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

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Saint Exupery's 'The Little Prince' Quiz

You are the snake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


listed in blogwise!

Blogwise - blog directory

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"hostage", two bucks since noon

Hostage Last night, I went to see "The Hostage" with Willis in it. Well, Bruce Willis' acting was standard. But personally, I believe it was Ben Foster as "Mars Krupcheck" who stole the show. Foster in "Hostage" reminds me of Brandon Lee in "The Crow". It's probably the long hair and the gothic outlook. Anyways, Foster was good.
Then the movie itself was full of slash-bam-bangs. Sure, the plot is so damn cliche, but juvenile deliquency always has its own mind.

The bitter taste was on the way from the office to the theatre. I hopped on a taxi and ended up having casual conversation with the driver, where the bitter taste begins. The taxi driver has five kids. One adopted child, two children from previous marriage and two more from the present marriage. The driver is a guy. He had to buy a taxi order to the airport from the taxi service operator. He left the house at around 04:00 AM in the morning, dropped his passenger at the airport, then another one to the Eastern part of the city. All this earned him around 200,000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah. US$ 1 = 9,500 IDR) up to highnoon. We crossed our paths at around 19:30 PM. From 12:00 to 19:30 PM he only got 12,500 IDR, which is not even two bucks. "I can't cover the daily deposit of 300,000 IDR. I've been out since four in the morning, but from twelve this noon until now I only earned 12,500. 300,000 is so far away. Yesterday, I still could cover the daily deposit and it only leaves me 20,000 IDR. That's my wage for that day. What date is it today?" It was April 19. "My lease is due tomorrow. I haven't been able to pay it on time in the past few months. Oh well.. money is hard to find these days.."

The flag fall of a taxi is 4,000 IDR and the next kilometer is I don't know how much. But with 30% gasoline prince hike, everything else increased up to that much. I'm seeing less amount of food in my lunch at local roadside eatery. They did not increase the price but they reduce the amount of food. Taxi ride is a luxury in Jakarta, although internationally, it's probably the cheaper taxi ride. Don't compare Jakarta to London or Berlin *smirk*

I almost couldn't bring myself into the theatre, but I was already there and for sure I would have regretted the two bucks I paid the taxi driver if I had decided to cancel my plan.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

things you do after finishing a thesis

In between two weeks assignment to Banda Aceh, pressing work loads, a conference in Chennai, a boy friend to attend to, this is what I squeezed myself into in the past four months.

I read and I feel phat!

Petir "Petir" (Dewi Lestari) - Indonesian

This is her third book. A continuing saga of Dee's (that's her nickname) search into I dunno what. Can't call it a serial, since it doesn't have the same hero and plot. But all of her books has the same undercurrent: popular science fiction, which is the only thing in Indonesian literature, if you don't want to call it rare. I read it because I want to know what she writes after "Supernova" and "Akar". I'm checking on her imagination. The book has a softer tone, a more relaxed character. Well, the heroine is a she now, happens to be a damn lazy one. I'd say "Akar" is more fast-pacing page turner.

PS: "petir" means "lightning". the novel is about a woman who has sort of power derived from lightning, ergo the name "elektra".


Kenanga"Kenanga" (Oka Rusmini) - Indonesian

Wohoo, she rocks! Oka Rusmini rocks. I'd say among female Indonesian writers after N.H. Dini, she's the only accomplished writer of dark stories. Not Stephen King type of "dark stories", but something cynical and stinging. I don't know whether any of Oka Rusmini's work has been translated into English or not, but I believe it should be. I've read all of her novels i.e. "Tarian Bumi", "Sagra" (more like a short stories collection) and now "Kenanga". She is still honest, straightforward and as sick! That rocks harder than 8.9 RS earthquake
After three books, Rusmini doesn't loose her boldness and audacity in revealing the sickest imagination of being a woman. I said "imagination" because no reviews and no articles about her (is there any?) ever mentioned that the book has some biographical truth like Hosseini's "Kite Runner".

With Rusmini, you will never be able to guess what's in the next page. It's sweet, it's lulling, yet stabbing. Personally, I'd like to say "Sagra" is the darkest.

PS: "kenanga" is actually a type of flower in Indonesian. It can be a name, though. over here, "kenanga" is the name of a woman.


Red Rabbit "Red Rabbit" (Tom Clancy) - English

It's been a long time since my last engangement with any of Clancy's novels. I picked up this one only because I wonder how is he doing in post-cold war setting. It turned out that "Red Rabbit" had a setting in Cold War USSR, where KGB and communism still rules. I learned what had gotten Jack Ryan into spook business and how each important character unfold. I've been wondering about who "The Foleys" are and also this "Sir Basil" guy. After a few years of escaping Tom Clancy, reading "Red Rabbit" making me wants to embrace the world of international affairs again. Clancy is still intriguing and crafty.

In case you want to know more about Clancy, there's an FAQ web site.

PS: "Rabbit" is an intelligence term for a "walk in", someone who wanted to defect to another country voluntarily.


Tuesdays with Morrie "Tuesdays with Morrie" (Mitch Albom) - English

Albom is sweet. The thin bestseller has humanism written all over the pages. On the other side, it is very close to death itself since it is about the terminal hours of Albom's professor, Morrie. It's written in a simple language and gives you the creeps as you realized what Lou Gerig's Disease can do to you.

PS: Albom is actually a sports writer. He has a radio show and a web site.


The Kite Runner "The Kite Runner" (Khaled Hosseini) - English

I picked up this book because the review said Hosseini was able to deliver what most beginner writer could not do, which is a good story. It turned out to be true. Hosseini wrote distant and cruel feelings in a sweet tone. In the end, as you gradually understand the culture of the Pasthuns (which I kept confusing "Pasthun" with "Pathan". The latter is a tribe in Pakistan with similar features of a "Pasthun" I guess) then you will also understand why Amir behaved like a complete jerk and it is Hassan with his heart of gold that has to bear all the burden.

Hosseini has done a terrific job in maintaining the flow of the story before giving a good punch line at the end of the book. Who would have guessed?

But then again, if you have read a good number of book using caste, patriarch culture, royal family, etc. as a background, you would have guessed where the story will twist and end. The story that Hosseini unfolded is enlightening because it's about Afghanistan, a country that the world has never heard before 9/11. Had he wrote more about the inside politics, I'm sure the book will take him on higher ground.

BTW, this kinda remind me of Betty Mahmoody's "Nicht Ohne Meine Tochter" or "Not Without My Daughter" back in early 1990s. I only have the German version. Which reminds me that I had to come back at it and finish it ;)

PS: The book has a thick Khaled Hosseini's character in it. Hosseini was born as a son of a diplomat. I believe the father's profession has given lots of previleges for the family. Diplomats everywhere do have better options, the way I see it. Am I assuming? Heck, I've met some of them and understand the education.

Khaled Hosseini is actually a doctor and a movie based on the novel is due in 2006.


The Teeth of the Tiger "The Teeth of the Tiger" (Tom Clancy) - English

Hoo kay.. after "Red Rabbit" and many other Clancy's novels, this one is VERY DISAPPOINTING. I know I should not write in capital, but can't stand it any more. I believe Clancy has gone beyond the line in including Jack Ryan Jr. into the spook business and plus the two fraternal twin cousins. It makes the US of A a Buckingham resident wannabee. Drop it!


The Five People You Meet in Heaven "The Five People You Met in Heaven" (Mitch Albom) - English

I was almost done with "The Teeth of the Tiger" when I laid my hands on this book. I read this one at the office afterhour and read the "Tiger" at home. Albom is still sweet. I wonder whether he only writes "death theme", since this one is literally about five people that "Eddie", the hero, met after he died. I'm still reading the book and still learning.


All Families are Psychotic "All Families Are Psychotic" (Douglas Coupland) - English

They said Coupland resembles Haruki Murakami. I'm saving my Murakami books for later reading. They're too precious ;)
While leafing through Coupland's "All Families.." I came to think of "Hotel New Hampshire" (John Irving). I dunno, perhaps I'm trying to note the similarities, but both look very similar to me. I'm still trying to understand Coupland. This is my first Coupland's book. He looks okay.

I’m done with Coupland’s psychotic families. A few questions remained. Whose families are psychotic? Which families? In the beginning there was only one Drummond, which later on proliferated into several nuclear families or couples. Ted got Nickie, his younger wife. Sarah got married to Howie, Wade to Beth and Bryan has a serious relationship with Shw, while Janet is a rogue. The patriarch culture made Ted and Nickie as another Drummond, as well as Wade and hopefully Bryan. In total, there are three new Drummonds; one old Drummond as Janet remains a Drummond and didn’t return to her maiden name; plus one Brunswick, Sarah who merged herself into one.

Coupland didn’t put The Brunswicks into spotlight and didn’t even emphasize their state of psychosis. The Brunswicks seemed to be the sequel to The Brady Bunch. Therefore, does the term “psychotic families” refer to each spouse of the ‘new’ Drummonds and one of its spin-off that became a Brunswick but was very much a Drummond?

Do an individual values, norms and traits represents those of a family? If this is a war between The Drummonds vs The Brunswicks, Coupland didn’t seem to elaborate much on The Brunswicks. Neither the other families of Drummonds’ spin-offs spouses i.e the families of Nickie, Beth and Shw.

Is Coupland trying to tickle the wider public concept of “normal family”? Assuming values of an individual represent his/her larger family values, does it justify Sarah’s decision to have an affair with the mission’s commander, although Sarah seemed to be the only one lacking of any psychotic symptoms.

If I teach “sociology of family”, I’d recommend this novel as a case study. A part from “Hotel New Hampshire” of John Irving.

How psychotic is yours?


displaced in banda aceh

canine survivor - lhok nga
I am supposed to have written this back in January. But the world was not kind enough at that time *sigh*
I am finally done with my thesis. I dunno whether B+ is considered a grade or not after you flunked the seminar several times. anyways. I guess writing the whole thing in English seemed to help improving the grade. I guess. Again, as we are all aware, assumption kills. Therefore, I do not assume on anything. I believe that whatever I had written passed the examination board.

honda super cup survivor Soon after the thesis was done in mid January, I had to go up to Banda Aceh on a two weeks assignment. I thought I would be okay, since I know the both the city and the people very well. WRONG! The tsunami that shook the earthlings took a lot of things, not only material stuff but I guess the soul of Banda Aceh that I used to know.
I don't know, it's just only me. Others would probably think that Banda Aceh stays the same. But, what is the meaning of "the same" when 80% of the city was swept away by the gargantuan 20 meters tidal wave and 8.9 RS earthquake?

lampuuk coastal area after 20 meters of tidal waveBeing there around three weeks after the D-Day was totally weird since I've been making trips between Jakarta and Banda Aceh in the past five years. Having known the city before tsunami and after tsunami has somehow given me extra chills compared to most of my colleagues who have only stepped their feet in Banda Aceh after the disaster. I stared blankly at Pantai Cermin (Cermin Beach) in Ulee Lheu area that simply does not exist anymore. I remembered sipping warm ginger on a river side coffee shop, which of course no longer exist. Lhok Nga used to be a stretch of white sandy beach and tall palm trees. It has the freshest grilled carp fish. When I got there a couple of week after tsunami, I felt like I'm witnessing the desert of Jordan.

the dried herbs seller at aceh central marketI was in Banda Aceh in October 2004 and have done quite some souvenir shopping for friends. The market is no longer there. I took a picture of a dried herbs seller. The guy wanted me to send him the picture when I have it developed. I don't know what to do with the picture now.

Then I ended up in a so-called coordination meeting between international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and military institutions. It felt awfully weird to be in Regina Hotel-turned-into Oxfam office with 99.9% foreigners speaking in a dozen language. Not to mention Red Cross/Crescent vehicles of almost any major nation: the Turkish Red Crescent, Austrian Red Cross, German Red Cross, the International Red Cross. You can't tell whether the big, tall man or woman you bumped on the road is an Australian/German/American.

hundreds of choppers at SIM airportWhen I got off the additional Garuda flight at the usually empty Sultan Iskandar Muda Airport, I was amazed to see rows of choppers. Not to mention catching the real "Black Hawk" chopper on one afternoon.

I felt displaced.


Photos courtesy of: Myself.


sleepless in chennai

Chennai Crossroad Departure in Jakarta was around 19:30, after two hours flight, then transit for an hour or so in Changi, Singapore. Around midnight the plane left for Bandaraneike, Sri Lanka. Transit for four hours or so. Bandaraneike airport was a lot better than I expected. If you had to stay for a long transit at Bandaraneike, worry not, they have all the basic standard for an international travellers to survive 1 x 24 hours in an airport.

Arrival in Chennai around lunch time, then straight to this disaster mitigation seminar. Sri Lankan Airlines is using Emirates' plane, can't complain for the service and airline food, although the chair is a bit high. The time difference killed us. Chennai was warm on that April Fool's Day.

Room with a view in Savera Hotel
Chennai in Blue

Chennai was warm and huge billboards of Shahrukh Khan sporting the new edition of Tag Heuer watch is everywhere. Food is damn good. My colleague and I stayed at Savera Hotel. Oh well, can't complain for the facilities. Pretty okay, although I'd argue that Indonesia has a lot better standard in hospitality industry. Tata Motors was huge. City cars bearing its brand were everywhere. Petrol is pretty expensive, for around 50 INR (Indian Rupee) per litre, it's around four times higher than Indonesia's.

The Yellow "Auto" is a "bajaj", it's the same word that we're using in Indonesia for a three-wheels motorized rickshaw. It costs you around 40 INR (Indian Rupee. US$ 1 = around 44 INR) for an hour of city tour. We kept getting offer of "tsunami areas. I'll take you to tsunami areas.." Geez, man.. I've been dealing with Banda Aceh and Meulaboh since December 26, been there seen the spot and is part of the operation. Enough said about tsunami. No, we do not want to see any tsunami-hit areas in Chennai. We're from Indonesia. So the "auto" driver that we rented for 40 INR per hour took us somewhere else. We were not that keen to have a closer look at Chennai since we only had 12 hours left. We only wanted to go to book shops!

Spencer Mall We spent almost five hours in "Landmark", a national-chain book store in "Spencer Mall", a shopping center somewhere in the downtown area. "Landmark" was impressive!!! Up until now I still wonder how did India did that. Super cheap books. Even imported ones from UK and The States. I spent a total of 5,000 INR for books. Dunno how much in US$. All for novels and stuff. I emptied a shelf of Haruki Murakami's books, then some other books that I've been wanting to buy but didn't have the time to hunt: The Quiet American & The Catcher in the Rye. They only had one Douglas Coupland's book: All Family is Psychotic. Clancy's most recent "Teeth of the Tiger" was also there. Then the 15 INR current affairs magazines stole my attention. How did they do that? 15 Rupees for a handsome magazine. I took all three of them: "The Outlook" and two others, plus a management magazine. Last but not least, my favorite cartoon strip: Calvin and Hobbes. Hillarious Hobbes! ;)

With a more than content heart, I went to a nearby department store to buy a gym back to stuff my books.. Both my colleague and I went out from Spencer Mall grinning. We were actually grinning ears to ears all the way back to Jakarta..