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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year 2016!!!

It's been a while since I last checked in.

Well, 2015 has been a hell of a year for me personally. However, I am grateful that all have ended well. Lots of blessing came in disguise. New family, new love, new place, new hopes, new paradigms, and new optimism that things will get brighter.

There were times when I felt rejected and taken for granted, but things have changed and major changes happen in this 2015.

Happy new year for all of us.

Hopefully, this new year will bring better things in all of our lives. God be with you :).

Warm regards from me & family.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Preterm Births - Is it okay to deliver a child before the due date for "your" convenience?

I would discuss today's topic mostly from my personal opinion rather than too much backed by science or religious beliefs.

I was baffled when I heard a friend wants to deliver her baby earlier than the due date because she wants to match the birth day with some special date that she has chosen. My first reaction after knowing this was "Blood Boil". Yes, I was completely lost to hear something that I found completely ridiculous.

I can't agree more if preterm birth is done due to some health issues. It's completely acceptable. If the mother is not healthy, gets an accident, has some complication that the baby has to be taken out prematurely to save him, then it's perfectly fine. It's indeed the right thing to do, but if you force a baby out simply to match some anniversary date or some stupid historical date, that is utterly ridiculous.

The moment you decide that you want to have a baby, then that Birth & Death are determined by this Nature, by God. So, please don't say that you believe in God if what you do is against what He wants. It sounds like a High Class Hypocrisy. Let the baby comes out when he wants to. Give him all the time he needs to be mature enough to be born. If the situation arises that the baby has to be delivered early in order to save him, then do it, but please... I am begging... Please... don't deliver your baby for your own convenience. It's not a right thing to do.

The moment you are committed to have a baby, then it means you are ready to give all the time & space for him to grow healthy inside you until he is ready to come out. Don't violate such wonderful process for your own selfishness.

The moment he is born, he is bound to all the hustle and bustle of this world. He is forced to struggle to find his own life. At least, let him come out when he is ready. Don't rush him even before he is born to this world.

Your baby's birth date doesn't matter. YES. IT DOESN'T MATTER. What matters is how you raise him, how you give your best to make him a strong & good person to continue his life on this earth. No one bothers which date he was born in the end. IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Please wake up. Let your baby comes out when the time comes. Don't force him!

Please read some of the articles for reference:



Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article1208178.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year 2015

Hello everyone. Hope this year has brought you wonderful things along with great lessons to make you a better person.

I think not much for me to say at this year end except a few reminders for all of us, including myself.

One thing that I would like to emphasize as it has been something that I see these days around me is that to get rid of the concept "hurt people hurt people". Yes, you read that right.

Life sometimes brings us to our knees, completely helpless & full of lost and all we feel is pain. We are hurt, but it is very often that we vent out such feelings and hurt others in the process. Just because we are hurt, we have the tendency to do the same to others to make them feel what you feel and most of the time to the people who don't hurt you at all.

It's going to do nothing except ruining your relationship. It's going to do nothing except making you look as a person without values. It's going to do nothing except being disrespected in your community due to the erratic behavior or words.

If you want to shout, make sure it is for a good reason, make sure it can solve the problem, and make sure that it is relevant to the situation, otherwise it will end up worse.

If you want to compete in your life to survive, do it without losing your values. What is a human being who doesn't have values anyway. Do not set aside the good values in you simply for money or fame.

Respect yourself & try to face your problem with elegance. I know it is not easy. I faced my problems worse than a crazy monkey once in my life, but now that I look back, it's not worth it. I should be grateful to all the people in my life who have made me realize that I am better than running amok for no reasons.

And the last thing that I should say again is It's not about being a True Hindu or a True Muslim or a True Christian that matters in the end. In the end, all that matters is about being a good human being. Despite the different ways of worshiping, we are one and the same. The same blood, The same flesh. Let's not forget that.

I do hope that in the coming year, we would have warmth, kindness, values, and lots of wonderful new beginnings in our lives.

God bless you all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FOLKS!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Does Money Break You Down?

It's been really long time since I wrote. Nothing has been interesting to share. However, how a coffee conversation could turn into something inspiring or a long story-telling is always a wonder.

I had a coffee time today with ex-students of mine and eventually we had girls talk about how sometimes women had to compromise many things in their surrounding in order to prove their worth financially.

It's often that we are faced with some drawbacks financially and when it happens, we start cursing, we starting blaming life, we start blaming others, we start feeling that life is not fair, and we start fighting it back to change everything in a snap. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. If you want to fix yourself financially, the first thing you have to do is accept that you are in deep shit (if you indeed are), and second, stop sitting in self-pity and try to work things out to get the hell out of there... because if you want, then you can. 

I am not going to tell you that it will be a cake walk and that once you are out of the suffocating trap, you would be a millionaire (in few cases, this might happen, though). If you really put your mind into it, at least you could have your life a bit more organized and understand which to prioritize and which not to.

As I have mentioned in some of my previous post, going to India for further study has been a life savior to me. I didn't go there as a young girl who were born in rich family who would get large amount of money from my dad as my monthly expense. I didn't go there as a young girl who had everything and only went there for additional degree next to my name. I didn't go there as a young girl who was happy to cloud 9 to get a full scholarship. I didn't go there as additional fun that I could travel and see new things. I went there as a defeated person. Something happened in my life that had made me quit my job, lost all my savings, and heard words that no woman should hear. I went there with almost zero money, a mother to take care, and a commitment that I had to complete my study without any fail in any subjects, and I went there with a completely broken heart & broken soul.

I got full scholarship so I don't have to worry about anything and study books are provided in the college library. BUT, How did I survive with USD 160 stipend per month provided by the government and still make sure that I have food on the table, pay the electricity & internet bill, and pay the monthly house-rent?

Well, let me tell you something. If I followed the life-style that I used to have before things get sour in my life, for sure I can't survive with that amount. I had to change things. You can't expect things to change. YOU have to change YOURSELF.

Now, what happened there:

House - Most students share their house for 2 people which reduce the cost, but I can't since I have my mom. 45% of that USD 160 went to the house rent. That left me with USD 88 to make sure that I & mom ate 3 times a day, paid the bills, bought needed stationery for my studies . Was it possible? Yes, it was. By the grace of God, India's living cost was lot lot lot lot lot lot less than Indonesia and that had helped a lot.

Household content - We had a stove, 2 plastic chairs, two mattress (one for sleeping, one for me sitting during my study with my knee table - I didn't have a desk or a swivel chair the way I had back home), that one knee table that I could be re-arranged to 2 mini tables (one for putting books, one for laptop), one used refrigerator that cost me USD 30 that I got from one senior student who was leaving the country, 2 brooms, 3 plates, 3 cups, a water jug, 4 bowls, and cutlery. That's all. I didn't have to buy any cabinet since the house already have a built in cabinet. The rest of the clothing is placed in the suitcases. We survived with those for 2 years.

Food - We turned to vegetarian. No chicken, no meat, no fish, no prawns, no squids. Since we are rice people, there would be rice and one vegetarian item on the table. No side dish.

Transport - I went to my college walking. It's 6 km up and down. I spent 30 minutes going to college and 30 minutes returning home walking every day. But then after some time, some of friends would give me a hike when they pass the road and see me walking. That's a good thing.

Internet Bill - We needed good connection as well as good price, so how did we do it? We shared it. I have 2 friends who lived nearby with approximately 10 meters distance. They arranged for a wi-fi connection as they already had a land-line phone and I shall use that by paying 1/3 of the bill.

Personal Interest - I love cooking a lot, and yet I had to hold a strong urge for not trying this and that as I can't afford an oven. I can't afford a food processor and for sure, I can't afford extra food material required to make something. Was it difficult? YES, it was in the beginning but then I get used to it. I knew things are not going to be like that forever.

And then one of my ex-student asked me "You love chocolate, miss... You sacrificed that, too?" and my answer was "YES, but not entirely". I had a bar of chocolate once in 3 or 4 months. And we didn't have a TV. You read it right, no TV for 2 years. If we wanted to watch movie, than my laptop is the TV. All source of information I wanted to know is there on the net, so no need for any magazine, newspapers, etc either.

Some friends who have no idea what I was going through would simply say "Hey, why don't you buy this and that? Why don't you go there for holiday?" and if I say "I can't afford it, yet", they would say "Live up your life once a while, man. Don't keep your money inside the box". Well, I couldn't explain the situation to them because they would never understand. I lived my life in my own way, with my own responsibilities, and no matter what people say, I am the one who was and is in charge of my life. If I used my ego & pride and start following what they say, I'd fail miserably.

I & mom used to live in a 15x25m house before our adventure to India. I had my own working room with huge desk and cozy chair, my own library, a comfortable sofa, washing machine, separate dining room, garage, yard, etc. But with my financial condition, I can't expect to have the same thing in India. Did we manage to live in 5x7m house with minimum facilities? YES, we did. Why? Because we believe we can. We had to. If we fought and forced ourselves that we couldn't accept that reality, we would only make ourselves frustrated & depressed with the situation that we couldn't change. Could we be adamant and get a big house, too? YES, I could borrow money & lead the luxury life forgetting the bitter fact that I was broke, but where will it bring me eventually? It would bring me to further misery. Sometimes, you have to swallow those bitter pills. No other way.


Then...

Things started to change after the first year. Academically, I was pretty good. I was considered the brainy since I tackled the difficult exam system in India by breaking the record of getting the highest mark exceeding 75% for Management studies. No one has done that. I got 83%. And during all the class presentation, I was pretty much known for having good linguistic ability when it comes to English language. Some foreign students who found difficulties in the language seek for my assistance so that they could follow the class better. I taught them and got some fee for that. Not much though, as all are students and they have to take care of their expense too, but with that money, I could get my mom some new dresses that she could wear comfortably at home. Not expensive ones, but good enough for her to wear. We started having chicken curry or mutton curry once in 2 or 3 months and I have my chocolate once in 2 months, too.

I used to borrow books from library and for some books with limited copy, I had to compete with friends to get it first, but then with the extra income, I bought 2 books that I required the most.

Did I have fun and hang out with friends? YES, I did. I went to Ooty once spending approximately USD 25 both for me & mom. I went to the theme park for USD 10. And I went for a bowling for free as a good friend of mind paid for it. All these in a two-year time.

People say that life is like a wheel, isn't it? Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down. Things started to change. I was a complete zero financially when I finished my study. Bringing back my gold medals, my certificates, and brain, I had to start things all over. Things indeed change. I get a good job and I work with people I am comfortable with. If I fought the adversity with "unaccepting mentality", would I see the sunny day? No, I wouldn't. I would have been depressed & frustrated and hating everything. Nothing would get better if I fought the reality. I simply had to crawl again before I had the strength to stand and walk again.

To be frank, by doing all these, it doesn't mean that I have much. I may not be able to help someone financially in a considerable amount, but I have enough. I don't buy branded outfits, but I have standard decent ones in my cupboard.  I don't fly in a business class flight, but I could buy a promo ticket and fly on a budget flight. I can't go holiday to Europe yet, but hey, North Sumatra is packed with European class view as well ;). I don't have premium brand gadgets, but I do have what I need to communicate and do my work (except for the slow internet connection & power cut that we face here, though). I don't hang out with my friends in a fancy restaurant, but we do have fun with our own food adventure.

I am not going to be a hypocrite saying that I am fully satisfied and that I don't want my life to get better financially or spiritually. I do want a better life, BUT, in the process, I don't want to lose my head & be greedy.

And then another ex-student ask "Sometimes, when we have so little, we can't even help others and I hate it so much". Well, one thing I should say is that "You never have nothing that you can't share". There is always something that you could share. If money is the only thing you could share, then God should have created money the day He created us. He didn't.

In my case, what I give is what I have in my head. I do pro-bono teaching for 2 hours a week for some who really can't afford a decent tuition, but for other people, it could be something else. If you seek within, there is always something that you could give back to the community and it's not always in the form of material or money.

What I am facing may not be in extremities, but for each his own, isn't it? There are other worse cases that I don't even dare to imagine, but God has given them different kind of strength to face what they have to.

Many people turn into bad people for the adversities they have faced. I understand that and I have no rights to judge them, but all I could say is... instead of taking the easy way to compensate the bad things that happened to us, why don't we simply swallow those bitter pills, let go, forgive ourselves for being stupid or for being a victim and lead the life in a way that our hearts don't go against to? It's more peaceful that way rather than keeping anger, hatred and revenge inside this easily broken body.

Why I am sharing all these tiny details is simply to say one single point. When you are in deep shit, take a deep breath, prioritize your life, give up the unnecessary, be grateful with what you already have in hands, keep you head on your shoulder (because once you go to a depressed state, you are going deeper into the deep shit and no one could help you there) and keep sharing what you have.

Like my grandpa always said, "Give your best at your worst time and the best shall return to you". I will repeat this a million times in my posts and you can slap me for that, but I will keep saying it because I am a living proof of this advice.

No matter in which situation you are in, It's the strategy to live your life and the spiritual faith that makes you stand out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Medan Food Festival - North Sumatera, Indonesia

Ahhhh, I thought I have posted this and I just realized that this has been in my draft all along... However, better late than never ;)

Last 18 to 21 June 2014, the city of Medan, North Sumatera - Indonesia held Food Festival (Pesta Kuliner Medan). The event was organized by the Provincial Government along with Young Entrepreneur Association. I didn't go on the first day, but it was part of the Agenda that on the first day, we had Chef Farah Quinn and Chef Kong as the main guests for the opening ceremony.

However, it was pretty crowded as there was cooking competition running, but the number of Food Stands were not as many as expected and it wasn't as much fun as I was expecting. Without the cooking competition, I think it wouldn't be that crowded.

Here are some shots:
Lapangan Benteng, in front of Paladium Plaza



Pineapple cookies with various sugar toppings

Boiled Sea Shells served with Pineapple + Ground Nut + Chili sauce. The best I had in years :)

Mutton Biryani

Dim Sum

Indonesian Kebab (we call it Satay) with rice

Mini Tarts which are too good to be eaten

The Mochi Stand... They truly serve good mochis

Egg Tarts - Not my favorite, but they made it pretty well

Lamb Soup... OOooooohhhh I love the fat :D

Okay, these aren't coffee table decoration. They are pudding... Too beautiful to be something edible!

My all time favourite dim sum

Line of Cooking Competition tables

One of the competition tables

Martabak... Yummyyyyyy!!!

Satay

Not eggs, but puddings :)

Sea Shells

Get busy cooking

Not a very good shot, but this is a big size pineapple cookies!

One of Indonesian traditional breakfast menu, steamed sticky rice served with coconut milk and mango chunks or bananas

Tofu Pudding.. Oooo la la.. I love the Green Tea pudding

Moccha cake with the topping choice of yours


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Human is Fragile and So is Life...

A couple of days ago, I witnessed a minor accident on the road. That incident just reminded me again of one thing that I haven't talked in my postings - human is a fragile creature.

Slip two steps of the stairs and we could break our ankles. Have someone around us who by mistake swings his/her arm around our faces and we might break our noses or injure our teeth. We could by mistake fall down on the street and have a truck pass over us. The point is that in a split second, collateral damage could happen to us.

Of course, with minor injuries, you could simply go to doctor and have it fixed, but how about the people who are financially weak. Could they spend USD 5000 for a broken hand easily?

Life is Fragile, folks. There is nothing you could do to avoid what is bound to happen to us physically. If it is meant to happen, then it will happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid. A person sitting inside a coffee shop at the corner of the street could be smashed to death by a driver who in a split second mis-steer the car into the shop shattering half the building. Can you keep avoiding such things and actually live a life? No.

I am not going to talk on "how you could avoid such damage in life" today, because no one can. Not even me. I have faced my own unexpected damages, but the questions are...
DO WE STOP LIVING BECAUSE OF THAT?
DO WE BECOME SO RECKLESS THAT WE ARE NOT GRATEFUL ON WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE?
ARE WE SO BLIND THAT WE DON'T SEE AROUND US?

Let's Be Grateful.

If you have a perfectly formed healthy body, be grateful for it, take care of it. Let's not complain about small things in life which may not matter in a few years. Life is too precious, your body is too precious. Take care of it.

I have read a saying somewhere: Life is fragile and no matter how much we fight to control its outcome, all we can do is live in the moment.

How could we live in the moment? Love what you do, be grateful for what you have, share what you could, be kind to others, focus on the best in life, try to reduce negativity towards others in your life, and the most important thing is to understand that no matter how bad things happen in life, it is actually to teach us to bring out the best in us. Keep the best inside you, so that when life squeezes you hard, the best is bound to come out still :)

Be grateful, folks...and take care of yourselves because you are special!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Danau Linting & Air Terjun Pelangi, North Sumatera - Indonesian Travel Destination

For May Day, we decided to head for places that none of our group has even gone. We saw on the net about Danau Linting (Linting Lake) and Air Terjun Pelangi (Pelangi Waterfall) in Deli Tua area and thought that "Hey, that's near to Medan. Let's give a try for a short road-trip"... and here is my journal :)

Route
Danau Linting is located in Kabupaten (Regency) Deli Serdang and Kecamatan (Sub-District) Sinembah Tanjung Muda (STM) Hulu. In order to get here by public transport, you would need to inquire the bus driver at Amplas Bus Station, Medan. I am not sure, which number heads that way, but we saw a bus number P24 (yellow minivan) that heads all the way to Danau Linting.

The distance from Medan to Danau Linting would be around 70km and it takes around 2 hours to reach there. Most of the road would be winding road and some parts would be a bumpy one. You would need to take the route from Medan to Deli Tua, Patumbak, Talun Kenas, and all the way to Tiga Juhar - Deli Serdang. From Patumbak, you would meet a forked road and make sure you make the right turn to Talun Kenas (from Medan, it would be the right fork turn). From Talun Kenas, you would need to follow along the road until you meet Tiga Juhar. From Tiga Juhar, it would take around 1 hour to finally reach Danau Linting which would be on the left side of the road. You won't be able to see the lake from the outside of the road as it's a small lake hidden inside. Make sure you don't miss this board.

The Danau Linting (Linting Lake)
In order to enter the Lake area, you would need to pay IDR 5000 per person. You could park the car inside and chill out at the brim of the lake. It is not a big lake and since many people have come around, the surrounding area has been changed to canteens and tents. It is no longer look natural as the photos we saw a couple of years ago.

The color of the lake is magnificent, though - tosca green. The temperature of the water is 30 degree Celcius and it contains sulfur. We tried to have a dip and it's pretty hot in this hot weather. Perhaps at early dawn or during rainy season, it would be more comfortable to have a dip here.
Right off the car :)
However, it's not advisable to swim to the center of the lake. It is known so far that the lake is actually shaped like a well and in the center it could go up to 100 metres deep or even more. Some people have lost their lives drowning here, so be careful. Just stick to the brim where you could stand and submerged yourselves in the water.
It's hot and it's steep deep - 50cm forward and God knows how deep it is.
Simply LOVE the color :)
There is also a cave inside this complex that you could explore if you wish. We didn't explore that section as it was pretty crowded here during the holiday. After some photo session, we left this place and headed to Air Terjun Pelangi, which is approximately 30 minutes car-ride from Danau Linting.

The Air Terjun Pelangi (Pelangi Waterfall)
You would need to follow the main road out of Danau Linting until you find a junction where there is a house and muddy road. I'm sure you won't miss this, but there is no harm in asking the people around. The people are friendly and ready to assist.

However, you need to enter around 1km inside to get to the waterfall. This road definitely does not exist for the sake of Sedan car or any car in this matter with low chassis. The stones are pretty big and many clay mounds along the road which could make your tires could go round round in place like crazy spinning wheel. I suggest you bring a 4WD car (off-road car) here, or else a motorbike. BUT, I have a lot lot better suggestion. Bring a sexy sedan if you want to, park it outside the junction (you could rely on the local to take care of the car. They are friendly and the car would be safe. Just make sure you tip them when you return), and WALK inside. It's a fun, muddy walk with all the cicada and cricket sound, surrounded by woods. No tension of falling down from the bike or get your car stuck in the middle.


The more you go, the crazier it becomes - stones, mounds, and muddy clay soil - pray that your car doesn't stuck

So, we eventually decided to rely our feet for this one :)
There is a very short bridge you need to cross to enter the waterfall area. This bridge is DEADLY. There is no railing at all and if you fall, it's a perfect 100-150-metre vertical ride to death. So, if you walk, make sure do not peep if you have a light head and if you drive/ride, give your 100% concentration. Leave this place when there is still light.

Once you cross this dangerous bridge, you would enter a parking area near the waterfall. If you take your vehicle inside for the parking, you would need to pay IDR 5000 for motorbike and IDR 20,000 for car.

This waterfall is called Pelangi, which means Rainbow, because it has 7 steps of fall from top to bottom. The falls are not extreme and you could roam around safely once you reach down. The stream is not very hard as well. You could refresh yourselves here pretty safely.

The starting point of the stairs heading towards the waterfall
This waterfall is located approximately 100-150 metres below the ground level (it's a kind of abyss) so you would need to descent through the stairs that have been built along the way to the waterfall. You need to be very careful here because the stairs are not even in height and most of them do not have railings. If you slip and fall side-ways, you would fall to the abyss. We do not want that, so please be careful.
This shot was taken while I was standing on the stairs - no railing at all, just approximately 1 metre wide steps
We went off-track from the stairs to the muddy jungle and this is the view we ended up with :)
 The Drawbacks of the Waterfall:
  • Road is not conducive
  • Stairs are not very safe
  • The bridge is super-dangerous
  • Some people are not aware of cleanliness that you could spot many snack wrappers, soda cans, and water bottles along the jungle
  • No room to change after you are full wet. You need to change in the car, or try other way to change your clothing.
Surrounding Sites
There are many other places surround this area, like: Air Terjun Tanjung Raja (Tanjung Raja Waterfall), Goa Emas (Gold Cave), Air Terjun Tarunggang (Tarunggang Waterfall), Kolam Delapan Putri (Eight Princess Pool/Delapan Putri Pool), Rumah Liang (Liang House), and Jembatan Gantung (Hanging Bridge/Gantung Bridge).

Those areas are not visited by many people due to the lack of maintenance by the local Tourism Board of the government. However, if you have a supporting vehicle (as I said, 4WD vehicle is very much recommended), you might have an over-the-edge off-road-trip adventure. Just make sure you bring enough food and water provision for the day.

Food
Unfortunately, they don't have very many food alternatives here. Mostly are the Karonese Roast Pork (Babi Panggang Karo/BPK) and Padangnese Food (rice with chicken or fish with vegetables, etc). So it is recommended to pack your own lunch from home if you don't want these.

By the way, we didn't know this, so we survived with Tango Wafers, Cassava Chips, Water, and God knows how many lollipops Kiminiko had finished during the ride. We finally had lunch at 5pm after we returned to Medan. We stopped at Mbah Bolek Restaurant at Brigjen Katamso.
Fried Chicken, Water Spinach stir fry, Beef soup, Fried Aubergine, Chili Soy Sauce, Belacan, Tamarillo juice, and Ice Tea - Now that's the menu after all day starving ;)
Overall Rating
However, from the 2 spots I visited (the lake and the waterfall), I should say that my overall rating for this place is not so high. Out of 1 to 10, I would give 4 considering the winding road, some bumpy parts, the not-so-far-reaching view of the Lake, and the food. The waterfall is not that bad, though - the access is not so good, but the view is pretty good.

If you are just curious and feel like giving a shot to these places with your friends, then it's fine, but if you really need to unwind and enjoy your day relaxing or bring your parents, I do not recommend these places.

Thank you for the very good companies and the wild imagination of conversation of Ensui, Kiminiko, and Ensui's girlfriend. We should do this again ;)