Tuesday, December 25, 2007

TO SURVIVE JAKARTA

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

THOUGHT OF CHRISTMAS


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

MOTHER, WHERE ARE YOU TODAY?

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'S GODLY FOLLOWERS

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

FLYING METRO MINI

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.

KICK ANDY'S CONFESSIONAL BOARD (II)

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

ME AGAINST THE SUPERSTORES

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

KICK ANDY'S CONFESSIONAL BOARD (I)

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, AGAIN

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.

CHILD ABUSE REVISITED

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.