Triwindu Antique Market, Solo.

Stretched along Bengawan Solo—one of the longest river in Java, and guarded by some volcanoes: Mt. Merapi, Mt. Merbabu and Mt. Lawu, Solo is a tranquil city of Javanese culture and tradition. There’s a certain ‘ancient’ atmosphere that will captivate you instantly: a certain feeling of going back in time; especially as you get closer to the palaces or keraton—the sound of gamelan music wafting faintly from somewhere, batik cloths hanging from the drying rope.

If you love strolling around antique markets, just like me (pretending you’re living in a different century, spotting all those beautiful objects back from the day your mother or grandmother hasn’t been born and making up stories about the imaginary people who used to own those vintage-whatchamacallit as you go along), Solo would definitely charmed you with its Triwindu Antique Market.

Here are some pictures to please your eyes:

Click here for more:

Happy holiday! Wish you all a blessed and wonderful New Year!


Heroes.

Today, I stumbled upon an article in The Jakarta Post from the year 2005. I was surprised when I spotted my name written in the article—at the time, I was still 22 :D I didn’t even remember how it got there in the first place. I think it was a short interview for the commemoration of National Heroes Day, and the journalist asked around, trying to find out who people considered to be modern-day heroes. Below is my answer:

Generally speaking, I believe a hero is simply someone who is willing to help others without asking for recognition. I also believe there are real-life heroes among us, but that we are often too busy to recognize them.

I once saw a street musician help a middle-aged woman who fell from a moving minivan. A vendor helped a friend of mine who fainted inside a train, and even found a car to take her home.

And a friend told me of her cousin who wanted to commit suicide, but changed her mind after hearing the song Heaven on the radio.

These people offered help not because they wanted recognition — how could the DJ know the song would help my friend’s cousin — but simply because they were at the right place at the right time.

So I think a hero is someone who never considers himself a hero, and perhaps does not even realize they have done a heroic deed. Most of the time, a hero is simply a stranger who gives you a genuine smile and brightens your day.

Who’s your modern-day hero? ;)


Hate. Love. Life.

Hate.

Ya, mungkin saja benci itu serupa ubur-ubur. Dia transparan dan seringkali terlihat menggoda. Kamu tahu dia bisa menyengat, tapi seperti anak kecil yang nakal dan penasaran, kamu menyentuhnya juga. Dan tiba-tiba saja racunnya menjalari dirimu, kata-katamu, pikiranmu, juga tindakanmu. Kamu lelah mencoba membuat orang yang kamu benci nampak buruk. Mencoba membuatnya jatuh tersungkur. Lalu kamu sadar waktumu tercurah… terus, dan terus, dan terus, untuk semua itu: untuk hal-hal yang tak membuat dirimu menjadi atau merasa lebih baik.

Love.

Aku pikir, cinta itu bentuknya mirip burung hantu. Bisa imut, bisa lucu, tapi kali lain menyeramkan, seperti tengah bersiap menerkam. Terkadang, yang namanya cinta cuma mengawasi dalam diam. Dan entah mengapa aku selalu percaya cinta itu makhluk nokturnal. Mungkin karena aku sering kangen kamu malam-malam. Apalagi kalau turun hujan. Dan kamu itu penuh kejutan—seperti dekuk burung hantu: mengagetkan!

Life.

Asalkan kamu tidak mengusiknya, hidup juga akan berjalan apa adanya. Baik-baik saja. Mungkin tidak sempurna, tapi tak mengapa. Kita selalu punya seribu satu cara untuk menikmatinya, seperti panda yang tak pernah bosan berteman pohon-pohon bambu. Ya, life is what you make of it. Jadi, nikmati saja tiap tawanya, juga air mata.


The case of santaploding lomo.

OK, you must have wanted to slap me since I kept tweeting and updating my status, uber-excitedly saying that I got a Lomo Super Sampler as a gift from (ak.’sa.ra) bookstore! (see, I just did it again) :D

But, the fact is, I am probably the kind of person the marketeers would love. I don’t redeem points, I lost the cards with all those purchase stamps that could actually offer me 20% discounts on all items, I forgot to use the gift vouchers handed to me at the cashier until I found it again somewhere—a year after it was expired. And I don’t usually fill in those lottery tickets or coupons you got after a certain purchase to win something. I always consider myself unlucky for such thing.

But—earlier this month I was visiting (ak’.sa.ra) bookstore in Pacific Place in search of a cute card and a naughty wedding gift for my bestfriend. I came up with this card, pretty cute, isn’t it? Neatly depicting how many girls/boys we met along the way (those heartbreaks!), until we finally found ‘the one’ :D

And a pack of naughty Kiss & Tell cards! You would want to play this game with your spouse on bed, trust me :D

I have always loved (ak.’sa.ra) bookstores (well, I used to fall for QB Books’ selections, but they’re out of business). I love their products, their cards, their display, and especially: their selection of books. I always drool over the sight of some classics with lovely illustrated covers, I have no idea how they actually spotted that beautiful edition at the first place! And where else in Indonesia could I find a complete selection of Yoshitomo Nara’s illustration books?

Well, back to the case of santaploding Lomo: when I got to the cashier with the card and the gift and Alain de Botton’s book, the girl behind the counter told me that (ak’.sa.ra) was having their Santa Wish List program for Christmas. So I needed to fill in a card, stating what I’d like to have for Christmas—but the gift I wish for should be something that is sold in (ak.’sa.ra). And there are no price-limit as to which products I’d like to put on my wish list.

Usually I would just shrugged it off, saying, “Naaah, no need to…”—but that day I was not in a hurry and well, I had been wanting that Lomo Super Sampler camera for 2 years, having a constant battle with myself whenever I saw that camera on display: don’t buy it. Don’t buy it. Don’t buy it. But I kept wanting it anyway, and had always spare some time to look at it on the shelf when I was at (ak.’sa.ra).

So, I simply wrote it down: I want a Lomo Super Sampler camera. Then I put my name and my phone number at the bottom of the card.

“We’ll draw the wish list on December 25! Good luck!” said the girl, waving as I left the store.

And so I waited, waited, and waited. On December 25 I kept on checking my handphone, expecting for a phone call, an SMS, a surprise: nothing. And I have kissed my Lomo goodbye, until I got a text message yesterday afternoon: Congratulations! You got a Lomo Super Sampler from our Santa Wish List! Please claim and pick up your gift.

At the time, I was in the middle of a chat with a friend at the front porch, and I was screaming at him: “I win a LOMO! I win a LOMO!!!” and I screamed, and screamed, and screamed. I was beaming with joy!!! :D

And there she is, I’d like to introduce you to the Blue Belle:

Thank you, (ak.’sa.ra)! :’) And happy holiday to all of you! :*

—-

More about lomography please click here. And do follow those wonderful fellows at (ak.’sa.ra) bookstore on Twitter @Aksara_Store @Aksara_PP.


Letters to A Young Poet.

Rainer Maria Rilke, 2000 (New World Library Edition) | 128 pages

I’m crazy about letters. To me, letters—especially hand-written ones, sent via snail mail (oh, and I love it even more when the letters are illustrated), are romantic. It levitates me: the sight of an envelope with my name written on it; the dampened stamp; the guessing of the sender; the hissing sound of the papers; the first sentence, the imaginary voice of a “Dear …”

I remembered myself, in such a young age, sending hand-written letters as an ultimate gift to people I care about the most. Later in life, it was also become clear to me that I feel more comfortable of writing stories and prose in the form of indirect letters. Letters are personal. Letters are the words left unspoken.

Letters to A Young Poet is a collection of letters written by Rainer Maria Rilke to Franz Kappuz, a young man trying to choose between a literary career and entering the army. The letters, coming from one of the greatest poet, are of course deep and poetic, spanning over the issues of dealing with self-doubts, making choices, living life, and embracing love. Reading the letters, you would feel as if the letters were directed to you.

The book is a jewel of deep and profound words, the kind of book that you’d like to pass on to your seventeen-year-old kid as they started to enter adulthood.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” – Rilke.


Happy Holiday!

And have a wonderful Christmas to all of you who are celebrating! :*


Quisiera Que Estuvieras Aquí – 5. Lisboa

I have found that the hour of separation does not prevail against the joining of our unearthly selves, as I have known with the first meeting that my spirit was your companion for countless ages | Kahlil Gibran

Lisboa seperti kamu: yang mengejutkan pagiku dengan hal-hal lucu. Kota ini, seperti kamu, juga menyimpan ketertarikan pada seni dan sejarah. Kubayangkan kamu (tepatnya: kita) berkeliling kota dengan kamera di tangan, menyusuri jalan-jalan dan monumen bersejarah mulai dari Avenida de Liberdade  sampai Avenida Almirante Reis: mengabadikan arsitektur-arsitektur Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, juga konstruksi-konstruksi Modern dan Post-Modern yang nampak terlalu terang di bawah terik matahari.

Di bawah Jembatan 25 de Abril yang menghubungkan Lisboa dan Almada, aku akan berkata bahwa jembatan ini mengingatkanku pada gambar-gambar kartu pos dari San Fransisco, dan kamu akan memberitahuku bahwa jembatan ini dibangun oleh American Bridge Company, perusahaan yang sama yang mengkonstruksi Jembatan San Fransisco-Oakland Bay. “Hingga tahun 1974, jembatan ini masih dinamakan Jembatan Salazar atau Ponte Salazar,” kamu akan menambahkan, menunjukkan bahwa kamu sudah melakukan risetmu.

Pada akhirnya, mungkin kamu masih akan terus memilih untuk memotret dan mencatat di notes kecilmu seharian. Sementara aku akan memilih untuk berteduh di sebuah restoran kecil, memotret botol-botol minyak zaitun seraya membaca buku atau menulis surat-surat untukmu (ya, benar, surat-surat itu; surat-surat yang tak pernah kukirimkan).

Kita tak perlu bersama sepanjang waktu. Di akhir hari, pada saatnya, kita toh akan saling mencari dan menemukan: mungkin dalam sepiring salmon yang dibakar, atau di antara helai-helai parutan wortel berwarna oranye segar.

Selepas makan siang, aku berlari-lari menghindari panas matahari dan mendaki menuju Feira da Ladra atau “Thieve’s Market”, pasar loak di Sao Vicente de Fora, dekat Alfama, tak jauh dari the National Pantheon, Gereja Santa Engracia.

Pasar ini buka setiap Selasa dan Sabtu, dari subuh hingga matahari terbenam. Orang-orang menggelar dagangan mereka di atas koper-koper tua, meja-meja kecil, di atas tikar, juga di dalam mobil: asesoris kuno, CD-CD lama, buku-buku antik, baju, sepatu, lukisan, keramik… ah, kamu akan suka pemandangan ini!


Di sinilah aku bertemu anak lelaki kecil itu; yang tengah menemani ibunya berjualan lukisan-lukisan di atas keramik. Ia sendiri tengah melukis. Tangannya mengoleskan kuas di atas lembaran sebuah buku sketsa. Ia tersenyum lebar ketika melihatku berjongkok memilih-milih keramik. Dengan tangannya, ia menunjuk kamera yang tergantung di leherku, menunjuk dirinya sendiri, kemudian menirukan gaya orang memotret.

“Me? Taking pictures of you?” saya bertanya sambil membalas senyum lebarnya.

Ia mengangguk, lalu melihat ke arah kamera dengan percaya diri: matanya besar dan berbinar-binar.

Ia mengingatkanku padamu: seseorang yang meruntuhkan dinding di sekelilingnya, kemudian mengejutkanku dengan segala sesuatu yang tiba-tiba. Seperti pertanyaan-pertanyaanmu yang tak bisa diduga arahnya, seakan kita sudah pernah saling mengenal jauh sebelumnya, seperti teman lama: seakan-akan kita memang bukan dua orang yang baru pertama kali ini bertemu muka. Tetapi begitulah, ada kejutan dan keramahan itu, juga sedikit kepolosan dan ketidakpedulian pada diri anak lelaki itu—yang membuatku teringat padamu.

Tiba-tiba aku rindu saat-saat terakhir kita bersama itu…

Aku mengingatnya seperti aroma gula, mentega, dan kayu manis yang menguar dari Pasteis de Belem (ah, dan kamu juga selalu suka pastries semacam ini)—manis, hangat, lekat.

Angin sore meniup rambutku ketika aku berjalan melewati lift Santa Justa di Chiado, sebelah tenggara Praca Dom Pedro IV Square, yang dibangun arsitek Perancis kelahiran Portugal, Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard—murid Gustave Eiffel (tak heran kalau struktur bangunan ini mirip dengan Menara Eiffel). Kalau saja kamu ada di sini, kita akan naik ke atas sana, ke restoran Italia di puncaknya, Bella Lisa Elevador—menyesap secangkir kopi pelan-pelan sambil mengabadikan pemandangan indah itu: Rossio Square, kastil, sungai…

dan kamu.

Quisiera que estuvieras aquí,

H.


Quisiera Que Estuvieras Aquí – 4. Lagos

Aku jatuh cinta pada Lagos, kota pantai kecil di mulut Sungai Bensafrim—membentang sepanjang Lautan Atlantik di Algarve, Portugal Selatan.

Dari terminal bis, aku sudah bisa melihat jembatan yang membentang menuju pantai, serta jalan menanjak ke perbukitan, tempat rumah-rumah musim panas dengan dinding-dinding putih dipenuhi wisatawan selama musim liburan. Aku jatuh cinta pada warna-warni terang di jalan-jalan yang kulewati: spanduk, lapak-lapak penjual baju, atap-atap rumah, jemuran, juga langit yang berawan.

Lagos adalah kota yang lucu. Kamu bisa mengitarinya berkali-kali dan selalu menemukan sesuatu yang baru: restoran, toko es krim, penjual sepatu, juga seorang ibu yang membuatkanku tato ‘Om’ di pergelangan kaki dengan henna.

Are you a Buddhist?” tanyanya.
Aku menggeleng, “I just like it,” jawabku sambil tersenyum.
Where are you from?”
“Indonesia,” jawabku.

Ia nampak terkejut, kemudian ia mengisahkan perjalanannya semasa muda dulu: betapa ia dan suaminya sudah mengelilingi pantai-pantai di Indonesia dan menyelam di sana. Bali, Lombok, Bunaken, Flores. “Itu dulu sekali,” katanya. “Indonesia sangat indah. Saya ingin kembali, tetapi sekarang mungkin harga tiket sudah mahal. Saya juga sempat mendengar kerusuhan di sana, semoga Indonesia sudah damai, ya.”

Ini adalah kota yang ingin kutinggali selama beberapa bulan. Aku akan pergi ke pusat kota, berbelanja buah dan sayur, mengunjungi toko buku. Ini adalah kota di mana aku bisa membeli es krim di toko kecil, lalu duduk di taman, di bawah pohon, di depan air mancur, pemandangan laut di sisi kananku; sambil membaca The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle-nya Murakami.

Ini adalah kota di mana penjaga toko yang sempat melihatmu kemarin akan tersenyum, dan pengemudi taksi yang sempat mengantarmu tadi pagi melambai dan berseru padamu dari depan alun-alun. Ini adalah kota di mana orang-orang tidak berbicara bahasa Inggris, tetapi mereka bercakap dengan mata, tangan, juga bibir yang bergerak naik membentuk lengkungan menyenangkan. Ini adalah kota di mana aku bisa pergi ke benteng-benteng tua setelah selesai membaca, duduk di taman yang teduh, memandangi burung-burung laut yang sesekali turun dan menulis di sana sampai jenuh.

Untuk menghilangkan penat setelah mengitari kota seharian, aku bisa berlari ke pantai dengan kaki telanjang, lalu menceburkan diri di air yang dingin.

Menjelang pukul delapan malam, aku akan kembali ke rumah musim panas di atas bukit, memandangi senja yang turun, lalu bercakap denganmu lewat tombol-tombol telepon genggamku.

Quisiera que estuvieras aqui,

H


The Seven Year Pen

I’ve always had this euphoria every time I saw cute stationeries. Last weekend, I found “The Seven Year Pen” in ak.’sa.ra store, Pacific Place.

So, apparently, there are 100 million pens being discarded worldwide, every day! But, worry no more. The Seven Year Pen has this large ink cartridge that enables you to write 1.7 meters a day for 7 years (yes, 7 years!). And, the best part is that a portion of your purchase will be donated to environmental causes! Neat! ^^


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