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bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun: -a dump site for anything at hand, in mind-

Tuesday, November 27, 2001


ever wondered how lawyers work?
ever realized that lawyers are not just lawyers as seen on tv?
ever realized that there are a wide array of lawyers?
ever realized that they are paid in an handsome sum of money per HOUR?
ever realized that their signature can cause a company
to lay off thousand of their employees in merging two companies into one?
ever realized that they may play a significant role in tax evasion scheme?
ever wondered what makes them so damn expensive?

there are litigation lawyers.
there are opinion lawyers.
there are negotiating lawyers.
there are ally mc beal.

mahogany furnitures and airconned workspace.
foreign currency salary, mostly in US Dollars, charged per hour.
designer suits and heavenly perfumes.
prominent law firm, prominent network.
intellectual snobs?
we are our own boss.

tax evasion scheme? how much money you got?
moving company to another country? how much is the deal?
what is it that you need to know?
the current binding and valid complete laws of this and that matter.
listed ongoing valid laws plus available amandments.

dispute settlement. employer vs employees. company vs labor. husbands vs wives.
murderers vs victims.
money laundering. tax evasion. company merger.
any industry. any business.
hours of talk. hours of discussion. compromise. way out. solution.
hours of research. tons of evidences. good evidence. bad evidence.
verdicts. convicts. winners. loosers. courtrooms. round tables.
defendants. prosecutors.
clients. partners. juniors. seniors.

you name it, we got it.
cut the deal, sign the paper.
pay the bill.

"It's a glam world if I stay in the capital. I opted to find a different location
and got into litigation in criminal court.
The money is not good. But I got to be in a different atmosphere.
Cases come and go. Loosing is never an option.
Another case. I won.The verdict was not guilty. The defendant walked.
Guess what?
Bad evidence. The case was reopened. I resigned from the criminal court.
Will probably go into business and play safe this time.
Becomes a paper lawyer perhaps."

"I can't stand dealing with clients.
I can't stand the reality and the consequences I have to face.
Someone came up to meet me, saying, our company has to pay this much tax.
can't you do something about it? you can do a tax evasion scheme.
it's simple and everybody does that. the paper is ready.
we both sign the legal paper and we make sure that
the tax will be decreased from the initial portion.
we guarantee that nothing will happen that everything will be okay.
I realize the sum of tax which has been successfully evaded.
God, that much money. God, it can feed thousands of people.
Providing better access to basic needs. How can I sleep peacefully at night?"


Wednesday, November 21, 2001

reminiscing pakistan

raison d'etre
It was a training on report writing. I went there with a working colleague. Nothing much happened. Except that mind-boggling news on around 11 PM about the big apple's twin tower tragedy. The day after: it became a talk of the town. "The Dawn" and a local Urdu newspaper were the most wanted items. A group of people from the bigger cities of Pakistan and the American trainer read "The Dawn", the so-called the most prominent English-speaking newspaper; while those ngo activists from the smaller and remote cities held on to the Urdu-speaking newspaper. The funny thing was that the two groups exchange comments in Urdu-mixed-English or English-mixed-Urdu (whatever was that),
I didn't quite get the lingo as I only speak English and not Urdu.

The training center was 1.5 hrs drive from Islamabad. Murree, twas the name. for Pakistanis, it's the Switzerland of Pakistan. It's freezing cold up there. when you check the map, you'd find Murree somewhere up in the mountains, around one cm. ahead Islamabad.

We could have flown, but we were shanghaied in a blue Mazda 2000 van to take the road trip from Lahore to Murree. It was pitch dark as we stopped in a Shell gas station. A pretty fancy gas station for a Pakistan standard, I'd say. And it was early in the morning when we arrived in the freezing cold Murree. The trip to Murree took around six hours.

went to murree to write
Ay, in the report writing training, there are people with no e-mails. There are people who has never touched any computer. Some because they didn't know how to use it, some others because they had personal secretary to help them. They don't know how to make their writing "double space" or "single space". Some of them really hate laptops cuz they're so cute and small (BTW, have you guys ever heard about this joke -- that laptops are designed especially for men because of that cute-roundish-little mouse in the middle. *LOL* huh?) On the last day, there came this rumor of me being an IT person. neat, huh? Hey, if I were a real IT person, I wouldn't get myself stuck in my current work.

my travel mates

people & politics
I talked a lot to a handful of Pakistanis, both male and female. The males would hug each other for greetings, while they will not strike any conversation to the females. males and females would really sit separately. The males wear a traditional dress either in white, gray or khaki colors --the shalwar-kameez-- (you gotta see how those Afghanis look like on TV, they wearing that dress), while the women wear something that looks like Indian's sari. "are you married?" was the most common question. I was asked to move to another planet as I shared my views about marriage (IMHO, it's a legal procreation) *grins*

it's a heritage of Zia Ul Haq's regime.
the shalwar-kameez for the men.
the sari looked-alike dress for the women.
the gender separation.
the poverty stricken situation.
the hidden billingual ability.
the diverse actively-speaking local languages
(each province has its own local language.
someone from pubjab would probable not understand
someone from baluchistan, unless they both speak
in urdu - the national language, or english - the colonialization's heritage).

I'd say Pakistanis still retain traces of arrogance inherited by the Brits. They're pretty egoistic in their own way and less Asiatic than Indonesians. We tend to serve people while they tend to.. dunno, I thought I was being exploited by some of them.
taking the benefits of my being a so-called computer savvy. You really have to be able to say "No" to them

But not all muslims practice there. only a few does. I'm not sure whether Pakistan fell under the cathegory of "secular predominantly muslim state" in any media. I know a Pakistani guy who's married with two kids, having a very interesting, rich view about his nation; and is an atheist. An atheist in plain vanilla who used to be a fundamentalist-atheist. Said that he mixed the two " isms" in purpose

fort lahore

The home of the eight million human beings was the city that we really visited and observed in quick six hours ride. It's the canals, the shady trees, the vast fields of wheat and the innumerable computer courses, plus the wide streets as wide as Sudirman and Thamrin in Jakarta (four sedans in a row, two lane streets, in total: eight sedans in a row). But please, forget not the most attractive donkey carts!

cute donkey cart

the decorative windowless bus

And the beautifully decorated windowless regular buses, besides the green and white Daewoo aircon buses. It's the streets of Lahore that attracted me most. Especially the old red Honda motorbikes and the tuk-tuk> like tribikes (Lahore has two version of this, the three persons tribikes and the six persons tribikes).

blue "bajaj" version of pakistan

the daewoo bus!

the old 1970s Honda motorbikes are everywhere, and it's always full house. a driver (usually the man of the house), a mother with two children squeezed between the driver and the mother, count also the one on her lap.

feature: pirated books
Bookstores.. bookstores: Oh how you'd love them -- cuz they pirated books instead of CD and VCD in Pakistan. And books are cheap. the pirated Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilization" cost like Rp. 45,000.00 in Indonesian Rupiah (US$ 1 = 66 PAK Rupee at that time); while the original thing cost like SIN $ 25.00,00 non-GST inclusive in Changi Airport. *die die die with that price* again, Pakistan is a book-lovers heaven. And I haven't roamed the second hand book stores. And I haven't set my eyes on Islamabad's foreign book spots. There are some excellent spots. including the new Oxford bookstore. In the end I secured eight books with me. A novel and another two different novels. All of Pakistani writers (Tehmina Durrani's works and another novel, I forgot). Supposed to be damn good ones since I consulted a reader and the book review.

Ever seen "War and AntiWar" by Alvin Toffler sold at the price of 495 PAK Rp. means around ID Rp. 70,000.00? that copy wasn't pirated, OK. And Huntington's pirated copy and also another literary work by a Latin American writer. Ah, and a copy of Roald Dahl's book -- it's a children book. Can't complain about it. It's a good one. But you might want to be careful with Indian writers. I couldn't find any Amartya Sen's book (he's this famous expert in Social and Economics issues) only for one reason: that he might be an Indian -- although the bookstore manager wanted us not to think that way . "We don't have his book not because he's an Indian, but simply because we don't have it."

eating out
I believe I'd survive Pakistan, even if I were paid in Pakistan Rupees cuz the chapaati (the thin baked bread that looked like tortilla) went well with my system, although I got bored with the Chicken Karahi dish (it's a curry-like chicken dish and you can put either beef or mutton inside). You go out to lunch or dinner, be it four people you invite and the toll you have to pay is only 492 PAK Rupee. It's equal to ID Rp. 63,000.00 to 70,000.00. For four people in a nice airconned resto.

Lahore has nine McDonald's restaurants (you won't miss the huge ad banner as you;re exiting the airport). Then there are Pizza Hut and KFC joints. *god, none of those things*. KFC's just opened their flagship store in Kemang (this cafe and clubs area down in south jakarta) and that's enuff. Be careful with the water. I mean, I'm a tough nut. I do eat in the warung tegal places and would drink anything with ice in any place. But try Lahore's street food stall once and hang on to your health insurance It wasn't that bad, though. I tried this local-salted lemonade. It's made of three squeezed lime with sugar and a dash of brown-spotted salt add ons plus water and ice cubes. A perfect thirst quencher on a hot, sunny day in Lahore. And may your stomach has the strength to bear whatever came after that I survived though. tough nut, huh?

en route home
On the way back to Indonesia, we were supposed to fly via Islamabad to Lahore and then to Singapore. Due to the fall of the twin towers, security has been pretty beefed up in Islamabad. UN and INGO staff members in Afghanistan as well as a handful of them in Pakistan evacuated themselves. We were advised not to fly to Lahore from Islamabad, and should go by road instead.

the toll road that stretches from Islamabad to Lahore for a freaking 350 kms had no lights at all. Only scotchlite marks along the road-divider ramp in the middle. I wasn't aware of this after the arrival cuz I slept all the way from Lahore to Murree, only woke up a couple of times. I'd say there are one rest area for every 50 kms. The facility was pretty fancy with a huge parking area and modern toilets.

Pakistan was something. I'd love to stay, but the tickets didn't allow me, so did the workload I left in Jakarta.


Tuesday, November 20, 2001


2 messages


i really love my children, they are even more than my whole life.
God, please forgive me that i ever thought to leave them, only for someone who doesn't deserve

(suddenly i wrote this while i was watching Shalat Tarawih directly from Masjidil Haram on tv & wanna share with somebody,
sorry if i bother you).

"shalat tarawih" is this mass praying that muslims usually do after the fifth compulsory praying during ramadhan (a one month full day fasting for muslims). usually it's after 19.00 PM. it's not compulsory, you can either do it or not. and in this part of the world where I live, a private tv station (wouldn't call it a tv cable since you don't have to pay to view it) would air a live feed tarawih pray from mecca - the masjidil haram - a.k.a. this biggest and holiest mosque for muslims (unsure whether it's the biggest or not). the live feed would go for an hour or so. and for some people this might stimulate something in your system, enhanced by the ramadhan atmoshpere.

what's the catch?
you might have done something in life, right or wrong, that's not for the society to judge.
but something tickles you. something triggers that "thing" in you.
it was a message from a father who is seriously considering to leave his (a father is always a "he" by standard family structure) children and hand over the custody to someone else. why? there are reasons worth considering.

for those who haven't got any kids yet, stuff like this sounds like a damn soap opera. don't you think so?
it might.
but to some others, it might be a soft reminder (I'd say it's a soft reminder).
your offsprings will always be there. no matter what. although in most cases, it is not vice versa.
forget the guilt, forget the deed, forget the risk and consequences.

there is this proverb, I forgot where did I read it once:
"you can close your eyes to reality, but not to memories."

tried to forget whatever you left behind? a lot of people has tried that. but it will definitely haunt you.
some people makes some compromise, some others decided not.

mental scars never leave. it's buried deep down. it clings. attached.
prolly thicker than blood.

forgive and forget *quoting a friend of mine*
hopefully it works.


extra money

how much is a wait(er)ress paid? depends on the city.
here in indonesia, we have a regional minimum wage, set by the government. therefore, it depends on the region a.k.a province where the person work. in east java (the eastern part of java island - the most populous island of five indo's big islands) it's around Rp. 350,000.00 (last US$ rate to IDR: 1 US$ = Rp. 10,600.00 -- go figure the inflation rate yourself).

if you eat in a local mcdonalds, you'd spend around US$ 1.00 - 2.00. if you eat in a pretty fancy resto, you'd spend US$ 10.00 per person.

say if you eat in a pretty fancy resto and the meal was good, so was the service. how much would you tip the wait(er)ress? would US$ 0.50 (50 cents US) sound too much? I'd say no. because in the bill you didn't see "tax and service included -- please provide no tip" or something like that.

would you bitch about that much tip (the 50 cents US) to your dear brother/sister about it? having realized that the person who tends your table only brings home around Rp. 400,000.00 (divide it by Rp. 10.600,00 for current US$ rate) and service is not included.
I definitely would.

simple calculation:
US$ rate to IDR: 1 US$ = Rp. 10,600.00

take home pay: Rp. 400,000.00

lodging: Rp. 50,000.00
meals: Rp. 300,000.00 (Rp. 3,000.00 per meal x 30 days).
transport: Rp. 400,000.00 (Rp. 2,000.00 x 20 working days).

total expenses: Rp. 750,000.00

where do you think the person who tends your table will get the rest of the Rp. 350,000.00?
your tip for sure.


the cubicles

office has different shape. some takes the shape of a house, some a skycrapers.
the typical office from 80s onwards: cubicles. dilbert. cramped small room. circumsized room. boxed privacy. others: wall to wall glasses for middle managers and sups.

I'm a cubicle prisoner now, since there are more staff members in the office. the best thing about cubicle is the wall and the corner. the worst thing about a cubicle is the boss next door.

the worst thing about a cubicle is the standard office setting. and you end up regretting why your career seem to end up as a staff with no say about how the office should look like. why there should be hierarchy. complainings? some says it's a free country. some says it's real life. you say, there should not be cubicle because you don't work in a 30 stories office megabuilding. you work in a mere house. big one. but cubicle is needed because you don't want other people to stare at your stockpiling papers on your desk.

i don't know what to say about my cubicle. it would be super if i can have my computer inside the cubicle instead of outside and having to share it with others. it's a limp privacy. an impotent freedom. *argh*

isn't the world an impotent freedom? what is freedom after all?


why bricolage

I happen to think a lot, but don't keep neither diary nor journal.
this is just a piece of scattered thoughts passing through my mind while the heart is pumping oxygene-rich blood to my brain.

Thoughts are flying around, hovering on my mind, as I am pondering on it while I'm practising life. And these thoughts, might end up as idea, might end up as a catharsis, or just stupid things people think or do.

It may produce any result, it can be use as anything, it might reveal anything, it might point out at anything.
It is a bricolage. Of life in a Southeast Asia's most populous city.
Of a worker, of a student, of an androgyne, of a socially-construed female and male roles, of hypertexts and cyberspace, of timeless and restless souls, the rich and the haves, questioning life, the whatifs, the weirdism.

It's a record of what happens on the bus, walking in a crowd, seeing people, seeing cars driving pass by me, the market, the airport, the couple in a car, the street musicians, working colleagues, family members, college buddies, the lecturer, surfing, reading hypertext, relating to a stranger online, clubbing, exotic places, meeting tables, telephone conversation, text messaging.

With a bricolage, you can have anything.