the 15 books

some years ago i got tagged to do this online game where i would list 15 books i’ll always remember. i found that list again a few days ago, and it’s nice to see that my answers are all still relevant today too. these are, in fact, still the 15 books i remember best, and they have their reasons. i’ve decided to give the list a proper place here in my blog, and also since i have nothing better to do at the moment (or nothing better to write about, to tell the truth) i’m gonna attempt to write down the reasons why i will always remember them.

the list is in no particular order.


1. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells: before reading this book, the only English books i’ve read were the Sweet Valley series (starting from Sweet Valley Kids, SV Twins, The Unicorn Club, and on to SV High and SV University), Goosebumps series, Fear Street series… well, you get the idea. i was a teenager, and those were the days when chicklits weren’t even invented yet. :p some time around my last few teenage years, there was this English book rental place that opened not far from our house. you see, you can’t really rely on libraries in my home country, so this rental place sounded promising. from there, i felt like my world of reading was finally opened to a bigger scope. the Ya-Yas book was one of the first books that i rented. it was a rather simple story, about girl power (literally), girl friendship, and the consequences of the actions done in the past. but i loved it! (and before you ask: i hated the movie.) it was the first “adult” book i’ve read, it was funny, heart-warming, and touching. this was the first book that could take me deeper into the story than all those children/teen/teen-horror books i previously read, so this book deserves a special place in my heart, always. 🙂

hpseries2. Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling: i’m sure there are millions of others who would say that they practically grew up with the series. the thing is, i did too. though when i read the first book, i was not a child, but since the series took years to complete, it felt like i grew up as the characters also grew in the book. waiting for the newest book to come out was always something to look forward to, and after the last book came out, it was almost like saying goodbye to a certain chapter of my life. i still re-read the books to this date. 😉

geeklove3. Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn: i got to know about this novel from a magazine, where some celebrity listed it as her fave book of all times. i don’t remember who the celebrity was, but she described the story as something like how a family of ‘deformed’ characters try to live among ‘normal’ people. i was intrigued, because the setting was a circus, and by the idea that some parents would experiment on drugs just so that they would get deformed kids that they can then exhibit in the circus (hence the name ‘geek’, another name for ‘freak’). and as i read it… i realized that what i read in the magazine was almost the complete opposite. this book embraces diversities and uniqueness, and i strongly agree with that. my fave line(s) from the book goes something like this: “don’t you ever wish you’re normal?” to which another character answered, “i’ve wished i had a third hand, or a tail, or green skin. but to be normal? never.” being different is a gift. be proud of it.

lillprince4. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: unlike other fans, i did not get the chance to read this book when i was a kid. i could only vaguely remember seeing an animation of this story back when i was small and could not read the subtitle (let alone understand English). but i liked the illustrations, and i knew for a long time that it’s a classic that fans around the world worship. so when i finally came across the book, i bought it. i fell in love with the characters, the way the story was told, the simple yet deeply meaningful story, and then i knew why the book is so famous. not long after i too became a fan, i was lucky to experience seeing the string puppet adaptation of The Little Prince live in my hometown, which was so enchanting and unforgettable.

phantom5. The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux: growing up in a musical family, it was only natural that i first heard the songs from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical of the same name (and fell in love with Michael Crawford’s voice… sigh…) before knowing anything about the story. i believe it was my sister who then recommended me the book, and so after searching for it, i finally found it, and started reading my first “classic” novel. this was years before the Hollywood movie was made, and i still had not seen the musical in any form at all. as with the other books in this list, once i read it, i fell in love with it. though i have a feeling i would love the actual musical as well (it’s going to be performed in Finland next year, yay!), i must say that the Phantom in the book is more scary & smarter than the one depicted in the movie, and also from reading the book you would get the sense of just how deep his love really is. it will always remain as the greatest love story in my heart.

fivepeople6. The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom: i have always been fascinated by the mysteries of life, death, and afterlife. i like hearing other people’s theories, be it religious or non-religious. i also like hearing other people’s experiences. this book gives a calming theory about an afterlife, one that i’m sure many people can relate to and probably wish it were true. at least, i do. the theory ‘why we are here in this life’ that this book gives is quite similar to what i also believe in, and that was more than enough for me to connect to this book.

melancholy7. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories, by Tim Burton: i had just broken up with my last ex that time, and as an attempt to cheer me up, my sister’s ex (who was already like part of our family) lent me this book. it worked like a charm. just like Burton’s (earlier) works, this book, with its bizarre characters & rhymes, enchanted me. the stories are as tragic as they are hilarious, i still can’t get over the fact that Burton could come up with them (but of course he could, he’s Tim Burton, for crying out loud!). and let me tell you, reading tragic stories when your own heart is broken does help. take my word for it. (hey, i survived, didn’t i? :D)

timetraveler8. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger: when i was in middle school, i had this dream of becoming a scientist (physicist, to be precise) who would uncover the mysteries of time. 😀 needless to say, i did not follow that dream, but i’m glad i ran into this book. the formula worked for me, as i like cheesy romantic stories and in this one the author added a ‘time traveler’. it’s far from being scientific, but i do agree with how the author made it so that what already happened in the past can never be changed, and for a time traveler whose past is in the future, his future can also never be changed because it already happened. not gonna give any spoiler to anyone who hasn’t read it yet (and in case you haven’t, don’t even bother watching the movie), but i can say that this book will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it.

13thtale9. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield: though this is not a horror book (and you should believe me, i’ve read lots of horror books in my youth, LOL), i actually got goosebumps time and time again when i read this book. some of them were because of some scary moments, some were because the words rang so true, and some were just because of the unexpected twists and turns in the story. the whole book has that kind of gloomy, gothic feeling, which is probably also why i liked it so much. you know how these days there are books/stories that has so many interesting things going on and then the end come so abruptly that makes you wonder what the hell happened to the characters afterwards? i usually hate those kinds of ‘vague-ending’ books, and so another plus point for this book is that it was written in an old-fashioned kind of way, with clear narration of what happened in the past, what’s the present situation, and what happens after. no vague-ending in this one!

dracula10. Dracula, by Bram Stoker: almost every year around Halloween time, they would show Francis Coppola’s Dracula movie on TV back in my home country. so you can pretty much say i grew up knowing the Count the Gary-Oldman-way, and Mina the Winona-Ryder-way. and though i actually do like the movie, i must say that after reading the novel and knowing the true Count & Mina (which is quite far than those depicted in the movie), i much prefer the book’s characters. the Count is even more scary and behaves in a more unexpected way, and Mina is much stronger and tougher in the original book. it changed my view of the story almost completely, and just like the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula is a “classic” that i just simply adore.

whoneedsdonuts11. Who Needs Donuts?, by Mark Alan Stamaty: stumbled upon this book when i was looking for a gift to give to a friend who happened to be a great illustrator himself. the black and white illustration caught my eyes among the other children books that were filled with screaming colours. i flipped it open to see a few pages, and right at that moment i realized that i was looking at what is probably the most detailed and intricate graphic book of all times. i ended up getting it as the gift for my friend, and before giving it to him, i read and re-read, aaaand re-read the book (and repeat the same sequence for a couple of more times). i feel kind of sorry that i didn’t get it for myself (LOL), but who knows, maybe i will one day. anyway! the story is super absurd, but the graphics!!!! OMG! every time i read it, in every page, i saw something new i didn’t notice before. i don’t know how the author/illustrator did it, but he’s a genius. he’s amazing. yep. and now i want my donuts.

aliceinwonderland12. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll: when i was a kid, i of course saw the Disney cartoon version of this story. i didn’t love it as much as i loved The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, or even Peter Pan, but it was such a strange story that i was bound to remember it. then as i grew up, i thought i would give the book a try. and, well, i’m sure everybody knows already how bizarre and strange the book really is. so, it’s only natural that i loved it! 😀 it’s the strangest thing i’ve ever read, if you could even call is a “story”, and at the same time so meaningless (so don’t even try to look for any moral of the story) that it is something just right up my alley.

supernova13. Supernova series, by Dee: finally, something from my own home country! the first book mainly told 3 separate stories, with everyone involved trying to find their true selves and their lives’ meanings… and then suddenly there was a twist in the end that they were not 3 separate stories after all. the second and third book each told 1 story, and in the end this too had something to do with the first book. (haven’t read the 4th–last–book, so i’m deliberately not saying a thing about that one). i can’t really explain what it is about the series that i like, possibly it has got to do with the fact that the author successfully weaved the characters together even when the stories are completely different. because after all, that’s how it is in life too. some of us live day by day without ever thinking what our missions in life are. some of us are looking for answers. and every now and then, our paths cross which then create new missions, new questions, new answers… it’s a series of books about life, but very lightly told in different voices of the characters. and these stories, these voices, will stay with you for a loooong time.

jipjanneke14. Tono dan Tini (originally called Jip en Janneke), by Annie M. G. Schmidt: probably the most loved book of my entire childhood. even though the physical book has long disappeared, i can still remember the smell of the pages, the battered fabric cover, and how the bindings had become loose over the years that some pages became detached. it was my fave book to pass the time, because it was a compilation of short stories of these two best friends (Jip aka Tono and Janneke aka Tini) so i could just open any page and start reading that story. i was so delighted to find the English version last summer when i went to Amsterdam, and though some stories that i have come to memorize over the years are not included in this version, but still i’m grateful for the chance to pass them on to my future child.

perfume15. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, by Peter Süskind: usually, when i read a book, my mind would create these visuals, so i could imagine what the story would look like in motion. but this book is different, and so far it’s the only one that could do this. this book made me smell things when i read it, and even after i put down the book, i could somehow still smell the scents of things described in it for a while. of course, i also see visuals in my head, but it’s the scents that made an impact. it’s a brilliant way of telling a story, and this reading/smelling experience cannot be matched by watching the movie (though i have nothing against the movie…). i’m glad i read the book first before watching the movie… to me, reading the book was far more adventurous both for my imagination and my sense of smelling compared to seeing the movie.

i’m such a (fiction) book geek, so i would love to know what 15 books YOU will always remember, no matter if they’re non-fiction or fiction, or even graphic/coffee table books. you don’t need to give me your reasons (unless you’re super bored, like me), and the trick to doing this is to write down the list in less than, say, 5 minutes. just the first 15 books that come to your mind. chances are they’re the ones you’ll always remember. 🙂

i’ll be waiting to see your lists in the comments field!

rewind & replay

it was a hot and humid night, just like any other night in Jakarta, Indonesia. we had a chat-date, as usual, but he had good news for the night (evening for him, night for me): he had seen the house that was going to be ours.

it was September, 2006, and  i was excited about everything. my sister was expecting, i was getting married, and i was about to move to a new country… so many things to be excited for!

since i was going to move to Finland, he had to look for a place for us  to live in, fast! after about a  month of searching and applying, we were finally offered this one. he went to the place right away, and took some pictures for me. he showed them when we met online. there was the bedroom, there was the bathroom, there was the living room, the kitchen, and a small balcony. they were renovating it a bit at the moment, so we could see people working on the floor, etc. so what did i say?

i said, i love it. i did love it, and the price was perfect, too. it was a good place, quite close to the train station and a shopping mall, so yes, yes, take it!

October 2006, he moved in to the new but empty house. we would see furniture websites together from our own computers at opposite parts of the world and try to decide what furniture to buy. we had found the perfect bed earlier, and his dad graciously said he would get it for us for our wedding gift. so as he moved in to the house, he went to get this bed too, and assembled it so he could sleep on it already that same night. when we met online that day, we quickly searched the internet again for a nice, non-expensive dining table + chairs, so he could eat his dinners there.

when October ended, the waiting for me also ended. i managed to greet my little newborn niece and spend time with her for 2 weeks before it was finally time for me to go abroad.

it was early in the morning, November 1st 2006, when i had to leave my parent’s house, the house i’ve lived in for all my life at that time. my niece was crying, my sister tried to calm her down, but with a quick hug and farewells, i was gone. my parents took me to the airport, where some of my uncles, aunts, and my cousin also were, and after the smooth check-in, i hugged all my family members… and off i went.

the whole trip that day (and night) was bittersweet. i would cry for some moment, and then i would feel elated the next moment. i was sad for leaving behind my old life, but i was happy to start a new journey. i was sad for leaving my parents and sister, but i was happy about being reunited with my husband.

about 20 hours after i left my hometown (including the wait in Singapore), i started to see it. the white land down below. we had just passed Russia, and as the plane came closer to the ground, the windows started to be frosty with ice. it had been snowing the day before in Finland, perfect timing for welcoming little old me!

after getting my luggage, i headed out, and he was there already, waiting for me. 🙂 then i knew, everything would be alright.

we arrived early in the morning at our new home, where he had been living for the past month. it was just as i pictured it would be in my mind, except that it was still empty. there was only our bed, the dining table and chairs, and one tiny desk with his work chair and his laptop. nevertheless, it was perfect, because it was ours.

it took us a while to completely decorate the house, and when summer came, each year, we would try to jazz it up a little: new curtains, new foot stool, new table here, new lamp there.

and then, out of nowhere, this happened. as we went to look for solutions, one idea came up: moving to a new place. the timing was perfect, again, as we got an offer for a new place almost right away.

due to some problem, i again couldn’t make it to see this new house, and only my husband went to see it before we agreed to take the offer. just like before, he sent me the pictures. it was so strange, two times of us choosing our house, it was always the same thing: he had to see it alone and i could only see it from pictures. but perhaps it was all it took. i loved what i saw, and yes, i could imagine us living there. so yes, please, take the offer!

and so it happened. October 2013, almost exactly seven years after my husband first came to live at our first new house, we moved to our second house.

now, November 2nd 2013, exactly 7 years after i stepped out of that plane that brought me here, i am typing this from our new home. it is just as wonderful as i thought it was (from what i saw from my husband’s pictures), and right away, we feel right at home. we were sad, of course, to leave our previous house, but the last few months of living there were just pure hell, that in the end the move seemed to be the best solution. now we could finally feel like we actually do have a place called home again.

with this move, there are other things that need to change as well, but that’s okay. the last time i had a journey to the unknown, i ended up with big happiness and satisfaction. this time, though the journey seems smaller (i’m not moving to a new country or anything), i feel that it is time for me make that change. start anew again.

yes, i am ready for this new journey. 🙂

good enough

for as long as i can remember, i’ve always wanted to look nice in front of the camera. though i don’t have the pics anymore, but i remember flipping through old picture albums of my sister & i, or us both with our parents, and in almost each picture i would strike a pose. there’s an Indonesian word for it: centil. 😀

so of course it was only natural that my mum enrolled me to a modelling school when i was 11 years old. we were taught how to walk on catwalks with perfect postures, wearing high heels (btw, i should probably mention that i was the oldest in the class… the others were younger than me, starting from 6 years old. and yes, those little kids also had to wear high heels!), and also making poses in front of the camera. the school owner was a known Indonesian model, and since the school was also basically her own modelling agency, parents and kids alike enrolled to this school/agency in the hope that they (the kids) would then get to be chosen for real modelling gigs, either for fashion photo shoots, print ads or tv ads.

i had a great time in the school, and enjoyed being as centil as i could be in front of the camera. but no matter how hard i tried, and how long i waited, i never got any call or request from the agency for any gig.

i didn’t let that get me down, though. during my teenage years, there was this super popular local teen magazine beauty pageant that was held annually. i sent my pictures there every year, thinking that maybe, finally, this year it would happen, that i would at least get to be the first chosen 100 (or whatever it was back then, 50? 75? can’t remember). i was pretty obsessed with it too, i started making my own drawings of girls’ faces, first 50 different faces, and then i would show it around my mum and sister and forced asked them to choose 25 best ones, and redraw those 25 faces, and again choose 10 all the way down to 3 faces, until i could determine the winner.

but still, over the years of trying to get in to the pageant, i never even made it to the top 100.

at the same time, puberty hit me real hard and during most of my teenage years my face was almost always covered with zits and acnes. it was around this time that i finally realized that that ‘dream’ of mine would never come true. i was just not meant to be a model. so i started thinking about working behind the modelling scenes. not as a makeup artist, but as a fashion designer.

even without any ‘proper’ fashion education, i was lucky enough to be able to work at a local magazine as a fashion editor, albeit only for a short time. when i had to do the photo shoot test (before i got accepted for the job), it was just as fun as if i was in front of the camera myself, because i had to style the models with the clothes of my choice AND make them pose like so in front of the camera. really, what more could i ask? after i got accepted, every time i had to do a photo shoot, i made sure that the models i chose would be as diverse as possible from one another. for this edition’s spread i would choose a super white and pale model, the next i would choose darker skin toned model. this week super serious and expressionless, the next super happy and joyful.

it was important to me, because i knew how it felt to be excluded. i was probably not white enough, not smooth skinned enough, not tall enough to be a model, and that was probably the reason why i never got in to the teen beauty pageants. i will never know the real reason, but that was how it felt to me. it might not make any difference back then when i was a fashion editor, what model i chose to represent a specific theme, since they were all professional models anyway. but to the people who saw the spread, to the readers, it might make them feel less excluded. at least, i hope it did.

after i quitted the job to concentrate on my own boutique (not really my own, it belonged to the three of us, my 2 friends and i), i got a surprise call from my ex-boss at that magazine where i worked, asking me if i would like to be one of the models for one of their coming spreads. it was this ‘real people’ fashion spread kind of thing, and they needed people with all kinds of different body types for the spread. and of course i said yes. 😀

that was my first real ‘gig’ as a ‘model’, with 3 full pages of myself wearing different kinds of designers clothes (that i would never even dream of trying on, seeing the price tags was enough to make me feel like fainting). did i have fun? i sure did. i had fun having a makeup artist covering my zits & acnes scars, the hairstylist curling my super thick hair, the photographer & fashion editor (my ex boss) letting me strike a pose on my own. and the payment was not bad either. 😉

that was also my last modelling gig. a few short years after that photo shoot, i moved to this new country, and ever since then all the ‘modelling’ i have done were solely for my own entertainment (i.e. for my blog).

to this date, i still have acnes and zits. in fact, as i’m writing this, there are no less than 5 big ones on my chin. ouch.

i still don’t like looking at my own reflection in the mirror. don’t get me wrong, i’ve learned to accept the fact that my skin is permanently tanned and my face is permanently covered in scars (and now there’s even more scars from my chickenpox time), my hair is always unruly and wild. i just don’t like spending time in front of the mirror to further examine all those imperfections.

i still enjoy taking pictures of myself, striking a pose in front of the camera, whether it be serious, silly, cute, scary, or just plain absurd. it’s all for me, so who cares if my scars are visible in the pictures? who cares if my skin colour doesn’t really go well with certain-coloured dress?

for years now, i have learned more and more to accept the way i look. and now when i am actually comfortable in my own skin, a surprise came again about a week ago.

i was doing my work as usual, when all of a sudden one my ‘customers’ asked if i would be interested to be their model. it turned out that they work at a production agency, and are always in need of all kinds of models from different backgrounds to be used in print and video ads. i must have looked quite sweaty and oily from the face at that moment, since it’s been quite hot here in the summer, and oh my zits… i don’t even know where to begin. and yet they were all smiling at me, and excitedly took my datas after i said that whenever they would need someone like me for a gig, they could give me a call and i would think about it. and they even thought i was a Japanese. 😀

they gave me a name card, so i could see what kind of ads they have done, etc. so i did… and saw that some of them were actually for quite known brands here. i’m not gonna lie though, i have a feeling they never would actually need me, but nevertheless it was a nice thing for me to experience (?). it kind of made my day, which i guess is pretty sad, but i decided to write about it anyway (and what a long post this is!).

it made me feel thankful that i moved away from my home country, and that in this country having a different skin colour, different face, & different hair than the rest of the population is okay. it’s actually GOOD. 🙂

seeing things differently

once upon a time, when i was still living in my home town, there was one activity that i enjoyed the most, other than designing clothes. it’s called ‘going to the mall’.

for those living in Asia and the States, you probably won’t think it strange as you know what kind of malls i’m referring to. but for the rest of the world, i guess it’s fair to elaborate a bit.

when i was small, there were places called plazas (basically the same as shopping centers) and department stores in Jakarta. they weren’t that fancy, although one of them at least had a small fountain inside the building and elevators with see-through glasses all around so we could look outside as we go up and down the floors. there were small shops in that said Plaza, and sometimes, though very rarely, if my sister and i had been nice girls for the day, we might be able to get some small new stuffs from this one shop that sold stickers, arts and crafts & other hobby things. it would make our day. in Bandung, where we would spend our holidays since that was where my grandmum lived, the place to go was a book store, which also had all kinds of small delightful things for kids like us.

and then when i was about 10 or 11, the new era of shopping malls started in Jakarta. they were big, nothing like those old plazas and department stores. suddenly those old shopping centers looked so dull compared to these clean, shiny & shimmering new shopping malls. they all had full air conditioning, marble floors, high ceilings and usually more than just 2 floors. it got even crazier when i was in middle school. one super mall had a rollercoaster inside the building. another one had (and still has, i believe) ice skating rink, also inside the building. over the years it seemed like they build bigger and bigger malls, and soon every area in Jakarta had at least 2-3 malls.

with such temptation and less & less of other recreational places to go, who could blame me and the rest of the people for going to the malls, just to stretch our legs, feel the cool air of the air con, AND look at the pretty displays on the stores at the same time? sure, you might also get tempted to buy something (alarm bell #1) and while you’re at it, why not try that new restaurant/cafe that has good ratings (alarm bell #2), but really, the keyword is ‘recreation’, right? you’re allowed to do all that.

for me, i liked going to the malls because, with the clean, shiny & shimmering interiors, the malls were the perfect place for showing off my new stuffs. got new shoes? wear them in the mall. new dress? wear it in the mall. new bag? absolutely use it in the mall. the whole mall interior itself i think pushed me to do these ridiculous things, because you can’t even step inside this kind of shopping mall with your dirty flip flops. seriously, most malls in Jakarta actually do have these “no flip-flop” signs on their entrance doors, right along the “no smoking” and “no pets” signs. so the shopping malls became sort of like exclusive places where you are not welcome if you don’t have money to buy other shoes than those dirty old flip-flops you’ve had for 3 years. i’d rather stay home than going to the mall on a bad-hair day. i had to put on make up & dress up just for going to the mall, otherwise i would feel too bland or too contrasting with the mall’s glitzy interior & other people in the mall.

another thing i liked about going to the malls was the sightseeing. yes, there were the nice displays, but i meant the people. since, i assume, everyone else also behaved like me, putting on make up & dressing up just for going to the mall, i enjoyed seeing the clothes people wore. not to judge or compare, but i did this to see what the people liked at the time, the trends, the tendencies. well, at the time, i had to know what the fashion trend was all the time, so i hope you’ll apologize me for doing that.

suddenly i moved here, to Finland. on my first trip to the mall, i did all the fussing again as always, putting on make up, dressing up… only to realize that all those clothes i wore was going to be hidden anyway under my down coat, since it was winter. okay, i silently vowed to do my ‘revenge’ on spring/summer time. all through winter that year, i tried my best to still look good whenever i had to go to the mall. i was so caught up in that thing, that i didn’t even realize that nobody was looking.

the first spring and summer came. i dressed up and went to the nearest mall just for recreation, as always. and all of a sudden, i felt so out of place. the people in the mall here don’t put on any make up or dress up. they are people who go to look for things to buy because they need them, find them, buy them, and go home. shopping malls belong to everyone. you can even step inside the building with your bare feet (as sometimes happens here in the hot summer, some teenagers going barefooted inside the shopping malls).

the displays on the shops are still nice, of course, the shops always have to lure people to buy more & more things. but the atmosphere is quite the opposite of what shopping malls in Jakarta give out. in here, everyone is welcome, with or without any money. you are welcome to look, try things on, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t even matter if you buy something or not. people won’t look at you and see if you have any shopping bags (which indicates you’re buying something new from the mall) or not, unlike in my home  town. the only people eating at the restaurants are business people from nearby neighbourhoods and family/friends that haven’t met each other for a while. they eat there because those are the perfect places to catch up or talk business, not because it’s a hip and happening new restaurant that you simply MUST try, otherwise your friends would think you’re so outdated.

it took me a while to get used to it, and only lately did i manage to force myself to go to the nearest mall without any make up and only in plain t-shirt & shorts. and even then i couldn’t stop myself from wondering what my so-called ‘friends’ would think if they could see me now, going to a shopping mall without any make up? in t-shirt and shorts?? and dirty old sandals???

now i feel ridiculous for behaving the way i did back then in my own home town. how could i let myself be so caught up in the physical appearances of things and people? and reading an article like this made me so ashamed of myself. spending too much time in those glamorous malls can really make you forget that to some others, malls or even hypermarkets like Carrefour feel so out of reach. forget that new trendy restaurant, someone out there has never even tried drinking Fanta or Coke because it’s too expensive.

i am thankful that i was given the chance to step out of my old hobby and see things differently. i don’t spend that much money on things i don’t need anymore, in fact, i very rarely spend any money at a shopping mall (the only things i buy these days are groceries and occasionally fabrics, of course). i’ve found dozens of other recreations that have more benefits for myself (and my wallet) than going to the mall, like biking or walking (in the spring/summer). instead of going to the movies to catch the latest blockbuster i would just wait till the blu-ray comes out, or even better, wait till it comes on Netflix.

my life is not boring, on the contrary, i feel like it has become more colourful ever since i moved here. so what if i don’t feel the need to put on a dress and make up to bike around town? inside, i feel rich. when i feel that way from the inside, even a lick of ice cream or a gulp of iced Coke on a hot summer day seem like such a blessing.

sometimes, that is all you need: to step back and see things from a different angle.


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). as the lyric in the song says:

“Setahun bekerja kita membanting tulang
Inilah waktunya kita berlibur panjang”

which translates to: [after] a year of working hard, it is now time for us to have a long holiday.

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

PS. the music, lyrics, and video/still photos are not mine. i just borrowed them for personal use.

good old days

i haven’t posted any ‘song of the moment’ lately, and truthfully, i don’t think anyone (but me) cares, but still… i’m gonna post it now. 😀

and actually, i’m not just gonna post one song of the moment, but a whole playlist of the moment. the 8tracks playlist was made with the help of my sister (aka kleinebeer), but i was the one who chose all the songs. for this playlist, i chose songs from my middle school years.

those were the years when we finally received broadcasts from MTV Southeast Asia. in other words, the first time we were video-musically updated, at the same time as the rest of the world. before that, we did have some local tv channels that would broadcast some music videos of western songs, but i think they weren’t as new.

well, anyhow, those were the first years when i became amazed at how visuals could make audio become more meaningful. those were the years when grunge was something new. those were the years when i finally found new fave bands that didn’t sing kids songs, LOL.

so here’s my middle school playlist, where you can listen to songs from Nirvana to Björk, from The Cranberries to Bed & Breakfast (i wonder what happened to them?), from Frente to All-4-One, from Radiohead to Take That. maybe you’ll find that some were also your personal faves when you were young(er), or maybe you’ll find new faves that you’ve never heard before (though they’re not technically new anymore). or maybe you’ll think it sucks.

but they were once important to me, and when i hear these songs even now, they can still bring me back to those good old days. 🙂

i (c)am(e) here

oh dear, i’m afraid i’m losing my interest in blog writing. before i came to WordPress, i used to write on my Multiply page like once every 2  months (except in the summer when i sew lots of clothes :p), but for some reason after i moved here, i write at least once a week. last week though, i fell ill, and since i couldn’t think of anything else to do (let alone write), i indulged myself to watching TV series. i become hooked to Fringe series, and have ever since used my free time to watch more episodes of the series. so that’s the reason why i haven’t been writing lately (like anyone cares?). watching TV is much easier than writing a blogpost, LOL.

but anyway, something came to my mind last night that i just had to write it down.

a memory of watching myself on a videotape from when i was 4 or 5 years old.

before you assume i’m a narcissist, let me finish (or start) the story.

for as long as i’ve lived, there’s always only been me and my older sister. i don’t have any other sibling, it’s always been the two of us.

but for my parents and my sister, there was a short time when there was another family member. my other older sister, who was in my mum’s womb for some time. my sister was probably around 3 years old at that time, and my parents were expecting their second daughter, when suddenly something happened to her, the unborn child.

i think she was already 6 or 7 months inside my mum’s womb when they realize that she hadn’t moved for a while. they checked on her, and it turned out that she didn’t make it. she was gone, before anyone had the chance to welcome her properly, physically. they had to take her out of my mum’s tummy, and of course, my parents, especially my mum, was crushed from the whole experience.

for 2 years, i was told, my mum was depressed, until suddenly i came to her. this time, of course, everything was okay, and i managed to come out just fine. 😀 i became the second daughter, when in fact, i was the third. would i even be here if my parents had their second daughter? i don’t know.

i don’t really remember how i was told about this middle sister, the one who was a stillborn. i don’t remember when exactly i was told about her either. but i remember distinctly this videotape that came to my mind last night.

i remember that my dad took the video, and he told me to just play normally as he recorded it. on the video, i was playing on one of my parents’ working desks (they had their office in our own house), and talking to myself, and occasionally, my dad would ask me things like what am i playing, stuffs like that. i think i said something like making a present, and my dad then asked, for who? i then answered, for my second sister. he knew that i was talking about the other sister, the one who didn’t make it, so he asked me what her name was. for some bizarre reason, i said, “Veni.” FYI, we never named her, and still haven’t to this date. i have no idea how that name came to my 4-year-old mind.

another thing i remembered afterwards was that when my sister heard that i named our second sister “Veni”, she protested. LOL. 😀 why in the world would her name be “Veni”, when our own names are intricate & oh-so-Javanese (thanks to our dearest dad)?? well, i didn’t know what to say to her back then.

but last night, it came to me. it’s strange, since i couldn’t have possibly known it back when i was 4 or 5, not having been going to school at all, how could i have possibly known that “Veni” would mean something in another language?

but it does. at least in Latin, it means something. something that is surprisingly relevant to my second sister’s experience. i’m sure you know what i’m talking about. 🙂

Veni, vidi, vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. “Veni” means “I came”.

she did come, even if only for a short while. and though i never even met her physically, maybe when i was 4 or 5, when i was playing as if i made her a present, she whispered those words to me, so i knew that she was there, that she came to us.

i’m writing this down now, before i forget about it in the future. because, dear second sister, we’ll never forget about you, no matter what your name is. you came to us, and though it was brief, you will always be a part of us. 🙂