Life

Slower Time

While watching the photocopy machine glows and releases papers in the office, I let my mind wander to a conversation happened a few weeks ago. A friend of mine, who grows up in Jakarta and now lives in Pare with his family due to work assignment, told me, “I like living here. It feels like I do actually have time.”

I smile. I know what he means and I can relate to that. I personally think Jakarta is an anomaly in the country. It is just different. It is busy. The lights on its skyscrapers are on all night. Its people start their activity before dawn and miss the falling dusk on their way home. It does not give its citizen time to slow down.

I myself do not grow up in Jakarta. I was born in this city, indeed, and I had been going to Jakarta every year for Lebaran since my grandmother lived here, but I did not live here. Before moving here, I only recognized the city in Lebaran time, which meant it was the most quiet time in Jakarta for the year. It was the only face of the city I knew. Imagine what I have to face the moment I actually live in the city. The crowds. The traffic jams. The trains. The buses. The pace of life in this city, versus the pace of people walking in streets. The lack of time.

This sublime city never sleeps. It feels like it gives permission to its people to not sleep either, to be up twenty four hours a day. Last year, when I was still in the college, continuing my study for Bachelor’s degree, I was the busiest person I had ever been. I lived in the suburban, but I took a French class in the downtown. I attended events. I participated in many things I wanted to. I would meet people I needed to see, no matter where or when they asked me to meet. I went back and forth from home to everywhere. I’d been losing sleep, but I did not care. I had no brakes. This city opened the door to almost every possibility, to do everything I wanted to, to live the life to the fullest. This wonderful city forced me to be restless. If I rest, I’ll run behind schedule, and THAT is not ‘fullest’.

But then I decide to stop.

I look back and realize that even though I was happy because I finally became a person who actually did what she wanted to do, I was also a person who ran all the time. I rarely stayed at one place for more than I planned to; I already knew exactly where I should be at the next hour. Wandering around in Jakarta takes more time than it should due to traffic jam and not-reliable public transportation, making people like me worship time much more than we do in another cities. I do not want to run. I want to have slower time. I want to stay longer with people I like. I want to eat and have chit-chat with the friends I have. I want to have more cups of coffee while talking about silly ideas. I want to sit in silence with my boyfriend without having to think about what to do next. I want to spend my time gazing at the sky without having to worry of being late. I do not want to be 100-percent efficient. Well, technically I can’t, I am a person after all.

I want to be present.

So I try to. I switch my priorities. Valuing more time with my family and boyfriend, I restrict my time with the others. I concentrate on actually living in the moment, being more mindful when I am doing things, no matter how mundane that is. I try to have less social media time. I walk in normal pace. I eat better. I exercise. I do small talk. I lead a completely different routine from what I used to have. I am still adapting. What surprises me is that the hardest part of doing this is not comparing my life to other people’s lives, but comparing my life to my own previous busy life. It is hard to see–and feel–like I am less than who I was, while the other side of me tells me that I am not; that this is a right thing to do, that I need to slow down and eventually enjoy the time. 

I honestly do love Jakarta with all of its uproarious routine. It is not hard to adapt with a glamorous city full of various activities to try for a Sagittarian like me. Deep inside, I love being busy, it makes me feel like I have spent my time well. But still, in the end, life is much more than just boxes to tick.

 

Adapting and adapting,

Aulia

 

*Pare is a town in Kediri regency, East Java.

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Life, review

The Cloth Heaven: Pasar Mayestik

For the first time in my life, I went to the well-known cloth market, Pasar Mayestik. Again, in Blok M. What is it with Blok M and wedding preparation?

The first time I and my partner arrived at the market, I was stunned. I thought it would be like Tanah Abang or Thamrin City, a building full of stalls. It was not. It consisted of many shops, individual ones, and they were not inside a building. This is the kind of market that I like. I don’t really like being in a crowded place, I easily feel suffocated, so this open space market with people walking, car honking, sun shining, really makes me happy.

My partner parked the vehicle and asked, “Which shop?”. I answered with hesitation, but I finally said “Fancy,”. Yes, Fancy was one of the most talked shop in the forum each time I searched about where to buy cloth for wedding costumes. One of the blogger said it was the cheapest shop around.

Unfortunately, the Fancy shop we saw from the market entrance was closed that day. The shop was on renovation. Luckily we asked one of the men there and he said that another Fancy shop was still opened on another side of the market. Alhamdulillah. But since we had to walk a little, we decided to stop by the shops we passed.

The first shop we stopped by was Mumbay. The shop was not crowded, only a few people in it, and there were many shopkeepers. One of them asked me what I was looking for, and showed me the clothes that were usually used to make the kebaya I want. It’s been a long time since the last time I shopped for clothes, so I haven’t had any standard for the price in this shop. They offered me beautiful sequined lace in nude-ish gold, the color I’m looking for, for almost half a million per meter. I asked for a bonus, “Can I have it with free lining?”. The Indian that the shopkeeper asked said yes.

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(I already knew from past experiences in Pasar Baru that most of cloth shops are owned by Indians (if not all), but still I wondered about how it always happened).

Anyway, I knew it sounded cheap, but I was glued to the doctrine that Fancy was the cheapest. I walked on. I stopped by another store, and asked for a few clothes, but the clothes were not so good and the price was not too low.

So I walked again, straight to Fancy. Along the way, I saw why Pasar Mayestik was really more than just clothes shops center. There were a lot of street vendors selling food (kue ape, my favorite!), ceramics, and also a shop full of sewing materials. I may talk about this later in next post after my next visit. *so many conditions applied*

When I finally stepped on Fancy, I was overwhelmed. So many people! So many signs of discount! So many rolls of cloth! So messy! I felt like walking into a warehouse, a fun one, and got ready to get lost. Then an Indian man approached me and my partner, asking what we’re looking for. I answered in Bahasa Indonesia, not absolutely sure what language to speak because he still had a strong accent, but he then spoke in Bahasa Indonesia clearly. Fuh.

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He brought us to the third floor, where the rolls of lace cloth located, and there I saw girls and their moms–and some were accompanied by their fiance, busy trying and choosing lace clothes in various beautiful colors. One woman was assigned to help me shopping, and I directly told her what I searched. I told her I was looking for clothes for my mom and my mother-in-law’s kebayas. After a while she gave one last piece of cloth, full of sequins and swarovski, 3.35 meters, for only Rp1.260.000,00. Now, that’s what I called cheap.

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Then I searched for cloth for my midodareni kebaya, and she gave me the lace in the color I wanted, costed only around Rp100.000,00 per meter, which I was sure costed thirty percents more in Mumbay, which I took immediately. And for my mom and my mother-in-law’s kebayas for midodareni, she offered me a roll of sequined lace, not even twice the price of my cloth per meter, which I was pretty sure cheaper than Mumbay or any other shops around.

Why was everything so cheap?!

I got clothes for 5 kebaya, only one of them that didn’t have sequins on it, for less than I expected. I even spent almost half of what I paid only for the lace for my engagement kebaya when I shopped in Pasar Baru. Is this the real life or is this fantasy~

Well, to be fair, perhaps the quality of the product was different from Mumbay or other shops around or shops in Pasar Baru. I am not a picky costumer. If it has the color I want, it feels good on my skin, and it is proper for the costume I want to make, it is good enough for me.

Long live Fancy!

 

Busy grinning,

Aulia

 

*kebaya is a traditional blouse-dress combination, national costume of Indonesia that is originated from Java

*midodareni is a Javanese ceremony held at the night before the wedding

*kue ape is a soft and fluffy center pancake surrounded with thin and crispy crepes

 

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Life

Learning from Cuba: How to Cope with Peak Oil

This weekend seems like one of those times when universe puts its own theme for the day.

On Saturday, in my French class, I had a discussion about Defi de La Terre (Challenge of the Earth) which made us talk about what we should be doing in daily life to preserve the earth, to save the environment. More particularly, we talked about how some people lived in extreme way of life such as le decroissance, people who consumed less in order to pollute less. How cool is that?

I will write about my Saturday le decroissance more in another post.

What I am about to talk about is my Sunday activity. I had registered my name and my partner’s name days before the day to attend a film screening about Cuba in Organiklub. My friend, Nia Nastiti, asked me to go together to this event. She was curious about the story how Cuba coped with Peak Oil because her lecturer once told her about the case. I was curious too. Not because I knew about Peak Oil–no, I never really knew what it meant, I never really knew what happened to Cuba–but because this film talked about how community in Cuba helped solving the case. I believe in the power of community, I eager to find out what the community did.

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It was almost dark when I arrived at the rooftop of Organiklub, a place where the organic enthusiast, those who cared about sustainable way of life, often gathered and had events. Some people had arrived before me; some are Indonesian, some are foreigners. They were all chatting closely. The film hadn’t started yet. Warmly, Max Mandias, the well-known chef of Burgreens, welcomed me and my partner, the two new faces in their gathering. Since I was looking for something to register my name to (I am too accustomed to registration in an event, aren’t I?), he led us to a woman, Tyas, who gave us her laptop to put our name on a list.

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I took a seat next to the screen, making it easy for me to focus on the film and the talk after the show. That event was attended by Yuri Romero, a Cuban geologist, who’s now a sustainable development and heritage preservation consultant of MAN Forum Foundation. He repeatedly said, when he was on the ‘stage’, that this was the first time he talked as a Cuban, not as a speaker teaching things. The other guest laughed. It was Michael, the secretary of the Embassy of Cuba in Indonesia, who was an unexpected guest in this event. He said that he found it fascinating to have Cuban film being screened by anyone besides the Embassy. Helga Angelina, the host of the day, who was very kind to me and my partner since the very first moment we stepped on the place, laughed along.

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The screening began at 6. The film was titled The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. It was a documentary, you could tell what the film about from the title only. In the beginning of the film, they explained quite clearly about Peak Oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert’s theory, which pointed in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum was reached, and after which it was expected to enter constant decline. Our dependency on fossil fuel would (had) outgrown our ability to meet the need. Human needed to adapt. The problem was there was a resistance in people’s behavior. One of the people in the film said that, “The world needs a lab, and Cuba is a perfect example,”.

Cuba was on oil tight diet for a decade, during Special Period. The dissolution of the Soviet Union hit Cuba severely. One of the largest immediate impact was the loss of practically all of the petroleum imports from the Soviet. That was not the only one. The country lost approximately 80% of its international trade economy and its Gross Domestic Product dropped by 34%. Food and medicine imports stopped or severely slowed.

The Special Period were defined by a general breakdown in transportation and agricultural sectors, and widespread food shortages. The scarcity was too real. People were starving. The cars no longer run on streets. People had to wait for bus for  3 or 4 for going to work and the same went for going back to home. Economically, the Cubans on the whole became poorer. No oil, no energy, no food, no money. Cuba looked like it could die anytime.

Only it didn’t.

The community in Cuba started their own urban farming to satisfy their daily food needs. Permaculturists arriving in Cuba at the time began to distribute aid and taught their techniques to locals. Fruits and vegetables planted in polypots in patios and rooftops is a usual sight. Organic agriculture was soon after mandated by the Cuban government, supplanting the old industrialized form of agriculture Cubans had grown accustomed to. For ones who lived in rural area, who had bigger fields or were given fields by the government, went backwards (if you’d like to say so) in their farming techniques. They were accustomed to using tractor, then they used oxen to plow the field. Traditional techniques made the soil even better. Lack of pesticide supply made them have to wait for the organism in the soil to flourish, making the soil fertile again naturally and ready to accommodate the plants.

Having limitation in almost every resources had not made the Cubans selfish. On the contrary, the Cubans shared their agricultural products to their neighbors, especially the elderly, the children, and pregnant women. This might be one of the effect of their togetherness culture. In Cuba, Yuri–the geologist–said that it was common for Cubans to knock on their neighbor’s door asking for sugar or salt, or offering avocados. Neighbors are considered close families. It is unfortunate that this is a familiar value that I now sometimes don’t see anymore in my surroundings.

At that time, Cuban government also did things to cure energy famine. They used solar panels in houses, even wooden houses in remote area, to heat up the water, to turn on the radio, to turn on the lamp, to do every little things. They trained their medical professionals well and sent them to other countries, such as Venezuela, and in return, got billions dollar worth of Venezuelan oil. They made scratch mass transport (it was scratch but fulfilling so it was okay) and imported bicycles from China. People took their bikes to work, biking for kilometers and losing weights. It was not fancy, but they did it anyway. One of the women in the film said that the people biked with no biking culture, it was pure political will.

I find it interesting how they agreed to cooperate with their government. The question of how the government managed to arrange the people so no chaotic action rose in the country came in the discussion after the screening. Yuri and Michael answered that perhaps it was because the government were there for their people. They said, education and healthcare were free services in Cuba. Free and well-maintained services. Then another question came from the audience, how did they managed to give free services if they did not have much money? Yuri said, “Well, you could see our mass transport. It is scratch.”

Cuba had limited resources, so they put priorities. They might be economically challenged, but they put their priorities right, so the country went just fine.

Or perhaps, Yuri (or Michael, my memory is blurry) said, it was because of how Fidel Castro handled things. He told us that once Fidel Castro came to see the people who did a demonstration by himself, without bodyguards, only to have a direct conversation with them and listen to what they wanted to say. That is incredible. Who wants to come down to a noisy crowd that screaming things against you?

I thought, well, perhaps these people were cooperative since they didn’t really have a choice. They didn’t have much, so if it was not their own selves who helped their country, no one would. But then, something that the lady in the film said stunned me.

“If they want to be politically independent, they have to be economically independent. To be economically independent, you have to be energy independent.”

They had stances. And they stood for it. Their communities stood for it. They had strong bond among them. This is a fact that overwhelms me a little, since I don’t read much about Cuba before.

We also had a discussion about how Cuba and Indonesia somehow looked alike. The togetherness, for particular, though it is now fading in the urban life. Bu Neneng, one of the diaspora who lived in Cuba for some years told her story of being among the Cubans. The familiarity, the kindness. Sadly, not only the good things happened. The thing that Bu Neneng experienced for herself was the food scarcity in Cuba. She told that some fruits were only available in certain period of time, though it was actually a common commodity. I felt thankful when I heard this, since it was never hard for us Indonesians (or perhaps, Jakartans) to find fruits and vegetables, even the organic ones.

The similarity between Cuba and Indonesia is also our dependency on energy, especially on imported oils. It will be devastating to experience what Cuba did, but why don’t we learn from it? Why don’t we prepare for the worst? A little less petrol consumption won’t hurt anyone.

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P.S.: I don’t read much about Cuba so I’m open to any correction if I don’t get my facts straight. All I know is that Cuba is not the same as another countries. Yuri told me that he couldn’t send money to his family in Cuba directly, he had to send it to third party first. This is 2016 and these kinds of things still happen. Well.

 

Will definitely read more about Cuba,

Aulia

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Life, review

A Burgreens Experience

Halo, sudah lama tidak bertemu. Sekalinya memegang keyboard lagi, rasanya rindu menulis dalam Bahasa Indonesia. Jadi, mulai sekarang saya pakai Bahasa Indonesia saja, ya. 😀

Dua bulan terakhir ini saya menjalani hidup seperti orang benar. Makan teratur, olahraga rutin, tertawa banyak-banyak. Semua berkat kembalinya saya ke kantor, tentu saja. Kehidupan kantor yang rutin tujuh sampai lima membuat saya menjalani hidup dengan teratur juga. Yay! Ada untungnya juga jatuh di rutinitas yang membosankan.

Selama dua bulan terakhir ini pula, saya memerhatikan ada yang berbeda dengan tubuh saya. Saya menggendut–dan susah kurus lagi. Hahaha. Umur baru 23 dan saya sudah merasa metabolisme tubuh menurun drastis dibanding dulu saat belum 20 tahun. Karena pola hidup sudah baik-baik saja, terlebih saya bahkan sudah berolahraga rutin, hal pertama yang muncul di kepala saat memikirkan sebab gendut yang tak sudah-sudah ini adalah: makanan.

Tanpa berpikir dua kali, saya membuka situs restoran makanan sehat kesukaan saya, Burgreens, dan memesan kateringnya. Mereka punya banyak pilihan paket katering, kita pun dapat mengatur sendiri kateringnya sesuai kebutuhan kita (misalnya saja, alergi terhadap sesuatu). Berhubung saya tidak punya alergi ataupun sakit tertentu, hanya ingin makan dengan benar, saya memilih paket katering yang paling sederhana (baca: murah), Alkalizing and Balancing. Selama lima hari saya akan dikirimi makan siang dan kudapan ataupun sari buah, yang menurut definisinya cocok untuk mereka yang ingin memulai clean eating. Ini sempurna. Saya bahkan tidak bertanya pada admin Burgreens apa saja menu yang akan saya dapat. Yah, Sagitarius suka kejutan. 😉

Hari pertama saya disuguhi tempe yang dibalur berupa-rupa herba, yang entah apa saja, tapi baluran herba bercita rasa kuat ini sukses membuat lidah saya kegirangan. Kata siapa makanan sehat rasanya tak enak?

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Hari-hari berikutnya, parade sayuran, kacang-kacangan, jamur, dan herba yang melimpah memenuhi lambung saya dalam bentuk yang membangkitkan selera. Belum lagi racikan saus yang mereka gunakan untuk salad sayur dan buah. Nyam! Kudapan dan minuman yang disertakan juga di luar bayangan saya. Dua kali saya diberi minuman, yang pertama campuran sayuran hijau entah apa, dan yang kedua campuran kunyit dan sesuatu yang segar seperti jeruk. Terdengar aneh, ya, padahal saat melewati lidah rasanya sebotol saja kurang.

Benar lho, pola makan berpengaruh terhadap tubuh. Sekarang saya sudah tidak terbawa kemelikan lagi. Biasanya sedikit-sedikit lapar, sedikit-sedikit ingin yang manis-manis. Sekarang, tidak makan malam pun tak apa. Keajaiban apa ini?

 

Menuju langsing 2016,

Aulia

 

 

 

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Life

Sunday Running in the Park

As I gained 10 kilograms compared to how I weighed usually last year, I decided to go for a run at least once a week.

I spend every Sunday morning in the last few weeks, quite early, to put on my running shoes (a Nike Lunarlon, been accompanying me since some years ago), and go to the nearest park. I usually go to Tebet Honda Park to run, until my friend tells me that the park across this park is much more comfortable for runners since people rarely hang out in that park on Sunday morning. I think it is named Tebet Gas Park, but I am not sure.

Different from its neighbor, this park still seems natural. By ‘natural’ I mean there is more trees and less place to hang out. No well-maintained “fitness center”, no bench, no playground for kids, no street vendors. But there is a clean and long jogging track, reflexology stone path, and some shelters for sitting. Good!

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Aulia A. Agassi

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And with stunning rays of sunshine around, we can’t help but taking some pictures.

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Running out of breath,

Aulia

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Travelling

The Kind of Photos You Take in Santa

It was Sunday morning and I already sat calmly in one of the most well-known enhanced traditional market in Jakarta, Pasar Santa. I came early because there was a writing event held in that place, in my favourite bookstore in town, POST. The owner was my senior at college (no, I didn’t meet him in college of course), and the speaker for the class that day was my very own friend too.

This was my one, two, three, four, yes, fourth time  I visited Santa. I usually just visit this place for events, not for strolling around, but this place has its own beautiful side to capture. These are photos my partner took.

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And of course, my ice cream eating partner.

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Walk with you later,

Aulia

 

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