along came the baby..

So a new human being has come to join our little family
After much mulling...
I've decided to no longer update this blog and move here instead,
This blog has been a wonderful companion during my heydays.. my youth (*sobs),
And it's just time for me to accept that with the baby in tow, my life has significantly changed.. There is not so much "me" as an individual left.  At least until my baby's survival no longer depends on me 100%... Which may take a while.. *sigh*
So well..adieu for now. See you on the other side..
Update 29 Apr 2014: flash news! daycare! i'll be updating this blog with non-kid stuff! cheers!

A book review!

So it was the first couple of weeks after labor and I thought I needed a small writing exercise so I wrote this book review (in Bahasa Indonesia) for a friend's site called, a site about books, which was wonderful. But in the end we didn't quite resolve a petty issue: having a longer description of myself and what books mean to me xD I wanted to stay mysterious furthermore I always dislike having to explain myself, on anything.

It's a review on Crichton's posthumous novel "Micro", at the time it was the only book on my reading list that I finished.. well along with the Game of Thrones series..
Here goes..

Micro - Michael Crichton

Diskon seringkali menjadi alasan yang kuat untuk membeli sebuah buku. Begitu kuatnya sampai sering mengalahkan tekad diri untuk tidak membeli buku lagi sampai semua yang di rumah selesai dibaca.

Apalagi kalau yang sedang didiskon hasil karya pengarang favorit, atau buku tersebut pernah masuk 10 buku terbaik versi The New York Times kapan tahun.

Buku yang terakhir saya beli karena terkena rayuan diskon adalah 'Micro', karangan salah satu penulis favorit saya, Michael Crichton. Sebenarnya ada satu nama lagi yang dinisbahkan sebagai pengarang di novel tersebut: Richard Preston. Seperti Crichton, Preston juga seorang penulis fiksi ilmiah namun sayang belum ada dari karya beliau yang pernah saya baca.

Kekaguman saya pada Crichton sendiri berawal dari Jurassic Park yang saya baca ketika masih SD. Kalau tidak salah Ibu ketika itu membeli beberapa novel berbahasa Inggris dari garage sale tetangga.   

Sejak itu saya jadi tertarik berburu karya Crichton yang lain di perpustakaan. Setelah Jurassic Park saya juga melalap the Lost World, Andromeda Strain, Sphere dan Congo.

Perburuan terhenti ketika keluarga kami harus berpindah-pindah beberapa kali, selain itu hidup ngirit ala anak kos di jaman SMA dan kuliah juga merupakan kendala.

Karena itulah ketika beberapa waktu lalu saya melihat Crichton di tumpukan buku-buku yang sedang sale, saya seperti bernostalgia. Diskon-nya tidak seberapa, 10% saja. Membuat harga buku yang tadinya Rp 87,000 jadi Rp 79,000.

'Micro' bercerita tentang petualangan sekelompok mahasiswa PhD yang diundang untuk sebuah 'tur' fasilitas riset mikrobiologi di Hawaii.

Tentu saja something went wrong. Kalau tidak tentu tidak akan ada ceritanya.. Namun yang membuat saya agak kecewa adalah bagaimana simple-nya novel tersebut.

Alur cerita sangat bisa ditebak. Kalau boleh dibilang Micro adalah versi dewasa dari 'Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Sambil Belajar Biologi'.

Jujur, saya mengharapkan hidangan fiksi ilmiah yang bisa membuat saya deg-degan dan berdecak kagum akan logika sang pengarang.

Setengah jalan saya memutuskan untuk membaca Kata Pengantar novel tersebut dan barulah saya mengerti kenapa karya Crichton yang ini terasa hambar dan narasi ilmiah yang diberikan malah terasa seperti sang penulis sedang pamer pengetahuan, bukan untuk memperkaya cerita, serta mengapa ada nama Richard Preston.

Micro diterbitkan November tahun lalu sementara Crichton meninggal akibat penyakit kanker yang dideritanya tahun 2008. Ya, novel ini adalah karya "anumerta" Crichton yang belum selesai dan Preston ditunjuk oleh penerbit untuk menyelesaikannya.

Singkat kata, novel ini saya selesaikan dalam beberapa hari saja, tidak ada kesan yang tertinggal kecuali rasa kecewa karena karya terakhir yang seharusnya bisa jadi legacy sang pengarang favorit tidak mendapat perlakuan yang patut oleh rumah penerbit (yup saya menyalahkan mereka. Preston mungkin sudah berusaha sebisanya, tapi sekali lagi, dia bukan Crichton). Mungkin lebih baik bila penerbit membiarkan karya tersebut apa adanya, bahkan mungkin akan lebih menarik lagi apabila mereka mengadakan lomba terbuka, mengundang fans Crichton, penulis fiksi ilmiah, untuk menyelesaikan novel tersebut. Just my two cents.

Disclaimer: Resensi ini ditulis Mei 2012 namun karena satu dan lain hal baru bisa diselesaikan 7 bulan kemudian :p

'So, how is it like being a mother?'

Despite the occasional post-natal blues, the feeling that I'm physically stuck and professionally doomed, the realization that none of my old clothes fits except for some over-sized pajamas and nighties...and, you DON'T want to see what's underneath it,'s great thanks :)
(Words in italics means I only said them inside my head :p)

Now i understand why some new mothers obsessively taking pictures of their babies, because it's the only thing in their world that seems right *sigh*

Days Go By Unless You Put A Meaning To It

Last week was actually my birthday. We celebrated in a somewhat muted way. There was this weird self-discernment that once one is with a child, everything about one self does not matter anymore. Anyways, of course there was the midnight cake+candle blowing family ritual with my mom, sis, iko and navis (who for some weird reason was up crying 5 minutes to midnight). Also me and iko went to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert in the evening. It was not really birthday-related, the concert coincided with my birthday and we both love YYYs. The concert itself was nothing short of awesome. Karen O rocks!

Image courtesy of

Five days before my birthday we received a visit from a relative, a man whom we called mang Engkus. Actually I am not sure that I have seen him before. I remembered receiving a call from mom, who was away with dad and my other siblings, that mang Engkus was coming to see navis and mom and dad would be home soon.

I asked her who was he exactly and she said he was dad’s relative from West Java, I said okay (and, ‘meh..unknown relative’, I thought.)

He arrived with dad’s older sister, was very very quiet. Refused my invitation to come inside, but answered that he’d like to have black tea when I asked him what to drink (typical Sundanese).

I brought him his tea and a slice of pandan sponge cake, iko was with him trying to make conversation. Mang Engkus had mistaken me for some other relatives (maybe), he thought I went to Australia to study (no i didn’t go there, maybe you mistaken me with somebody else) said he last saw me in Batam when I was little (oh dear god i didn’t even remember I’d been to Batam).. yes, it was a painful conversation so I tried to keep it short.

Mom and dad arrived a few moments later but dad had to leave again. And then I didn’t see him again because I was busy with navis until they were about to leave.

Fast forward to last week Friday we received a surprising news: mang Engkus had committed suicide. We were shocked.

He was found hanged in a hotel room near Bandung, West Java. Police suspected suicide because they found his will, everything seemed to be prepared so deliberately and there were no signs of theft. He left his marriage certificate so they could quickly locate his widow, he also left his hotel room unlocked. That was how the room service people found him.

That was also when I “finally” found out that he was dad’s cousin. Not just some faraway relative. Mom admitted that I never heard, or rarely heard, about him and his family because they were rarely mentioned.

What makes it more sad was that there was a possibility that his suicidal motive was partially financial. Dad said in his will mang Engkus claimed that he had felt that his life burdens were too much to bear. I know that me and my cousins are not like BFF-close but I know that they can count on me and vice versa during difficult times.

Suicides, like other deaths, is devastating especially to those who are left behind. There were questions that would forever go unanswered like what could have been done? Did we miss the cue for help the last time he visited us? Had dad stayed a bit longer would he open up?

I know the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ is debatable. Aside from a self-promise to be nicer to strangers and ‘relatives’ his death also reminds me of the low days of my life and how the thought of suicide had crossed my mind. It stuck on me for days, I felt I was on a dead-end, helpless, there is no point to continue living, I prepared the how and when before at some point I gathered all my strength and decided to be braver.

Of course I have God to thank for the people I’ve met, the family I have if I had ever decided to take my life back then there would be no navis, I would not be married to iko, which i think was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far,..

So yeah, I was saddened by mang Engkus’ death. I wish he had not have seen his life that way, I wish he had believed that with enough courage and support things would eventually work out in the end.

My JG days in review

I was thinking to look back and review some of the most-read articles I've ever written in 2012 like a friend of mine did for her blog but then considering my time at JG as a full-time news reporter is almost up, might just as well do a review of ALL articles I've written. Most read ones and a number of the most memorable ones but unnecessary popular.

First story
My first piece (and headline) for Jakarta Globe, was co-written with our health reporter Dessy Sagita:
Indonesian Government to Cut State Health Insurance

It was my first day and our desk editor put me in tandem with Gita and it was Abu Rizal Bakrie’s last day as the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare. I remembered waiting for Mr. chin-man to make his farewell speech at this small park inside the Ministry’s office with other journos and was taught my first lesson on being a journo: patience.

The news was that the government believed some 16 million people had managed to increase their income and therefore are no more eligible for Jamkesmas, the state’s health insurance.

I was a bit fazed on what Bakrie actually said during the press conference, I only remembered back at the office I was asked to call mbak Ratna from Indonesia Corruption Watch to hear what she has to say about it.

I remembered waiting on Lin until he finished editing the story before going home, which I still do for weeks and months to come. Always having trouble going to bed before I know that all my stories passed the last copy editor.

First story to pass 10,000 views
*drum roll*
Porn Star Miyabi's Movie Premieres In Jakarta

I forgot who gave me the honor of going to the screening of this ..this .. thing. I don’t even remember writing about it. But lo! my name was on the byline.. so.. hmm..

Last para: “A Jakarta Globe journalist who viewed the film said it appeared to be aimed at teenagers and had little positive to say about the movie.”

*double hmm*

Me vs FPI
Nowadays a mention of FPI in a news story is a warrant for high web hits. But two years ago almost everyone forgot what this organization was capable of. For me this story started it all:
Muslims Protest in Bekasi Over Statue Of Women and Desecration of Koran

Since then I’ve been paying a watchful eye on Bekasi, FPI, hardline groups, landed stories after stories on these so-called vigilantes and defenders of Islam, the growing religious tension/anxiety in the country and of course: terrorism.

I also remembered interviewing ‘ulamas’ and ‘kyais’, people who are supposed to be the beacon of morality, but shocked on how close-minded most of them are while I was still fresh from my return from Holland, which fares better in terms of respecting minority (and Islam was a minority there).

At that time not so many media are willing to report on the tension, or openly stated that there was a growing tension, except perhaps the Jakarta Post. I also noticed journos on field tend to take in what the ulamas/government officials words ‘as is’, very little dared to question their rhetorics of ‘religious tolerance’ and ‘human rights’.

There aren’t many reporters who are interested to see for themselves what was the condition like in the neighborhoods of the houses of worship that are in dispute. News reports were more likely a ‘hearsay’ piece giving more than necessary attention to those who were immediately accessible (spokesman of such and such religious group) rather than relevant (local residents, neighbors).

Sadly, nothing much has changed these past three years, if not, nothing has changed at all.

Most-read stuffs
Iko asked me once which of my writings that I felt most proud/satisfied of. I told him that I get satisfaction from writing stories that made me spill blood, sweat and tears just to get them, and stories that are overlooked.

This particular one was special --> How Corrupt Is Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
Because I did everything on my own, the interviews, the research, going back and forth to the Supreme Audit Agency for the Ministry’s financial reports, poring over them, I almost felt like those investigative reporters. Almost.

It was quite rewarding as it garnered quite a lot of reads (15,086 views as of tonight). But the most-read cookies went to these two:

Indonesia's New Immigration Law Confuses One and All (25,645)
Muslim Groups Talk War Over ‘Christianization’ (15,698)

So there you go.

On second thought, will do a part 2 post on being a city reporter and writing series. 'Till then!
(All images courtesy of Google! Image :p #toolazytocreditonebyone)