For the Greater Good

I am currently standing on the most unclear, ambiguous, indecisive period of my life (so far).

I’ve always been hopping from school to school, university to company, without this long “unemployed” period between. Ha, but I guess this was something I asked for. When I can stay free and think about what I really wanna do in my life. So I should be grateful for this chance, actually *sigh*

Somehow I know what I really want. And I guess Universe has sent strong signal to me that I’m gonna succeed at this. It’s just, probably, I’m not prepared yet to do any significant sacrifice to take this decision firmly. I’m just not ready for the opportunity cost I have to spend. I’m just too greedy to choose one—and keep wanting for all instead.

Sometimes I just wanna scream loudly to myself: where did your brave soul go? Where did your unbreakable spirit disappear? Since when you become so cautious, so fragile and so worry?

Probably because I’m about to be twenty-five and this whole quarter-life crisis kinda hold me up.

On previous weekend I went to Glasgow for attending Palapa Project, an exhibition of Indonesian creative products. My team wasn’t actually selected as finalists, but I’m so proud of all the exhibited products. All of them were created by students in cooperation with local SMEs, with simple-yet-stunning design…and they deserve a spotlight!

I didn’t participate in the exhibition…but I sold some handmade crafts of Pelangi Nusantara 🙂 It wasn’t huge sales, but it made me happy when the non-Indonesian people turned their head on our products and praise them genuinely. Especially that I knew personally the women’s hands that created these stuffs…And when I told them about this they become very happy too, so it’s double happiness! 😉

After that I updated my shop on Etsy. But yeah…selling online needs continuous marketing and SEO effort too before it pays you. I didn’t put quite much effort on marketing my Etsy shop; my mind was pulled by another petty problem—like how I’m gonna survive living in UK for the next 3 months.

So I guess, I have to take firm decision on this. Because no decision is made over no sacrifice. And as Dumbledore said, it has to be done for the greater good…and perhaps, for a bigger dream.

Those Soil Marks on Your Food…

Those Soil Marks on Your Food…

Have you ever seen the real crop of Brussel sprouts? Do you know that many variants of apple actually come from one single ‘mother-plant’? Do you know that you should cover strawberry beds with—literally—straws?

I would probably never know about those facts if I didn’t join Green Lancaster activities. First time I heard about it, I thought it was kind of “environmentalist army” aimed at planting as many trees as possible in Lancaster campus area. Well, that isn’t completely wrong, but actually this project is focused more on food crops. Yeah, it tries to show you how you can produce your own food in the name of “food sustainability”.

During the action days in Eco-Hub every Wednesday and Friday, I got valuable hands-on experience on how to grow many varieties of fruits and vegetables. I joined some delightful volunteering activities like pumpkin carving in Halloween and selling vegetables in market stall. I also participated in Student Eats Conference by National Union of Students (NUS) with fellow students around UK. This year with Green Lancaster has been such an amazing experience for me 🙂

Green Lancaster farmer's market stall at Alexandra Square, Lancaster UniversityGreen Lancaster farmer’s market stall at Alexandra Square, Lancaster University

The Green Lancaster staff members have been doing incredible work in promoting food sustainability over campus. They arranged many promotional activities throughout the year in the hope of getting more students attention to Eco-Hub and Edible Campus project. But yes, campaign about food sustainability isn’t something easy to do.

Some questions arise, like, why do you need to grow your own food? Aren’t Tesco and Sainsbury’s more than enough to feed you? Why should you buy that so-called “sustainable food” with even more expensive price?

The reason seems crystal clear for people who have been ‘enlightened’ by environmental awareness. Sustainable food means that your food, in the process of production and delivery chain, do not harm overall environmental and societal well-being. The crops farming method should not spoil natural ecosystem. The famers should be paid with fair wages. The delivery should leave as little ‘carbon footprint’ as possible. Therefore, if you’re growing your own food, or buy food which is locally sourced, it means that you’re reducing the distance that the food has travelled to reach your plate, thus lessen the ‘carbon cost’ paid to environment.

However, for common people who have yet to hear about ‘food sustainability’, what is the incentive of painstakingly growing crops with your own hand? Or allocating significantly higher budget to buy local-organic food?

Growing your own food may take considerably more resources and energy (not with Green Lancaster though. They provide everything, you can just plant and harvest for free. That’s why you should join it! 😉 ) Buying local British food, strangely, can cost you more than imported ones in supermarket. These facts even lessen the incentive of starting sustainable diet.

Last week, I tried to buy sustainable food from Lancaster “The Food Assembly”. This scheme allows you to order food online from nearby food producers and then collect it every Wednesday evening in White Cross pub, where you can also directly meet the local farmers. The price was significantly more expensive, but it’s worth it. I ordered 500 g new potatoes (£1.60), 200 g spinach (£1.40), and 300 g kohlrabi (£1.00). The potatoes came in a plastic bag, covered with soil marks as if it was just harvested. The spinach was so fresh and tasted so good, as well as the kohlrabi. Overall I’m satisfied with the food quality; however, still I will not become a regular buyer there. I mean, for a student, the price difference compared to normal supermarket is considerably high. Looking from pragmatic glasses, people would rather buy 2 kg white potatoes in Spar with only £1 than 0,5 kg potatoes sourced from local farmers in Pilling which costs £1.60.

Sustainable vegetables from The Food AssemblySustainable vegetables from The Food Assembly

The funny thing is, I guess it is easier to apply ‘sustainable food’ concept back home in Indonesia rather than in UK. First, the local food is considerably cheaper than imported food in supermarket. It has no fancy packaging, sometimes with marks of soil, locally grown, fresh and cheap. While food in supermarket, it might be imported from some faraway places, comes with fancy packaging, perfectly clean without soil marks, and expensive. Seems like the less soil marks it has (like the one in potatoes or carrots), the more expensive the vegetables would be. On the contrary, here in UK, the more soil marks it has, the more expensive it would be (as in my case of potatoes from Pilling farmers). Seems that soil marks represent two different things; in Indonesia it shows dirtiness and lack of quality improvement, while in UK it represents freshness and sustainability 🙂

However, I think nothing beats the joy of eating food that comes from familiar land (like your own backyard) and familiar hands (like your own). It assures your peace of mind and the sense of ‘work with your own hand’. Every time I harvested some veggies from Eco-Hub, then directly cook it at home, I feel like I’ve eaten something really pure, healthy, given by mother nature, with my personal touch in it (well, that’s a bit exaggerating but I can’t help this feeling :’))

In the end, of course not everyone was born to be a (good) farmer. However, Green Lancaster’s Eco-Hub and its Edible Campus project, I think, provides great opportunity for students to have their own backyard and grow some valuable things out of it. Get your hands dirty to purify your food!

p.s. kohlrabi is a German turnip-cabbage and it’s one of the best veggies I’ve ever tasted 😉

Tentang Cita-cita

Cita-cita

Cita-cita

Apa cita-citamu?

Sampai di sini saya sadar, kuliah di luar negeri bukanlah cita-cita. Ia hanya sekedar alat untuk mencapai cita-cita yang lebih tinggi. Mau apa kamu setelah kuliah? Mau dipakai apa ilmu yang sudah jauh2 dikejar ke seberang benua? Itulah pertanyaan yang jauh lebih penting.

Tiba2 saya teringat sebuah cerita, entah di mana saya pernah membacanya. Ada seorang wartawan yang sangat mengidolakan tokoh tertentu. Tujuan dia menjadi wartawan salah satunya untuk mewawancarai tokoh tersebut. Suatu ketika akhirnya dia diminta untuk mewawancarai tokoh idolanya itu. Saking takjubnya, dia sampai tidak bisa bicara, dan akhirnya laporan wawancara penting itu gagal lah…

Di kelas saya saat ini, kebetulan semua siswanya adalah international students, tapi tampaknya hanya saya yang (tidak bisa) kuliah (jika tidak) dibiayai beasiswa. Sisanya biaya sendiri. Ya, betul. Mayoritas teman sekelas saya bisa dibilang “anak orang kaya” yang di kampung halaman mereka orangtuanya rata2 pengusaha terpandang. Bagi mereka, pergi keluar negeri bukanlah mimpi. Anggota keluarga mereka banyak yang juga kuliah di Eropa/Amerika. Bagi mereka jalan2 ke luar negeri sudah jadi ritual liburan. Mudah saja untuk beli tiket pesawat pulang, atau mengajak orangtua menghadiri wisuda di sini.

Sampai di sini saya sadar, saya mau seperti itu. Saya nggak mau menjadikan “jalan2 keluar negeri” sebagai mimpi. Saya mau itu jadi suatu hal yang tidak mustahil dilakukan. Di masa depan, saya mau menganggap, pergi keluar negeri bukan hal luar biasa. Nggak perlu nunggu beasiswa, nggak perlu cari sponsor. Jalan2 keluar negeri bisa dilakukan dengan uang sendiri jika memang ada perlu. Saya nggak mau pergi keluar negeri adalah suatu “hal sakral” yang harus dihebohkan. Saya nggak mau hal itu membutakan tujuan hidup yang lebih besar.

Iya, saat berkeluarga nanti, saya mau anak saya nggak perlu susah2 cari sponsor untuk bisa keluar negeri. Orangtuanya bisa membiayai dia, bisa mengantarkan dia, dan dia nggak perlu kelihatan “katrok”. Dia akan terbiasa berinteraksi dengan orang2 dari berbagai negara. Saya mau dia punya mimpi yang jauh lebih besar, bukan sekadar “pergi keluar negeri”. Saya mau dia terlahir dengan strata sosial lebih tinggi dari saya, sehingga dia bisa melakukan hal-hal yang jauh lebih mengagumkan.

Cita-cita seseorang, sangat ditentukan oleh lingkungan tempatnya dibesarkan. Memang mustahil jika pungguk merindukan bulan. Tapi bukan mustahil kan seorang astronot pergi ke bulan? Anak-anakku akan jadi astronot, dan mimpinya adalah menjelajahi seluruh antariksa, bukan sekedar pergi ke bulan.

 

Lancaster, 26 Mei 2015, menjelang tengah malam

Feminine, Feminist, and Things Between

Feminine, Feminist, and Things Between

Few weeks ago, a renowned multinational company visited Lancaster University for a talk show. They ran a session titled „Women in Business and Technology“, which was delivered by a female staff of IT division in the company. Out of curiosity, I attended the talkshow in the hope of getting more insight about this interesting topic.

The presenter opened her speech with a ‘TED talk’ video from Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and  former Vice President of Google. Sandberg is a well-known example of succesful female leader in male-dominated technology business, and yes, her TED talk was truly inspiring. There were some thought-provoking, self-reflecting bits in her speech that will make professional career women feel like, “me too!”

According to Sandberg, the biggest obstacle in women’s career advancement is actually their ownselves, not society. It is their own perception, their personal attitude, that pull them back from ‘climbing to the top’. Well I won’t talk much about Sandberg’s idea here (you can read her fenomenal book: “Lean In”), instead I want to highlight Sandberg’s portrayal as a woman that can “have both”: succesful family and career.

Sandberg, in my opinion, doesn’t respresent an image of ‘dominant-masculine woman’ one might associate when talking about female leaders. The way she talked and behaved (in her speech and interviews) look surprisingly feminine. I don’t know her daily routine as Facebook big boss of course, but looking into fact that she’s happily married with two children and still manage to reach the top of corporate ladder—that was incredibly outstanding achievement.

Sheryl Sandberg Time cover

Sheryl Sandberg Time cover

I have always admired those highly-achieved women who never forget their womanly nature. For me they are truly feminists: proponents of feminism that doesn’t neglect their femininity. These two terms, eventhough they are derived from the same root, seem to have been contrastly associated in the past decades.

Feminism initially emerged as an effort to bring women into equality with men. However, on its way it turned out to be something that try to change women into the exact-same creature as men. This so-called ‘third-wave feminism’, for instance, has been gone too far by trying to re-define gender role and promote queer theory. Perhaps this is what Soekarno, Indonesian founding father, stated as ‘excessive feminism’. Here is the quote from his book about women and feminism, Sarinah (1963).

“Lagipula, tidakkah kita melihat ekses (kelewat batasan) pergerakan feminisme di Eropa itu, yang mau menyamaratakan saja perempuan dengan laki-laki, dengan tak mengingati lagi, bahwa kodrat perempuan memang tidak sama dengan kodrat laki-laki? Maksud feminisme yang mula-mula baik, yakni persamaan hak antara perempuan dan laki-laki, maksud baik itu dilewati batasannya dengan mencari persamaan segala hal dengan kaum laki-laki: persamaan tingkah laku, persamaan cara hidup, persamaan bentuk pakaian, dan lain sebagainya. Kodrat perempuan diperkosa, dipaksa, disuruh menjadi sama dengan kodrat laki-laki.”

“Moreover, didn’t we see an excess in European feminist movement—that wanted to generalise women with men, without ever considering that women’s nature is indeed different with men’s? The initial decent purpose of feminism, which is equality of right between men and women, was being excessed by trying to emulate men: in behaviour, way of life, dressing, and so on. Women’s inherent nature is raped, forced, and demanded to be exactly the same with men.” (Soekarno, 1963)

In line with Soekarno’s argument, actually this wave of ‘excessive feminism’ is somewhat counterproductive. I mean, if to be a feminist you have to abandon all those femininity—then isn’t it the same with acknowledging that masculinity is way more superior? That femininity equals weakness? That to be regarded as ‘capable’ human being you must embrace manly behaviours?

Radical feminists act as if they feel so ashamed to be born as a woman, that they want to get rid all those feminine features and achieve full gender neutrality. Sorry, radical feminists. I’m not ashamed of being a woman. I’m proud that I have this tiny curvy figure, that I have privilege from God to give birth to a human’s soul, that I have this extra emotion and empathy, that I’m a complete female creature with all its plus and minus.

During two terms study in Lancaster University I have met many amazing professional-business women through various seminars, projects and interviews. Among them are female manager of top beverage company in UK, a mother and daughter who started their own online business, a pair of sisters that owned their woodcraft company—they are all great women entrepreneurs and I’m pretty sure they never feel the need of eliminating their femininity to reach those achievements.

Well, I know somehow it’s easier to be said than to be done. Gender bias in professional environment does still exist, especially in third-world countries like Indonesia. When I worked in electronic company and participated in trade shows, somehow the clients tend to be more convinced by my male colleague eventhough I knew and explained the product better (probably because it’s an electronic product that tend to be ’male-stuff’).

Even in developed countries, ‘glass-ceiling’ phenomenon still can be found. However, as Sandberg said, we should keep leaning in. And again, that doesn’t necessarily mean neglecting all of our feminine responsibility. We can, still, be a dedicated female leader in any area we choose without losing that ‘woman touch’.

You do not need to compromise your femininity in order to be a feminist. To be a strong and independent woman you don’t need to look or act manly, throw cursing words, smoke or drink, avoid cooking for your family, refuse to have a baby—even you don’t have to be a career-working woman if you don’t want to. Embrace your femininity. Celebrate it. For it is a precious gift from God. For it is a quality you don’t need to feel ashamed of. For being equal doesn’t necessarily mean to be exactly the same.

God created everything in pair. Day and night. Hot and cold. Land and sea. Yin and yang. Masculinity and femininity. They are different, yet they are equal, and they complement each other. Isn’t that beautiful?

I am proud that I’m a woman, that I’m different from man, and that it doesn’t make me any less than man.

Lancaster, 27 March 2015.

Originally written for PPI UK column ‘Dare to Dream, care to Share’. Article can be seen here: http://ppiuk.org/feminine-feminist-and-things-between/

Cerita dalam Kuali

Cerita dalam Kuali

Sejak tinggal di UK, saya jadi (terpaksa) belajar memasak. Bukan apa-apa, harga makanan di warung a.k.a. restoran lokal luarrrrr biasa mahalnya. Zaman masih ngantor di Surabaya, pulang kerja kalau lapar langsung ke warung Padang beli nasi rendang cuma Rp 10,000. Sekarang? Pulang kuliah kalau lapar ya masak dulu, atau minimal menghangatkan masakan yang sudah dimasak (beberapa hari) sebelumnya. Makan di warung kampus yang murah saja sudah kena Rp 60,000, apalagi di resto di kota bisa sampai Rp 200,000 sekali makan. Duit segitu kalau dibuat belanja groceries di supermarket dan dimasak sendiri bisa buat makan seminggu. Jauh lebih ngirit kan?

Lagipula, makanan di sini tentunya kurang cocok dengan lidah Indonesia. Kadang saya kasihan sama orang Inggris. Masakan mereka “sepo”, cuma bumbu garam dan cuka. Kalau mereka nggak menjajah Asia, mungkin mereka gak akan kenal sama yang namanya pepper (lada), nutmeg (pala), cloves (cengkih), coriander (ketumbar), cinnamon (kayu manis), cumin (jinten), star anise (bunga lawang), ginger (jahe), galingale (lengkuas), turmeric (kunyit), kaffir lime leaves (daun jeruk), bay leaves (daun salam), lemongrass (serai), dan sederet rempah-rempah eksotis lainnya. Nggak kebayang gimana rasanya cuma makan fish and chips dan fried chicken tawar tiap hari. Mestinya mereka berterima kasih sama orang Asia…

Tapi…saya nggak pernah menyesal harus belajar memasak. Malahan, saya menemukan kesenangan tersendiri di kala meracik bumbu dan mencampur adukkan berbagai bahan masakan di atas kompor. Ya, entah bagaimana memasak menjadi sebuah tantangan yang mengasyikkan 😀 Teori awal tentunya didapat dari resep kilat di internet, tapi eksperimen pribadi lah yang membuat memasak jadi seru dan menantang. Bagaimana rasanya jika kamu mencampur rempah A dengan rempah B? Bagaimana hasilnya jika bahan X dimasukkan setelah bahan Y dan bukannya sebaliknya? Bagaimana caranya supaya daging lebih empuk dan bumbu lebih meresap? Pertanyaan2 itu kadang nggak cukup dijawab dalam sekali ujicoba. Butuh berkali-kali mencoba resep yang sama sampai kita paham komposisi dan cara memasak terbaik.

Cerita dalam Kuali

Cerita dalam Kuali

Dan akhirnya…saya pun mencoba mengingat-ingat rasa masakan ibu di rumah. Capcay buatan ibu. Semur buatan ibu. Rendang buatan ibu. Memori rasa di lidah itu menjadi patokan saat sedang meracik bumbu2 di atas kuali. Tidak jarang saya termenung lama di depan kompor, mengamati kuali di atas api yang menyala kecil, memandangi botol2 rempah di rak dapur sambil menimbang2 bumbu apalagi yang harus saya tambahkan supaya masakan ini jadi pas sesuai memori lidah saya. Dan ketika campur aduk bumbu setengah random ternyata menghasilkan sesuatu yang menggembirakan lidah, puasssss sekali rasanya 🙂

Ketika belanja groceries di supermarket (atau di pasar) pun, ada kesenangan baru yang saya dapat. Supermarket Inggris mungkin adalah salah satu cara instan untuk mempelajari aneka kuliner dunia. Berbagai macam bahan masakan, ala Inggris ala Italia ala India ala China, buah dan sayur yang belum pernah saya lihat, segala jenis spices and herbs, makanan segar, kalengan, dan beku, semua seperti menunggu giliran untuk dicoba. Saya (sangat) suka pergi belanja ke supermarket. Saya bisa menghabiskan berjam-jam hanya untuk mengamati satu per satu kemasan makanan, membaca komposisinya, kegunaannya, sambil mereka-reka masakan apa yang bisa dibuat dengan bahan ini (atau langsung buka hape dan googling resep). Seperti orang ndeso yang belum pernah masuk hypermart…

Baru saya sadar, seni kuliner itu luar biasa. Kelihatannya sepele, tapi ada filosofi di baliknya. Di dalam kuali, British beef bisa bertemu dengan serai yang diimpor dari Thailand, jinten dari India, cabai dari Brazil…dan jadi sebuah masakan yang mempesona. Setiap bahan makanan itu telah menempuh perjalanan panjang untuk bisa sampai di rak supermarket, sampai takdir membawa mereka bersatu dalam periuk yang membara (aduh). Boleh jadi, dalam masakan tradisional pun terkandung sejarah dan budaya masyarakat setempat. Dalam British fish and chips, makanan kelas pekerja rakyat Inggris, ada sejarah tentang maraknya pukat ikan di laut utara dan pembangunan rel kereta Britania di abad ke-19. Dalam rendang Padang, ada upaya masyarakat tradisional untuk mengawetkan daging di daerah tropis. Dalam berpuluh-puluh jenis pasta ada jiwa makanan pokok orang Italia.

Setiap masakan punya cerita. Dan cerita itu menyeruak dari dalam kuali, merasuk ke dalam hidung hingga meresap ke dalam hati…

7 Nostalgic Websites that Bring Back your Teenage Memories

7 Nostalgic Websites that Bring Back your Teenage Memories

Time flies, so does technology. From the era of Netscape until Chrome, from mIRC until WhatsApp, internet does drastically evolve. Ten years ago we can still find many choices for the same service provided on Internet. However, it’s undeniable that most of Internet service we find now are provided and owned by these two companies: Google and Facebook.

It’s actually unbelievable how Google and Facebook domination has changed the way we use internet. They become such huge empires that control everything you do on Internet. When I was thirteen I searched on Yahoo!, Lycos, MSN, Altavista; had my e-mail on Yahoo! Mail and Plasa; had my blog on Geocities; had Internet Explorer as web browser, had mIRC or Yahoo! Messenger to chat; I had different choices for different purpose. But now? You have Android in a grab of your hand and all you do is basically through Google. Search on Google, e-mail on Gmail, blog on Blogspot (well I use WordPress anyway), browse on Chrome, chat on Hangout, all the possible way you can do on Internet has already served by Google. You may have several social media accounts, but the main one is mostly Facebook. You mentioned WhatsApp and Instagram? Well those two are also owned by Facebook.

The two Internet superpowers

The two Internet superpowers

Now let’s just go back and recall that time in early 2000’s, where Internet was still pretty much free market without dominant players. Well, this post title might only applies for you who were born around 1990s (since I don’t know whether you’re teenageers at the time these following websites became huge trend), but anyway let’s have a break and get on the time machine for a while!

1. FRIENDSTER

This website is legend. When you hear about Friendster, somehow you recall that tragic story of first-mover market leader that ended up drowning in the bottom of internet swamp. Pathetic. Try to open your old Friendster profile page now and here is what you’ll get:

Voila!

Voila! My Friendster profile now.

Nevertheless, this website was once a huge phenomenon. Around 2002 – 2007, when the term ‘social media’ hasn’t even been coined, Friendster managed to be one of the biggest influential social networking site (aside of MySpace) before Facebook domination. I remember when friends are giving “testimonial” to each other on their Friendster’s profile (the more you get the more popular you are), changing profile layout with colorful-dazzling background, and of course, see who’s stalking you.

One of Friendster’s distinct feature (compared to Facebook) is “Who’s Viewed My Profile”, that allowed you to see those ‘stalkers’–then maybe send back message to them. When Facebook emerged, many people regretted that it doesn’t have this feature, but I think that’s why Facebook doesn’t use it: to allow people stalking even more frequently without any hesitation >> the profile owner won’t caught you anyway 😛

Now Friendster has completely shut down its social networking sevice, and change to be social gaming platform instead. However it’s still quite succesful. And here’s a picture just to bring back the old time to you.

friendster

Old Friendster profile page

 

2. YAHOO! MAIL

When being asked about your first e-mail address, almost likely you will answer Yahoo! as the domain. Well some people had Hotmail as their first mail, but Yahoo! was just the most popular one back then. My very first ID was made at the first year of junior high school, ngesot_ayu_300601@yahoo.com, such a silly username with silly meaning^^”. Then I had new one with more “reasonable” combination–but still childish anyway, hogpiece_roxbeat@yahoo.com that still even exist until now (never check it though).

At that time, when Internet was still expensive privilege, only few people can afford to access internet at home (even they rarely use it since the rate was so damn high). These kind of friends were usually more “technological-savvy” and even had their first e-mail since elementary school. Other average people like me can only access Internet from “warnet” (warung internet a.k.a. internet shop), where you pay hourly rate to rent a computer with Internet access–sometimes a very slowwwwwwwww one.

Okay back to Yahoo! Mail. At that time, due to Internet scarcity (and sluggishness), for me when this ‘scenery’ finally appeared on my screen I felt soooooo happy and relieved:

Yahoo! Mail classic inbox

Yahoo! Mail classic inbox (you can’t believe sometimes it may took forever to get on this screen)

Well what did this e-mail do for junior high school kids? Think now I just wanna laugh recalling those stupid, silly, random things we did with e-mail 😛 Most of us used it for flirting of course (at that time Friendster was not yet happening), approaching your crush(es) while you have no courage to do so in real life. Sometimes it can also lead to more absurd things–like threatening your rival. I remember the one called herself Stephanie Wilcox that kept terroring me by e-mail, telling me to stay away from X (a guy in my class). I had no idea what she talked about since I hate this guy so much that I don’t understand why she should be jealous to me. Few years later I revealed that this guy was actually the one who spammed my inbox with romantic (weird) poems. Until now I still can’t reveal who is the real Stephanie Wilcox (though I had one strong suspect), but anyway now that I think about it again, it’s just such a silly teenagers drama 😛

3. YAHOO!, LYCOS, MSN, ALTAVISTA

…and other search engines before Google domination. I remember everytime I searched for school assignment on Internet, one search engine never enough. Yahoo! would be the first I opened, but then if I couldn’t find what I want, then I’ll open Lycos, MSN, and Altavista simultaneously. Now? You simply just “googling” and it’s enough. Other search engines are dead. I couldn’t really recall how we could suddenly switch to Google–it was like a fast dream–when I wake up I already have that colorful Google logo on my screen. I never use Yahoo! and blah blah again since then. I wonder how Sergey Brin had hypnotised us…

altavista msn

Old-school search engines

Old-school search engines

However I think some of Google services like Google Adsense, Google Adwords, etc contributed to its raising popularity. Not so long after that, the term “Search Engine Optimization” started to gain attention. Initially most of SEO service providers had different package for Google SEO and Yahoo! SEO, but now I think SEO will automatically means “how to make your website easily googled”.

4. PLASA

This is just another e-mail provider, but local one (Indonesia only). I think now they completely delete their e-mail service, since I can’t access my inbox anymore. At that time many of us had two e-mail accounts (on Yahoo! and Plasa). My ID was mbambongmon_36@plasa.com (another ‘absurd’ name). Again, e-mail was only something for fun. It was way of sharing information like funny pictures, e-cards, humorous post, etc with school friends. Sometimes it was also the way of telling someone about something that you can’t tell in real life.

Many of my friends who’d later be a couple (or almost couple) were also doing their initial flirting through e-mail (aside of home telephone). In later school reunion, some friends confessed that they actually had intense e-mail conversations with certain guy/girl, that either we never expected before, or we did have a clue that there’s something between them. Oh well it’s just so funny to recall those teenagers flirting moments 🙂

Nah here’s a screenshot from Plasa inbox just to bring back your memories.

Plasa inbox--that nostalgic green layout :)

Plasa inbox–that nostalgic green layout 🙂

5. mIRC

It wasn’t really a website, but chat room desktop application that was once widely popular. Most of ‘internet shop’ provided the shortcut on Desktop so you can easily connect with those random people in chat room. The appearance was not even actually user-friendly, but I don’t know why at that time it was very popular. If you’re tired of crowded conversations in the main chat room then you can just pick one random ID on the right side to chat privately. The conversation usually began with:

“Hi, asl pls” (asl = age sex location)

And my typical answer would be “15 f mlg” (I marked up my age…)

mirc

As far as I remember, mIRC let you log in with different ID (unlike Yahoo! Messenger) so you will not be able to chat with the same person again the next time you login, unless he/she maintain the same ID. Many people exhanged e-mail address so they can keep contact. It was really random people you met, a bit freaky and nasty sometimes, so we mostly used it only out of curiosity and stopped using it after a while.

6. 123GREETINGS

I loved this website! They provide huge variety of electronic cards that you can customize and send to your friends in many special occasions. Even until now this website still exists. At that time sending e-cards became a trend among my friends (even without any special occasion, sometimes just for prank). We used to use Yahoo! Greetings but then found that 123Greetings were a lot more attractive with animated figures and everything.

123greetings

123greetings

7. GEOCITIES

This website was one of the first blog provider. One of my genius friend introduced me to this website, and it was the very first time I started blogging (eventhough I just revealed few years later that those activities called “blogging”). The template was very simple, it wasn’t variety of choices we easily find in today’s Blogspot and WordPress. You can’t even create your own blog URL link because it has to be the same with your Yahoo! Mail user ID. That was one of reason to change my Yahoo! Mail address to be hogpiece_roxbeat@yahoo.com, so I can create new Geocities blog with this URL: www.geocities.com/hogpiece_roxbeat.

One of geocities blog

One of geocities blog

Another way of customising your Geocities blog was by using Microsoft Frontpage, windows application to create website. I enjoyed using Frontpage out of curiosity, and can still even picture my very first blog design that has image drawn manually by Paint application 😛 However somehow I didn’t find a way to completely import blog template from Frontpage to Geocities–or maybe another thing, I forgot. I soon got bored and leave it.  Now this is what I get when trying to access my Geocities blog:

Geocities shut down

Geocities shut down

Well I think that’s all I can recall from our teenagers era 🙂 Feel free to add and comment if you have anything in mind! 😉

 

 

The Hobbit: When The Story Ends…

The Hobbit: When The Story Ends…

And though where the road then takes me,
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell

It was a very emotional song from Billy Boyd that ended the movie–“The Last Goodbye”. As his voice flew, a series of all the actors’ artist image appeared on the screen. The song didn’t only close “The Hobbit” movie, but also ended a long journey of Middle-Earth adventure that started 14 years ago.

I still remember that days of junior high school, moved between classes with thick Lord of the Rings novel in my bag, and a queue of classmates waiting to get their turn of reading the book. I have never really remembered whose book was that–somebody must has bought or borrow it somewhere–but the names, the places, the whole great story and imagination sparkled from the book has never lost from my mind.

Tonight, when I finished watching “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”, I suddenly felt something is missing. No more Elves, Dwarfs, Wizards, Men, Hobbits, and even Orcs. No more Ring. No more Baggins, Shire, Rivendell, Lorien, Gondor, Rohan, Mordor, and those dreadful yet exciting journeys. When I saw “The Last Goodbye” video clip, I can’t even help to see those nostalgic scenes. The manly Viggo Mortensen I’ve been always fallen for, the cute-young Orlando Bloom, the elegant lady Liv Tyler, even the ‘unsayable’ Andy Serkis in his Gollum skin. This story is simply an everlasting legend.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a great man. But Peter Jackson is probably a greater man. If it wasn’t for him to re-live Tolkien’s book, then today’s generation may not have a chance to enjoy one of this great story in mankind.

This lost feeling is similar with the one I felt when watching the last Harry Potter movie. A bit too sentimental, but I’m sure all people in my generation who have grown up with these stories will feel the same thing. Yes, I should thank J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. Also Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, R.L. Stine, and K.A. Applegate. And probably Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle too–though I’ve never read their books (not really a fan of detective novel). They are all great storytellers who have made up our childhood and teenagers life. I’m glad that we still had a chance to grow up with these imaginative stories–rather than robotic gadget today’s children play.

And not to neglect this, but it’s true that most of those great storytellers originated from Britain. I don’t know why but it seems that British people have distinctive talent in “words-manipulating-art”–literature, journalism, and that kind of thing. You see that Rowling was partly inspired by Tolkien. And Tolkien was a good friend of Lewis. And Blyton and Potter was kinda living in the same period. And finally, all of them may have inherited Shakespeare’s ingenuity (!) Oh God is unfair but seems that He streamed down this precious writing talent to British authors along with neverending rain He drained here :p

When you come to UK, you will see that many place of tourism destinations are part of a great story’s legacy. I was amazed to see flock of tourists in London’s King’s Cross, willing to pay 10 pounds just to get a picture in front of so-called “Platform 3/4”. And that a small house in Baker Street London can be transformed into so-called “Sherlock Holmes Museum” which created tourists queue along the road. And that a small coffee shop in Edinburgh can attracts many customers by simply claiming as the “birthplace of Harry Potter”–where J.K. Rowling first sit in to write her novel. Nevertheless, still I went to The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness-on-Windermere to see a trail of Peter Rabbit’s garden.

A single shot for 10 pounds

A single shot for 10 pounds

Tourist queue along Baker Street

Tourist queue along Baker Street

 

Peter Rabbit's garden at Bowness-on-Windermere

Peter Rabbit’s garden at Bowness-on-Windermere

Now you can see how Britain can boost their tourism income by only using their fictional story’s legacy. Brilliant, isn’t it? Those imaginative stories can actually help to make up the real world to be as it is now. So again I put my highest respect to those incredible story-tellers. To be honest, they are one of the most influential men on earth. They moved people’s heart through words. They challenged people’s mind through imagination. They are, undoubtedly, the force of civilization…

 

Sepenggal Syukur di Awal Februari

Sepenggal Syukur di Awal Februari

Januari 2015 selesai sudah. Bulan yang super hectic. Padahal Lent Term baru berjalan 3 minggu (sekarang lagi masuk minggu ke-4)! Tapi semester ini emang bagaikan “diuber setan”. Senin – Jumat full kuliah, tugas, kerja kelompok, dan tidur 4 jam sehari di saat deadline menjelang. Apalagi nilai-nilai semester lalu masih kurang memuaskan. Saya merasa nggak berusaha semaksimal mungkin, dan banyak mainnya, banyak ngelamunnya, terus rada2 menyepelekan pelajaran gitu. Mungkin masih masa2 “bulan madu” pindahan ke Inggris ya. Tapi semester ini, di tahun baru ini, saya berniat untuk memperbaiki semuanya dan mencapai hasil maksimal.

Tentang kuliah. Saya suka Lancaster University. Suka sekali 🙂 Biarpun kampus ini baru berusia 50 tahun, tapi sudah bisa menduduki peringkat Top 10 UK, menyaingi universitas2 klasik yang sudah ratusan tahun. Kampus ini bernuansa modern, tapi sangat ramah lingkungan. Bukan, dia bukan kampus model kastil atau bangunan kuno ala Oxford. Lancaster University (LU) adalah dinding-dinding kaca, pintu-pintu otomatis, dan desain bangunan futuristik yang mengagumkan. Istimewanya, kampus ini seperti kota kecil. Ya, lokasinya yang jauh di selatan kota membuat dia harus berusaha memenuhi kebutuhannya sendiri. LU punya pembangkit listrik sendiri (dengan tenaga kincir angin raksasa), punya hotel dan bank sendiri, hutan dan lahan pertanian sendiri, ya coba bayangkan deh sebesar apa kampusnya. Dan kampus ini indah banget. I mean, serius indah banget. Karena lokasinya di pinggir kota (baca: desa), dia betul2 “kampus hijau” dalam arti sesungguhnya. Padang rumput yang super duper luas, berbatasan dengan lahan pertanian penduduk (dan padang biri2), kolam bebek, kontur jalan yang naik turun seperti bukit, pokoknya keren banget! Betul2 modernitas yang menyatu dengan alam :))

Autumn forest dan padang rumput di kampus LU

 

Saya mengambil jurusan MSc Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Practice (MSc EIP). Maksudnya karena ingin belajar tentang UKM dalam perspektif global. Prodi ini berada di bawah Lancaster University Management School, fakultas andalan LU yang menduduki peringkat Top 4 UK. MSc EIP sendiri baru berjalan 2 tahun, tapi profesionalitas para dosen dan stafnya patut diacungi jempol. Total ada 12 modul yang saya ambil dalam 1 tahun. Nanti akan saya jelaskan terpisah mengenai apa saja yang saya pelajari di masing2 modul, yang jelas sangat menarik dan memberi perspektif ilmu pengetahuan yang baru tentunya 🙂

Ada 19 siswa yang tergabung dalam MSc EIP, dan karena kelas kecil ini kami semua menjadi sangat akrab. Saya menikmati berada di tengah2 mereka. Kami nggak cuma belajar kelompok, tapi juga sering hangout bareng di kala suntuk oleh tugas. Kita sampai hafal karakter masing2 and in some case, curhat galau sampe tangis2an :’) Nggak jarang satu sama lain bertengkar, apalagi kalau pas tugas kelompok, tapi semuanya selalu bisa kembali damai. Menarik mengamati berbagai macam karakter dari berbagai bangsa: India, Taiwan, Thailand, Rusia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Jerman, dan Indonesia. Kelas ini adalah salah satu hal terbaik yang saya miliki di Lancaster 🙂

MSc EIP Christmas dinner

Di luar kehidupan kampus, saya mengikuti beberapa klub seperti Green Lancaster, di mana kita menanam pohon dan berkebun twice a week, dan Lancaster ESTA (Ethical Small Traders Association), di mana kita bisa bertemu dan menjalin relasi dengan para pemilik UKM di Lancaster. Kota kecil ini sangat menyenangkan. Saya menyukai suasananya yang damai, penduduknya yang ramah, pemandangan yang memanjakan mata–semuanya. Williamson Park dengan Ashton Memorial-nya yang elegan, Lancaster Castle dan legenda para penyihir Bukit Pendle, sungai Lune yang membelah kota, juga Penny Street tempat belanja satu2nya.

Saya bersyukur tinggal di West Street, dan bertemu sahabat baik dari Ghana sebagai keluarga satu rumah. Saya bersyukur punya keluarga Indonesia di Prospect Street, “ciwi2” heboh yang selalu siap jadi tempat curhat (dan bergosip). Saya bersyukur ada rekan2 PPI Lancaster yang selalu punya acara masak bareng, nari bareng, jalan2 bareng–bikin nggak lupa dengan nuansa Indonesia. Saya bersyukur belajar di kelas MSc EIP, di kampus LU, di kota Lancaster yang saya cintai 🙂

Tiga puluh tiga hari di awal 2015 berjalan dengan memuaskan. Untuk saat ini, saya berharap bulan September tidak datang cepat2 🙂

2015

2015

Twenty fifteen. I tried to remember all the things I’ve been through in 2014, and suddenly it has been 2015. Twenty fourteen was very important for me. It was a transition year, when I tried to cope myself with all the changes happened in 2013. Now that I looked back again, I feel relieved that I (seemingly) can pass it succesfully.

2014 was a year of self-nourishing. I traveled a lot. Joined charities. Re-connect with old friends and communities. Quitted my job. Study abroad. I knew I have made some significant decisions, yet it put me in the middle of even more new options.

Some moments of 2014

Some moments of 2014

You know, people always have choices. And it’s good to have many choices. But, there’s not much you can do with that choices if you don’t choose any of it.

Now that I come up with many choices, I just let it fly around me without really choose one of it. It’s like I come back to the stage when the world is laboratory, and all I did was just experimenting.

I haven’t finished with myself.

As I stated in my birthday post, sometimes it’s easy to just standing there, putting your feet on two boats, while enjoying both benefits from them. But river’s flow are getting faster, the boats are separating–and you will eventually fall down.

It’s the time to make a choice. You should jump off to one of the boat, staying there and sailing through the river.

In 2015 I make my choice. I choose which boat I’m going to stand on. I choose the path I want to walk on.

I will finish everything with myself, and start to make a real contribution to society.

May the blessing of God keep shielding me this year.

Dua Puluh Empat

Dua Puluh Empat

Empat November dua ribu empat belas. Dua puluh empat. Mungkin angka keramat. Pada usia 24, Mark Zuckerberg jadi bilyuner. Pada usia 24, ibu saya menikah. Pada usia 24, saya terdampar di sebuah desa di barat laut Inggris bernama Lancaster.

Dua puluh empat, dulu terasa jauh dan terasa tua. Kini setelah mengalaminya, dua puluh empat terasa biasa saja–saya masih muda.

Ya, muda dan tua bukan lagi soal usia, tapi soal rasa. Banyak orang berumur 45 tapi merasa 25. Banyak juga orang berumur 25 tapi semangatnya sudah seperti 45 *duh*

Usia bukan lagi sebuah penanda dewasa. Usia adalah penanda berapa lama waktu yang sudah kamu habiskan untuk belajar–tapi bukan berapa banyak yang berhasil kamu pelajari. Dalam rentang usia sama, apa dan berapa yang dipelajari bisa saja berbeda.

Di usia 24, banyak kemajuan yang saya peroleh, dan tidak sedikit pula kemunduran yang saya rasakan. Manusia berubah, tetapi tidak pernah sempurna. Satu hal yang masih sama, saya selalu ingin menjadi orang yang berada di batas cakrawala. Saya suka berada di tengah2. Bukan konservatif, bukan liberal. Bukan dominan, bukan plegmatis. Bukan agamis, bukan agnostis. Bukan tomboy, bukan feminin. Bukan otoriter, bukan demokratis. Bukan kapitalis, bukan sosialis. Bukan keras kepala, bukan pasrah. Bukan realistis, bukan idealis. Bukan penguasa, bukan rakyat jelata.

Tapi apa jadinya? Seperti berdiri di atas dua perahu. Ketika keduanya melaju, yang ada saya malah jatuh tercebur ke sungai…

Seperti orang yang tak punya pendirian, ya?

Iya, saya takut memilih. Saya takut ketika berpindah ke satu sayap, akan kehilangan apa yang bisa saya dapatkan di sayap yang lain. Maka saya berdiri di antara 2 sayap, dengan harapan bisa beralih ke sayap kanan atau sayap kiri–tergantung mana yang sedang untung atau rugi.

Itu berarti saya oportunis, ya?

Nah kan. Tapi saya sedang dalam perjalanan mencari keseimbangan hidup. Bukankah seimbang harusnya berada di tengah-tengah? Tidak memihak? Non-blok? Seri?

Tipis bedanya antara seimbang dan tidak melakukan apa-apa.

Atau mungkin, perlu saya isi dulu timbangan kanan dan kiri itu, supaya jelas bedanya antara yang diam dan yang menyeimbangkan…

*tulisan random seminggu setelah ulang tahun ke-24*

keep-calm-because-i-m-twenty-four