Another story about a stranger


Meet James! A proud grandfather of a grandson and a granddaughter who’s been traveling to different states because of his work in refinery. I met him on my way to Cincinnati. Right when I saw him sitting next to me, I have a feeling this is gonna be another interesting flight. I started saying: “Hi, how are you?” He gave me a warm smile and replied my greeting. That’s when I know it’s gonna be a fun flight. Every now and then, when the situation feels right, I start a conversation with new people. I think it was my 2013 resolution and so far everything has been going great. I know I should keep up the good work in 2014.

We talked about Mississippi, his job and sometimes he took his phone out of the pocket and showed me the pictures of his family or the fish he caught or his trailer and truck. The other time he’d let me looked outside his window when he explained about Ohio river or power house. He said he meets new friends through Yahoo! Messenger! Sometimes a new message or a ‘buzz’ will pop up in his laptop window asking how he’s doing. He gave me a compliment once, which makes me blush because it’s always good to hear people notice something about me.

When I shared my concern about marriage, he said “You are young! You shouldn’t be worried about marriage. You will find that person when the time and the place is right and everything will be perfect.” In James’ opinion, one shouldn’t get married before he/she sees what’s out there and enjoy life. Well, I said “that’s why I am traveling”

At the end of our trip, we have to bid goodbye because I am leaving for New York and he’s off to Philadelphia. I took a selfie of us, we shared contact numbers and I gave him a tight hug while he’s wishing me a great time in New York. Before I boarded my plane, he sent me a text message “if something happens let me know, I will come to see you down there” It was really nice just to hear that.

I landed in JFK Airport around 6pm and the view from the plane was amazing. Bright city lights! Golden was the color. I listened to Sara Bareilles’ album inside the Subway and felt really close to her. I was too tired to absorb the energy of the city, but I am amazed of how diverse and huge this city is. I met different strangers who helped me get to my hostel; a kind airport security who walked me to the AirTrain to Jamaica Station‪, a sweet Subway lady who helped me get the Metro Card, a guy name Robert who showed me how to get train #1 from Penn Station, he even let me use his monthly metro pass so I can save the credit in my card (how kind he was!!), another random guy who can’t speak English well but walked me to my hostel at Amsterdam Ave and a cute guy at the lobby who helped me to my room (because the hostel is a maze!) Ranie even made sure that I know where to go so she guided me through my phone. Things are so good today. I spent the morning with a person I adore and care so much. I got to New York and my hostel with the help of so many people. I feel so blessed. Thanks, Lord. My New York journey begins today. I just need to stay warm because the weather has been terrible. I pray for guidance and protection. Amen <3


I am always amazed of what happen when I start talking to new people. There was a funny thing today on my flight to Minnesota, a girl was sitting next to me in the airport waiting for boarding time. Well, we were busy doing our stuff so we didn’t talk. The same girl sat next to me on the plane.

We found it funny and then we started talking for almost the entire flight. We shared many stories; about how she met her husband, about her study in Communications, about an online relationship, about her dream to be a soprano, about her love of Disney movies, her dream of finding her own prince and that she was born in Saudi Arabia. She’s a hopeless romantic! Her eyes sparkles when she told me about the marriage proposal. It screams boundless happiness. I found her naive for believing in love. At the same time, it gives me hope though. She told me that love comes when you least expect it. That’s how she met her husband. It’s like a fairytale when I heard it. It gives me joy to listen to stories so different to mine.

Another person sitting next to me is a Palestinian taking a PhD in Pediatric Behavior Health. She wears hijab and read Quran almost the entire flight. She complains about how people treat her differently because she’s wearing hijab. She was asking for my new year’s wish. I told her I wanna get married in 2014. She said, I’ll pray for you.

People are beautiful when you get a chance to know them and listen to their stories. I am glad I have a courage to start the conversation and see people unfold. Travel actually gives me a chance to know myself better. Sometimes I find it easier to talk to strangers because they do not know the story of my life and have no frame-of-reference or whatsoever about how my life is. As a result, they are more open-minded and easy to talk to. They don’t judge me or give me a hard time. They don’t tell me what to do. I do miss this kind of human connection; one that enriches my soul.

On another note about stranger, the event in the beginning of 2014 makes me realize that some things are not meant to be. I hold on to it for as long as I could, it’s been 4 years now. I found it so disappointing and heart-breaking at the same time. It’s when all the hopes just suddenly vanish into thin air. It’s like losing ground and I feel off-balance. I cried and started hating the situation, but I promise myself not to life with regrets or what-ifs. This is something I must do and I just need to have the courage to accept the truth and be true to myself. It’s no longer time to deny my own happiness. I want to be someone’s first choice. I need to step up and find happiness somewhere else. I pray this will not be the highlight of my year. I want to believe that someone somewhere is also longing for me. I am missing you so much, stranger. You are still a mystery to me. Let’s meet!

Kamsahamnida Korea!

On my way to Seattle, the flight stops over at Incheon International Airport, Korea. I remember when I joined a free short Korean course when I was still in my early 20s, I learned some vocabularies and learned how to read Korean alphabet, too bad I never practised so I forget most of the things I learned. But I never thought I will have a chance to travel to Korea.

My next flight will be in the next 11hrs, so I was worried that I’d be spending time waiting inside the airport (because I don’t have Korean visa), but guess what? Entitled as the World’s Best Airport 2012, The Incheon International Airport makes it so easy for transit passenger to explore their culture and country in a short period of time. Right after I passed the security gate to wait for my connecting flight, the desk of Korea Free Transit Tour is right before my eyes. There are some choices of tours to accommodate the need of the transit passengers. I took the 5hrs tour and only need to pay $13 (for tourist entrance fee and lunch), which is considerably cheap!

It was so easy to get ‘transit visa’ and exit the airport when you provided all the required documents. However, there were some minor complications when I was trying to locate the tour bus. Apparently some airport staffs aren’t very helpful when you asked them in English. The bus was located the the very end of the airport building. I need to run because my bus supposedly leave at 10am.

It took about an hour to get to Seoul from the airport. Our first visit was Gyeongbok Palace. It was so cold outside (minus 5 degrees celsius), but I don’t have to worry because they provided winter jackets in the bus. Since the very beginning, our tour guide reminded us to follow her so we’re not being left behind -considering the city is very crowded during Christmas day. Our tour in the palace was only 30 minutes, the tour guide lady told us some useful information about the history of Korea and the palace. We kept on walking and I can’t really take proper pictures in the palace, but it was okay.

.Korea at a Glance.

.Korea at a Glance.

The second site was Jogyesa Temple. This temple is the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea. There is a 450-year-old Tree inside the temple area and is believed to bring happiness if you touch, circle it and pray.

I had Bulgogi for lunch in one of the restaurants in Insadong Street. I love it! Along the street is the market for antiques and artworks in Korea. Bought some cards and tried out Korean street food -a sweet potato something (I can’t recall the name!).



The tour supposedly visited 5 sites, but unfortunately the traffic has made it impossible today. Overall, I enjoy my visit in Korea.

Kamsahamnida Korea!

Just F*ck Off!



Somebody finally asks the question! A question I have been dreading. I have been telling myself to be prepared of any awkward or inconvenient situation when someone is ‘brave’ or ‘nosey’ enough to question why I take off hijab now. This is something people do not understand; my personal issue or preferences are none of their business. Although the question may just be an innocent question without any intention to pry into my personal affairs, I still feel that I do not have to explain myself to people. I do not ask people to understand, but please just keep their disagreement and thoughts to themselves. Let me do things without having people questioning any reasons behind my actions. Oh well, who am I trying to fool though? Some people just cannot help it to point their fingers at others and to display how superior their moral compass is. I think it is human nature to meddle with others, so I really don’t want to argue about it. So here’s my answer, “I don’t feel like explaining. Thank for your concern though.” If you are smart enough, all I am saying is “Fuck off“.

“I’m not OK”

"R U OK?"

“R U OK?”

Today is ‘R U Ok?’ Day, I found the day really interesting because I am coming from a country that does not pay attention to mental health issue, let alone acknowledge a special day to concern about this matter. Borderline personality, mood disorder, passive-aggressive personality disorder, suicidal tendency or bipolar disorder is rarely mentioned and considered taboo in my society. People are ashamed and afraid to acknowledge these issues so they pretend that they are okay.

Living and studying in Australia -where the campus provide more than just a counsellor for students who need mental health help, made me aware about this issue. I always feel I am different. Not sure if it has something to do with my mental health since I have never sought for professional help, but I always feel that there’s something going on inside my head that I cannot fully understand

Ironically, some people say I am a friendly person, but deep down inside I always feel like an outcast. Close friends and family might not realise how crazy my mind can be at times or how lonely and depressed I can be, but I don’t blame them. I never share what I really feel or think anyway. They are always supportive of my study and work though, but why can’t I share my deepest feeling and fear to them? I should not feel this lonely, sad, dissatisfied, unhappy, and depressed.

Back to when I was still working as a marker, I met a friend and somehow I felt connected to her because we shared some personal stories. We have only had a handful conversation but I felt a depth of connection in a level I have never felt before. I was so surprise of how extrovert I can be in a very short period of time. It’s probably because she shared some of stories I can relate to, but the most important thing is, she never judge me and it made me feel safe to share what I thought. She made me realise that mental health is a serious issue, but one can still feel ‘normal’ with medication and help from professional.

I am so scared to seek for any professional help, but the idea is always there. I think I am in a phase where I acknowledge that something is wrong with me, but I feel uncertain about moving to the next phase, which is to acknowledge that I ‘need to be fixed’ and get a help. There’s a difference between acknowledging that I have a mental issue and reacting to fix it. I am just not ready!

My friend told me that mental health problem can influence one’s future relationship. It doesn’t mean a person is incapable of having a relationship though, it just means that she will need a therapy and medication to reduce possible conflict and to navigate her feeling. As for myself, I always think: “How can I marry a person and then bring up a child when my head is so messed-up I can’t even understand it? Wouldn’t it make the situation worse?” I am sure not many of you who read this understand what I feel, but some people feel what I feel. Today is the right time to ask him or her ‘r u ok?’

If you asked me, I would say that I am not okay, I might have a mental health problem, and that I found people annoying to keep on asking if I have a boyfriend.

Melbourne Day 381 : Eid and Insecurity

Wow, it’s been more than a year in Melbourne! Here’s the voice of the insecure side of me, I feel weird in the past few days. It is started two days before Eid, I was upset to my BFFs because they don’t really care about how important Eid is to me. I think this might be a common misunderstanding; friends from different part of the worlds, especially those who do not observe religious belief or practices in the same manner will be indifferent to the meaning of Eid. The more I think about it, I might be upset because of other things, but it is just easier to put the blame on others, especially to those who are close to me. I have been stressed out about my research project -I just got an email that Mark (my favourite lecturer will assist me in this project, I should be thankful because he is easy to speak to and I have a good impression about his last class I attended), I have mixed feeling about the field trip unit because I am not sure my company will cover the travel expanses to Sydney, so in the worst-case scenario, I have to pay for everything myself, which is sucks! However, I wish everything will run well, I am looking forward to visiting different media companies in Australia though. This can be a good opportunity to see how media companies operate here.

Back to my insecurity issues, right after Eid prayers and gathering, I went home directly. I was thinking of attending a halal-bihalal with Konjen, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I did not feel like traveling to Brighton. Ugh, my mind keeps changing all the time. I do not know if it is a girl thing or it is simply because I cannot follow through my initial decision. What came through my mind later that day is what inspired me to write this up.

Eid is supposedly a day where people mingle with family, friends and relatives. My grandmothers and grandfathers lived in Jakarta, so we did not have any particular hometown to visit or ‘mudik’.  However, the tradition in my family is not much different from the others.  When I was still young, my parents, my brothers and I were spending Eid out of town. Dad would have driven the car to Purbalingga, Kebumen, Yogyakarta or Bali to visit our relatives. He loves driving and visiting families or friends. My parents believe that it is important to keep in touch with people simply because they are very sociable and love the company of others (unlike me!). So even though I do not feel comfortable with all the visits we did, I could not express my disagreement. I know it is good though because I will be able to tell apart the family relation but I just do not have the ‘social genes’ my parents and brother have. Most time I do not want to be bothered with this stuffs and yes, I am a socially awkward person. As I get to know myself better, I accept my condition, but I can tell that my family ignore this fact and do whatever they want because they think it is the best thing for me. So all this time, I put up with all the things they want me to do. There were this one moment when I spoke up and had disagreement about coming to Yogyakarta with my family for a random trip. As a result, my brother and dad were giving me hard time. We did not speak for a couple of days and my brother was bad mouthing me on his social media account. I was so upset I blocked him.

Now that I am studying overseas, I have the freedom I have always wanted; a life of my own where I can decide anything for myself without considering people’s feeling. I can always change my mind about doing or not doing something and it is okay because I am on my own. After Eid prayers and gathering, I just went home and I slept. I do not have any obligation to visit anyone and no one is expecting me, so I can completely shut myself off from people when I do not feel like interacting with them. What an ideal world of mine! What is missing then? I miss not being all by myself, I want a person to snuggle with and be weird together. Now that I confessed that, this might be the root of my resentment and anger this past few days. Pfft, one last semester and then I am going back to Jakarta. I am feeling sad already. I want my study to finish, but I do not want to go back to Indonesia yet :-(

Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (Award Winning Documentary)

.Born into Brothels.

.Born into Brothels.

Another documentary that brings tears to my eyes. Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman are two inspiring people who tells the story of kids who live in a Calcutta red light district. It’s a 2004 documentary that wins an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2005. Zana is an American/British photographer who believes that art can transform lives. She taught photography to the kids whose parents are prostitutes and she gave them camera so they can capture everything that are interesting. From their pictures, we can see how lives have been treating them. So many beautiful pictures taken by these talented kids. I love this documentary film. I wish everyone could watch it and see what’s life in the other side of the world. I ordered myself a companion book of this documentary; a compilation of pictures taken by the kids. I wish more people will be aware of the issue and will do something about it. It’s a must-watch! Here’s a Youtube link of the documentary.

Song of a broken heart!

“I think–I think when it’s all over, It just comes back in flashes, you know? It’s like a kaleidoscope of memories. It just all comes back. But she never does. I think part of me knew the second I saw her that this would happen. It’s not really anything she said or anything she did, It was the feeling that came along with it. And the crazy thing is I don’t know if I’m ever gonna feel that way again. But I don’t know if I should. I knew her world moved too fast and burned too bright. But I just thought, how can the devil be pulling you toward someone who looks so much like an angel when she smiles at you? Maybe she knew that when she saw me. I guess I just lost my balance. I think that the worst part of it all wasn’t losing her. It was losing me.”

“And the saddest fear comes creeping in that you never loved me or him, or anyone, or anything…”

“I don’t know if you know who you are until you lose who you are…”

Perfect theme song by Taylor Swift (with minor adjustment :p)

TH believe that social media are not able to cause political revolution

It’s another exhausting Tuesday, but it was really fun! The morning class discussed about theory of meetings and organizations. I remember hours of meetings during my ‘organizership’ in SEF. Oh, those annoying, silly, time-wasting, I-wanna-punch-your-face and my-opinion-is-the-best meetings. As much as I hate it, I cannot believe I survive it.

I have been feeling down lately. I cannot point out the reason behind all this gloomy feelings, but I know I just need to wake up everyday and embrace everything that’s coming my way.

This morning I read a blog posting from my associate professor, Mark Poole. It was intriguing and I couldn’t help but reflect his writing to my own case. He claims that social networking kill creative spirit. Somehow I agree with his opinion. We are too busy spending time online, seeking ‘fake’ acknowledgement’ to boost our ‘flawed’ self-esteem in the hope that we will love ourself more. Oh well, that might be my case. Point is, I am using social media to fulfill the empty space and distract myself from all the depressing thoughts. I have less time reading books and enjoying the real world. I am not sure I am ready to give up Twitter, Facebook, online games, Instagram, etc. But I am willing to evaluate my online social activities. I am starting to invest more time to write.

Today, I had a debate in the class. Having an experience as a debater during my uni year, I have this urge to speak, so I volunteer myself to be one of the speakers. It went pretty well. It’s not as competitive as I expected it to be, but I had a good time. I got help from Ryry related to the materials for the motion; TH believe that Social Media able to cause political revolution and bring new freedom. I was the third speaker of the opposition team. Here’s the highlight of the debate.

The affirmative team believe that social media’s characteristics (interactive, multi-platform, dynamic, fast pace) are the reasons why political revolution happened. Problem is, they are failed to explain how social media power able to drive a revolution. They mention cases in Egypt and Tunisia and how social media was used to disseminate information and gather people to throw down oppressive government, but we argue that revolutions happened because people have already fed up for years; economic imbalance, poverty, and political instability are among the main trigger. My other speaker supports the motion by explaining the fallacies of internet and how social media can be a double-edged sword depending on who use it. I develop the argument on the basis that the kind of social activism associated with social media is weak ties. The kind of relationship coming from social media is the one that is loose. In Twitter, most people follow (or being followed) by people they have never met, meanwhile Facebook is used to manage relationship with people we will not be able to stay in touch with. In order for a revolution to happen, it takes more than a ‘worldwide trending topic’ or hundreds of ‘like’ and ‘retweets’. It requires strong bonding among the people who have lived under the same situation, whom freedoms are taken away and who are willing to risk their life to support the cause. We cannot get this kind of bonding from the social media users.

Real revolution happens in the street, as what Malcolm Gladwell claims. Social media cannot provide strategy to change the status quo because social media are just tools to build network. We should address the difference between social media activism and traditional activism. What makes both activism different is the hierarchical organizations. Social media have no rules, regulation and leader who will formulate strategies. When transition time comes, they will not have any visible leader to sit and negotiate demands with the existing authority. Revolution is not just an idea that people share on the social networking sites, but it takes action to make it happen.

That is pretty much the summary of my debate. I see the hole in my own arguments but I won’t rebut my own case :p  I am writing this down so I can practice english because my professor complained about ‘high rate error’ in my writings. Let’s not give up and do more practice!

Ally McBeal, Cultivation Theory and bla bla bla

I have been watching old series lately. One of the series is Ally McBeal. There are some things I can relate to from her characters and there’s something interesting about how crazy her work environment is. Watching old Ally McBeal makes me realize how some things have changed, especially when it comes to acknowledging minorities. There was this scene in the court where a transvestite, an obsessive compulsive disorder guy, a dorky and nerd-like people were marginalized from the society. They sued the company for firing them because their personalities and odd attitudes somehow damage company’s reputation. Somehow I think it’s not relevant anymore. Nowadays, we live in a place where differences are celebrated. People want to be different. Being different is not always connoted as being weird. Being “mainstream” is no longer the only life choice. It’s been 13 years since ‘The Oddball Parade’ episode was aired and some things have changed in how we view minorities.

I remember a teaching week about archives and how researchers are using archives to see social situation in a certain year. I believe that old movies can also be used as research material to see how political situation and social change take place in certain era. Television is widely acknowledged as a powerful tool to cultivate fear about the situation outside the living room. Gerbner spent more than 15 years of his life researching about this. He claims that heavy TV viewer are reluctant to believe that the world is a safe place. They become suspicious toward others and become paranoid to walk alone at night. Well, i won’t discuss much about his research. What I want to highlight is the power of TV to set agenda and influence people’s opinion about certain issues. In the old Ally McBeal episodes, I can also see how careful sensitive issues were portrayed in the television. LGBT issues was once a reluctant issue to air on national TV. Lately LGBT issue bombarded national TV. Even the US president addressed equality issue in his inauguration speech. Well, it’s in USA. Countries like Indonesia with strong religious culture might struggle and reject the issue for another 10 years or more. But I believe such liberation will follow. I cannot wait to be part of community where differences are embraced and acknowledged.