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Monday, October 21, 2019

Japanese Food

It might be hard to imagine now, but Japanese food was once a rarity and luxury in Pontianak. When I was in high school, my friend Eday introduced me to shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot) and we had it at, of all places, the Italian restaurant. If I remember correctly, it was less than IDR 50K in 1997. Probably it was around 30K which, if we calculated the inflation, was equal to IDR 214K in 2019. That was a lot of money then!

Thanks to the initial experience I had, I always thought Japanese food was so expensive that I was barely able to afford it. When I was working in Jakarta, I remember that one of the happiest moments was when we had Hoka-Hoka Bento for lunch during company events (note: bento is basically a lunchbox). Also known as HokBen as Indonesians like to shorten anything into acronyms, it was easily the most popular Japanese food in early 2000s, best eaten when it was free, haha. Then, when I had extra money, I'd go to Hanamasa with my colleagues Rusli and Indra for yakiniku (grilled meat) and shabu-shabu. Hanamasa was a restaurant with all-you-can-eat concept and it offered appetizers, main course, side dish and dessert for a fixed price per person.

Linda and her plates of sushi.

My first plate of sushi (vinegared rice topped with other ingredients) came much later on, probably some time in 2006. I just came to Singapore and was living on a tight budget. For a reason that I can't remember now, my friend Jimmy and I were at Changi Airport. That's when he brought me to Sakae Sushi. Just like a child, I was impressed by the conveyor belt. I mean, it kept moving, bringing food to people sitting next to it! How amazing! 

Back to the sushi itself, yes, I liked it immediately, but I had only three plates (and not even the red plate because that would be more expensive). I remember ordering makimono (rolled sushi wrapped in nori, thin sheets of seaweed) simply because there were six pieces in one plate, haha. Personally, I like inari sushi the most. Love the taste of its seasoned deep-fried tofu pocket! 

Now, some of people I know were hesitant to eat sushi because of its raw fish. The idea of swallowing raw seafood nauseated them. In all fairness, sushi is alright. I assume what they had in mind was actually sashimi, the fresh raw fish sliced into thin pieces and eaten with soy sauce. It tasted really good, but the thought of eating something raw might have deterred many from trying.

Sashimi at Sushi Tei.

I remember ordering sashimi for my sister-in-law as she never tried it before. After her college days in Nanning, she'd been quite adventurous and keen to try something new, so there we were, all looked at her as she took a slice of salmon with her chopsticks. I could tell from her expression that she was struggling to eat something that was subconsciously rejected by her brain. She smiled when she was done eating and she politely declined when I offered her to have some more. 

Ramen was a Japanese cuisine that I used to like back then, before 2014. From time to time, my friend Bernard and I would go to Ajisen Ramen. The turning point was when I visited Tokyo with family. Throughout the visit, my daughter who was a picky eater would eat only ramen. As she was not yet two years old, she wasn't able to finish the whole bowl. I ended up eating ramen all the time until I became very sick of it! That's not to say that I wouldn't eat it at all, because ramen actually had a rich taste. In Fukuoka, my wife and I tried the famous Ichiran Ramen. The portion was just nice, not too much, and as Ichiran was specialised in serving tonkotsu (broth made from pork marrow) ramen, it tasted really delicious!

Tonkotsu ramen at Ichiran.

Talk about noodles, ramen was actually based on Chinese wheat noodles (this is probably the reason why ramen stalls also offer gyoza, the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese jiaozi). The real Japanese noodles were called soba (thin noodles) and udon (thick noodles). Both can be served in cold or hot dishes. Udon was rather chewy thanks to its texture, the odd feeling that I didn't really like. What's unique and worth trying is the cold dishes. It was only right for tourist to try out a bowl of chilled noodles in Japan! Both the dried and soup versions were quite enjoyable. My personal favorite? Omusoba, the stir-fried soba (or yakisoba) wrapped in omelette! Like the sweet taste of it. One last thing, when I was in Tokyo, I noticed that ramen stalls didn't sell soba and udon. It was the same for soba and udon stalls. They also didn't sell ramen. Coincidence?

If you preferred rice, donburi (a bowl of rice and meat) would be a good choice. When Dad and I visited Japan, we'd go to Yoshinoya for a quick and cheap breakfast or lunch. Their gyūdon, literally translated as beef bowl, was suitable for our taste. Another variety that I also liked was tendon. It was a bowl of rice served with tempura, the battered and deep-fried vegetables and seafood. Another alternative that we'd go for was the Japanese curry rice. Dad and I used to frequent this restaurant called CoCo Ichibanya in every city we visited. 

That's all for Japanese cuisines at a glance. If you explored further, you'd found a lot of goodness in chicken katsu, chicken teriyaki, okonomiyaki, chawanmushi and many more! One interesting fact that I observed was the excellent quality of Japanese food, regardless how obscure the eatery was. Even the neighbourhood ramen stall next to Mitsui Garden Hotel in Tokyo served a very good ramen. I came to a conclusion that the Japanese must be very proud and meticulous when it comes to their cuisines. But by the end of a long holiday in Japan, there was only so much Japanese food that we could eat. When Dad and I visited the Chinatown in Yokohama, we immediately stepped into the chicken rice restaurant. The food was terrible, alright, but it was still a relief! Finally we could eat something that our stomach had been longing for!

Japanese curry rice.



Masakan Jepang

Walau mungkin terdengar janggal sekarang, pernah ada suatu masa di mana makanan Jepang itu langka dan mahal di Pontianak. Saya mengenal masakan Jepang dari teman saya Eday. Di kala SMU, saya diajak makan shabu-shabu (daging dan sayur yang dimasak sendiri di dalam kuah kaldu yang mendidih) untuk pertama kalinya, tapi bukan di restoran Jepang, melainkan di restoran yang bernama Italian di Jalan Nusa Indah. Harga per orang pada tahun 1997 itu di bawah 50 ribu rupiah, mungkin sekitar 30 ribu, yang bila dihitung kembali berdasarkan inflasi, berarti seharga 214 ribu rupiah di tahun 2019. Jadi shabu-shabu ini jelas tergolong mahal untuk disantap oleh anak SMU! 

Berdasarkan pengalaman tersebut, saya selalu merasa bahwa masakan Jepang itu terlalu mahal untuk saya nikmati. Ketika saya bekerja di Jakarta, adalah suatu kegembiraan tersendiri bilamana perusahaan mengadakan rapat dan menyajikan Hoka-Hoka Bento sebagai makan siang (bento itu bisa diartikan sebagai bekal makan siang dalam wadah kotak). HokBen, nama singkatan yang sering dipakai orang Jakarta, adalah makanan Jepang yang populer di awal tahun 2000an, paling enak dimakan saat gratis, haha. Kemudian, bilamana saya memiliki uang lebih, saya akan ke Hanamasa bersama kolega saya Rusli dan Indra untuk bersantai sambil menyantap yakiniku (daging panggang) dan shabu-shabu. Restoran ini memiliki konsep all-you-can-eat. Setelah membayar harga pas per orang, kita bisa mencicipi hidangan pembuka, hidangan utama, hidangan sampingan dan pencuci mulut.

Rusli dan Indra di Hanamasa Gajah Mada Plaza. 

Sushi, gumpalan nasi yang dibasuh cuka dan disajikan bersama seiris bahan makanan lain, pertama kali saya santap di tahun 2006. Saat itu saya baru saja pindah ke Singapura untuk mencari kerja dan tabungan saya sangat terbatas. Suatu ketika di Bandara Changi, teman saya Jimmy mengajak saya makan di Sakae Sushi. Saya ingat betul bahwa saya terpana melihat ban berjalan yang membawa piring demi piring sushi ke pengunjung yang duduk di sampingnya. Canggih betul! Menakjubkan! Saya tidak pernah melihat yang seperti ini sebelumnya! Saya sendiri hanya berani mengambil tiga piring (dan saya hindari piring berwarna merah karena lebih mahal harganya). Saya ingat bahwa salah satu sushi yang saya ambil adalah makimono (sushi gulung berisi telur) karena ada enam biji sushi per piring, haha. Secara pribadi, saya paling suka makan inari sushi. Kulit tahunya yang manis sangat sedap!  

Beberapa orang yang saya kenal pernah bercerita bahwa mereka tidak menyukai sushi karena kandungan ikan mentah membuat mereka merasa mual. Sebetulnya aroma ikan mentah tidaklah terasa saat kita menyantap sushi. Saya rasa yang mereka maksudkan adalah sashimi, irisan daging ikan yang disajikan secara mentah, segar dan dingin, yang biasanya dimakan dengan kecap. Rasanya enak, tapi kesan geli untuk menyantap daging mentah membuat orang enggan untuk mencoba.

Sashimi di Shiro, Hong Kong.

Saya ingat ketika saya memesan sashimi untuk adik ipar saya. Setelah melewati masa kuliah di Nanning, dia tergolong berani untuk mencoba makanan baru, jadi saya pun mengamati reaksinya saat ia menjepit seiris daging salmon dengan sumpitnya. Saya bisa melihat bahwa dia berusaha untuk menelan sesuatu yang ditolak oleh alam bawah sadarnya. Dia tersenyum setelah usai mencicipi sashimi dan dengan sopan mempersilahkan saya untuk menghabiskan sashimi yang tersisa.  

Ramen cukup saya sukai dulu, sebelum tahun 2014. Dari waktu ke waktu, teman saya Bernard dan saya akan singgah dan makan di Ajisen Ramen. Titik baliknya adalah ketika saya mengunjungi Tokyo bersama keluarga. Sepanjang liburan, anak saya yang pemilih dalam soal makanan hanya mau menyantap ramen. Saat itu dia belum genap berusia dua tahun, jadi porsi makannya pun terbatas dan saya senantiasa menghabiskan ramen yang tersisa sampai saya merasa ampun dan jera! Meskipun demikian, ramen itu sebetulnya enak. Sewaktu berada di Fukuoka, saya dan istri mencoba Ichiran Ramen yang terkenal. Porsinya pas dan Ichiran terkenal dengan tonkotsu (kuah kaldu dari sumsum babi) ramennya, rasanya benar-benar lezat.

Omusoba di Don Don Donki.

Bicara soal mie, ramen sebenarnya berbahan dasar mie Cina (mungkin karena alasan yang sama pula restoran ramen biasanya juga menjual gyoza yang merupakan adaptasi dari pangsit Cina). Mie Jepang  yang sesungguhnya disebut soba (mie tipis) dan udon (mie tebal). Dua-duanya bisa disajikan dalam bentuk dingin dan panas. Udon agak kenyal dan tidak begitu saya sukai, namun unik dan layak dicoba saat disajikan sebagai mie dingin, baik yang kering maupun yang sup. Kalau soba, yang saya sukai adalah omusoba, soba goreng (alias yakisoba) yang dibungkus dengan telur goreng. Saya senang rasanya yang manis. Oh ya, sewaktu di Tokyo, saya perhatikan bahwa kedai ramen tidak menjual soba dan udon. Begitu juga sebaliknya. Toko udon dan soba tidak menjual ramen. Kebetulan? 

Jika anda tipe yang menyukai nasi, donburi (semangkok nasi dan daging) akan merupakan pilihan yang tepat untuk anda. Ketika Papa dan saya mengunjungi Jepang, kita sering mampir ke Yoshinoya untuk makan pagi dan siang yang murah dan cepat saji. Gyūdon yang artinya mangkok daging nasi dan daging sapi, cocok dengan selera. Variasi lain yang juga saya sukai adalah tendon, semangkok nasi yang disertai tempura, gorengan udang dan sayur. Alternatif lain yang kita sukai adalah nasi kari Jepang. Saya ingat bahwa kita selalu makan di CoCo Ichibanya di setiap kota yang kita kunjungi.

Tempura di Tendon Kohaku, Singapura.

Demikianlah cerita singkat tentang makanan Jepang. Bila anda gemar icip-icip, masih banyak lagi kelezatan makanan Jepang yang bisa anda jumpai lewat ayam katsu, okonomiyaki, chawanmushi dan lain-lain. Satu hal yang saya amati adalah kualitas cemerlang dari makanan Jepang, tidak peduli seberapa terpencil tempat makannya. Bahkan kedai ramen yang berada di jalan kecil di samping Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo juga menyediakan ramen yang sedap. Kendati begitu, setelah menjelajahi Jepang dari kota ke kota, rindu juga rasanya dengan makanan Cina. Tatkala Papa dan saya berjalan menyusuri Pecinan di Yokohama, kita langsung memasuki restoran yang menjual nasi ayam. Makanannya tidak enak, tapi lega rasanya bisa menikmati makanan Cina lagi! 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Abbey Road

50 years after it was first released in 1969, Abbey Road topped the chart once again. To quote Paul McCartney, "It’s hard to believe that #AbbeyRoad still holds up after all these years. But then again it’s a bloody cool album..." I totally agreed with it. There was so much one could talk about this album. I had my story, too.

I remember one afternoon at my friend's house in the mid 90s. Leo was playing Come Together from Michael Jackson's HIStory album. I just got to know the Beatles then and somehow I learnt that Michael was covering the Beatles' song. That prompted me to check out the original version, so I rode my bike to the music store. I remember feeling a bit embarrassed by my enquiry on such an old group from my father's generation when I should have been asking about Take That or Backstreet Boys, but I shouldered on. I bought the Abbey Road cassette that day, my first Beatles album.

Abbey Road.

When I reached home and played it for the first time, I couldn't help smiling when I heard Come Together. The intro felt... archaic. The drums pattern was, to put it mildly, unusual. Michael's version was more straightforward and rocking. As Michael was one hell of a singer, his voice made John's sound subdued. But still, there was this lingering feeling that this was how it meant to be listened to. Slowly but sure, it became the definitive version. Years later, I heard Dave Grohl saying that if one could do the groovy drumming on Come Together and had people dancing, then the drummer must be a badass. He was right!

Right after that, came Something. I had to say that apart from Come Together and Oh! Darling (more on this later), I had never heard of other songs from Abbey Road. However, as one of the greatest love songs ever written, Something felt right since the very first time I ever listened to it. There was a certain sadness that came with it and the guitar solo amplified the feeling right into the listener's heart.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer was one I'd refer to as easy listening. It had a playful melody disguising the rather dark lyrics about a medical student who went around and killed people with his silver hammer. It was arguably the most catchy tune in the album, one with unmistakable pop song quality. I thought it was alright, but apparently the other three Beatles hated it, haha.

Oh! Darling was the fourth track on the album. It sounded familiar, as if I had heard of it before in the past. The song had the 50s feeling and it relied heavily on the vocals as if the singer was screaming his heart out. Much later on, I learnt that it sounded more like John's way singing than Paul's. But Paul wrote it, so he sang it.

Oh! Darling

The next track was Octopus's Garden. It was a lovable song that sounded rich, thanks to the drums and electric guitars. It also came with under water sound effect. Kind of cool, almost childlike! The voice was notably different and I eventually learnt it was Ringo who sang it.

Closing side one was I Want You (She's So Heavy), the only Abbey Road song that I disliked. The music and lyrics were so repetitive. In hindsight, it sounded like a precursor to some songs that Lennon would write after the Beatles broke up. It was not easy on ears and to make it more puzzling, the song ended abruptly. At first, I thought it was a defect and the cassette was running out of tape!

Here Comes the Sun opened the side two. When it began, I could immediately sense the optimism in the air! It cheered me up simply because it was so beautiful. The acoustic guitars were so gorgeous and the drums flowed seamlessly. Easily the best song from the album! Loving it then, still loving it now!

Then there was Because, featuring the three-part vocal harmony. I never heard such a song before. It's kind of odd, like a thick wall of vocals. I'd say that I'd listen to it only to appreciate the Beatles' mastery in term of recording. I didn't find the song enjoyable, though.

The medley came in afterwards. I was a greenhorn then and I didn't know what a medley meant. I saw a list of song titles, but I seemed to be listening to a never-ending song that kept changing all the time!  In all fairness, You Never Give Me Your Money (I remember being amused by the lyrics out of college, money spent. See no future, pay not rent. All the money's gone, nowhere to go) did end with fade away. It was not immediately obvious that the cricket sound was the catalyst for the previous song to segue into Sun King. If not for the gibberish they sung (I couldn't figure out what the language was then, but I was pretty sure it wasn't English), Sun King was rather forgettable.

The other side of Abbey Road.
Photo by Evelyn Nuryani.

A drum fill by Ringo led into the next track, Mean Mr. Mustard. To me, it served as the first part of the real medley. I liked what I heard when the second part, Polythene Pam, began. It was exciting and fast-paced with a strange English accent (apparently it was Lennon singing in Liverpool accent). Then, as if, the Beatles were waiting for that one particular moment, John shouted, "look out!" and they jumped into another song called She Came In Through the Bathroom Window. The song, unfortunately, was not as interesting as its title.

What I'd always believed as another medley came right after that. The piano-based Golden Slumbers was a strong opening. I liked the tinge of melancholy feeling that was followed by the heartfelt screaming. The sing-along Carry That Weight fitted in nicely right after that, before the tune brilliantly changed back and forth into the reprise of You Never Give Me Your Money. Then came The End, which was mainly an instrumental piece showing each Beatle doing solo, including Ringo on drums solo! The song ended which the short but cosmical lyrics, "and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

It went silent after that, giving me time to digest how mind-blowing the album was, but just when I thought that was it, Her Majesty came crashing in and went away instantly. I was like, "what was that?" Then it was really over.  

I remember staring at the album cover. I could only figure out John was the first one on the right thanks to the glasses he was wearing. I couldn't tell who the other three were, haha. I only realised it years later that when the LP was released, neither the band nor the album name appeared on the cover! But it become iconic and it continued to inspire me for the next two decades. In 2016, I finally crossed the zebra-crossing myself! Oh no, it was no ordinary album. Like what Paul said, it was a bloody cool album!


Here Comes the Sun.


Abbey Road

50 tahun sejak album ini pertama kali dirilis di tahun 1969, Abbey Road kembali menjadi nomor satu. Mengutip apa yang dikatakan Paul McCartney, "sulit untuk percaya bahwa #AbbeyRoad masih bertahan meski tahun demi tahun berlalu, tapi album ini memang mengagumkan." Saya setuju dengan pendapatnya. Banyak yang bisa dibahas tentang album ini. Saya juga punya cerita. 

Saya ingat suatu sore di pertengahan dekade 90an. Teman saya Leo memutar lagu Come Together dari album Michael Jackson yang berjudul HIStory. Saat itu saya baru mengenal the Beatles dan dari nama penulis lagunya, saya tahu bahwa lagu yang dinyanyikan MichaeI itu adalah karya John dan Paul. Tergelitik untuk mencari tahu tentang versi the Beatles, saya lantas mengayuh sepeda saya ke toko musik di Jalan Nusa Indah. Saya ingat bahwa saya merasa agak malu untuk bertanya tentang grup musik yang berasal dari generasi ayah saya. Seharusnya yang saya cari itu grup musik seperti Take That atau Backstreet Boys. Akan tetapi saya meneguhkan hati dan bertanya. Saya akhirnya pulang dengan Abbey Road, album the Beatles saya yang pertama. 

Ketika saya tiba di rumah dan memutar kasetnya, saya tersenyum saat mendengar lagu Come Together. Pola drum yang membuka lagu tersebut terdengar tidak lazim. Versi Michael lebih terkesan modern dan berirama musik rock. Michael sendiri sangat berbakat dan caranya bernyanyi membuat versi John terasa... jinak. Meskipun demikian, lagu pertama di Abbey Road ini memiliki kesan bahwa seperti inilah lagu ini dikehendaki oleh penulisnya. Perlahan-lahan, versi ini menjadi versi yang saya kenal baik dan sukai. Di tahun 2015, saya mendengar perkataan  Dave Grohl bahwa jika ada yang bisa bermain drum seperti di lagu Come Together dan membuat orang menari, maka pemain drum ini pastilah hebat. Betapa benar perkataannya!


Versi gagalnya pun menarik untuk didengar!

Yang berikutnya adalah lagu Something. Selain Come Together dan OhDarling (kita akan bahas ini nanti), saya tidak pernah mendengar lagu lain di album Abbey Road. Walaupun begitu, sebagai salah satu lagu romantis yang pernah ditulis, Something memiliki pesona yang menarik perhatian mereka yang mendengarkan lagu ini untuk pertama kalinya. Ada suatu luapan perasaan yang mendayu bersama lagu, yang kemudian melantun menggetarkan kalbu lewat petikan gitar di tengah lagu.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer terasa ringan di telinga. Musiknya riang dan mengecoh mereka yang tidak memperhatikan kelamnya lirik yang bercerita tentang pelajar di bidang medis yang membunuh orang dengan palu perak. Lagu yang ditulis Paul ini bernuansa pop dan gampang dinikmati, tapi ternyata tiga anggota Beatles lainnya membenci lagu ini, haha. 

OhDarling adalah lagu keempat di album Abbey Road. Entah kenapa lagu ini terasa tidak asing, seperti pernah saya dengar di masa lalu. Lagu ini bagaikan lagu tahun 50an dan bergantung pada suara penyanyinya yang menjerit. Ketika saya telah lebih mengenal the Beatles, saya menyadari bahwa gaya bernyanyi seperti ini lebih merupakan ciri khas John daripada Paul. Akan tetapi karena Paul yang menulis lagunya, maka dia pula yang menyanyikannya.

Lagu selanjutnya adalah Octopus's Garden. Lagu ini kaya dengan suara drums dan gitar, lengkap pula dengan efek suara laut dan gelembung air, sesuai dengan liriknya yang bercerita tentang taman gurita. Oh ya, suara penyanyinya terasa sangat berbeda dengan lagu-lagu lainnya. Setelah saya baca, ternyata lagu ini dinyanyikan oleh Ringo

I Want You (She's So Heavy) menjadi lagu penutup sisi pertama di album Abbey Road. Lagu ini juga merupakan satu-satunya lagu Abbey Road yang tidak saya sukai. Musik dan liriknya terasa diulang-ulang. Kalau saya lihat kembali sekarang, lagu ini terdengar seperti basis dari beberapa lagu serupa yang Lennon tulis setelah the Beatles bubar. Yang lebih membingungkan lagi, lagu ini tiba-tiba berhenti begitu saja sehingga saya sempat mengira apakah kaset ini rusak atau kehabisan pita. Ternyata efek ini memang disengaja!

Sisi kedua dibuka dengan Here Comes the Sun. Lagu ini adalah tipe lagu yang langsung terdengar mantap begitu mulai melantun. Saya langsung bisa merasakan nuansa optimis dari musiknya. Gitar akustik dan drum berpadu, mengalir dengan demikian indahnya. Boleh dikatakan bahwa ini adalah lagu terbaik di Abbey Road. Saya menyukainya dulu dan lebih dari dua puluh tahun kemudian, saya masih menyukainya. 

Kemudian ada lagu yang berjudul Because dan menampilkan paduan suara John, Paul dan George. Saya tidak pernah mendengar lagu seperti ini sebelumnya. Lagu ini tidak ubahnya seperti tembok suara. Saya mendengarkan lagu ini semata-mata karena saya menikmati keahlian the Beatles dalam rekaman, tapi lagunya sendiri tidak terlalu istimewa. 

Rangkaian lagu-lagu pendek yang disebut medley mengisi sebagian besar sisi kedua album. Saat itu saya tidak paham dengan yang namanya medley. Saya lihat ada banyak judul lagu, tapi apa yang saya dengar mirip seperti sebuah lagu panjang yang berubah-ubah nadanya. Lagu pertama, You Never Give Me Your Money (saya ingat betul liriknya yang menarik perhatian: out of college, money spent. See no future, pay not rent. All the money's gone, nowhere to go) boleh dikatakan masih memiliki akhir yang cukup jelas. Suara jangkrik yang kian nyaring akhirnya menghubungkan lagu tersebut dengan Sun King. Jika bukan karena bahasa aneh yang mereka nyanyikan (saat itu saya tidak bahwa itu adalah bahasa Spanyol), Sun King boleh dikatakan biasa saja.

Tabuhan drum Ringo menjadi pembuka lagu Mean Mr. Mustard. Bagi telinga seorang awam dan pemula seperti saya, lagu ini terdengar seperti bagian pertama dari medley. Yang menarik adalah bagian kedua yang berjudul Polythene Pam. Lagunya berirama cepat dan dinyanyikan dengan aksen Inggris yang asing di telinga (beberapa tahun kemudian baru saya ketahui bahwa ini yang namanya aksen Liverpool). Kemudian, ketika saat-saat yang dinantikan tiba, the Beatles pun berpindah lagi ke lagu lain yang berjudul She Came In Through the Bathroom Window. Kendati begitu, lagunya tidaklah seseru judulnya. 

Golden Slumbers yang berbasis piano mengawali apa yang terdengar seperti medley berikutnya. Saya suka kesan melankolis yang dilanjutkan dengan teriakan yang menjiwai lagu tersebut. Carry That Weight yang dinyanyikan bersama kemudian melanjutkan lagu Golden Slumbers sebelum berganti ke penggalan lagu You Never Give Me Your Money. Lagu The End yang hampir merupakan lagu instrumental menjadi penutup medley tersebut. Semua Beatles bermain solo. John, Paul dan George bermain gitar, Ringo bermain drum! Lirik pendek pun mengakhiri lagu tersebut: "and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Ruangan terasa sunyi saat lagu berakhir, memberikan saya waktu untuk mencerna apa yang baru saja saya dengar. Namun mendadak lagu pendek Her Majesty terdengar dan hilang begitu saja. Saya sempat terkejut, lalu menyadari bahwa album ini sudah benar-benar berakhir.

Di dekat studio Abbey Road.
Foto oleh Evelyn Nuryani.

Saya ingat bahwa saya memandang album yang baru saya dengar itu. Saya hanya bisa mengenali John karena kacamata yang dipakainya, haha. Lewat artikel di internet yang saya baca bertahun-tahun kemudian, saya baru menyadari bahwa saat piringan hitamnya dirilis, hanya foto mereka yang sedang menyeberang jalan itulah yang terlihat. Tak ada nama grup dan judul album di sampul depannya, tapi foto itu kelak menjadi sedemikian populernya sehingga album ini begitu gampang dikenali dan menjadi sumber inspirasi bagi saya. Akhirnya, di tahun 2016, saya pun menyeberangi zebra cross di album ini. Oh, saya setuju bahwa ini bukanlah album biasa. Seperti kata Paul, ini album yang teramat sangat mengagumkan! 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Motivation, Hard Work And Talent

Believe it or not, church can be an inspirational place to be. Last Sunday I was simply captivated by a drummer that played throughout the praise and worship. His drumming was alright, not exactly spectacular, but it somehow reminded me that drumming was something that I always wanted to do.

I remember the younger days when I drummed a bit. I was inspired by Ringo and I wanted to play so badly that I built my own drum kit from boxes. The only thing I could afford then was the drumsticks. The skill was self-taught and I think I managed to learn basic. Another thing I'd also learnt was, based on the complaints I got from my uncle, I could assure you that drumming was a loud hobby that might annoy the people around you, haha.

Playing music with Jun.

Jokes aside, it was due to the right motivation that I ended up learning the skills willingly. When it got frustrating, I was passionate and persistent enough to carry on. But motivation could only bring me as far as I could. As I continued daydreaming, I thought of hard work and real talents.

The only time I ever picked up something new recently was probably when I got myself a ukulele. The inspiration was, of course, from the Beatles. George Harrison loved ukulele so much that he would bring an extra or two, just in case someone needed it. When I saw Paul playing Something on ukulele as a tribute to George, I thought I should give it a try, too.

The self-taught session didn't start well, I must say. I had a hard time changing chords, even the simple ones such as C to G. Strumming was also not as easy as it looked. The whole ordeal was painful, literally, until I developed calluses on my fingers. It took me probably weeks to be able to play nursery rhymes that went from C, G, F to C again, but it was worth it.

Only after learning the basic chord changes from the nursery rhymes that I began to appreciate how beautifully written Something was. The choice of chords and their progression was rather unusual compared with songs by John and Paul, let's say Imagine and Yesterday. It showcased George's calibre as a guitarist.

I can play ukulele and tune it by ear now, but I can't say that I am very good at it, because I am barely able to do E and I still can't do B. The whole journey of learning Something (and ukulele in general) was a hard work. For the fact that I played and sang a bit, I might be musically inclined, but I was never talented, and that's where the difference is.

That thought led me to the time when I watched Rocketman. My favourite scenes was when Elton slowly came up with the music of Your Song. It was magical. That's what talent really was. You see, my friend Ardian and I did it the other way around when we wrote songs. He did the music and when he was done, I just had to fill it in with lyrics. That was easy. What Elton did was, he fooled around on piano, felt his way through and instinctively figured out what worked and was right for the lyrics. That was genius at work!

A long time ago, when I said how good he was in 3D design, my friend Kent August replied me there were talented people out there that made him feel demoralised for being unable to catch up, regardless how hard he tried. Now that I looked back, I think he was right. Some people are just that talented. If that's the case, why do we even bother trying then?

Here are some thoughts: for one to appear talented, there has to be many untalented people around. If everyone is just as talented, noone will stand out, then. Having said that, the talented people are few and far between. They exist to inspire us and to make a world a better place, but it is us that make the world go round. While the best result of our hard work may not make a dent in the universe, we are the ones that collectively shape the world. Eventually, everybody has each part to play. It's okay if we're less talented. What's not okay is we don't give our very best when we could...

Motivasi, Upaya Keras dan Bakat

Percaya atau tidak, terkadang gereja bisa menjadi tempat yang inspirasional. Minggu lalu saya menikmati permainan drum sepanjang lagu-lagu pujian. Permainannya tidak terlalu luar biasa, tapi mengingatkan saya kembali bahwa bermain drum adalah sesuatu yang saya sukai. 

Saya ingat masa SMU dimana saya pernah bermain drum. Saat itu saya sangat terinspirasi oleh Ringo sehingga saya pun membuat formasi drum dari kotak-kotak bekas. Satu-satunya yang sanggup saya beli adalah tongkat penabuh drum. Saya belajar sendiri dari lagu the Beatles dan bisa bermain sedikit. Saya juga belajar bahwa bermain drum itu merupakan hobi yang berisik dan mungkin tidak disukai orang, terutama paman saya, haha. 

Inti dari cerita singkat di atas adalah motivasi yang tepat membuat saya mempelajari keahlian baru ini dengan sukarela. Ketika terasa sulit, saya tidak berhenti karena saya cukup bersabar dan bersemangat untuk tetap lanjut. Akan tetapi motivasi itu cuma sebatas dorongan untuk tetap belajar. Saya lantas jadi berpikir tentang ketekunan berlatih dan bakat.

Bermain ukulele di hadapan Audrey.

Sekali-kalinya saya mempelajari sesuatu yang baru dalam beberapa tahun terakhir ini adalah ketika saya membeli ukulele. Inspirasi saya tentu saja berasal dari the Beatles. George Harrison sangat suka bermain ukulele sehingga dia selalu membawa lebih dari satu supaya bisa diberikan pada orang lain yang ingin bermain juga. Ketika saya melihat Paul memainkan lagu Something di konsernya untuk mengenang George, saya jadi berpikir untuk mencobanya juga. 

Upaya saya untuk belajar sendiri tidaklah mulus. Saya mengalami kesulitan dalam pergantian kunci, bahkan dari yang sederhana seperti dari C ke G. Memetik dan mengocok senar juga tidak segampang yang kita lihat. Butuh beberapa minggu lamanya bagi saya untuk bermain lagu anak-anak yang berpindah dari C, G, F ke C lagi, tapi upaya itu tidak sia-sia.

Setelah menguasai teknik-teknik dasar, barulah saya menyadari betapa indahnya lagu Something. Kunci-kunci yang dipilih dan juga pergantiannya agak berbeda dengan lagu-lagu yang ditulis oleh John dan Paul, misalnya Imagine dan Yesterday. Lagu yang bernada melankolis ini menunjukkan kemahiran George sebagai gitaris.

Sekarang saya bisa bermain ukulele dan menyetem senarnya berdasarkan pendengaran, tapi saya tidaklah terlalu mahir, terutama karena saya masih kesulitan dalam berpindah ke kunci E dan tidak becus dalam menggenggam kunci B. Proses pembelajaran lagu Something (dan ukulele) adalah kerja keras. Fakta bahwa saya bisa bermain sedikit alat musik dan bernyanyi mungkin menunjukkan bahwa saya memang hobi bermusik, tapi saya tidak berbakat. Di sinilah letak perbedaan antara kerja keras dan talenta. 

Saya lantas jadi teringat dengan film Rocketman. Adegan favorit saya adalah ketika Elton menciptakan lagu Your Song. Prosesnya sungguh menakjubkan. Bagi saya yang pernah menulis lagu bersama teman saya Ardian, kita mulai dulu dengan musiknya. Setelah Ardian selesai, barulah saya merangkai liriknya. Ini tidak terlalu sulit, namun apa yang Elton lakukan adalah sebaliknya. Dia memainkan piano sambil bersenandung, meraba dan mencari nada yang cocok untuk lirik yang ditulis oleh Bernie. Ini baru yang namanya jenius!

Komentar teman saya, Kent August, pun terngiang kembali di benak saya. Waktu itu saya memuji karya 3D yang dibuatnya di komputer, lalu dia menjawab bahwa masih lebih banyak lagi orang jago di luar sana, yang karyanya begitu bagus sehingga membuatnya patah semangat karena tidak mungkin baginya untuk mengejar ketertinggalannya dari mereka. Kalau saya pikirkan lagi ucapannya, saya rasa dia benar. Beberapa orang memang terlahir dengan bakat luar biasmencapaiuntuk apa sebenarnya kita berusaha jika tidak bisa mencapai level mereka? 

Saya pikir begini: seseorang terlihat berbakat karena ada begitu banyak orang yang tidak berbakat di sekelilingnya. Bayangkan jika semua orang berbakat dan sama hebatnya. Siapa yang bisa dibilang berbakat kalau begitu? Bila kita telusuri lebih jauh lagi, yang namanya orang berbakat itu tidak banyak. Mereka ini ada di dunia untuk membuat kita terinspirasi dan membuat dunia ini menjadi lebih baik, tetapi mayoritas dari kita yang kurang berbakat inilah yang mengerjakan banyak hal dalam kehidupan sehari-hari. Ya, hasil terbaik dari kerja keras kita mungkin tidak menggetarkan dunia, tapi upaya bersama yang kita lakukan menentukan apa yang terjadi selanjutnya. Pada akhirnya, setiap manusia memiliki peran masing-masing. Tidak apa-apa jika kita kurang berbakat dalam beberapa hal. Yang menjadi masalah adalah apabila kita tidak memberikan hasil yang terbaik dari kemampuan kita...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Land Of The Hui And The Mongol

As you might have known by now, one of my favourite pastimes was browsing the globe. When I looked at China, it occurred to me that I had only visited the coastal cities such as Guangzhou and Shanghai. The farthest I'd been to was Guilin and Nanjing. But the Middle Kingdom is such a big country and I was merely touching the tip of the iceberg. There are inland areas that I wish to visit one day, exotic places like Yunnan, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. Then, as I went through the map, I suddenly noticed a small, landlocked region called Ningxia.

I never heard of this place before, but apart from being amused by the name that reminded me of a product from Young Living, I didn't find it interesting. I skipped reading about Ningxia at that time, but little did I know that Ningxia refused to be skipped.

Ningxia.

On a separate occasion, I happened to see Susan's photos on Facebook. I was under impression that she visited Inner Mongolia, but it turned out that I was only partly correct. When I asked about her holiday, she told me that the first batch of her pictures were taken in a place called Ningxia. I was astounded. Sometimes life took its time to surprise me in a rather funny way!

It's not easy to visit the little known Ningxia. According to Susan, she had to transit in Xi'an before hopping onto another plane to Ningxia. It took her 10 hours from Jakarta to get there. By the way, Ningxia is an autonomous region, which means apart from the Han Chinese, there are other major tribes, too. In this case, they are Hui people that practice Islam.

The halal restaurant.

When Susan reached there, she was surprised by how clean the city was. I could relate with that, because there was this misconception that China cities were dirty. The truth is, they are much cleaner than cities in Indonesia and Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia, was no exception. 

What made Yinchuan different than other China cities was the Islamic atmosphere. The shops there had a mosque-like dome as their roof and Arabic words were found everywhere. Halal food and mutton were common whereas pork was almost non-existent. Cuisines were edible, although Susan would prefer more varieties instead of having too much mutton on daily basis. The city was developed and neon lights were shining bright at night.

When Susan hit the road.

From Ningxia, Susan went to the border of Inner Mongolia just to have a glimpse of the Mongol people. It was a two-hour ride and based on the map, it was likely that the small town she visited was Wuhai. As Susan and Mum were invited by the bosses from Mainland, they were in for a grand dinner that came with authentic Mongolian dance and performance. The cuisines were mainly mutton-based. Báijiǔ, the famous Chinese liquor, was served all the time. Susan quickly learnt that the waiter would continue refilling the empty cups, so it was wiser to drink very slowly, haha. Later that night, they gathered around the bonfire to dance. The Mongols were surely a lively bunch, eh?

And that ended the story from Susan. I felt that the trip was kind of too short for places as exotic as Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, especially when there were many things that she could have explored there! But that's alright, I'd probably go there myself one day, since I ever planned for it before. Yeah, the trip to Beijing, Erenhot and Ulaanbaatar! Anybody keen?

A ger in Inner Mongolia.



Negeri Orang Hui Dan Mongol

Kalau anda sudah mengikuti Roadblog101 dari sejak awal, anda pasti tahu bahwa salah satu hobi saya adalah menelusuri peta dunia. Ketika saya melihat Cina, saya menyadari bahwa selama ini saya hanya mengunjungi kota-kota yang berada di pesisir seperti Guangzhou dan Shanghai. Kota terjauh dari laut yang pernah saya kunjungi adalah Guilin dan Nanjing. Cina adalah negara yang besar dan kalau diibaratkan sebagai bongkahan es di laut, sejauh ini saya hanya menjangkau permukaannya saja. Sebagai besar daerah di Cina jauh dari laut dan saya berharap bisa mengunjungi Yunnan, Xinjiang dan Inner Mongolia suatu hari nanti. Kemudian, selagi saya menyusuri peta, tiba-tiba saya melihat Ningxia, sebuah kawasan kecil yang diapit provinsi lainnya. 

Saya tidak pernah mendengar tentang tempat ini sebelumnya. Akan tetapi, selain namanya yang mengingatkan saya pada produk Young Living, saya tidak merasa tertarik dengan kawasan ini. Saya pun melewatinya. Tidak pernah terlintas di benak saya bahwa saya akan segera mengenalnya lebih jauh lagi.

Aneka masakan Ningxia.

Suatu ketika, saya melihat foto-foto Susan di Facebook. Saya lantas mengira bahwa tempat yang dikunjunginya adalah Inner Mongolia. Dugaan saya tidak keliru, tapi hanya separuh benar. Ketika saya bertanya padanya, ternyata sebagian dari fotonya dipotret di tempat bernama Ningxia. Saya pun tertegun karena tidak menyangka akan mendengar tentang Ningxia lagi. Terkadang hidup ini memang lucu dan mengejutkan. 

Tidak gampang bagi turis untuk mencapai Ningxia yang jarang terdengar ini. Menurut Susan, dia harus transit dulu di Xi'an untuk berganti pesawat yang menuju ke Ningxia. Butuh waktu 10 jam dari Jakarta untuk tiba di sana. Oh ya, sebagai informasi, Ningxia adalah daerah otonomi. Ini berarti selain etnis Han, masih ada lagi etnis mayoritas lainnya. Di Ningxia, etnis lain yang dominan adalah suku Hui yang rata-rata menganut agama Islam.

Pemandangan di Ningxia.

Ketika Susan tiba di sana, dia terperanjat melihat bersihnya kota yang dikunjunginya. Saya bisa memahaminya, sebab kita seringkali mendengar kabar bahwa kota di Cina itu kotor. Kenyataannya, kota-kota di sana, termasuk juga Yinchuan yang merupakan ibukota Ningxia, bahkan lebih bersih dari kota-kota di Indonesia. 

Apa yang membuat Ningxia berbeda dengan kota lain di Cina adalah suasananya yang Islami. Toko-tokonya memiliki atap kubah yang mirip seperti mesjid dan bertulisan Arab. Makanan di sana halal dan daging babi sangat sulit dijumpai. Rasanya masih cocok, walaupun Susan merasa bosan menyantap daging kambing setiap hari. Kotanya maju dan lampu neon menyala terang di malam hari, menambah keindahan kota.

Di luar kota.

Dari Ningxia, Susan pergi ke perbatasan Inner Mongolia untuk melihat budaya Mongol. Perjalanan dengan mobil itu berkisar dua jam dan berdasarkan peta, nampaknya kota yang dikunjungi Susan adalah Wuhai. Karena Susan dan ibunya berkunjung dalam rangka memenuhi undangan bos Cina, mereka disambut dengan makan malam dan pertunjukan khas Mongol. Makanannya cenderung berbasis daging kambing. Báijiǔ, arak putih Cina, disuguhkan tanpa henti. Susan langsung menyadari bahwa pelayan akan selalu mengisi kembali cawan yang kosong, jadi lebih bijak untuk minum secara perlahan, haha. Usai pertemuan, mereka pun berkumpul di sekeliling api unggun dan menari. Orang Mongolia memang menikmati hidup! 

Dan cerita singkat dari Susan pun berakhir. Saya merasa bahwa liburan Susan terlalu pendek untuk tempat yang eksotis seperti Ningxia dan Inner Mongolia. Seharusnya dia tinggal lebih lama karena masih banyak yang bisa dijelajahi. Namun tidak apa, saya sendiri mungkin akan ke sana, terlebih lagi karena saya sudah pernah merencanakan rute Beijing, Erenhot dan Ulanbator. Jadi? Ada yang berminat?

Pertunjukan nyanyi oleh para artis Mongol.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Life After Kids

Many around me asked, "how do you cope handling four kids and yet you still seem to have time for yourself?" My answer was simple, "one day at a time, tomorrow is a brand new day."

Yes, our kids are our everything. But, our world doesn't only revolve around them. Don't forget, even thought we are their parents, we still have our own parents, friends, colleagues, spouse and even the society that revolve around us.

Time management is all about choices. You echoose to make your own daily schedule either a jam-packed one or a fruitful and rewarding one.


To Friends/colleagues:

I am an old school, I love to meet up with my friends! To me, chatting through the very much readily available texting services has no human touch. You can't really feel the emotion that the other party is currently having.

I love a good catch-up where we sit through a sumptuous dinner, just sipping through cocktails, beer or wine while chattering through the night. This does not need to be often, a monthly meet up is good enough for me.


Family / Spouse:

My husband, fortunately, is a hands-on husband. We're kind of able to divide the tasks proportionally when it comes to the matter of our kids.

Well, luckily for us too, we are able to at least have once a year "just the two of us" holiday. Being away from the kids for just a few days doesn't make us a bad parents peep. With all the advanced technology available, you can video-call your kids with just a touch of your finger away.

To me, a break from the kids equals to a couple-bonding time. Try to ask this: when was the last time you had a heart-to-heart talk with your spouse? I can bet 95% of the conversation at home revolves around kids. So, yes, pack your bag and have a great getaway with your spouse. The so called "just th two of us" kind of holiday doesn't have to be an expensive or long days. Take chances of our neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or even just a staycation in Sentosa.

Or may be, just do a date night. That is something I did quite often with my other half, too.

Family is equally important, especially as you grow older, you will realized that your parents are, too, growing old and you will understand them better and value them even more. My parents made it a point to go on yearly  holidays with us, three sisters, since we were young. I loves remembering the good times with them.

So now, I also try to do the same as what my parents had done for us. We have a yearly family holiday that includes my parents, my sisters and the kiddos, too. This is also usually the only time where us sisters meet as well (we lived in 3 different countries) to catch up and to bond.

     

Wellbeing and health:

Many of us parents had this tendency to use our kids as  excuses for many things. This included taking care of our own wellbeing and health.

We wpuld chide excuses such as, "my kid has projects that require me to help him/her with," or, "I need to revise with my kid as he/she has a spelling test tomorrow." Sounds familiar? That's me, too, sometimes. Should we think further, isn't taking care of our own wellbeing and health means that we love our kids, too?

Being a parent already is a hard work, both mentally and physically. It is so easy to stop caring for yourself and get overwhelmed. But when you stop caring for yourself, your ability to care for your child is impacted. Same goes for your ability to enjoy parenthood. You get mood swings easily or you're prone to illness, too.

By the way, it isn't selfish to take time to exercise. Besides, your kids are watching you and wants to be like you! Remember this phrase: "monkey see, monkey do."

A parent who is well-rested, eats a healthy diet, gets plenty of exercise, maintains close relationships with friends and gets help when he/she realizes that they are not coping well, is far more equipped to be the best parent he/she can be than those who don't do those things.

Getting the kids involved in exercising such as jogging, cycling or roller blading, also means more bonding time. Exercising also helps to stimulate their brains, therefore they can perform better. So why not?!

Another thing to remember, go for yearly health check up. No amount of money can buy back your health. Having a healthy body also means you get to spend more time with your loved ones. It also means you treasure your own wellbeing for the good of yourself, your kids, your family and friends.

Towards the Society:

We live in a world where something goes around, comes around. So why not do something good and give a little something back to the society that we live in? Many who know me, know that I like to get involved in giving back to society. The question is, why did I do it when so much time and effort were being spent? 

To me, most importantly, I want the kids to know how fortunate they are. They have a roof over their head, meals on the table and nice clothes to wear. To me, getting them involved in social works means more bonding time. Not all things are being taught within the four walls of the classroom and this is one of them. I want them to embrace empathy. 

I remember when I first started the fund raising at our church. My husband asked me why I troubled myself, waking up early to prepare the food, carry it to church, etc. His was basically saying,"you're troubling yourself unnecessarily when you can actually rest on weekend." My answer was simple. I want the kids to see that whatever we have, it's all because of God's gracious and kindness. The fund raising was like giving thanks for all His goodness towards my family and I.

So with all being said and done, having four kids is not really a big feat after all. Take it slow and avoid unnecessary stress. If things get too much on the plate, take a deep breath and take a break.


Written by: DeViLsHGaL

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Incredible India

India is probably the most fascinating country that I never visited thus far. We went a long way back. While I couldn't speak on behalf of my peers, it was safe to say that the country was influential since my childhood days. My earliest recollection was the masala films made by Bollywood. They were unbelievable. First you got people appearing out of nowhere just to dance and sing, haha. Then the fighting scenes were so bad to the extent that it felt like a joke. Some bad guys flew away even before the punches landed on them, haha.

On a more serious note, I first learnt about the Hinduism culture through a book about Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity. What I read was likely to be a Balinese version of Ganesha's origin. Not even Wikipedia mentioned the following story, but some Indonesian articles actually talked about the ancient manuscript called Ganapati Tattwa. I vaguely remember that it was about Ganesha fighting Nila Ludraka, a giant that was feared by all the gods. Eventually it was up to Ganesha to do something about it. He was this helpless baby that miraculously grew up every time the giant kicked him. Soon Ganesha was big and strong enough to fight back and won the battle, though he broke one of his tusks in the process.

For the longest time, my only source was the literature. From comics, I followed the adventure of Asterix, Obelix and Assurancetourix to India in order to save Princess Rahazade. I remember reading about Valmiki, the author of Ramayana. Michael H. Hart, in his book called the 100, told the stories about Siddhartha Gautama and Mahavira. Much later on in life, a friend introduced me to a novel titled Life of Pi. That's when I first learnt about Pondicherry. When I was in Yangon, I picked up Where China Meets India, a book that talked extensively about Assam and less known states such as Nagaland. The book also mentioned about the history of Buddhism in Bihar and Xuanzhang's journey to the West. He went alone without the Monkey King and other disciples, though.

From music perspective, the Beatles, especially George Harrison, introduced the Indian influence to their fans. The sound of sitar was first heard in Norwegian Wood. The word om, with a symbol that looks like number three, was sung by John in Across the Universe. I got to know about the maestro Ravi Shankar, the father of Norah Jones, through the Concert for Bangladesh. Then there was the repetitive My Sweet Lord, easily the biggest hit for George, that would get you chanting the Hare Krishna mantra. That's the time I realised that Vishnu was the God with many names!

Taking picture with the statue of Vishnu in Bali, 2004.

When I came to Singapore, I started having Indian colleagues and friends from various states and backgrounds. They were charming and smart people. When we had a casual conversation, I believe it was due the rich cultures that they always had things to talk about. Impressive! I grew to like Indian food as well during my stay here. The cuisines was irresistible, including sweets like gulab jamun. Tasty!

Then I planned trips, quite a fair bit of them. Oh yes, I once thought of travelling to Sri Lanka and flew in to Tamil Nadu to see Chennai, the famous butterball of Krishna in Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. I also looked at the map and planned the trip to Kolkata, Darjeeling and Gangtok. Sometimes I checked flights to Goa, too. I even told my buddy Franky that I was keen to tag along should he have business trips to Mumbai. Sadly, none of this was ever materialised.

Still the dream to visit India never faded away, thanks to Aamir Khan's movies that I watched recently. My friend Gunawan spoke highly of PK and since it was available on Netflix, I gave it a try. Not only it was funny, it also tackled the taboo and sensitive topics brilliantly. As I dug deeper and watched more of his movies such as Dangal, Secret Superstar and of course 3 Idiots, I was again enamoured by the culture and the beauty of India. Places like Ladakh and Shimla were so beautiful!

I can't say every Chinese Indonesian would have a similar exposure on Indian cultures, but it happened that way to me. It was funny how it started with the movies and, instead of waning, the interest was reignited again by the movies. In-between, there were books and music. India had been part of my life, since the formative years till today. I just hope that I'll have a chance to visit the country one day...

Enjoying chicken lollipop with Fera at Anjappar Chettinaad Restaurant.



India Yang Menakjubkan 

India mungkin merupakan negara paling menarik yang belum pernah saya kunjungi. Ada hubungan yang tidak terpisahkan antara India dan saya, sebuah hubungan yang sudah terjalin dari dulu. Bagi saya pribadi, budaya India sudah terasa dari sejak kecil. Kenangan pertama yang saya ingat adalah film-film kategori masala yang diproduksi oleh Bollywood. Hanya film India yang memiliki adegan orang-orang yang bermunculan entah dari mana untuk menari dan menyanyi, haha. Adegan pertarungannya pun tidak kalah berkesan karena jeleknya. Sebelum tinju mendarat, terkadang yang dipukul pun sudah melayang duluan, wahaha. 

Budaya India yang kemudian saya baca adalah tentang Ganesha, dewa Hindu yang berkepala gajah. Apa yang saya baca pada masa kecil itu mungkin asal-mula Ganesha versi Bali. Bahkan di Wikipedia pun cerita ini tidak ditemukan, namun beberapa artikel berbahasa Indonesia menyinggung tentang naskah kuno bernama Ganapati Tattwa. Ceritanya, sejauh yang bisa saya ingat, adalah tentang pertarungan Ganesha dan Nila Ludraka, raksasa yang ditakuti oleh para dewa. Ganesha berwujud bayi kecil saat bertarung dan setiap kali dipukul, ia pun tumbuh secara fisik, sampai akhirnya cukup dewasa untuk menyerang balik. Nila Ludraka berhasil ditaklukkan, tapi satu gading Ganesha pun patah karenanya.

Berfoto bersama Endrico, Jimmy and Ardian di depan patung Wisnu.

Untuk jangka waktu yang panjang, pengaruh budaya India bersumber dari buku bacaan. Dari komik, saya mengikuti petualangan Asterix ke India untuk mendatangkan hujan dan menyelamatkan Putri Rahazade. Saya membaca sekilas tentang Walmiki, penggubah cerita Ramayana. Michael H. Hart, lewat bukunya yang bertajuk 100 Tokoh Yang Paling Berpengaruh Dalam Sejarah, bercerita tentang Sidarta Gautama dan Mahavira, pendiri Budhisme dan Jainisme. Bertahun-tahun kemudian, seorang teman merekomendasikan saya sebuah buku berjudul Life of Pi. Dari sinilah saya mengetahui tentang Pondicherry. Ketika saya berada di Yangon, saya membeli buku Where China Meets India yang mengisahkan tentang Asam dan negara-negara bagian lain di India yang jarang terdengar, misalnya Nagaland. Buku ini juga membahas sejarah perjalanan ke Barat yang ditempuh oleh Pendeta Tong dari Cina ke Bihar, India. 

Dari sisi musik, the Beatles, terutama George Harrison, memperkenalkan pengaruh India kepada para penggemarnya. Suara sitar pertama didengar lewat lagu Norwegian Wood.  Kata om, yang simbolnya mirip dengan angka tiga, dinyanyikan oleh John di lagu Across the Universe. Saya pertama mendengar tentang Ravi Shankar, ayah Norah Jones, Lewat Concert for Bangladesh. Selanjutnya ada lagi My Sweet Lord yang repetitif liriknya. Lagu dari George yang duduk di peringkat #1 di Amerika dan Inggris ini akan membuat anda menyenandungkan mantra Hare Krishna. Lewat lagu inilah saya menyadari bahwa Wisnu adalah Dewa dengan banyak nama.

Ravi Shankar bermain sitar di Konser untuk Bangladesh.
Foto diambil dari buklet the Concert for Bangladesh. 

Ketika saya pindah ke Singapura, saya mulai mempunyai kolega dan teman Indian dari berbagai negara bagian dan latar belakang. Rata-rata orang India itu pintar dan memiliki ketrampilan dalam berbicara. Ketika kita bercakap-cakap, kita bisa berbicara tentang banyak hal, mungkin karena kayanya budaya mereka. Sangat mengagumkan. Saya juga menjadi suka dengan makanan India setelah pindah ke sini. Masakan mereka sangat menggoda. Bahkan manisan pencuci mulut seperti gulab jamun pun sedap rasanya! 

Saya juga merencanakan beberapa perjalanan ke India. Suatu ketika saya berpikir tentang kunjungan ke Sri Lanka dan terbang dari sana ke Tamil Nadu untuk melihat kota Chennai, bola mentega Krishna dan juga Pondicherry. Selain itu, saya melihat peta dan membuat rute dari Kolkata ke Darjeeling dan Gangtok. Kadang saya pun mengecek harga tiket ke Goa. Saya bahkan sempat berbincang dengan kolega saya Franky bahwa saya berminat untuk turut serta ke Mumbai kalau dia ke sana dalam rangka bisnis. Sayang sekali sampai sejauh ini kunjungan ke India belum terwujud.

Film-film Aamir Khan di Netflix.

Meskipun demikian, mimpi untuk ke India tidak pernah padam. Teman saya Gunawan berkomentar tentang bagusnya film PK dan karena film ini ada di Netflix, akhirnya saya coba tonton. Film ini ternyata lucu dan cerdas dalam mengangkat topik yang sensitif. Saya lantas menjajaki dan menonton film Aamir Khan yang lain seperti Dangal, Secret Superstar dan tentu saja 3 Idiots. Singkat cerita, saya jadi kian terpesona dengan budaya dan keindahan India. Tempat-tempat seperti Ladakh dan Shimla sungguh memukau! 

Saya tidak bisa mengatakan bahwa setiap orang Tionghoa memiliki pengalaman yang sama akan pengaruh budaya India, tapi cerita di atas adalah apa yang saya alami. Lucu rasanya bahwa semua ini bermula dari film dan kembali membara karena film juga. Budaya India secara tidak langsung membentuk saya lewat buku dan musik dari sejak dini. Saya berharap bisa berkelana di India suatu hari nanti...