What I Remember About Mumbai

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I was lucky enough to visit this wonderful city last year, exactly a year ago. I remember how excited I was, ready to drown myself into foreign culture (how exciting). My first stop was Mumbai, where I met my friends, couple Wiwid and Indra. At my first sight into the city, I was already fell in love. Indian people are very nice, they’re chatty and helpful. I even got a new friend accompanied me from the plane til I met Wiwid on the airport. How nice of him.

I love Mumbai and how busy it was, how crowded and how lively the city was. There were people in every corner of the street! On the first night I arrived, they were getting ready for Divali festival and all the streets were filled with colorful lanterns! I couldn’t resist and bought one, hanged it on my room now. I had a reminder not to buy food from street vendors -which obviously I ignored completely- I ate everything! I love Indian food and despite the hygienic issue (come on, I’m Indonesia, who am I kidding?), they were very, very tasty, rich in spices, creamy and healthy!

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Why You Should Have A Dog

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Mi perro, Lulu

1. Imagine a long, tiring day at work. The traffic that you have to get through, works that you take home, bad rapport from your boss. And on the front door, you have this thing that when it sees you, it seems for them, there is nothing else more important in this life, than you. Then she jumps at you and kisses your face. Any bad day can be forgotten after.

2. Dogs are men’s best friend. That is so true. Take yours anywhere, guarantee that there will be somebody who stops to pet your dog. ( Lulu has been petted, taken photo with and hugged). This is actually a good way for social ice-breaker. I get to know lots of new people, thanks to Lulu.

3. The glue that sticks your family together. There’s nothing best than to take care of something together. When I’m away, my mom often texts me, gives me report about Lulu’s daily activities (which I find hilarious, because she wasn’t really fond of pets the first day Lulu came). Or when she’s sick, my dad texts me to tell me to get home soon. I find this very heart-warming.

4. Learn about responsibility. Once you get a pet, any kind of, you must remember that their life depend on you. See point one, that’s true, for them you are their world. You are responsible to make them happy (take them for a morning walk), feel rewarded (give them biscuits), care for them (don’t forget the monthly medicine, bath them regularly), comfort them (make sure their cages are warm enough, but not too damp).

5. Have you seen Red Dog? Hachiko? Marley and Me? Bolt? Rin Tin Tin? Old Yeller? I bet you never see a movie like those with cats in it, or fishes, or snakes. (well, Babe has pig in it, but talking pig doesn’t count), my point is there is not many animal that can touch you in the heart. (Maybe dolphins do, but we’re not mermaid aren’t we?) We, human being, are blessed with dogs in our lifetime. 🙂

What A Jerk

I have just finished reading Junot Diaz’s book: This Is How You Lose Her. In this compilation of short stories, Diaz told series of broken hearted men and how they lose the women in their life. What is so sad and ironic about the story is that they lose all the women because of their own foolishness and stupidity. They cheated on them and then hoped that they could get away with it (mostly, they didn’t), then they realized what a fool they’d been and wasted their life trying to get over it.

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

-from goodreads.com

Reading his book I became aware how selfish and pathetic sometimes men are, to the point I actually pity them. They cheated on their wives, fiances, mothers and then like a curse from women they’ve betrayed, their life became miserable. But what interesting is, how men look at their relationship. Nothing more than something that they should maintain, they know it’s important but they didn’t realized how important it is until it’s gone. The realization comes too late, and I think what shocked them more (than losing the women), is the fact that they’re unable to live without the relationship. Then they become a total idiot to put all the pieces back together, but of course – dramatic pause – it’s too late.

While I was reading the book, I couldn’t help it but thinking about my boyfriend. There he was, sitting in front of his Tamiya kit like a ten years old, resting his arm on my knee. Then out of nowhere I said, “men are jerks”. He looked at me, confused. Two things are running on his mind : a) shit, did I do something wrong? Did she say something and I missed it? well can’t she see that I was busy with my Tamiya? and b) Okay, now what?

When I explained it was about a book, he smiled and said, “we are jerks. that just something you, women, should realized it before you get involve with us.”

Wait. So when a guy cheated on his girl, that makes the girl’s fault? He said patiently, of course not, but nobody is perfect. By now, you should realized that. That’s just part of men. What? animal? He laughed, well, if you put it that way.

I tried to digest this. Well, it’s true, nothing is perfect. For us, women, we vision this perfect ideal relationship where men are something we can control. What a fool. Sometimes we can’t even control ourselves, let alone the species called men. I stroke my boyfriend’s hair, I couldn’t help but thinking I was stroking a half-tamed beast and pet him. He’s eyes were shining with enthusiasm toward his model kit, like a dog who has just given a new bone.

He later said, that’s not true, of course being in a relationship is important for us. While he said this, we were eating in our usual place and I just bought a bowl of mango dessert, kind of thick mango juice with animal-shaped jellies in it. He continued, It’s just sometimes you can be so annoying, like why do you have to be so dependent on me? Then, right after that, he spat a turtle-shaped jelly on to his palm and shouted, “look a turtle from my mouth!!”, then he ate the jelly turtle back again. This he repeated 3 times until his palm became sticky and I had to gave him baby wipes to clean it off.

I can’t believe I just had a conversation about relationship with my boyfriend. Useless. At the end of our dinner he found it hilarious that I could get so beat up just because of  a book. See? That’s the problem with girls, you take everything way too serious.

Coming from a grown up man who spits turtle-shaped jelly (and eats it again), I say no more.

In The Loop

I remember Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s early days, he starred in ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ with the late Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Then he came back as Summer’s lover in ‘500 Days of Summer’. Next, he’s everywhere. He was in The Inception and The Dark Knight Rises as Robin, he then was a bike messenger in ‘Premium Rush’ and the latest was an assassin in ‘Looper‘ along with Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.

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Loopers are assassins who kill people from the future. When people in the future want to get rid of someone, they send them to the past, where Loopers will take care of them, including getting rid of the bodies. Sometimes, the syndicate who hires them want to get rid of the Loopers, they send the future  Loopers back to the past to be killed by the present looper itself, this called ‘closing the loop’. If a Looper fails to kill their future self, the syndicate will hunt them down until they get both of them (the future and the past). Usually, most Loopers accept their fate, when they kill their future self, it means they get 30 years before their time comes, they are paid extremely well and they can do whatever they want to do after  their loop is closed.

But the problem is, the future Looper of Joe (Bruce Willis), refuse to die. He fights back and wants to kill the person in the future, The Rainmaker, who kill all the Loopers in the future. This causes present Joe a big trouble. Future Joe idea is to win his live is to kill the young Rainmaker, and present Joe does everything to take future Joe down.

What interesting about this movie is, aside from its plot, it’s the casts. Besides its main casts, I love how Paul Dano actually steals some early scenes and Emily Blunt as a though single mother, and of course the little freaky kid, Cid (played by the genius Pierce Gagnon). During most of Cid’s scenes, I’m amazed how he stirs the audiences’ emotion, sometimes he’s funny, innocent, and then, a maniac.

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There are so many interesting characters as the movies goes on but they never appear in one big scene together, that’s the good thing about this movie. The story is complex but the story line makes it easy to digest.

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*Spoiler Alert!*

After had watched it, I had a short discussion with Rob. On this movie, future Joey had fallen in love with a woman and he believed that she was the one that saved his life. He was a mess, a junkie and a killer who was a brand new man because of his wife’s love. His wife was killed by The Rainmaker’s men and he decided he’d go the past to kill the little Rainmaker so he wouldn’t make any trouble in the future. On Rainmaker’s birthday there were two other kids who were born on the same day, same hospital, so future Joe decided to kill all those 3 kids one by one.

I was a bit shocked when Joe actually killed the first kid. Rob told me that there was a rule in Hollywood that if a character does something against the morality (like killing children) he has to die in the movie. They were actually written rule about it, up until 1960s. They didn’t have it anymore but Hollywood still doing it, it’s kind of moral obligation to the viewers. But Looper is not the typical superhero movies, from the beginning Joe is a bad guy. He even didn’t hesitate to kill his future self so he can buy 30 years in peace. The future Joe -who killed a child- also gained sympathy because he did it in the name of love. At the end of the movie, present Joe killed himself, so the bad/good guy was dead.

Interesting how this movie made the audience actually sympathized with the bad guys, but then it’s Hollywood typical we’ve known. Godfather, Scarface, the TV Series Dexter. If there’s one world where we can justified killing, it’s movie.

The Joy of Sharing

Friends has always been my fave sit com and there was this one episode where Joey was being sensitive about his food. He was on a date with a beautiful girl and they had a dinner on a fine dining restaurant. Then, when the waitress asked for their order, the girl ordered only a salad and a mineral water, Joey on the other hand, wanted a full plate of french fries for his side dish. During dinner, the date wanted to try his french fries and Joey unwillingly let her. But then, she asked for more..and more, and this was way too much for Joey to take, he screamed at her, “Joey. Doesn’t. Share. Food!!”

ImageI loved that one episode, funny how his love towards women came off second after his love for food. I thought Joey -being a character in a sitcom- was a bit overrated toward food, but lately I changed my mind. It seems very rude not to share food, not only rude, it seems a very sinister thing to do, very selfish. When somebody asked for a bite, you just have to say yes. In fact, Joey, the fictional character, was the only person who openly defended his food and stated that he just didn’t share.

But let’s see this from another point of view, if refusing to share food is selfish and rude, what about asking for others’ food? Is it polite to gobble anything in your friend’s dining table without asking if it’s okay to? Is it okay to always wanting to taste your friend’s food when you eat out together? Is it okay to ask for a sip of drink from your friend’s coke bottle?

Recently, I encountered a situation where manner in ‘food sharing’ baffled me. My friend complained about my other friend, who – according to him- wasn’t that close to him. This one friend, on a dinner, briefly picked my friend’s fried calamari from his plate while said, ‘can I try this one?’. That episode disturbed him so much, he resents that girl until this day. I said, what’s the problem with that? He said, well- I don’t know her, you don’t just pick someone’s fried calamari, especially if that was the first dinner we ate together! he said hotly.

I thought about Joey and thought it wasn’t the same. Joey just doesn’t share food, close friends or not. But in my friend’s case, he doesn’t like sharing food with stranger (well, not exactly a stranger, friends not in his circle, perhaps).

So, months gone by and I almost forgot about the calamari incident when similar thing happened to me a few days ago. A friend of mine, gobbled my take away dinner and didn’t share with the rest of the group. I didn’t say anything to anybody but it kept bothering me until the next day. It bothered me that I was bothered by that matter. I told myself again and again, it was only some chickens, I could get it whenever I wanted it and shouldn’t made a big deal out of it. But it still did.

So I googled the web, wondering was I the only one who felt that way toward food-sharing etiquette, turned out, I wasn’t. Here what I found from the witty and smart Rachel Wilkinson’s blog :

Rule #26: I know my food looks delicious, but at least let me taste it before you start eyeballing it. How about I eat a few bites, offer some commentary on how it tastes, and then you pretend that you’re just now noticing it for the first time? We both know this is a lie, but it’s the polite thing to do. This at least gives me a chance to offer you a bite. Which I may or may not.

Rule #27: If you want to try a bite of my food and I haven’t offered it yet, you have to ask first. First. You have to ask first. You know, like before you help yourself.

Rule #29: Don’t abuse your food sharing privileges. If I say you can have a bite of my burger, don’t take advantage of my generosity. When it comes to the food I share, “a bite” does not mean “everything you can cram into your mouth at once, leaving me with nothing but a scrap of bun and a tiny corner of cheese.”

There was just some rudeness, selfishness and greediness in her that taken me aback. ( Or was it me that too stingy, not wanted to share my food?). But this chicken incident actually funny because, my boyfriend who was with me that day, felt the same way too. We were driving down to town when I mentioned it (because I just couldn’t keep it for myself longer!), we were like two kids found a pink shell in the beach. We had a good laugh and shared the bewilderment of finding a same thing that most people might not realized and when we passed the chicken restaurant, my boyfriend  bought us two big boxes of it! We ate it in the car, hand smeared with sauce and licked our fingers with such satisfaction, it made us laugh even more. (Note to readers who thought that we laughed at her, you’re wrong. We laughed at the situation)

It’s really nice to share something. Our sentiment towards sharing food, for once. Or maybe the food itself.

English. To scrap or not to scrap.

I was in the teacher’s room with my other colleagues when David, an Australian who’s been working here for almost ten years, showed me a column from Jakarta Post. Ministry of Education to Scrap English from Schools. I had heard of it before and wasn’t sure how to react. The other were giving comments of how absurd it was (it is) and how decisions that the ministry have made somehow seemed ignorant to what young people need (didn’t sound so strange -this is Indonesia ministry of Ed we’re talking about).

I googled and found an article about the infamous new rule the minister is about to apply to every schools in Indonesia (I doubt that private schools will join in). He said the main reason was that young students, grade 1 to 3 don’t need to be exposed to English when they are actually still struggling to learn their first language, he also said that students need to understand the philosophy of our first language before rushed into English.

I myself, had formal education on English at school when I was in the third grade. I didn’t see it affect me today, or whether it would be better if I had it earlier. Of course, I had extra education from TBI when I was eleven until my college year, I must say English at school wasn’t really helpful. But I was lucky, not everybody can afford that education and had to relay to schools.

But is it true that a young student need not be rushed into new language? Is it bad for their development? So I did another quick research. Here what I found from http://www.learninglinks.org.au

Myths surrounding bilingualism.  There are many myths associated with bilingualism.•  Myth: delays in language are caused by learning a second language.This is not true. Like any other child, a child who is bilingual can have language delays, but learning a second language neither increases nor decreases the chances of having a language delay. •  Myth: it is easier to learn a second language if you stop using your first or home language and concentrate on the new language.The truth is that the stronger the first language is, the easier it is to learn a second language.•  Myth: parents should stop using the first or home language when the child begins speaking a second language such as English.In fact, the best way for families to support children learning English is to maintain the child’s first language at home.Parents don’t have to talk in English to help their child learn English. It is more important that parents use the language that they can use best and are the most comfortable speaking. When they do this they can provide models of grammatically correct sentences and access to a wide vocabulary. Parents should therefore continue to use their first language to talk to their child about everyday activities such as shopping, and share poems, stories, songs, books and games. It can also help if parents use the name of the language (for example, Mandarin or Cantonese), when speaking in this language to their child.

So I found that yes, some students might have difficulties coping with two language in their development process, but it is not the source of language delays. Furthermore, there are some benefits in learning two languages in early age, as quoted from http://www.asha.org

Benefits of Bilingualism Many research studies cite the cognitive-linguistic benefits of being a fluent bilingual speaker. Experts have found that children who are fluent bilinguals actually outperform monolingual speakers on tests of metalinguistic skill.In addition, as our world shrinks and business becomes increasingly international, children who are fluent bilingual speakers are potentially a tremendously valuable resource for the U.S. economy. Most Americans are currently monolingual speakers of English, and are finding more and more that it would be highly advantageous to their professional lives if they spoke a second language.

Interesting point of view, I wonder when the minister talked about our first language philosophy that should be mastered by the students before they actually start learning English (which, by the way, what is it?), did he think about our economy in future time?

I have students in third or fourth grade that speak fluent English, it amazed Rob, a teacher who shares the class with me. I think by the time they’re in my age, they’re gonna be able to give orations or speeches in perfect English. Which, I also realized, our president is not able to do. But on his account,  he might understand the philosophy behind Bahasa Indonesia.

No, no, no. No English for you, kiddos. The cow stays ‘sapi’ until you’re in 4th grade!

High Fidelity

Peter Parker said (indirectly to Gwen Stacy) at the end of the movie, the best kind of promises were the ones which we couldn’t keep.

These past few weeks, I encountered some experience with trust. I sat and listened to stories of my friends and some were my own, of promises that were broken. When ones went through an infidelity there were two choices to be made. It struck me though that many took the choice that I wouldn’t have thought they would. Wasn’t it quite clear? That we don’t be with someone who we couldn’t trust?

A girl friend of mine said that love is not what it takes to survive marriage, that she chose to ignore her partner infidelity in an exchange of a married life. Another said she saw her partner flaws, excepted it, as a form of commitment in their relationship. Both of them said these were things grown up people in a serious relationship should be able to deal with.

Was it?
Was to sacrifice your own happiness, your own freedom, bring you a contentment in life? In some cases, contentment takes time. Maybe it will, maybe it is. To know that you make another human being happy – your spouse or your family – might make you a happy person. It was said that sacrifices made for good deeds bring happiness to the person who did it. After all, we’re not gonna live forever.

A friend of mine -who was asking for my advice when he was in doubt of his own relationship- said I was the kind of person who put my happiness first, that means I was selfish. I should be more like him; sacrifice his own freedom and happiness so he wouldn’t hurt his spouse. I was dumbstruck, was it wrong to put our happiness first? Or was it just his justification of his cowardice to choose a road less traveled?

In one of Pocahontas’ soundtrack, ‘Just Around The River Bend’, she sang about choices she decided to take. “To be safe we lose our chance of ever knowing.”
When I asked my friend why didn’t she break up with her boyfriend if she couldn’t take it anymore? She said she was afraid of being alone. She chose to be safe and decided to take her feet off the river.

Sometimes, promises need to be broken.
Sometimes, we need to trust our instinct before we start to trust other.
And sometimes -lots of times- we need to be brave.

It’s not my justification for my act, nor defense for any act of infidelity. But maybe we need to take closer look for what fidelity means. If by keeping your promise means you would be honest and loyal to your spouse, that would be great. But if by doing so you lied and betrayed yourself, what form of infidelity was worse than that?

Everybody wants freedom, but Queen Ellinor in the movie ‘Brave’ asked a good question : Are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost you?

I must say, I paid mine. Wasn’t easy. But it’s worth every second of it. 🙂