Thursday, June 30, 2005

i always dream to be a restorateur one day. opening a small bistro in the middle of a quiet and small neighborhood where people can eat outside and drop by to an art gallery or browsing used books in a used bookstore next doors.

one day, it was like a dream i visualised when a small french bistro was opened next to a used bookstore i frequently visited in a city i used to live. aixois is the name.

i happened to know the owner and chef, emmanuel, a native french from prince-au-aix, a region in france where he named his restaurant with. aixois means a person from that region.

one saturday, he invited me in for coffee and with his thick french-american accent, explained me all kind of french's delicacies which, actually, are different from the rest of the europeans', all the ingredients he was using and then cooked me a menu of lunch that day. i told him, i love to cook and it was my dream to open such an intimate restaurant like his. he smiled and said, whaz doo you zink, ee-man? asking me for the taste and consistency in one of his cookings.

with its tall georgian style windows overlooking a small park in a quite neighborhood, pathways of cobbler stones lying on the ground and french accents on the air, i loved this restaurant. not to mention an art gallery and a used bookstore next doors. what more could i ask for a dream?

that day, i could see what i wanted to do down the road of my life.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

i need a vacation. never had one since i joined this company, not even a single one. everytime i went out of town, it has to do with the job i have.

not that i didn't enjoy being assigned to places i've never visited before or stayed at some beautiful resorts, but the jobs would be waiting for me after i got back. well, that's what i do and can't complain much about it.

yet, somehow, i just wanted to be somewhere carefree. be in a city where i can enjoy taking pictures without thinking of writing about this city on the back of my mind. Or, staying in a resort to fully relax my body and soul without, once again, thinking about what i need to write about this resort.

my vacation has to wait.

an assignment to a far far away land is waiting next month.

some people love to sleep and some even try hard to be able to sleep. i am the kind of people who needs to read first to put my mind into a sleeping mood with two heavy eyes. a bad habit you have, said my mother.

some people have the luxuries to be able to go back to sleep after they wake up in the morning. i don't.

i wake up at 6 every single day no matter how many hours i slept in. meaning, my mind will be fully conscious at 6:01 am though i slept, say, for only two hours. try to get back to sleep? you can guess the answer.

with all the stresses people have in their daily life -- sleeping is becoming a luxury alot of people try to hold.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

time is horizontal.
it is from A to B to C to D; it is in a line.

eternity is vertical.
it is not from A to B and B to C. it is from A to more A to still more A.
it goes upward.

does serendipity really exist?

hampir semingguan ini, gue pulang kantor naik busway. a friend of mine introduced me to terminal blok-m. and i really enjoyed riding it home ever since. it's cheap and fast. i told myself, whoa... terminal blok-m looks like grand terminal in manhattan!

setiap kali gue duduk di busway en merhatiin orang-orang di sekitar gue, gue selalu mikir, kapan gue bakal ketemu lagi sama orang-orang ini. mungkin jalan hidup antara gue dan orang yang duduk di depan gue, hanya akan bersimpangan sekali saja. atau mungkin lebih dari itu? tapi siapa yang tau?

i met a woman on the way home from terminal blok-m. and, as i write this blog... image dia tinggal a blurry memory with what i saw this evening. tapi satu hal yang gue inget, wajahnya yang manis yang even saat dia diam, dia seakan-akan tersenyum. her aura soothed my sight. calmed me from the hectic rush hour atmosphere inside the busway.

di bunderan senayan, dia turun.

she left me with a tought.

does serendipity really exist or our path just crossed once in a life time?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

the art of zen

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer.

The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. "There," he said to the old man, "see if you can match that!"

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain. Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. "Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

"You have much skill with your bow," the master said, sensing his challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot."
you can be highly skilled at something, yet there also has to be balance between mind and body - photo taken at the private estate number three

my other assignment took me to a concert hall. i've been photographing classical music concerts for years actually since i graduated from one of the music schools in jakarta.

as a classical music lover myself, i used to study at a piano conservatory. i've been through hours and hours of practicing and facing countless stage frights before giving concerts or playing in competitions. of course, now, that was thing in the past though sometimes i really miss playing serious piano pieces. haven't been practicing for years, my fingers are getting stiff and though my fingers' motoric senses are still inside them, it takes countless hours for my fingers to get back at the level of playing i used to have.

the time passes. taking pictures for classical music concerts are the closest thing i could be with the music i grew up with. for sure, the passions of bach, beethoven and chopin are still burning inside.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

what would you do if you have triplets?

in the states, it will be short hours of sleep every night. bottles of milk and baby foods to prepare. piles of laundry to take care of. not to mention financial matters, longer maternity leave and days off you need to face. all by the wife and the husband themselves with here and there helps from parents or neighbors.

the nicest thing of living here to have triplets?

two words.

the nannies.

photographing children is one of the jobs i love. one thing for sure, and that is the challenge, you need to be very patient with them. the results? a satisfying one.

the turn of the event this weekend took me to an assignment. a 2-year old kid's birthday party.

the party started with kids swimming in the pool with screamings and water everywhere. funny thing, the nannies were the ones who screamed the most.

afterwards, with enough children filling the room, the party began. it started with the usual. candle blowing and cake cutting. of course, you don't tell a two year old to make a wish after blowing the candles.

then, games were played. guys with spiderman, x-man, mr.incredible costumes roamed the room creating chaos and high pitches everywhere. the younger children were running everywhere with their nannies towing behind them. and, the older ones? they sat on small chairs involved with the games. well, either way, it was loud.

until -- i saw a beautiful little girl in the corner.

captivated by her beauty, i took several shots of her. half pressing my shutter, half concentrating through the view finder, i wished and wished that one day i would have a beautiful little girl like the one in front of me. she seemed at peace with herself while the others jumped and down and oh my, how i love the way she gazed, smiled, and danced while the music was played.

the party was a nice one. the food was sumptous. and the shots -- this picture is one of the nicest ones from the memory of the party.

Friday, June 24, 2005

last night.

i dreamt that i was in the middle of downpouring.
making me wet as it can be.

suddenly, the rain stopped and the sun came up with the blue sky.
the bluest blue i've ever seen.

and the strangest thing happened afterwards.
i dreamt that it was raining but the pouring wasn't water from the sky, but gold coins -- and gold coins eveeerryyywhere making loud sound... *cling clang cling clang* as they hit the ground.

of course, being human, i scooped all the coins i could grabbed. busy with my own greediness suddenly they were all gone. leaving me with a single gold coin in my palm. i looked at it, and in my dream, i still remember vividly, the coin has an image of an old ship engraved on one of his sides.

what a dream!

hope it would be some sorts of a good sign.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

the art of zen

A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed.

Then the words of his Zen master came to him, "Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now."

Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.
photo taken at the private estate number three - bali

deadline is a word i am not fond of these days. it raise my stress level up and give me ulcers i don't usually have in normal days.

of course, my job contributes to the increasing stress level and the ulcers i have right now. plainly speaking, it is a job that requires me to do alot of things done in one day and quite often, there were times i really wished that 36 hours would be the time the earth needs for a complete rotation rather than the natural 24.

yet, human has its limitation. to push myself beyond limit is impossible for i would plainly get sick.

one urges me to meditate to soothe the body and soul.

i remember the time when i sat on that red bench and meditated for minutes. with my eyes closed and my mind emptied, i tried to open my senses to feel the breeze, hear the quietness of the surroundings, and most of all, to feel the warm rays of sun touching my skin. rejuvenated was the feeling i sensed afterwards.

as i see this picture and remember the time i sat on that red bench, slowly, the word rejuvenation seeps into my mind. it soothes my soul peacefully.
for two nights in a row, i slept only for three hours each. photo taken at a resort in sayan-bali.

a friend of mine wrote in her blog starting with this question, what's better than a guy that accompanies you shopping without complaining?

i don't shop alot actually and when i need something it will be a point and shoot kind of shopping: know what i need, locate the store, visit the store, find the merchandise(s), pay and go.

doing groceries with my girlfriend is the kind of shopping i enjoyed the most when i was still living abroad -- there, i could be an impulsive buyer, buying something i sometimes didn't need at all.

and -- the bookstores, of course.

nothing can soothe my mind than walking slowly in the middle of rows of books.

books calm me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

an era not connected anymore

Children used to laugh to see its dances – cheer to the tricks the creature made. The hairy one was once the darling of the children in the 70's.

It was late in the morning when a man walked through the maze of a slump area. A used to be white long sleeves shirt now looked grayish. Its material looked worn by the passing of the time. His face seemed older than his age hidden under the straw hat he wore.

Children followed him through the narrow pavement he walked on bordered by the smelly drainages in its sides. Half running, they laughed and yelled at the creature perched on his right shoulder. Making noise to the animal they seldom see in the city nowadays. One of them, the bold one, tried to pull its tail.

The creature shrieked. Its voice - high and strident.

With one of his palms, he calmed his beloved pet. Gently stroking his back with the look of anger shown in his face.

There were days he could make Rp10,000 a day. And there were days he has to go home empty handed like today. Today was the day he made nothing at all. No one asked for his show. No one even bothered to look at him walking by with the sound of small drum he stroke to get the attention. The children were nowhere to be found.

It is when the Play Stations and the DVD players replaced his show. A new generation ignoring the once was popular. Perhaps one day, the things we have now will become the story of the past. Like this story of a man who made living with a monkey- known as the Topeng Monyet.

What would you do if you were him?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

reality bites

the turn of the event this late afternoon took me to the neo-natal intensive care unit in one of the children hospitals in the city.

nothing or no one can prepare me for the shock i felt witnessing the low-lit room with incubator boxes line up neatly in a row. there you can see tiny bodies attached with all kinds of survival equipments and monitors you can think of where i saw (in horror) a baby with a deform face (bless his heart) and a tiny surviving body of used to be triplets (passed away the minutes i left the hospital -- bless his soul).

in many occasions, i've visited the intensive care units or the emergency rooms. but still, a neo-natal intensive care unit will break your heart for sure.

babies are precious. they are God's gifts to the parents.

i know Baby Bradley will hang tough to be a healthy one.

it was in this courtyard the guests gathered.

the quick tempo of jazzy tunes were in the air. the candles lit and their lights illuminated the surroundings.

the shish kabobs with touches of red and green onions and vietnamese spring rolls were in the menu.

the air was heavy. the wind was nowhere to find.

yet, the darker the evening -- the merrier was the gathering.

my memory of morroco took me back to its pavillion in epcot center. the tall gentleman with its white robe and a traditional red hat with black tassle called fez greeted me to come inside where i was welcomed by the exotic smell of food and the exciting sight of its dancers.

one can only imitate yet nothing compare to the real sights of visiting the real morroco - one of the exotic places in the world.

the sky was getting darker and the moon has already risen from the horizon when i knew i have to stop taking pictures of this beautiful house and started to focus with my job -- taking pictures of the event.

the complexity of the tiles as shown in this picture tells us the high cultural mind of the people. the artistic side of the brain. the originality of the ideas.

if i were given a set of tiles and commissioned to do an artistic tile arrangement -- i probably won't be able to finish the assignment.

give me a camera - the possibility will be endless.

right in central jakarta, hidden in a lush area of menteng, you find a house called the morrocan house. 'rumah maroko' as the locals called it. the architecture and the interior designed exactly like you were in the well known city in morroco, casablanca. even perhaps, marrakech, the cultural city of morroco.

i arrived there at around 5 in the afternoon when jakarta was blanketed by soft pre-dusk sunlight. the humidity seeped in unwantedly. and-- immediately was i in awe seeing this place. the tiles, the stone carvings, the window panes, even the colors -- reminded me of the sub saharan country i used to watch in travel channel.

until the sun set and left the bluish sky above - this place captivated me and my camera.

Friday, June 17, 2005

i was just landed in melbourne a couple of hours back when i decided to walk around to discover this city. as i turned to the corner of a park, i heard a sudden burst of laughters and hoorahs that caught my attention. and, there they were -- a family gathering to celebrate a wedding. just in time to walk across the street and took a couple of shots of the bride and groom's first kiss.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

nowadays, inviting friends over for a cup of coffee is just an sms away. with the vast modern technology glued to every single life of modern human beings, we tend to forget that sometimes a handwritten invitation is much appreciated.

what would you do if a dear friend sends you a handmade card with the above picture written:

have a cup with me
photo taken at the market street's starbucks sydney australia

you come to this world absolutely like a plain, unwritten, open book. you have to write your fate. there is nobody who is writing your fate. who (do you think) will write your fate? and how? and for what?

you have to write your fate. you have to create your destiny. you have to become yourself.

you are not born with a ready-made self. you are born only as a seed and you can die also as a seed. but, you can become flower or you can become tree and die as flower or die as tree. osho.
photo taken at the sand dune in moreton island queensland australia

seared salmon au poivre

steak of 8 oz salmon grilled into perfection with a touch of virgin olive oil and chardonnay wine.
served over lemongrass risotto and boiled stems of asparagus seperated into long sprigs and some fresh chopped parsley.

i miss cooking.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

every afternoon, after school, a group of young children gathers together in a lush green garden of amanjiwo resorts to practice the traditional javanese dance(s). wrapping in colorful batik sarongs and scarfs while sitting down taking a break, their innocent yet curious faces are captured in this picture - a portrait of indonesian children.

jogyakarta. the central of the javanese culture. the opposite of bali in many senses. a dapper in colors with its soft spoken and humble people. known also as the city of students due to the fact many students from all over indonesia study in this city. the mix of many indonesian cultures brings an interesting atmosphere to this city. not to mention the sultan of jogyakarta, the very much respected leader of its people.
a wayang kulit - shadow puppet show at the pendopo agung - large open verandah - inside the Sultan's Palace

the tranquility of the early morning can be felt as the sun rises high and rays its energy to this holy temple and its surrounding. i walked around to find an interesting shot through the maze of stupas and reliefs when i saw a stone carved sitting Buddha with the sun just behind its head. a perfect setting for a silhouette shot.

every morning at 5am, a group of people, mostly tourists, climbed the stone stairs of borobudur temple awaiting the sun rises from behind mount merapi. the dark color of the night soon to be replaced by the soft orangish hues of the morning. and, slowly, the crown of the sun rises - awakens life with its rays to face a new day.
sunrise from borobudur temple-central java

can't get enough of bali. its vibrant colors. the people and the culture and its natural beauty. bali is photographers' heaven.

rich and vibrant colors of orchids. grab some and throw them to the bride and groom as a symbol of good luck and happiness.

a wedding procession at tirtha uluwatu bali.

simply beautiful.

one hundred steps down the lush hill. a short sandy beach walk to the end of the pier. jimbaran bay sunset in the background. you will find world's most romantic place to have dinner with your loved one. just the two of us.

when you are in bali, visiting ku de ta at dusk is a must. between drinks and chit-chatings with some friends, i was experimenting a different angle of a paper napkin.

US research shows that sales people who smile attract four times as many customers.
welcome drinks at the lobby of Conrad Bali

i love a breakfast meeting. it's just more colorful.
photo taken in a meeting with my ixus 400

i had a reflexiology massage done to my sore feet the other day where i actually didn't enjoy the treatment at all. it hurt and felt uncomfortable when the messeuse pinched the area between my toes. she told me if the point where she pinched hurt that meant i have a problem corresponded to that point.

the chinese believe in accupuncture, accupressure and reflexiology. they believe in everything based on the yin and the yang. in this case, when you have problems with your ears or eyes, there are specific points on the other parts of the body that have to be pinched or pressed or stuck by a needle to heal those problems.

but still, i prefer a body massage to unwind my muscle than doing a reflexiology treatment to heal whatever problems i have corresponding to the points in my feet.

the interesting part was when i visited a spa in bali. there i saw this foot chart of reflexiology where i noticed a kind of a big circle in the middle of the chart tools written 'breast'.

what makes me curious is when you press that circled area. then what will happen to your breast(s)?
photo taken at the spa in conrad bali february 2005

photographing food is one of the most difficult task a photographer has to handle. difficult enough there is even a specific course for food photography.

the main job of a food photographer is to produce a result that looks appetizing enough to tickle one's taste buds. but how? that's the difficult part of it.

i was trying to do some food photography when i was in bali covering other assignment. call me a food photographer wannabe.

my first time photographing food. does it look appetizing enough?
photo taken at the estate number three bali february 2005

oz. the down under. flew there for an assignment. never visited before. loved melbourne very much and enjoyed the vibrant sydney. felt like living back in the states.

the people are warm. their accents -- just exotic to my ears.

the used bookstores along george street. sand-surfing in moreton island. palazzo versace in surfer's paradise.

and, of course, hot caramel macchiato in early southern hemisphere autumn morning.
starbucks at market street sydney march 2005

How To Be A Dominant Male (not a chauvinistic predator)

1. Avoid confrontation
2. Defend her to death
3. Don't be demeaning
4. Don't be demanding

Thursday, June 09, 2005

many people would like to relax, but they cannot. relaxation is like a flowering: you cannot force it. you have to understand the whole phenomenon - why you are so active, why you are so occupied, and why you are so obsessed with it.
photo taken at the Conrad Bali February 2005
every morning always make your bed.
that way, you know that at least one thing is in order during your day.
- mom's wisdom

happiness comes not from doing great things, but from doing small things with great love.
photo taken at Tanjung Benoa Bali February 2005

the moral of the story

a man strangled his wife to death after jealously suspecting her infidelity with the neighbor.

- news from this morning paper

if you love a person, you have to believe that somehow she wouldn't go to anybody else. and, if she goes, she goes; nothing can be done. what can you do? you can kill the person, but a dead person will not be of much use.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

my crave for blackened catfish

blackened catfish. pan fried catfish with crushed black pepper, lime juice and virgin olive oil.

blackened catfish filets
4 catfish filets. boneless and skinless
one quarter cup cajun spice blend
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons melted butter

1. pre-heat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
2. heat a large fry pan over high heat about 10-15 minutes
3. brush filets on both sides with oil. sprinkle cajun seasoning generously
4. place into heated pan and pour melted butter directly over filets for
2-3 minutes until blackened
5. place pan into pre-heated oven and roast for 5 minutes

serve with creole rice

living in jakarta with all kinds of food you can get makes me spoiled rotten. my hands and fingers surely are stiff from years of cooking, a hobby that i tended to grow up since being a volunteer working at the kitchen in a retirement home.

being able to cook. one of the perks living abroad.