a memory and a hope

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.

how to wear a circle

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


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. 😀


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!


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. 😀


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. 😉


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!


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


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.

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.

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.

dummies, elephants, and Africa


self-made blouse & bow tie, Gina Tricot skirt, Just Kulkith batik shoes, Swatch watch, unbranded glasses.

one of my previous co-workers brought me this fabric as a souvenir from California some years ago. the design is by Fabrice de Villeneuve for Robert Kaufman, called “Dress Up”. it has little images of dummies (or mannequins) with all kinds of different dresses, and my ex co-worker said that she immediately thought of me when she saw this fabric. that was so sweet of her! 🙂

for years i’ve been saving it for something special, and now finally i found just the perfect pattern for it.

it’s one of BurdaStyle’s vintage collection, pattern no. 7255. the size starts at 38, so i downsized it as i usually use size 36 for all my previous BurdaStyle patterns… and let me save you from all the trouble of doing it by yourself, because it turns out that the result was a bit too tight. i guess the pattern also has vintage sizes or something, and 38 then is the equivalent of 36 now. d’oh!

but anyway, it ‘s still wearable (it wouldn’t be me if i just declare it a failure!). all i needed to do was put more buttons than the original version, because otherwise i would be stripping even with the slightest movements. :p



the special detail about this pattern is the back side, where there’s a small …er… flap (?) in the middle. anyway, i suppose back in the old days they used net-like fabrics, to add some sort of ventilation to the shirt. pretty handy in the summer. 😀 and this is perfect for me, because the fabric i got was actually not big enough for me to make this shirt… so using the old trick, i combined it with another fabric, just for that flap thing in the middle of the back side.

dummyelephantdetail1that’s where the elephants came in. 🙂

this elephant fabric is an Indonesian batik fabric, and i think the colours are just perfect to be combined with the Robert Kaufman fabric, don’t you? and since i already put the elephants there, i thought, what’s the harm in putting them also on the bow tie?



the other project i’ve just finished also uses old fabrics (yay for sticking to my 2014 resolution!). just like the rest of my poor old fabrics, they had been waiting in my closet for far too long just for that perfect pattern… or actually, in this case, for an idea to come up in my head. because not only did i use old fabrics, i also used an old pattern. by old, i mean, only 2 years old. 😉

it’s pattern no. 106B from BurdaStyle magazine, May 2012 issue. when i first saw this pattern, all i saw was that it needs over 2 meters of fabrics and i thought, well, i don’t have any fabric that is that long. only now did it occur to me that i could actually combine 2 fabrics for it. so that’s what i did.


H&M t-shirt, self made skirt, Spirit sandals, jersey fabric worn as headband, necklaces from Legian -Bali, earrings from ITC Permata Hijau – Jakarta.

those brilliant-looking fabrics i used for the skirt are called African wax cotton fabrics. it’s basically cotton, but the colouring technique uses wax (kind of like batik) so that the end result is a bit stiffer than normal cotton.

the first time i saw these lovely fabrics, i was screaming joyfully inside. i had always wished Indonesian batik fabrics could use neon colours like these, so when i saw these it was like i found a distant cousin of Indonesian batik. it made me happy too, because i was so fed up with the kind of impression that “African look” = safari look. i mean, yeah sure, if you, as a tourist, go to Kenya or something, then you would probably want to go on a safari and wear those jumpsuits, but i mean, come on… there’s much much more to Africa/African look than those boring khaki jumpsuits (that are not even originally African). now THIS is what i think of when i think of African look. ❤

anyway, enough ranting. so, i ended up using 2 separate fabrics for this skirt, which thankfully have the same colour palettes. i made it using the size 36, which is one size smaller than usual for bottoms, because i usually feel too much looseness in the waist when i use size 38. since this skirt has very wide hemline, i thought i’d be okay with 36. but yeah, i was wrong yet again. the skirt ended up a bit too small even on the waist area, which resulted in a small alteration on the front part. and this is why i couldn’t make the graphics on the center front of the skirt align with one another. thank God i don’t have OCD.





all i need now is warmer weather (it did actually get very warm here for a while, +20C and even more… but for the past week it’s been cold again, snick!). well, hopefully these colour therapies would help summon more sunlight & warmth!

don’t you just love goodbyes?

i know i’m not supposed to feel this way, jealousy is bad for my health, and regrets will get me nowhere.

but i can’t help feeling it right now, argh.

okay, to cut the drama short, i just saw some pics of my old workplace that i left last October to work at my current workplace. i mean, i knew then that they were going to have some renovation, but we didn’t know that the renovation includes the whole interior of the place. at least i didn’t. for all i knew, they were going to renew the pipes, and everything else that’s hidden under the floors and above the ceilings.

and now i just saw the pics of the newly renovated place… and it looks so good, i wanna cry! they changed practically all the interiors and have like a completely new concept which looks awesome! ESPECIALLY the department where i used to work at, dammit! i mean, i truly am happy for my ex co-workers there, but it’s kind of like this big joke that almost exactly after i moved out then they did something THAT nice. and not that i would go back there again anyway, but still! why?? why now??? why not, like, five years from now??? *scrapes the ground*

rumour has it that the renovation will also be done to all the other branches, and since i basically still work for the same company, it is bound to happen to my current workplace, too. but knowing my company and their ‘plans’, this would take a while. like, 5 years from now. isn’t it just grand?

don’t you just love goodbyes?


i think that no matter how long i’ve stayed here in Finland, i would still always be happy when i hear some strangers passing me by here, talking in my mother language. i would still be ridiculously happy whenever i see something in IKEA or H&M that says “made in Indonesia” on the label. my day would still turn brighter when i see someone wearing Indonesian batik clothes. i would still jump at the chance of tasting Indonesian food in the ravintola päivä (restaurant day) or Indonesian bazaar at the embassy (because no matter how convincing my husband can be about how good the Indonesian foods i make are, when the food is made by someone else, it always tastes better for me!).

so it was only natural that my heart leaped when my mum told me that one of my most fave Indonesian bands, White Shoes And The Couples Company, is going to perform here. in Finland. very soon.

it was just by chance that i got to know this band back in the year 2004 (or was it 2005?). i was taking tabla lessons at the JNICC in Jakarta during that time, and one day one of our classmates, who is the drummer of the White Shoes band, said that they were going to perform somewhere (can’t remember!), and that we were all welcome to see their performance. back then the White Shoes band wasn’t that known yet, and if i remember correctly that performance was to promote  their first full length album. i was already planning to go to the said event anyway, because i wanted to see another local indie band, Goodnight Electric, which was also going to perform there.

so there we went, and i think the White Shoes band performed before the Goodnight Electric band. right there and then when i heard the singer sang her first note, i fell in love with them. 🙂 i’ve always loved anything from the old days (1920s – 1990s), fashion-wise and movie-wise. this band sings in the style of ’30s jazz music and ’70s Indonesian movie soundtrack. they also always dress up accordingly (wearing mostly ’70s styled clothes), that just by seeing them would already make you feel that you’ve gone through a time travel machine back to the past.

that was unfortunately the first and only time i got to see them perform live, because not long after that, i moved here. i brought their only album (at that time) when i moved here, and listened to it continuously, even played it on my wedding reception day. 🙂 i would always envy the people who live around Asia and the US, because ever since i moved here, i noticed that the White Shoes band would sometimes perform in those countries. i thought for sure that there was no way they would ever come to a (rather) remote place in Europe like Finland. :p but as luck would have it, now almost a decade later, they are coming here. Finland is not such a bad place to live after all, LOL.

when i traveled back to Indonesia the last time in 2011, i found out that they just released another album, and quickly got it for myself. this song here is taken from that latest album of the same name, Vakansi.

their performance here will be held a short time before my first batch of summer holiday starts. it seems appropriate to “start” it by listening to their Vakansi song, since it means “holiday” in the old Indonesian language (most likely taken from “vakantie” word of the Dutch language).

i can hardly wait for both the band and the holiday!