It started out when I proclaimed my love of owls about 2 years ago. Since then, my friends had been tagging me whenever they came across cute owl pictures or videos, or ended up buying random owl-stuff when they were traveling because they were reminded of me when they spotted one. Today, I realized that my owl collections has grown quite rapidly. It is dominated by lovely accessories like rings, necklaces and bracelets–though I also have owl bedroom lamp, owl clutch, owl coffee-tumbler, owl pen, owl bedroom-slippers, owl lip-balm, owl postcards, owl ceramic paperweight, owl magnets, owl wallpaper, owl bookmark, owl paintings, owl nail buffer, owl shirt, owl scarf… you name it!
I decided to keep these owls inside this beautiful jar and put them next to my bed, so I can have a look at them everyday–as soon as I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. The lights will make them glow in such a serene way, it makes me feel warm at heart :) These owls always remind me of my friends’ lovely thoughts and kindness–and so, how can I not be grateful every time? Moreover, these owls had traveled from everywhere: Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Pakistan, Turkey, US, UK, Brazil… it makes me feel like all the kindness in the world can actually fit nicely inside a small transparent jar!
For my lovely friends who have carried me (and my love of owls) in your thoughts, thank you very much. I am so blessed to have you! :’) The owls will always remind me of you, too! *kisses*
When my girl Ollie (a successful business woman and an author of more than 20 books) asked me to talk at Nulis Buku Club’s gathering at Urban Icon Store Senayan last week, I kept my cool and said, “Sure!”. Little did she know that I was actually panicking. I always find it challenging to talk about writing. I mean, who am I to talk about such thing? In the end, that was exactly what I did not do. I did not talk about writing. I got everyone to write instead.
I do not want to talk about writing because I don’t think we learn about writing that way. Learning about writing is similar to swimming or riding a bike. You don’t learn how to swim by reading books or follow instructions. You jump into the pool and get drowned and then you get it. You find yourself floating. The more time you spend in the pool, the more you feel comfortable and confident. Soon, you want to explore the sea and swim with the fish. Or jump from the top of a waterfall to a river underneath. You’re becoming more courageous and adventurous. The same goes with writing. You just have to do it, everyday, to find that level of comfort and confidence before even starting to push your limit and go for the extreme. (I am a sucker for Natalie Goldberg’s book on writing simply because she doesn’t give instructions about characters or plots or outlines. She wants us to write. She’ll give us a list of words or images or memories to play with and she’ll let us write about it, incorporating our authentic life experience into the pouring sentences on our notebook.)
There are loads of different ways to tell a story, but I believe that there’s only one way to write: by being honest. I guess, we always think that our lives are dead-boring and other people’s lives are far more interesting; thus we keep on finding ways to tell other people’s stories; because we think it will sound more interesting. But no matter how good we are in telling other people’s stories, we are not those people. We do not have their drive, their voice, their experience, their childhood, their tears. However, we have unlimited access to our own memories, our own childhood, our heartbreaks, our fear, our failure, our imperfection. We have our so-called boring lives that are rich with smells, colors, sounds, feelings, details. We can always try to sound like someone else. We can even imitate Hemingway. But we can never be him. We can never be as good. We can only be the best at being ourselves, by telling our own stories.
Now this doesn’t mean that we have to spill all the dirty secrets and be brutally honest about every little thing (though that would be effing interesting, too!). It’s more about that sense of authenticity. About seeing things from your eyes, feeling things with your heart, writing things down from your real experience. Being sad has very little to do with standing by the window, looking at the droplets of rain with instrumental music playing in the background (I committed this kind of sin in my previous writings, too, but I promise not to do this again!). When I came to think about it, the last time I was sad, I didn’t take a shower that whole day. I didn’t wash my hair. I drank too much instant coffee and I made myself instant noodles with 20 chilis so it would be both super spicy and stingy, and I finished 2 packs of Maicih super-hot casava chips. Then I stayed in bed, watching depressing movies on DVDs and listening to 30 Seconds to Mars’ From Yesterday over and over again in maximum volume. I turned off my mobile phone and cursed the whole world. You have your own way of looking at the world when you’re sad. We can’t all be sad the same way. So tell your version of being sad instead of going mainstream. Or else we would end up in our elementary school days, when the teacher asked us to draw the scenery and we all turned in two mountains, a road, a small house, two rice fields (left and right), the sun between the two mountains, three-shaped birds and blue-colored clouds.
So that was what the participants ended up doing at the writing club gathering. They wrote. For 3 to 5 minutes, on a certain topic. The challenge was to keep your pen moving, not to stop, not to think to much, just write things down, write whatever that crosses your mind, write from your memories.
It was intriguing to see how people were hesitant at first, having their pens hanging in the air instead of scribbling something on the paper. “Come on, keep your pens moving! Don’t think too much, just write!”—and it was amazing to see how they become more confident and write more freely during the second and third exercise. It was even more surprising when some of them stood up to read what they had just written: those were great stuff; written in only 3-5 minutes. I felt goosebumps when some of them read their piece; because they were so honest, so blunt, so bare… and yet they were beautiful, unique, and authentic. You could almost see this person and get the feel of who they are just by listening to them reading their piece.
Eva wrote about her experience that day:
“Write first, keep writing what’s in your head, don’t stop.
“We can worry about the other stuff, like plot, grammar, characters, etc, later in the editing process.”
We then did three three-minute exercises on writing, which I would invite you to try.
First, it’s about original details. Pick an object and write — without stopping — as much details as possible about it. This is what I wrote that night:
The lamps. Hanging right in front of me, slightly above. Silver with yellow-ish light. If we pay closer attention to it, there is one big lamp, surrounded by smaller ones.
At first I thought there were only five lamps, but a closer look would reveal there are two more, slightly hidden. Hanging on a black string. They are not that bright, swallowed by the other surrounding lights. Not as blinding, but still cool as accessories to the room. It does not really make the room brighter, except at exactly where it was. (And time was up as I finished that sentence).
Second, it’s about working from memories. Pick an object and write what it reminds you of. Three minutes. Go:
The last time I noticed this type of lamp was at a meditation retreat several years ago. My mind then jumped into something completely different. I remember my love for taking photographs of lamps and reflections, in all shapes and forms. Low light photography and reflections of mirrors, from building, structures, and so on, wherever it may be.
I looked to my left and saw the very reflection of those lamps in the mirror. A different angle of the same object. I remember taking pictures with my friends at her campus in Paris. A huge silver shining ball. That was so fun. The ball is of three meters in height. We experimented with distance. What if the camera is close to the ball and we are further away. What if one of us is closer to the ball than the other. What if one is standing on the left, and the other on the right corner of the camera lens. Reflection is so interesting. It provides a distortion — often more interesting than the original! (Time was up).
You wouldn’t believe what came up from the audience. It is evident that we are all writers. Beautiful, with a variety of styles. Mine feels rather factual. But I was just getting warmed up.
Third exercise: use object (I am a…) and write how it feels to be that object. This is mine:
I am but letters “F.O.S.S.I.L” — You look at me but you are not really looking at me. You are looking at me and you remember the remains of animals and plants from million years ago, turning into coals and oil; being put in the museum for display, lab for study and books to read.
You look at me and you remember, well, bags.
You look at me but you’re not really looking at me. I am but a six-letter word, written in black. I am written in ALL CAPS. But obviously, it is still not loud enough for you.
I was astounded. I have no idea how it came about. The exercise reminds us how rich our mind is. All we need to do is put our thoughts in writing, without any self-censorship.
Two years ago, I started bringing a notebook with me, where I could just write mindlessly while waiting for a meeting or a delayed flight. I write about a guy sitting across me at the airport, the conversation a family is having at the table next to me in an Italian restaurant, memories that wells up inside of me when I spot a guitar case… and the notebook is full of random stuff like this. When I read the notebook again after some time, I am always surprised knowing that I can come up with such writings or realizing that I can recognize such minuscule details. The notebook becomes a rich source for me to spice up the scene I’m working on or inserting ‘authentic’ conversations into my dialogues. Moreover, the notebook becomes an amazing portrait of my mind, of what’s going on inside of me, of how I see the world from the reality I choose. It helps me to see myself from a different point of view; and it reminds me of who I am, who I was and who I am capable of become.
- The Only Way to Write by Eva Muchtar.
- NulisBuku Club: A Sweet Encouragement, Classy Competition by Nana.
*) Photographs from Nulis Buku Club gathering are the courtesy of Ollie and Nulis Buku Team.
Special thanks to the wonderful bunch at Urban Icon! They came to me and said that they want to give a watch for me as a present, and I could choose whichever I want. They did not know then that I am a FOSSIL fan, and I have had my eyes on their beautiful Georgia watch for quite some time. And I hand-picked my pretty pink Georgia that evening :’) Thank you so much for this lovely surprise, folks! :’)
I always find it comforting, to be surrounded by greeneries, enveloped by silence, only to catch the faint sounds of birds, cicadas, and waterfalls. I ran away here one afternoon a few weeks ago with a friend, Martijn. A few slices of yellow watermelons, a pack of grapes, a carton of fruit juice, and Susan Wooldrigde’s Poemcrazy book were resting nicely inside my flowery canvas bag. My head was still spinning with the beautiful words from the book. I remembered one line where Wooldridge quoted Gary Snyde: poetry has an interesting function; it helps people be where they are. And suddenly, my world was bursting with pinecones, the smell of the leaves and the wet soil, the shape of the rocks, the changing colors of the sky…
I was sitting on a rock; dipping my toes into the flowing river, while Martijn went underneath the waterfalls. I was thinking about everything that had happened in my life lately: about hellos and farewells, and how curious was it that I kept stumbling upon random people who brought ‘messages’ for me and answered some questions I have pondered upon for a while through simple conversations.
I once wrote inside my black travel notebook: what if we think of everyone we meet on our journey as a messenger? What if we don’t bump into them coincidentally? What if they were sent to tell us something, to deliver a message, a lesson… what difference would it make if we stop, say hello, glance a smile, and make that connection? Don’t you think it would make you feel like you are never alone in this world? That every step you make is another chance to learn new life lessons? That everyone of us is, in one and another way, carry ‘The Prophet‘ inside, like that of Gibran’s?
Last evening, a girl on Twitter sent me a direct message, and asked, out of the blue, “What should I do when the person I care about decided to disappear?” and I found myself typing away: just pray for them to be alright, and to be happy. Maybe I was talking to myself or hearing myself asking the same question to my other self; this could be more complicated than understanding the flower petals and Fibonacci numbers–but such ‘creepy’ or amazingly coincidental things happened more often in my life lately (oh well, I never believed in coincidences anyway). When I came to think about it, I guess even our prayers (or wishes) define who we are and how we see the world. If you do believe that prayers have such a vast amount of energy that will resonate to the universe and being echoed back to you, you would want to recite beautiful prayers, wouldn’t you?
I fell in love with Indian literature when I first read Jhumpa Lahiri‘s collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. It was then that I got obsessed with Indian–and South Asian–literature in general. Soon, I found myself immersed in the works of other Indian writers like Thrity Umrigar, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Chetan Bhagat, and Raj Kamal Jha, as well as Pakistani writers, including Roopa Farooki, Bina Shah, John Siddique, and Daniyal Mueenuddin. When I landed in India mid-February this year, hitting Mumbai and the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, I got swept away by this nostalgic feeling of being at home. Everything seemed distant and foreign, yet comforting and familiar. In one and other way, India reminded me a lot of Pakistan. The two countries captivated me in an instant to the extent that I would gladly think of them as my second home. And these are the 9 things I miss the most about India, not in any particular order:
1. The beautiful buildings and architectures. Especially in Mumbai. I love the feeling of going back in time every time I look at those beautiful structures: palaces, flats, train stations, government offices, forts, temples.
2. The food. In Indonesia, I am not a big fan of Indian food. I never really liked the taste somehow–there’s always something that isn’t right. But I found myself falling in love with Indian food in India. Wherever I went, from the street-stalls to a fancy restaurant to someone’s kitchen, the taste of the food was always perfect. I loved it so much that I had no cravings for junk food at all–despite the fact that I spent 13 days in the country and passed by McDonald’s or KFC numerous times.
3. The birds. I don’t know why there are so many birds in India. Birds are flying freely above the temples, the street, someone’s backyard, and nesting right outside your window. I miss their constant cooing. I miss going to sleep at night with the sound of their flapping wings against the windowsill.
4. The squirrels. And I don’t know why there are so many squirrels in India! Just like the birds, they are everywhere: temples, buildings, streets, backyards, random trees, you name it. They are the cutest thing ever. I love them!
5. The bookshops. For someone who spent most of her money on books, India is definitely a paradise for book lovers. Compared to Indonesia, the price of books in India is very cheap. You can get a classic English book for IDR 30,000 only (USD 3)–and bookshops can be found everywhere: from the posh Khan Market area to the bustling street-side of Colaba’s night market. I bought so many books in Delhi and ended up sending them back home from Jaipur to avoid excess baggage–because they weighed 10 kilograms.
6. The Qutb complex in Delhi. Qutb Minar is the tallest minaret in India, but the complex housed several other ancient structures from that era; including Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque–the first mosque to be built in India. It was so serene–the morning when I was there–I could breathe in the glory and the divinity of what it once had been. And the huge garden inside the complex was just breathtaking. I could see myself spending my mornings in this complex, walking around mindlessly or sitting on a bench under a tree, painting, reading a poetry book, or writing on a piece of paper.
7. The city’s outdoors. I love it when you’re in the middle of the city and you can just walk by to the nearest park or a riverbank or the seaside to sit and chill. And India has loads of spots like that. From Mumbai’s Marine Drive to Delhi’s public parks, I found it charming to see people from all ages having picnics at the outdoors: couples, friends, families, some blokes… *giggles*
8. The color-burst. Those colorful saris, bangles, buildings, trucks, rickshaws, desserts… India’s color palette is extremely rich. No matter where I looked, I was exposed to those amazing colors, like a constant feast for the eyes. Immediately, it brought me back to my childhood days–to the nostalgic feeling of wonder and amusement as I opened up my first box of 32 Crayola crayons.
9. Gee. It was amazing how we got to know each other through this blog. And that we decided to meet up in Delhi. Gee, or Geetanjali Kaul, is definitely the highlight of my India trip. She is also a living proof that arranged marriage can actually work; romantically speaking. Amazing to see how–after 15 years of marriage, she is still madly in love with his husband, Ashish. Maybe wonderful souls did find each other. Gee and I spent an amazing three days together, and she took care of me like we had known each other for years. I miss her. And her best friend, Neeraj. And her mother-in-law (Didi), and her mother-in-law’s mother (Nani), and her wonderful kids Anika and Vivan. And her dogs.
I miss India.
And it just happened. From short-distance trip to crossing half of the globe, I found myself enjoying traveling alone–savoring the privilege of doing whatever I like in whatever pace I want while turning strangers into friends along the way. It has been an enriching experience that helps me to become more confident, thoughtful, and considerate. Some female readers ask me what are the things they need to consider if they would like to travel solo themselves; so I think I’ll just share some tips from my experience below:
- Don’t be a bitch. No matter how pissed off you are, how angry you are, control yourself, control your emotion. You are alone in a strange country–if you’re being a bitch and making hurtful comments to someone, you’re attracting unnecessary hatred towards yourself. Just be kind, but prompt. I know sometimes guys approach you when you’re walking or invite you for some drinks; other times a beggar follows you around asking for money. You can smile and say ‘no’ politely, and then say ‘no’ again promptly when they’re still trying, or say ‘no’ again and walk away briskly. But don’t make a drama out of it. If you don’t like the taste of a local food or find the streets so gross and dirty or think that a local custom doesn’t make sense, don’t make nasty comments or ugly faces or throwing evil judgments. Accept the fact that each country is different, and respect that. Think of how you would feel if a traveler made nasty comments about your country. Don’t make people hate you. Be kind. Be considerate.
- Be prepared and do your homework. Do extensive research about the country/city you are about to visit. Ask around, especially to friends/families who had been there before. With sites like Couchsurfing, you can always get valuable insights from the locals about the best location to stay, local transport, customs and traditions, and so on. Learn a little bit of local language always helps–at least in the countries I have ever visited. I realized that the locals–including immigration officials, became much friendlier when I said a few words in their local language. I think they appreciate the fact that you care enough to try. Find out the proper outfit to wear. In some countries, women adhere to a certain way of dressing. In other countries, you need to wear long skirts or sarongs to visit temples and religious sites. To me, following the dress code is more about showing respect to the culture in a certain country rather than an attempt to avoid unnecessary attention (though it also helps you gain respect when you’re trying to dress like a local). I would suggest you to have your accommodation booked at least for your arrival day. This would calm you down, knowing that you already have somewhere to go and someone to contact as you exited the airport.
- Make connections. You can stay with a Couchsurfer. It’s a great way to experience a country from a perspective of a local. You can select a female host to stay with if it makes you feel safer. I would suggest you to stay with someone whose location has been checked, the identity has been verified, has been vouched for, and has hosted several travelers before. Do read people’s recommendations/testimonials about the host. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of staying with a stranger, go for hostels. You can do your research at HostelWorld. Most hostels have reception areas and common rooms where other travelers hang out. Make friends with them, chat about your itineraries and plans, sometimes you can arrange some trips together or tag along with someone. Make conversations with taxi drivers, waiters, shopkeepers. Ask them about the ‘local places’ to eat or shop.
- Don’t look lost. Sometimes we got worried, scared, confused, got lost. But, no matter what, appear calm and confident. Act as if you know what you need to do. When you’re waiting for someone, appear busy. Bring a book with you, so you can read instead of looking lost. Of course, you can also pretend to take photographs or listening to music from your iPod or fake-texting on your phone–but in some places you don’t want to flash your gadgets out. Book is rather safe. If you need to ask for directions, enter a nice hotel/inn/store/cafe and ask the concierge or the bellboy or the storekeeper or the waiter. If you’re out in the streets, ask in front of a group of people who doesn’t know each other, like in a shop, small restaurants, or bus stop–thus if someone is trying to mislead you, other people will catch that and butt in. Trust your gut. When something (or someone) doesn’t feel right, walk away from it.
- Make sure you can contact someone and can be contacted. Even if you don’t have local numbers, make sure that you can make an emergency phone call or send text messages. Have someone to contact in the city you’re in; either someone from your hostel, your embassy, a fellow traveler, or a local friend. Let someone at home–either families and friends know your plans and your whereabouts: your flights, hotels, and so on; at least they have a grip on where to find you. It will make you feel safer.
- Just remember that we are all human after all. We like to laugh and smile and be happy. We like to make friends and enjoy nice conversation. Some things are universal, like kindness. Be positive and see your next destination as an adventure, as a journey to find that kind-hearted person inside of you. Go out and see the world with this frame of mind, and you’ll be able to see beauty everywhere you go–even when it’s hidden in the most unlikely places.
I tried out this recipe from Food.com in an attempt to have a healthy lunch, and it turned out amazingly delicious. Italian-flavored tempe? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Whether you’d like to have it with warm rice or salad, it will turn out just perfect.
- 8 ounces of tempe (I used half of the usual package-size sold in the vegetable seller or supermarket)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (being me, I also added 5 rawit chili to the marinade)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (I substituted this with oregano)
- Cut tempe into cubes
- Marinade the tempe, make sure all pieces are coated, and leave it in the refrigerator for an hour
Bogor Botanical Garden is one of my favorite places in my hometown. It’s always nice to get lost in the lush canopy of green, daydreaming by the lotus pond, or reading some good books while sitting cross-legged on the grass. Built during the Dutch colonial period by Stamford Raffles, the garden houses more than 15,000 species of trees and plants, covering an area of 80 hectares. I always love to see my City of Rain as a fried egg: the yellow part is the Botanical Garden, and the white part is the town–all around it. I went to the Botanical Garden again with Patricia, Ewan, and Vidi. It was a spontaneous decision, actually.
A few days before, I had just decided to let go and move on from something that had tied me down and made me sad. It was difficult, but like my dear friend Ollie said, we’ll get better in overcoming heartbreaks. And she is right. Being in the outdoors was good for me: laughing, walking for hours, taking pictures, telling stories, making jokes, eating out. For the first time after such a bad few weeks, I felt whole again. I felt genuinely happy and free. Suddenly the world turned beautiful once again.
In two days, I’ll be off to India, visiting Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. Again, I am hitting the road, meeting people, enjoying life, reuniting with old friends, counting my blessings, and loving myself. And when people ask me how-are-you-doing, I can just give them a huge smile and say I-am-doing-great and it’ll feel so damn good because I know that this time, I am telling the truth.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovelies!
February unfolds with raindrops and pillows and that feverish feeling of missing something you can’t really put into words or shapes or figures and makes your stomach churns. Those fluffy rain clouds looms above you as you sip your first cup of coffee in the morning and your last cup of tea in the evening, heavy with million droplets of memories. Everything is silent, like waking up in a hotel room at 2.15 in the morning or standing alone inside an elevator rushing to the 27th floor. But there’s something slightly convenient about wandering around the house listlessly with your pajamas on when the sun is high, listening to Jonathan & Charlotte while reciting Laksmi Pamuntjak’s poems from The Anagram. You retreat to your bedroom when the storm hits and think about that French word, retrouvailles: the happiness of meeting again after a long time. You wonder if it’s worth the wait–people change and you’ve been hurt before. So you keep yourself busy doing almost everything you can think of, just to distract yourself from the weight of not knowing. You clean and dust and vacuum and mop and cook and water the plants like it’s the last time. You don’t write another unsent letters because they are too sad. But you keep your words nonetheless: home is simply a place where you’ll be missed. And though he carried these words with him that day, you are not sure if he remembers or if he knows that you really mean it, or if he actually cares; and so despite the cold and the downpour, you leave the front door open, ready for the retrouvailles.
Batik (/ˈbætɪk/ or /bəˈtiːk/; Javanese pronunciation: [ˈbateʔ]; Indonesian: [ˈbatɪk]) is a cloth that is traditionally made using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on October 2, 2009.
I had always wanted to learn how to make batik. The hot wax, the tracing of the lines, the coloring, the patience… I found the process both beautiful and calming; like a meditation practice. The opportunity to learn how to make batik came to me not in Yogyakarta or Solo, but in Ubud, Bali. Adit introduced me to Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai, who own Nirvana—a small inn/gallery hidden in the midst of Ubud’s touristy Gautama Street.
Pak Nyoman is an Ubud-born painter who works with batik, oil paint, and water color. He had been an artist-in-residence at Bondi Pavilion, Sydney and Toorak College, Melbourne, lectured at John Kennedy Hall, Guam University, and exhibited extensively in Australia, Italy, Guam, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland. One morning, together with Adit and his cousin, Uma, I spent a day in Ubud to learn how to make batik.
The very first thing to do is to draw a pattern on the cloth with a pencil. Since it was my very first time, I decided to draw something simple and playful. I ended up drawing Susuwatari (wandering soot/ススワタリ)—that appears in Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away; who got curious due to a sudden appearance of a lotus.
Once the drawing is finished, we continue to the second step: tracing the lines with hot wax. Dip the “canting” pen into the hot wax and make sure the canting isn’t too full, or else the wax will spill out. Before tracing the lines, blow the tip of the canting pen to make the wax flows easier. We need to concentrate during the tracing process and keep the canting pen at the right angle to ensure that the wax will continue to flow without spilling over.
Next, a more relaxing process: coloring! Don’t mix the paint with too much water if you’d like to have a vibrant color. Uma worked on a Balinese drawing with Balinese color that day—the kind you’d be seeing in cloths sold at some small shops along Kuta or Legian street stretch; while Adit worked on something more Japanese with the drawings of a fish in a pond.
Once the coloring is done and the paint is dry, we need to go back to the hot wax. The next step is to glaze the paint (colored areas) with hot wax. We don’t use canting pen for this. We use a brush instead. Dip the brush into the hot wax, and glaze, dip and glaze, dip and glaze. You need to ensure that the colored surface has been glazed perfectly. You can check this by turning the cloth over; the spots you miss will be visible. Pandjul—the son of Pak Nyoman and Ibu Rai helped me in checking the missed spots and glazing them; while Bocil, the family dog, was waiting for us to finish with sleepy eyes.
After the glazing, the next step is to color the whole cloth. You can pick the color that you like. The cloth will then be dipped into a color solution of your selection.
And then, it’s time to get rid of all the wax in your cloth. How? By dipping the cloth into a pan of boiling water, of course!
After that, you need to put your cloth to dry… and then you can see the results. Adit and Uma’s cloths turned out seriously stunning and beautiful! They are so talented!
And this one is mine. My batik cloth: Susuwatari Spotted A Lotus :D
Would you like to learn how to make batik, too? If you’re in Ubud one day, come early in the morning to:
Jalan Gautama 10, Padangtegal Kaja, Ubud,
Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia. (80571)
Phone : +62.361.975415
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Website : http://www.nirvanaku.com
and please pet Bocil the dog for me!
Gloomy January with its dark cloudy skies and constant downpours made me retreated into my comfy bed, entertaining myself with a bunch of blankets, pillows, cups and cups of hot chocolate and a stack of DVDs. These are some of the movies I would put under my movie selection post this month. I’d call it Raining Romance.
1. Two Lovers
After hailing this movie as one of my all-time favorite, I found out later on that it was inspired by Dostoyevsky’s short story White Nights. And I said to myself, oh, no wonder. It’s a lonely story about Leonard, a guy with a suicidal tendency who falls for his neighbor, Michelle. Everything about this movie is lonely. From the gloomy opening act to the photographs Leonard are taking, the scene at the club where Leonard goes out dancing with Michelle and her friends. I love it when Sandra, a daughter of a family friend, comes along to Leonard’s life. I love it when Michelle’s boyfriend, who happens to be someone else’s husband, talks to Leonard at a restaurant. I adore the twists and turns a little bit too much.
I love Gus van Sant. I love reading his interviews. I love books and movies with misfit characters. I guess those are enough reasons for me to love this movie. It’s about a teenage boy, Enoch, who loves going to strangers’ funerals and befriends Hiroshi, a dead Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II. On one of the funerals, Enoch meets a curious girl, Annabel. Like, seriously, aren’t you going to be intrigued just by knowing these snippets? The movie is visually stunning; and I love every small details of Enoch and Annabel’s lives: the things they do, the things they wear, the things they talk about. And you can read Hiroshi’s love letter here.
3. Bright Star
It’s a beautiful movie and beautiful love story between the poet John Keats and his “girl-next-door” Fanny Brawne. And I love this movie so much because I love letters. Hand-written letters. Hand-written love letters, to be exact. And I am in love with John Keats. And Fanny Brawne’s cat. I am in love with the two of them. I love the recited poems during the movie and the scenes where John and Fanny walked and kissed in the woods. I can relate to Fanny. I can relate to Keats. I want that red sealing wax for my letters. I can’t stop indulging myself to read the selected love letters written by John to Fanny here.
Beth moved in to a new apartment building where she met Adam, her ‘strange‘ neighbor. It is a very grounded yet beautiful movie about loving someone; and whether there are boundaries or limitations in doing so. I love all the small details in the movie: the raccoons, tea, the cleaning of the window, the theatre, those talks about stars and galaxies… and I love Adam, too!
5. Before Sunrise
Jesse and Celine met for the first time on a Eurail train and decided to get off in Vienna and spend one day together. I love the quotes from the movie, the premise of being young and stupid and carefree, the artsy shots around Vienna, the fortune teller, the street poet, the bartender, the cemetery… I’d like to go to Vienna and do my Before Sunrise tour. There’s a sequel to this movie, Before Sunset, but if I have to choose, Before Sunrise is a lot better, and stronger.
6. Like Crazy
Jacob and Anna need to struggle with their long-distance relationship that spans between US and UK. But as it turns out, maybe it’s not really about the long-distance relationship at the first place. Maybe it’s just about the relationship itself. I love the fact that the movie feels real, instead of just plain romantic or pretty. I love the characters’ mean words as they are fighting with each other. I love the silly thoughts Anna has. I love the matter-of-factly way of Jacob. I like it because this is what happens in real life. Sometimes, love sucks.
It was 4 AM when you found yourself awoken to the sound of thunder and the pouring rain outside. You pulled your blanket closer, tighter; the dark clouds were looming over your bed as you fixed your gaze onto the white-painted ceiling. You scratched the back of your right leg with your left toes and you remembered the days when things were not as silent: when there were other sounds but rain and emptiness. That breezy summer-like desire that was so intense you could feel its passion over the distance. You grazed your fingers following the floral pattern of the unused pillow next to you–listening to the zip zip zip sound as your nails traced the lonely lines. It was so darn cold, so you turned to your left, reaching for the aircon’s remote control only to notice that you didn’t turned it on last night. You closed your eyes again but the weight of your feelings made you decided to tiptoe to the kitchen for a cup of hot chocolate instead. In the dark, you fell for the faint hum of the refrigerator which you found comforting for some reason, and you sat there on the cold floor, resting your back against the warm refrigerator door, watching the raindrops fell into the little stone-garden next to the kitchen. As you sipped the hot chocolate from the small red mug, you realized that all you wanted was just to show how much affection you had inside of you; but it wasn’t as easy as you thought it would be, not now, not after what had happened. Something was welling up inside of you as you came to this point: you wanted to let things go, but you realized that you were not ready. You were not ready to give up. You had given up many times, but this time, you didn’t want to be that someone who walked away too easily. You wanted to know how it would feel to stay when you were being pushed away. You wanted to be loved for who you are, not what you can be. You should have said them all a long time ago instead of holding things back. You were thinking where you would be at the moment if only you had. Nothing seemed to be going right. There were too many misunderstandings that all you could do was laughed it all off even though you blamed yourself for the fact that they kept happening. You watched the shadows on the wall, the way they stood there in the border between existence and non-existence, and you tried to understand which was real and which was not. But it was too complicated at times. The only thing you wanted was for things to be okay; but they were not and you just had to deal with it. It was just too much and too overwhelming for you to handle. But no, you would not break down and cry. Not this time. So you chased away your tears and shut down your mind, and for a moment, there was silence all over, as if everything stopped moving for a while; but then your heart started singing. It sounded like Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, and you hummed along until the call for morning prayers broke in the gloomy sky.
I won’t give up on us / Even if the skies get rough / I’m giving you all my love / I’m still looking up / And when you’re needing your space / To do some navigating / I’ll be here patiently waiting / To see what you find… [I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz]
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to a pair of wonderful eyes that you have: not because they are light brown or protected by such gorgeous eyelashes or stuff like that, but because whenever they looked at me, gently, I could see my reflections there; smiling back at me, and it made me feel so loved.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your nose: sometimes, it brushed my cheek when you were about to bury your face on my neck late in the evening, after a tiring day–and it made me feel so comfortable, knowing that you were near.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your shoulders: not because they are broad or whatever, but because you would bring my head to your left shoulder when we talked, so I could just lie there comfortably and sniff the familiar smell of your perfume. It made me feel so warm—listening to you, having someone to share my fears and dreams with.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your chest: not because it’s wide and muscular, but because when I got sad or angry, you would hug me tight and I would find my face—damped with tears, resting on your chest, sobbing there until your shirt got wet, until I was able to breathe again. It made me feel like… around you, I was allowed to be sad. That it was alright to be sad every once in a while.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your lips: they kissed me silently on the bus when nobody was looking, they voiced some intellectually-stimulating topics we could argue upon, they read the hand-written poems you scribbled for me out loud, they uttered stupid jokes that made me laugh, and they said simple things like thank-you or you’re-amazing; or other sweet things so casually in front of your friends, as if I wasn’t there. It made me feel like the happiest girl on earth.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your hands: when you held mine in yours as we walked, when you brushed my hair or my cheek mindlessly as you typed on your laptop or made a phone call, when you grabbed my waist and lifted me up a few centimeters above the ground as we danced. Those were the times when you made me feel tall.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your feet: not because they are strong and athletic, but because they had walked miles and miles away to find me, and walked towards me again, and again, and again. Those were the times when I felt wanted, when I felt like this time, someone was actually making an effort.
When I called you handsome, I was actually seeing something beyond the way you look. I was referring to your back: because I had spent so many times staring at it as you slept, grazed my fingers along your spine to convince myself that you were real, and even at the time it turned away from me and disappeared under the drizzle one day as you bade farewell, it left traces of memories from the days I cherished, and it made me feel blessed for once in my life, I had known someone like you.
Seven months and a week after my 29th birthday, I turned 29. It happened yesterday. A Sunday. I was sitting at the dining table with a bag full of chocolate, a great book on love and heartbreak and poets and writers, stacks of hand-written drafts, and a cup of hot tea. I could see the raindrops from where I sat and sniffed the comforting smell of wet soil that was wafting in the air. And suddenly, it felt like whatever I had experienced in life started to make sense.
Maybe we don’t have to understand everything (that can be really frustrating at times). All we need to do is to believe that time is indeed a good friend. Time will tell us what each missing pieces in our lives means—when we are ready to learn another lesson, when we are ready to move on, when we are ready to know the truth (because you can’t change the truth, but the truth can change you, so they say).
And just like that, I turned 29.
And I am still here: counting my blessings; and feeling solemnly content.
Before Christmas, I taught myself how to make truffles. Though it was still a bit tricky for me to make them look good, I had to say that I was happy with my first attempt. So here we go:
- 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (high quality, around 80% cocoa), chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup of whipping cream
- 1-2 tablespoon(s) of Baileys Irish Cream
- Cocoa powder
- In a small pan, bring the whipping cream to simmer
- Pour the Baileys Irish Cream, stir it in with the cream
- Place the chopped chocolate in a separate bowl and pour the cream over it
- Stir until smooth (ganache)
- Allow to cool, then place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours
- Roll out balls of the ganache with a teaspoon and place them on a baking sheet
- Refrigerate overnight
- Once it gets harder, roll in cocoa powder
Ours is a bumpy road. Wait. No. Rewind. To be brutally honest, let me put it this way: mine is a bumpy road. Yes. Mine, and mine alone.
Because one day, “we” disappeared in front of a small alley in a small island, the two characters, W and E, being washed out by the drizzle. Suddenly, everything became discolored. Reasons were no longer exist. Things were losing meanings. Words were breaking into pieces. I lost my sense of being. And it was just like that; as simple as something that disappeared in silence one afternoon under the cloudy sky; just like all things temporary. But that’s the rule of life as we know it: everything will come to its end. It’s just a matter of how, and how long. And maybe, subconsciously, that’s what we’re doing: we’re all just waiting for something to end.
One day, when “we” disappeared, I found myself—and my heart (that had been broken many times but always refused to give up) embracing that familiar pang of sadness: of having to let go. No matter how often you experience such thing, surprisingly, one is never immune to such pain. Of course you know that you’ll be fine again—because your experiences have taught you so (been there, done that)—but still, you find it very tiring to begin again. I will definitely find it very tiring to begin again. And maybe, I won’t. Not now. Not so soon.
I know we love to begin something new (maybe this is the reason why we celebrate New Year with parties and drinks and fireworks and all things cheerful), but most of the times, we forget the art of loving an ending: to appreciate what we have got and what we have lost, to celebrate the memories and the traces of “us” that once were, to romance the things that stayed with us—that sooner or later will become us.
One day, when “we” disappeared, you told me that in the end, all that we’re going to remember is the beautiful things we’ve experienced, the beautiful places we’ve seen, the beautiful memories we’ve shared, the beautiful moments we’ve seized. I told you that it’s true, because one can always find simple happiness in everything—no matter how small; even in an ending.
And so, that one day, when “we” disappeared, I knew that we’d find each other again. When we’re ready. When the time is right. And when the time comes, it’s going to be just me and you—no such thing as “we”—because in the end, I have left something in you and you have left something in me. And even when “we” disappeared, those things we’ve left behind with each other would remain to be a part of us. And isn’t that such a relief? To know that there is something eternal even in the most temporary things, that there is something precious even in the saddest of endings. And such knowledge, to me, is more than enough.
Happy New Year 2013 and Happy Old 2012!
*) inspired by the title of Astrid Reza’s posting, “If Tomorrow We Disappear”.
I spent another week in Bali this October. The actual plan was to meet up with Adit and Ney for our #PecahdiUbud routine at Ubud International Writers & Readers Festival; but I intentionally came a few days earlier, wanting to savor Bali by myself. No wild parties, no shopping spree. I spent those days to walk around aimlessly in shorts, sleeveless top and flip-flops: eating out, having cocktails or coffee, writing, reading, and daydreaming.
And these are some of the places where I had been hiding, alone:
Cocoon Beach Club, Jl. Double Six no. 66, Blue Ocean Boulevard, Legian.
Just come early in the morning (while it’s still empty) for breakfast, plunge into the swimming pool every once and a while, and then spend the rest of your time sunbathing while reading some good books.
Gusto Gelato & Caffè, 67 B Jalan Umalas 2, Kerobokan, Seminyak
A tiny gem in Kerobokan! Located inside a small road, these gelato shop is offering the most delicious gelato I’ve ever tasted so far. And it’s cheap, too! For USD$2 or around IDR 20,000, you could have one luscious cup of gelato; and the portion is generous! Don’t forget to try the chocolate chili. Amazingly hot and spicy!
Kunyit Bali, Jalan Kartika Plaza, Kuta.
Craving for some Balinese food? Stop by at Kunyit Bali. Lovely place, good food (the crispy duck is amazingly delicious), friendly staff, cozy ambience.
Nammos Beach Club, Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan.
Located inside the luxurious Karma Kandara resort, you need to pay USD$35 to ride an elevator down to Nammos Beach Club (the elevator ride is free for the resorts’ guests). From that particular amount, the USD$25 can be spent later on, at the beach bar, to order some food and drinks. Though it’s quite expensive, I just love the beach club. I love the service. I love the fact that you can just leave all your belongings if you’d like to go for a swim—because the staff will look after it (very important when you’re traveling alone). I love it that they have a drink called Hemingway Daiquiri.
JuMaNa Bar, Banyan Tree Ungasan, Jl. Melasti, Banjar Kelod, Ungasan.
They said you need to have a reservation first for dinner. I came at around 4:30, saying that I just wanted to chill at the bar, and then a golf cart came to take me down from the lobby of Banyan Tree hotel to JuMaNa Bar. I sat outside, sipping their signature cocktail JuMaNa Royal (champagne flavoured with yuzu essence and Moroccan rose petal water) that tastes as ‘royal’ as its price, waiting for the sun to set.
Corner Store, Jln. Laksmana 10A, Seminyak
Lovely place serving healthy meals; perfect for brunch or coffee-time in the afternoon. I fall in love with the smoked salmon bagel.
Blue Point, Uluwatu.
When some friends from abroad came to Bali, I always take them to Blue Point, Uluwatu. Nothing much to do but to chill while drinking soft drinks or beers, looking at the surfers riding the waves, and telling stories while enjoying the sea breeze. Alone at Blue Point? I’ll just sit there and write for hours.