Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Underachievers Anonymous

Tuesday, 18 July 2006
11.29 AM
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

Throughtout my (so-far-short-lived) life, I am a person who enjoys goals. I like driving myself towards an orientation - knowing what to do, where to go and how to get it. Perhaps it is the way I have been raised, perhaps it is the main example set in my life, perhaps it's just innate (if one could argue so). Nonetheless, it is a part of me that I cannot let go. At least not easily.

I find myself being attached to people similar to me. Most of my closest friends with whom I often contact for advice; people I admire - you know the deal. They are all self-driven, ambitious people. I come to realise though, as I know them, and myself, more... We are all, to some-extent, self-rigtheous.

Because we are so sure of ourselves, that of course gets us ahead in our careers, we tend to judge people who are not as fast-paced. We are a bit pretentious. We do not want to be deemed as weak, cry in public, love too much, want too less.

As hard for me to admit it, this is the one most important thing we, as self-driven people, do not possess. The ability to self-reflect in the process of achieving.

In short: we are obnoxious.

We think we know it all. We think we have all the answers. We never lose ourselves but we lose our humility from time to time. Those laid back and down-to-earth bring us back to 'reality' (or surreality?). That life isn't (only) about having goals, but loving (and being grateful of) tiny things in life that we overlook.

The annoying or sometimes beautiful things in life that make us be a better person by heart.

That lead to a life-long process of being humble. Providing space for error. Giving the benefit of the doubt to people different from us. Perceiving people, consistently by head not only by mouth, as different - not good or bad or over-analyse people's characters. Our friends are not our jobs. We do not have to make decisions for them.

We are not always right.

People have different frameworks in life.

You know these things, of course. But do you practice them in your heart?

You use them in your arguments, but do you actually not judge people who slack off? Or those who can't argue - perhaps, just perhaps, they chose not to argue because to them it's not worth it, not because, perhaps also, they realise they're not intelligible?

It makes me think.

I love having a career, knowing what to do next in my life. But I don't want to lose my desire to self-reflect either. I know we can't have both but, because life is not black and white, it also doesn't mean I have to let one go.

Perhaps the alternative goal is to learn from people you disagree with. To attempt to put your feet in their shoes and try to understand where they come from. After all, wrong is not wrong and right is not right. All of us, none immune, are somewhere in the middle.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Say Hello to the New Members of Our Family!

Saturday, 15 July 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

Funniest thing. A couple from the apartment building next to ours are moving out today and posted a 'for sale' list since last week (we bought an iron and a new sofa!). I have been whining to Arya how our current sofa, though cute and handy, is not comfortable for guests to sleep on - especially since his sister and brother are coming over.

So we picked up our couch today and they (James and Natalie from Sydney) asked us to take care of their plants. Thus, we now have added four new members to our family! It's funny how these things that can't move can just brighten the whole place up. So now we have four teeny things to look after PLUS Tata dan Satria can sleep comfily... These small things are just splendid, ah...

Friday, July 14, 2006

An Update on His Majesty's Golden Foot

Friday, 14 July 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

I knoooow it's silly and over-exposed - and it seems that everyone is over-discussing about this event. But to me, it's not just soccer. It's not just sport. It's what the event represents (yes, yes. To those who wish to roll your eyes, please do).

French President Jacques Chirac welcomed Zidane with open arms; which I argue is because to France, Zidane remains to be a symbol of hope to hundreds and thousands of the country's immigrants. His focus is on what Zidane represents, not the spirit of fair-play. Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour claimed that Zidane's acts were "unpardonable"as it humiliates the country in the face of sportivity. Some argue that should Zidane's excuse for headbutting Materazzi that is the insulting of his family be true, then he is truly a hero for he chose to become unpopular and lose the opportunity to kiss the world cup for the very last time in his career than to allow someone insult his mother and sister.

I just think it's interesting how one man's acts can create such a great self-reflection from the leader of one of the most influential country in the world until members of Indonesia's mailing list. This is one man, not even a politician. It makes me think of what change one person is potential of - and it is done by just doing something you love. You do not have to do the things other people, or society, deem as the best of quality in order to make change. You just have to be yourself and do what you are good at and just hope along the way you are so good at what you do that you inspire others.

One person's golden foot is another person's golden words, perhaps?

Beauty Pageants and the Chronicle of Ridiculous Answers

Thursday, 13 July 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

This whole Miss Indonesia shenanigan made me think. Is it sad? Is it acceptable? Is it the way it is?

I started browsing the damn website and began studying other candidates' answers. Some of them stood out. They not only seemed intelligent, they seemed genuine. Well, it's either at least genuinity or they are very good at lying. But for goodness' sake, I'll go with the former.

Still. If it were true, that these pretty ladies wanted to become humanitarian workers, goodwill ambassadors, increase economic development - is pageantry the way to go? If you really want to better the livelihood of discriminated women, must you strip down to a two-pieced swimsuit and pose?

It's not that I'm against pageants, I just want to call it as it is: A Beauty Contest. I like seeing beautiful people, I like beautiful dresses and paintings and sculptures - nothing against beauty as to some extent it is a reflection of life. But calling a beauty contest as a measurement of intelligence is a mockery to the means of developing your mind.

At the end, you find yourself judging these women's answers and calling them stupid instead of appreciating their beauty.

One of the interview questions is: "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Some answer with very far-fetched answers that is obviously formulated to create an impression. But the honest answers are: to become an actress, to pursue a career in modelling, to be part of the fashion industry - these are more believable. And perhaps, these answers, who usually end up being the losers, are the ones telling the truth.

But it's really difficult to analyse the phenomenon without being judgemental. Or self-rigtheous. So what if these women choose to become beauty pageant winners if they feel that it is good for their self-development? Why do we have to be 'sewot' of their decisions? I wouldn't want people to judge my decisions so why should I? Perhaps giving the benefit of the doubt is the way to go.

Someone has to do something about the first B in Brain, Beauty and Behaviour, though. Call it a beauty contest and let's watch the pretty ladies and churn the wheel of the beauty industry. Membuka lapangan pekerjaan lho...

Why oh Why?

Monday, 10 July 2006
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

Gak habis pikir dan anxiously waiting for answers. Next week. Kaya nunggu season finale rasanya.

The Tragedy

Udah Isi Belom?

Saturday, 8 July 2006
11.04 AM
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

You wouldn’t believe how many times people have asked me this question since I got married last year. At first it was endearing… Makin kesini makin kesel. It was last night that I was so pissed that things started to make sense (my sentence is unnatural but whatever works for me).

Inilah percakapan antara gue dan orang yang menghargai privacy:

Stranger : You’re married?
Inaya : Yes.
Stranger : Are you planning to have children?
Inaya : Not right away, we’re trying to focus on school first.

Percakapan antara gue dan orang yang mau tahu aja (pada umumnya orang Indonesia tapi tidak semua orang Indonesia seperti ini):

Stranger : Hah lo udah kawin?
Inaya : Udah.
Stranger : Kapan?
Inaya : Tahun lalu, Agustus.
Stranger : Udah isi belom?

Sometimes it’s even an ice-breaker (more like spirit-breaker):

Inaya : Eeee! Apa kabar?? How is life?
Stranger : Baiik!! Naaa... Udah isi beloom?
Inaya : *bete trus ngadu sama Arya*

Sometimes these people even just buzz me over Yahoo Messenger to ask this question. Mind you.

It’s a good thing that the reason for me and Arya withholding pregnancy is because of school. Paling parah kita cuma keki. Things could be worse.

To those who were raised in a society where a couple’s pregnancy is a light topic, please imagine… Bayangkan sepasang suami-istri yang sudah bersusah-payah berusaha hamil tapi gagal terus. Malam sebelumnya mereka berantem besar karena ternyata sang perempuan baru menstruasi. The next morning, working in front of her computer, someone buzzed her, “Bok! Udah isi belom?”

How would you feel? There’s a thought for the day.

PS: I know it’s such a small matter and most of us do it unconsciously and with the best of intentions. So to all those yang introspeksi setelah baca ini, God bless you.