Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moments in a Decade

First year of university. Learned about independence and responsibility. Learned how to drive (haha).

I met Arya and became good friends. Learned about difference in social class, ethnicity, religion after years going to schools with relatively homogenous students.

The year when I realised I loved what I was studying. Became a straight A student from a borderline failing one. Became head of the student body.

Got my first job. Loved it. Became almost workaholic. Officially cut off by parents. Began realising and talking about eventually ending up together with Arya.

Lectured for the first time with shaking hands. Went to Western Europe for the first time and promised myself to live there one day. Graduated. Decided to go to Netherlands for school. Talked about possibilities with Arya.

Got accepted at UvA. Got a scholarship. Got married. Left for Amsterdam. Arya got accepted at UvA. Learned about life planning and cooperation. Learned about selflessness from Arya. Learned about sharing and giving. Learned how to cook. Adjustment with a capital A. Phew.

Built friendships. Arya got accepted at HES. Traveled Western Europe with Arya. Loved it. Saw places, learned about history and culture, ate different food and slept in the funniest places (including buses). Biked in the snow in Amsterdam. Saw the Mezquite. Saw Klimt's paintings. Stood on the shoulders of giants. Realised that I learned more things outside of the classroom.

Finished my thesis happily, defense and graduation. Happily is an understatement. Decided that I am ready to become a mother. A bittersweet goodbye. To loved ones and Amstedam. To Koningstraat and Waterlooplein and Albertheijn and Oriental and Turfdragsterpad and Klovenisburgwal and De Dam and my Pathe abonnement and all the familiarity. Returned to Jakarta.

Returned to full time managerial work only to realise that I wanted to teach, research and consult. Pregnancy and birth. Malik. Learned about conflicting identities and shifting priorities. Decided that a PhD was a good choice during early motherhood. Wrote my first syllabus. Got accepted at Murdoch. Got another scholarship. Another phew.

Left for Perth. Adjustment. Malik's first plane ride. First year of traveling back and forth between Jakarta-Perth. More conflicting identities and shifting priorities. Malik and I learned to be more independent. Arya was literally our guiding light. Shines on what to focus on. Got a fixed position at the university. Arya began working at Batam, traveling back and forth. Grateful is an understatement.

And now we come full circle.

Momentum is made for us to take a step back, breathe and see the bigger picture. Moments are what defines us.

I love you Arya and Malik. With faith.

Very Well Put

A question I asked one of the oldest friend I have (around fifteen years I think, after a decade we stopped counting).

I: Nggie, in your opinion, what do you think makes my relationship with Arya work?
A: (terdiam sejenak) Friendship.

She knows me well.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wishful Thinking

I have a soft spot for the elderly.

What makes me stop to wonder is the fact that their physical conditions do not do justice their life experience. When they lose their memories, lose control over regulating their emotions, needing guiding when walking - it all just seems unfair in comparison to the many things they had to go through in life. The decades, the children they'd raised, they people they'd inspired, the selflessness they learned throughout being tried, the wisdom they had acquired through failure and successes.

They should be the ones running around at family gatherings, not us.

But when I think harder, I can see the larger plan. That nothing physical in this world is worthy of holding the depth of their soul. The vessels that once used to be theirs has literally degraded in order to prepare them for a higher, otherworldly, immaterial, sacred journey. A journey that we cannot fathom, not with our limited brain cells with its lame attempt to rationalise everything without ever fully comprehending.

I know those who believe that this is it - that the world comprises only of the natural, the biological, the physical, that after life, everything ends and the future batch will take over - will snort at my wistfulness. And that is alright, I am not seeking for your approval. I am not trying to prove anything.

I never have and I never will.

I just need to believe.
For them.
For all our parents --

-- believe with the whole of my being, that the people who had loved so dearly, that had striven in life to reach a level of selflessness and wisdom, will not simply... vanish. That they too, will get what they truly deserve. An otherworldly, divine even, measurement of justice. Nothing as pragmatic as what we see on earth.

And then their wrinkles and hunched backs and stutters and tremors would seem like an honour.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Mother's Day (Meant With a Hint of Sarcasm)

Ibu Berkarier, Anak Rentan Sakit
Wartakota 22.12.2009
Anak-anak yang ibunya bekerja juga biasanya bakal tumbuh kalah aktif dan bakal lebih dekat pula dengan menu makanan dan kebiasaan yang tidak sehat ketimbang anak–anak lainnya yang diasuh sehari penuh oleh ibunya, sebaiknya untuk anak usia 6 bulan kebawah sebaiknya jangan ditinggal ibunya bekerja dulu.

Regulation please!

Calculate the expenditure in the health sector spent on a disease-prone future generations, having been left by mothers for work to pay for maternity leave.

Calculate how much money can be saved by having the future generation exclusively breastfed in terms of preventing malnutrition, for instance. Invest money in creating a conducive environment for that cause. Public facilities, education, public awareness.

In terms of basic social services, I highly doubt the market can give a solution. Policy makers must do something. Activist must continue advocating. Mothers need to educate themselves in how to deal with the situation while waiting for those responsible progress VERY SLOWLY. Fathers need to acknowledge the double-standards society (and ourselves) imposes on women - forcing them to work in the economic climate and submit to the unquestioned gender empowerment idea while condemning them for not being able to retain their maternity.

Come on.

It's a cooperation. Stop blaming mothers.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shame on Me

There are a few people who have touched me in my life. Whose selflessness and sincerity shame me to the bone. I remember vividly, as if it were yesterday, the kindness of Gerwin van der Pol. A lecturer, writer, Amsterdammer, and inspiring teacher.

Fellow students Lena, Agne and I were invited for dinner over at his house one weekend. As we entered his living room, we were in awe of the ceiling length collection of books on display. Some people invest their money in stocks and bonds, some buy expensive handbags and show them around, intellectuals collect books. All of these are attributes to wealth. Quantifiable and interchangeable with pride. In other words, they are all tools for show-off.

But not Gerwin.

I eyed his book collection from Aristotle to Barthes. The picik that I am, I couldn't help wondering.

"Aren't you worried that everyone who comes over would go home with one of your books," I asked, "I bet it happens often."

"All of these are basically knowledge. If it goes to another person then the knowledge goes with them, the books are only physical," he answered, "I've read them all. So then it's good if they take some with them. Then the knowledge doesn't stop at me."

You see what I mean with shaming to the bone? Some people have such good hearts that their kindness rubs off on you. I remember what my Dad said when I told him of the story.

"Begitulah, Na. Orang yang katanya tidak beragama bisa lebih beragama daripada yang mengaku beragama."

There are a few people who have touched me in my life. Whose selflessness and sincerity shame me to the bone.


Please follow link. Sukses ya, Mba Titut.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Memories and the Amazing Partners I Call My Parents

Why do we remember certain memories and not others? I ask myself. Then I started reading (yes, anything but books that actually help me write my thesis).

Several theorists agree that our brains are conceptually similar to a blackboard. Try writing on it with a chalk while putting pressure on certain points and erasing it afterward. The pressure points will leave a mark while the ones written without pressure could be easily erased.

The same goes with memory. Freud seems to think that emotional turmoil are the pressure points and time 'erases unpressurised' memory. Therefore, the memories that are embedded with emotional meaning, be it despair, anger, sadness or happiness, will leave memorable marks in our brains.

Others argue that memories are tagged with major events. Memories of our life before moving to another place is more memorable than the memories obtained from the same environment since childhood to adulthood. Both of them make sense, I think (well, if they didn't make sense no one would cite them).

I have several childhood memories which before reading of these concepts of memory I had thought to be random.

I remember my parents taking me and my sister to NASA (I honestly can't remember if it was the museum or the visitor's centre) when we were little. I could remember the miniature rockets, cockpits and simulators. Our parents bought us pop up books of airplanes. Then on lunch, my Mom handed me over some funny looking cookies. There were three colours, pink, white and brown.

"What are these?" I asked.
"Ice cream for astronauts," my Mom answered.

I thought they tasted like sweetened talcum powder. I then decided that I didn't want to become an astronaut because the food sucks.

After the disaster dry ice cream I had suspicions that my Mom made up the story to make me eat them. But apparently my sister, who was then at an age where these fibs would no longer work, said that she was telling the truth.

And then there was the other memory. Reinforced through life values, which meaning is deeper and more instilled than I had originally thought.

I was around 4 years old. I remember what I wore, I remember where we were. I remember the humid weather and the bright flowers. I remember my Mom gave me and my sister strawberry bubble gum while we met with Tante Emi. And I remember, upon that generating of more saliva during the first few chews of the bubble gum, the best part, when it was still very sweet, that it dropped out of my mouth.

I cried like nobody's business and asked my mother for a new one, which was, I knew, not expensive. She patted my back instead and let me cry over the lost bubble gum.

When I was in my early 20s, I saw that picture (my guess is that my Dad took it, why I wouldn't know). The picture of such heartbreaking tragedy, and the memories came flooding back to me.

"I remember this," I said to her about a picture of me crying my guts out and my mom patting my back with a 'rolling her eyes' mimic on her face, "I dropped my bubble gum. Why didn't you just buy me a new one?"
She smiled and said, "You needed to learn that you can't get everything in life. Sometimes you just have to let go, sometimes you can't have it all. I did the same with Kainda. Mama inget dia pernah nangis-nangis sambil jongkok depan etalase toko mainan. Mama ngga tega banget. Tapi Dad bilang Kainda harus belajar ngga bisa dapet semua yang dimau."

These are my parents, whom I love with all my heart, whose names I mention in all my prayers. Whose kindness and selflessness will always shame me into doing the 'right' thing.

I love you with all my heart.

I love you with all my heart.


Friday, November 06, 2009

The True Milestones of Life

In various pregnancy and early childhood development books, the word 'milestones' often come into use. The first kick in the womb is a milestone of the second trimester - usually ending those nauseous days and beginning what is mentioned as 'the honeymoon phase' of pregnancy. The first step is a milestone taken during the turn of the baby's first year - officially no longer an infant and turning into a toddler. In my research as well, milestones are set to keep me following the tight 4-year schedule - seminar, first chapter for publication, exam.

There are milestones in every aspect of our lives. Personal and professional. Private and public.

The term got me to thinking of the true milestones in life.

When you measure your life's development not from the social achievements but from emotional and spiritual maturity, the milestones become a bit less distinct. I began reminiscing my life's decision from which I had learned a great deal.

It wasn't my graduating from school. It wasn't me meeting my life partner. It wasn't the 9 months of (attempting to) selflessly carry a human being wherever I go. It wasn't labour, it wasn't the promotions, it wasn't even becoming a mother.

It was more in the little, mundane, everyday tasks that I thought contributed most to my life's worth. The unmemorable, trivial events that had actually pushed me to my limits, overcome them, and set them higher.

It was in listening to Arya's day even after I had a very long one. It was in waking up at nights to tend to Malik's cries, despite having worked all day. It was in the sincerity of not wanting in return anything, aside from hoping that what I do for a living could in fact touch another human being in the tiniest little way. It was in my students' questions that urged me to know more - so that I could tell them more. It was in sighing with patience, when everything had gone wrong - and I knew still that life is more that I could ever deserve.

It is in the gratitude. The wanting to fight for a cause. The balance. The effort to be better.

The effort to be better for something bigger than myself.

To feel small and weak and yet the same time the actor of my own destiny.

To be more for other people than to myself. And not losing myself and my thoughts in the process.

I think life is not the obvious milestones that we decide upon. Not the jobs we choose, the acknowledgments we receive, not marriage and a family. It is in the most random things shoved in our faces unexpectedly, which mold us in ways that are surprisingly permanent. It is the things we take for granted every single day, as they are microscopically small for us to truly appreciate their worth.

As days go by with responsibility, it is very easy to only focus on the obvious and ignore the things that actually matter most. It is very easy to resort to blame when things don't go our way - and what is 'our' way anyway? - when in fact it isn't their battle. It has always been ours. That, I believe.

It was never about losing or succeeding in our set goals, it was about us simply doing better than the day before. A bit sharper, a bit wiser, a bit more patient, a bit more humble.

As lonely as it sounds, life is, at the end, a battle with ourselves. And that realisation, I think, is a milestone in itself.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Demise of the (Inter) State

I am quietly observing that scientific literature followed by the mass media have slowly left using the term 'international' and substituting it with 'global'. The substitution is motivated by the fact that we live in an ever-increasingly interconnected world where nationality becomes less of an issue, or made to be, when it comes to collectively moving to a mutual objective.

Global modernisation, if you will.

Within that framework lies global hand washing day, global effort to eradicate poverty, global awareness of digital and educational divide.

When it comes to the betterment of people's welfare, particularly those marginalised (e.g. third world countries, the poor in third world countries, the laggards, those still suffering from marasmus even when most of the world has been using the internet for 10 years), I think the demise of a nation-state is indeed justifiable.

But when it comes to national integration and moving towards a national goal (orang kaya mbok ya sedekah ya), then the irrational fraternity to help our kind is also needed.

And the list goes on to more micro aspects. Religion, ethnicity, neighbourhood.

If the purpose is to help people, does it even matter?

It's not the exclusivity, it's the aspect that needs emphasising to motivate the goodness in all of us. The question is: how do we do this without exploiting or promoting ethnocentrism?


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Years of Living (Not So) Vicariously

I was browsing through my 2005-2007 digital photo album and I found myself involuntarily smiling to myself. As life gets more saturated with routines, errands and responsibilities - those years always, always bring a smile to my face. The days of adventure and building a strong friendship with the life partner I call my husband, traveling and studying and learning new languages and culture and adjustments... The list goes on.

I feel so blessed to have experienced so much. And with my bestfriend. Growing up far away from home. Seeing places and people I would otherwise only have the courage to read about in books and see on the discovery channel.

And to write this short blogpost as I watch my son sleep is priceless.

Life is about the choices we make and what is yet to come. I am glad of the choices I had made and hope it would make me wiser to decide better of those to come.

With love to Arya.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cuma di Indonesia

Cerita ajaib dan sarat makna.

Sudah beberapa hari ini ada seekor anjing yang bersembunyi di got rumah kami. Keesekokan harinya, sekumpulan pra remaja laki-laki (10-12 thn) dengan sabar menunggu sang anjing keluar untuk menangkapnya.

Anak: Om! Orang Islam apa Kristen?
Arya: *is not amused tapi penasaran* Islam, emang kenapa?
Anak: Kalo Kristen ambil aja noh anjingnya hahahaha...


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Epiphany That Comes with Parenting

I am obsessive-compulsive by nurture (one day I'll introduce you to my Mom) and this trait really comes in handy in certain areas in life. But when it comes to my son, things get a little trickier.

As any human being in this world, I too am seeking that balance in life. Being a working mother, I try my best to prioritise and distribute deserved attention based on them. So in short, I stop working and bail out of meetings the moment something's wrong with my son. In these cases, it seems like an easy choice.

But lately, with Malik turning 1 year old and being exposed to more germs (from new types of food to the scariest things he picks off the floor and puts in his mouth), he gets sick more often as compared to those glorifying days of exclusive breastfeeding. His weight gain decreases and he doesn't seem to be the chubby little self he was just a couple of months ago.

So there I was, true to my nurture, began counting his calories, the AAP recommended daily intake, I read all the labels behind all of the packages and read all the articles I could find on anything that I could come up with (trust me, I do the same at work). That's when all hell began to break lose. I literally drew Arya out of his mind with my theorising of Malik's diet and growth. Of course, after driving myself a bit crazy. Just a bit.

That's when I really listened to the words of wisdom coming from the man I call my husband.

"Kalo aku sih, biarin aja Malik kaya gitu (note: susah makan). Nanti kalo laper, dia pasti cari makan sendiri. Emang sih, mungkin kalo aku yang ngasih makan, ngga sebanyak kamu yang masuk; tapi daripada stres. Toh dia sehat, ketawa, main. Kan yang lebih penting kita ada untuk dia, daripada makan tapi marah-marah."

I began reviewing what I did wrong and how I can deal with this reality. I started reshuffling priorities and reorganising thoughts.

What's important to Malik is not (only) the best of nature (food intake) but the best of nurture (energy spent on his psychological development). I always approach him as a child, as someone who needs tending and care. But I rarely deal with his problems as a human being - with needs and wants.

A (sane) human being will eat when they need to, get sick several times a year and are sometimes picky with food.

When I attempt to control variables in his environment of growth, I am at the same time depriving him of the chance to be independent and decide for himself. For instance, by trying to be more sterile and limit the places he can go to, I might be able to prevent him from getting sick. But at the same time, I am depriving his body to fight off viruses and memorise how to counterattack harmful foreign objects in his body (apparently after reading, I found out that basically this is what our bodies do). So getting sick is actually a good thing (to some extent).

Not wanting food from time to time is also a way for him to learn that he needs to be less picky (vegetables are part of a packaged deal sort of logic). Once he's hungry enough, a sane child will eat anything in sight. And that's when he learns to eat healthily; instead of me giving in to his demands to eat 'disguised' food just for the sake of his calorie intake.

All I can do, as a parent, is to tend to him. Care for him when he's sick, be there for him throughout the process of learning. At the end, it's his fight. He is the one who has to get better, I can't do it for him. It's actually also applicable to a broader context; peer pressure, bullying, losing a competition, grades - everything in Malik's life, is his battle. I can't always protect him, or more consistent to this logic, (over) protecting him means, albeit he is safe and sound, depriving him of learning how to be strong(er).

Jadi memang mesti tega. Knowing when to sit back and watch, even if we're crying inside, to allow our children to learn how to grow and defend themselves, independent from their caregivers.

It seems to me now, that parenting is not about the parents. It never about us. It's always about this child trying to survive in life, and, at the end, without us.

So the conclusion is: parenting means learning to let go.

With love
Dedicated to my parents

The two people who has loved me
So selflessly
Just so I could stand on my own two feet
When I had to

That through them
I (am) learn(ing) how to love my son
As well

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ice Storms and Flu Season

Finally have time to breathe after a very hectic week. The Sydney conference went, well, okay to put it mildly. Senang sekali ketemu Mba Titut dan Gita. Baby and I just recovered from the flu (which was quite a scare). And now, after editing my ARC paper, I have time to do 'nothing' while overlooking Malik and Arya both literally snoring.

Fremantle is not quite the itself during winter. The grey skies and windy rain reminds me much of Amsterdam.

I miss Amsterdam (at least there you expect bad weather).

Malik has been so well-behaved. He slept 3 hours of the 4 hour flight, he eats well (whatever I cook for the three of us, cut into tiny pieces, not separate meal!), he entertains himself quite well when I'm working and he really enjoys strolls to the grocery store (displayed by happy kicking and eventually napping).

I must say though, above all, I am very grateful of the man I call my partner. Returning from Sydney with the flu, Malik had a fever. During the 2 days I was out and Malik sick, Arya honestly did everything. House chores (mopping, scrubbing dishes, preparing meals) and Malik (feeding, nappy changing, bathing). And what I admire most: no whining. It would be almost natural to blame me, the person who asked Malik and him come here in the first place, who left them for a conference, who returned sick to an also sick son.

But no. Being the consequential person that he is, he didn't even realise he was being very generous until I came up with it (I wonder if I should have just kept silent). Memang dia benar-benar ikhlas kalau mengerjakan apapun.

Mba Titut: Pasti Arya ngga ngeluh deh ngerjain semuanya waktu kamu sakit.

Jadi malu, ya. Wonder if I could have done the same for him without whining. Knowing me, I guess not. But at least, having gone through this, I know it's worth the try :)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Priorities and Identity Construction

Arya was helping me organise my blog, when I stumbled upon this post:


Identity (?)
Friday, 7th April 2006
11.33 AM
Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

I was just wondering why all-people-with-children's Friendster photos always have their children dominate it?

Is it because when you have children, they dominate your life?

Is it because your identity no longer is about you but about this tiny little thing?

How is it supposed to be?

Questions, questions. Maybe I can only answer them when I have one of my own.


I don't care. I'm never going to be ready. Full stop.

So, change of topic, shall we?


I've always trusted that identity is a complex issue. It is multilayered and will always be redefined according to our environment. There are layers that are more fundamental, which were molded perhaps decades - they are more fixed, yet still adjustable depending on individual characteristics.

However, I'd like to answer the question I'd asked myself 3 years ago.

Yes, my identity has indeed been enriched by the young man I call my son. My life does revolve around him. I still have targets, personal plans, deadlines, but I schedule them around him.

Because I've decided that he is my priority.

The question of whether or not I lose myself in him, is quite tricky to answer. I think it's about balance and priorities. We sort our life based on our priorities to achieve a certain balance (spiritual, perhaps? Psychological, mental? A psychologist would say it is to manage cognitive dissonance or conflict of will in simple terms). Identity is thus constructed by these priorities. We project ourselves consistent to our priorities.

A working woman, whose job is the highest priority in her life, would post pictures of her in conferences, as a speaker, leading a meeting, or with her workmates.

A proud father, whose child is the highest priority in his life, would post milestone pictures of his child smiling, laughing, walking.

A traveler, whose adventures are the highest priority in their life, would post the newest destination shots as trophies.

But I think that their lives are not exclusive to those aspects only. It is much more complex and the most superficial identity, the one apparent to others, are the aspect in their lives that are of most importance to them. It does not mean that their lives are limited to just that.

Then again, there is always the possibility that the image projected has nothing to do with priorities - but more to the fact that we want to create a certain image of ourselves regardless of how we are in person.

Which is kind of sad, really.

But who am I to judge. I just think it's nice to reflect on past queries and moving forward with more to bring. Cheers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Righteousness of Right

There is a general (Western) trend to discard religion. It is perhaps safe to say one the reasons is, aside from the Enlightment and/or science, the fact that currently the biggest global conflict is related to (but not due to) religion. Cultural globalisation, the vehicle with which Western values arrive at our doorsteps, will, I think, give way for this sentiment to discard religion to secular countries - namely Indonesia.

When I was living in a Western society, I went through hiding my religious identity. I was ashamed to practice what I believe in because practicing your religion would potentially categorise you into the fundamental group.

Most people in Indonesia, however, wear their religion on their sleeves. Unfortunately, I would have to say that this is not due to their comprehension over the concepts taught in their religion, but more due to social confirmation. It was how they (we) were all built. Critical theorists would say that this is a false consciousness. Accepting constructed reality as objective reality, without questioning it.

It is from this tendency, I think, that relative truth (read: the truth of mankind) becomes the absolute truth. The way I deconstruct my religion, I would argue that if a person believes in God, they logically believe in the claim that absolute truth is God's alone. Therefore, any truth claimed by man could never be truism.

Therefore if a person thinks that they are right, absolutely right - then they fall into the concept of false consciousness. They perceive their reality as the absolute reality. Opposing (re/de)constructed reality will, according to their framework, be, well, wrong.

It is from this premise, I think, that conflict occurs. It is when our truth is above their truth (comparable to the concept of us/other). Difference can never be resolved if one party does not provide room to be wrong.

Following this logic, I think Marx got it right when he claimed that knowledge will free those enslaved by taken-for-granted reality. His concern was capitalism, the current concern of the contemporary world is social conflict. Perhaps to get things right, we need to allow ourselves to be wrong.

And I could be wrong.

Teachers Called Students

Someone sent me a moving message. Well, kind stranger, you made me write today. I feel like I know you already.

I have been getting several kind wishes lately, students saying thanks for being there to answer their questions. But I honestly feel that things are the other way around.

The only reason I teach them is because they manage my level of inspiration. Their questions, their challenges, make me want to read.

They make me want to learn.

Really, if I wanted money or societal praise, I wouldn't become a lecturer. We're a bunch of nerds appreciated by fellow nerds we call peers. To top it all off, we dress in ugly robes and silly hats a couple of times a year. But there's just something about teaching bright students that make me feel at home.

So guys, this is my thanks to you. For always challenging me and correcting my mistakes. For having the guts to raise your hands in class and talk back. For symbolising hope that the next generation will be better, more intelligent, more apt and conscious.

A wise man once told me: One repays a teacher badly if one remains nothing but a pupil.

It is my hope that you know now more than I do. Because that means that I don't suck that bad as a teacher :).

With love.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Life in a One Liner

"I just wish I could start a relationship about 12 years in, when you really don't have to try anymore, you can sit around and goof on TV shows, and go to bed without anyone trying any funny business."

Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A New Discovery Everyday

After going through several high pressured situations lately, I learned one new thing about myself.

No matter how stressful, I never lose my appetite.

I recall eating 3 full meals all through labour.

Ternyata banyak hal kecil yah, yang pantas disyukuri...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hilarious One Liner #1

"Heavy is the head that eats the crayons."

Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

Justified Reasoning

When you're a working mother, be it part time or full time, the best case scenario is that you are guilt ridden for leaving your child with another person.

The worst case scenario is that you feel nothing, only to wake up one day realising that a stranger knows more of your child than you do.

You begin realising that the nanny is the first person who witnesses their developments. Then there might be moments where your child cries the nanny's name when he or she falls down.

This is what I cite to myself every day, when I ask myself if it's time for me to get back to work full time. And I always end up deciding that nothing - nothing - is worth missing out on Malik growing up. He deserves a parent. Someone who is present. Who is able to answer his questions, albeit as trivial as they will be in his first years - but will contribute to his later development. Who stimulates his growth with love and responsibility.

And I don't trust that anyone could live up to that standard if not the two people who decided to bring him to this world.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discovery vs. Curiousity

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka" (I've found it!), but "That's funny..."

Isaac Asimov

It is the realisation that something else is available for new discoveries
That science is (in)finite
That certain things are (un)explainable
Not the satisfaction of having found the answers
But the fact that there are things worth fighting for

Inaya Rakhmani

Monday, March 09, 2009

Islam is OK!

One way or the other, the marginalised will re-surface itself through the mediation of popular culture (Post Modernism).

Sunday, February 22, 2009


This is my Dad.

The Political Economy of Google

My first encounter with the significance of Google in the culture of information was in one of the ICT classes I took for my MA degree. I was doing my final presentation on healthcare and the internet.

Inaya: I would like to argue for the significance of ICT in the development and advancement of global healthcare. For that case, I'd like all of you to indulge me in imagining yourself hearing a dear friend of yours dying of a terminal illness you've never heard before. Social courtesy of course holds us back from asking them what type of illness they actually have. You really want to know. My question is: 'What do you do?'
Classmate: I just Google it.

That was exactly the answer I was anticipating. I was in awe it took me several seconds to realise how Google is actually so instilled in our daily culture and information gathering that is has become a culturally acceptable verb.

Having a media and culture background, it's difficult for me to not think about the larger picture. I began relating the phenomenon of Google and/or Wikipedia (Just Wiki it!) with capital ownership.

My hypothesis is, as with conventional media before and the idea of Political Economy theory* (television, newspaper, satellites - e.g. Rupert Murdoch) - He who owns media outlets will ultimately own information flow. He who owns information flow will ultimately own ideology construction (e.g. McDonalds - fast food culture, Hollywood - popular culture, etc) and, eventually, the export and consumption of durable goods.

I couldn't help but worry, when reading about Google.Inc's various acquisitions, among others, YouTube. I began to realise the consequence of making Google my single source of information. When using this search engine, and a list of links appear, Google has 'Agenda Setting' power or the power to set our information agenda. What used to be the power reserved by news media (television news, newspaper news) by deciding which headline is important to us is now acquired by this engine we deem as 'our' portal**.

When assuming that internet users, unlike television viewers who idly click through channels, are active users who have decided before accessing the media which information they'd like to consume - is this still the case with Google's cross-ownership?

Let us not forget that Google.Inc is a private company whose shares are mainly owned by Western (US based) corporations. Google (the search engine) is now also powered by advertising. It makes me wonder how far the search results will reflect the company's long term plan for sustainability.

They have the power to integrate marketing into their search results, but will they use it? Will they consistently apply the idea of public interest and progressive corporate image into their marketing plan?

I argue that media, like any other mediums from guns to hammers, are neutral. It really depends on the user (and owner) to decide its effects. It is virtually impossible to, as the case with conventional media like TV and newspaper, regulate Google's information flow - as when dealing with the internet, we are dealing with transnational, international and/or global information flow. Therefore, I advocate for us being more critical, intelligent and literate Google users who also take into the account the probability of capital interest when scanning through the search results and not taking the idea of 'amount of hits' or 'site popularity' for granted.

At the end of the day, as argued by Karl Marx, dominance will always be challenged by the intellectuals (lit: orang yang berpikir) who realise a disparity of power.

It is up to us whether or not we would like to utilise that power.

For non communication science or media studies background:
* Political Economy, in communication science and media studies, relates to Marx's idea that power relation is apparent in information flow. Wikipedia: '-news outlets are now run by large corporations, they are under the same competitive pressures as other corporations. (...) the pressure to create a stable, profitable business invariably distorts the kinds of news items reported, as well as the manner and emphasis in which they are reported. This occurs not as a result of conscious design but simply as a consequence of market selection: those businesses who happen to favor profits over news quality survive, while those that present a more accurate picture of the world tend to become marginalized.' Recommended reading: Chomsky's 'Manufacturing Consent'.
**Agenda Setting is a theory by McCombs & Shaw which states that every (news) media has the power to decide what is important and how to think about it. For example, current issues covered by the Indonesian media lately involve the race for the president. Less coverage is done towards, for example, the current state in Rwanda.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Political Campaign and Desperate Attempts

Election campaign in Indonesia, I think, has arrived to its most desperate moment. A sound example is:

This example is not exclusive to PDIP. See below.


Joking aside, I think that banner is a testament of how dire our democracy is. That voters are anonymous, imitative, uncritical people whose votes are easily swayed by popular culture. That is, if this manner of campaign is effective.

Political campaign, I think, is no longer exclusive to political science and debates. The more campaign political parties apply in our daily lives, mostly through the media (television, internet, radio), the more it has entered the realm of media and (popular) culture.

Political campaign, historically, was actually developed from the basic idea of propaganda. That a single idea should be repeated, instilled, consistently projected in order to change the 'mind' of the audience. Although effects may be measured, I choose to advocate for the idea that the audience are not a mindless, uncritical mass easily swayed. Part of (that) audience are people with sound judgements which should be approached in a careful manner.

But then again, from the perspective of the political organisation, it really depends on whose vote you are trying to gain. If I were them, and I'm being a devil's advocate when I'm saying this, trying to gain the votes of many (lower educated, lower income, which comprise most of the country's population) the easiest way would perhaps be by endorsing the campaign with as many icons of popular culture (as is the case of Cynthia Lamusu's father).

It makes you think, doesn't it? That the manner a political party chooses in its campaign is actually a manifestation of their goals. For political parties which goal is to gain as many voters, then the simplest of options is best. But for political parties which goal is to bear the aspirations of many, campaign will be formed accordingly.

Note: I have no strong political stance nor a political position. I have no loyalty towards any party and my vote is based on information and consideration instead of blind loyalty.

Which makes me wonder... PKS has consistently attributed the same symbols, meaning and text in their advertising - which lead to the latest controvery of employing newspaper headlines on political disputes between parties.

Their courageous political stance led me, a self-proclaimed critical voter, to open their website and read their vision and mission. Browse through online material to find out how the media has portrayed their demonstration, how they organise their mass and what they fight for (and how!).

Aside from what their actual goal is, PKS has employed a very intelligent, careful, critical campaign strategy which either is a testament to what they believe in or a testament to how brilliant their campaign manager is.

The optimist in me has decided.

Oh. This is no endorsement. This is a trigger to an open debate on something that truly matters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Raindrops and Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Courtesy of Diana Sabidi. I don't like chain mails but I liked the idea.

1. I am a nerd.
2. Unlike what people think of me, I have no ambition. I do, however, have realistic plans.
3. I am married to my bestfriend.
4. I prefer living in big cities but I stay indoors most of the time.
5. I still breastfeed my 6.5 month old son.
6. I enjoy my privacy and I don't like people interfering with my private life.
7. I am a PhD candidate, lecturer, wife and mom. Not in that order of priority.
8. If I had to choose, I would leave everything I have for my family.
9. I am learning to juggle love and life, while maintaining my stress level.
10. I love reading, browsing random sites, writing, traveling and going to museums (I told you I am a nerd).
11. I have been to all continents except Africa.
12. I traveled Western Europe with my husband by bus, train, plane and car.
13. I believe in God.
14. I think democracy is overrated.
15. I believe that violence is never a solution.
16. I am a meat eater and diligently eat my vegetables out of guilt.
17. I love winters.
18. I love biking in Amsterdam.
19. I like learning new languages only to forget them after 1 year.
20. I am an active TV viewer. I download them and never watch the commercials (eat that AC Nielsen ratings).
21. I believe in open dialogue with people who would listen before they speak.
22. I like vanilla cupcakes, Dr. Pepper, Shirley Temple and Teh Kotak.
23. There are under 10 people in this world who truly know who I am.
24. I collect books and am currently developing my own library.
25. I love children because they represent everything that is right in this world.

Monday, February 09, 2009

SAP Analisis Kritis terhadap Media Massa di Indonesia

Program Sarjana Reguler
Departemen Ilmu Komunikasi
Fakultas Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik
Universitas Indonesia


Mata Kuliah : Analisis Kritis terhadap Media Massa di Indonesia
Semester : Genap 2008/2009
Hari / Jam : Kamis/ 10.30-13.00
Pengajar : Inaya Rakhmani


Dalam mata kuliah ini, mahasiswa akan diperkenalkan dengan berbagai tradisi, teori dan perdebatan dalam kajian kritis media massa (Marxisme, cultural studies, ekonomi politik, audience reception theory, dan konsep-konsep terbaru lainnya yang berkembang dari teori kritis) serta kaitannya dengan fenomena media massa di Indonesia (dengan fokus kepada televisi, film, internet dan musik). Mata kuliah ini akan mendalami ‘sebab dan akibat’ dari media massa yang terkait dengan kepentingan pemilik modal, pembentukan budaya popular dan dampak global/lokal media massa di Indonesia. Sebagai tambahan, mata kuliah ini juga akan menyentuh isu munculnya media ‘alternatif’ sebagai respons kritis terhadap dominasi media mainstream.


Memperdalam penguasaan mahasiswa dalam memahami:
(1) Rangkaian teori dan konsep dalam spektrum perdebatan teori kritis media massa,
(2) Logika berpikir pendekatan kritis dalam ‘membaca’ gejala/fenomena media massa di Indonesia.

Komponen evaluasi (sementara) adalah sbb.:

1. Review film 15%
2. Presentasi kelompok 15%
3. Ujian Tengah Semester 30%
4. Ujian Akhir Semester 30%

Satuan Acara Perkuliahan

I 5/2 Overview -
II 12/2 Teori kritis dan Ilmu Komunikasi: Sebuah Pengantar
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Media Studies", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
III 19/2 Budaya & Media (Massa): Cara Mengkaji Media
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "What Do the Media Do to Us? Media and Society", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
IV 26/2 Ekonomi Politik Media
Herman, Edward S. & Noam Chomsky (2002). "A Propaganda Model", in Manufacturing Consent.USA: Pantheon Books.
V 5/3 Media & (Post) Modernisasi
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Postmodernism", in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
VI 12/3 Memahami Ideologi & Hegemoni
O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). "Making Sense: Discourse, Ideology, and Hegemony in Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
VII 19/3 Teori Kritis dan Media Massa di Indonesia: Transisi Politik & Dampaknya
Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). "Introduction: Mediating Politics and Culture", in Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.
26/3 Hari Raya Nyepi
2/4 Pekan UTS -
VIII 9/4 Memandang Televisi dengan Kritis
Kitley, Philip (2000). "Television and Its Historical Audience", in Television, Nation and Culture in Indonesia. USA: Ohio University Center for International Studies.
IX 16/4 Film dan Politik di Indonesia
Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). National Cinema: Global Images, Contested Meanings", in Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.
X 23/4 Film: GIE (Indonesia: Riri Riza, 2005) -
XI 30/4 New Media: Sebuah Alternatif?
Slevin, James (2000). "Publicness and the Internet", in Internet and Society. USA: Blackwell Publisherss Inc.
XII 7/5 Musik di Indonesia: Antara Industri dan Indie.
Dewanto, Andi. "Trend Indie Wangi". Koran Tempo. 22.07.2006
XIII 14/5 Kenaikan Yesus Kristus
XIV 21/5 Analisis Kritis Media Massa di Indonesia: Rangkaian Isu
Wardhana, Veven Sp (2001). Televisi dan Prasangka Budaya Massa.Jakarta: Institut Studi Arus Informasi.
4/6 Pekan UAS -


Dewanto, Andi. "Trend Indie Wangi". Koran Tempo. 22.07.2006

Herman, Edward S. & Noam Chomsky (2002). Manufacturing Consent.USA: Pantheon Books.

Hill, David & Krishna Sen (2000). Media, Culture and Politics in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kitley, Philip (2000). Television, Nation and Culture in Indonesia. USA: Ohio University Center for International Studies.

O'Shaughnessy, Michael & Jane Stadler (2005). Media and Society: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Slevin, James (2000). Internet and Society. USA: Blackwell Publisherss Inc.

Wardhana, Veven Sp (2001). Televisi dan Prasangka Budaya Massa.Jakarta: Institut Studi Arus Informasi.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Best of Compromising

My husband, Arya, is the type of person who does everything on his own. He works, makes money, cleans after himself, helps take care of our son, and rarely asks for help around the house. A true un-patriarchal husband/father.

Sounds perfect, eh? True. But he expects the same from me.

Before marrying him, I spent most of my life having live-in hired help. Now our cleaning lady comes and goes and has Sundays off.

Two weeks after labour, he asked me when I plan to get back to work. He says lounging around the house and breastfeeding is not a healthy lifestyle.

He does support me on all levels - motherhood, career, education. But on the other hand he also expects me to run as fast as I can on all levels - personal and professional.

He is not amused when I am idle.

There are moments when I am just about to break down and feel that I have had enough. I breastfeed, bathe, prepare food, feed Malik, prepare presentations, write, research, read, budget annual financial estimation for our household. The list goes on.

This morning, after feeding, bathing, preparing Malik's diaper bag, washing & sterilizing his bottles, opening & locking the gate for Arya (since we have no help) - it began to rain. And I snapped.

Though these moments will always come and go, I know the habits to which I have 'compromised' to adopt have more pros than they do cons.

Although it's undeniably more tiring, I whine less over small things and have higher stress tolerance. I am used to doing things myself and I hope one day this will give Malik a good example.

And although Arya sets very high standards on me, he also takes care of his end of the deal. He takes care of Malik when I'm occupied (you name it, diaper-changing, bathing, clipping his nails, calming him when he's crying, feeding him, putting him to sleep - there is literally nothing I can do that he can't (aside from producing breastmilk)). After working 10 hours and accidentally breaking a plate, he picks up a broom and mop and cleans up the mess. No whining. He is willing to work around his schedule if I need to work, so that Malik has a stand-by parent (we also don't have a full-time nanny).

Sometimes, when I'm extremely exhausted, I ask myself if things have to be this hard. We can actually afford to hire more help, albeit lose more privacy. But when I think of Malik and what kind of life skills I want him to be equipped with - I am reminded of the person Arya is and how independent he is despite the fact that most males in Indonesia are taken care of instead taking care of themselves. How unconventional he is and how this relates to his strong character. How this may relate to decisiveness, agility and perseverance.

And at those moments I always decide that all of this is worth it. Not for me, but for my child(ren).

I am extremely grateful that I have Arya as my life partner. I can honestly say that I highly doubt I would be able to do all of these things while maintaining my stress level if it weren't for him. And I do hope that Malik gains the best of both worlds.

I love you, Arya.

Maintenance: Malik vs Mom's Sanity

Malik has started on solids for around two weeks and, as I had done with learning everything there is about breastfeeding, I began reading wide ranges of (online) literature on infant feeding. And, as I had with weighing the pros and cons of breastfeeding and expressing breast milk, I began weighing the pros and cons of homemade food and commercial baby food (jar).

Most articles advocate homemade baby food for freshness, nutrition and substance control (texture, combination, etc). Not to mention the slogans of 'if you can give your baby the best, why settle for good' and 'feed with love'. Some articles take into account the issue of practicality (working moms, affordability, hygiene, etc) which are less judgmental towards commercial baby food (fortification, controlled hygiene, etc). Then the debate of practicality continues to the solution of freezing homemade food.

And it goes on. And on. And on.

So did a bit of my sanity.

Then I stumbled upon a blog, written by an articulate, caring mother saying that, in the middle of all this debate over nutrition, practicality, what-have-yous, the most important thing is for the mother (or parent) to maintain sanity.

You can give your child the best of nutrition but it won't substitute your time spent stimulating their development by being 'present' (broadest sense of the word) for them when playing, learning, interacting. I do agree that nutrition is important, but it is not either or. It should be a balance between both.

So I guess, I advocate for whatever works. To each parenting style their own. Homemade food is not always best when the parent has no energy left to play with their child.

So I guess, the saying 'if you can give your baby the best, why settle for good' should be applied in a broader context. 'Best' is not only exclusive to what they eat but it also includes reading them books, singing to them, bathing them, changing their diapers and not so easy on handing them over to nannies.

And, as a working mom who is doing her best juggling both worlds, I will also try not to be judgmental towards those who decide otherwise.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

How Old Are You?

Sunday, 25 January 2009
Murdoch Student Village, Perth

The difference between conversing with an Indonesian and/or South East Asian and an Australian and/or someone of 'Western' origin when talking about my school:

Event #1
Stranger: So you're studying for your Masters degree?
Inaya: No, a PhD.
Stranger: What? How old are you?

Event #2
Stranger: So you're studying for your Masters or PhD?
Inaya: PhD.
Stranger: Oh, so you must be in the academic field.
*Karena tidak lazim orang dari industri 'buang2 waktu' utk S3*

PhD, in my most humble opinion, has nothing to do with intelligence or that it's reserved for the above 40s. It has to do with profession and opportunity. If I had decided to work in the industry, then I wouldn't want to waste my time getting another research degree. For an academic, getting your PhD is comparable to a manager taking a training course on business development, for example. It's a way to excel and develop ourselves for further career progress.

As simple as that.

*Of course there's always passion which was the motivation in the first place, but this is me pragmatically speaking*

The association that professors should be white headed men with glasses and a bow tie is no longer relevant. The more compressed and segmented the work field is nowadays, the more the need for everyone to rethink their profession and stay consistent in it.

Again, in my most humble opinion. So really. No big deal.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Random Thoughts

Friday, 23 January 2009
Murdoch Student Village, Perth

Ticking things off the list. It's funny how when you concentrate hard enough, you can get so many things done in the same time. Lagi di tengah menulis untuk Ethics Board. Painful process, bearable and a must (sampai malas cerita).

I do realise one thing though. That this is going to be my life for 4 years to come. And that it will affect Arya and Malik in various ways. I just hope that I'm smart enough to know when to prioritise which. An art I'm pretty sure no one can ever master completely.

I guess I'm boring you...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Finally, finally

Monday, 19 January 2009
Murdoch Student Village, Perth

Finally have begun my studies, in the broadest sense of the word. Finally laying down 3 (theoretically) to 4 (realistically) year research plan ahead. Finally.

Mulai lega.

Malik has adjusted to life here. He is a remarkable human being. Bahkan adaptasi sebelum orangtuanya. It's true, never underestimate the prowess of a child. They will always exceed our expectation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

(Jangan) Kalah Sebelum Berjuang

Friday, 16 January 2009
Murdoch Student Village, Perth

Finally have time to write. Arrived at Perth last Sunday... Adjustment yet again. But things are a bit harder this time around with Malik.

And by all means, it is harder.

It's one thing to go through the suffering of adjustment since its our own sounds decision. But it's another seeing our little one having to struggle, over something not even of their direct interest.

I feel selfish. Yes, okay, there's always the validation that this will benefit him in the long run. Exposing him to different cultures and languages, learning to adjust at such a young age makes him a stronger person.

But really...

Being a 5 month old infant, aren't your concerns mainly related to comfort? And I've taken him away from his comfort zone not once (with moving to new house) but twice AND to another country.

I think this is the mother in me talking. I just need to focus on what I need to do here or else him coming will indeed be a waste. I need to focus on breastfeeding and attending to his needs. That's all I can do.

I know, though hard at the moment, like any other trial I had to go through in life - this too shall pass. And that all of us, Malik, Arya and I, will come out stronger individuals.

I hope.

PS: Kata Arya jangan ngeluh nanti bapaknya ikut stres hehe...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Thing About Parenting

Thursday, 8 January 2009
Pejaten Elok, Jakarta

Early parenting I suppose is the time for parents to be selfish. The (almost) full dependency of an infant to his parents flourishes this feeling. Much too often do I hear the unnecessary comparing of baby weight, daily milk intake, monthly milestones, etc. It seems that most parents have treated their children as an achievement.

A discussion I had with my sister made me resort to the answer that this happens for a lack of a better thing to do. Too much free time and not enough activity may have created us into parents in a race for the ‘best’ child (good, better, best). Since we are temporarily restrained from self-actualising ourselves professionally, we self-actualise ourselves through our children.

The premise of self-actualisation through our children suggests that our children are ours to improve.

That they are property instead of individuals.

Even throughout infancy, I see how my son has gained more skills to gradually become more independent from his parents. I think to myself, is this not the purpose of parenting? To equip our children with the best of skills and tools to live and learn as independent human beings, no longer attached to their caregivers.

Conscience human beings able to rationalise and make sound, consequent decisions – amidst the grey area of this place we call ‘world’.

It is perhaps difficult to realise on a daily basis that all the hard work, all the effort, all the energy – will not bring harvest for our reaping. It is our children’s. Everything we do for them, is not for us. It’s for them.

And as a parent myself, this selfless notion, although sensible, is very hard to apply consistently.

It’s one thing to work hard on our career and education and receive all the (societal) praise we deserve. But it’s another thing to work very hard for our children and realise that none of this is for us.

That our children are not ours. They are their own.

I think it should be in all parents’ minds that when we have children, we do not have children. We are trusted with them for a certain amount of time, for them to be able to live on their own. We are trusted to equip them with the necessary survival skills and tools to face life and its challenges.

Although probably still very far in the future, again, it will come faster than any parent’s taste. I know it in my head and that one day I too must let go. I just hope when that day comes, I am able to let go of the selfish feeling of wanting something back.

But getting the best of examples from my parents, two people who have cooperated with each other and worked very hard to provide my sister, my brother and I with the best of upbringing (on all levels, materially, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually), not asking anything back for themselves but to ‘pay it forward’ to our children – I am certain that when the day comes, it will happen naturally.

As it did with them.

I love you dearly Mom and Dad. Happy 32nd anniversary.

Hello, home!

Thursday, 8 January 2009
Pejaten Elok, Jakarta

Finally. Internet connection.

Happy (belated) new year, people. First post from new home. Albeit we’re leaving for Perth this Sunday, it’s still going to be the place we come home to after everything is done.

It’s a nice feeling.