Polaroid Postcards from Kyiv (1)

Dear ___ ,

I survived my 6-hour stopover in Munich! It involved loads of writing on my black notebook, reading Nick Miller’s Isn’t It Pretty to Think So? for the second time, and of course: a few cups of coffee. It was bearable. As usual, I spent a fair amount of time watching people and making up stories about them in my head. I scribbled and looked up, scribbled and looked up… and I tried to sleep but I couldn’t.

Anyway, as a stopover-survivor, I reached Kyiv in the afternoon. The weather was good. It was actually the beginning of autumn, and they called it Indian summer: that time of the year when the leaves were about to turn yellow, the sun was warm and the breeze was cool, light rain fell occasionally, the temperature was about 20-25°C

I was overly excited!

Kyiv would be the beginning of my one-month traveling journey, and it started with TechCamp Kyiv—where I’d be meeting activists and youth leaders from Ukraine and Belarus, sharing stories and experiences about crowdfunding and fundraising for a cause.

And of course, it was always a pleasure to reunite with some familiar faces and friends, with Sam in particular.

Being the sweet thing that she is, she gave me a gift from her favorite shop in Notting Hill: a jewelry box and a scented candle with the writings: Live Well. Love Much. Laugh Often. Dream Always. And I was wondering whether the universe was actually trying to speak to me.

Anyway, James came over just now and peeped into this and asked me to write “James rocks“. So, I did. You’ll meet James later on, in about two weeks I guess, according to the calendar (if everything goes as planned). I couldn’t write more with James pestering me, so… until then!


PS:  What’s so neat about all this is the fact that in the beginning of this journey, I didn’t even know that I would meet you, thus I didn’t know your name, yet. We’re still so faraway from meeting each other. Are we actually time-traveling?

What Life Gave.

I have not lived long in this world,
Yet I have learned to take account
Of what I got from life—not much,
But none the less, a fair amount.

It taught me to perceive the good,
Gave me a glimpse of learning’s wealth,
Put love for justice in my soul,
Gave me two Eands to work and health.
It gave me friendship, mutual love,
Although not always strong and deep.
It said: “Go sow thy seed, although
Thy hand may not the harvest reap.”
It also gave me enemies
Who cursed and persecuted me;
It gave me friends who yet were prone
First their own interests to see.
Yet over all I value most
The cup of unjust suffering
Life gave to me, that truth and light
I might perhaps to others bring.

~ What Life Gave, by Ivan Franko ~









Models: Katya, Inna Buryakovska, Julia and her friend, Francois Bellemare, Fransisco Garcia, Kyryl Kurinniy, Ieugenia Petrikina. The people I stumbled upon in Kyiv, Ukraine.


Tentu saja, ada hal-hal yang tidak kukatakan padamu pagi itu, karena. Rasanya terlalu lekas. Sementara aku sedang tidak ingin bergegas-gegas. Ada sesuatu yang lucu dan menggemaskan (juga mencemaskan) dalam menunggu. Tetapi aku suka; menikmati kamu sedikit demi sedikit supaya rasa ini bertahan jauh lebih lama. Aku tahu aku banyak tertawa dan bilang ‘hanya bercanda‘, tetapi. Sebenarnya tidak juga. Tidak sepenuhnya. Katakanlah lima puluh lima puluh. Mungkin saat ini aku mulai bersungguh-sungguh (dan sebenarnya tidak ada tanda titik koma dan kurung tutup atau titik dua dan huruf P di belakang semua perkataanku).

Jadi. Sulit melepasmu (atau kau melepasku, atau sesungguhnya kita saling melepaskan) pagi itu. Sesungguhnya aku sedikit sedih. Dan sedikit kehilangan. Dan sedikit terkejut karena bisa merasakan semua itu. Dan kita berkali-kali mengucapkan ‘selamat tinggal’ tetapi tidak ada di antara kita yang beranjak pergi dan aku menemukan diriku di sisimu lagi, dan kamu di sisiku lagi, dan kita menendang-nendang kaki satu sama lain di bawah meja secara sembunyi-sembunyi, lalu menyelinap ke taman untuk mengucapkan ‘selamat tinggal’, lagi, tetapi. Kita bahkan masih tidak ingin berjarak meski hanya satu senti.

Lalu aku pergi. Kamu pergi. Aku pikir aku akan kehilangan kamu selamanya pagi itu. Aku sudah terbiasa melihat punggung-punggung yang menjauh, tetapi sesering apapun tetap saja masih terasa sedih. Jadi aku tidur saja seharian itu. Karena aku tidak ingin menangis. Rasanya terlalu dramatis. It’s not me. Maka, keesokan harinya, aku sudah siap mengucapkan selamat tinggal (betapa aku benci perpisahan yang dilakukan seorang diri), tetapi.

Kamu kembali.


I was on the road for a month, came home for a while to unpack and wash some dirty clothes, then headed out again with clean laundry in my bag. I was traveling alone, again. It began in Kyiv, Ukraine, to El Nido, in the Philippines, and ended up in Ubud, Bali on October 7. The journey had been amazing. It was both mind-blowing and heart-warming. I could not imagine how does it feel for those who had been on the road constantly for 8 months, a year, two years—and I met loads of them along the way.

When I started last September, I thought when I got home I would be busy writing as well as posting stories and pictures, because—why, of course there would be so many things to tell, and too many things to share!

But that was not the case.

The truth is, I still couldn’t get myself to write anything about the places I had visited, the people I had met, or the things that had happened to me—because I simply wasn’t ready.

There were days when I just left my camera in my hostel room; or days when I actually carried it in my bag; but didn’t even bother to capture anything—just because I wanted to be ‘here’ with the whole of my being. There were days when I left my guidebook on my bed and just strolled along the city I barely knew; tried to strike conversations in local language with random people I bumped into; welcomed some strangers’ invitations to hit the street and explore what each crossings had to offer…

The journey had been both liberating and overwhelming; in a sense that: well, I experienced much more first-times in one single month compared to what I had experienced in the last 5 years. That was surprising. Such an eye-opener. And it seemed like wherever I went, people kept sending me this message: “Enjoy the moment. Relax. Don’t rush.”

So, I did. And the result was just amazing, it hit me so hard I felt like I had become a new person. I had become more of myself.