Kartini. Really? Why Not?

Raden Ajeng Kartini, April 21, 1879 – September 17, 1904

Ever since social media and networking became popular, I began to dread special days and holidays. Well, not all of them, the ones that irks me the most are, ironically enough, the National Days designed to honour the women of my country. Say what?

No, I do not have misogynistic tendencies, nor am I cloaked in ancient notion about women and men. What I despise are the intentional misleading (and reductions) by the former government about what these days celebrate. Or, if it was unintentional there certainly was no effort to correct it either. Take the one we supposedly to be celebrating today; Kartini Day. Lady Kartini was an aristocrat from Jepara, Java, who lived in the 1880’s. Her high status in society means she was able to attend elementary Dutch school. Kartini loves to study, she likes reading books, and she writes regularly in the form of correspondence to her European friends. Her love of education led her to open up study centers in her house teaching the local children. She would like to have run a real proper school but died before that dream is realised.

A cover for her book of letters to Mrs. Abendanon

After her death, her Dutch friend, the Abendanon, compile her letters and published it. As it was written in Dutch, it was then translated at least into English and eventually in Indonesian. I haven’t actually read the book, such is my vast knowledge of Indonesian history. Apparently she wrote about hot topics like emancipation, religion, and women’s right to study, to make choices, etc. As we are talking about the early 1900’s I suppose it was quite fascinating for the Dutch, oh look one of our subject – remember we were still under occupation back then (and yes it was Dutch occupation despite what their history books might say) – is an enlightened and she’s a woman! She doesn’t want to be oppressed anymore, let’s help her!

Then, as fate would have it, our first president decided to grant her National Hero status and made her birthday a National Day. Here’s where it gets absurd. Lady Kartini is all about education. She wants girls to be able to pursue higher education, something she herself wasn’t able to do. So how do we little schoolchildren of Indonesia honours her on her birthday? Would you like to take guesses? No? I’ll answer it for you.By having a pageant aka fashion show with traditional costume.

I kid you not.

As a child I go along with it. As I am partly of Javanese descent, I dutifully done the kain and kebaya, complete with teeny tiny sanggul, the Javanese traditional clothing and what Lady Kartini would wear herself. As an adult I looked back and though, WTF???

What if you do not want to do the pageant thing? Well, there were other competitions one can enter; cooking, sewing and other domestic chores.

Again, I kid you not.

Years of being ‘honoured’ this way, is it any wonder that these days people are starting to feel resentful and lashing out at this poor woman? Let’s see the roll of complaint towards her:

  1. She’s not that heroic, all she does is writing letters, doesn’t really do anything.
  2. She’s only made hero because she’s Javanese.
  3. She’s only made hero because her thought are aligned with the Dutch people.
  4. She’s not relevant anymore, let’s erase this day and create something else.
  5. …. (fill in the blanks)

I can’t help but feel sorry for her. If you’ve worked hard to push education ‘reform’, to get the Quran translated into Indonesian so that people who studied it would understand what it is all about, to make others understand that letting girls study is a good thing rather than a bad thing. If you tried to do all that, and be honoured with… a fashion show? See who could look best like her! Wouldn’t you roll on your grave?

Is it any wonder the timeline is filled with debate and arguments every time this date rolls about? It’s almost 21 April, ooh let’s see who can make the best argument of why we shouldn’t celebrate her anymore. Let’s see who would dole out other Indonesia’s woman heroes who’s more deserving than her. And on and on it goes. Each and every year. Without fail. On fb, twitter, you name it, it’s there.

It is all the Dutch fault.

Yes, blame the oppressor. But I really do think, like rainy days… oh sorry that’s Alanis. Ok, if we look into history, she lived during the Dutch occupation right (yes we get it!) now, the Dutch, as an oppressor, aren’t exactly known to want to educate the oppresses. Oh yes there are schools but only select few can attend it. There were many levels of schooling. If you belong to the aristocrats you can go to that school, merchant families go to this school, general public go to the lower level school or none at all. Just check the history books. Who do you think created apartheid? Long live segregation!

If the Dutch had not occupied us, who’s to say that girls would not be able to receive education? Who’s to say that the Quran would not have been translated? It was the Dutch who doesn’t want Indonesian to be educated. It was them who doesn’t want Indonesian to learn Islam properly. It was their mission to keep us in the dark. It’s the whole point of occupying someone else’s land. You don’t occupy to make them better. You occupy to make yourself better! What is there to gain to give the inlanders proper academic and religious education? They’ll revolt!

And revolt they did. But I’ll get back to that. First, I want to discuss this issue of, “Oh she did nothing!” See, some people think because Lady Kartini doesn’t take up arms, she’s not qualified to be a hero. So the only way to be a hero is if you actually kill some white people? Look, she live in Java where it was relatively peaceful, she wasn’t exactly in the middle of a war zone like our other heroes was. Her dad was not an army general was he? Who’s to say she wouldn’t take up arms and lead an army to battle if Jepara was a war zone? We just don’t know do we?

So she probably was not able to build a school, if she hadn’t died so early, who’s to say she wouldn’t? She’s only 25, people, give her a break! She doesn’t do nothing, she wrote her thoughts! She wrote her opinion down. And it lives. Is it her fault that her letters got published?

Yes, going to school is so easy.

What is not relevant is the way we celebrate her. We should celebrate her by fulfilling her dreams. By showing the educations the Indonesian girls got. We should have poetry writing and reading competition. We should have essay writing, science, and math competition. Oh ok you can have a cooking competition, cooking does require reading skills. Show the parents and the world what the girls have learned! That’s how we should celebrate this day.

Not by nitpicking who should or should not be granted national day. Or having a fashion show! Thank God my kids’ school don’t do that. So so glad!

Until true education access for all is achieved, until all domestic labour finished, at the very least their compulsory 9 year of education, then and only then, would this day be irrelevant. Until then, we still need Kartini’s Day to remind us all.

Selamat Hari Kartini everyone!



Drive Bebe, Drive : Parking

Now that I’ve conquered my fear of driving, well at least within the South Jakarta area to run errands and what not, the next thing to re-learn is how to park. It is very tempting to quote Cher from Clueless, “What’s the point, everywhere in LA has valet!” or something to that effect anyway. But see, valet parking here in Jakarta is too expensive and Babeh thinks it’s a total rip-off. Plus not everywhere you go has valet. Obviously.

Back in LA, parking was not a big deal. Well yes, I couldn’t really parallel park but it is rare that I need to do that. My driving instructor back in Visalia taught me how to park and it served me well over there. Her magic mantra: start turning 2 cars before the spot and it should be fine. It really does work in Los Angeles and some parts on New Jersey that I got to drive. But back home is another story.

Parking heaven…

If you think driving here is crazy, try parking. Absolutely insane! I always need direction from the parking attendant to park. I’m so freaking paranoid I’ll graze another car going in and out, makes me wish the car can park on its own. It took me ages to figure out why the hell do I have such a hard time to park when it was relatively easy breezy over there? Granted I was not the best parker, but certainly was not the worst. Don’t need an attendant there. Then it dawned on me, or rather, my wise Mom pointed out the very obvious thing that I missed, California has AMPLE parking land (and in bits of New Jersey that I was lucky enough to park my cousin’s car). They gave such wide spaces that one does not need a parking attendant to point out when to go left or right. Oh bliss. No need to be afraid of bruising anyone’s vehicle. (Well, if you’re not paying attention, you could but don’t tell that car I dinged it 😉

We’re all very good at parking backward… Except moi

Here, land is at premium that they give just the minimally required space to somewhat safely park the cars. To compound the problem, people here like to park backwards and I’ve never been taught to do that. I can only park going forward. I mean, I can sorta attempted to park backwards myself but only and only if there’s enough space in between, like if there’s 3 adjoining empty spots then yeah I’ll do it. Oh and then, to maximise land use, they’ll double park it by allowing other cars parallel park in front. Between the personal drivers and the attendant somehow they’ve got it all down to a T.

It used to annoy me that I need to use the service of the parking attendants. But having had to deal with parking in crowded spaces, well…  I’ve made peace with myself. I acknowledge the fact that I do require their help so there. They would happily help too knowing there’s a tip in the end. Actually at certain places I now look for an attendant to help me. When there’s none, sometimes one of the personal driver would take their place. A bit of diversion while they’re waiting for their masters to finish their shopping, or business, or whatever.

Or I just try to find an emptier space. That works too 😉

Imaginary Lover

And I masked sadness with smile,
for I am not ready to lose you.
Not yet, not yet.

And I know that time is coming,
you were never mine,
and I, the fool that dare to adore you

I am I am playing with borrowed time,
toying with razor sharp blades,
at the ready at any given time

Scold me, mock me,
but tell me,
would you let this go if you could?

And I bet you that you wouldn’t,
fight me but you wouldn’t.
You’d stand with me and hang on precariously

Don’t hold me,
don’t kiss me if you can’t fix me,
and you won’t

Alas, alas,
such is my fate, my dearest,
I pick the short straw
with your name etched in the end

What can I do, what can I do,
but yearn for you?

Sleep well, sleep well,
let me dream for you,
mi amor

I know not how long this ledge will last,
so let me be,
let me be


of classes, prep time, etc

I knew I’ve been lax with post-a-week thing. Just didn’t realise how severe the laziness was until I look at the number of entries. Less than 4 entries for the whole of August!!! Now that is quite serious fall from the wagon so to speak 😉

Not sure what hit me last month. Hormones gone a bit haywire, was holding a slight grudge and couldn’t quite shake it off. Bad me. Don’t copy it people. Then again I did have, for the first time, 3 different classes in the same semester. I have held few classes in a week but it usually were the same subject so I just need to do 1 prep for them. Now I need to do 3 different set of prep because they are different with different kids. And boy, that takes a lot of time. I just wanna zonked out once work is done. Didn’t really feel like writing anything else, especially after marking papers. I do need to sort out my time better though because the director just told me that I may have the same schedule for next semester. Eek!

However, now that this semester is winding down I think I finally got the hang of it. Earlier I always feel like I’m playing catch up with the classes. No sooner than one prep is done, the next one already waiting to be done with no rest in between. I probably said it before but I really have a higher appreciation for my high school teachers now. Not only do they have to teach everyday but at different levels as well. They really need to be paid much much better than what they are now. Sad how some people think teacher’s salary don’t matter. Anyway, that’s a topic on its own which I really don’t want to get into right now.

Of my tons of readers, if any of you are teachers, care to share any time management tips? I’d love to learn from your experience and would welcome any tips to be a better, more productive teacher 🙂

Have a good weekend!

The Bittersweet Eid

Back in the day, we Indonesians celebrated Eid on the same day, as it should be. It was and still is a joyous occasion where we celebrated the end of Ramadhan. Then, 1998 rolled around. Chaos. Reformation. Democratic resurrection. Weak leaders up till now. Corruption ran unchecked and everywhere. States becoming little kingdoms. Everyone wants to get rich quick , public service means the public service the elected politicians. Well ok, what does all this has to do with Eid? It means, we now celebrate in different ways. And it sucks!

Yes, free from authoritarian shackles, everyone thinks democratic means always having your own say and that your opinion is always right. Nobody cares about uniting the country. The country can go to the dumps. All anyone care is themselves, their family, then their ilks. Again, it sucks!

Now, the way Eid is decided here is by having a big meeting called isbat, where all the Islamic organisation gathers among with astronomers from the military, navy, all legitimate organisation that deals with navigation, astronomy, and the likes. Of all these elements, there’s 2 major religious organisation that likes to differ in opinion, the Muhammadiyah and NU. The former likes to use advancement of technology, the latter likes to use mathematics plus the human eye to determine dates. Nothing wrong with these methods. Each are backed with valid theories and hadith. What is wrong is that they sometimes differ and they can not or would not agree on the same date!

Let me make myself clear, I do not belong to any organisation. I don’t actually care how Eid is determined. I do not have any preference over any method of date calculation. I do not pledge allegiance to any of the religious organisation. My family is a nationalist, my grandparents are not in the history books but they damn well fought for the country against the Dutch and Japanese invasion. Therefore, it’s only natural that I am a card-carrying member of this one great nation called Indonesia. I pledge allegiance to this country – hey I pay tax (or rather, my dad and later, my husband does). I proudly carry the green passport with Garuda Eagle embossed on the cover on my travels abroad. I salute to the red and white flag. I fiercely defend it whenever and wherever. And so, is it any wonder I don’t think it is cool that we celebrate Eid on different days?

Yes, call me undemocratic, call me intolerant, but I say this before and I say it again, I think it sucks (boy, I really need to expand my vocabulary) that the powers that be cannot come into agreement over when we celebrate Eid.
Everyone keep saying, ooh respect differences, difference is beautiful. Well I say, bullsh*t to that. A UNITED country is beautiful. This is one instance where difference is NOT beautiful. Think about it. We’re all muslim. We all believe in the same God, prophets and holy book. We all fast during Ramadhan, we celebrate the same celebration, so how does it make sense to celebrate it on the same day? It is stupid! Ok, so, we’re huge country, some place might celebrate it differently, Australia is also split into two, some states celebrate it on Tuesday and the rest on Wednesday. But those who live on the same town celebrate it on the same day!

Here? Forget the town or cities. Even in the same household some people celebrate it on different days. And they are proud of it. They think it’s so cool, so democratic, so tolerant, so modern. Seriously? What were you smoking? Has the liberals brainwashed the masses into thinking that everything must be different? You’re not cool unless you’re different mate!

Send me back to the stone age, but seriously, the same family, in the same household, celebrating the same celebration on different days and nobody thinks that’s weird? Even Catholics and Protestants celebrated Christmas on the same day. And boy, you just need to google I.R.A. to see how bloody their disagreements get. I don’t think it’s cool. I don’t think it is a ‘rahmat’ that husband and wife, mother and father, siblings, differ in celebrating. A family in the same household should be united. They should be together. Likewise the religious organisations should put the unity of the country ahead of their own ego. By deciding to differ I don’t think they are being wise. I think they are being selfish, proud, and egoist. They think they are right and they don’t care about anyone else. Makes you wonder what’s the point of fasting during Ramadhan then? You’re not wiser. You’re just childish.

Yes yes your method may be right, your method may be the better one BUT, any technology is only as good as the person who made it. Any calculation is only as good as the brain provided. And human are prone to mistakes. Why do you think Allah gave us Ramadhan every single year?

Again, don’t think that I support a particular organisation over the other. I don’t. As I said, I’m a card-carrying member of neither. My blood is neither Muhammadiyah nor NU. My blood is Indonesian through and through. All I want is for all muslims in Indonesia or at the very least, in Jakarta and Jabotabek area to celebrate Eid on the same day. No more, no less.

Unfortunately I see to be the only one that wants that. The rest seems happy to be separated. I want us to be united. Not separated. Not divided. Together. That’s all. Until that happens, Eid would probably continues to be bittersweet for me. Hope that would change.


That ‘W’ Problem

I used to think being fat doesn’t matter as long as I’m healthy. Wrong! Being overweight is opening an invite to a host of diseases. There’s this saying,  “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” that’s not a lie you know. It’s too easy loading up on calories; the cakes, the snacks, the butters and co. But unloading it is frankly a b*tch!

Looking at old photos, I wasn’t a fat kid. Wasn’t the skinniest on the block either, just happily middle ground. Then college kicks in. The  fresher’s blues, cured by turning to food but not doing regular sports.  Now that was smart. Lemon chicken and Orange Duck were my vice. How sweet it was! I could do worse, but yeah, food is the drug of my choice (and yes, I’ve watched too many Oprah episodes to count). And I bet, even after more than 10 years, I’m still paying for those luscious crispy fat fowl skins coated in those yummy sauces.

It’s not like I wake up suddenly 3 sizes bigger, but never underestimate the power of denial. I don’t like dramas so when clothes don’t fit, I don’t fret. I don’t sweat it, I just get a what fits.

Then I got married, got pregnant and my warped brain screams, “Yay! A valid reason NOT to lose weight. Yippee!!!” The birth of a baby doesn’t downplay it. Heidi Klum can lose all her pregnancy weight in 2 weeks for all I care. I’m breastfeeding. I need nutrients so warped brain says, “Triple yay to mindless eating! Yay yay yay!!!” Is it any wonder I continue to be big? Yes of course I could eat healthily, food combining and all that. Denial. Remember?

And before you know it, those cute fab outfits don’t fit no more. But even when I could no longer shopping for clothes off the peg, that still doesn’t make me convert. I just make my own clothes.  “I have 2 kids!” and the world nods understandingly. Worse still, some friends were turning into making and selling clothes so they cater to my size. Suddenly I can still have new, chic clothes. Problems solved!

But you can’t keep abusing your body and not paying for it. Nu’uh! No way, no how.  My right knee gives way. It hurts for a whole week before I finally get it checked to the doctor. One MRI later… I’ve damaged my knee. It’s a bit torn, or was it ruptured? Forgot the medical terms, but as seen on the MRI result, a bit of my knee is not where it should be hence the pain. The culprit? Overweight excerbated by high heels. The funniest thing? I don’t even wear sky-high heels anymore! Not since I got pregnant the first time round which was over 5 years ago. But the damage is done.

Still wanna be in denial now? I have to lose weight. I just have to. Unless I want to start saving up for a knee surgery down the line which is a very real probability should I can not reduce the weight down. Oh it’s hell. It’s not easy breaking out of that comfort zone. I have to make time for exercise. I have to truly watch what I eat. It’s a lot of work!

The thought of a knee operation is seriously scary. But my repressed vanity is also screaming out. Dammit I like looking good!  I like to have the option to wear heels if I want to. I want to be able to buy clothes off the peg from a mall! And, most importantly, none of my children are called Gilbert Grape.

It’s a struggle. I haven’t won yet. I have a long way to go. But the way I see it, if I really am grateful for what has been given to me, then I have to stop abusing it and start respecting my system. I need to give my health a chance.

The ‘W’ problem. It’s an ongoing battle. One that I aim to win. Good luck, me.

Armand Maulana goes to my gym! Yay! Gorgeous guy 😀

Do all men wants more than 1 wife?

Earlier today I was having a rather heated debate with a friend. Apparently her husband said that all men wanted to have a few wifes. The only thing stopping most men is money but if they have unlimited bank account then for sure they’ll get married again.

I said that that’s not true citing that both my dad and my brother don’t fancy the idea of having more than 1 wife. They might look and perhaps fantasise about other women but to actually marry one that’s a different thing altogether. True my dad has on occasion teased my mom about it, but I doubt he wants it and my dad certainly can afford it should he wish so. My friend thinks the fact that my dad even joked about it show the truth about his subconsiousness.

I must admit both of us have a hard time following each other’s thought. Yes my dad watches Melrose Place, yes he thinks Heather Locklear is hot but I really don’t think he fantasise about marrying her. Whereas my friend’s argument is because to sex outside marriage is forbidden, therefore when men lust after a women then they want to marry them so they can sleep with them.

I dunno, maybe all men secretly want to marry lots of women. They just don’t want to admit it to avoid upsetting their loved ones. Maybe I’m just being pedantic when I said just because men may lust after a hot babe doesn’t necessarily means they wanna marry ’em.

In the end we just drop the subject since its very clear neither would budge. So if you’re male and you are reading this tell me, it it true? Do you secretly want a few wives?

Yang Dibutuhkan Hanya Trotoar

30 menit.

Kurang lebih hanya perlu 30 menit dari sekolah kakak ke rumah. Jalan kaki.
Yep. Pagi ini Pak Pri gak masuk padahal si kakak musti ambil rapor dan Ade sekolah. Bagian pertama gak sulit, ada taxi. Ade diantar dengan sukses trus langsung ke sekolah kakak. Nah disini taxinya nggak mau nunggu. Ya sudahlah, jalannya rada rame kok harusnya gak susah carinya.

Dah nunggu giliran, diskusi ini dan itu, akhirnya selesai trus pulang. Tengak-tengok kok ya nggak ada taxi, gak ada temen buat numpang, ya udahlah daripada nunggu-nunggu gak karuan mending jalan kaki aja toh jalannya cuma lurus doang. Waktu rumahnya masih di Tarogong Raya pernah ngukur Cipete Raya, pasti gak beda jauh lah waktu juga masih pagi, baru jam 9, cuaca mendung, jadi gak panas. Ya sud jalanlah.

Nah bedanya, sepanjang jalan Cipete Raya itu relatif ada trotoarnya sementara di Lebak Bulus 1 trotoarnya antara ada dan tiada serta lebih banyak nggak adanya. Mana kecil pulak jalanannya. Tadinya masih jalan sesuai arus, lama-lama ngeri sendiri setela diklakson motor (padahal masih di trotoar. Emang rese tu motor) trus pindah melawan arus. Rada deg-degan juga sih secara jarak antara badan dan mobil tipis bener. Mungkin tau ya gw jalan kaki jadi cuaca sepanjang jalan tu mendung adem, mana jarak yang mesra dengan mobil dan motor membuat adanya supply hembusan angin secara konstan jadi ya adem beneran deh meski gak terlalu banyak pohon.

Satu etape, dua etape, nah yang paling ngeri nih pas di turunan dan tanjakan setelah Moss. Huaaa dzikirnya rada kenceng tuh! Alhamdulillah selamat sampai depan komplek dan akhirnya sampai deh di rumah. Fiuh.

Sebetulnya bukan 30 menitnya yang bikin ketar-ketir, ini pembuktian fitnes gw selama ini sukses gak sih, dan yah ternyata memang ada hasilnya kok, nggak ngos2an. Iyalah wong cuma jalan kaki doang, bukan jogging, apalagi lari. Tapi ketiadaan tempat buat pejalan kakinya itu lho. Jakarta ini memang sangat gak ramah. Mobil melulu yang dikasih jalan. Gimana kita mau sehat mau jalan kaki harus cium asap melulu?

Kalau saja pemda itu mau punya akal sehat, mbok ya kasih trotoar gitu lho biar kita bisa jalan kaki tanpa harus takut bakal dicium ama motor dan mobil. Kasih trotoarnya juga dengan dimensi yang lumayan, jangan ala kadarnya doang. Balik waktu masih di Tarogong Raya, sebetulnya ke Hero tu deket banget, tapi yang bikin bete, ya itulah faktor kemesraan sama Metro Mini yang lalu lalang itu. Alih-alih seger buger malah bengek ntar.

Buat pemilihan gubernur mendatang udahlah gak usah milih yang ahli. Orang2 sih kemakan sama embel2 ahlinya. Ahli opo? Bisanya cuma ngeles dan sewot doang. Gak ada perubahan positif, malah tambah gak jelas mau dibawa kemana ini kota tercinta.

Pilkada kemaren emang gak milih yang ahli dan kalah, moga2 pilkada berikutnya gak usahlah diisi sama yang merasa ahli tapi pada kenyataannya…

Klo gw kangen Amsterdam, Boston atau Leeds, bukan karena gw sok bule atau gak demen ama Jakarta. Bukan, gw juga males kali klo harus tinggal beneran disana. Tapi nggak bisa gw pungkiri klo 3 kota itu sangat sangat nyaman untuk pejalan kaki. Itu yang gw kangen berat. Kalau saja trotoar yang ada di Amsterdam bisa gw bawa pulang dan pasang disini… Sempurna deh!

Namun kata Ustadz juga gak ada yang sempurna di dunia ini jadi ya kita jangan putus asalah mendoakan. Moga-moga…


Apa sebenarnya yang dicari?
Apa sebenarnya yang diinginkan?
Mencari nama?
Jangan bawa-bawa nama Tuhan. Tak pantas!

Apa sebenarnya tujuannya?
Mengoyak status quo?
Mengguncangkan stabilitas?

Kenapa harus kau korbankan orang lain?
Untuk apa kau bawa-bawa mereka?

Senangkah kau melihat kami berduka?
Sukakah kau melihat kami terpuruk?

Kau kira engkau siapa?

Kau tak kan bisa lari dariNya
Kau tak kan bisa bersembunyi padaNya

Suatu hari
Suatu saat
Kau akan menjawabNya
Semoga kau siap.

*turungunungsore* sas 170709