Wednesday, September 28, 2005

sebuah tulisan dari antrian bensin

ketika saya menjejakkan kaki kembali ke tanah air setelah lama tinggal di negeri seberang, yang dikawatirkan saya bukan hawa panas tanah tropis ini. bukan pertanyaan apakah saya akan mendapatkan pekerjaan di belantara kota metropolitan ini. bukan masa-masa penyesuaian diri kembali ke tanah air karena ternyata saya langsung dapat menyesuaikan diri setelah empat belas tahun lamanya hidup sendiri.

ketika saya menjejakkan kaki kembali ke tanah air setelah lama tinggal di negeri seberang, yang saya kawatirkan adalah apakah saya bisa tidur nyenyak tanpa diganggu oleh dengingan nyamuk karena saya benci nyamuk.

setelah tahun kedua berdiri dan berjalan di tanah ini, nyamuk bukan menjadi masalah. tidur nyenyak juga tidak menjadi halangan. pekerjaan - saya berterimakasih kepada Yang Maha Tinggi. polusi udara dan polusi suara? ternyata saya jatuh cinta kembali kepada kota ini yang telah lama saya tinggalkan. inilah metropolitan dengan segala intrik dan perjuangannya.

tapi setelah dua tahun menginjak kaki, sebuah fenomena menjadi horor di mata saya --menjadi hantu yang bermomok di pikiran saya.

beberapa bulan lalu hal ini terjadi dan terus terjadi. sebuah ironi yang membuat saya tak habis pikir.

robekan kardus coklat dengan kata-kata BENSIN HABIS bertulis tangan berlatar belakang antrian mobil dan motor sepanjang jalan menjadi hiasan foto-foto halaman pertama surat kabar.
orang mengutuk harga bensin yang beringsut naik. saya berusaha menggunakan nalar sehat. ini adalah dosa pemerintah lama yang meninabobokan rakyat dengan subsidi selama 32 tahun membuat kita terlena.

akhir kata, mudah-mudahan negeri ini selamat dari demo-demo massa yang berusaha menggoyang dan mencabik. selamat dari orang-orang oportunis bersuara lantang mengatasnamakan rakyat. selamat dari provokator-provokator yang melempar batu dan kemudian menyembunyikan tangan-tangannya.

saya lahir di sini dan satu saat saya akan mati di sini. saya hanya berharap akan kemakmuran tanah ini lepas dari segala masalah yang terus menderanya.

God save Indonesia and God save us all.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

all of my friends are telling me how fortunate i am to be able to visit all of the beautiful resorts and got to spend the nights there.

people sometimes forget that i was invited to visit the resorts to work not in any way of vacationing there. it was true that as a media person, sometimes, i got more perks than the regular guests did.

i visited many resorts in java, bali, and lately lombok. at first, i have to request permissions to visit some of them and in return did some write ups. but, as time goes by, the opposite happened -- i received a lot of invitations to visit and stay from them.

not that i didn't enjoy staying at those luxuries resorts -- i loved them all -- but mostly, during the daytimes. when the night fell, the story would be different.

most of those resorts are intended for the honeymooners -- meaning for couples. and aometimes, they were built in places so exotic unimaginable -- in the middle of paddy fields, on the deserted island with beautiful beach, at the top of a hill, in a valley next to a sacred river, in the middle of nowhere but hutan jati and so on.

they are so exquisitely beautiful in the daytimes and so incredibly spooky and scary in the evening if you got to stay and sleep by yourself because the panoramas outside would be very dark with minimal natural lights sometimes only stars and moonlight and the interior of the villa would be very dimmed by minimal lightings to enhance the romantic ambiance.

the spookiest resort i've ever stayed and promised myself would never visit it again is located in a small village in central java. for the first time in my life, i got so scared sleeping by myself i turned the tv and all the lights on.

different islands have different auras.

one of the resorts could really throw me into a scary situation. the story started with this -- it was a nice and beautiful resort in the middle of paddy fields. the night was quiet and i was just ready to turn the light off and tuck in. suddenly, the phone rang. a ring of a phone in the middle of the night could make you jump and of course, the news couldn't me more abstract to me. one member of my team frantically yelled, "maaan, john doe 'kesurupan'!!! aduh elo ke sini deh, gue takut nih!"

as the manager of the team, i have to do something. meaning walking from my villa to his villa with a flashlight in my hand and lots of prayers in my heart and, trust me, in the middle of my walking to the intended villa, all the power in the resort suddenly went dead! and, there i was in the middle of a total darkness with only lights from my flashlight and from afar i could hear john doe's voice shrieking and wailing high in a quietness of the night.

to sum it up -- i hate sleeping by myself in an assignment and can't wait to enjoy those beautiful resort with the one i love in a honeymoon.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

101 ways to talk your ways through life's challenges

a couple of years ago, there was a book i longed to buy called 101 ways to talk your ways through life's challenges. in reality, i've never had a chance to buy this book, yet, somehow, i scribbled some of the chapters in my old journal that dated back from my life in the city of fountains.

among chapters inside this specific books, three of them caught my attention.

it's a rough patch in the long road of life life is a long winding road. you never know what the next curve will bring - whether a beautiful panorama or a dangerous potholes. one thing in certain as long as you are alive, you are moving forward and eventually you will leave the obstacles behind. unwelcome detours finally do end and easier streches lie ahead.

the 60-percent solution this magic words are one of the secrets to making a relationship work. most people say, you've got to share equally or shoulder half of the burden. but, if both parties start out with the idea of giving 60-percent -- that adds up to over 100 percent. life isn't always 50-50. sometimes one party has to pay a little extra into the account.

i need your help comes in handy when people really don't want to be helpful to you. the words are valuable in myriad situations. use them, and you'll find the true power of these words.
then, as i flipped through the pages of my journal my memory of being alone with books and starbuck's hot tea in barnes and noble continued. i remembered i grabbed a book which, pitty, i didn't write its title other than some of the chapters inside. my journal continued with the writing of those chapters.

i don't know why, as to right now, i chose those chapters to be written in my journal.

the only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he is still a baby

put a silk on a goat, and it's still a goat

we commonly confuse closeness with sameness

apperently the book i grabbed sounded like a relationship self-help book.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

it was raining hard the night before and was still raining through the midnight in some parts of the city. i woke up at precisely 4:51am in the morning - opened the curtains and try to get back to sleep almost sitting up due to the stuffy nose.

awoke suddenly moments later by the bluish of the sky through the window. grabbed my camera still under the influence of nyquil and took some pics of the city at daybreak.

jakarta -- in the calm of the early morning -- not bad at all.

the honeymoon suite was spacious. bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne were there to welcome you. all the amenities you can get.

yet, i got to spend there by myself and sick.

not complaining though -- after jakarta wedding festival, assignment in lombok, assignment in surabaya, editorial meetings -- a weekend stay by myself catching up with my readings and watching all the channels -- was just what i needed.

dunno why i don't really like chocolate. a few weeks ago, there was a chocolate festival in town. it was packed with chocolaholics and they seemed to enjoy being in the middle of chocolate creations.

this weekend, another assignment took me to one of the hotels in jakarta. got to shoot pictures for their bridal suite. of course, chocolate was one of the items i have to shoot.

the director of marketing who accompanied me, an australian lady, told me to try one of those chocolates,"you have to try this one. you should! this one is really heaven!" knowing that i don't like chocolate, the word 'should' was being emphasized.

and, i tried that mocha tasted chocolate. it was delicious!

i guess, chocolate is just chocolate. and, it isn't my favorite thing to eat. but, once in a while, it was nice to have a bite, wasn't it?
my antibody is in a middle of a battle agains the flu bugs right now.
i hate being sick and i hate being awake in the middle of the night -- coughing unstoppably.
not to mention a running nose and terrible headache.

being sick everywhere isn't nice at all and i hate it.
when i was in the state, got a cold was a pain in the arse especially in winter time. got to take care everything by myself. but, being sick here in jakarta isn't that easy either. got to face my mom who yapped all the time blaming me not to listen to her enough.

"ga makan buah sih... ga makan sayur sih... di kantor makannya ga bener sih... makanya jangan tidur malem-malem..."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

tangkap kawin - a tradition

an email came to my inbox early on monday. the subject: an invitation to an 'akad nikah'. curious, i clicked that open and was surprised by whom it was sent.

he asked me to have a permission for days off. the reason? he got to get married. yet, he sounded unexcited and dull. why didn't you feel excited, i asked. i was asked to marry my girlfriend not because that i wanted to get married, at least not now, he said. and, the conversations stopped. i then offered him a good luck for the life ahead.

then the email came.

in the middle of a modern society, there still lies the conservativeness of an eastern way of tradition called 'tangkap kawin'. rumors said, when the man got caught several time still dating his date beyond 10 pm in the evening things will get serious. the father of the girl will talk to him and ask him to marry his daughter to prevent the 'unthinkable' like the girl got pregnant or the family being chided by the neighbors.

the conversations would be like -- marry my daughter or stop seeing her.

ultimately, that's a tough choice to make.

he's still young. the future lies ahead in front of him. but now, he has to take care a wife.

at least, he saw a positive side out of it -- "pernikahan tuh bawa berkah, pak," he said, "nanti punya anak juga tambah lagi berkahnya," he continued.

bless your heart and your future.
photo taken by arisanti in lawrence, kansas

the heat of jakarta made me really boiled today. and, how things changed when i, mentally, cooled down myself by looking at this picture sent by someone i love.

i was in surabaya last week, and, boy, the city was warmer than jakarta, when i remembered the winter season in the land of snow.

in the deep of january, the coldest month of winter, i would wake up at 6 in the morning still dark and cold outside to prepare to go to work. went out from the warmth and coziness of my apartment was the hardest part of the day. it was getting harder when the first bitter cold air hit your skin face and the howling wind of winter just brushed your bundle wrapped body mercilessly.

well, it didn't stop there.

got to warm the car up and waited for the heater working to warm up the interior of the car. when the snow accumulated, of course, you have to clean it up in order to drive your car. 3 inches snow would make you do some work out. 6 inches snow like the picture above would make you do some cardios without going to the gym.

above all the hassles, inhaling the purest oxygen and breathing the cleanest air the season can offer was just priceless. nothing beats the beautiful season of winter.

traffics are one of the major problems for cities everywhere around the world. but, nothing compares to the traffic problems in the metropolitan city of jakarta in a big scale.

motorcycles, metrominis, kopajas, bajajs, you name your distractions.

for me, driving to work everyday, i feel that those distractions are becoming more and more intollerable or, i should say, people here are getting intollerant unto each other.

take for example, a metromini. if you're not be careful, you can be hit by its reckless driving. no matter what, the driver of the bus feels that he has all the rights in this land to do whatever needed to sabotage your right of way. the right that people in the states hold highly.

not to mention bunches of motorcylists.

cases of motorcyclists cutting your right of way in front of you are getting a norm of life here. yet, i found some cases that made me think hannibal lecter was really needed to solve the problems.

once in a busy street in the hectic time of rush hour, a motorcyclist stopped in front of my car in the middle of the street. and, why on earth he was doing that?

simple yet intollerant act of manner -- he stopped in the middle of the street to answer a call to his cellular phone.

and, when i honked him. he looked at me annoyed as if i was the one who took his right of answering a call in the middle of a busy street. cars were honking him. yet, he just did his business like nothing happened around him.

hannibal lecter would open his skull, slice part of his brain, fry it and eat it.

oh, i would put some olive oil and add a touch of garlic seasoning, fry it for a minute or two and eat it half done.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

last weekend, i was invited to a wedding in a church in the outskirt of jakarta. and to be honest, it is the area i've never been before to say the least and will never know the area unless i was given the map to drive there.

of course, i wouldn't leave home withouth bringing my camera.

the church was surrounded by primary and junior high schools. it was an open air building and in the middle of the mass you can hear students' talking and cheering going out from the schools.

i was about to take a picture of the members of family bringing the 'persembahan' to the altar when suddenly i saw this cute girl scout sitting in the far bench witnessing all the processions.

walked near her and said 'hello' to her and just took some shots asking her to smile.

the result -- the lighting was perfect. the smile was so relax and natural.

one of my favorite human interest pictures.

i used to work in a kitchen of a fine dining premise in kansas city. a demanding job that i did wholeheartedly because i loved it!

in a busy time as an assistant to the executive chef, my duty was helping him preparing everything in the line. basic stuffs i have to learn -- how to peel potatoes and how to cook pastas the right way.

meals that i hate to cook -- omelette and poached eggs. you know, flipping the omelette wasn't an easy task. it looked easy but dunno why, i just couldn't do it right. the chef helped me by letting me tossed as many eggs as i needed. i even practiced the flipping using a slice of bread. oh well, no success whatsoever. not my talent, perhaps.

poaching eggs took so much time.

in bali, i got to know an executive chef who works at one of the most famous restaurant in ubud. the restaurant that was recommended by the butler of begawan giri when i stayed there, yet didn't take the advice.

so, here i was, the closest time i got to be in the kitchen in jakarta was taking his picture doing some flambe. how i miss wearing the chef white shirt with my name on it like i used to be.

it was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and i have been standing inside the kitchen for about 45 minutes. smelling all kinds of food being prepared, of course, i was getting hungry.

the appetizer shots were done and this plate of -- pink prawn with rhubarb and pomato compote - pistachio goat truffle on baby spinach - seared herbed tuna with roasted vegetable -- was on the table doing nothing. i took some silly shots. but, that wasn't what i wanted to do.

i wanted to grab them up and oh that prawn and seared tuna looked so good, not to mention some truffle in this appetizer plate.

of course, at the end of the session i was still hungry cuz one of the chefs grabbed the plate and took it somewhere.

darn darn darn!

photo session isn't always be in a glamorous way. like today, for example. we were doing some food photo session in the deep heat of a kitchen in a fine dining restaurant in jakarta. i was all sweating like crazy and i think everybody was too.

problem was, were were given exactly one hour to do some dishes starting from the appetizer, main course, and dessert. just one hour -- no more.

in a tight period of time like that in an environment as boiled hot as inside the volcano felt, what would you do to have the best result you can get?

focus focus focus.

Friday, September 02, 2005

after lombok and before surabaya - no rest at all for me. the articles need to be written. the photo sessions need to be done.

i usually came by for an hour or two in a photo session just to know that everything was okay -- chatting to the photographer (good relationship needs to be maintain), saying thanks to the models (you never know when you need them again for the next articles - good relationship needs to be maintain), to the make-up team, and other prop teams that we use.

thanks to the team that consists of an editor, an art director, and a fashion stylist -- the sessions always went well. so, i usually went back to the office after an hour.

but the next edition will be a different game to play. it's a story of four best friends having fun together before a d-day for one of them. in this article, the magazine will be taking the same models for several photo shots by different photographers, make-up artists and prop teams. meaning, i have to come by to every photo session which sometimes be held in locations God knows where in Jakarta depending on the themes we are writing.

well, be able to chat among the professional photographers and learn the way theytake good angles -- and-- play a joke or two with those gorgeous models -- no worries at all.

this is surabaya -- second to jakarta as the largest city in the nation in terms of populations, businesses and tradings.

my trip to the land of castles has to be postponed due to the surgency in the value of US dollars nowadays -- and i think, it's good to be postponed.

one assignment postponed - another one awaits.

gotta fly to surabaya late next week for three days. i have a favorite spot in this hotter-than-jakarta city. tunjungan plaza. everytime i went there, it seemed that i always found something that i cannot find in the capital.

looking forward to flying into this city.

selaparang airport is located on the western side of lombok island where lombok straits -- the deepest strait in the nation lies to its west and the mountains range surrounding mount rinjani as the third highest peak in the nation to the east.

a nice clear weather will land your aircraft smoothly. on the other hand, the picture above tells a different story. a thick stormy clouds was in the vicinity not to mention the gust from the strait. what afraid me the most is the aviation term called the wind shear.

thought it was a rough climbing towards the 27,000 feet on the way to Jogyakarta, the pilots managed to fly this Boeing 737-400 well.

and, i just realized, having tasted the ultra-secure airport security in the US after the 9/11, only in the nation (i think) the passangers can walk leisurely on the tarmac boarding the aircraft. as an airlines enthusiast like me, no complain whatsoever. i can easily walk under the aircraft, seeing luggages being loaded, talked to the first-officer and saw avtur being pumped in. the experience you can never have outside the nation.

there are two kinds of resorts that i was excited about everytime i visited. the resort that has plunge pools in each villa or the one like the picture above.

this particular villa is a two-story modern looking one -- complete with a living room, dining room, outside jacuzzi on the first floor and a huge bedroom and bathroom upstairs. it is for you who wants to be pampered by the modern ammenities.

the nicest thing about staying here is you just can take a plunge anytime you want!

and as usual -- a nice honeymoon villa with a nice jacuzzi outside you can skinny dip whenever you want -- and i got to stay by myself.


what is the definition of a romantic dinner? if i ask you, would you describe it of what is a romantic dinner for you and what kind of romantic dinner would you have?

as an editor of a honeymoon section of a wedding magazine, many times, i was invited to visit beautiful resorts and spas locally and, lately, regionally. to be honest, it's a nice job. in order for me to write them up, they let me experiencing what it would like to be honeymooners complete with a romantic dinners, spa treatments, even honeymoon suites or villas for myself.

everytime if i have to do a photo shot of a romantic dinner setting, i asked myself, what would i do if i have to sit in one of those chairs with my fiancee? holding hands? light kissings? sweet hushy talks?

for me, a romantic dinner could be anywhere -- eating bowls of spaghetti that i cooked for someone i love while laughing together watching friends on thursday prime time is what i called a romantic dinner.

so, what kind of romantic dinner would you have?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

in another interlude of my staying in the island, i saw a happy family of four on a sunny sunday morning in senggigi beach.

the father, the mother, older son and younger daughter playing around a yellow canoe in a shallow calm water of this beautiful shore.

i saw myself in this picture, actually. and, the memory goes back years ago.

every sunday, mom and dad took me and my sis to ancol to find fresh air of sea breeze people said was good for curing the allergic. mom told me, i had of -- dunno what, but i coughed alot during the night.

so, off we went to be in java sea every week. we left early in the morning riding my dad's red piaggio bringing along tikar and lunch to eat there.

boy, when i saw this happy family in this picture, i really saw myself there. dad used to swim with me and my sis. mom sat on the sandy beach under the canopy of palm trees shadow. for once or twice, we rented a canoe, a red canoe, and the four of us had fun together bobbing up and down following the rhythm of the waves.

a nice childhood memory rekindled on a sunny sunday in senggigi beach. hope one day, i would do the same to my family.

di hari ketiga. exactly on the third day of my visit to lombok dimana segala keindahan yang dapat saya nikmati dan segala kemudahan serta layanan yang diberikan kepada saya dan tim saya. it was when i felt that the Highest Above pulled me down back to the ground.

i was finishing my supper of mie ayam jamur in a local eatery just on the side of jalan raya senggigi ketika mata saya tertuju ke satu titik in an alley beside where i sat. seorang anak laki-laki dengan baju terlalu besar untuk seumur dia ada di depan saya. tampaknya ia sedang asik memainkan lengkungan kawat yang ia torehkan ke dinding hijau di depannya.

rambutnya kotor dan terlihat kaku. mukanya cemong oleh kerak ingus. dan ia masih terlihat asik bermain-main dengan lengkungan kawatnya ketika saya mendekatinya dan memotretnya.

tatapan matanya begitu tajam untuk anak seumur dia. antara kaget dan bingung, ia menatap saya. tatapannya begitu tajam untuk anak seumur dia.

as i wrote this posting, i still remember the nano seconds my eyes met his for the first time. anak ini menatap saya beberapa saat. berdiam diri sambil satu tangannya meraba-raba tembok hijau di sampingnya. ia tidak meminta seperti layaknya anak-anak kecil pengamen di lampu-lampu merah jakarta.

salah satu anggota tim pemotretan memberinya uang. dua ribu lembaran rupiah.

ia masih terdiam ketika tangannya diraih dan lembaran kertas diselipkan diantara genggamannya.

"bilang apa?" tanya si anggota tim.

"mmmm... cih..."

the boy touched my heart. with all the things i have and i achieved, there are still people less fortunate than what i became.

bless his heart wherever he is now. i thank him for reminding me to always be thankful for what i have.

cidomo means public transportation. during my short stay in mataram/ampenan, the capital of lombok, i didn't see any other transportation except the cidomos and taxis.

with the two-way streets enough just for the two-way cars, driving behind a cidomo could be a challenge for the rather impatient person like me. pheeew, lucky us, jakarta doesn't have this kind of transportation.