Monday, August 29, 2005

a voyage beyond the straits

i've never experienced any air sickness before until my Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737 flew into an empty pocket of air and hit a turbulance above east java on the way to the island of lombok. there, i felt like somebody was kicking my stomach.

yet, all the miseries went away the minutes i saw the scenery above. a pristine white sandy beach in the city of tanjung overlooking the three famous gili beyond awaited me to be discovered.

medana beach, as the locals called it, is nothing compare to the well known kuta beach or jimbaran bay. but, the only thing i didn't find in those two beautiful beaches was the serenity of the atmosphere around. bali is too cosmopolitan for the people who are seeking a serene gateaway.

lombok is what bali used to be years ago. staying in one of the most beautiful resorts, you are to forget the bustling life you have. in other words, you are forced to do nothing except enjoying the panoramas in front of you. in bali, there are places you can enjoy your night away when you are bored inside. in the city of tanjung, lombok, the modest nightlife of mataram or ampenan is an hour away through a winding road of a monkey forest.

ah, lombok. the island beyond bali. i went there in 1988 and seventeen years later, we met again.

long winding white sandy beach with coconut palm trees and tall hills of green western lombok is the scenery you will find when you drive from the capital. i tried to compare it with Pacific Coast Highway 1 to santa barbara. but, it is just un-comparable. the beauty and the aura of you are being in a place that is much more exotic than california -- once again, it's just beyond comparison.

writing about lombok, i can't help myself not to compare this island with its older sister, bali. bali is the never ending beauty. its aura is different than its younger sister. you always feel excited to fly to this island of Gods. a feeling of prestige that you are vacationing in bali like other ritzies and glitzies. try telling your friends about a plan to visit lombok for a vacation. and, most of the reaction would be -- why not bali?

i felt at peace when i was in lombok -- the feeling i seldom have whenever i was in bali. why? the aura was just different. in sayan-bali, i would prayed hard walking in the dark by myself under the grace of the moon. in tanjung-lombok, i lightly walked under the frangipani trees breezely like i walked inside my own home. i wasn't feeling scared at all. the mysticism of bali does not fare well in lombok island, i guess.

i walked on this pier like a little children. bubbly and lightly. seeing all the fish you can see through this clear turquise water. all kind of salt water fish. all are cuties. the kinds you can onlysee through the national geographic channel.

this pier would take me and my team to the speed boat that ferried us to one of the gilis. in the background, three gilis are lying next to each other facing the lombok straits -- the deepest straits in the country.

i just love the bluish colors of the waters and the sky above.

a trip to the gili meno was prepared by the resort with -- a picnic lunch on a white sandy beach overlooking the most beautiful vistas i have ever seen -- the range of hills of west lombok island with mount rinjani afar -- the third tallest mountain in the nation.

i used to love my life in the land of snow. but, upon seeing this picture and flashingback the life i used to have and remembering why i didn't want to go home, i felt funny. i valued all the memories the land of snow gave me, yet -- picnic on a white sandy beach with this kind of view? and, being served with a smile?

tatched huts are sprawling in one side of the gili of gili aer. i walked to the hilly area in the middle side of this small island when upon returning to the beach area i saw the clouds were getting dark and the soft light of the sun was in my back creating a perfect lighting. there, i still can see the turqouis waters and the white sands shimmering.

with the ray of the sun hidden behind the clouds above and the sea breezes touches the skin gently, i couldn't think anything else except felt sleepy. but, in the middle of a gorgeous vistas, who would have thought of getting sleepy?

until my eyes was fell upon one object. indeed.

using my 75-300mm, i couldn't help myself composing a picture. i wanted the loneliness of this italian lady as the foreground of a vast background.

whenever i saw this picture -- it relaxes me.

upon returning to the island, i was taken to a small bay where the water was very calm and the panoramas was just as beautiful. planning to live in the hut there? must be very exciting!

there is a sunset market in senggigi beach everyday. it's actually an exciting beach to stroll at dusk where the locals and the tourists mingle together.

the beach is not as pristine and serene as the medina beach in the northern part of lombok, it's more like kuta beach in bali -- in a smaller scale.

except for the beach hawkers, you can easily talk to the locals as they are very nice and eager to know you.

the state of virginia has a tagline for promoting its state tourism. it says "Virginia Is For Lover" whereas lombok should have one, but doesn't have any.

i fell in love with lombok like the first time i saw the woman i love. its beauty mesmerized me like the smile she gave me the first time we met.

you can fall in love with bali over and over again. the island -- is a never ending beauty.

but lombok island -- it's for you who believe with love at the first sight. it hit you straight from the sights to your heart.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

the turn of the evening today brought me to the FHM magazine art photography uncensored at hotel nikko jakarta.

to be honest, entering the event, i felt weird, at first, standing among the uncensored photo exhibits where sexy women were the objet d'arts i could only see in the photography books so far. hey, not that i was complaining seeing lots of beautiful women in artful pictures with nothing on them, i just felt weird. i have to pinch myself to realize that this is jakarta now. the 'keterbukaan' that the russians felt for glasnost and perestroika years back.

darwis triadi, kay moreno, marsio juwono, davy linggar, jay subiyakto, and oetomo, those are the maestros in photography whom, some of them, i know personally. their artful framed pictures around entertained us, the guests whose sights were all open to the fullest enjoying the beautiful artistic composition of women uncensored. how i enjoyed the event alot and was thinking of taking a class of nude photography.

great! i love the soiree.

a.testoni and vera wang shows are waiting to be covered.

Monday, August 22, 2005

i always wanted to write something since the moment i saw this picture in Kompas last year, yet everytime i gathered my ideas and started to write, i became emotional and the ideas just went away.

never in my professional life, upon seeing lots and lots of wedding pictures, had i ever seen a strong bond in love between two human beings. stronger than the gazes of love between the brides and grooms in wedding pictures i sometimes took.

everytime i saw this picture, i love my parents even more. silly, isn't it? i should love my parents no matter what. i feel fortunate enough that i am in a better condition than the son in the picture. and, everytime i saw this picture, i made a silent vow that i will be a good father to my children one day.

remember the oscar award winning movie? Life Is Beautiful?

they say a picture speaks a thousand words.

this picture, nevertheless, makes me speechless.
copyrighted@2004 worldpress photo winner

Sunday, August 21, 2005

this week, i'll be leaving jakarta for lombok.
early next month, a trip to the land of castles.

somehow, i don't feel that excited.

the past week has been a tough week for me actually. it started on tuesday when i walked into the manager's meeting room reviewing the event we had the weekend before.

having run a successful event with a record sales of the magazine alone not to mention media coverage contest, i was expecting a passing color to my report.

the result? not even close to what i expected before i stepped in to the meeting room.

as a manager, i was being labelled as a pessimist not to answer to my CEO's challange to have at least 10 million rupiahs for the target sales. analyzing the past events, it was true that i didn't take the challange. i said, it was hard to achieve that target, BUT i'll do my best to do so. at the end of the day, we made almost 20 million rupiahs in sales alone. still, it was not enough to make them happy.

it was hard having a solid business unit amongst the weak ones. i, or i should say, we, supposed to help others as part of the group. yet, help is a subjective word with a subjective meaning.

in every meeting months before the d-day, i always mentioned about a big event coming up to the other managers. as a matter of fact, it fell into deaf ears.

of course, like a scripted tv show, just 7 days before the d-day when my unit was ready to go, you guess it, all the business units came, rushed and asked us to do this and that. my reaction? i stormed to the GM's office demanding an explanation for all of the craps.

and, sure, at the meeting, i was partly blamed for not having a good coordination with the other business units.

bla... bla... bla...

i cooled down by looking at my photo collection and came to the picture above. nothing could sooth me better than seeing those colorful baby hats.

Monday, August 15, 2005

jakarta wedding festival. the biggest wedding exhibition in jakarta. all the participants from the wedding industries showed their forces there attracting the future brides and grooms, alluring them with their best promos. thousands and thousands of couples coming. not only that, they brought their parents, future parents-in-law and their crowds. the site was getting crazy the second day due to the indonesian idol event that held their winner's crowning at the venue next to the jakarta wedding festival.

the crowds? don't even think of counting them.

the magazine was one of the participants in the jakarta wedding festival. as the manager of the magazine, i held two responsibilities: the whole team for this event and the annual contest show, in which, i was the 'penanggung jawab' of the show.

with the over flow crowds, the rising tensions from my team before the show, the people that didn't do the jobs i delegated, last minute interventions from the CEO who-didn't-know-anything-and-came-by-and-tolak-pinggang-and-told-me-to-do-this-and-that...

and, with all the tensions - i yelled at my CEO.


afterwards, it was like a magic, actually. the people started doing the jobs i delegated, the tensions went down abit, and - the team listened to me. sometimes, CEOs need to be yelled at, too.

everytime i got stressed out in that wedding festival, i went to one of the exhibitors showcase. standing in front of rows of framed pictures, seeing them-one by one. they calmed me. they showed me how love could be captured in pictures.

after all, the exhibition went well for the magazine. three tv stations and printed media came to tape the show. we got lots of compliments. and, at the end of the day, i was the last to leave. and - the only one who came to the office this morning while the much needed break was given to my team.

without them all, i won't be functioning well.
photos shown are kingfoto"s showcases at the jakarta wedding festival2

Monday, August 08, 2005

a few weeks ago, my friends and i had a dinner out in one of a seafood restaurants near mangga dua square where dra, the finance manager, ordered "kepiting saus padang".

of all the seafood selections people eat, crab is my least favorite one. not that i'm allergic to it, but because i'm too lazy to crack its hard skin and peel its meat out.

until one day, i was invited to lunch with some people from queensland tourism in surfer's paradise.

voila! a tasmanian king's crab to my choice of cooking was offered. a crab so huge i've never seen before. and, before we knew it, it sat on a big plate in front of me. luckily, there were five of us enjoying this poor crab; otherwise, i didn't know what to do with this monster.

kira-kira dijual gak ya di jakarta? just curious.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

assert yourself

it's not easy being a manager of a business unit.

people in here, character wise, tend to define assertiveness to being agressive. it's like i have to walk between a fine line of those two terms.

i always like to be flexible and balanced out. but, flexibility may be seen as weakness and undecisiveness. on the other hand, balancing the power is not always easy.

the most challanging part in my job is to translate the tasks from the higher command to my peers. here, i have to be really careful not to voice out my personal opinion to the tasks given which sometimes could be as impossible as finding a dodo bird.

one thing i learnt from my experience working abroad -- without my co-workers, i am nothing.

i love this picture so much i put this as the opening page of my article in the magazine.

the title?

europe ~ through the lens of my eyes
photo courtesy of just the two of us

just plain and simple. i miss my 3-year old nephew living in japan.

once in a while, over a late dinner and exhausted from work, my mom would sit with me in the dining table and cheerfully telling me of how her grandson's doing. "oh, you know what," she started,"he's getting smarter now... he can count in english, japanese, and indonesian... bla bla bla... "

i would keep eating my dinner while saying,"terus... terus ma... terus... " not patient enough to listen to my mom's story of my nephew she called this morning.

and mom would reply,"terus... terus... you think i'm a robot, huh!?!" and, i would burst laughing at her grumble.

just plain and simple.

i miss my 3-year old nephew now.

being a co-chief editor of a magazine entitles me to be invited to jakarta party scenes. at first, honestly, i would jump to say 'yes, i will come!' answer for each invitation came to my desk. being a nobody living abroad, suddenly, i became somebody in my own city.

not anymore.

the parties were either the gathering of some close-ringed celebrities enjoying the evening with full blast of loud music in a chic club full of cigarette smoke that i hated or the 'kumpul-kumpul' of, well again, close-tied socialites with their colorful hermes birkin bags hanging on their hands and all the brands you can imagine of.

well, some know me well and we chatted. some would looked at me with 'who the hell are you' look. and, of course, the ever degrading question, how do you get invited here kind of question.

a friend told me,"hey, that's good for your networking. i would die to get invited to their circle!"

not anymore.

the last time i attended that kind of party, i told one of my co-workers,"i am so goddam tired putting a smile on my face while actually i wanted to punch that stuck-up plastic face!"

well, of course, you all know what i meant by 'plastic face', right?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

it's been ages since i wrote here the last time. same old reason: what a hectic world i live in.

during my four-week hiatus, the earth is still rotating and the sun still rises from the east. yet, the dramas of life inside the atmosphere did not stop at all.

there were days, i had to work 9-11pm with saturdays and sundays still working at the office. meetings to attend, questions to answer, plans to review.

in the height of a stressful day, nothing could compare a ride home in a low temperature air-conditioned busway. its humming engine soothed my mind. the traffic-free busway lane de-stressed me.

used to go to bookstore when i felt under the weather. i thought, books calm me. it didn't work at all now. strangely enough, riding a busway home is my remedy now. weird, isn't it?

last week, a sad news was in my e-mail inbox. news about a passing of a dear friend. she and i have been friends since 1988 when we were sent to discover Lombok Island among finalists of a writing competition. our friendship lasted beyond Lombok. after high school, she went to sydney then to berlin where i continued my study in the state of georgia.

she became one of the talented young designers in berlin. won fashion awards in sydney, london, hong kong and Femina magazine young designer award. apprenticed with a very well known designer in jakarta before moving to new york city and worked with vera wang.

she was a carefree person with a cheerful personality.

then the news came in late friday. she died due to a brain infection.

my question was "what in the world???"

to my dear friend, may you rest in peace.