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Lucky No. 15 Reading Challenge

November 2, 2015
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Bumped into this challenge from a fellow Goodreads member. This is a master list of this challenge.

Participants need to read at least one book in each of the 15 categories listed as published here:

Here are the categories and books that I have read throughout 2015 and links to my reviews in Goodreads:

Chunky Brick:
The Goldfinch

Something New:
The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Something Borrowed:
Crazy Rich Asians

It’s Been There Forever:
The Lowland

Freebies Time:
The Secret History

Bargain All The Way:
Thailand Confidential

Favorite Color:
Everything I Never Told You

First Initial:
Lingkar Tanah Lingkar Air

Super Series:
Flood of Fire

Opposites Attract:
How to Get Filthy Rich in Raising Asia

Randomly Picked:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane — Perjalanan Ajaib Edward Tulane

Cover Lust:
Aruna dan Lidahnya

Who Are You Again?
After the Banquet

One Word Only!

Dream Destination:
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Vaccine hunting

October 9, 2015

Reviews said this is one of the best movie in 2015. So far. Next, I found my feet occupying two seats in an almost empty theater, two hours before midnight.

The opening scene could have been randomly plucked from some episodes of True Detective TV series. It’s widely known that TV series are getting better, bolder, and big screen actors and actresses are seen all over the small screen.

I was waiting. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and the enigmatic Benicio del Toro entered the screen. But so what? Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Rachel McAdams, Colin Farrell, Damien Lewis, Claire Danes, even Joe Morton have been part of smaller screen. The private jet in an almost empty airforce base was meaningless. The Criminal Minds gang crisscrossed the States using a private jet.

The wide screen turned khaki. A bird eye view of vast Chihuahuan Desert filled the length of the screen. Helicopter blades were whipping from my back, thumping music score followed in the background. The camera closed in down below. Hello, Juarez. Now that was eerie.

I no longer slouched.

The long convoy to the heart of the city reminded me of “Clear and Present Danger”. The two main characters peered warily outside. Nothing happened. The convoy went through the same way back to the border. Still nothing happened. The thumping score was replaced by some sort of string orchestra.

As the movie rolled, my mind was busy digging through my gray cells. I felt like I have seen the scenes before. It was in Tom Clancy’s “Against All Enemies”, sans war on terror.

Sicario was very focused on war on drugs that had taken place in Juarez, the most dangerous city in the world. Juarez has not always been about drugs, but also human trafficking and other things that gives you nightmare. (BTW, Jennifer Lopez starred in Bordertown. Quite okay movie.)

Sicario was the mind of mysterious “Medellin”, the name of Colombian Cartel that was dismantled by the US many many many moons ago. Medellin here is a person, whose Spanish is most probably recognized as Colombian accent by the local Juarez people who heard it.

Benicio del Toro has effortlessly immersed himself in the role. Every time his eyelid bats, every look he threw around, every single word he said. Let’s not go to gestures. Total bad a** As for Josh Brolin. Did we find the American Sean Connery? Emily Blunt lived up the expectation. She graduated from Edge of Tomorrow and presented herself as someone new, sans accent.

Watch the trailer here and get those movie tickets ASAP!

Bad Hair Day

September 27, 2015

“Spiky? Not too short? With patterns on the side? Okay!”

The victim was sitting on a kiddie ride. A female hairstylist grabbed a hair clipper, her assistant was busy blowing bubbles and squeezing a squeaky toy.

He was a baby of approximately 15 months, still cannot utter any word properly. Her mom was sitting in the back, busy Whatsapping. The little guy did not have much hair. He was clean and looked well-cared. But he certainly was not the ubercute baby.

I never went to a beauty salon for a haircut until my late mother fell ill and passed away a few years later. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, she was our private stylist. I did not have any preference when it comes to haircut. She would cut my hair short. Boy short. But not crew cut. These days, a new jargon was invented for my childhood style: Pixie look.

My mother had never wasted a week worth of grocery money for my brother’s and my haircut. Whenever we need a haircut, she would ask us to sit on the floor, grabbed her rattan bag where she kept her hair cutting kits and started working on our heads. One by one of course. We are not some two-headed dragons. Although more than a few times we acted like one πŸ˜€

None of us needed diversion such as toys, kiddie rides, bubbles, moreover a set of PlayStation game for us to sit still and receive the haircut.

My late mother took a haircut course. She also made all my stuffed dolls. She cooked our food, although her staple was mostly boring since she had to save money. Had she taken sewing course and immersed herself in serious gardening, we would have been self-sufficient like farm families.

Mall Rats AD 2000

September 27, 2015

What do you see in megapolitan malls these days?

Fashionable families in trendy culottes and pastel-shades bermuda shorts?

Adorable same-sex couples of all ethnics and ages?

Recently settled expats trying to find cold cuts, boxed juices and cheeses?

Those were yesterday.

Nowadays, it’s kids running around bumping into people without saying any excuse, screaming their hearts out as if they have just been released from solitary confinement for a week.

Kids touching and grabbing things they like, from toys to whatever they see in store shelves. When the goods fall down, very calm parents would put things back, saying in a very zen voice, “You can’t do that, Sweetie.”

Kids with strong feet sitting prettily on strollers, simply because they can’t keep up with the coverage area of their parents shopping spree trip.

Nannies shove a pair of shoes to kids, who are big enough to put them on by themselves.

Nannies wear face mask so that their breath are not in direct contact with babies and kids under their care.

Kids repeatedly screaming what they want, dying for their parents’ attention, oblivious to their surrounding.

Angry kids (without any behavioral issues) who are not getting what they want and putting up their best act for the world to see. Often involved stomping their feet the ground or yelling or crying.

Let’s not forget puzzled toddlers dragged into the cinema to see “The Ironnettes of Stark Industries” flashing their booties, Megan Fox’s lock lips with Shia LaBoeuf’s, or a gangster giving a pointblank shot to someone in a car.

Did you do something? Of course not. You’re their doting parents. Let’s find someone else to blame.

You’ve been too long in Jakarta when you..

April 19, 2012


  • Have been contorted, squeezed against the door of Transjakarta Bus and/or commuter train posing like a fridge magnet;
  • Are out of breath, feet don’t touch the floor in a commuter train;
  • Know every moves of pickpockets in a bus;
  • Have been sent home early/evacuated/displaced due to floods;
  • Can recount every single bomb incidents;
  • Have a personal tab at your regular (if not favorite) “warteg” (road diners, Jakarta style);
  • Opt for motorbike taxi to transfer you quickly from point to point;
  • Use of your swear words intensify during traffic jam;
  • Know that there is no such thing as “riverside view”;
  • Leave home before sunrise and get home after sunset;
  • Master the art of getting off from a bus using your left leg first;
  • Text like there’s no tomorrow to a person across the desk during a meeting;
  • Nap in a very noisy tri-wheeled vehicle called “bajaj”, made from World War 2 quality steel;
  • Do not wait more than five minutes for virtually anything;
  • Dengue mosquitos don’t freak you out. You’re too focused on saving your pets during on-request dengue spray by a neighbor whose child is hospitalized due to dengue fever;
  • Do not roll down tour car window, not because of high crime rate, but more because you cannot stand the pollution;
  • Consider the person next to you (whose visual features are very similar with you) as your long lost brother/sister;
  • Decide to write a book/write a song/make movies/produce a play/do photo exhibition about your stay in Jakarta;
  • Try (at least once) anything sold by the street, laced with carbon monoxide and tropical germs;
  • Plan 2-3 hours ahead before going anywhere, any distance;
  • Speak a word or two English and continue with local language;
  • Believe that the ubiquitous motorbikes are public enemy #1;
  • You’ve been too long in #Jakarta when you take rusty old buses while hogging on your newest smartphones & tablets..



April 19, 2012
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Everybody wants to get higher education for thousands of reasons. Starting with thinking that it’s the right thing to do, following a boy/girl, getting better money (and not ending up poor later in life).

However, our educational background is often not compatible with our work. Many people who studied Literature ended up as stock broker; or there are those who studied their asses off in medical school but ending up as a writer.

There is a word called “passion”.
Younger and older people alike are keen to follow their passion.
Many people ditched their six digits salary to become a chef or florist.

Burnt out.
This might be another reason why someone with high-flying career with full-fledged company facilities decided to become spiritual leaders.

My professional education was international affairs, while my secondary training was applied sociology. During my career, I got sidetracked into developing websites, annual reports and feature writing. In my line of work, professional training is as rare and expensive as truffles in Asia (unless you work for big organization).

I self-taught myself to write quite properly in a language that is not even my own, take photos without blur and shake (long before anti-shake feature is installed in digital cameras), design print publication (down to understanding production process), learn how the media works (including fact that journalists are not morning person), embrace Twitter and Facebook beyond number of followers and high school nostalgia.

The work did get me into weird corners of the Earth. Various conflict spots, closed countries, places where women are advised not to walk alone, villages where boars run free, and squeaky clean cities. My worst nightmare (so far) was being arrested by military junta government due to misuse of my tourist visa and my employer disavowed any knowledge of me.

If you ask me what do I do with my primary degree in International Affairs and secondary degree in Applied Sociology, I train people how to use Blackberry (the ubiquitous smartphone in Asia) to update Facebook Page πŸ˜€

Eh, bulunya rontok!

March 14, 2012

Dua ikan cupang (Betta sp.) dan dua rumpun tanaman air pindah alamat ke meja resepsionis sebuah kantor:

“Ikan cupang kan nggak boleh berduaan.”

“Yang berwarna dan lebih banyak bulunya, itu betina. Lebih menarik. Yang item, itu jantan.” (Sejak kapan ikan berbulu?)

“Eeehh.. bulunya rontok!” (Lagi-lagi “bulu ikan”)

(+) “Aduh kasihan, ikan ini butuh oksigen!”
(-) “Ngg.. Katanya ikan cupang nggak butuh.. Eh butuh dikit aja (oksigen).”

“Siapa yang bawa ikan ini?” (tiap orang datang pasti menanyakan ini)

“Ikannya idup?”

“Udah dikasih makan belon?”

“Paaakk.. Nanti ganti airnya tiap minggu yaaa..” (kepada office boy)

“Sebenernya aku punya mangkok ikan yang kotak juga. Tapi lebih lucu yang ini, ya..” (Fish bowl is so last year. It’s fish box now!)

(+) “Say, kalo cupang jangan dijadiin satu. Kalo cupang kan nature-nya gitu.. menyerang.”
(-) “Ini kan cowok-cewek. Di rumah seminggu nggak apa-apa tuh. Sekarang udah gak serang-menyerang lagi kan, Pak?”
(#) “Masih..”