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Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020: The Year Of Resilience

Year 2020 was a year like no other. I mean, I'd lived through all sorts of crises in the past 40 years, from local to global ones. When I was 13, I feared dengue for a while right after it killed my five-year old cousin. I remember the '98 riot that happened when I was about to graduate from high school. I vaguely heard about SARS outbreak when I was working in Jakarta. I was inside Futures dealing room when the news about subprime mortgage and the collapse of Lehman Brothers was broadcasted. 

Just when I thought I had seen every crisis there was, a full-blown pandemic happened. None that happened before in my life came close to the impact of COVID-19. Things were fundamentally different this year and certainly not in a good way. Plans were disrupted. Dreams were robbed. Life as we knew it abruptly ended. It changed, almost overnight. Then we were forced to accept the new normal. 

On a personal level, what I described above went like this: I had a plan about how life would begin at 40. I had a dream of how I would celebrate it. I, too, like many of us, had taken certain lifestyle for granted: the movie-going, the drinking, the traveling. You named it. Suddenly, the way I lived, the way I worked, the way the kids studied, they were all gone, replaced by working from home and tons of Zoom calls, online learning, mask-wearing commute, contact tracing, etc. You named it. 

It felt like one hell of a time adjusting to all this. But when I remember how we scrambled, especially during the transition time, everything seemed like a laughable distant memory now. The new normal had become less new and more normal. Regardless how impossible the unthinkable was, we persevered. No matter how unpleasant life ever was, we adapted and changed. Looking back, we were definitely more resilient than I ever thought. Funny how I failed to see it in the first place.

Year 2020 was indeed an unusual one. It stripped my privileges off, shoved all my plans down the drain and showed me that the world literally didn't owe me a living. After that, 2020 reminded me of the resilience that I had long forgotten. I just had to make the best out of the situation and appreciate what I had. Then, as it was reaching the end, 2020 emphasised more on hope: that it'd get better from here onwards. I felt it. I hope you could feel it, too. Here's to a better 2021. Cheers!

Getting ready for 2021!

2020: Tahun Yang Penuh Cobaan

Tahun 2020 sungguh tahun yang berbeda dari biasanya. Dalam 40 tahun terakhir ini saya sudah melewati cukup banyak krisis, mulai dari yang skala lokal sampai global. Di kala berusia 13 tahun, demam berdarah terasa mengerikan terutama karena sepupu saya yang berumur lima tahun meninggal akibat penyakit menular ini. Di tahun 98, ketika saya hampir tamat SMA, terjadi kerusuhan besar-besaran di Indonesia. Sewaktu bekerja di Jakarta, saya sempat mendengar tentang wabah SARS yang heboh di luar negeri. Saya berada di ruang jual-beli kontrak derivatif ketika berita krisis ekonomi dan tumbangnya Lehman Brothers disiarkan. 

Begitu banyak krisis yang saya lewati, sampai-sampai saya kira sudah melihat semuanya, lalu tibalah hari di mana koronavirus merajalela. Apa yang terjadi sebelumnya terasa tidak berarti bila dibandingkan dengan dampak COVID-19. Banyak hal mendasar yang mendadak berubah total menjadi lebih buruk dari sebelumnya. Rencana terganggu, impian pun terampas. Hidup yang selama ini kita jalani sirna begitu saja, berubah drastis dalam waktu singkat. Kita dipaksa untuk menerima apa yang disebut sebagai new normal

Secara pribadi, apa yang saya deskripsikan di atas bisa diilustrasikan sebagai berikut: saya sudah rencanakan bagaimana hidup saya bermula di usia ke-40. Saya memiliki impian tentang bagaimana saya akan merayakannya. Seperti sebagian besar dari kita, saya pun terbiasa dengan gaya hidup seperti menonton di bioskop, sosialisasi sambil minum bir dan melanglang buana. Anda tahu apa yang saya maksudkan. Lalu tiba-tiba semua, mulai dari gaya hidup, kerja kantoran, aktivitas sekolah anak-anak, berubah dalam sekejap dan digantikan dengan bekerja dari rumah, konferensi lewat Zoom, sekolah lewat internet, keluar rumah menggunakan masker dan masih banyak lagi. Anda tahu apa yang saya maksudkan.  

Di saat semua itu terjadi, proses penyesuaiannya terasa berat. Namun ketika saya ingat kembali semua upaya tersebut, terutama di saat transisi, rasanya seperti kenangan masa silam yang membuat saya tersenyum simpul. New normal tidak lagi begitu baru dan mulai terasa normal. Apa yang saat itu terasa tidak mungkin, akhirnya berhasil dijalani juga. Meski kehidupan sempat terasa menantang dan tidak menyenangkan, kita bisa beradaptasi dan menyesuaikan diri. Kita ternyata lebih tangguh dari yang kita bayangkan. Lucu rasanya bahwa saya tidak menyadari hal ini di saat COVID-19 baru mulai melanda. 

Tahun 2020 memang tidak lazim. Kebebasan hidup saya direnggut dan rencana saya buyar semua, seakan-akan ini adalah pelajaran bahwa hidup itu rapuh. Setelah itu, 2020 mengingatkan saya kembali bahwa manusia memiliki ketangguhan dalam menyesuaikan diri. Dari situasi yang buruk pun kita bisa mewujudkan sesuatu yang baik dan kita harus menghargainya. Kemudian, ketika mendekati akhir tahun, 2020 menekankan tentang harapan: bahwa semua akan menjadi lebih baik. Saya bisa merasakannya dan saya harap anda pun bisa merasakannya pula. Untuk tahun baru yang lebih baik! Cheers

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020: Memory Lane

Some might say we were just too naive when entering 2020. Well, I remember when I had a job as a chauffeur and I picked the children up to go from home to school and vice versa. I enjoyed my side job while doing my main business of opening salted fish shop. I started working as a chauffeur from October 2018 until February 2020. Then it suddenly stopped because of pandemic, wahaha. The virus came to town! After CNY 2020 and the dragon dance event were done, the lockdown announcement began. 

From that time onwards, I was out of side job and lost my side income. I even stopped being an online driver when the pandemic got worse in March. I ended up focusing more on the shop which had been opened by my Mum since 1998. 

Anyway, my activities became monotonous. Opened the shop at 7am and closed the shop at 3pm. At night, I just watched TV at home. That's it. The local news announced that in dealing with this pandemic, we had to stay safe by working from home. We just had to make do so I woke up early to exercise and jogged in the afternoon. It helped in maintaining discipline and good spirit. I liked it!

During this period, surgical mask became very expensive to buy. It became the most wanted stuff in the world. Luckily, after two months of lockdown, the government released the stimulus package to the needy.

Hard though life was, my fortune in earning money actually got better. I could save the profit regularly. Really felt blessed and grateful. On top of that, I could buy Yen, too, for my upcoming trip to Japan. Yes, it looked unlikely now, but I believed yes would be the answer. I would go to Japan, probably next year. This is how I stayed positive all this while. 

Now 2020 would be over soon. The world had struggled to make a better life in pandemic. Vaccines had been produced to wipe out the virus in the world. Here's to hoping a better life in 2021! It'd been tough. Students had studied online for 10 month at home. Every time I passed the schools, they looked empty. So strange and I felt odd, too. All because of pandemic, the worst thing that happened in 2020.

As we entered December 2020, Christmas time was here again. People seemed like they had gotten used to life in the time of pandemic. Some of them didn't care anymore, some of them still obeyed the safety protocol. Well, it's normal, I think, as not all human beings are responsible. Hence I just say the good thing: let's pray for a better 2021. Merry Christmas and happy new year!

PS: I'll be back again😁

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Coast-to-Coast Trail

A while ago, my friend Eday said that he'd want to try walking from one end to the other end of Singapore. For some strange reason, I seemed to recall that the distance from East to West was 42 km (according to Wikipedia, it was actually 50 km). It somehow felt doable, probably because I had seen my father-in-law completing the marathon run in seven hours back in 2011 at the age of 70, haha. 

Then I had a morning walk with my wife a week ago. When we exited Oasis Terrace, the view was... breathtaking. It was so beautiful that I stopped for a while just to admire the view. The sky, the sunlight, the river, the bridge, the buildings, the greenery blended in perfectly. I've always known that Singapore is a nice place to walk, but it was good to be vividly reminded again.

The view behind Oasis Terrace.

Based on the signage, we were somewhere between Punggol Waterway Park and Coney Island. That's when we also saw that the road leads to Jurong Lake Gardens. It's as far as a taxi ride of roughly SGD 30 from Lakeside to Sengkang, the amount we paid last September. The whole route is 36 km. Crazy, huh? But... what if it wasn't that crazy at all? If 42 km felt doable, 36 km should be doable, right?

When we had our dinner later on that day, I convinced my wife that we should attempt the Coast-to-Coast Trail. It'd be great. It'd be fun. We'd give our best and we'd remember this as our last achievement together in year 2020. She was game, so we did it on Thursday morning. We woke up early and took the train all the way to Lakeside MRT station. 

The Lone Tree.

The weather was cloudy, so it was not hot at all. It was 8am in the morning when we started searching for the Lone Tree in Jurong Lakeside Gardens, a sculpture made of recycled materials. From there, we started following the map on the National Parks app and walked to Bukit Batok Nature Park.

When we began our journey, I was expecting the park connector to be similar as the one I passed by from Kembangan to East Coast, ie. walkways isolated from the main road. However, with the next park 6.5 km away from where we were, I reckon it wasn't possible to do so. On top of that, some parts of the trail were also closed down due to construction work. 

The Coast-to-Coast Trail road sign.
Photo by: Yani Evelyn Robinson.

But Singapore is pedestrian friendly. Let's just say that, as long as you are willing to walk, there's literally a way. The road signs are good and we could find one related to Coast-to-Coast Trail every 200 m. The only problem here was a user problem. For example, right after breakfast, I deliberately ignored the sign in front of me, thinking that I could depend on the map. But I didn't zoom in to see the details. Needless to say, I took the wrong path. One overhead bridge later, the GPS showed that I started deviating, haha.

We reached Bukit Batok Nature Park at 10:51am, almost three hours after we started walking. The next stop, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, was much nearer. It only took us half an hour to get there. Then it rained, the first time ever for what would become the on-and-off rain that happened for the next two hours. At the same time, my phone was about to die after five hours of infrequent chatting, picture taking and map checking. Google Pixel 4's battery sucks!
Checkpoint #2.
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson.

We resumed our journey by relying on my wife's iPhone 12 while Pixel was plugged into a power bank. As we looked at the signage and compared with the next checkpoint on the app, I started noticing that they weren't always the same destination. The third checkpoint wasn't Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, but an obscure signage of Hindhede Drive. 

It was a long walk from there to the next one in Adam Road. By making use of umbrella and the shelter on the road, we were able to reach KAP mall. I had never been to this area before! When we passed by King Albert Park MRT train station, it rained heavily, so we cheated a bit by taking a bus, haha. We alighted at Tan Kah Kee MRT Station and walked to Adam Road Food Centre for lunch. It felt good to sit down, but the first few steps after that were painful and wobbly. 

Checkpoint #4.
Photo by: Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Still we managed to complete what would be the last leg of our walk. It brought us to the eerily quiet Kheam Hock Road (we passed by the Chinese graveyard) and then the long and slightly winding Lornie Road. By the time we turned left, we could see the Zig-Zag Bridge of MacRitchie Reservoir. The entrance, however, was still pretty far. 

The fifth checkpoint, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, was even farther. The weather had been kind thus far, but we could feel the afternoon sun now. It happened that there were a couple of SG Bike nearby, so it was about time that we continued by pedalling. 

SG Bike time!

That was the first time I ever cycled in Singapore. In fact, that was probably the first time I ever cycled that far since my school days in Pontianak. The one I rode wasn't a great bike and the chain had already come off when I first unlocked it so I had to fix this first, but it was nice to be riding a bike again. It was faster, but more tiring than walking, haha.

By the time we locked the bikes and walked towards the fifth checkpoint, we decided that it was going to be the end of the line. When we were at Adam Road Food Center, we still discussed about continuing our walk to Sengkang Floating Wetland, which was the seventh checkpoint. When we took this picture below, it was around 4:15pm. If we were to continue, we'd go home quite late at night and we didn't want that. 

The last one. 

So we boarded bus #88 and went home. Before I dozed off in the bus, I looked back and learnt three things that day. One, my wife went through all this with me, be it shine or rain, without a single complaint. Amazing. Two, Singapore is beautiful. This long walk showed me a side of Singapore that I had never seen before. Three, we woke up before 6am and even after we spent eight hours, we only covered 25 km. After going through this, I wished to say to my friend Eday, "walking from one end to another end of Singapore in one day is, perhaps, a tall order and not a very enjoyable idea, haha."

Coast-to-Coast Trail

Beberapa waktu lalu, teman saya Eday berkata bahwa dia ingin menjelajah Singapura dari ujung ke ujung. Mendengar hal itu, saya jadi teringat bahwa jarak dari Timur ke Barat adalah 42 km (jarak yang benar menurut Wikipedia adalah 50 km, hehe). 42 km terasa bisa dijajal, mungkin karena saya pernah melihat bapak mertua saya menyelesaikan maraton dalam tempo tujuh jam di tahun 2011, saat dia berusia 70 tahun, hehe. 

Kira-kira seminggu yang lalu, saya dan istri berjalan pagi. Ketika kita keluar dari Oasis Terrace, pemandangan di belakang gedung terlihat menakjubkan. Tanpa sadar saya berhenti sejenak untuk mengagumi langit, cahaya matahari, sungai, jembatan, gedung dan pepohonan yang menyatu dengan begitu indahnya. Saya tahu bahwa Singapura adalah tempat yang nyaman untuk berjalan kaki, tapi luar biasa rasanya diingatkan kembali secara spontan lewat keindahan di depan mata. 

Pemandangan di belakang gedung Oasis Terrace.

Berdasarkan papan petunjuk di tepi jalan, saya dan istri berada di antara Punggol Waterway Park dan Coney Island. Kita juga melihat bahwa rute ke arah barat akan membawa kita ke Jurong Lake Gardens (berdasarkan pengalaman di bulan September lalu, bila ditempuh dengan taksi dari Lakeside ke Sengkang, harganya kurang lebih SGD 30). Rute dari ujung ke ujung ini sepanjang 36 km. Gila rasanya kalau ditempuh dengan berjalan kaki, ya? Tapi... bagaimana bila kenyataannya tidak segila yang dibayangkan? Jika 42 km terasa mungkin untuk dijajal, harusnya 36 km itu tidak mustahil, bukan? 

Ketika kita bersantap malam, saya pun meyakinkan istri saya bahwa kita harus mencoba Coast-to-Coast Trail. Ini pasti seru. Ini pasti menyenangkan. Kita akan berupaya sebisanya dan ini akan menjadi prestasi bersama yang terakhir di tahun 2020. Istri saya mengiyakan, jadi kita pun sepakat untuk melakukannya di Kamis pagi. Sebelum matahari terbit, kita sudah berada di kereta yang menuju ke Stasiun Lakeside. 

Lone Tree.

Cuaca pagi itu terlihat mendung, jadi tidak panas sama sekali. Jam menunjukkan pukul delapan pagi ketika kita mulai berjalan mencari Lone Tree di Jurong Lakeside Gardens. Lone Tree bukanlah pohon sungguhan, melainkan sebuah karya seni yang dibuat dari bahan daur ulang. Dari Lone Tree, kita mulai menyusuri peta di aplikasi National Parks dan berjalan ke Bukit Batok Nature Park.

Ketika kita memulai penjelajahan ini, saya membayangkan bahwa jalan dari taman ke taman itu mirip seperti jalur yang dulu saya lalui dari Kembangan ke East Coast yang terhubung lewat jalan kecil khusus pejalan kaki yang terpisah dari jalan raya. Akan tetapi, dengan jarak tempuh sejauh 6,5 km dari Jurong Lake Gardens, sepertinya tidaklah mungkin untuk membuat jalan tersendiri seperti yang saya bayangkan. Selain itu, beberapa bagian dari rute juga ditutup karena adanya konstruksi di jalan. 

Petunjuk jalan Coast-to-Coast Trail.
Foto oleh: Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Namun Singapura adalah negara yang ramah bagi pejalan kaki. Selama anda ada tekad untuk berjalan, maka selalu ada trotoar untuk berjalan. Petunjuk jalannya pun bagus. Setiap 200 m, kita bisa melihat petunjuk yang berkaitan dengan Coast-to-Coast Trail. Yang jadi masalah adalah pengguna jalan, hehe. Setelah sarapan pagi, saya mengabaikan petunjuk di depan mata karena merasa bahwa saya bisa mengandalkan peta di aplikasi. Ketika jalan bercabang, saya tidak memperbesar peta untuk melihat detilnya sehingga saya pun salah jalan. Sesudah melewati satu jembatan, akhirnya terlihat di peta bahwa saya sudah menyimpang dari jalur semula, haha. 

Kita tiba di Bukit Batok Nature Park pada pukul 10:51 pagi, setelah kita berjalan hampir tiga jam lamanya. Pemberhentian berikutnya, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, lebih dekat jaraknya dan hanya membutuhkan waktu setengah jam. Saat kita hampir mencapai tujuan, turun hujan untuk pertama kalinya. Hujan gerimis dan deras turun silih berganti dalam dua jam ke depan. Di saat bersamaan, telepon genggam saya akhirnya kehabisan baterai sesudah digunakan selama lima jam untuk mengambil foto, chatting dan mengecek peta. Google Pixel 4 memang parah baterainya! 

pos ke-2.
Photo by Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Selagi Pixel diopname dengan power bank, perjalanan pun dilanjutkan dengan mengandalkan iPhone 12 milik istri saya. Sewaktu melihat rambu di jalan dan membandingkannya dengan pos berikutnya di aplikasi, saya mengamati bahwa tempat tujuannya tidak selalu sama. Pos ketiga bukanlah Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, melainkan Hindhede Drive. 

Jarak antara Hindhede Drive dan Adam Road adalah 5.6 km. Dengan menggunakan payung dan kanopi di tepi jalan, kita berhasil mencapai KAP mall meski berjalan di tengah hujan. Saya belum pernah ke kawasan ini sebelumnya. Sewaktu kita melewati stasiun MRT King Albert Park, tiba-tiba turun hujan deras, jadi kita pun tergoda untuk naik bis, haha. Kita lantas turun di dekat stasiun MRT Tan Kah Kee dan berjalan ke Adam Road Food Centre untuk makan siang. Enak rasanya duduk di kursi setelah lama berjalan, tapi beberapa langkah pertama setelah itu terasa seperti perjuangan berat karena kaki yang sudah pegal kembali dipaksa untuk berjalan. 

Checkpoint ke-4.
Foto oleh: Yani Evelyn Robinson.
Kendati begitu, kita masih bisa menyelesaikan rute berikutnya yang kemudian menjadi rute terakhir kita. Perjalanan ke Macritchie Reservoir membawa kita melewati kuburan cina di Kheam Hock Road dan juga Lornie Road yang panjang dan sepi. Ketika kita tiba di ujung jalan dan berbelok ke kiri, kita bisa melihat Zig-Zag Bridge di MacRitchie Reservoir, namun pintu masuknya masih jauh di depan kita. 

Pos ke lima, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, bahkan lebih jauh lagi. Sampai sejauh ini, cuaca boleh dikatakan tidak panas, namun sekarang kita mulai merasakan cahaya matahari sore. Tepat di tempat kita berada, terlihat beberapa sepeda SG Bike, jadi kita pun melanjutkan perjalanan dengan mengayuh sepeda. 

Waktunya bersepeda!

Ini pertama kalinya saya bersepeda di Singapura. Ini bahkan mungkin pertama kalinya saya bersepeda setelah menyelesaikan pendidikan di Pontianak. SG Bike yang saya pakai bukanlah sepeda yang bagus. Ketika saya mengaktifkan sepedanya, baru saya sadari bahwa rantainya telah copot sehingga saya harus memasangnya kembali, tapi senang rasanya bisa bersepeda lagi. Lebih cepat sampai ke tujuan, tapi lebih melelahkan pula bila dibandingkan dengan berjalan kaki, haha.  

Tatkala saya mengunci sepeda dan berjalan menuju pos ke-5, kita memutuskan bahwa perjalanan akan berakhir di sini. Ya, sewaktu berada di Adam Road Food Center, saya dan istri sempat berdiskusi untuk berjalan hingga Sengkang Floating Wetland yang merupakan pos ke-7. Namun jam sudah menunjukkan pukul 16:13 sore ketika foto terakhir ini diambil. Jika kita tetap lanjut, bisa-bisa kita baru akan sampai di rumah ketika hari sudah larut malam. 

Pos ke-5. 

Akhirnya kita menaiki bis nomor 88 dan pulang. Sebelum tertidur di bis, saya melihat kembali dan belajar tiga hal dari pengalaman hari ini. Pertama, istri saya setia menemani saya di tengah hujan dan panasnya matahari sore tanpa mengeluh sedikit pun. Luar biasa. Kedua, Singapura adalah negara yang indah. Petualangan hari ini menunjukkan sisi Singapura yang belum pernah saya lihat sebelumnya. Ketiga, kita bangun sebelum jam enam pagi dan setelah berjalan sekitar delapan jam, kita hanya bisa menyelesaikan 25 km. Saya jadi ingin mengatakan hal ini kepada teman saya Eday, "berjalan dari ujung ke ujung di Singapura dalam satu hari sepertinya bukanlah ide yang bagus, haha." 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Age Of Calamity

I often said this and I'd say it again, "there are many great games out there, but there's only one legend." Yes, the Legend of Zelda stands out because of three things: a brilliant gameplay, a fascinating story and the music that is worthy of a legend. 

But even within the legend, there's one chapter that we're going to talk about for years to come: Breath of the Wild. The game was so good that it brought the word legend to an unprecedented level that we never knew it existed before. Breath of the Wild was a discovery of what happened 100 years ago, when heroes lost, but one last hope remained. It was masterfully done.

The Princess.

But even after Ganon was defeated, it didn't change the past and how we knew so little about it. This left us wanting more. This made Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity a rather curious spin-off. How on earth could someone make a game out of a legend where the Champions died during the Great Calamity?

Now, when I said spin-off, you needed to know that Age of Calamity wasn't part of the Legend of Zelda. The gameplay certainly didn't feel like one. It was a simple hack-and-slash game. What made it special was the fact that it was endorsed by Nintendo.

The Calamity.

This was important and it resulted in a story so well-crafted, but yet the legend remained intact. The key in making this possible was Terrako. The diminutive Guardian didn't exist in Breath of the Wild. From the moment I saw it appearing in what looked like a time travel scene, I had this strange feeling that it would somehow change the story. True enough, it did, in a good way! 

Spoiler alert: because of Terrako's existence, the Champions survived! The story did follow the history as we knew it closely, but during their final moments, the Champions got a little help from... the future. From here onwards, a new timeline began. 

The Champions.
From left: Daruk, Mipha, Link, Urbosa and Revali.

So, for the first time ever, we had a chance to see the four Champions in action. Yes, we might have seen a glimpse of Mipha, Daruk, Revali and Urbosa in Breath of the Wild, when Link regained his memories. But to actually see the Champions riding the Divine Beasts and play all of them alongside Princess Zelda? That was wild! No pun intended!

One thing I couldn't help feeling about Breath of the Wild was a tinge of sadness that came with it. I mean, there were deaths that Link had to live with, as his victory was 100 years too late. Age of Calamity was a redemption that fans like me needed, an outcome that should have happened. It was good to have a second chance, even if it was only an alternate timeline...

Fixing Terrako.

Age Of Calamity

Saya sering mengatakan hal ini dan akan saya katakan sekali lagi, "ada banyak game bagus dalam 30 tahun terakhir ini, tapi hanya ada satu yang legendaris." Ya, the Legend of Zelda memang berbeda karena tiga faktor berikut ini: cara bermainnya yang unik, ceritanya yang bagus dan musiknya yang pantas disandingkan dengan legendanya. 

Akan tetapi di dalam legenda yang kaya akan beragam cerita ini pun hanya ada satu yang akan dibicarakan bertahun-tahun kemudian: Breath of the Wild. Game ini luar biasa bagusnya sehingga mendefinisikan ulang kata legenda ke level yang tidak pernah kita sangka ada sebelumnya. Breath of the Wild adalah sebuah petualangan yang membawa menemukan kembali apa yang terjadi 100 tahun silam, ketika semua pahlawan telah gugur dan menyisakan satu harapan terakhir. Sungguh sebuah maha karya. 

Princess Zelda.

Sewaktu kita mengalahkan Canon dan menamatkan game ini, ada perasaan bahwa masa yang telah lampau dan tidak banyak kita ketahui ini tidaklah berubah. Kita jadi berandai dan ingin menggali lebih dalam lagi tentang legenda ini. Karena inilah Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity menjadi episode yang unik dari cerita ini. Bagaimana caranya membuat game dari sebuah legenda dimana para pahlawannya gugur dalam era Great Calamity?

Sebelum kita berbicara lebih lanjut, perlu saya jelaskan bahwa Age of Calamity bukanlah bagian dari the Legend of Zelda. Cara bermainnya terasa berbeda, lebih menyerupai game perang Sam Kok yang menebas puluhan musuh di sekeliling kita. Yang membuat game ini istimewa adalah dukungan penuh dari Nintendo.

Link melawan Ganon.

Ini penting artinya dan berkat masukan dari Nintendo, ceritanya sangatlah menarik, tapi tidak mengusik legenda Breath of the Wild. Hal ini menjadi mungkin karena hadirnya Terrako, robot kecil yang sebelumnya tidak dikisahkan dalam Breath of the Wild. Saat saya melihat Terrako di awal cerita yang menyerupai adegan perjalanan ke masa silam, saya merasa bahwa robot mungil ini akan mengubah alur cerita. 

Spider alert: karena keterlibatan Terrako, para pahlawan pun selamat! Alur cerita Age of Calamity berjalan sesuai dengan apa yang kita ketahui dari Breath of the Wild, tapi di saat-saat terakhir mereka, para pahlawan mendapat bantuan dari... masa depan. Semenjak itu, alur cerita baru pun bermula. 

Para pahlawan.
Dari kiri: Daruk, Mipha, Link, Urbosa dan Revali.

Alhasil, untuk pertama kali kita bisa melihat sepak-terjang para pahlawan Hyrule selain Link. Ya, sebelumnya kita sudah melihat kilasan balik tentang Mipha, Daruk, Revali and Urbosa lewat Breath of the Wild, tatkala Link memperoleh kembali ingatannya tentang masa lalu, tapi ini tentu saja tidak sebanding dengan melihat langsung para pahlawan ini menunggangi Divine Beasts dan bermain sebagai mereka dan bertarung di samping Princess Zelda! Sensasinya berbeda dan terasa luar biasa. 

Satu hal yang senantiasa menaungi Breath of the Wild adalah nuansa sedih di sepanjang cerita. Meskipun Link akhirnya berhasil menumpas Canon, teman-temannya telah tiada dan kemenangannya terasa terlambat 100 tahun. Age of Calamity bagaikan kesempatan untuk menebus kembali apa yang gagal dilakukan. Kemenangan dalam game ini adalah sebuah hasil akhir yang seharusnya terjadi. Senang rasanya bisa mendapatkan kesempatan kedua, meskipun hanya di alur waktu yang berbeda dan di luar legenda sesungguhnya...

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Parenting Expectation

Every parents want their children to excel in school. The intention is noble, alright, but in reality, the execution can be quite messy. Children feel like being forced to do something they don't like, parents are exhausted and frustrated by the disobedience and stubbornness.

Case in point was my daughter Linda. Sometimes I couldn't help smiling when I saw her studying under the watchful eyes of her Mum. She did quite alright in mathematics (though she definitely could be better, haha), but she was obviously struggling to maintain her interest in Chinese language. 

This is where it got a bit conflicting. As a parent, I really wished that she studied hard so that she'd do well, but if I recalled how I fared when I was her age, I was not any better. I remember taking English lessons from various tuition centres and none could get me speaking fluently. I would pretend to be sleepy or sick when it was time to go for tuition and Mum would yell at me, too. 

When she was doing her art.
Photo by: Yani Evelyn Robinson

Based on my experience, I learnt almost zilch when I had no interests. It would only work for me when I was motivated. That's how I picked up English. It's because I love the Beatles and was inspired by them. And that daughter of mine was 50% me. It might be too early to tell now, but she was probably the same as me, hence things would work out the same way, too. 

So how to draw the line between the parenting expectation and the fact that she might inherit 50% of my traits? I guess to certain extent, being parents means giving the kids the right amount of exposure. Right as in strict enough for their own good, but not burdening them with unnecessary stress or even our own personal ambition. What good is number one when she's not a happy kid? Not everyone is meant to be academically inclined, anyway.

If there was one thing different from my daughter's young life and my childhood, that has to be the fact that parents these days are more attentive, open-minded and keen to develop the kid's talent. I like this idea better and I think this should be the right thing to do. Linda is a good and happy kid. She's playful, creative in her own way and, most importantly, has an interest in art. That, perhaps, is what my wife and I should really encourage her to do...

Linda's cartoon about COVID-19.
(Read from top left, clockwise)

Harapan Orang Tua

Setiap orang tua pastilah menginginkan agar anaknya sukses di sekolah. Tujuan ini lazim dan mulia, tapi pelaksanaannya dalam kehidupan sehari-hari seringkali tidak semulus yang dibayangkan. Terkadang anak merasa dipaksa untuk mengerjakan apa yang tidak mereka sukai dan alhasil, orang tua juga cape dan frustrasi karena ketidakpatuhan anak. 

Contoh dalam kasus ini adalah putri saya Linda. Ada kalanya saya jadi tersenyum simpul sewaktu melihat dia belajar di bawah pengawasan ibunya. Dia tergolong bisa dalam mengerjakan matematika, tapi terlihat betul bahwa dia tidak memiliki minat dalam mempelajari bahasa Mandarin. 

Saya jadi merasakan konflik di dalam hati saat melihat hal ini. Sebagai orang tua, saya sungguh berharap bahwa dia belajar lebih keras lagi supaya menguasai bahasa Mandarin, namun saya juga ingat bahwa di saat saya seumuran dengannya, saya pun tidak lebih baik. Saya kursus di sana-sini, tapi tetap saja tidak bisa berbahasa Inggris. Bila tiba waktunya untuk pergi kursus, saya juga pura-pura sakit atau mengantuk dan ibu saya pun marah-marah. 

Berdasarkan pengalaman saya, jikalau tidak memiliki minat, hasil dari apa saya pelajari nyaris tidak ada. Beda ceritanya kalau saya termotivasi. Inilah alasannya kenapa saya jadi menguasai bahasa Inggris: karena saya terinspirasi oleh the Beatles. Nah, putri saya ini boleh dikatakan 50% diri saya. Walau terlalu dini untuk menilainya sekarang, mungkin saja dia pun sama seperti saya. 

Ketika Linda sedang menggambar.
Foto: Yani Evelyn Robinson.

Jadi bagaimana caranya agar netral antara harapan orang tua dan fakta bahwa 50% karakternya adalah warisan dari saya? Sampai batas tertentu, saya rasa menjadi orang tua berarti memberikan kesempatan yang layak bagi anak dalam mengenyam pendidikan. Saya harus cukup tegas demi kebaikannya, tapi jangan sampai membuat dia merasa tertekan, apalagi sampai memaksakan kehendak saya. Apa gunanya menjadi nomor satu di kelas kalau dia tidak bahagia? Lagipula tidak semua orang bisa sukses dalam hal akademik. 

Jika ada satu hal yang membedakan kehidupan saya dan putri saya sekarang, maka itu adalah kecenderungan orang tua zaman sekarang dalam memperhatikan dan mengembangkan talenta anaknya. Saya pikir ini adalah ide yang bagus. Linda anak yang baik dan riang. Dia lucu, kreatif dan memiliki minat dalam bidang seni. Mungkin ini yang seharusnya lebih menjadi fokus saya dan istri...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Alan Freeman Days

I had been listening to Alan Freeman Days on daily basis recently. The song sung by the late Robin Gibb was upbeat and the lyrics told a beautiful story of a bygone era. The three lines below were... captivating.

The magic would emerge
On Radio Luxembourg
That I heard back when I was younger

People listen to Spotify these days. At the very least, you can search and play the songs you'd like to hear on YouTube. We don't even really talk about downloading songs anymore as we're so used to streaming music now.  That's how advanced we are today.

Track #3: Alan Freeman Days.

What most of us would have taken for granted was non-existent back then. In the 50s, teenagers in UK would listen to Radio Luxembourg, the only station that played something new and exciting at that time: rock n' roll. Yes, it was Radio Luxembourg (and Alan Freeman was the deejay), because BBC didn't play this kind of music. Bad though the reception might be, it was through Radio Luxembourg that youngsters first heard of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and, of course, Elvis Presley.

It might be hard to imagine now, but it was a big deal. Prior to rock n' roll, what they had was the Great American Songbook. Stuff like Bye Bye Blackbird, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Moon River. Try listening to these songs and you'd know why rock n' roll mattered. The latter was wild and the singers looked hip (though this wasn't the case for Bill Haley, haha). Simply put, it was nothing like what they'd heard and seen before. 

The Beatles in Australia, 1964. 

Four out of so many listeners of Radio Luxembourg would become the Beatles. When John, Paul, George and Ringo came to Australia in 1964, they were so well received. Around 300 thousands people turned up to see them. Robin and his brothers were living in Australia at that time and the arrival of the Beatles was an eye-opener. It was like seeing the messiah and it reaffirmed what they always wanted to do: music.

Fast forward to the future, when Robin wrote and sang these lines, they meant a lot to fans like me:

And with Lennon and Bolan gone
And the music their memoriam
And the past is part of all our lives
And my brother Maurice is staying alive

Bolan was Marc Bolan, famous for a song called Get It On. Lennon was, of course, John Lennon. To hear Robin sang about him was very surreal. Just like many of us, Robin was a fan of John, too. Indeed the music was their memoriam. Long after he'd gone, his music was an everlasting legacy for us. Then finally Robin mentioned about his twin brother Maurice within the same sentence that used the phrase staying alive. If you were a Bee Gees fan, it would make you smile. It was bittersweet.

This then got me thinking about the guessing game I had a while ago with my highs school friends via our chat group. Funny how some of us couldn't remember the song titles from our time, but could guess correctly older songs such as Leaving on a Jet Plane. I reckon songs in the 80s and 90s were good, but those written in the 60s and 70s? They were meant to last forever.

If you never heard of Alan Freeman and Radio Luxembourg before, I hope you learnt something from the brief history above. Without people like him, we wouldn't have artists like the Beatles and the Bee Gees. Without them, we wouldn't have the old songs we know and love today. It would have been a very different world if we never had Alan Freeman Days in the 50s...

Alan Freeman Days

Belakangan ini saya hampir setiap hari mendengarkan lagu Alan Freeman Days. Lagu yang dinyanyikan mendiang Robin Gibb ini pas temponya dan liriknya bercerita tentang sebuah kisah di masa silam. Tiga baris berikut ini sungguh membuat saya menerawang kembali: 

The magic would emerge
On Radio Luxembourg
That I heard back when I was younger

Sekarang ini Spotify adalah cara paling mutakhir dalam mendengarkan lagu. Bila anda tidak menggunakan Spotify, anda masih bisa mencari dan memutar lagu favorit anda di YouTube. Zaman sekarang orang bahkan tidak lagi mengunduh lagu, sebab semua sudah terbiasa mendengarkan langsung lewat internet. 

Track #3: Alan Freeman Days.

Apa yang mungkin kita anggap lumrah ini sama sekali tidak terbayangkan dulu. Di tahun 50an, para remaja di Inggris sibuk menyetel radio untuk menangkap siaran Radio Luxembourg, satu-satunya stasiun yang menyiarkan sesuatu yang baru dan asyik pada masa itu: rock n' roll. Ya, Radio Luxembourg (dan Alan Freeman adalah DJ-nya), sebab BBC tidak memutar rock n' roll. Meski terkadang buruk sinyalnya, lewat Radio Luxembourg inilah para remaja pertama kali mendengarkan Chuck Berry, Little Richard dan tentu saja Elvis Presley.

Anda mungkin susah membayangkan betapa pentingnya hal ini. Sebagai informasi, sebelum rock n' roll, apa yang biasa diputar di radio adalah lagu-lagu the Great American Songbook, misalnya Bye Bye Blackbird, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Moon River. Anda coba dengarkan lagu-lagu ini dan anda bisa mengerti kenapa rock n' roll memiliki daya tarik tersendiri bagi remaja pada saat itu. Musiknya jelas lebih liar dan mantap untuk berjingkrak. Penyanyinya pun lebih muda dan menarik (walau tidak demikian halnya untuk Bill Haley, haha). Secara singkat, rock n' roll itu berbeda dengan apa yang pernah mereka dengar dan lihat sebelumnya. 

The Beatles di Australia, 1964. 

Empat dari begitu banyak pendengar Radio Luxembourg ini kelak menjadi the Beatles. Ketika John, Paul, George dan Ringo tur ke Australia di tahun 1964, mereka disambut sekitar 300 ribu penggemar yang tumpah-ruah di jalan. Robin, Barry dan Maurice saat itu tinggal di Australia dan kedatangan the Beatles membuka pandangan mereka. Rasanya seperti melihat mesias dan mereka pun menjadi yakin bahwa bermusik adalah jalan hidup mereka.  

Berpuluh-puluh tahun kemudian, ketika Robin menulis dan menyanyikan bait berikut ini, suaranya menyentuh hati penggemar seperti saya:

And with Lennon and Bolan gone
And the music their memoriam
And the past is part of all our lives
And my brother Maurice is staying alive

Bolan adalah Marc Bolan yang terkenal dengan lagu Get It On. Lennon tentu saja John Lennon. Ada kesan tersendiri saat mendengar Robin bernyanyi tentang John. Seperti halnya kita, Robin juga seorang penggemar. Benar katanya bahwa musik John adalah kenangan yang abadi tentang dirinya. Kemudian Robin bernyanyi tentang saudara kembarnya Maurice dalam kalimat yang juga menyertakan frase staying alive. Jika anda adalah penggemar Bee Gees, kesengajaan Robin ini akan membuat anda tersenyum.

Saya lantas teringat dengan permainan tebak lagu yang saya adakan beberapa waktu lalu di grup chat teman SMA. Lucu juga rasanya bahwa lagu-lagu dari generasi kita ternyata tidak diingat dengan baik judulnya. Yang lebih berkesan di ingatan teman-teman justru tembang lawas seperti Leaving on a Jet Plane. Lagu-lagu tahun 80an dan 90an memang bagus, tapi yang ditulis di dekade 60an dan 70an? Lagu-lagu ini akan bertahan selamanya.

Jika sebelum ini anda tidak tahu tentang Alan Freeman dan Radio Luxembourg, saya harap sejarah singkat di atas membuka wawasan anda. Tanpa orang seperti Alan, kita tidak akan memiliki musisi seperti the Beatles dan Bee Gees. Tanpa grup-grup musik ini, kita tidak akan mendengar lagu lama yang enak di telinga dan kita cintai. Akhir kata, dunia ini akan sangat berbeda jika bintang seperti Robin tidak pernah mengalami Alan Freeman Days di tahun 50an...