another 8 kgs.

Prost!

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Book Review: A Spot of Bother

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Title: A Spot of Bother
Author: Mark Haddon
Language: English
Format: Hardcover

Review:
I am being very honest that when I picked this book from the shelves, it is because of “The Curious Incident of the Dog In¬†the Night Time“. That was one incredibly wonderful book — see how I used an adverb and and adjective just to make sure you know how I like that book. However, I also have learned from experiences, that one should never, never ever, hold their expectation about a book based on one’s previous encounter with books from a particular author.

Yes.

So, I read A Spot of Bother with a totally open mind. And I am glad that I did.

I have to say that I quite enjoyed the book. It is definitely different from Curious Incident, so if you were thinking of reading this one, don’t bother to try to find similarities. You wouldn’t find one, and if you do it must be a bit of a stretch.

For example I could say that it is about a family, but many stories are about families. So, I will stop talking about the other book, and would talk about this one as an individual book.

Right.

Like I said before, the story was around a family. A father, mother, a son, and a daughter. Every one of them has their own problem. I am not going to tell you about their problems as it is basically the plot of the book, and I don’t want to be the spoiler.

Maybe it is my personal thing, but I kind of like the male characters more than the female ones. In fact, I found the mother character as incredibly annoying. I really don’t like her. I am not sure whether the author meant her to be the bad guy in the story or what, but I do feel that way about her.

The story was incredible. I have seen some other reviews, that people don’t like this because this is too “soapey” — which I could not disagree due to the amount of drama involved. But what is a story without a drama in it? Some said that there is no originality in the drama itself, that there are plenty stories with similar premise… but seriously there are hundreds of stories with similar premise. My argument is how to make it stand out.

I think Mark Haddon nailed it. Yes true, in a glance I could see why it is just another family drama, but his dark humour, bitter sarcastic jokes, and psychological break down…. suddenly, you could see why he was so successful with the previous work.

I will rate this book 4/5, and would recommend people to read it. It would definitely be a great summer reading, or a company for your travel ūüôā

Book Review: Red Dog

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Title: Red Dog
Author: Louise de Bernières
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

I know Louis de Berni√®res from his other book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and love that book so much. It was probably one of the best book I have ever read. That is why I don’t have any hesitation to start reading this book — when I found it in my husband’s bookshelves. One thing I was not happy with — why didn’t my husband gave me this book much earlier?

This book is thin. Very. Especially if it is compared to Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

Not only that it is thin, but also incredibly light and easy to read too. I think it is just a perfect summer reading — unfortunately I did not know it and finished it before the summer has even started.

The¬†main protagonist is the Red Dog. Yes. A dog. Definitely a plus point from me. The human characters — although they’re basically the supporting character in the story, they are well described and definitely play an important role in shaping the story.

It is funny, and heartwarming. I can’t remember the last time I used that word — heart warming. I found it really difficult not to tear up a little in the last few chapters. Somehow I missed Chika.

Anyway I definitely will recommend this book, especially to those who like dogs. Yes, you can call me bias or something but from me, it is 5 out of 5.

Food Culture Paradox

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Food is a big part of our culture.¬†Three most important celebrations: Birth, Marriage, Death — are always celebrated or commemorated with food. Even in the daily life, food plays a very important role in our culture. It shapes us, it defines us. And we do… I mean, really do love our food.

We love our food so much we want everybody else to love it too. We cannot handle seeing other people not eating something. When we go abroad, and see some unique local food, the first thing we do is buy some extra so that our family and friends at home would be able to try them too.

Ever seen an Asian on a restaurant? While some people would start their meal by saying grace? We won’t start tucking in until we get a really good food photo. For what? Well… We just want to tell people that we know (or we don’t) ¬†that we just had a great meal. And it is important. Good food means good life.

However…

As much as we love food, and feeding people. We worship skinny figure.

We don’t like fat people. We would encourage people to go on a diet, or suggest a really nice tea that somehow could melt down the extra fat on our thigh. Sometimes even, we didn’t realise how hurtful that is for the other party. But of course… we did it because we love them — or so we thought.

This is what I call “The Food Culture Paradox”. As a culture that embrace food, we have become a bunch of enabler for binge eater. We feed them because we love them. We want them to enjoy the finest thing in life and in our case it is a packet of pocky, green tea kitkat, macaroons, and blueberry cheese cake. We saw their waistline get bigger and bigger most of the time pushing to the dangerous limit. But we can’t stop feeding them, can we?

I admit that I have this problem too. I know that some members of our family don’t need more encouragement to binge. But every time I visit home, I would ask them if they want to have pork scratching or jaffa cakes. I know that my husband needs to cut down on sugar and fat, but still twice a week there would be cupcakes baking in the oven, or unlimited supply of biscuits in the jar.

What to do then?

To be honest? I don’t know.

Where to draw the line between being kind and wanting your friend or family to enjoy the food that you do enjoy too, and being an enabler for someone who are obviously addicted to comfort food? How do you know when you give that incredibly yummy cake, that you are not actually clogging their arteries with fat, and slowly killing them?

I don’t know.

But it is interesting, isn’t it?

Yuyun

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Disclaimer:
If you haven’t heard about Yuyun, you are probably the lucky one. I wish I could keep you from knowing who was Yuyun and what had happened to her, but I couldn’t. And I shouldn’t. So, before I even begin, I would like to apologise if this particular post ruins your beautiful day.

***

Yuyun was a 14 year old, Indonesian middle school girl who was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by fourteen boys. She was on her way back from school that day, and she never made it home.

I don’t know what is different from this particular case, that it has got the mainstream media attention. Is it because that she is still really really young? Is it because the number of rapists? Is it because the fact that she was killed on the scene? Or… Is it because it is time for Indonesian people to recognise that we do have rape culture in our society? — so I hope.

Since I was really young, I was taught to dress modestly by my parents. Girls would have to wear a vest underneath their white shirts so if the shirt happens to be see-through they wouldn’t inadvertently showed off their underwear. My mum would wear petticoat when wearing light coloured skirt or dress, or something that slightly fitting to avoid indecent exposure. Can you imagine how hot it was wearing all those layers in a tropical country like Indonesia.

Very. That’s the answer.

But we did it. I don’t mind doing it at school as it is a part of a uniform and most of the time we will be indoor. But we did it outside the school. And what is it for? To prevent the unwanted. To protect ourselves from being a victim, because we know… we know exactly what would happen when we become a victim.

We will be blamed because we are not wearing enough layer. Or that our skirts are few centimetres too short than the decent length. We will be blamed for walking alone. Especially after dark. Because good women would cover themselves up, and not being seen outside without chaperones. And bad women? Well… they’re asking for it.

Now… that’s depressing, isn’t it? That’s why I am so lucky.

I got away.

But that couldn’t be the solution for millions of women in Indonesia (and many other countries like Indonesia). Not everybody could get away from that kind of situation.

Maybe.

Maybe Yuyun case is different.

If there should be a silver lining from this terribly sad story, it must be that this could be the turning point for Indonesia and law to protect women in this country. Maybe Yuyun would be the Indonesian equivalent for the Indian Jyoti Singh. Maybe this time everybody will take action.

One can only hope.

 

Book Review: Saving Grace

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Title: Saving Grace
Author: Ciara Geraghty
Language: English
Format: Paperback

Review:

This book has been sitting for ages in my “to read” section, and finally I finished it. I have to say that finishing this book is quite a chore. Yes. A chore. And here is why.

First of all, it is not a bad book. I just found that the beginning of this book is a little bit draggy, and if I couldn’t get passed the first two chapter, I might not be able to go anywhere with this book. It is classic– if it is not clich√©, story about a woman who is described as far-from-perfect-borderline-self-destructive kind of protagonist trying to survive a trauma by finding the Mr. Right.

Not that there’s a problem with that in general. I just don’t quite like both the sentiment and the message sent by the story. So, before I rant further and start spilling the beans, I will move on to other things.

The characters. Well… I don’t like the main character. I don’t find the protagonist inspiring at all. I couldn’t remember most of the¬†other characters in the book either — they seemed like being thrown in just to patch the lack of the story the main character could give to the reader. Most of them¬†don’t add anything to the story really…

I believe that the author would like to insert a dry humour in the story. Well… some worked, some just completely… dry. I¬†do like the Irish touch in the story, and wish there is more about the Irish culture, or places, or whatever that could distinct this story from other chick-lits. It didn’t happen.

However in the last few chapters I started to feel a little bit emotional reading this book. Although I suspected that it is probably because the story hit too close to home. And, for that I give this book more brownie points.

In the end, this is still a chick lits. If you like chick lits in general, you will like this one. It is much deeper than most that I have ever read before. Better written too (especially because apparently this is a debut book). I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Indonesia Is Not All Doom And Gloom…

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In the midst of news like religious intolerance, LGBT intolerance, corruption, and also child rape, I saw this one article about a foreign¬†national being killed in Bali. I remember I thought to myself: “Oh no. Another human rights violation ¬†now?”

And then I read the whole story.

source: rappler.com

This foreign guy is apparently an ex MMA fighter, and from the photo I could see it too. He looks like a tough guy with muscles as big as coconuts¬†He lived in Bali, with¬†his visitor visa which is already expired, and while he was there he was pretty much being a thug — carrying knife everywhere for the purpose of mugging for money, threatening restaurant owners and refusing to pay for food and drink, and also trying to have sex with someone else’s wife. It’s been awhile on facebook until someone suggested to report this to the police.

And they did.

So, police send him a request to come to the station for questioning. He didn’t show up. So, few police came to his place to arrest him, and later to deport him on the base of the expired visa. But thing went south from here.

Instead of going peacefully, this guy started to threaten the police with knife. Not only resisting arrest, he managed to attack and stab a police officer several time to death. Other cops have given three warning shot to the air, but he still didn’t stop.

source: straitstimes.com

So, in the end he was shot and died.

The other photo is pretty grim, and I suspect it has been taken down because I couldn’t find it any more. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I found this quite positive.

Yes, I am sorry that he is dead. I send my deepest and sincerest condolences to his family. But how about the family of the police officer he stabbed? How about the safety of other people in Bali? This is not ideal, but I will back this action if its needed because I believe this is the right thing to do.

This is not the only time Indonesia has put her foot down against foreign threat. The execution of Bali Nine is the other thing. And also our Maritime Minister Susi Pudjiastuti who burned and sunk foreign ships who entered our water without proper permit.

source: 1shareindonesia.blogspot.com

Indonesia is not all doom and gloom. It grows its backbone and now getting stronger. I hope it is not only tough to foreigner but also to domestic threat — home grown terrorists, radicalised group, intolerance and assault to minority groups etc.