a memory and a hope

“i would like to sing for the suppressed people

living in the wild with bereft souls…”

our minds work in a funny way, don’t you agree? one second i was looking at the snow, feeling the cold, the next second i was thinking of my old hometown and how i used to take the sun’s heat for granted. and next i thought about what my friend said one day, how most Indonesian people do take it for granted–including herself, as well–and usually say to foreigners how great life must be in the foreigner’s country, not thinking of how hard life might be there in some other aspects (going to the supermarket on foot in winter is i’m sure something that rarely crosses their minds). and then the next second, i thought about the people in Jakarta, living under the bridges & flyovers, thanking their stars for not having to suffer through winter, especially being homeless and shirtless.

and then the next second, my mind arrived to an old acquaintance i had when i was going to the university, back in my old hometown.

it arrived there, because he was one of those homeless people. how i became acquainted to him was something i don’t think i ever mentioned to anyone before.

i used to live in the south part of Jakarta, and my university was just outside of Jakarta, in Depok. my everyday commuting life back then was taking 2 bus rides, which took about 1,5 hour in total, for one direction (that made 3 hours of commuting daily). it wasn’t that it was so far away (well, it was far, but that’s not the reason it took so long), but it’s because my transfer from one bus to the other took place in one of the busiest traditional marketplace in South Jakarta, called Pasar Minggu. the buses went through the small gaps, woven between the abundance of marketplace sellers & their tarmacs full of fresh produces, and since we’re talking about Jakarta that had no clear traffic system, there were always at least dozens of different buses queuing in this area at the same time before they could finally be ‘free’ to go to their own routes. so, you can probably imagine the length of time i spent waiting and frying inside these buses everyday (my buses weren’t air conditioned, of course).

every day, as i waited in the bus, there would be street singers hopping on and off my bus. when i had extra coin or small bank note, i would give them what i could, but most of the time my budget was just enough for the day, so i couldn’t help them even if i wanted to. some of them sang just so that their bosses could see that they were ‘working’, some of them actually sang with their hearts. usually, i would wait until i found those that sang with their hearts to give what small amount of money i could to them instead of the other group.

among these street singers, one of them was a man, probably around the same age as i was back then, maybe slightly older. he was probably the only one easy for me to remember, because of his appearance. he had very dark skin, big eyes, long curly hair which was always ‘half’ bleached no matter what time of the year it was, so that it was deep black from the roots to halfway the total length and very blonde from then on to the ends. he always carried a guitar and was one of those who sang with his heart.

the first couple of times i ‘met’ him in my bus, i was running short on my money that i couldn’t give anything to him. but, he always smiled. some time after that, i finally did have extra, so i was already planning to give it to him the next time i saw him. when that time finally came, and he finished singing and started walking around the bus to collect the money in the aluminum foil bag he was holding, i was putting my money to the bag when he suddenly said to me, “hep, no, no, that’s okay, miss!” and i was baffled. he didn’t want my money.

after he completed his round, he came to sit next to me, which happened to be empty. and i, as somebody who had always disliked talking to strangers even before moving to Finland, was wary of this. oh dear, i thought, he did not want my money but wanted my company? darn it. usually if some stranger who sat next to me in the bus started to talk to me, i would pretend not to hear what they’re saying (yes, i was cruel). but i couldn’t see my way out of this one because i would still be stuck there in my transfer point for a while.

and so, he started, “are you going to school, miss?” i said, shortly, “yes”. he asked where i went to school, and i told him my university name (and cursed myself why i had to be so honest. what if he was a stalker?). he was amazed by my answer, i guess it’s because my university name does bear good quality. then he started talking about himself, mostly, i guess because he could see i was being careful and only gave him short answers. he told me that he, too, wished he could go to the university, but could only sing in buses so far. the first time he sang, he did not even have a guitar, so he had to go with others who had musical instruments, saved money until he could buy a guitar, and finally, now, he could sing alone.

the bus began to move forward and he quickly bid his goodbye, but before he left, he asked my name. i told him a fake name, because my brain was still telling me to be cautious, and that was the end of our first conversation.

that happened during my first year of college. i still had 2 more years, so you can imagine how many more times i met him in my bus. it wasn’t daily, but there were a lot of times. i gradually saw that he didn’t mean anything bad, and if he was a stalker i would already be stalked by then. i started having quite ‘okay’ conversations with him, but most of the time, just like the first time, it was him who did the talking. he told me that he was now saving up for new shoes, and showed me that the only pair of shoes he had had holes in them. and every time i offered him what little money i could, he never took it. i think at one point i told him that i had shoes i didn’t use, and if he would like them. he asked my shoe size and when he heard it, he laughed because my shoe size was a lot bigger than his! he even joked that i must be one of the ‘mountain people’, who genetically have big feet. needless to say, my offer was turned down.

sometimes he did the singing with a group of his other friends, and when his friends came near to me to collect money, he would tell them, “no, not her! she’s my friend.” pretty soon, even his friends would recognize me when he wasn’t around, and also did not want my money.

one day, i went to the university as usual and i was the one who spotted him first before i got on to my bus. i tapped his shoulder (because even then, after many of our conversations, i still didn’t know his name) and said hi. he was friendly as usual, but i told him my news: this was my last time going through this route, because i had graduated. he was so happy for me, congratulated me, and told me good luck with my life. i wished him the same, and we parted.

that really was the last time i saw him, even though i still lived in Jakarta for many years afterwards. never once did he cross my mind, until now.

i wonder if he is still around, and again, thank the heavens that he never has to feel the bitter cold of winter in his old & hole-y shoes. i wish i could have helped him more, and hope that he is doing okay. i hope he knows, that even when it may not seem so, he was actually blessed in his life, to have what he had.

remembering him makes me want to listen to this song, a song so popular among street singers in Jakarta. maybe it’s because it’s about them, the suppressed people, living in Jakarta. maybe it’s to tell each other, the street singers and beggars, to not lose hope, stay strong and be thankful for life as it is.

Serenade by Iwan Fals and KPJ (Street Singer Group), 1985, sung in Keroncong style.

roughly translated lyrics:

i would like to sing for the suppressed people

living in the wild with bereft souls

why be afraid of the sun, make a fist and block its heat

why be afraid of the night, light a fire in the heart, shoo away the darkness

i would like to sing for the rejected clans

losing their fighting spirits

complacent in a long dream in the midst of uncertain life

on the streets’ alleys of alleys

under the underside of bridges

on the street vendors’ feet

under the tower

you still cradle the suffering

i would like to sing a song without poverty and hypocrisy

without tears and misery

so we could see the heavens

 

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how to wear a circle

just another quick sewing project, resulting in an odd piece–but i love it!

circletop5

self-made top, Zara TRF cropped jeans, necklaces from Legian – Bali.

it was meant to be a cheap copy of this COS circle top, though of course since i used cotton jersey (for the top part) instead of silk/viscose jersey, the result is not quite like what the original looks like. 😀

coscircletop

images borrowed from COS store’s website.

circletop1

see the difference? well… i do. but that’s okay! i love how different it came out and you know me… the weirder the better!

circletopdetail1

so basically the shape of this top is (supposed to be) a circle. i made the top part from jersey so that i don’t need any closures. the bottom part is made of printed viscose crepe from a scrap of fabric i got left from this dress. and before you say it, i also love how the whole print is actually a production fault. 😀

circletop3

you guessed it. since i used fabric scraps for the bottom part, there wasn’t a big enough piece to make the whole back side, hence the seam in the middle. ah, the challenges of working with fabric scraps!

circletop6to me it’s interesting to see how the top looks completely different when i am in different positions (see the 2 last pics above). it’s like it has a life of its own. 😉

circletop4

i know i said that this was supposed to be a copy of the COS top, but my version actually reminds me more of Ted Baker’s flowery clothes. that doesn’t hurt at all!

circletop2

this was one of those “under 3 hours” sewing projects that ended up sweetly.

circletop7

it may not be normal or pleasing for everyone else, but i’ve given up pleasing everyone else anyway. as i learned last year, sewing is fun when i do it for myself, and not to get comments or approvals from other people.

on that note, while sewing this circle top, i found myself singing this particular song over and over. and how fitting, since the song is also called “Circle” (by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians).

PS. i do not own the video, song, nor the lyrics. i just borrowed them for personal use.

Phantom of the Opera – review

in my whole life, the amount of time i have went to concerts or music festivals are so few, i can count them with my hands. but ask me how many times i’ve seen musicals, operas, ballet/dance performances, and other cultural-musical performances, i can only say: too many times to count!

and the one show that i had always wanted & waited to see was The Phantom of the Opera musical performance (Andrew Lloyd Weber). just writing the name gave me goosebumps already. :p

my story began sometime around 1995 when my musical-lover family bought a CD full of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s songs from musicals. the second i heard Michael Crawford’s version of Music of the Night, i fell in love with the Phantom. we then bought a 2-CD set of The Phantom of the Opera musical which consisted of the all the songs in the musical performance, from beginning to the end. i religiously listened to those CDs with my sister ever since, and sang the songs together whenever we could. by then, i can say that i knew most of the songs by heart & somewhat guessed what the story told.

it wasn’t until some time in 1997-98 that i actually read the book for the first time. and i fell in deeper. now all the lyrics in the songs made more sense and i wished so bad that they would perform the musical in Indonesia.

they never did, and then i moved to Finland… a place where they also had never performed.

until now.

last year, as soon as they started selling the tickets, i jumped up on my seat and bought it. which was a good move, because they were all sold out in a matter of weeks. i don’t know how i managed to wait a whole year till the actual show, but i did! and now, on with the review!

when i first heard that they were finally going to show this musical here in Finland, i already read that it was going to be “a new production”. after reading many articles about it, i finally gathered that: the songs & scores in the performance would be as they were in the original show, everything would be performed in English, the story would of course be exactly the same, but the stage design and how the whole thing is performed would be different than the original. and then a few days before seeing this musical, i read that “different” here actually means bigger: bigger stage than in London’s West End, more cast than the original as well.

i have not seen the original production, ever, and the closest thing i’ve seen was the 2004 movie. so i can say that i know what to expect of the songs & music, but no expectations at all about the stage etc.

so first, the stage: it was just FANTASTIC! with so many different scenes within the story, they changed quite rapidly, but everything went smoothly and even the “mini” opera scenes were staged so beautifully, as if they were real operas in themselves. my most fave sets were the part where Christine saw the Phantom through the mirror, and the underground world of the Phantom.

next, the costumes: exactly what you would expect from that era’s fashion, which is to say that they’re good… but not extremely special. EXCEPT: at the masquerade party. it reminded me a bit of the An American In Paris movie, the new year’s party scene. 😉

and now, the moment i had been waiting for, the actors/singers & music: on the night that i went to see this, Christine was played by Hanna-Liina Võsa, who to my understanding is originally from Estonia and have done many shows around the world. i personally think she was perfect as Christine, her voice clear and her pronunciations perfect.

the Phantom was played by Ilkka Hämäläinen, a Finn who have been in the national opera for many years and originally started his career in rock & pop music. in the beginning, i felt like he sang a little bit quicker than the music, which was a tiny bit disappointing for me because it happened while he sang the song i waited for the most, Music of the Night. maybe i was just so used to Michael Crawford’s version that i had expected it to be slow, with clear pronunciations as to make a point to each and every word. but as the show went on, Hämäläinen became more and more integrated with his Phantom role (and no longer sang too quick for the music), and before long i actually felt like he WAS the Phantom, with all his gestures, his proudness, and how he always crept in the darkness. it was all very well done!

Raoul was played by Olli Tuovinen, and while he sang beautifully just like Raoul would to Christine, i wish he would show more affection to his on-stage lover. i felt like the chemistry between Raoul & Christine wasn’t really there (or if it was, then it was very subtle), and could see it more between Christine & the Phantom.

the music was brilliantly played, i felt as if i was listening to our old CD, many years ago.

did i cry in the end? you bet your socks i did. i still couldn’t believe that i finally had seen the show LIVE, my lifelong dream had finally came true. i knew i couldn’t expect this show to be as “perfect” as how i envisioned it in my mind when i listened to the original CD years ago, but it was still a lot better than what i expected, and it was worth every cent! but if i ever get the chance to see it again, whether this Finnish production one or the original West End version, i would still jump at the chance and do it again.

if you’re living in Finland or are planning to visit some time next spring, i highly recommend this musical show! click here for more info.

PS. the video is from The Finnish National Opera YouTube account and all the credits belong to them.

Finnish pop song time, part 2

this is a continued experiment from my past blog post, in which i am curious to know if understanding the lyrics to a song would change the way you “hear” the song itself.

the first Finnish music video i posted on that blog post was a song by Jenni Vartiainen. i personally think that for that song, the lyrics are quite poetic. and i guess you can say (if only you read Suomi) that the words are that of “proper” Suomi language.

this time my choice is a song from an upcoming & popular Finnish band called Haloo Helsinki!. their songs, including this one i’m about to share, are mostly filled with everyday language or puhekieli in Suomi. the easiest examples:  instead of minä (= i), tuu instead of tulee (= come), oon instead of olen (= (i) am). hmm. i guess i’m not making any sense yet, am i? let’s put them in a sentence. the “proper” language for “are you coming tomorrow?” would be: “tuletko sinä huomenna?” whereas the everyday language would be: “tuut sä huomenna?“.

wonderful language, isn’t it? 😀

anyway, when i heard this song for the first time, unfortunately i already understood too much Suomi to not care for the lyrics. but i can tell you from their original video in Youtube that some people from various countries left comments about how they liked the song even without understanding the lyrics. maybe it’s because of the upbeat rhythm or maybe it’s the way that the singer sang with full energy.

my own personal comment: i don’t actually think the music video itself represents the good music. (i was actually a bit disappointed at it.) i would suggest that you pay attention more to the song, melody, and later, lyrics, rather than watch the video. :p

so like the first time, please listen to the music with an open mind. and when you’re done, if you’d like you can again see my terrible translations under the video by blocking (clicking & holding down your mouse) all the way to the bottom of the post. and of course, to see the original lyrics in Suomi, you can just google it yourself.

here’s Haloo Helsinki! with their song, “Kuussa tuulee”. 🙂

Wind on the Moon

If I go looking for love
I am sure it’s not going to come.
But if I just live my life
then I might sometimes fall in love,
and I believe things do happen.
And you will realize it when you come upon something big.

#Grab hands to hands,
sing from soul to soul.
Dip your toes into the cold water,
jump to the fullest into the swan song*.
Because you and me,
we are so alive
that we are able to hear
if the wind starts to blow on the moon

I shouldn’t try too hard
to get somebody to like me.
I know who I am and what I do,
and if you see all that
you can’t let it pass you by.
And anything can break apart sometimes.
But at least for a moment I was more complete than many others.

(Repeat #)

Unnecessary fear, I threw it far away,
so that my heart can finally feel something.
Now I’m standing on the edge,
I am ready.

(Repeat # twice)

*Swan song: according to some myths, just before a swan dies, it would sing the most beautiful song ever. As a saying, it means the best performance or achievement—possibly better than the previous tries—before the end of something or one’s death.

PS. the video clip, music, lyrics, and everything featured in the video does not belong to me. all the credits go to the artist(s), i only borrowed the link for my own personal use. and i apologize in advance if my translation is dead wrong/offensive to the lyric writer.

music is universal…

… or is it?

i wonder how many of you like songs with lyrics you can’t understand (because you don’t understand the language). and if you do, how many songs like these do you like?

i had always thought it was like that: good music would sound good to my ears, no matter what language the lyrics use. because if the melodies hit the right notes in my ears, they would resonate in my heart as well, causing me to like the music.

the first album i ever bought after i was done listening to kids songs (probably when i was about 10 years old) was from a band called Smokey Mountain. it’s a Filipino band, and though the song that made me bought the album was sung in English, the album was full of songs sung in Tagalog. and since i listened to it back and forth, i actually memorized all the lyrics, even the Tagalog ones. did i like the songs? definitely. did i understand Tagalog language? not at all.

and then when i was in middle school, i got addicted to seeing Chinese kung-fu TV series. one of my biggest addiction was the White Snake Legend, which was also a musical. of course i bought the album when it came out. like i did with the Smokey Mountain’s album, i played it dozens of times a day & i memorized the lyrics… which was naturally in Chinese. don’t ask me what Chinese language specifically, i still can’t tell the difference and i did not know a single meaning of those words. but i loved the songs, and that was enough.

next came the Japanese craze. blame those J-drama series they showed on the national TV channels, but i began by liking the opening songs of these series. and finally found several J-rock bands which completely rocked my world (L’arc~en~Ciel was my most fave of all). in this case, i don’t know if having a super hot singer (=Hyde!!) helped me to like the songs, but the truth is that first i came to like these songs without understanding the lyrics, and partly because of that i then decided to learn Japanese language.

afterwards, it was time for me to be introduced to Indian music. it started when i learned how to play tabla, and our teacher became sort of a family friend, and suddenly we started listening to Indian music & songs in our car whenever we went out (not Bollywood, though). i didn’t get to memorize the lyrics this time, haha… but i did remember the melodies and i can truly say that i enjoyed and liked these songs in foreign language.

after all of this, i moved to Finland. i learned the language first, before anything else, and i seemed to forget about music.

it took me a loooong while to finally be able to say that “i like this (Finnish) band/singer”. and this makes me wonder, if music really is that universal after all?

i must admit, the difference between my life here and in Jakarta was more than just the language. for example, i did not have TV for a while here in Finland, and so i was not exposed to music videos like i was back in Jakarta. the malls or shopping centers that i go to in Finland always play songs in English, and very few of them play songs in Suomi. after a while, it became a habit for me to just forget about Finnish songs, and instead i always listen to radios that play familiar songs in English.

only lately did i finally give it a chance again. i was tired of listening to my same old playlist over and over again, and also the radio that always play English songs seemed to not have moved forward with their song list. so i forced myself to listen to some other radio station, one that plays pop music in English and also Suomi. almost every day i did this, and when i one day woke up with one of the Suomi songs ringing in my head, i knew that it had worked. 😀

some of these Suomi songs i fell in love with the lyrics. some of them i fell in love with the melodies. when i realized these, i was like, hey… there are actually some really good tunes here, and Suomi language sounds more beautiful to me than ever. and then i became thankful that i can actually understand what the lyrics mean this time, it really does resonate even more with my heart when i know the meanings.

so i’m going do a little experiment and try posting some Suomi songs once in a while here. i will also attempt to translate the lyrics to English (which may not be as poetic as the actual lyrics, i’m not that good of a Finnish speaker myself yet :p). if you’d like, you can try listening to the songs first without understanding the lyrics, see if you can like the song without speaking the language. and then, after you read my bad translation, does it change your view of the song? does it make you like it more or less, or just neutral? please note that the songs to be featured are all of course based on my own taste.

to start with, i’m posting this song by Jenni Vartiainen called “Suru on kunniavieras”.

for the Suomi lyrics, you can google it yourself. block/paint the space under the video by clicking & holding down your mouse all the way to the bottom of the post to see my translation of the lyrics. 🙂

Grief Is A Guest of Honour

You need to water grief with teardrops,
So that it will spring into bloom.
Pamper it, care for it, cherish it
So it would not go to a waste.

Don’t ever turn grief away
If it comes knocking on your door.
Invite it to come inside, feed it and give it a drink
Offer it a place to stay for the night.

Then when the flower has seen summer,
It wilts to the soil of the ground.
Still, you will always see it as a flower,
Memories are the most precious treasure.
And your guest did not linger around to stay,
It went elsewhere, on its journey
Yet it will come again, after it left
Closer than you could imagine.

What your guest of honour tells you
Hide it well inside your heart.
You can’t find those teachings in any book,
You can’t buy them with millions of marks.

Man’s eyes were made for crying,
Let the tears roll down.
There will come another day,
When you have springs on your steps.

PS. the video clip, music, lyrics, and everything featured in the video does not belong to me. all the credits go to the artist(s), i only borrowed the link for my own personal use. and i apologize in advance if my translation is dead wrong/offensive to the lyric writer.

smiling on the weekend

the last few weeks has been crazy busy at work, i promise that i’m going to enjoy this weekend. so to put a smile on my face, i watch these music videos by the Japanese band, World Order.

i first got to know about this band around a year ago, when they put out their newest music video on YouTube to promote the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (or maybe, rather to ask fellow Japanese whether or not they’re ready for it.)

seeing the first few seconds of this video made me laugh. there’s just something funny about the way these men, wearing their formal suits, dance the way they do. it reminded me of my real life Japanese friends or ex-classmates, who at first glance would always seem so serious and then–when i least expected it–suddenly made a funny joke or remark.

before i knew it, i got hooked to this band. i searched for their other music videos and found even more funny ones. fyi, they don’t use special effects of any kind in their music videos, all they do is dance… but it’s a special kind of dance. 😉

but more importantly, i also then realized that this band actually talks about serious stuffs in their songs. i don’t speak Japanese, so if you’re thinking that you need to understand Japanese to know what i’m talking about, don’t worry: they always put the important messages as a text, in English. or, they would sing some sentences in English.

the messages are usually to remind us how we’re all the same, have the same rights, and that we should also treat others with the same respect no matter who they are. they’re simple messages, but in my opinion, they mean deeper than songs about partying all night long and the likes. just like this band’s name, i for one hope that they will keep the world in order!

i mean… how do these guys do it? how can they keep a straight face while they’re dancing? 😀 after a while, i stopped asking these questions, and just enjoy their songs. they always give me happy & positive feeling. if you’ve seen one of these videos, you’ll understand that it’s hard not to smile upon seeing them! 🙂 (my personal fave is the rotating upper torso at the restaurant in the Imperialism video, LOL!)

PS. the links to these videos are borrowed here just for personal use, everything in the videos belong to the World Order band. visit their official website to find out more about them.

song of the moment

this song has made it to the number one hit here this past summer, and since i don’t keep up with the latest music ever, i’ve only just heard of it now.

the one that became number one hit is the remix version, which, says Wikipedia, is actually done without permission from the band, Lilly Wood & The Prick. just like the rest of the world, this remix version was also the one i heard first. after searching for it, i finally stumbled upon the original version. the band itself is a duo from France, and their music genre is said to be “alternative, pop, & folk”.

although i much prefer the original version, i must say i’m glad Robin Schulz made a remix of it. without the remix that made the song ever so popular, i wouldn’t have ever known about the existence of this band.

and actually, i don’t mind the remix version. it gets me going when i’m sewing, so that’s a good thing! the original version is nicer to listen to when i’m in need of a relaxing time.

listen to both versions to decide for yourself!

Prayer in C – Lilly Wood & The Prick (original version)

Ya, You never said a word
You didn’t send me no letter
Don’t think I could forgive you

See our world is slowly dying
I’m not wasting no more time
Don’t think I could believe you

Ya, our hands will get more wrinkled
And our hair it will be grey
Don’t think I could forgive you

And see the children are starving
And their houses were destroyed
Don’t think they could forgive you

Hey, when seas will cover lands
And when men will be no more
Don’t think you can forgive you

Ya when there’ll just be silence
And when life will be over
Don’t think you will forgive you

PS. i do not own the videos, songs, nor the lyrics. i just borrowed them for personal use.