Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Dream Which May Change Life Forever

This morning I woke up in the morning feeling so great that mother earth, for many times, reminded me to pursue what I really wanted to do. It was a mind-blowing dream that I got chance to travel around the world. Waking up in the morning and immediately crying unconsciously are not my thing. I don't think I am that kind of person, but when it just came in, I could hardly resist it. I fell down being so in joyous moment.

One of the best part I still remember was when I needed to go to North Pole, I went thru some middle east countries. Whilst realizing that those countries have never been in my list, the excitement of being on the road catch up my mind. I saw new things, sing a melody I don't know existed. Taste the flavor which bites my tongue. And feel the warm breeze that blows my mind up.

Well, it's too imaginary. But wait, the next part was actually novel-like story. I stopped by many countries, moved from one place to another one by bus, hitchhiking and plane. I saw sunset thru my flight window. The terminal hall becomes an everyday life that I saw people checking in, smiling whilst being alone in a row. That must be a smile of having chance to meet their beloved one back home. My passport was just full of red, green and blue from the immigration officer. They put master peace onto it. And I saw the same shoes I wore since the beginning I started being on the road.

When I woke up, realizing that dream is still existed, I feel like a slap on my face. Emotionwise, I was filled abundantly with joy. That a simple dream, unexpected one, could still change the way I see future. I felt like a blessed one because even though I tried so hard to forget that used-to-be-impossible dream, I still kept that dream unconsciously.

I fell down on the floor, filled with satisfaction. That was one of the most joyous moment in my life.

I still wanted to do it indeed.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Smiling Faces

Last week I finished a meeting with a good result but feeling awkward whilst leaving it. Simple ‘thank you’ and warm smile weren’t existed when it finished. I was like, okay – why can’t a simple smile or a ‘thank you’ end the meeting up? Isn’t it lovely to have a smile in everyday life?

I think we need more on something like these pictures! Come on, keep the smile coming in! =)

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Every Road Has Its Own Challenge

I see the nice sunset here from my seat on the flight back to Kuala Lumpur from Kolkata. It's been a week off from Jakarta, and I start missing what I had in there. It is perfect sunset 4000 feet above the sea, here from the window seat. I am alone here in the row 24, enjoying the me time.

India is another journey I had in life. It ain't easy at all. I used to believe that I could handle any travel challenge. I remember the first time I traveled over the land from Singapore, to Kuala Lumpur, to Hat Yai - a border city between Thailand and Malaysia, and finally to Phuket. It wasn't easy at all for the first time traveler.

But then it became so easy when I climbed up Great Wall of China and explored the land thru Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I thought everything was going to be very easy. That time it was true that I didn't find anything to put me down on the ground.

Then I realize that's not true at all. My over-confidence has something to do with my limitation. India isn't easy at all. Having said that I never regret to have seen this incredible land, I then realize that every road has its own challenge for every traveler.

Keep walking and make sure you wear good shoes!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Top 10 Tips Travel to India

Having traveled to India, which was one of the most unique travel experiences for me, here are some travel tips before you travel to India.

1. Open your mind. India is way different with any country that you can imagine. Cars honking, pickpocket, people taking shower on the road, generally-dirtier roads and crowd. In one of the days I was in India, I wish I had never booked the ticket to India. I was in the bad mood that all those annoying things just made me crazy. But then being open minded and trying to accept it helped a lot. Be open minded and enjoy the rest!

2. Drink only bottled water. Tap water is generally unsafe for first time traveler. It may contain bacteria which may cause stomachache and diarrhea. You can buy bottled mineral water (650 ml) with only Rs 14. Even when you're in restaurant, try to order bottled one.

3. Bargain hard. Everything in India is generally cheap; but almost anything needs to be bargained. Sellers/taxi drivers will always put unreasonable price at the first place. Bargain like Chinese :). For some cases, you don't need to bargain since it won't cost you that much (for example: using rickshaw for 15 minutes will only cost you Rs 10, which is nothing compared to walking for 30 minutes). In addition, you will help community to improve its economy as well.

4. Prepaid taxi. If arriving from airport, try using only prepaid taxi. It is fixed price, not negotiable and it will take you to the place you want. Even though it's a bit more expensive, the risk of being cheated is less. For first time traveler to India, if you use big money, check the change gives you. From 2 times using prepaid taxi in Kolkata airport, they always gave me -Rs 100 or -Rs 200 less. I said to the counter, "Do you think I'm stupid!?"

5. Understand the transportation system. Traveling inside the city is not efficient. You can use metro (in New Delhi and Kolkata), but some places are still unreachable. Try a mix of rickshaw (the cheapest, in suburban area, in main road it's prohibited), auto rickshaw (we call it Bajaj), bus (a bit complicated but worth to try for small distance, use in urban) and taxi (last chance if others don't work for you).

6. Be deaf! Cars honking are the most annoying thing for me at the first two days in India. You can't find a 5-sec without that noise (5 second is a day observation between morning until evening). Be deaf and you'll enjoy the city.

7. Be dirty. Roads in india are generally a bit dirty because garbage, water (showering on the road), spiting and smoke. Expect that kind of thing and you'll like walking on the street with crowd of people.

8. Don't take it personally. I met some friends in India; one of them said that they sometimes say something without any point in an aggressive way. Understand that it is different culture and do not take it personally.

9. Don't get melted. The weather in India can be very hot (to 40 C at max in hot season, between May - July). What you can do is to adjust yourself. Use sexy sunglasses, fabulous short and sunblock if you want.

10. Try couchsurfing. As always, it is the best way to travel overseas. It's not about free accommodation, but more on having someone in the city you can talk to. If you're lucky, they can go to places with you.

Safe travel to India! Don't forget to have proper preparation.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Home of the Greatest Missionary in 20th Century

On my way back to Kuala Lumpur, I finish my trip with a visit to Mother Theresa's House in Kolkata; in where most of her missionary works done since the first time she committed to work for poors and unwanted until her death in 1997.

Here I am, enjoying the holiness of this place while thinking how great humans can be when they have unconditional love. Coming from Catholic family, practicing Catholic values and vowing her life to Jesus; she has been speaking universal language, which is giving unconditional love. In her definition of that such love, Mother Theresa has been working in almost of her entire life for poors, ill and unwanted people.

Mother Theresa was born in August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia with original name of Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu. She received the first call for religious life at the age of twelve. At the age of 18, she left home by ship for almost 2 months to India. Here, she did the missionary works by spreading the language of love to the world. From this small and poor place, the news of greatest love and richest masterpiece is received by the world.

She built houses for poors, hospital for sicks and heart for unwanted. What she did nonetheless was unconditional love. And it was for almost 60 years of her life.

Mother Theresa has received 700 awards during her service, including the Nobel Peace Award in 1979. When she received the award, she said, "I am unworthy to be here, it's all by the grace of God."

Mother Theresa died at the age of 87 in her room behind complication of heart disease, chest and back pain, recurrence pneumonia and malaria.

"I can't breathe. My work is done."

Needless to say, being in this small place yet big in heart and unconditional love is one of the key highlights during my travel in Kolkata.

Very recommended!

-- It is not enough for us to say, "I love God",
but I also have to love my neighbor.

-- We can do no great things, only small things
with great love

-- I prefer that you make mistakes in kindness than
that you work miracles in unkindness

-- How can we love God whom we do not see, if we do
not love our neighbors whom we see, whom we touch with whom we

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Be Open Minded and Let's Just Put Smile on Your Face

I sat down on the road with some local kids in the Sudder street in Kolkata, which is backpacker area in the city. I gave Rs 20 to a very poor boy. He bought food with that. Seeing that Rs 20 is small amount of money (~50 cents USD), which is nothing for me but maybe it gave a proper food for the boy, I feel so grateful and sad at the same time.

It's been a week for me in India. Ups and down happened just because cities here are unique compared to Jakarta. I need to handle the crowd of people walking on the street, sometimes squeezing myself on the road. After a week I get used to it.

A friend of mine said that I needed to be open minded enough to travel here and it's totally true. I thought I was open minded enough but I was wrong. Now I know that I need to stretch myself a little bit and see new things as good. India is actually a country which can makes you stressful yet smiling at the same time. I am happy to see that my last days are generally full of smile. Thanks to some friends who have been good companions while I'm here.

One of the good examples was on my way back to Delhi from Agra. I used local train for only Rs 75 (~1.5 USD) for 3 hours traveling time. It was full and packed train with almost impossible to move inside the train. No air conditioner, just a fresh air from the window. I could choose to complain about it and worried about things, but I slept like babies; just enjoying the now and making comfortable with myself.

It's true that open mind can make you smile even though the world moves against you and the way you think.

I was like, okay, I wanted to come back to Indonesia soon several days ago. Now, I don't give a shit to my negative thinking. I really enjoy it!

It's a good travel experience after all!

Namaste and have a good day!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Living as Locals in India

Shiva is the third god in Hinduism, known as the god os destruction. But Indian prefer calling THAT as god of transformation. This means that it's not only about taking things to the ground or transforming things to nothing, where it all started; but also starting things from beginning, which is associated as good. It depends on how we see it; good or bad. In the case of Shiva, it's good that growth and new life come after destruction. Something doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I was shocked with many things the first time I stood on the ground outside of Kolkata airport; cars honking every second, people taking shower on the main road, crowd of people in the second biggest population in the world. I started believing what people said about this country, before I left from Indonesia. It was generally negative things what they said.

But then I started seeing things as good. I was like, okay, this is different and nothing to do with mood swing. Life is just different here. The charm of new friends I met here; Joao and Shraya at least made me feel like home here.

On top of the rooftop where I was staying, there was open space to take shower just like locals do. I enjoyed taking shower, rubbing my body and enjoying the night sky view from there. A very good experience.


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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back Seat

Back to when I was in school, I used to be a kid who always sit at the back seat on the bus. I always enjoyed the moment when I could see people's head from the back and got chance to see smile and friends talking. My butt got along very well with the back seat.

Here I am, at the back seat of Skybus heading to Kuala Lumpur. It is in the midnight before moving my ass to India. It's been always great having this moment, taking a week off from routine. I don't need to be in the rush and worship meeting schedule everyday. It's just very easy, sitting here and thinking of how meaningful seeing new places and tasting flavors I might not know existed before.

Sky is the limit, that's what people said. In the respect of that philosophy, we need to see that 'sky is the limit' has something to do with human's limitation as well. If in every chance we want to reach the sky, we may end up with frustration. Sky is the limit for some cases, but many times your limit is the coconut at the top of the tree on the beach. You can't go higher.

I believe that winning choicefully is way much better than winning in every chance. As well as letting go the past, broken heart and failure, sometimes we need to let go a win. Win at big things whilst letting go some meaningless things.

That's the same with being in the spotlight. While it's good, but many times it's frustrating to satisfy ones' expectation every time. Stepping back is a win too in a way that we can get the whole picture of where we are and prioritize things we really want to do in life.

I am still the one who loves sitting at the back seat of the bus.

I just am.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Just Me

I still remember the days when kids yelled at me saying that I was weird with my small eyes. It was back to 20 years ago when I was still living in Kapitan, a small village alongside Musi River. I felt like the ugliest kid in the world.

Pressure from kids are sometimes bigger from adults, just because they don't know why it happened. Even they don't really realize if they're different. Having said that, they don't know how to react to that bullying thing. I couldn't do anything but crying.

Today I watched a Chinese Cap Go Meh celebration from Chinese ethnics, attended by many Indonesia President and his ministers. It's long journey so Indonesian-born-Chinese get equality in living in here.

Back to Gus Dur presidential period the first time the inequality between non-Chinese and Chinese was erased. The spirit was continued by Megawati period when Chinese New Year became a national holiday.

I remember when I was a child I always took a day off from school in Chinese New year day, just because I really wanted to spend time with my whole family. It was love I looked for, seeing adults talking, eating, drinking and laughing like no more days to live. On top of that, getting 'angpau' from aunties and uncles was another mission. You must not miss that; the first time you really feel that you're the richest person in th world. =)

So, seeing how this country tries to erase inequality amongst its citizens, I feel so grateful. Debating and arguing about differences that may lead to conflict is so last decade. We don't move on.

GLEE describes perfectly on how we should live and answer community pressure when we have big nose; when we are a nerd; when we are out of community just because we have Chinese eyes; and when we always want to sit at the backside of our class just because our mom or dad said we were dumb. The casts of GLEE accept that they're different, become depressed (which is good phase of realizing that they have to wake up and show the world they ARE superstar) and move forward.

People called you big nose?
People called you
People called you 'so gay'?
People didn't want to have lunch with
you just because you don't wear branded wardrobe?
People didn't want to hang
out with you just because you don't have cool job?
Or your boyfriend or
girlfriend kicked you out just because you are snoring when you're sleeping?

Screw them! Seriously. Before they judge your quality and point their fingers to your face, they need to make sure their fingers are clean.

I'm a big fan of living in harmony with differences. I learn from the monks in Cambodia to see things as neutral. Judging things as good and bad many times fails to make us live happily. We are too busy to judge things as good and bad, particularly when it comes to people. I don't think atheism as a bad thing; it's their choice to live their life. Knowing that there are people who don't believe in GOD is awesome, right? Do you think drinking alcohol is a bad thing? If you're gay or lesbian or hermaphrodite or whatever new words coming to our community, don't be shy! You don't need to keep yourself in the closet. You're the most beautiful creatures in this universe. Are you an asshole? First of all, everyone has an asshole, so we're all asshole. =) An asshole is human and there are good things in an asshole's heart. We just can't judge people just because they have different nose size with us.

We're all connected each other since the beginning of the civilization. We're one. And we will just finish our mission as one.

If you're different, then be proud of it! Keep on walking and make sure you wear good shoes.

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