Tuesday, December 25, 2007


This is not for those encouraging spending as a means of survival

One friend tells me that what people need to survive life in Jakarta is more to how to take care costs than to earn so much.

So what we need is these;

1. you do not need new stuff just because they say TODAY'S SALES.

2. if what you do most with your cellphone is text-messaging, then you do not need one with camera (with those mega pixels) and mp3 player. A digital camera or an mp3 player costs a lot cheaper combined than the cellphone with the camera and the mp3 player. One simple cellphone costs you Rp. 400,000, a KODAK camera with 5 mega pixels costs you only Rp. 800 ,000, and an mp3 player with 1 GB only Rp. 120,000. Compare that with the cellphone with those features. It would at least cost you Rp. 4,0000,000.

3. one KOMPAS newspaper costs you Rp. 3,000 in the morning, but wait until 11 a.m, you will always get it for Rp. 1,000. If you think the afternoon paper is not that "fresh", then the morning one is not that fresh either. What you read there even at 5 a.m is news they collected only until 2.a.m. Real-time news is only on the Internet. Act accordingly to those 'new arrivals', in particular electronics; wait andyou will have a good price.

4. go to the traditional market for the unprocessed foods like fish, meat, or vegetables. it is always cheaper (and negotiable) but for the processed ones, buy only on Saturday and Sunday when Giant, Carrefour, Alfa Ratelindo launch their weekend price wars.

5. going by taxi because the public bus is so crowded (with pickpockets) and so life threatening?, then take PUTRA or Express Taxis. They are as comfy as the expensive BLUE BIRD one and yet forty percent cheaper.

6. do not smoke. Period.

7. buy anything cash. Anything they say it is cheaper to buy on credit or the so called zero percent credit thing is a nonsense. Credit card companies are there only to make cash. Besides, paying cash helps build the resistance (as you are not always with the extra cash in your pocket), while using the credit card enhances impulsiveness.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Let us keep Christmas beautiful without a thought of greed,
that it might live forevermore to fill our every need,
that it shall not be just a day, but last a lifetime through,
the miracle of Christmastime that brings God close to you.

Ann Schultz

Friday, December 21, 2007


Somehow, I think, the best thing that education has done to women's mind is the entrenched belief that a stupid woman is one who chose to stay at home taking care of the house and kids and the husband despite her ability to earn her own money; a smart woman is one who is out, making money in an office, ideally somewhere on Sudirman, Thamrin or Rasuna Said.

It is education that teaches someone that what counts is what she or he can count; if what one does does not make money, then she does not do anything. A full time housewife is seen as a nobody, a somebody unemployed because the status does not give her money. And that is what happens to a woman who prepares dinner for the husband, bathe the kid, role-play live, daily, for the family on how to speak politely to older people, how to say grace before meals. And the list goes on just like what they say, "Mom's job is never done".

One smart woman told me that she could not imagine how her life would be if she chose to be like her mom, who only knew how to work around the house and raise kids.
I asked her, knowing that she is a married woman, who took care of her kids while she was working, she said it was her mom. "There is no way I should do that!"

What a smart woman!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


money, money, money!

I do not know if these people were demonstrating their lack of ethics or their global-warming related concerns. But they have successfully told people in other countries that money is the only language Indonesians speak.

This year news has seen us some Indonesians export hair bands from China that shocked us for what these hair bands were made of: Used condoms. Now, think if your daughter or loved one comes into contact with one of these and puts it in his or her mouth before doing his or her hair. What is feared most (in addition to its being so unethical) is that the condoms might have been contaminated with STDs. So far, we have heard no further investigation on the finding. And to show how we here just love used condoms, on December 11, 2007, reported as recyclable materials, one container with more than fifteen thousand kilograms of used condoms from Germany was confiscated by the Customs.

Remember those foods sprayed, mixed or injected with formaldehyde? Though they know how deadly it is, this lethal chemical has been the common element for some (food and cosmetics) businesses and has used for years.

I know what a bad guy is. But really, to me, these people are extraordinary. You know, the only remorse they have shown for what they have done is why people are making big out of it and why they were caught while applying it on their products. They have obviously been so successful to defy the logic that money is not everything.

But come to think of it, have I been playing too in the acceptable levels of extremes? I mean, what makes me think I am right if I work for a cigarette company?; if I work for a hospital that does not allow treatment poor people?; if I work for an expensive school that dismotivates the learning of the unfortunate? if I work for a TV station that only airs gossip shows that are more attractive to advertisers?

This Mammon looks so godly.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Before you start your Christmas holiday, maybe it is worth it to notice what has been going on to our airlines. And nothing could be more telling than what I read from an editorial titled METRO MINI TERBANG (flying Metro Mini) on Warta Kota December 7, 2007. With all that has been going on with Indonesia's airliners, the title simply affirms how the airliners are.

Everybody knows Metro Mini. This smaller-than-the-average-bus kind of transportation, painted red, roams Jakarta streets and has developed love-hate feeling towards its passengers, with the hate side taking a much bigger proportion. It is wanted for it is cheap. That is all. And the rest is , you know, hate.
It does not mind regulations as if they were there only to be broken; Metro Mini runs like crazy when it wants to and drags like a lazy snail when it wants to for no apparent reason nor does it concern passengers, be it their safety or comfort.

Now let's see our airliners. Except their cheap tickets, these are all you have heard very recently:
1. One plane's engine cover dropped on the runway. The authority admitted that the cover
could have been very dangerous for other planes
2. One engine stopped while the plane was on the runway. Imagine if it had stopped while the plane was taking off.
3. One failed to take off because the cargo was loaded too much on that plane's tail space, making it unable to beat the gravity.
4. One plane's body cracked, making it look like a bird with a twisted neck.

Even the cat with the nine lives prays.


One lame excuse leads to another lamer one.

I watched the first public appearance. What I expected to be a grand exit for a man fallen from grace leaves me laughing, wishing me I had the same excuse I would say to my wife.

When Andy F Noya asked him why he took another woman as his second wife, his answer, so unconvincingly was so metaphoric. He said that a child may never know why his mom takes him for immunization shot; it is painful and scary. Years later, he will know that the shot was for his own good; it protects him from diseases. Similarly, people now will never understand why he has to have two wives. Later on (which I do not know for sure when), people will understand his decision.
He later said that it is time for people to see God, not to see him instead; he was just a man delivering God's words but he was not supposed to be adhered to so much.

His answer should make people ask " Am I acting like a child when saying it is wrong for a man to have two wives?", or "Am I too young to have conviction for what (I believe) is morally right or wrong?" and his answer that God was alone to be adhered to was laughable too, forgetting that his job is one of jobs of character; a job that holds the occupant responsible for the moral integrity. I mean, if you are a a religious preacher, your success depends on how much you reflect your teaching. And when you are admired, it simply means that you are seen as someone who acts what he preaches. Now, how would you believe someone who talks differently from what he does?

Please God, beam me up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I am not against CARREFOUR, HERO, GIANT, ALPHA, but I must admit that traditional markets simply give me better offers. And the better offers here are the cheaper prices; something that those supermarkets have always attracted us with.

When you go to one of those, especially during weekends, you will notice that a small number of goods, are priced so low that it would be stupid if you do not buy them. But those are just the enticer for other goods you will most probably have to buy and of course, they are priced higher. You may say "I won't buy them", but your reasoning, like 'i-want-to-save-my-time' or 'i-might-be-busy-tomorrow', sometimes come up and prevail. And by the time you finish doing your grocery shopping, you would see that the amount you spend for the other (more priced) items is bigger. Big superstores are no fools; they have spent more time studying us.

When it comes to unprocessed products, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, then supermarkets can not beat traditional markets. Again, we are not talking about those promotional stuff usually offered during the weekend by the supermarkets. The reason is obvious; transaction with merchants at traditional markets is one man’s show; they are not concerned and burdened with such things like tax, air conditioning, security officers salaries, cashiers salaries, all elements that they make up the price of a product you pay for.

But if the traditional markets do not represent the smart, modern, sophisticated you, then do not go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I am just pathetic

December 6, 2007, METRO TV'S KICK ANDY will confront AA Gym, a man once seen the ideal example of what a man should be, particularly when it comes to man and woman relationship. A cleric, he has always delivering speeches that promote equality for men and women, a strikingly different view held by many Indonesians who practice polygamy and see women as sex objects.

Last year, he made a breaking news by taking a widow as his second wife (at the same time he still keeps the first wife). When asked why he simply did what he was against, he said that there were lots of things people should be minding rather than his OWN business. He also said this was HOW God humbled him (so people should start seeing that he was just a man).

Upon hearing that grand excuse, I feel so stupid.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Global warming is not about stopping cutting down and planting more trees but a shift to a life philosophy for living for less. In an economic system that does not relent to consuming less, some of the things here are not pretty. It is very important know that we start to revive the power of exercising the knowledge of what we need and what we want. We can live without fulfilling what we want.

Here are some of them:

1. Use public transportation. I know, with the transportion system so badly managed, any one with more money will naturally switch to private cars. But we know one car burns less (gas) than two and cars have been the number one contributor to this warming. In the meantime, persistently blame the government on the bad transportation and ask them to do something better about it.
This thought may also give you the idea of finding a job near your house. Not only will you save the environment but you will save your precious time.

2. Use paper less. Trees are chopped to provide us paper and it takes a lot of trees before they become one single sheet of paper. Many of our daily practices maintain this tree-cutting practice. For example, here in Indonesia, our education systems even encourage paper wasting so systematically unbelievable; schools demand parents to buy new textbooks every semester instead of handing down the old textbooks previously used by senior students.
Maybe we should be thinking over discontinuing subscribing the newspaper.

3. Do not buy products with plastic containers, when possible. Besides its stubborn nature to decompose, the production of products made of plastic contributes to the global warming requires a lot of energy to burn. If you think you can not live without the bottled shampoo, then I believe you can indirectly reduce significantly the production of the plastic container for shampoo conditioners (sold separately) by not buying them. How about bringing our own drinking water rather than buying cup or bottled water?

4. Only buy what you need. This is very important. As the globe embraces capitalism, this only encourages spending and more spending. If you do not need some of those products, then there is no reason for you to buy them. For me, it ranges from shaving creams, hair dyes, whitening lotions, facial foams (I use baby soap; it does all the cleaning I need), packaged or ready-to-eat foods like noodles, potato chips, etc. Make your own lists now.

I know it will surely hurt the business (these manufacturers of paper, cars, and plastic products) but this warming thing leaves us no choice.


I must admit that when talking about child abuse, I am inclined to thinking of those poor kids doing grown men's jobs to survive or to benefit the welfare of those grownups or corporates.

You see on the streets in Jakarta kids singing out-of- tune songs for some changes and they are being watched over not very far by adults who later collect the money these kids would receive or who later beat them if the kids have not done enough to raise people's pity showed in their giving away their money.

Many countries, in particular developing ones like China and Indonesia, have been engaged in this shameful practice, with some ignorance and nervousness. Thanks to these kids, they have help push the countries' economies upward but at the same time the source sacrificed to generate the economies is less. They know kids are inevitably cheap and employing them represses wage expenses, part of manufacturing costs, so the products the companies from which these government receive tax money would maintain competitiveness, something to strive at any cost.

These governments have never been that strict for it would hurt any body (of course, with the kids not considered as anybody); they want the companies to keep producing and grownups who are their constituents to know that they made it right to have elected them.

But enough with the above introduction.

I have come to realize that the abuse has occurred to those kids with wealthy and ambitious parents. Sad but true, any system in the world can not hold any of these wealthy and ambitious grownups accountable.

I have worked as a teacher and seen that this kind of parents have burdened kids with this silent abuse. The parents with their money would send the kids to the best school and the best school means that the kids study from 7 a.m to 5 to 6 p.m, leaving them no time to understand that there is more to life than schooling. To make sure that they do their other best, piano lesson, guitar lesson, English lesson, Mandarin lesson, and all those important lessons are taken AFTER school. Having to study in my class right after finishing school and exhausted, they had me many times lie to their parents, telling them that their kids had done okay in my class. What they did not know is that I had assured the kids that it was all right if they wanted to rest (by asking them not to follow my class and sleep at the corner of the class instead).
Who wouldn't have been torn apart when one of these kids came to you and told you if he didn't attend the class, no matter how dead tired they were from school, his parents would punish him?

But again, I will always find that anybody with money always has the reason.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I want to invite you all to experience something like Fear Factor. But this time you will see no video or camera.

Let us walk the street in Jakarta. Any street. You know, it wouldn't matter which you pick, you will meet them. Yes I am talking about ubiquitous motorcycles. With more than four million units are sold every year (the 2005 sales reached five million, for your information), you have already seen them roaring the street. And because of this, they deserve all unimaginable.

Let's start the excitement with the pavement. The pavement is supposed to be a haven for pedestrians, because, you know, it is the only road parts not allowed for wheeled vehicles. But, their excuse is that the roads are not big enough to contain them and these riders are in a hurry for somewhere. It is always your fault to stand in their way. I watched RCTI reporting one man, having scolded a man on a his motorcycle for his traffic reversing attitude, and he was beaten almost to death. I don't know what happened next to him.

Crossing the street too is another you can not miss. You see the traffic coming from your right when crossing the street. But to add the excitement, the riders are entitled to come from right and your left. You can not curse because here one curse leads to another bigger curse or even black and blue on your body. I know one man was hit by a police officer and this poor man was lectured by, well, that police officer that he should have looked his right and left before crossing the street. So, if you don't want to get run down in this street game, look both ways.

Eternity and danger seem so real when you wait for the traffic (the motorcycle traffic) to relent to allow you to cross the street. Simple, they know only two speed modes; Fast and Faster. They seem so humiliated to see the road they are on and just want to get past of it, as very, very fast as they could. On the streets near Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport, on Kuningan street, every morning, you would see them run at 160 km/hr or more. All of them. And I am talking hundreds. And this is the fun; crossing means declaring you are ready to be run into, at their will. Being on foot on the street here is like a pariah who can not claim any rights as a citizen.

Only when one dignitary or a politician's son gets hit (and run down by these bikes) will this game stop. In the meantime, enjoy.


I had been keeping some draft on those so called celebrities in my blogger. I had thought it was only I who made it too much. But what happened days ago really confirms the insanity.

One brawl at a nightclub here in Jakarta saw this woman much known for her scantily-dressed looking and cheap sensation not worth mentioning, who reported her case to the police and all of a sudden the WHOLE TV station here in Indonesia brought it to light. Who makes this one a celebrity??! You can not be one just because all you do draws a crowd with cameras and microphones, right?

When you come across the word celebrity, you know what it means and to whom it should address. You can not do it here. Here in Indonesia, a celebrity means anybody who has appeared, even only once as a supporting character, on one of Indonesia's sinetrons' ever-absurd series. So, somebody appeared once and she or he is entitled forever with the privilege of being one. That is it.

Anybody is a celebrity when people with camera, microphones and recorders come at her or him. And that is how our TVs choke us with; they approach someone and you must accept that that person is a celebrity. This swarming crowd determine who is a celebrity.

But all comes with a disturbing question; what have they done to deserve it? You would watch one man reporting live every detail of his divorce process (I am so embarrassed he was born male) and all the fight with his wife that comes along; one woman divorcing her third husband, etc and viewers have had no idea what made these fellows celebrities.

Having said all this, I want to say you are a celebrity in waiting. All you need now is a crowd to rave stupid things.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


If God asks me a question "Who am I to you?", then He wants me to fully understand that how I perceive of Him is simply a personal matter, meaning I am not endowed to push people around when learning that their perception is different from mine.

But that question "Who am I to you?' does not apply to some of these people. A small group of people interpret the teaching of one of mainstream religions differently and they have received, from those who say that they understand the teaching better, heavyweight blows on them; intimidations, physical abuses, and other forms of mistreatment. And this is not the first time these Indonesian God's people came down and pulverized those who'd DARE to interpret it differently.

Two years ago, a woman declared that she was the last Messiah and found herself under heavy public judgment and police investigations, thanks to those who disagreed with her idea and said that declaration was a disturbance to the public.
Years earlier, the same thing happened with this guy saying that God understood all languages and was not bothered if you did not use Arabic. He was imprisoned for daring to say that to speak to God, for example in Bahasa Jowo or Betawi, you would not need Arabic.

I don't know much of God. He knows me. Conviction is always a serious matter but the realization of it is a more serious to Him, I think.

And before I start torching these people, He tells me, "Ridwan, love your enemy".

Monday, October 22, 2007


I think the most difficult job for Webster and Oxford when they have to launch the new edition of their dictionaries is to define the word want and need.

I am sorry to say that people become more alienated with things they need to survive and things they want but of course, not anyone, that includes me, would dare to say openly that many are enslaved by wants. But the heart can tell that the ever creative ways people find to substitute need with want are so questioning.

SALE signs have absolutely been puppeteering people on this. I know. They simply put the signs and automatically it rushes people like crazy to department stores for clothes. The same attitude they demonstrate on cell phones, toiletries, hair color.

In some of the classes I teach, identity is confirmed with how new cell phones are. It is the only they communicate with each other by showing off the cell phones mostly used only for text-messaging (by the way, some of students have constantly been shy to open new messages or receive calls in front of their other friends. Later I learned that their cell phones were responsible for their shame; they are old ones and they never want to be target of questions like 'hey, are you not supposed to replace that one with newer model? I have seen that since last year')

God gave them brunette hair and they have it dyed black and they have it blackened for brunette God gave. Whatever that consummates a waste is all some will do .
It is very difficult to accept that at the same time people are dying for basic needs and it takes only one tenth of the money people spent on the hair color. You can check on those companies' fat incomes coming from their hair colors.

To save my blogger space, you could add yourselves to that list of confusion.

They say I am a saver. I think what they want to say is I am a broke cynic.
Ha.. ha...

In my defense, I don't want to forgo my weapon of choice, though it is very hard to resist the temptation to being enslaved.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I believe you all have watched Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. A convincing documentary, it simply tells us how much we have been puzzled by climate changes as we keep burning fossil-based fuels to run our economy; extended dry season in one region is contrasted with flooded lands in another region and snow melts faster than it used to.
And the moral tag line that follows is that you must replace this kind fuel with another one more friendly to the environment. And yes, it is your car mostly.

But all catastrophe aside, you can't stop Global Warming by driving a more environment-friendly one, replacing your Hummer with one running on hybrid fuel, let's say this famed Toyota Prius. What global warming does not tell you is that as you replace your Hummer, you pump car production to a higher level and this is not very okay in the process.
A new one, no matter how friendly it is, is bound to deplete and hurt the Earth more; the car manufacturer uses leather, paints, plastics that leave waste, it assembles your car with machinery powered with electricity running friendly gasoline, and let's make it quick, it transports your brand new car ready at your home, uses a truck running also on not so friendly gasoline.

And that's why the poor save the day with the idea of this Global Warming.

Poor people act better and thanks to their limited access to consuming. They have less to contribute the warming. A bus packed with people in the morning is a real environmental saver. True, the bus contributes to the pollution, but imagine if each of its passengers could buy their own cars. And the rich have, for example air conditioner and air heater, waiting to warm the atmosphere even more. The rich should also be grateful for the poor's inability to buy books for books were made mostly from woods taken from the forests that keep the Earth's climate cool.

I'd better shut down my computer before the poor get me on their list as one of the those responsible.

Monday, October 15, 2007


If I were a celebrity of sort and approached one day by a crowd of journalists asking me what someone should do to live a healthier and happier life, I’d say people shouldn’t be reading gossip news nor watching gossip shows. I’d also add gossips and stuff don’t do any good to life.

I have no idea if they will print or air my statement.

Any idea how many gossip shows we have on our TVs? Let’s see. One TV dutifully has four for you in a day, each lasts for 30 minutes; it gives you one at 6 A.M to welcome your new day, another one at 10 AM to make sure you remember what you watched at 6 AM, another at 3 PM to tell you it is something you have watched at 6 AM and 9 AM, and the other one at 9 PM just to see you realize that you are too late to feel disgusted. Please understand that it supplies you the shows everyday, and the other eight TV stations do the same.

I gotta admit that one of the things that annoys me is gossip news or shows on TV. I know it’s a living paradox; as we live in a time when TVs have contributed to the popular creed of “just mind your own business”, they at the same time simply do the opposite.

Nobody is benefited by gossip shows. Simply uselessly informed. If one watches the news that tells him that this celebrity just delivered her first baby from her third marriage, or, one TV informs that actor lost his hair after he’d lost his girl, then how would this information benefit him?

Gossip shows are bound to make their viewers small and leave them daydreaming, making them wish their life were as easy as the celebrities’. If staying in a hotel is what they avoid the best they can, simply because it is an expensive thing to do, the shows would tell you that this actor has lived in that hotel, costing him $5,000 every night; you bought a 100-meter-square property and you told the whole world how proud you were for your hard-earned achievement, and they would tell you that none of those celebrities were even willing to occupy on a property of less than 10,000 meters square.

One of the responsibilities of those TVs is to report news, not to create it. However, you have seen it too many times they would throw a rumor “One man indeed saw this basketball player holding hands with the mysterious woman so passionately”, that set this one guy on fire and he would naturally retaliate by saying “It is not true”, “It’s so groundless and irresponsible”. The press conference for denying would be set up but of course it couldn’t make up the damage done. One news got heard and somebody got hurt. Nobody realizes how unethical this has been.

So, when those TVs have tried so successfully to replace the word gossip with the word infotainment, I find it disturbing. To me, info is information, data, from which one benefits and entertainment is a performed spectacle which a spectator enjoys, but not at the expense of the performer. To my dismay, some suggested the word edutainment for this kind of show: education and entertainment.

Mom’s right; say no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I am glad I was born a male. At least this makes less vulnerable to the never-ending commercials telling me to wear whitening creams or lotions to guarantee a happier life.

I know you KNOW. Many women have been fooled with the idea that a happier and more successful life is privileged only to those with white skins, thanks to those whitening creams and lotions (they must have been SUCCESSFULLY fooled, otherwise the companies would have stopped paying TVs to air their products).

However, since it is not politically correct, I am not allowed to name them. But you know then; one TV ad depicts a woman having been sexually disregarded by her husband (and you can blame it on her dark skin) and Voila! after using the whitening, the husband starts to be sexually attracted to her again!. Amusingly, I wonder what men would think of seeing their intelligence being lowered to this kind of bait.

Another shows one woman, wearing an evening gown, prefers on a horseback because this horse-riding will expose her white thighs to be admired (I just don't get it). Again, thanks to the whitening.

I have never known skin color dictates meaningful life. Qualities do. One may have bleached skin but I don't think this will say and save anything . Things like politeness, gentleness, respectfulness, understanding are reasons why people stick around. One with white skin doesn't guarantee how well that person holds her tongue only to say anything graceful.

Absurd but true.

But some just have less time to check what's in and more time to check what's out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


This is no Tim Burton's film, but more it is a mixed feeling I've got with all TV showings going on now. You've got everything packaged over-religiously styled as if people would've watched them like those films highlighted in Box Office America in VOA.

I am no fan of sinetrons. Period. When I started to look for some entertainment from our TVs and all was available was the same settings and situations, then I couldn't help asking "Why are they all falling into the same things??!" You know; everybody's yelling at each other for sex and money in all the time, students who never make it to the class but only talk about fancy cars and stuff having nothing to do with school, people who are good to the bone against other people bad to the bone.

So came this religious month and I thought I would've been relaxed with less absurd reality twisters because, after all, this is a religious month. But I was wrong. Then like nothing bad happened before, they start showing these settings; everybody's yelling at each other for sex and money in all the same time IN THE NAME OF GOD, students who never make it to the class but only talk about fancy cars IN THE NAME OF GOD, and people who are good to the bone against people bad to the bone IN THE NAME OF GOD.

This is what I'd see this month from those sinetrons: If you want to see yourself as a good person before God, you must resist the temptation to defend your violated rights and JUST pray for His vengeance upon the bad guys AND you are suffered by people who don't share the same belief with you.
And in addition to that, these characters keep telling me I am just forever damned since I don't believe what they believe. One sinetron's fun times is when they display you one woman (of course with her religious symbol) is being harassed with her superior who speaks with a heavy Batak accent (sometimes another unjust character with Balinese accent) and some other abuse being prosecuted by a man with names like Thomas, Alexander, Made. It doesn't take the brain of rocket scientist to assume to what religion these so 'grotesque' characters belong.

Hello Dear Noel!