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Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Chat Group

It's no secret that I'm still very close to my high school friends. I can neither understand this phenomenon nor fully explain why, but  it is probably because they were there when I needed friends the most. 22 years had passed since we graduated from high school and that was a long period of time to lose touch, but we managed to resume our friendship, albeit virtually, thanks to the WhatsApp chat group. 

Yes, the chat group. And I had this urge to write about it after Jimmy uploaded the same old picture of a birthday cake. He always used back the same picture when it happened to be someone's birthday, haha. He did it so often that it now felt like a permanent fixture or a tradition! That somehow reminded me that the group had been around long enough for it to be felt like a part of my life.

One of the earliest group photos in 2015.

I didn't start the group. It was started by someone else, I couldn't remember whom, and it began in April 2015. Nevertheless, I was probably one of the most chatty guys in the group. It was a mutual relationship, I'd say. I loved having an outlet to vent out all the nonsense I had. On the other hands, the group fed on those bizarre comments and then it became lively. 

We could be talking about anything. If it was me leading the topics, you'd hear me planning for the events such as our next hangout or holiday. Sometimes we'd look back and being nostalgic about our younger days. Otherwise we'd talk about life, work, religion, money and politics. Just like any other groups, we'd have people that talked a lot as well as silent readers. Some would post our latest photos, others would upload random stuff. From time to time, a friend or two would get creative and come up with stickers that would last until now.

The "Haha! Idiot!" sticker that started all.

The group surely had its moments. There were times when we realized we could roll up our sleeves to help a friend in need and we did exactly that. We'd become sombre and reflective when we learnt that a friend we knew had died. Sometimes we'd be a bit too much in what we were saying. That's when chaos ensued and some of us, me included, would have some fun by adding fuel to the fire. You'd see offended people leaving the group, but more often than not, we'd be buddies again after some time. Yes, some never came back, but that was probably for the best. The chemistry just wasn't right for them, haha. 

And this eventually brought me to what struck me the most: the group's dynamics. We'd been together for five years that it seemed to me we had a certain place in each other's life. I couldn't speak on behalf of others, but when one of us, let's say Budiman for example, left the group temporary or hadn't appeared for quite a while, I felt like something was missing. The characteristics of the group was defined by us that when one was not around, it didn't feel right. 

I personally thought that probably we needed each other more than we ever realized. We were of the same generation, we were on the same boat and perhaps this was us growing old together. Worlds apart but virtually together, bound by the fact that we were from the same school. It has been great thus far and I surely enjoy being part of the group while it lasts...

The birthday cake Jimmy used and reused.

Persahabatan Virtual

Bukan rahasia lagi kalau saya masih sangat dekat dengan teman-teman SMA. Saya sendiri tidak begitu paham dan tidak tahu pasti apa alasannya, tapi saya kira ini disebabkan karena mereka dulu hadir di kala saya sungguh membutuhkan teman. 22 tahun sudah berlalu semenjak kita lulus dan ini adalah periode yang panjang untuk kehilangan kontak dan putus hubungan, namun kita ternyata bisa melanjutkan persahabatan, meski secara virtual sekarang, melalui grup di WhatsApp. 

Ya, grup WhatsApp. Dan saya jadi tergelitik untuk menulis tentang grup SMA ini setelah Jimmy mengunggah foto kue ulang tahun. Dia selalu menggunakan foto yang sama ketika ada teman yang berulang tahun, haha. Begitu seringnya dia melakukan hal ini sehingga terasa seperti tradisi. Hal ini lantas membuat saya berpikir bahwa grup ini sudah berlangsung cukup lama sehingga terasa seperti bagian hidup sehari-hari.

Salah satu foto bersama yang diunggah saat grup bermula di tahun 2015.

Bukan saya yang memulai grup ini. Saya tidak ingat lagi siapa pelopornya, tapi sepertinya grup ini muncul di tahun 2015. Meskipun saya bukan pencetusnya, saya boleh dikatakan sebagai salah satu orang yang paling ceriwis di grup. Bagi saya, ini tak ubahnya seperti hubungan yang saling menguntungkan. Saya senang bisa memiliki tempat untuk menuangkan ide dan celetukan yang konyol. Di satu sisi, yang lain pun seringkali terpicu oleh komentar saya yang hiperbola sehingga grup pun menjadi aktif.  

Kita bisa berdiskusi tentang apa saja. Jika saya yang mengarahkan pembicaraan, biasanya saya akan berbicara tentang kapan kita akan berkumpul atau jalan-jalan bersama lagi. Ada kalanya kita melihat kembali dan bernostalgia tentang masa lalu. Kita juga kadang mengobrol tentang kehidupan, pekerjaan, agama, uang dan politik. Seperti grup-grup lainnya, ada yang banyak bicara, ada pula yang hanya diam dan membaca. Ada yang mengunggah foto-foto teman, ada juga yang berbagi video atau berita. Dari waktu ke waktu, ada saja yang kreatif dan menciptakan stiker yang kemudian dipakai sampai sekarang.

Stiker legendaris yang memicu karya-karya selanjutnya.

Ada saja yang kita alami bersama di dalam grup ini. Terkadang kita terdorong untuk melakukan sesuatu demi membantu teman yang sedang membutuhkan. Ada juga saat dimana kita berbagi kabar duka dan mengenang kembali teman yang baru saja meninggal. Kemudian pernah terjadi pula peristiwa dimana kita tidak bijak dalam bercanda dan akhirnya salah satu pihak malah tersinggung. Suasana pun menjadi rusuh dan beberapa di antara kita, termasuk juga saya, kian memperkeruh suasana dengan provokasi lebih lanjut. Kalau sudah begitu, seringkali ada yang meninggalkan grup, tapi biasanya kita akan berdamai lagi setelah beberapa saat kemudian. Ya, ada yang tidak pernah kembali lagi, tapi itu mungkin keputusan yang terbaik, soalnya mungkin memang tidak sama frekuensinya, haha. 

Pada akhirnya semua ini membuat saya tertegun dengan satu hal: dinamika kehidupan dalam grup ini. Kita telah bersama lima tahun lamanya sehingga saya cenderung merasa bahwa kita memiliki tempat di hati masing-masing. Saya tentunya tidak bisa berbicara mewakili yang lain, tapi bagi saya pribadi, jika ada pemain inti yang meninggalkan grup cukup lama atau tidak terdengar suaranya setelah beberapa waktu, saya merasa seperti ada yang hilang. Karakter dari grup ini dibentuk oleh setiap kepribadian anggotanya sehingga ketika salah satu dari kita tidak ada, rasanya seperti ada yang kurang. 

Saya berpikir bahwa kita mungkin tanpa sadar memerlukan satu sama lain. Hanya kita yang memahami seperti apa rasanya berasal dari generasi yang sama. Mungkin inilah cara kita bersama-sama mengarungi hidup ini sebagai sahabat dan teman lama yang berasal dari sekolah yang sama. Sejauh ini luar biasa pengalamannya dan saya senang bisa menjadi bagian dari grup ini...

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Faith, Dreams And Regrets

I was listening to Frank Sinatra's My Way the other day. It was a good song and my favorite part was when he sang, "regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention." Frank's voice was so captivating that he made you believe in the lyrics. It was so thought-provoking that it got me pondering, what kind of life I had lived.

Looking back, I realized that I had gone through a lot. No, I didn't live a life full of danger such as growing up in a war-torn country or something. Those moments in my life were just slightly unfortunate, but not as bad as they seemed. In a way, whatever that happened gave me the perspective about faith, dreams and regrets.

Faith was something that I learnt gradually. I believe things happened because they were intended by the One above. It might not be pleasant when bad things happened, but through the passing of time, sometimes you'd see why they worked out that way. Faith is like never losing hope that it'll be alright.

My life had been a long chain of events that not only brought me to Singapore, but also shaped me into the person I am. I often think that the turning point was when I finished secondary school. I missed the registration period of this newly opened elite school because I was still holidaying in Jakarta. As a result, I enrolled myself to the same school I was graduated from (it has secondary and high school). 

Then the unthinkable happened. My Dad had a financial crisis and my family had to leave the town. Was it bad? Kind of. I mean, life changed overnight. But one thing for sure, if all this didn't happen, I wouldn't have such a close friendship in high school, go to Jakarta, meet my future wife and end up staying in Singapore. I would have led a very different life instead. 

After what I went through, I have faith that only the best happens in life, even though it may not look like it when it first occurs. A lot of things didn't happen the way I wanted, but they turned out to be better than I expected. That's not to say I just give up and don't do my best. It's just when my best was not enough, I made my peace when shit happened, knowing that it was not entirely up to me and things were still going to be fine.  

Now let's move onto the next one: dreams. These were what moved me so that I made good changes in life. I dreamt of making a film, then I woke up and did a couple in 2006. I was so curious about Laos that I eventually made a trip to Vientiane in 2010. Then, in 2013, I thought it'd be possible to watch a Paul McCartney concert. I made it happen in 2015. I loved We Are the World and had been thinking about producing my own version since 2014, then I finally did one with a little help from my friends in 2016. I remember staring at Abbey Road album cover in the mid 90s and finally crossed the zebra-crossing myself in 2016.

The list goes on and that's always the case. I dream a dream and try to fulfill the dream. Sometimes I achieved them, sometimes I didn't, but that's alright. Without dreams, life would be just a series of boring, repetitive activities. Dreams made life colourful.

The question now is, with life based on faith and dreams, do I have still have regrets? Yes, I have, and that's the reason why I was fascinated by how true the particular lyrics above were. Regrets, I had a few, but then again, too few to mention. The only one I could think of now was the fact that I couldn't read/write Chinese and I also couldn't speak the language really well. To think that my Mum had a degree in Chinese literacy! How ironic! 

That aside, I had lived my life the way I wanted it and I had the most fun out of it. I'd seen enough to have faith that things happened for a reason and they were going to be alright. And dreams brought me forward when they became reality. That probably explained why I didn't have much regrets in life. While I couldn't claim that everything was perfect, I'd say I'd been a happy person thus far. If you had read until here, I sincerely hope that the positive thoughts would rub off on you, too!

Life has been good, though not without difficulties.
From left: the teenage years, 20s and 30s. 

Iman, Impian Dan Penyesalan

Baru-baru ini saya mendengarkan kembali lagu My Way yang dinyanyikan oleh Frank Sinatra. Saya suka lagu ini dan bagian favorit saya adalah saat dia menyanyikan bait ini, "regrets, I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention." Dalam bahasa Indonesia, artinya, "saya memiliki penyesalan, namun terlalu sedikit untuk disebutkan." Suara Frank begitu menggugah sehingga dia membuat saya percaya dengan lirik yang dinyanyikannya. Saya jadi merenung, kehidupan seperti apa yang telah saya jalani.

Kalau saya lihat kembali, sudah begitu banyak peristiwa yang saya lewati. Oh, saya tidak hidup di negara yang dilanda peperangan atau mengalami hal yang sama parahnya. Kejadian demi kejadian di dalam hidup saya rasanya tidak seburuk itu, hanya naik-turunnya saja yang tidak begitu lazim. Kendati begitu, apa yang saya alami lantas memberikan perspektif tentang iman, impian dan penyesalan. 

Iman adalah sesuatu yang saya pelajari seiring dengan berjalannya waktu. Saya percaya bahwa sesuatu terjadi karena sudah ditentukan oleh Yang Di Atas. Saat suatu peristiwa buruk terjadi pastilah tidak menyenangkan rasanya, akan tetapi dengan berlalunya waktu, terkadang kita mengerti bahwa apa yang terjadi ini ada hikmahnya. Iman membuat kita tidak patah semangat dan yakin bahwa semuanya akan baik-baik saja. 

Hidup saya boleh dikatakan sebagai rangkaian kejadian yang bukan saja akhirnya membawa saya ke Singapura, tapi juga membentuk kepribadian saya hingga seperti yang anda kenal hari ini. Saya sering berpikir bahwa titik balik dari kehidupan saya adalah ketika saya lulus SMP. Saat itu saya masih berlibur di Jakarta sehingga melewatkan peluang untuk mendaftarkan diri ke SMA Taruna yang baru dibuka dan merupakan sekolah unggulan pada saat itu. Oleh karena itu, saya pun kembali melanjutkan SMA di sekolah yang sama.  

Kemudian yang tidak pernah terpikirkan pun terjadi. Ayah saya mengalami krisis finansial dan akhirnya seluruh keluarga pun pindah ke Bekasi, kecuali saya. Apakah ini buruk? Kira-kira begitulah. Maksud saya, hidup berubah drastis dalam sekejap mata. Meskipun demikian, kalau ini tidak terjadi, saya mungkin tidak memiliki persahabatan yang erat di masa SMA, mungkin tidak mencari kerja di Jakarta, mungkin tidak bertemu calon pasangan saya dan mungkin tidak pindah ke Singapura. Hidup saya mungkin saja benar-benar berbeda dengan apa yang saya jalani sekarang. 

Setelah apa yang saya lalui, saya memiliki keyakinan bahwa hanya yang terbaik yang terjadi dalam hidup ini, walaupun mungkin tidak terlihat seperti itu pas kejadian. Banyak hal yang tidak terjadi seperti apa yang saya inginkan, tapi ternyata justru akhirnya lebih baik dari apa yang saya harapkan. Ini bukan lantas berarti saya terlena dan bersantai tanpa berusaha. Justru sebaliknya, di kala upaya terbaik saya masih tidak cukup, saya sebisa mungkin menerima ketika kegagalan terjadi karena saya sadar ada hal-hal yang berada di luar kendali saya dan saya juga percaya bahwa semua akan indah pada waktu-Nya. 

Sekarang mari kita pindah ke topik berikutnya: impian. Ini adalah apa yang menggerakkan saya sehingga saya membuat banyak perubahan yang membuat saya menjadi selangkah lebih maju. Suatu ketika saya bermimpi tentang membuat film, lalu saya membuat beberapa episode di tahun 2006. Saya begitu penasaran dengan Laos sehingga saya akhirnya pergi ke Vientiane di tahun 2010. Selanjutnya, di tahun 2013, mendadak terpikir oleh saya bahwa sepertinya mungkin bagi saya untuk menonton konser Paul McCartney. Dua tahun kemudian saya berhasil mewujudkannya di Tokyo. Saya juga suka lagu We Are the World dan saya berangan-angan untuk merekam versi saya sejak tahun 2014. Dengan bantuan teman-teman, impian saya ini pun menjadi kenyataan di tahun 2016.  Satu contoh lagi, saya ingat ketika saya menatap album Abbey Road di pertengahan tahun 90an. Di tahun 2016, saya pun melintasi zebra-crossing yang paling terkenal di muka bumi ini. 

Apa yang saya kisahkan di atas hanya merupakan segelintir contoh saja dari daftar yang ada. Intinya senantiasa sama: saya bermimpi, lalu mencoba untuk mewujudkan impian tersebut. Kadang saya berhasil, namun tidak jarang pula saya gagal, tapi tidak masalah. Tanpa impian, hidup tak lebih dari rutinitas yang membosankan. Adalah impian yang membuat hidup ini menjadi lebih berwarna. 

Pertanyaannya sekarang adalah, dengan hidup berbasis iman dan impian, apakah saya masih memiliki penyesalan? Ya, jelas ada. Karena inilah saya jadi tergelitik dengan lirik lagu My Way. Saya memiliki penyesalan, tapi terlalu sedikit untuk disebutkan. Apa yang terpikirkan pada saat ini hanyalah fakta bahwa saya tidak bisa membaca dan menulis dalam bahasa Mandarin. Bahkan berkomunikasi pun juga belepotan. Padahal Mama bukan cuma sekedar guru bahasa Mandarin, tapi juga sarjana bahasa Mandarin. Betapa ironis bahwa anaknya dulu malas belajar dan akhirnya sekarang tidak menguasai bahasa Mandarin! 

Di samping penyesalan yang saya sebutkan di atas, boleh dikatakan bahwa saya sudah hidup seperti apa yang saya mau. Saya juga banyak tertawa dan menertawakan banyak hal dalam hidup ini. Saya sudah melewati berbagai hal yang membuat saya beriman bahwa sesuatu terjadi karena ada alasannya (meskipun kadang kita tidak pernah tahu kenapa) dan semuanya akan baik-baik saja. Selain itu, impian yang menjadi kenyataan juga turut mengubah hidup saya. Dua hal ini mungkin menjelaskan kenapa saya tidak memiliki banyak penyesalan dalam hidup ini. Saya tidak bisa berkata bahwa hidup saya ini sempurna, tapi sampai sejauh ini saya bisa katakan bahwa saya memiliki kepribadian yang riang gembira. Jika anda membaca sampai pada kalimat ini, saya sungguh berharap bahwa ada nilai-nilai positif yang sekiranya bisa anda petik dari cerita saya ini! 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Days Of Future Past

My last blog post was published two years ago and it was all about mystery and unexplained phenomenon. This time I will write something about myself. This is also to remind me of not taking things for granted.

The title, Days of Future Past, resembles X-Men movie title. Yes, I took it from there. The movie is about Logan traveling back to the past and it somehow reminds me of the past that has changed me into who I am now.

Let's start with secondary school days (SMP) 

I was a very naive and innocent boy. I didn't even know what porn is. But one day, when I rent a Slam Dunk VCD, the shop offered me adult movies. With a lot of hesitation and curiosity, I rented one. 

For me, it was an eye-opener and mind-blowing experience. And guess what, I started to host porn movies at my home for all my bros. Yes, I hosted for three years... till the day my mum found all the hidden VCDs under my bed. The only advice was, "do not watch too much."

Then came High School (SMA)

Everyone was heavily inspired by Michael Jordan. We drank Gatorade, wore Nike elbow sleeves, wore number 11 for basket ball jersey (Slam Dunk comics) and tried to be a basket ball star. I was one of them. While I might be the shortest in the team, but I was a starter and a school representative. I told everyone that I got three key strengths and they were, "cun, cun and cun," which means accuracy x3! 

It was lame, but it reminded me how over-confident I was!! Talk about puppy love, my first love was during high school. She was an elite student and she got a boyfriend before me. I believe that competing with one boyfriend is easier than compete with number of suitors.

As a foreign student (Diploma - Degree)

I came to Singapore for my Diploma and Degree. I scored a hattrick here (my student pass was rejected 3 times) due to bad academic results. Finally, after several applications, I ended up at a private school.

As a foreign student, on my first day at school, I was overwhelmed by so many students from other countries. I mixed myself with all Indonesians and started to get along with a lot more friends.

Few events that I still remember during university time
  1. A random guy stopped my friend at female toilet and asked her permission to touch her, as he wanted to buy her a new dress. I was called for help and I rushed to school. I dragged that guy to the car park and I was immediately surrounded by all his gang members. He threatened to gang up on me and I told him to go ahead, because I would only aim at him and make sure he would be crippled before me. The fight was eventually stopped by a security guard (lucky me!). 
  2. My friend called me at night and asked me to help her out. Her landlord was allegedly peeping when she took a shower. As I rushed over, I offered to call a police. She declined as she did not want this issue to go public. I kicked the landlord's main door and smashed his flower pot. Managed to claim back the deposit and payment for two months. 
  3. I was humiliated by a school teacher when we submitted the first assignment. While everyone printed theirs on paper for submission, I used handwriting instead. In front of the class, he returned my assignment and asked me to redo. Yes, I did not have a laptop during 3 years study at Singapore. I used library computers or rent from cafe to survive. I lost interest in listening to that teacher, so I normally slept during his lesson. One day, he again tried to humiliate me. He challenged me in front of all students to compete in a typing test. Of course I accepted his challenge. In the end, he lost the challenge and I also got my Top Student Award in my third year. 
Before my first job and after... 

Finally I graduated. When I went back to hometown waiting for the transcript, I was shocked. My Dad's shop used to sell big items such as fridges, TVs, washing machines, etc. But now he was only selling lamps and irons. In fact, he had used up all savings and did his best to let me finish my school. Then my Mum told me they would no longer sponsor me, even a ferry ticket to Singapore to find a job.

I borrowed money from my university friends and promised to pay them back once my first salary was in. With a lot of struggles and efforts, I found my first job in two weeks as the office boy cum application support.

I did not have money to buy formal shirts and leather shoes as I only had t-shirts and sneakers. With limited amount of money that I borrowed, I bought all the yellow colored, long-sleeves shirts at Giant as well as the cheapest formal shoes available there. I also bought a lot of socks, as the shoe sole got a hole after three days. I changed my socks every few hours, especially on rainy days.

It was while wearing this office attire that I found my first job. Since my first salary till now, I never stop sharing it with my family. And now, I thank God that I can afford to help my parents financially. They no longer need to worry about life and daily expenses.

Yes, for those who just got to know me, the first impression might not always be great. I might look arrogant, but I love to share. I could be fierce, but that's only because I protect my family.

Now I can say that I am at the comfort zone and I know midlife crisis might hit me. Before that happens, I am adjusting my habits, hoping the following will help:
  1. Read more from Blinkist. It's an app where we spend roughly 15 minutes to read the summary of some books. 
  2. Meditate using Calm app. It helps to clear my mind. 
  3. Exercise at least 5 times a week for 30 minutes. It helps to detox my mind and soul. 
Writing this blog reminds me that nothing ever comes easy. Yet nothing is ever too late. As long as you are moving, you are winning. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The First Time

About a year ago, I mentioned this idea to Hendra, a fellow roadblogger and a high school friend that joined our recent trip to Semarang. I told him that people from Pontianak normally visited Kuching when they first travelled abroad and he was probably the only person I knew that went to China for his first overseas trip. The holiday must be quite an eye-opener for him. It'd be nice to hear the story and I encouraged him to write one. 

The idea was never materialised, but it also didn't fade away. The world through the eyes of someone who came from a small, backwater town such as Pontianak sounded like a good story to tell. Then it occurred to me that since both Hendra and I were from Pontianak, I could be that someone, too, haha.

Hendra, during our trip to Semarang.

In order to understand how significance the first visit to other countries was, one had to know how it was like to grow up in Pontianak. Back in the 80s, electricity was inconsistent and every household always kept at least a box of candles inside the drawer. Home phone was a luxury and I remember walking to a phone booth to call my Dad's office using a public rotary dial phone. Unless the family was quite well-to-do, your TV would only have one channel: the state-owned TVRI. Kapuas Indah was the only plaza with an escalator, but throughout my childhood, I didn't recall it ever worked. ATM machine existed only in the mid 90s. KFC came in even much later and it was like a big deal then. 

That was the kind of place I grew up in. The years I spent in my hometown definitely shaped the way I saw and perceived things. I was four when my parents brought me to Jakarta for holiday and I was in awe with the escalator when I first saw it moving at Gajah Mada Plaza. A staircase that moved. How magical! More than that, the city had neon signs and tall buildings! I felt like a naive village boy and the capital city was surely beyond my wildest dream.

With my brother, Herry, when we first visited Kuching. 

But not even Jakarta would prepare me for my next destination. Kuching was nice, clean and so modern that it made Pontianak look dirty and undeveloped. The waterfront was so neatly done that ours suddenly looked like a half-hearted attempt. I remember being impressed by the Chinese words that the Malaysians used freely on their signboards. Never saw that before. The Malaysians didn't speak Bahasa. They spoke a mixture of Malay, Mandarin and English instead. Their currency was called ringgit and the notes looked classy when compared with the often crumpled rupiah. They had Kellogg's breakfast cereal, Paddle Pop ice cream and all those things that I only saw on their TV channel but never had a chance to try before. I remember laughing at their KFC that didn't come with steamed rice. Little did I know that only fast food chains in Indonesia provided steamed rice. Finally there was a seafood eatery in Buntal, which reminded me of a similar restaurant in Sungai Kakap, not very far from Pontianak. 

The weirdest memory, I must say, was the fresh milk and the comment made by my Dad's friend. He said he'd always have stomach ache when he drank it. At that time, I only ever saw Bear Brand milk in small tin cans before and I thought you only drank that when you had fever, so the sight of a healthy adult drinking a big bottle of Dutch Lady was rather bizarre to me, especially when he knew he'd go to toilet right after that. 

Like I said earlier, it was an eye-opener. I was about 10 years old and yes, I was aware that there was a country called Malaysia. But to actually be there, to feel the very existence of the culture, to taste the food, to listen to the language they spoke, or even an action as simple as seeing a different flag waving in the sky, all this was a special experience that would shake your senses to the core. 

Back then I was too young to appreciate the experience, but in hindsight, it was like a brutal awakening. Suddenly I was made aware of where we were as a country and apparently we were lagging behind. I mean, just nine hours drive away from Pontianak, there were people who lived an entirely different lifestyle in a seemingly better place. It was good to know that we had options should we choose not to live the same way as we did. Hence go travelling and be inspired. Oh yes, be very inspired by your first time abroad...

Back to Kuching with Keenan, Isaac and Bernard in 2012.
Yes, the camera resolution on mobile phone was still bad back then!

Kali Pertama

Kira-kira setahun yang lalu, saya menyarankan ide ini pada Hendra, sesama roadblogger dan juga seorang teman yang ikut serta di trip Semarang. Saya katakan padanya bahwa biasanya Kuching menjadi tujuan utama orang Pontianak saat mereka pertama ke luar negeri, jadi Hendra ini mungkin satu-satunya kenalan saya yang berkesempatan untuk ke Cina di kali pertama bepergian. Saya rasa liburan ini pasti mengesankan baginya dan tentunya menarik untuk dijadikan cerita. Saya lantas menganjurkannya untuk menulis pengalaman tersebut. 

Ide ini belum terwujud, namun juga tidak pudar dari benak saya. Melihat dunia dari sudut pandang orang dari kota kecil yang tidak begitu maju seperti Pontianak terasa seperti sebuah kisah yang menarik. Kemudian terpikir oleh saya bahwa saya pun berasal dari Pontianak dan memiliki perspektif serupa. Kalau begitu, saya saja yang menulis ceritanya, hehe.

Hendra, during our trip to Semarang.

Untuk memahami dampak dari kunjungan pertama ke luar negeri, anda harus tahu seperti apa rasanya tumbuh dan berkembang di Pontianak. Di tahun 80an, listrik tidaklah konsisten dan setiap rumah menyimpan setidaknya sekotak lilin di laci. Telepon rumah adalah barang mewah. Saya ingat saat saya berjalan ke kotak telepon umum dan menggunakan telepon kuno yang masih diputar nomornya untuk menelepon ayah saya di kantor. TV saat itu hanya menayangkan TVRI. Siaran lainnya hanya bisa ditangkap dengan antena parabola. Kapuas Indah adalah satu-satunya pusat perbelanjaan yang memiliki eskalator, tapi seingat saya, eskalator tersebut tidak pernah berfungsi. ATM baru muncul di pertengahan tahun 90an. KFC masuk ke Pontianak bertahun-tahun setelah kemunculan ATM dan menghebohkan seisi kota dengan kehadirannya. 

Seperti inilah tempat saya lahir dan dibesarkan. Sudut pandang yang unik pun terbentuk sebatas apa yang saya lihat dan ketahui selama bertahun-tahun di Pontianak. Saya berumur empat tahun ketika pergi ke Jakarta untuk pertama kalinya dan saya terperangah saat melihat eskalator yang berfungsi di Gajah Mada Plaza. Sebuah rangkaian anak tangga yang bergerak naik dan turun secara otomatis. Betapa menakjubkan! Lebih dari itu, Jakarta memiliki lampu neon warna-warni yang terang-benderang serta gedung-gedung tinggi yang tak pernah saya lihat sebelumnya. Saya merasa seperti bocah kampung yang naif dan terpesona dengan majunya ibukota Indonesia.

With my brother, Herry, when we first visited Kuching. 

Namun siapa yang menyangka bahwa bahkan pengalaman di Jakarta pun tidak bisa menyaingi apa yang akan saya lihat di tempat tujuan berikutnya? Kuching adalah sebuah kota yang berbeda, begitu bersih dan modern sehingga Pontianak terlihat kotor dan terbelakang. Kawasan tepi sungainya sangat rapi dan membuat Alun-Alun Kapuas terlihat seperti pekerjaan setengah hati. Saya terkesan dengan tulisan Mandarin yang ada di papan nama toko. Belum pernah saya lihat yang seperti ini sebelumnya. Orang Malaysia tidak berbahasa Indonesia, namun bercakap-cakap dalam bahasa Melayu, Mandarin dan Inggris. Mata uang mereka adalah ringgit dan uang kertasnya sangat bagus bila dibandingkan dengan uang rupiah yang seringkali ditemukan dalam kondisi lusuh dan mengenaskan. Mereka memiliki sereal Kellogg's, es krim Paddle Pop dan beragam makanan yang hanya saya lihat di TV3, tapi belum pernah saya coba sebelumnya. Saya tertawa saat melihat KFC mereka yang tidak disajikan dengan nasi. Tidak pernah saya sadari bahwa hanya restoran cepat saji di Indonesia yang memiliki menu nasi putih. Dan kemudian ada daerah pesisir bernama Buntal yang suasananya mirip seperti Sungai Kakap, tempat orang Pontianak menikmati makanan laut. 

Kenangan yang paling aneh adalah susu segar dan komentar dari teman ayah saya. Dia berkata bahwa dia selalu sakit perut kalau minum susu segar. Saat itu saya hanya pernah melihat Susu Beruang yang dikemas dalam kaleng kecil. Setahu saya, anda hanya minum susu tersebut kalau sedang panas dalam. Aneh rasanya melihat seorang pria dewasa yang sehat meminum sebotol susu segar Dutch Lady, apalagi dia tahu kalau dia akan berakhir di toilet. 

Ini adalah sebuah pengalaman yang luar biasa dan tidak terlupakan. Waktu itu saya berumur 10 tahun dan ya, saya tahu bahwa ada negara bernama Malaysia. Tapi beda rasanya saat saya berada di sana, merasakan sendiri budaya mereka, mencoba makanannya, mendengar bahasa mereka dan juga melihat bendera yang berbeda berkibar di langit biru. Semua ini adalah pengalaman istimewa yang mengguncang panca indera.

Di kala itu saya masih terlalu muda untuk bisa menghargai semua ini, tapi saat saya lihat kembali, rasanya seperti dibangunkan dari tidur. Tiba-tiba saja saya disadarkan bahwa negara kita sebenarnya agak tertinggal. Bayangkan saja, di pulau yang sama, ada bangsa lain yang berbeda gaya hidupnya dan tinggal di kota yang lebih modern dan tertata. Adalah baik bagi kita untuk mengetahui bahwa kita memiliki pilihan bilamana kita memilih untuk tidak hidup seperti apa yang selama ini kita lakukan di Pontianak. Oleh karena itu, pergilah berkelana dan carilah inspirasi. Oh ya, terinspirasilah dengan pengalaman pertama anda ke luar negeri... 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Good To Be Older

I often looked back and recalled the good times I had in my younger days, but as fun as those days were, it's actually good to be older. Yes, as surprising as it may sound, I never wish to turn back time and re-live the past. I like it now because life felt less complicated than it used to be.

Married life, especially with kids, is like an entirely different life altogether. In fact, it is so different that it creates a timeline called BM: Before Marriage. Suddenly what happened before was like a lifetime ago! However, that's not a bad thing and I'll share with you why.

School days were very much tougher, I'd say. First of all, you studied things you barely understood and most of them turned out to be not in use. Yes, things like trigonometry were so difficult that even with the help of calculator, I still got them wrong. How I'm glad that part of my life was over.

The Olodum shirt, popularized by Michael Jackson in They Don't Care About Us. 
Photo by Parno Bong.

Secondly, there were too many things to worry about and it got worse when you weren't good looking and yet came from a poor family. It didn't really matter if you were academically smart or not. You still had to worry about hairstyle and fashion. You'd wonder how to ask a girl out for a date, especially when you only got a bicycle while the rest of your friends had a car or a motorbike. Talk about peer pressure! There were these popular friends you could only be envious about! For the love of God, they even had their own gangs!

In hindsight, all these are so trivial, but they were big deals back then. It's crazy that a high school or college student gotta cope with these when you didn't even got a job to make money! Well, I started working in college and it felt cool to drive the office car to campus, but I'd be frank that there were days when I stayed back to let other students go back first before I pushed my bike out of the parking lot. It's a relief that these are no longer relevant these days.

Things got better when you finished school and joined the work force. Less things to learn (or make you feel stupid) actually boosted up your confidence and gave you chance to be more focus and specialised. On top of that, it was good to start making money. Now we actually could afford to do something we liked! But those long, crazy nights we wasted for the sake of having fun, it was good that it came to an end. Looking back, it was bloody tiring.

One of those long nights with my housemates, Fendy and Markus (right). 
Photo by Ng Lina.

That's not to say that I dislike the life before marriage. It was fun while it lasted. I still cherish every moment of it, but I'm happy the past happened only once. Things happened for a reason and they gave you the perspective you never knew you needed. It was through what I experienced before that I appreciate what I have now.

This is why I prefer today. Gone were the days when I had to study things that I didn't like, it's now replaced with spending time with my hobbies instead. I don't need to worry about my hairstyle now. I just keep it short and when I have to comb it, that means it's time for me to go for a haircut. Fashion is no longer my concerns, too. I don't dress to impress anymore. It doesn't matter what I ride or what I drive these days (I actually give up driving and let my license expire). I'm fine taking Grab or any other public transports. And those popular friends? It doesn't feel that way anymore, especially when some of them start losing hair as we approach 40, haha. But it's a nice change. I get to know them as who they are instead of who I thought they were like.

It's a freedom to lead such a simple life. More than that, it's a blessing to go back to a place called home. It's nice coming home to wife and kids. The smiles. The screaming. The laughter. The nagging. Everything. As compared with the erratic good old days, I love the stability I'm having now. Yes, it feels like a routine, but it's a more organised life at the same time. I don't think I wish to venture into the unknown on a regular basis again these days. Part of growing older, I guess, haha!

That simple life these days. 
Photo by Steva.

Nikmatnya Usia Sekarang

Saya sering melihat kembali dan mengenang serunya masa muda. Kendati begitu, saya sebenarnya lebih menikmati usia sekarang ini. Ya, walau ini mungkin terdengar mengejutkan, saya sungguh tidak pernah berharap bisa memutarbalikkan waktu dan kembali ke masa lampau. Saya lebih suka usia 30an menjelang 40 ini karena hidup terasa tidak serumit dulu. 

Kehidupan rumah tangga, terutama yang telah diramaikan dengan kehadiran anak-anak, adalah suatu kehidupan yang berbeda. Tiba-tiba saja apa yang terjadi sebelum pernikahan terasa seperti kehidupan sebelum reinkarnasi menjadi seorang suami dan ayah. Kendati berbeda, ini bukanlah hal yang buruk dan akan saya jelaskan alasannya. 

Saya rasa usia sekolah cenderung lebih sulit. Pertama-tama, kita belajar aneka mata pelajaran yang mungkin sama sekali tidak kita mengerti dan banyak di antaranya yang ternyata tidak dipakai di kemudian hari. Ya, pelajaran seperti trigonometri atau rumus relativitas Einstein sangatlah sulit, bahkan dengan bantuan kalkulator sekalipun! Betapa leganya saya bahwa bagian hidup ini sudah terlewati.

Kemeja Olodum yang dipopulerkan oleh Michael Jackson di lagu They Don't Care About Us. 
Foto oleh Parno Bong.

Hal kedua, ada begitu banyak permasalahan yang perlu dikhawatirkan oleh anak SMU, apalagi jika penampilan anda tidak menarik dan anda berasal dari keluarga miskin pula. Kalau sudah begitu, tidak terlalu penting apakah anda pintar dari segi akademik atau tidak. Anda masih tetap harus kalut dengan gaya rambut atau model baju yang anda pakai. Anda juga mencemaskan cara yang tepat untuk mengajak kencan gadis yang anda sukai, terutama jika anda hanya memiliki sepeda, sedangkan teman-teman lain sudah memiliki motor atau mobil. Bicara soal tekanan batin saat melihat teman-teman lain yang lebih populer, mereka bahkan ada kelompok sendiri. Yang tidak populer silahkan menepi agak jauh!

Kalau ditelaah kembali, ini sebenarnya masalah kecil, tapi terasa penting pada saat itu. Sulit dimengerti bagaimana anak SMU bisa bertahan di tengah cobaan seperti ini. Begitu banyak hal yang butuh biaya, padahal masih usia sekolah dan belum bisa mencari uang. Saya sendiri baru mulai bekerja di masa kuliah. Saya akui bahwa senang rasanya saat mengemudikan mobil kantor ke kampus, tapi ada juga hari-hari di mana saya harus menanti semua teman pulang duluan, barulah saya mendorong keluar sepeda saya dari tempat parkir. Senang rasanya bahwa semua ini sudah berlalu. 

Situasi dan kondisi pun membaik setelah pendidikan terselesaikan dan saya mulai masuk ke dunia kerja. Lebih sedikit hal yang perlu dipelajari dan kita berkesempatan untuk lebih fokus dalam bidang yang kita tekuni. Selain itu, apa yang kita kerjakan pun mulai menghasilkan uang. Tibalah masa dimana kita bisa membelanjakan hasil jerih payah kita. Bagi saya pribadi, saya menikmati saat bersantai, bersantap malam dan berlibur dengan teman-teman serumah. Tidak jarang kita berbincang atau berkeliaran hingga subuh atau menjelang pagi. Ya, heboh nian, tapi juga melelahkan, dan ada baiknya masa ini berakhir.

Menikmati malam bersama teman-teman serumah, Fendy dan Markus (kanan).
Foto oleh Ng Lina.

Jika ada kesan sinis dengan ulasan saya ini, perlu saya tekankan bahwa saya bukannya tidak menyukai kehidupan sebelum menikah. Kebebasan yang tidak ternilai ini sangatlah menyenangkan pada masanya. Saya tersenyum saat melihat kembali, tapi saya juga bersyukur bahwa masa lalu ini hanya terjadi sekali. Semua hal terjadi karena ada alasannya dan semua peristiwa ini memberikan sudut pandang yang menjadi bekal kita kelak. Dari apa yang saya alami inilah saya bisa menghargai apa yang saya miliki sekarang. 

Karena inilah saya lebih memilih kehidupan sekarang. Saya tidak perlu lagi belajar apa yang tidak perlu dan saya bisa menghabiskan waktu untuk mengerjakan hobi yang saya sukai. Saya tidak perlu khawatir lagi dengan model rambut. Cukup yang pendek dan rapi saja. Kalau saya sudah perlu menyisir rambut, itu tandanya saya sudah perlu ke salon. Model dan merek baju juga tidak lagi terlalu penting. Saya tidak perlu tampil penuh pesona lagi untuk menarik perhatian wanita di luar. Demikian juga halnya dengan kendaraan yang saya gunakan saat bepergian. Saya cukup puas dengan Grab atau angkutan umum lainnya seperti taksi atau MRT. Dan teman-teman yang dulunya populer? Hmm, rasanya tidak ada lagi yang seperti itu sejak kita lulus, apalagi di saat kita mulai berumur dan mulai ada yang tipis rambutnya, haha. Tapi ini perubahan yang baik. Saya jadi mengenal mereka apa adanya, bukan hanya mereka-reka seperti apa mereka sesungguhnya. 

Adalah suatu kebebasan untuk bisa hidup santai dan sederhana. Lebih dari itu, adalah sebuah berkat bila kita bisa pulang ke tempat yang kita sebut rumah. Adalah sebuah kebahagiaan tersendiri saat pulang menemui istri dan anak-anak di rumah. Senyumnya. Teriakannya. Tawanya. Omelannya. Semuanya. Dibandingkan dengan masa lalu yang hingar-bingar, saya lebih menyukai kehidupan yang lebih stabil pada saat ini. Ya, ada kalanya memang terasa seperti rutinitas, tapi di satu sisi juga terasa lebih teratur. Di usia sekarang ini, saya tidak berharap bahwa setiap hari merupakan sebuah petualangan yang penuh ketidakpastian. Mungkin ini adalah bagian dari proses penuaan, hehe...

Hidup yang lebih santai di masa kini.
Foto oleh Steva.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Before It's Too Late, Too...

A while ago, we did something called Before It's Too Late. It was basically a collation of appreciation from one friend to another. You see, people our age die, so instead of speaking what's good about the person at his or her funeral, it'll be better to appreciate our high school friends while they're still around. But it turned out that I was too busy gathering positive feedback that I hadn't written any myself by the time I finished collating them.

Here's the sequel, exclusively from me to you. The experiences we went through together enriched my life. They made me who I am today. The continuous learning from my generation is always a humbling experience. I mean, it's easy to look back and get a little too proud of what I had achieved so far. The thought that I'm just one of the guys is what keeps me in check.

Mul in Singapore. 

My story began with Mul. When we were in high school, I was as good as an orphan because I didn't stay with my parents. When you were in such a situation, it was heart-warming to be frequently invited to have a dinner prepared by a loving mother. His Mum, may God rest her soul, cooked the best meals ever. A few years later, when I was in college, HM and family did the same, too. They were kind to me and HM was like brother I never had.

With HM in Pontianak. 

Talk about brothers, Eday was definitely there throughout the years, from high school till now. We were the two rascals that were involved in many pranks and he used to be one that got away! We travelled together to Jakarta and Temajoh, long before I knew how much I loved travelling. I'm not sure if Eday ever realized this or not, but he was always the talented one, even since our formative days, and I idolized him. Now that we're entering our fourth decade in life, Eday is still a very good friend that often nudged me and voiced his opinion when he thought I'd gotten too impulsive or took a wrong turn. In this time of day when an honest friend is hard to come by, I'm glad that I still have him around.

With Eday in Hong Kong.

Then there was Ardian, another close friend during college days. We were from the same high school, but I didn't know him then. With HM, there was never a doubt that he was the smarter one and I always looked up to him. But Ardian was the first that I'd consider as an equal. We'd hang out, make music or just talk about life, but his biggest contribution was perhaps the time we spent practicing English. We didn't have many people speaking English willingly then and the only other choice was Parno who started speaking French, so Ardian was obviously a better choice, haha.

Parno and Ardian at Melda, Pontianak.

Oh yeah, now that Parno was mentioned, let's talk about him. I tend to think that everyone had a bit of Parno's story in their lives. That's how influential the man is and he wasn't even trying, haha. In my case, Parno was the one with actions that made me laugh, upset, worried, etc. He is like a constant reminder how flawed we are as human beings, but we'll eventually be fine. Parno is ever hopeful and I always remember his innocent comment about life: "because we're contented." If you put the sentence in the right context (you can read the story here), it is as philosophical as it gets!

The next person, the one behind the greatest friendship story ever told, was Endrico. I might have not said this very often, but he was a great person and it was an honor to be his friend. It's one thing to have a lot of friends during happier times, but he'd proven himself time and again that he was around when things got tough. If you've been following Roadblog101 for a while, you'll see him featured in many stories, so I'll keep it short here.

Anthony, Endrico and Jimmy in Kuala Lumpur.

By the way, there were times when you couldn't talk about Endrico without mentioning Jimmy Lim, too. They were like twins then. Though we aren't that close anymore these days, I was fortunate to have Jimmy around when I needed friends the most. Together with Endrico, he paved my way to Singapore and he showed me around. Come to think of it, perhaps that's what his role was in my life. The one that showed me around, from my visit to Kuching to my arrival in Singapore.

And this wouldn't be a complete story with the following two names: another Jimmy and a nice chap named Rudy. Both are my oldest friends. We hung out in many occasions since childhood days, but the last time we ever got together thus far, just the three of us, was last July in Pontianak. I went home after my Dad passed away and Jimmy happened to be in town. As I listened to them talking, I couldn't help thinking how far we had gone our separate ways, but yet there we were, the three friends since kindergarten, still sharing the same table for our supper. If miracles did happen in life, this must be one of them...

Jimmy and Rudy in Surabaya. 

Sebelum Terlambat Juga...

Beberapa waktu yang lalu, saya dan teman-teman mengerjakan artikel yang berjudul Before It's Too Late. Ini adalah semacam kumpulan apresiasi dari beberapa teman untuk teman-teman lainnya. Ide ini lahir setelah saya melihat bahwa teman-teman yang seumuran pun sudah ada yang meninggal, jadi daripada mengenang kebaikannya saat kita mengobrol di rumah duka, tentunya lebih baik bila kita mengungkapkan langsung selagi orangnya masih ada. Nah, ketika saya sibuk merangkai tulisan teman-teman, saya ternyata tidak sempat untuk menulis.

Berikut ini adalah lanjutan dari apa yang telah kita kerjakan sebelumnya, kali ini dari saya untuk beberapa teman seangkatan. Pengalaman yang kita lalui bersama memungkinkan saya untuk mencapai hari ini. Pembelajaran dari teman-teman seangkatan juga merupakan hal berharga yang senantiasa membuat saya rendah hati.

Mul di Singapore. 

Cerita saya dimulai dengan Mul. Semasa SMU, saya tidak jauh berbeda dengan yatim piatu karena tidak tinggal bersama orang tua. Dalam situasi seperti ini, saya sungguh merasa diterima saat diajak untuk makan malam bersama. Almarhum ibu Mul menyediakan makanan yang fantastis! Beberapa tahun kemudian, ketika saya kuliah, HM dan keluarganya juga sangat baik pada saya. HM sendiri bagaikan seorang abang yang tidak pernah saya miliki.

Bersama HM di Pontianak. 

Bicara tentang persaudaraan, Eday selalu hadir, dari masa sekolah sampai sekarang. Kita dulu sering bertindak iseng dan seringkali dia yang lolos dari hukuman! Kita bertualang ke Jakarta dan Temajoh jauh sebelum saya menyadari bahwa saya suka berjalan-jalan. Saya tidak tahu apa Eday pernah menyadari hal ini atau tidak, tapi dia sungguh berbakat dan saya mengagumi talentanya. Sekarang kita memasuki dekade ke-4 di dalam hidup ini dan Eday masih tetap merupakan seorang teman baik yang siap menegur saya bilamana dia merasa saya salah langkah atau terlalu gegabah. Di dunia di mana teman baik begitu langka, saya senang bahwa masih ada seorang teman yang mau memberikan saran dan pendapat.

Bersama Eday di Hong Kong.

Kemudian ada Ardian, seorang teman akrab di masa kuliah. Kita berasal dari SMU yang sama, tapi saya tidak pernah sekelas dengannya pada saat itu. Sebagai teman, HM itu tidak diragukan lagi kepintarannya dan saya selalu salut dengannya. Namun Ardian berbeda. Dia lebih terasa seperti satu level dan sama pula hobinya. Kita sering menghabiskan waktu bersama, bersantai, menulis lagu dan lain-lain, tapi kontribusinya yang terbesar mungkin adalah sebagai lawan bicara dalam berbahasa Inggris. Pada masa itu, tidak banyak yang mau berkomunikasi dalam Bahasa Inggris di Pontianak. Pilihan lainnya cuma Parno yang mulai gemar berbahasa Perancis, jadi Ardian pastilah merupakan pilihan yang lebih tepat, haha.

Parno dan Ardian di Melda, Pontianak.

Oh ya, bicara soal Parno, saya kadang berpikir bahwa setiap orang memiliki kisah Parno dalam hidupnya. Betapa berpengaruhnya Parno, padahal dia sama sekali tidak berusaha untuk tenar, haha. Bagi saya pribadi, Parno adalah teman yang membuat saya tertawa, kesal, cemas dan beragam perasaan lainnya. Dia ini seperti sebuah peringatan yang konstan bahwa manusia itu tidak sempurna, tapi pada akhirnya semua akan baik-baik saja. Parno selalu penuh harapan dan saya ingat komentarnya yang polos tentang kehidupan: "karena kita sudah merasa cukup." Jika kalimat ini diuji dalam konteks yang benar (anda bisa baca ceritanya di sini), maka akan terasa sangat filosofis! 

Orang berikutnya, yang menjadi inspirasi cerita persahabatan terdashyat yang pernah dikisahkan, adalah Endrico. Saya mungkin jarang mengatakan hal ini, tapi Endrico adalah seorang teman yang luar biasa dan saya bangga menjadi temannya. Adalah suatu perkara biasa kalau kita memiliki banyak teman di kala senang, tapi beda cerita kalau kita sedang dirundung kesulitan. Endrico sudah membuktikan bahwa dia tetap hadir di kala teman susah dan membutuhkan. Jika anda sudah mengikuti Roadblog101 cukup lama, pastilah anda sudah banyak membaca tentang dirinya yang sering muncul di berbagai cerita, jadi paragraf tentang Endrico saya persingkat hingga di sini saja.

Anthony, Endrico dan Jimmy di Kuala Lumpur.

Ada suatu ketika di mana kita pasti menyebut nama Jimmy Lim kalau sedang berbicara tentang Endrico. Mereka seperti kembar dan selalu bersama. Walau Jimmy tidak lagi dekat dengan kita sekarang, saya tetap bersyukur bahwa Jimmy hadir di kala saya membutuhkan bantuan kawan. Bersama Endrico, dia membuka jalan saya ke Singapura. Kalau saya pikirkan kembali, mungkin memang demikianlah peranannya. Dia adalah penunjuk jalan, mulai dari saat kunjungan saya ke Kuching sampai tibanya saya di Singapura. 

Dan cerita kali ini tidak akan lengkap tanpa dua nama berikut ini: seorang Jimmy lagi dan seorang teman lain bernama Rudy. Dua orang ini adalah teman saya yang paling lama. Kita berteman cukup dekat, berpisah dan bertemu lagi di berbagai kesempatan dalam hidup ini. Terakhir kali kita berkumpul bertiga adalah bulan Juli lalu di Pontianak. Saya pulang ke rumah setelah Papa meninggal dan Jimmy kebetulan mampir ke Pontianak. Saat saya menyimak perbincangan mereka, saya jadi membayangkan betapa jauh kita sudah menempuh jalan hidup masing-masing. Menakjubkan rasanya bahwa kita masih bisa bersama, tiga teman dari sejak TK, menikmati sotong di malam hari. Jika keajaiban memang terjadi di dalam hidup ini, pertemuan ini pastilah salah satunya...

Jimmy dan Rudy di Surabaya. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Staying At Home

Today was our 4th day staying at home after government implemented the Circuit Breaker. My seven-year old girl and me were making clay doll necklaces when out of the blue, she suddenly asked, "Ma, will this moment become my past when I grow up few years later?"

I was stunned for a while when I heard her question. I told her, "yes, this will be your memory when you grow up later."

She continued asking, "how was it when you were a child, Ma? Was there a handphone?"

I looked at those curious eyes and asked, "do you want me to tell the story of my childhood?"

She smiled and nodded her head immediately. "Yes, please."

"Ok, when I was your age, the only phone we had was a telephone. It was a big one with numbers for you to dial by rotating the wheel clockwise, number by number. The phone could only be used to call people. You could not use the phone to send messages, take pictures, browse the internet, listen to music, watch videos or any other things that you can do today with the handphone."

She looked surprised and asked me again, "so when was the handphone invented?"

"Hmm, handphones were available for public in  mid 90s. I had my first handphone when I was in college. It was Nokia 5110, a very popular type back then. Most of my friends used the same model, too."

Showing Motorola Razr to Linda. It was my last handphone before I switched to BlackBerry. 

She listened enthusiastically when I told her what I did during my spare time as a kid. Unlike kids these days, we did not have many electronic devices to entertain us. My father just had a video player and sometimes we watched classic movies such as the Sound of Music and Mowgli. The other activities were playing hopscotch and cooking in our garden, cycling, monopoly, etc.

As I told her my childhood memories, I was reminded that we should be grateful the technology now had become much more advanced than 30 or 40 years ago. Even though we had to stay at home all the time during the Circuit Breaker period, we could contact our friends and family via video calls. We could look at them and listen to their voices even though we were separated miles away. Thanks to technology, the kids could also study at home, learning new skill and updating their knowledge. We could even exercise at home thanks to all the free online classes we could find on YouTube. For those who like to cook or bake, they could explore many recipes and cooking classes that were also available online.

Having said that, instead of looking at our limitation during this difficult time, we could choose to look at the other side of the coin. We had time to expand our knowledge and skill, build a better relationship with our spouse and kids, as well as spending more time to get closer to our God. Most of the time we were too busy with our activities. Perhaps it was time to slow down and listen to His gentle voice. We definitely could overcome this situation together. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!