Ok I take it back. I shouldn’t be complaining about the heat and humidity here when there are people out there dealing with 8.8 quake and threats of Tsunami.

I can be ignorantly selfish like that, I know.

In the comforts of my own cosy home and warm bed and the cosy attic-mezzanine floor in which we turned into our cosy office, complete with toilet and a well-stocked library, there are times I do forget that some of my discomforts and irritants are but not even tiny speck of dusts compared to the catastrophe that others had to face.

*slap myself on the face* — nah that’s too drama.

*repent* — that should be ongoing, no?

*stop whining* — ahhh that’s more realistic and achievable, yes?

Restless nights

With sweat and restless sleep and yearnings for almond magnum/icy cold pokka green tea in the middle of the night.

The nights are hot but not of the raunchy kind. Rather, characterized by tossing and turning in bed wishing that the bed is filled with ice-cubes instead.

And tis will last till April? The last we read, the government here said this is not a sign of global warming.

What the *&%^.

Ode to the Birthday Person

In lieu of his birthday celebrations yesterday, there is one thing I would like to train myself to emulate him, which I still fail miserably at and that is, his concept of time.

He was one person who respected time like no other. Each and every moment of his time was either in worship or doing something good for his family, his neighbours and his charges. He was never late and his time management was said to be on the dot and superb. And I should think better than the Swiss.

He taught us that time, when gone can never come back and each minute is our investment to bring back to the hereafter. Even if that minute was spent stroking a cat or giving a neighbour a smile.

So, ya maulana Muhammad peace be upon you, I hope I can keep training myself to respect time the way you did. And that, I believe– will make a whole lot of difference in my life and the things I want to achieve.

The bag

It was midnight and we were at the mamak’s. I had been working on the documents for hours and by half past 11, I decided to call it quits and succumb to my perpetual pangs of insatiable hunger. He had been tutoring a friend’s kid physics and had not taken dinner. So we went for a supper date, my man and I.

While waiting for my roti boom and his Nasi Lemak, over teh ice lychee and his air suam, he announced, ‘I bought you a bag’.

My heart fluttered. Ooooh. My hyperactive mind was racing. Is it the green kate.spade I complimented a buddy who visited for having? Did he just decide to cut the prudence and got me an LV? Did he..

Wait! He said, when he saw my fluttering expression and by that, he knew that my too hyperactive mind was already racing—probably beyond Milan. And then, I immediately got it. It is not what I think it was. Before I went on any further, he reminded me that the last two days he had been at the Green-Conference at Putrajaya, right?Right. And so, the bag– he explained, came from there.

Achso…So it was not the green kate.spade. But it was a ‘green’ bag nonetheless. Green as in environmental friendly garbage bag. HOLD ON MISTER! Did you just get me a garbage bag??!

Err..Yes he did.

Later, as I looked carefully at the tag on the bag, I realised that it is literally really a garbage bag, as in a bag made from garbage! It says that on the tag at the seam of the bag. THIS BAG IS MADE FROM RUBBISH.

It not being a kate.spade aside, I’m impressed with the fact that this bag was made from rubbish. Apparently there is this village in Java, which practices the Eco Village concept. They recycle their rubbish by the tonnes, make them into something reusable and resell those as their village products. They also conduct eco-tourism and other environmentally friendly efforts to run their self-sustained village. And the man behind all these was one of the speakers at the recent Green.Convention@PutraJaya.

Although the Copenhagen summit did not manage to achieve most of its resolutions, it is heartening to see that in the small pockets in some parts of the world, there are people who take it upon their own selves to start taking care of the earth within their own capacity, beginning with themselves.

I would want to go and visit this village sometime this year for the eco-tourism program and probably, buy more garbage bags and start my own fashion statement. Heh.

The Village is called Sukunan. And you can see their efforts here.

And then, the concept of BFF

The common jargon amongst giggly young girls these days is the BFF, acronym for Best Fried Forever. The kind they do pinkies with and gossip for hours over the phone with while pouring their hearts out when their latest crush do as much as give them a smile in the hallway.

We all do have one or a few of those along they way, don’t we? Even after those hormonal teenage years gave way to the upbeat 20s and more settled 30s etc, there are bound to be one or a few friends who would be the best lot who would be with us through thick and thin, for better or worse, through partners, spouses, kids, grandkids or even the perpetual loneliness.

In one of the tasawuf books I recently read, it says there that our our worse enemy is actually our best friend. This is because, according to the book, our enemies are the ones most honest with us about our weaknesses, without the need to take care of our feelings/egos/ sensitivity. Hence, if we take note of what our enemies say about us, and reflect upon it, we may see that many times, there may be elements of truth in it. When criticized, our egos quickly snap back and hurl defensive attacks against the criticism without allowing any reflection time and from there, quickly work on our subconscious minds to make us believe that the negative information we just received about ourselves are not true and that they are just simply being(in our terms now) b*tch*s and a**h*les.

Our worse enemies, as said in the book- are the informers to our blind spots. They see things which our egos hide from us. To which, if I may put my understanding of what I read into graphics (I’m a right brainer through and through), is that our untamed egos make us not unlike the emperor in the story The Emperor’s New Clothes. While our worse enemy, (who is actually our best friend because they crush our egos) is that child who innocently, but without any reservations, pointed out to the  narcissistic emperor during the parade that he was actually naked.

Going graphics…

In a nutshell, I am a bit too occupied with work this weekend to write more about the rest of the training trip. However, I do want to remember it and the best way I remember things that happened is usually through writing them here. More than anything else, this space is for my own references of the snippets in my life which I do not want to forget, but do not want to keep bulky diaries about it either.

Hence, pictures say a thousand words they say? My in flight read, taken with the fish eye function of our new oly. The read itself I found lame and draggy.

At the 3rd Dojo we trained in at Bintaro, on the 2nd day of training.

Some random shot I took outside the dojo simply because I like the colour contrast between the flower and the deep red earth.

My mister brought down in a session in the final dojo we trained in at Kelapa Gading. The HQ for the school.

Sensei-S teaching…I love watching her teach. So calm and composed but wham! the guys are not spared from her…

With almost no time budgeted for us to go shopping or RnR, I spent my rupiahs on KrispeKreme minis… Surprisingly not as sweet as the KrispeKreme found in MidValley here.

Chocolate flavoured condense milk, which I brought tins back here and been making tea with this delicious thing. Why they don’t export it out, I don’t know.. But next Jakarta trip I will bring back at least 10 tins I swear.

and so forth…

The next training after the session at the university was at Cipete. From the university, we were driven through the Jakarta maze where we witnessed the filthy rich and the dirt poor co-exist side by side in an unexplainable social irony (unexplainable to me-emotionally but of course, Indonesia’s state of great economic divide is very easily explainable by the concept of naked capitalism, but I digress).

The sensei-s took us for lunch at Sensei-S’s favourite Javanese food joint, where my mister had his first taste of Nasi Gudeg and I had my Mie Saring, both of which were delicious. And of course, I washed it down with Es-Alpukat. What is it about the Javanese people? They are such great cooks, no?

After lunch, we headed to the dojo which was near the Javanese resto we were at. We were told to rest and at the very least, take a nap because the next training session would be tough on us, especially since we were fresh from training at the university earlier on.

The cosy dojo before the mats were laid. Outside surrounded by nature. Very zen, I loike!

Firstly, I fell in love with this particular dojo. It was really cosy and uncannily, not unlike the dojo I have been envisioning in my mind to be our own one fine day in the future. Secondly, upon reaching there, I spied a quaint cafe nearby and almost immediately, I decided to give the afternoon nap a pass. I snuck (or is it sneaked?) out once the sensei-s were dozing off and my mister was in the loo.

Part of the cafe from where I was sitting, which was on comfy couches full of pillows and National Geographic magazines. Very ideal lepak place and the drinks were good and cheap!

” Eating again?!!” my mister’s booming voice shattered my peace and tranquility about half an hour later, when he found me. I was gleefully slurping my mango-lychee smoothie and munching on a plate of siomay– while reading a 1988 edition of National Geographic which I found there. Darn. (sebok aje!!!). I told him that after the accident, sureeelyyyy, I can afford to indulge, no? He conceded defeat and ordered himself a latte. So we didn’t take a nap. Which I found out later was a big mistake on my part.

The next training was tough and then I understood why we were told to sleep. It was the lesson on Ki extension through katatedori, shihonage and iriminage techniques. These Indonesian students, are damn good I must admit. Made me feel like a lost rookie. But of course, they have Sensei-H all to themselves most of the time hence it is understandable that even their white-belters are like sho-dans to us. I couldn’t last the whole session. My head was throbbing and my stamina was ground zero. I bowed out and sat outside the dojo, just observing things that impressed me, namely the discipline and commitment of these Indonesian students.

I have more than a thing or two to learn from my fellow Indonesian counterparts. Firstly, they respect the teacher like no other. Secondly, they respect the knowledge and the art and understand them the way true budo should be understood. Thirdly, they respect time. With Jakarta’s famous macet, I find it very amazing that almost all of them report for training way before time and were all ready way before Sensei stepped into the dojo to start the lesson.

When training session was over, from where I was observing them (a comfy couch outside the dojo- nursing a ‘benjol’), after the last bow which signifies that training for the day was over, within 5 minutes flat, everyone was back into the dojo, this time bowing and submitting to a higher being, led by Sensei-H.

Maghrib prayers right after the evening training session. That sole lady at the back prostrating is my new friend, R. Kecil-kecil cili padi. Small and mighty lady this one. Already a shodan (black belter).

An egg in the head and a splat on the face

It was just an ordinary roll, on the tatami mats as in with any other warm up prior to the proper training session, OR so I thought.

We arrived at our first training grounds on Saturday morning, through the infamous Jakarta macet and heavy rain from Bintaro to Depok, where the Universitas.Indonesia is. Our first training session with Sensei-H was scheduled to be with the aikido/societ.y.of-The.Nation/al.Universi-ty.of/Indonesia. The ‘murids‘ there are not only undergrads and postgrads from the university, but also members of their alumni and also working adults living around Depok.

Their training ground is not in a proper dojo, but at the student activity centre, a large open hall. For training, they simply lay out the tatami mats. During warm up, we had to do our rolls towards the other end of the mats and back. That was when the accident happened. I rolled forward and I didn’t realise that my mister, who had rolled faster and was rolling back, rolled into my direction–without him realising it. And so my head collided with his knee in a backward ukemi. The impact of the knee swung into my head in a full force was so blur upon me. I remember a sudden sharp pain. I remember collapsing while clutching my head. I remember Sensei-H came running towards us saying something about it being a very hard impact blah blah. Then I couldn’t remember anything else because it was all so blur. And painful.

Anyway, I think I was on adrenaline rush because I remembered that when I was asked to sit out for a while, I told them (my mister and Sensei-H) no, I wanted to train. In my mind, I came all the way here not to nurse a headache by sitting on the sideline. Sensei-H said it was a concussion and so I needed to see if I was ok before I resumed training. I told him I was ok. And so I trained. At that moment, the pain and the whole after effect of the concussion had not settled down on me yet.

Training session. Where was I? I can’t remember. Probably still clutching my painful head.

My first sparring partner was a Japanese man. In all of his typical Japanese look, spotting a ‘tocang’ ala Kitaro. Maybe in his late 30s. Ok so, him being a Japanese and me being NOT able to speak Japanese means it is a universal understanding that we use English, right? I mean, that’s what we always assume right? That English is the global lingua franca? So I spoke to him in English. To which he either grunted or nodded or shook his head in response. Ok. So he may be one of those Japanese men who don’t speak much, like how I always watch in Samurai films. And so I thought.

In a while, he stopped the shuwariwaza kokyoho technique which we were doing, threw up his hands into the air in exasperation, looked at me straight in the eyes– in what I thought of as a combination of curiosity and frustrations and asked me this, “Kamu sememangnya sama sekali tidak mengerti atau tidak bisa berbicara dalam Bahasa Indonesia ya?”

You know in cartoons, when the characters have thought bubbles? If I’ve had thought bubbles at that moment, mine would read something like ‘ Sh*t! OMG.. Malunyeee akuuuuu!! Kan dah kena splattttt’

With what the Malays say, ‘muka sardin’, I replied ‘Oh bisa! Bisa.. bisa ngerti dan bisa bicara!’ To which he smiled and then began talking instead of just grunting/nodding/shaking his head and explained to me the techniques in full and almost perfect I should say, Bahasa Indonesia. So he was not quiet. He was not sullen as a Samurai image I conjured up in my hyperactive mind. He just simply refused to communicate in English because he is in Indonesia.

*Sigh* Macem-macem….

Anyway, by the end of that training session, I felt quite an intense vibrating sensation in my head and when I touched the part where I was accidently knocked by the husband’s knee, I felt that there was like an egg-like bump there. Alamak.. benjol telur sey… and sakit pulak tu. But mind over matter, I psyched myself to just bear with it till I get panadol extra later.

We got to know the other students after training, especially that Japanese man who bruised my linguistic ego earlier on. We learnt that he is a marketing manager for a Japanese company for Indonesian products and have been living in Indonesia for 4 years and where he was from in Japan etc. We found this all out while my husband, myself and him hang around for a bit talking—all in Bahasa Indonesia, mind you. No less ya pak….!

On the first evening

The last time I was at Bumbu Desa, this super marvelous Sundanese restaurant was at the Cikini branch in Jakarta Barat, the year before last with a group of friends (sans my mister, who doesn’t really share my passion of ‘menyambal’). It was an awesome night where we ate super spicy, delicious Sundanese food on banana leaves, eating with our fingers dripping with sambal of all colors and hues, laughing and yakking the night away and finally washing it down with my favorite drink of Es Alpukat (avocado smoothie with chocolate sauce swirls).

For this trip, however, after considering several factors namely 1) we were hosted by the husband&wife sensei-s, who, in layman’s term are the principals of the aikido.school we train under 2) we would be staying with them throughout the whole trip hence they took responsibilities over our food and lodging  3) the training schedule sent to us prior to the trip showed that it was going to be jam packed… and so, because of all those, I buried any hopes or intentions of meeting up with any friends there. I also threw away ANY rays of hope of going back to Bumbu Desa far, far away from my mind and heart and forced myself to focus on just training. OF WHICH, was a darn difficult thing to do… like hey come on, a foodie like me in Jakarta??! Where good food are hot and spicy and delicious and kampungan and all come with sambal? Like, come on….

But as the saying goes, when it is intended for you, absolutely nothing can come in between you and your rezeki.

We touched down in Jakarta slightly before 7pm by MAS. Sensei-H and his wife, Sensei-S fetched us from the airport and as the gracious hosts that they were, wanted to take us out for dinner. And so, Sensei-S asked, ” Kalian mau makan apa?”. And of course, as the ‘coy’ guest that I (ehem) was, I told her ” Apa-apa aja lah lah Sensei..”. She then told us that they don’t take red meat, eat only ayam kampung and most of the time, seafood– which is like a perfect arrangement for us actually. Perfect, we told them.

And so Sensei-S began suggesting food places to her husband on where they could take us to. However, when we reached the intended area where there were many restaurants (where, I don’t know but it was an hour’s drive away from the airport), there was a long queue to the carpark and the carpark was really choc-a-block. Both sensei-s were not too keen to wait in line to park and began discussing with each other on alternative places to take us to.

Inside my heart and my mind, I was secretly chanting, “Please suggest Bumbu Desa.. Please suggest Bumbu Desa.. Please suggest Bumbu Desa”. Laws of attraction were upon me that night. Sensei-S suddenly came to a conclusion and told her husband, ” Ya udahhh… ke Bumbu Desa aja lahhh.. Dekatkan dengan rumah kita?” She then turned to me and asked, ” Bumbu Desa mau??” I sheepishly replied, ” Ya ok..”  OK??! Inside my heart I was going “Yahooooo!”  heh. 😛

So our first evening was spent with our Sensei-s at my favourite restaurant (it recently opened a branch in Singapore, Novena by the way), Bumbu Desa. The husband and wife aikido masters and the husband and wife aikido students ‘menyambal’ into the night (except that my mister, who gave the super spicy sambals a pass and took what he could stand only). And yes, I washed it down with Es Alpukat, much to my gastronomic glee.

Sensei-S, choosing from the wide selection of lauk-pauk for us… All spicy Sundanese. And the resto’s motto is ‘Ternyata tetap kampungannn!!!’ -that’s so me. hee 🙂

Like the old folks like to say, ” Kalau rezeki tak ke mana”… kan? 😛

A lesson

Today I learnt the difference between teaching a group of orphans/poor children of single mothers and spoilt rich brats. The former hang on to every word I said as though they are precious dollars flowing out of my mouth, while the latter hang me with the crude words they say about being made to go for extra lessons which they cannot be bothered to go to but are made to by their paying parents.

And oh. The other big difference is, the satisfaction of teaching the first group is out of this world, although I don’t get a single sen for teaching them–whereas teaching the second mentioned group made me want to go out of this world with exasperation, although I am being paid handsomely to teach them.

Such is life, huh?