Top Ten Favorite Books in 2008

The new year’s spirit already spread all over us, well it’s time for me to choose my top ten favorite books. It turned out that it is a bit difficult to choose only the best 10 books since this year I read many good books.

The show must go on, finally here are my top ten favorite books in 2008, enjoy….

1. “Three Cups of Tea”, Greg Mortenson
2. “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert
3. “The Witch of Portobello”, Paulo Coelho
4. “Kafka on the Shore”, Haruki Murakami
5. “Honeymoon with My Brother”, Franz Wisner
6. “Unaccustomed Earth”, Jhumpa Lahiri
7. “Q & A”, Vikas Swarup
8. “The Curious Incident in the Night Time”, Mark Haddon
9. “Maryamah Karpov”, Andrea Hirata
10. “Recto Verso”, Dewi ‘Dee’ Lestari

Honeymoon with My Brother


What will you do if your fiancee dump you in the altar? The wedding party’s already been settled, all invitations have already been sent and half of the guests are already on their way to the wedding place?

This is a memoir of Franz Wisner. His life seemed to get broken down at the time his fiancee, who already been together for the past 10 years dumped him just one week before their wedding day. Having ready for wedding party and honeymoon; there were two options for him: cancel all programs or proceed it without the bride. Supported by his younger brother, Kurt Wisner and all his best friends, Franz who was in despair took second option.

The honeymoon turned out to be a great experience for both of them. Franz and Kurt who were been apart and felt allied with each other, finally found their sense of brotherhood. Eventually, Franz and Kurt decided to continue their journey. They quit their jobs, sold their houses, threw out their cell phones into trash and went together around the globe.

After two years on the road, visiting more than 53 countries, including Indonesia, they became closer to each other and found a new meaning of life. The journey changed their way of enjoying life. From Central America to North Europe and Middle East, from Africa to South East Asia, including Australia and New Zealand, every new adventure took them to unique and interesting place and turned out to be great experiences.

Funny, touching and entertaining. This book will inspire you to start your own journey. Following the Wisners’ step to leave our routine activities behind and live as free as a bird.

This great book will be adapted into a movie very soon and the Wisners now is trying to prepare the sequel of this successful book.

The Valkyries


Valkyries: The nymphs at Wotan’s palace. Messengers of the Gods, they led heroes to their death - and then to paradise.

This time Paulo Coelho brings us on a forty-day quest into the starkly beautiful and sometimes dangerous Mojave Desert, Paulo and his wife, Cristina encounter the Valkyries, strange warrior women who travel the desert on motorcycles.

In this book, Paulo reveals details from his personal life. Paulo tells in a poignant way how his wife, Cristina, facing him as a husband. It tells here that Paulo like to quit working (a mania for leaving everything behind), busy with his own thoughts and Cristina had never gotten used to his life, taking off suddenly, looking for sacred pathways, swords, conversing with angels, doing everything possible to move further along the path to magic (“I should have married an engineer instead”, she said to herself). Never thought it could be quite difficult to marry Coelho.

As usual, Coelho’s writing is so rich. Wise word spread all over this book. Make me hold my breath for a while, so stunning with the power of his words.

I excerpt some quotes here:

“God is love, generosity and forgiveness; if we believe in this, we will never allow our weaknesses to paralyze us.”

“We are not alone. The world is changing and we are a part of the transformation. The angels guide us and protect us. Despite all the injustice in the world and despite the things that happen to us that we feel we don’t deserve and despite the fact that we sometimes feel incapable of changing what is wrong with people and with the world, love is even stronger and it will help us to grow. Only then will we be able to understand the stars and miracles.”

Taxi Driver

Rain fell all night long and it’s still drizzling until this morning. A perfect moment to stay in bed and forget about office stuff. But my mind still worked well and suddenly instructed me to get up, it’s not holiday yet, in fact it’s Tuesday and a lot of works was waiting for me. Okay…I reluctantly left my comfortable zone. At first, I planned to take train to the office, but seeing the non-stop raining really made me losing my good mood #excuse#. Finally, I decided to ring Blue Bird pool and ordered a taxi.

At 6 a.m. sharp, the taxi arrived, at the moment I opened the taxi door, I was a bit shocked to see the taxi driver, she was a middle-aged woman who welcomed me with her friendly big smile. Later on, I found out that there are actually 5 women taxi driver in her pool.

So this morning I had different experiences. Despite feeling stressful with terrible traffic jam, we had a long and nice chit-chat. Ms. Wuri, the driver, is a mother of two. She used to be a house wive but since her hubby was cheated by his business partner and felt depressed, she decided to find a job and forget their misfortune. She said that at first her children objected her choice to be the taxi driver, they were afraid that their mom would be murdered. Ms. Wuri said that their children watched Buser too often.

She’s very polite and a skillful driver as well (she was an instructor for a driving course many years a go and she loves driving very much).

I admire her. She’s a good example for all of us. Her spirit really influenced me. We could learn a lot from her. Thanks to Ms. Wuri who already brighten my day and give me a nice thing to ponder today, thank you.

Quote of the Day

“God sends children to enlarge our hearts and make us unselfish and full of kindly sympathies and affections” (Mary Howitt)

In the Miso Soup


After reading several books written by Japanese authors, e.g. Haruki Murakami (“Norwegian Wood”, “Kafka on the Shore”), Natsuo Kirino (“Out”) and now Ryu Murakami (“69”), I come to a conclusion that their stories are so…..bizarre, eerie and beyond my imagination. Well, Japanese always amaze me.

This book is ’very dark’. Ryu Murakami, the author succeeds in presenting this most sadistic thriller. The story is about 3 days journey of Kenji a 20-year-old-guy and Frank, a middle-aged-American-guy. Frank agrees to hire Kenji for three days. He wants to explore night life in Tokyo.

Since the first day of their journey, Kenji feels that something wrong about Frank. He doesn’t know what but his queer attitude put Kenji in a prejudice that his client could be a cruel murderer that recently wandering and terrorizing the town.

Beside the sadistic stories, this novel also elaborate many touching things, such as: the alienation, the identity lost, culture and moral corruption that spread all over Japanese people.

If you are a thriller freak, this book is really a good choice to grab.

Maryamah Karpov


Rahasia

Ku beri tahu satu rahasia padamu, kawan
Buah paling manis dari berani bermimpi
Adalah kejadian-kejadian menakjubkan
Dalam perjalanan menggapainya

The book that I’ve been waiting for impatiently. Finally, it’s here. Yup, it’s the fourth and the last book of Laskar Pelangi. At the time I received it, I directly read it and not able to stop it. The story is still the same. Fascinating, as always.

The story is about Ikal’s experiences when he goes back to his hometown in Belitong after finishing his master degree in France. He meets his old friends, Laskar Pelangi members and begins his journey to find his dream lady, A Ling.

As the final book, it wraps up all. All important characters from the previous books appear and take part here. A lot of hilarious stories of Belitong people are told in detail. Andrea Hirata and his magic words still fascinate me. Make me speechless and at last feel sad since I have to say farewell to this great stories. I feel like losing a good friend. That’s the magic of a great book.

One word for Andrea: Amazing!

Miss Jinjing


It’s true, I bought this book due to the title of the book, “Miss Jinjing (Belanja Sampai Mati)”. Since some friends of mine exclaim me as a shopaholic (padahal nggak juga lho #denial#), I wonder what kinds of experiences the author, Amelia Masniari aka Amy would share with her readers.

But…compared to Amy, my shopping habit is nothing. She has shopping experiences around the globe (how lucky you are). She’s familiar with the sale in Paris, Milan, London, NY, Japan, Hongkong. She said she usually spend whole day long just for shopping. Started early in the morning and finish when the shopping center is closed.

Some parts of this book that mentioning the price of certain branded items kind of make me shocked. I took my deep breath, control my emotion and whisper OMG (exaggerating). Check this out, one Bottega Veneta bag could be sold Rp 40 million and people still queue to purchase this damn-beyond-belief-very expensive- bag. For branded freak it’s nothing to pay that big amount in order to have their dream bag.

This life style book shares info on shopping things (of course), fashion and all things related to women, e.g. Tips to differ original and fake bag, great places to visit for shopping, 20 Fashion Items to Buy Before You Die (e.g. Hermes Birkin Bag, Manolo Blahnik Kitten Heels, Armani White Shirt,Cartier Watch, Chanel Red Lipstick), Things to Do to Satisfy Your Hubby (Brazilian Wax, Totok & Ratus Vagina, Vaginoplasty) and many more interesting topics.

Just a simple book.You could read it while sipping your cup of coffee and enjoy your day.

Lolita


Pffiuh….finally I am able to finish this book. No…no…it’s not because this book is not interesting (in fact it’s great). Not because it’s too thick (525 pages), but because of the following reasons:

• It’ s about a controversial subject. A confession of a middle-aged guy, Professor Humbert Humbert who obsessed with a 12-year-old-girl, Dolores Haze aka his Lolita. Humbert married Lolita’s mom just to take advantage of her little girl. After Lolita’s mom died in an accident, Humbert took his step daughter traveling around USA, enjoying the forbidden love (see…as a mother of two little girls, at first I felt a bit uncomfortable with the subject of this book).

• Still…..I’m curious about this book due to TIME said: “one of the three most influenced novel in the world”, BBC exclaimed: “one of the everlasting best novel”, this book already adapted into movies twice and last but not least, when I bought Bahasa Indonesia version of this novel (published by PT SERAMBI ILMU SEMESTA), it mentioned “4th Edition : September 2008” .

• Okay,, let’s read the novel then, it moves very slow. Narrated by the Humbert himself. Well…gradually..I begin to enjoy it. I found out then why people exclaim this book as a good novel. The author, Vladimir Nabokov wrote it in a very detail way. He described the characters of Humbert and Lolita in a touching way. Seems like I enter Humbert’s mind and feel his alienation and despair. Most of the characters appear in this novel lead a pathetic live. I feel sorry for them.

• For you who look for a different genre of novel, not a common one, I recommend this book.

Three Cups of Tea


Speechless. That’s my first reaction after finishing this very touching book.

This is a true story about Greg Mortenson, a remarkable guy who is the co-founder of nonprofit Central Asia Institute and this book has been a New York Times bestsellers since its January 2007 release and was Time Magazine Asia Book of the Year.

The story started in 1993 when Mortenson climbed Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram range. This mission was made to honor his sister’s memory, Christa, died in 1992 after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy.

Instead of succeed, Mortenson failed to reach the top of the mountain. He was sick, disoriented and his body lost 15 kilos. After walking for 7 days, finally Mortenson arrived in a local village called Korphe where he met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand and made him promised to himself to build a school there.

From that promise, grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign, in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As of 2008, Mortenson has established over 78 schools in rural, which provide education to over 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

His work also full of difficulties. In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the Nortwest Frontier Province tribal areas of Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlord by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory and also received hate mail and death threats from fellow Americans after 9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.

On August 14th, 2008, Pakistan’s government announced on its Independence Day, that Greg Mortenson will receive Pakistan’s highest civil award , Sitara-e-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”) for his courage and humanitarian effort to promote education and literacy in rural areas for the last 15 years.

Mortenson is a living hero for all of us. This is a must-read-book. Very inspiring. Turn you to feel as the luckiest person in the world compared with the Pakistan and Afghanistan children. We must be grateful for all God blessing.

This book already translated in Bahasa Indonesia by Dian Guci (Penerbit Hikmah, September 2008). The translation is also good.

I quote the term ‘three cups of tea” derives from:
“…(di Pakistan & Afghanistan), kami minum tiga cangkir teh saat membicarakan bisnis; pertama engkau masih orang asing; cangkir kedua, engkau teman; dan pada cangkir ketiga, engkau bergabung dengan keluarga kami. Sebuah keluarga yang siap untuk berbuat apapun-bahkan untuk mati.”
Haji Ali, Kepala Desa Korphe, Pegunungan Karakoram, Pakistan

Why Worry

Mengapa terus jua mengejar ramalan masa depan
serta meletihkan otak untuk kebingungan sia-sia?
Tinggalkan kecemasan,
biarkan rencana Allah menjadi rahasia-Nya semata
Dia mengatur semua,
tanpa harus menanyakan pendapatmu

(Omar Khayyam, “The Rubaiyyat”)

No Shitting In the Toilet


I couldn’t stop laughing when I read this crazy book. It’s totally funny…funny…funny. This alternatives travel guides written by Australian author, Peter Moore. He is a travel writer and so far already visited 92 countries including Indonesia.

This practical travel guides divided into 24 chapters based on topics of general interest to travellers, such as: Top 10 Reasons for Travelling (some are: you start to enjoy photocopying files, washing your car is the highlight of your weekend), Top 10 Worst Time to Travel (winter, school holidays, public holidays), Top 10 Favorite Tours (House of People, Bucharest, Romania, Duck Tour budget Safari, Masai Mara, Kenya, Mentawi Tribes, Siberut, Indonesia), and many more.

Almost all topics are interesting and certainly make you burst into laughter.

Dengarlah Nyanyian Angin


“Hear the Wind Sing” (KAZE NO UTA O KIKE) is the first novel written by Haruki Murakami in 1979. This novel was awarded by Gunzo Literary Award on the same year.

This thin novel (only 146 pages) tells about a 21-year-old unnamed man who obsessed with an American writer, Derek Heartfield that killed himself by jumping down the Empire State Building in New York. This young guy has a girl friend who did abortion for baby she did not know the father was.

This unnamed man also has a best friend, Nezumi, a billionnaire’s son who is sick with wealth and drown himself in alcohol. The three of them spend unforgettable 18 days during a summer time in a seashore of a small town.

This book tells about young generations in adapting the traditional and modern values in Japan during 1960-1970. Reading this book reminds me of “Norwegian Wood” also written by Murakami and tells about young generation in Japan.

Just a simple book but enjoyable. Grab it in Gramedia book stores, it’s already translated in Bahasa Indonesia by KPG (Kepustakaan Gramedia Populer) on October 2008.

One Fine Day

Last Thursday (11/6) Najla’s school conducted a study tour to Planetarium, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) and National Monument (Monas). As usual I took one day leave to accompany her. This was going to be the first visit to those places for Najla and me aswell (yup…those 2 places never been on my school’s study tour list back then). Below is the recap:

First Destination: Planetarium, TIM

As soon as I entered the building, I got some kind of feeling that things were not going too well. Why? When the show was ready, the room went dark completely and we could see stars shining above us. Cool…for me, not for Najla who was scared of the dark and asked me to leave the room very soon. I tried to calm her down. Finally she stopped crying. Later on, I noticed she was too quiet, I knew something went wrong, dear God….she felt asleep. Yeah…perhaps Astronomy is not Najla’s things now, don’t know in the future, people change, aren’t they?

Second Destination: National Monument (Monas)

The weather was so hot and dusty at the moment we arrived there. The programs at Monas full of queueing but not for Najla and me. In spite of queueing like other people did, Najla and I were queueing in front of the rest room since Najla needed to poo. Whaks…such a perfet moment, sweety.

I felt a bit disappointed at first because we missed the opportunity to go to the top of Monas, but when I overheard some mommies grumbling that they had been staying in line for hours to enjoy the Jakarta view from the top of Monas and unfortunately, according to them, nothing special there but the hard wind who was ready to blow them all to the sky *exaggerating*.

In the end I had to thank Najla then, it seemed she knew what the best for us. We arrived home at 7 p.m. totally fatigue but really had a one fine day.

Life is Choices

You may choose either to be a good kid or a lousy one
You may choose either to finish your school or drop it out
You may choose either to get a good job or being jobless
You may choose either to get married or stay single
You may choose either to have children or none
You may choose either to be on your own or depend on others

All choices shall lead to its own consequences
Either good or bad one
Whatever it is, just accept it, enjoy it and be grateful for all
‘cause one thing for sure: Life is rich

(Dedicated to my younger sis who still busy re-arranging her complicated life. Good luck!)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist


One word to describe this book: Brilliant. I am a kind of speechless to describe it. Written by Mohsin Hamid, a Pakistani who now lives in London, this book has been translated into 20 languages (including Bahasa Indonesia, published by Penerbit Mizan on July 2008) and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Mira Nair.

The story presents an interesting perspective of life in America in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy. The main character is Changez, a brilliant young Pakistani who finishes at the top of his class at Princeton and is hired by the most prestigious and world-famous corporate valuation firm based in New York city. He has a perfect life there. He finds his true love, Erica, a charming American woman. He adores America very much.

Things are totally differrent just after the 9/11 tragedy. Changez gets confused either to stay in America or to return back to his home town in Lahore Pakistan. He is in a big dilemma.

There’s no action (no bombs, no bullets, no noisy chaos), but there is a gripping suspense. The story is started at a restaurant in Lahore market, Pakistan, where Changez spends his time having dinner with an unknown American guy. All these mesmerizing stories about his life in America are conveyed through the narrative voice of Changez interpreting the American’s reaction as story unfolds.

Q & A


This book is remarkably awesome. I enjoy it very much. The story is about Ram Mohammad Thomas (he has 3 names that represent 3 religions and have a long reason behind it), a 18-year-old-guy, who works as a bartender. He never goes to school. But, no body can’t argue somebody’s fate. He joins the “Who Will Win a Billion” quiz show and win the grand prize: ONE BILLION RUPEE. He answers all 12 questions perfectly. Everybody stunns.

According to some people i.e. the quiz organizer, this whole things are totally strange. Impossible. They’re quite sure that Ram must be cheating during the show. These assumptions lead to the arresting of Ram by the police guards.

Ram is an orphan. His life journey moves from one inferno to others, Delhi, Mumbai, Dharavi, Agra. Still, he could enjoy the Bollywood movies, Taj Mahal (where he works as a tourist guide for 2 years) and falls in love with a young prostitute, Nita.

Combination of hilarious stories, tragic, drama even action-thriller and a sweet ending is truly engaging.

Formerly, this book has been translated into Bahasa Indonesia and published by PT SERAMBI ILMU SEMESTA under title of “Q & A” on December 2006. Then on July 2008, it’s reprinted with new cover and title “Teka- Teki Cinta Sang Pramusaji” (unfortunately, I bought this new version and couldn't find the new cover to be posted here). Frankly speaking, I feel uncomfortable with the Indonesian title. I think, if the translator and the publisher can’t find a suitable title in Bahasa, it’s better to leave the book with its original title. One more thing that disturbs me is the translation of the book, I found several ‘uncommon’ words. Perhaps, it’s time for the publisher to hire an editor and a proofreader aswell to check the book before it’s printed.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. It’s entertaining. You could burst into laugh and tears at the same time. Not many books could do that.

Salute to Vikas Swarup, the author, an Indian diplomat who now serves for the Department of Foreign Affairs in New Delhi.

Ocehan Si Mbot


It’s been such a long time I become a silent reader of si Mbot blog. But, since I don’t have a Multiply blog, I can’t say hi and give comment to the blog owner.

I always enjoy si Mbot writing. Just a simple stories. Mostly daily activities but they usually make me burst into laugter.

When I read in si Mbot blog that his stories will be published in a book, I directly contact www.inibuku.com and ordered it.

I know this book will not dissapoint me. The stories are really funny. Enjoyable. It’s about stories happen in the cubicle aka office. Started from the recruitment process, daily activities in the cubicle, how the employees interact with each other, etc.

For you who experience bad days in the office, dealing with annoying boss, horrible clients, and the like, I suggest to buy and read this book. I am sure this book will brighten your day. Promise.

Ciao Italia


I believe there is always a blessing in disguise for everything. Just like the condition now, after economic crisis hit US, almost all companies in the world, including in Indonesia get the impact. Also my company, although the impact just a tiny one, but…still the business is slow down. Me as the supporting unit in the office feels that we are not as busy as usual. This condition leads me to have more spare time. Meaning I could read more and post reviews more often in my blog. Yippie….

This time I review a book written by Gama Harjono who fell in love with Italy and had a dream to stay there for a certain period. People said, just dare to dream. It’s true, Gama made it through at last.

As the first preparation, he learnt the Italy language within 1, 5 years, the objective was, he did not want to speak English there. Why on earth did he fly so far away to Italy and still speak English?

Next, he planned to go there, but not as a tourist. He wanted to live his life as an Italian for one year. He wanted to make friends there, to learn the culture. Yup….the choice was to become a college student. He studied at Perugia University in Umbria.

The adventure began. Aside from his study, Gama experienced many great things. Having parties with his friends. Camping in a small village. Sighseeing around the big cities and also the small villages, checking the museums, galleries, trying the gondolas, and many other things that really made me envy him so much, arrrrgh….

This book is really rich. A lot of info in here. Sometimes I feel that they are too many that make me a bit overwhelmed. Imagine, there are info on great places to visit, good foods (even there are some recipes written by the author), backpacking tips, how to get free accomodation in Europe, how to get a nice hostel and cheap food. All wrapp up completely here.

I myself actually fell in love with Italy when I read “Eat, Pray, Love”. Elizabeth Gilbert, the writer lived 4 months in Italy and like Gama did, she also got friendly experiences there. Well….don’t blame me if my desire is getting more and more to go there. Again, dare to dream, who knows my wish comes true…very soon.

Telephone

Just like other working moms, almost everyday my colleague makes a phone call to check her son’s (5 yrs old) condition at home. But, children sometimes have their own plans in their mind and we can not force them to talk to us even we are their mom. This occasion happened several days a go:

My friend : “ Almer mana? Saya mau ngomong sama Almer.”
The nanny : “Almer nggak mau, bu.”
My friend : “Tolong dibujuk, bilang Mama kangen mau ngomong sama Almer.”

Not long after that, Almer picked up the phone.
My Friend : “ Hai Almer, lagi ngapain?”
Almer : “Maaf telepon yang anda tuju sedang sibuk, cobalah beberapa saat lagi.”
My friend : @#$%^&*

Catatan Hati Bunda


This simple books tells about a mother-father-kids relationship . Asma Nadia, the writer, delivers her family stories, mostly about her two kids, Caca & Adam, and how they interact in harmony during everyday life together.

For me, who also a mom with two little girls, there are a lot of good things to be taken from this book and apply them all in my everyday life. Moreover, as a not-so-patient-mother a.k.a easily lose temper, Najla, my first daugther usually becomes the ‘victim’ of my anger (sorry, sweety) and from this book I realize that I must be grateful to be bestowed with these two cute daugthers while a lot of mothers out there are not so lucky like me.

There is a story about how the writer, as a mother, feels when the doctor declares that her kid suffers from serious disease (“Pangeran Kecil Kami Menggigil”). I was really touched by the ending of this story, I quote here:

“Jika anak anda nakal, menumpahkan sesuatu, merusak barang-barang, ribut, melawan dan menjawab omelan, Anda boleh menegur atau marah tapi jangan berlebihan, apalagi sampai memukul. Sungguh, bagi saya dan ibu-ibu lain yang punya pengalaman sama, kami mensyukuri setiap celoteh dan gerak anak-anak, karena ada masa dimana kami ingin mereka bergerak dan bersuara tapi hanya diam, yang kami dapatkan.”

Another touching story is about fasting month (“Ramadhan Penuh Warna di Rumah Kami”). How the writer and her husband try their best effort to make their kids love the holy month and do fasting willingly. It is a story on how the writer tries to wake her son up and persuade him to eat during sahur time. Also the writer and her husband prepare 30 (thirty) presents for their kids that can be chosen and opened everytime their kids successfully finish one whole day fasting. The presents could be anything. They do not have to be expensive. Just prepare 30 (thirty) goods and wrap them all in fancy papers. Sure, the children will love them. Everybody love presents, don’t’ they? How sweet. A good example. It’s worth to try!

Other stories also inspiring especially for a mom with small kids at home. Reading this book make me promise to myself to be a better mom, not a mean mom by trying the following things:
1. to have more patience in handling my girls;
2. to reduce my screaming frequency to the girls (I know I’m not a lead vocal in a rock band) ;
3. last but not least, if I still can not handle it in an amicable way, I have to re-read the book over and over again until the spirit of the book could come into my mind, body and soul and influence my behaviour and way of thinking during my parenting period.

The Last Time I Saw Mother


I enjoy the book very much. Every page is really fascinating, just like having a conversation with a close friend.

This is a story about Caridad, a middle-aged woman who lives in Sydney with her husband and daughter. Suddenly Caridad receives a letter from her mom. She’s asked to go back to her hometown in Philippines. Since her mom never writes a letter, Caridad realizes that it must be a very important thing that will be revealed by her mom.

As Caridad hears at last the unspoken stories and the never-forgotten tragedy of the war years, she learns a startling truth that will change her life forever.

This novel is a debut written by ARLENE J. CHAI, who was born and educated in Manila. It was shortlisted for NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 1995. Now, Arlene lives in Sydney.

From this book I got several new information such as:
• How the three cultures—Spanish, Chinese, Filipino—co-exist in Philippines.
• Caridad means charity.
• The Malacanang Palace (the presidential residence). The name ‘Malacanang’ comes from the Tagalog word may lakan diyan, which means “a noble man lives there”.
• The collection of the First Lady (Imelda Marcos) --beyond belief—consist of more than 3,000 pair of shoes, 67 racks of dresses, 500 black brassieres with their tags still on, 1,000 unopened boxes of stockings, silk panties and formal gowns, 5 shelves of Gucci bags, and enough jars of Estee Lauder anti-wrinkle cream to stock a department store cosmetic counter.

Blackberry

A friend who happens to be a newest technology trend follower bought a new blackberry. When it came to use it, he got confused. He asked another friend to help him with his new gadget. This ‘unlucky guy’ spent almost two whole days to give a short course to the gadget man on how to operate and use the sophisticated blackberry.

A couple days a go I met this ‘unlucky guy’ and asked him as follows:
me: “Bagaimana blackberrynya, udah beres?”
him: “Akhirnya beres juga. Dia enak-enak pakai blackberry, gue yang kena beri-beri.”

Happiness

“Kebahagiaan adalah latihan, dia ada di ambang pintu kita. Yang perlu kita lakukan adalah mengucapkan selamat datang, tetapi kita sering tidak sadar dan tidak terampil untuk menyadari. Orang harus melatih diri untuk merasa bahagia, dengan bersyukur. Kita sekarang ikut tren yang di tempat asalnya tidak dipakai lagi, yaitu kalau sukses dan punya uang banyak kita akan bahagia. Padahal, kebahagiaan terbesar adalah memberi” (HAIDAR BAGIR, founder & President Director of Mizan Publishing, Kompas, October 12, 2008).

recto verso



‘Rectoverso’ means -in my own simple definition- two things seem to be separated but actually they are inseparable parts and complete each other.

Dewi Lestari aka Dee emerges with this -according to her term- ‘crazy’ and challenging project ever, a book and a CD. Consisting of 11 stories and 11 songs. Both complete each other.

Read the stories. Listen to the music. Enjoy the illustrations. Sure you do have a new magical things in life. Just follow them and enjoy.

The stories as always composed by Dee, come out with simple stories though, but she’s indeed really good in choosing her beautiful words and unexpected ending that wholeheartedly make me stunned everytime I finish a story.

I have not heard the CD yet. I only heard one song “Malaikat Juga Tahu” that plays so often in almost all radio stations. I had to admit that at first I felt a bit awkward with the lyrics but soon after I finished read the story (with the same title) then I got the whole picture and found them both (the story and the song) were fabulous.

So far “Malaikat Juga Tahu” is my fav. Really touching. Put me through a deep thought for quite sometime.

Moreover, I’d like to share some beautiful quotes here:
“Sahabat saya itu adalah orang yang berbahagia. Ia menikmati punggung ayam tanpa tahu ada bagian lain. Ia hanya mengetahui apa yang ia sanggup miliki. Saya adalah orang yang paling bersedih, karena saya mengetahui apa yang tidak sanggup saya miliki.” (excerpt from “Hanya Isyarat”).

“Hati adalah air. Baru mengalir jika menggulir dari tempat tinggi ke tempat yang lebih rendah. Ada gravitasi yang secara alamiah menggiringnya. Dan jika peristiwa jatuh hati diumpamakan air terjun, maka bersamamu aku sudah merasakan terjun, jumpalitan, lompat indah. Berkali-kali.” (excerpt from “Peluk”).

Dee rocks!!!!!!

The Wrong Way Home


This is a story about Peter Moore's desire of heart which is to travel home overland from London to Sydney. He started from London -Prague - Budapest- Croatia -Bosnia- Albania- Sofia-Istanbul -Pakistan- Afghanistan -India - Kathmandu -Lhasa- Chengdu-Laos -Malaysia- Singapore - Indonesia- Dili-Sydney.

He wrote his story in a funny way. Take an example when he entered the Chinese Immigration and Customs office in order to cross into Laos, an official said that she couldn't let him passed and suggested him to fly. Peter put on the most pained expression he possibly could and said, "my father was killed in a plane crash in Australia when I was ten. I haven't been able to fly since. If you look in my passport, you will see that I have come all this way from London without flying in a plane."

Peter wished that the whole things had been videotaped because he deserved an oscar at the Academy Awards that year. Nearly three hours later, the official returned to the room, smiling sweetly, his passport had been stamped and all paperworks had been done. Well.... it worked.

The whole journey had been taken over 8 months, 25 countries, 13 boats, 34 buses, 16 trains, 21 mini vans, 6 car rides and one solitary flight later when he failed to take boat from Kupang to Darwin.

One thing that amazes me that the author never forget to ring his mom during his journey. What a nice guy.

Laskar Pelangi the Movie


Finally I had the opportunity to watch this movie. Believe it or not, I sneaked out during my lunch break at the office with my two-crazy-'emak2'-friend and went to Blitz Megaplex Grand Indonesia. We picked the earliest session, started at 12 am and went back to the office at 2.30 pm. I know it sounds crazy, but...as a mother with two little girls, I really don't have time to go the movie, especially in lebaran holiday while the babysitters were back to their hometowns *excuse*.

The movie itself is great. One thing that disturbs me is Tora Sudiro. He just does not fit the character. He's too comical. Still, it is a good movie, otherwise I would not risk my job just to watch it. I enjoy the beautiful views of Belitong. The cute small actors and actresses.

It is not fair to compare the book and the movie. Of course, the book is richer. We have our own imagination and they are all beyond limitation. Anyhow, the movie is recommended. Take your children to watch it. They will get new ideas of the importance of education. Make them dare to dream and appreciate more upon what they get in life.

In short, I could summarize that the book successfully make me laughing, while the movie really burst me into tears.

Papi

Last night I had a fasting break with my two old friends. We had a long chit chat, 'cekikikan' here and there, while trying to finish our big meals. Below is one of the 'ancur' conversation:

Friend #1: "Anak lo manggil lo apa?"
Friend #2: "Papi dong, gue kan indo."
Friend #1: "Puppy kan artinya anak anjing."
Friend #2: @#$%^&*

Ramadhan

Is there any correlation between getting older and feeling reluctant to have fasting break in a mall?

It happens to me lately. I could not stand the crowd in the mall during Ramadhan month and all what we call it, hustle and bustle.

It's really different with my condition in the old times. Every time Ramadhan came, I was always very excited, my schedule was full with the appointment to have fasting break with my friends in the mall rather than having fasting break at home with my family (see, what an 'anak gaul' I was back then).

The situation is totally different now. I think this 'reluctant' feeling came when I finally have my first daughter (after waiting for 3 yrs). I guessed it's all started there. I was so happy to be blessed with children, if some other mommies having 'a baby blues', it surely did not happen to me, in fact I had 'a baby pink' syndrome, crazy about anything in pink color *excuse*.

To date, every time the office hour ends, I automatically tidy my desk, turn off my PC, grab my handbag, run along to the train station and get the earliest train that I can catch up with. Yup..., I now change into a 'home sweet home' lady.

Next week, my office will have a fasting break for all employees and I already feel not so enthusiastic about it. I don't know, if the Event Organizer provide a door prize, either a plasma TV or METRO voucher, perhaps I could give a second thought to join it.

kira-kira


kira-kira in Japanese means glittering or shining. That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people's eyes.

When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow.

But, when Lynn becomes desperately ill with Lymphoma and ultimately dies, the whole family begins to fall apart, it's up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always hope and something glittering -- kira-kira -- in the future.

The story is really touching. Although this is a children novel, but Cynthia Kadohata write it in a beautiful way. No wonder if she received a Newberry Medal for this book. You may check here for more detail info about the writer.

A Great Package

It's been such a long time that Peter Moore's books are in my wish list. At first I am a kind of desperate to get his books. I've checked at Periplus, Kinokuniya and Aksara and found nothing.

Couple days a go I've got info that Peter Moore's books can be purchased at Times UPH Karawaci.

I remember Ingkan, a friend who works at Karawaci and also loves books. I contacted her and asked her help to buy me the books. She said yes without hesitation.

Yesterday, the package of 3 Peter Moore's books (No Shitting in the Toilet, The Wrong Way Home, and Swahili for the Broken Hearted) arrived at my office. Whoa....so excited about it. Can't stand to start reading them all.

Again, I thank Ingkan for her efforts. You're really are a reliable friend. Thanks a lot.

Unaccustomed Earth


When the first time I read Jhumpa Lahiri's novel "The Namesake" (it's been adapted into a movie), I could not put it away since it's written down with exquisite prose, emotional wisdom and subtle rendering of the most intricate working of the heart and mind.

I continued by reading her other book "Interpreter of Maladies", a Pulitzer prize winning and I found it also awesome. The style of the writing is still the same.

Then every time I go to the bookstore, I always check whether there is a new book of Lahiri. Eventually, last August, I got this mint book. Since this was new, it had only hardcover edition which cause the price was a bit expensive, secondly it's heavy to be brought here and there. But...I could not stand it. I grabbed it and went directly to the cashier. Thank God, it's independence day and Periplus gave 17 % discount for all new books. I know...it sounds like a freak, but when I find a good book, I suddenly can turn into a freak.

The book itself contains of eight stories that take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers.

The stories mostly tell about Indians who move and stay in America and find a lot of complex situation there.

My favorite story is "Only Goodness" tells about a sister eager to give her younger brother the perfect childhood she never had, by introducing him with alcohol but in the end she overwhelmed by guilt, anguish, and anger when his alcoholism threaten her family.

All in all, I highly recommend (especially for women) to read Jhumpa Lahiri's books. It's really touching. The flow is a bit slow but it's enriched with beautiful detail prose. Worth to read.

Thirteen Books

My President Director, Mr. Oshima is a book freak. As usual, once a year, he takes home leave and goes back to Japan for two weeks.

Today, he comes to the office with a big smile. He gathers all group heads for a morning meeting. He said to all, "It's good to be back. During my vacation, I ate much, I gained more weights, I met a lot of friends and enjoyed it very much. One thing that I regret is, actually I had a target to finish 20 (twenty) books within 2 (two) weeks, but unfortunately, I could only finish 13 (thirteen) books."

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman


This book consists of 24 short stories of Haruki Murakami collections. As usual the themes of all stories are weird. One story tells about a monkey who has hobby of stealing a person's name tag. This incident will lead the said person has difficulties in remembering his/her name. Other tells about a man who has a habit of going to the zoo whenever there's a typhoon. Another story tells about a husband who has a shopaholic wife and when his wife passed away, he gets confused what to do wit his wife clothes' collection, a room full of size 7 dresses and 112 pairs of shoes. Finally he hires a lady to come to his house and wears his wife things as a kind of uniform while she work at the man's house.

There are only 3 examples that I mention here, I assure you that almost all of the stories here are superb collections. None disappoint you. If I have to choose which story is my favorite, frankly speaking, I cannot give my choice. So many great stories in here.

Nevertheless, I still prefer Murakami's novel than his short stories since the weirdness seems not settled thoroughly. It's Murakami's style actually.

All in all, this is the 4th book of Murakami that I'd read (Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore and After Dark) and I have to admit that I fall in love with his books even more.

The Witch of Portobello


This book is awesome. Never enjoying this much of Paulo Coelho's books. Not after "Zahir". Coelho writes it in a different style. It's about a mysterious girl, Sherine Khalil aka Athene aka Hagia Sofia. The story's told by the many people who knew her well-or hardly at all, such as: her adoptive mother, her birth mother, ex-husband, a journalist, an actress, etc.

Since the flow of the story is remarkably entertaining, I even not noticed the absence of Athena as the main character.

Athena is a Gypsy girl who is adopted by a Lebanese family. She's a restless person. She always wants more. She's not a kind of person who could get happy easily. It's too boring for her. She can't want only to love, because that's impossible. She wants to justify her life, to live it as intensely as possible.

Coelho's vivid portrayal of the characters and their development is brilliant. This is Coelho at his best.

Home Visit



Najla's school, TK Seruni has its special activity called 'Home-Visit'. All students and teachers of one class will visit a student's home and study there. All will get their turns, although this is not mandatory, the school's principal will ask the willingness of the host.

Yesterday was Najla's turn to have the visit of 10 classmates and 3 teachers. I took one day off from the office in order to welcome our great guests.

At 08.30 a.m. the guests arrived. Some were still accompanied by their moms and nannies, while others were brave enough to be left alone in our home and picked up later on.

It's so amazing to see these cute playgroups students. Imagine, a teacher asked, "Who wants to sing?" A boy name Reza raised his hand, "Me...me...me". The teacher responded, "OK, Reza, please stand up." Then we all waited for Reza's song, but there's no sound at all. Reza was standing there quietly with his innocent look. What a boy!

I was also amazed to see the teachers. They really enjoy teaching. Their patience really made me stunning. Look at there, some students wanted to pee, others were crying and fighting, but the teachers handled them skillfully. No anger, no sharp tone, nothing. In the end, the peace came to all of them.

I was kind of ashamed to my self who easily lost temper in managing my kids (sorry, sweetie!). Well, some people were born with great patience, while others not *excuse*.

Teaching this playgroup classes is really something. If you enjoy it, I'm sure you will live a long life, stay healthy and keep younger everyday. Just compared with my daily life, dealing with legal documents and demanding Japanese boss everyday, no wonder if I got stressed and lose temper very often. Bless them all great teachers.

At 10.30 a.m. the Home-Visit's over. Najla gave goodies bags (thanks to Mbak Ratih for cupcakes & chocolate lolly sticks) to all her classmates and teachers. Thank you all for coming. We really had a great time.

Birthday Wish for a Wonderful Daddy


You are our favorite person in the world
and Mama feels lucky to be your wife and also us as your children
your positive outlook on life is always an inspiration to us
and we are extremely grateful to have that influence in our life

You have our utmost respect, admiration and love
and we look forward to living out the rest of our life with you
happy 35th birthday, Ayah
we hope all your birthday wishes come true.

Best wishes from Mama, Najla & Nayzea

*birthday wish modified from here
** cupcakes ordered from here

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


First, I love the title of the book. Second, I am happy, finally I could finish this Milan Kundera novel. It took quite sometime since the story's a bit serious. Talking about emptiness, despair and all those negative feelings.

Set in 1968 Prague. The novel details the circumstances of life for artists and intellectuals in communist Czechoslovakia and the invasion by the USSR. The characters appear in the novel are Tomas, a well-known, successful surgeon, who criticizes the Czech communists and resultantly loses his position, and his wife, Tereza, a photographer who suffers from Tomas' affairs with a lot of women.

At first, I thought I couldn't finish this novel, just like "My Name is Red" Orhan Pamuk novel, since the story moves very slowly, but I didn't know, I just got into this book's flow and eventually enjoy it. Although I feel so sad thinking about the characters appears in the novel, they are mostly unhappy people. They actually just want a simple life, but they're too busy with their own thoughts and end up with eternal suffering. Is it that difficult to have happiness?

Things that Made Me Happy

Last holiday, I went to a big mall in South Jakarta and found incredible things there, such as:
1. Planning to buy a new big suitcase since I did not have any big suitcase *excuse*. Fortunately, I saw a cute-flowery-big-suitcase at 'Bags City' with 50% discount plus 10% additional discount for BCA cardholder. What more could I say? Dream came true. The deal was agreed in the very first place.

Still, there's also a pity story. On the way to parking lot, people looked at my hubby, who pulled the big suitcase, suspiciously. Perhaps, they wondered, "What's this guy going to do with the suitcase? Hopefully not to put a dead body in there." Well, lately, the trend of murdering someone, mutilating, and finally putting the victim in the suitcase's getting more in numbers. How poor my hubby was. He was the victim of a discount-holic wife. Sorry, my dear Ayah.

2. The luck still continued. Starving on lunch time. Najla as a big fan of Pizza Hut, surely chose the place to have our lunch there. When the bill came, the waiter asked, "Do you have a BCA credit card? There's 15% discount for BCA cardholder."

3. The last luck was on our way home, I dropped by at Haagen Dazs. Buying 2 (two) pints of ice creams and voila.....there's 50% discount for Mandiri cardholder.

Well, yesterday was really my lucky day. I loved it very much.

Ways to Live Forever


This book really made me full of tears. Written by Sally Nicholls. It's a journal of Sam, a-11-year old-boy who is dying of leukaemia. His story is neither tragic nor sentimental. It tells about the lists, the stories, pictures and all questions and facts collected in his dying life.

His sincere thoughts about life and death make this book considered as one of the book that could raise your spirit in facing one of the inevitable facts in life. It is written from Sam's perspective. Remind me of the characters of Christopher Boone who appears in "The Curious Incidents of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon and also Bruno in "The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas" by John Boyne. The stories are very touching. So naive. So pure.

Children's world is always beautiful. Even if they tell about tragic things. We as grown-up people, usually feel guilty and sorry for the children who experience tragedy in their childhood.

Quiet, please

My evening ritual almost similar every night. Started by taking my daughters, Najla and Zea to the toilet, changing their clothes into pyjamas and ended up by telling them the children stories.

Last night, after finishing the storytelling session, I saw that both of my little girls looked terribly sleepy already. Then, I asked them to go to sleep right away.

me : "Okay girls, it's time to go to bed."
Najla & Zea : "Okay."
me : "Well, girls, before you fall asleep, do you want me to...uhm...sing a lullaby or something?"
Najla : (answer in her sleepy tone) "Ma, just keep quiet."
me : #@$%^&*$#

Mark Haddon's Book


"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" was the first Mark Haddon's book that I'd read. It took quite a long time to finish it since my friend lent me the book of Shopaholic series that seemed more juicy, so I had to put this book for a while.

The book itself tells about Christopher Boone, an autistic-fifteen-year-old-boy. The story is told from Christopher's point of view. It's really funny and at the same time sad. From this book, we can learn how an autistic person thinks of everything.

Like Christopher, he's really smart. He knows all the countries in the world with their capitals, he knows prime numbers up to 7,057. He has good relationship with animals, while he has no understanding of human emotion. He cannot stand to be touched and he detests yellow color.

He lives in patterns, rules and a diagram kept in his pocket, until one day, a neighbor's dog is killed and he decides to solve the murder in the style of his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Time acclaims that this book is 'funny, sad and totally convincing'. Yes, the story is really vivid and memorable. I still keep thinking about Christopher's life even after I finish it. A unique one.

Shopaholic

I am not a freaking shopping girl *denial*. I just can't stand the statement of 'Mid Year Sale Up To 50%', 'Year End Sale', Buy One Get One Free', 'Additional 10% For Certain Cardholders', etc.

I know the quote of 'getting the maximum quality of life with the minimum number of possession', still...in real life is a bit difficult to implement it *excuse*. Take example for clothes, if I purchase new clothes, I have to take other clothes out of the closet. Buying 3 new clothes means that I have to choose other 3 blouses and take them out of my closet. But, in fact, when it's time to select the clothes to be put out of the closet, I suddenly come out with a lot of reasons, 'well, this one has sentimental reason', 'while that one is still good, I'll wear it' (although, actually its size doesn't fit me anymore, but I'm an optimistic person, I'll go on a diet someday in the future. Only God knows). The result is my closet is so full and no empty space in it.

Living in Jakarta with its great malls really accommodate my habit. I happened to read this line in one of luxurious mall in Jakarta, "Shopping makes you feel comfortable". It seems that the mall management really understand their customers needs. They spoil them with nice atmosphere and promotion here and there.

Moreover, my office is surrounded with big and famous malls which always keep tempting me to spend my lunch break there. The process usually takes like this, I start by having lunch, continued with sightseeing, and end up with certain shopping bags to take to the office.

Don't blame the mall management, they just do their jobs. Me, the one who must take responsibility to stop my shopping habit. Well... I'll try. I don't know when but I promise I will *let's see*.

Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author said in his book "Like the Flowing River" : "Some of my friends complain, that because they have so many clothes, they waste hours of their life trying to decide what to wear. Now, that I have reduced my wardrobe to 'basic black', I no longer have this problem".

I can't imagine if I have to wear black dress to the office everyday just like Mr. Coelho does, perhaps my boss will ask, " What's happened to you? Are you now a member of Deddy Corbuzier's Fans Club?".

Rocker

Working in Jakarta with its notorious traffic jam could really turn you mad. I have experienced it a lot. As a commuter who lives in the suburb a.k.a pelosok and work in Sudirman area, I could spend 4 hours (even more) in the vehicle to go back and forth from my home to the office.

Thank God, before I get more depressed and decide to open my own business (in my dreams), PT KAI introduced 'the great express train' from Sudirman Station (formerly Dukuh Atas) to Bogor, Depok, Bekasi, Serpong & Tangerang. I am the one who really over excited to welcome this 'magic transportation' (exaggerating) and officially join the Rocker (Rombongan Kereta). If it usually takes 2 hours to get home, while this express train only takes 30 minutes, fabulous, isnt' it???

A friend of mine who once tried this train said that, "gila...kecepatannya melebihi kecepatan cahaya", hihi....

The trains have their regular schedule (OK, sometimes they're late) and usually people always take the same schedule, just like me, my office hour ends at 05.30 p.m. so I could take the 05.38 p.m. train, always like that. Other people mostly do the same, therefore gradually we get close to each other and make a lot of friends at the station, in the train, even in angkot since we always meet everyday, same time, same place. No wonder, if certain people could have a very special relationship and get married with their train partner, amazing.

PT KAI keep adding the train schedules (as a train lover, I really appreciate it), so now I could choose the trains, sometimes I take train that stops at Depok Lama Station. Along the station, you will find the food sellers of the not-too-healthy-food-but-God-it's-so-yummy, such as: all kinds of goreng-gorengan (uhm...my favorite) cakwe, burung dara, jajan pasar, kue rangi, kue putu, etc.

But, if you take train that stop at Depok Baru Station, different atmosphere will welcome you, you will see a lot of vegetables and fruits seller along the station. Not to mention, the seller of the salted fish (ikan asin) and very cheap kids toys. Therefore, it's very common here to see a very-chic-career-woman-with-high-heels-and-blazer is arguing with the seller to get the 'amicable' price of vegetables. Well, women were born with the ability to bargain, it's just our basic character.

Kampung Maen

Last weekend I accompanied my first daughter, Najla to go to Kampung Maen at Parkir Utara Senayan, I left Najla's younger sister, Nayzea at home, since I thought that she's still too small to join the activities (sorry, my dear). We arrived there at 10 am and the place already full of children and their parents. We gathered in a wide area full of trees and the wind blew slowly, nice place after all.

There were around 50 games to join. Najla tried some of them, the queue was very long. Especially for Kampung Rasa where children got the opportunity to cook. So...here they were, acting like a real chef, wearing apron and ready to cook. The food were varied, e.g: noodle, meatballs, milkshake, chocolate, pancakes, kue putu, etc. There's also Kampung Tradisional where we could make batik, rattan basket, kites, etc. Sporty games were also available like flying fox and other out bond games.

So many things to do there but I couldn't stand the queue, taking so long. Beside that, since Najla is still 3 years old, she didn't match to play some games. It seemed that the activities mostly for 5-year-old-children and up.

We left the place around 12 o'clock. It's very hot and crowded. All people headed to Senayan, no wonder, there were Bobo Fair, Books Fair, Plants Exhibition, Kampung Maen, etc, so many events on the same day.

On our way home, we dropped by at Plaza Semanggi. I planned to buy groceries at Giant Supermarket. before that, we decided to have our lunch at Chicken Rice Shop (nice place & good food). Najla looked sleepy and tired, but when we arrived there, she suddenly felt fresh, how come? Well...it's not because of the food, in fact Najla is a picky eater (don't compare with her mom who is a food lover), but she's curious with the Duck-Man, there's a man wearing a duck yellow costume. According to Najla, the Duck-Man's cute.

After checking the Duck-Man thoroughly, Najla agreed to leave the resto. We walked along the mall and suddenly I saw this cute-black-shoes with 20% discount for BCA cardholders, after having a quick thought, I decided to buy it (finally).

I remember Rebecca Bloomwood once said in "Confession of a Shopaholic" that "Purchasing shoes are good investment", and I absolutely agree with her statement, hihi....

69 by Ryu Murakami


This book is really smart and funny.The dialogs here remind me of "The Catcher in the Rye". At first, I thought that Ryu Murakami has something related to Haruki Murakami (one of my favorite authors) since their last names are similar (naive thought), but it turns out that there's only a coincidence, nothing more.

The style of the writings are also very different. If Haruki Murakami is a bit serious with weird things here and there, while Ryu Murakami's writing is really simple and entertaining.

Particularly for this novel, Ryu writes that this novel is a happy novel and he himself writes it with full enthusiasm.

The setting was back in 1969, a vivid period, where the baby boomers came out and believed that they could change the world. The story is about a high school student, Ken Yazaki who as a teenager has a lot of energy and so many dreams to explore. He really cares with the things happen around him. To make other friends realize this, he sometimes undertakes action that could be considered dangerous.

As an unusual student, Ken has a not- too-good relationship with his teachers who acclaim him as a naughty student. For his favorite girl, Lady Jane, Ken decides to conduct a small revolution, just to attract the girl's attention, see how 'creative' he is. He also manages a film festival with his friends for all high school students.

Reading this novel could recharge your energy, like the following quote:
" To live a happy life, we need energy
it is a struggle
to date, I still continue the struggle"

Ryu is a recipients of numerous prestigious awards in japan. He introduces the Japanese pop culture style. People recognize him as a humorous and happy person. He once said that, "I actually don't like to work, so I just want to finish my jobs and then have fun."

Well, it must be nice to have a friend like him. His happiness and positive thoughts may spread and influence his surrounding. I'm curious about his other book (already translated in bahasa) "In the Miso Soup", is it as interesting as this one?

After Dark


This 244 pages novel looks thin compared with other Haruki Murakami's books. The story sets in Tokyo during the spooky hours between midnight and dawn (about 7 hours). The theme is still about loneliness and alienation.

It tells about Mari Asai, a 19-year-old-girl who just kill her time reading a book at Denny's (a restaurant) and accidentally meets a guy, Takahashi. It turns out that Takahashi is a friend of Mari's sister, Eri Asai.

Then the story moves to Eri Asai's bed room. She lies in bed, asleep. She's been sleeping for almost 2 months. Weird? yeah, Murakami's trademark. Just enjoy, don't ask. There's no conclusions. It just flows.

There's still a 30ish woman, Kaoru, comes to Denny's asking for Mari's help since Mari speaks Chinese and Kaoru needs to speak to Chinese prostitute who has just been beaten up in the nearby 'love hotel' Kaoru manages.

Like in many of Murakami's other novels, the conscious and unconscious states of mind play large parts within this book. Also it's quite interesting to read Murakami's take on urban life in Japan and making the city itself a living, breathing creature. We also get the pictures of night life in Japan, not detail but interesting.

Kungfu Panda

Yesterday's history
Tomorrow's mystery
Today's a gift
(that's why it's called present')

The movie 's great. It's hilarious. Wildly entertaining. Go and watch the movie. I bet you'll guling-guling ketawa. I did. After quite sometimes, I've never laughed as much as I did during the Kungfu Panda movie. Whoa.....some stress go away.

The Undomestic Goddes


Chiclit? Yup, I know it's so........ not me. A friend of mine insisted me to read the books of Sophie Kinsella. She said this is different. The stories are funny and smart. She even borrowed me her book of "A Confession of A Shopaholic". Ok...ok....I reluctantly read it and couldn't stop it and kept 'cekikikan' and kept saying 'gue banget'.

Then, I went to Gramedia, saw this book "The Undomestic Goddess" and also there's a 20% discount, don't laugh, I bought it. I had to put aside Haruki Murakami's book and started reading this book and enjoyed it very much.

The book is about Samantha, a lawyer in a big law firm in London. She's very busy with her jobs, no time for fun since she has a dream to become a partner in the law firm. Work...work...work... Until one day, she makes a mistake that cause a big disaster. It wrecks her career.

She feels depressed. Going on a train and arrives in the middle of nowhere. She accidentally starts a totally new life as a housekeeper. She meets a great guy. They fit each other and finally live a happy life. So simple. What a nice story.

One of my dreams to become a full time mom suddenly emerges after finishing this book. Just like Samantha, I also want to enjoy my life. Enjoy the sunrise, the flowers, feel the fresh air, the weekends, play with my two-lovely- children, not annoyed by the meeting, the drafting, the reviewing, the auditing, and all other ing-activities. After 12 years dealing with all these stuffs, is it the time to leave it all behind and simply become a domestic goddess?????

The Virgin Suicides


The second book of Jeffrey Eugenides that I've read after the incredible "Middlesex". This story took place in the early 1970s, in the suburb of Michigan, there's a very religious family the Lisbon. They're just ordinary people with ordinary life. They have five daughters, Cecilia (13 yrs old), Lux (14 yrs old), Bonnie (15 yrs old), Mary (16 yrs old) and Therese (17 yrs old).

Until one day, their youngest daughter, Cecilia tries his first suicide by cutting her wrist hand, but it fails. She tries again and this time succeeds.

After this eerie moment, big changing happens in the Lisbon family. Mr and Mrs Lisbon are very shocked and eventually become depressed. Mrs Lisbon turns to a very strict and over protective mother, she would never allow her girls to go out and hang out with boys. They isolate themselves. No contact from outside.

This situation really affects the Lisbon sisters' psychological condition. Moreover, they are in their pubertal age who are eager to make friends, but unfortunately their parents never recover from the tragedy of Cecilia. The parents' depression cause their daughters mental disorders.

How poor they are, their parents condition lead them into abnormal life. Finally, they kill themselves one by one in different ways. Their deaths become unsolved mystery.

Reading this book makes me realize how heavy the burden of parents are. They have to be responsible not only for providing the good food but also a safe surrounding. Some experts said that a child's development mostly influenced by his/her surrounding.

Still, it's a good book. If you love a mystery book, this is yours. The setting is 'dark'. Just read it on Friday night, it's perfect (exaggerating).

This novel has been adapted into a movie directed by Sofia Copolla in 1999.

The Journey, from Jakarta to Himalaya


Another book about traveling, written by Gola Gong, for Hai Magazine readers must be familiar with his name. He wrote the famous story of "Balada si Roy" in 1980s.

Unfortunately, not as I expect before, the atmosphere that I've got from this book is awfully different compared with other traveling books, such as: "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert or "The Naked Traveler" by Trinity, usually after reading those kinds of books, I was eagerly willing to travel, even becoming a backpacker (in my dreams). On the contrary, this Gola Gong's book really turns my mood down. Instead of traveling, I just feel that I want to stay at home and become a couch potato.

I don't know. Maybe, the setting of the book. The writer tells the story in a flashback style. He started with his father's illness, hospitalized and finally passed away, and also the writer himself at that time was sick and hospitalized. Other reasons are the countries chosen by the writer, mostly are under developed countries, such as: Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

No wonder if the story was about poverty, hungry people, criminals, hot and dusty countries, even in the last part, when the writer was in Pakistan, he almost got raped by a homosexual guy. This scary moment really turned the writer down. His mental reached the lowest level. He suddenly changed his plan to continue traveling to Europe and went back to Indonesia.

Still, I admire him with this adventure, although maybe not as I long to but people have their own ways to choose their own paths and enjoy them. I just thought that this one is not my cup of coffee.

Still, I have to do something to change my gloomy mood, let me think first, how about a cup of ice cream (postpone the diet for a moment) or a better idea, going shopping? hihi....as I wish.

Eat, Pray, Love


This is a brilliant book. It's a true story, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, telling about one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia.

It's about the writer, who was in her early thirties had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want- husband, country home, successful career- but instead of feeling happy, she felt consumed by panic and confusion.

After got a divorce and a crushing depressive, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature set against the backdrop of three different cultures, pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesia island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

She travels for a year, 4 (four) months in every country (wow...what a brave decision!!!). First, Italy, where she studies Italian and eats a lot of good Italian food and also walks along the cities. She makes many good friends there and really treasures the moment there.

Next country is India. She has hard time there. Living in an Ashram. She has to concentrate and do the meditation. She gets best buddy there, Richard from Texas, who happens to give a lot of great ideas. Richard's presence at this Ashram becomes her great and amusing sense of security.

The last place to explore is Indonesia. She stays in Bali, where she encounters a lot of great things. She meets her old friend, Ketut Liyer, the medicine man, the new best friends, Yudhi, a musician who used to live in New York with his wife but after 9/11 tragedy was deported to Indonesia, and the last one is Wayan, a healer and a divorce lady with one smart little daughter. The most important person is Felipe, a Brazilian man, who finally declared as Gilbert's soul mate.

Reading this book is really enjoyable. The Italian part is fun, the India part is a bit 'serious', since she's looking for devotion here, the last part, Bali is fabulous. My favorite.

Many touching events occurs here, such as when Wayan badly needs a home to live, Gilbert collects donations from all of her friends and the donation amount is truly amazing, beyond their believes.

I quote Gilbert's writing about 'being single' or 'divorce' here, this is funny, if Balinese asks you, as a single woman who travels alone, a question such as, "Are you married?", the best answer is "Not yet", don't ever said "No", this answer will make them worry (page 303):
Even if you are eighty year old, or a lesbian, or a strident feminist, or a nun, or an eighty-year-old strident feminist lesbian nun who has never been married and never intends to get married, the politest possible answer is still:"Not yet."

Gilbert's writing is very down to earth, funny, smart and like the cool best friend you always wanted to be like. It's great journey.

Cupcakes for My Best Friend's Birthday


Today is Karin's birthday. She's one of my best friends. We've been friend since we were cute, yes, in our elementary school, back in 1980. We went to the same SD, SMP, different SMA, got together again in university, although different faculty. Then, I worked as a banker, while she became a journalist.

We shared so many precious moments together. The good one, the bad one, we got all. Actually, this circle of best friends consists of three persons, Karin, Tutu ( a very- busy- full-time-mom with two children) and me. We used to hang out together. Enjoying a midnight chat. Sharing our 'jomblo' era together. Then we entered a new very important phase in our life, I got married in 2002, Karin in 2003, and Tutu the last one in 2004.

Next, Karin got a scholarship to study abroad. We kept contacting through e-mail. After a year, she returned home with great enthusiasm and big plans for her future. Unfortunately, God had other plans. Suddenly, she suffered from a serious illness. Thank God, she recovered (bravo!!) and finally got pregnant. Now, she has a cute baby girl, Aisha, the apple in the family.

To date, after 28 years (dear God, is it that long??? Time flies...), we still see each other. Of course, not as often as in the old days. We usually have a date on lunch time and the topics also has been changed. No more talk about broken hearted, new boy friend, and stuffs like that. Similar with other 'emak-emak', we start talking about our childrens, our baby sitters, the expensive diapers and milk, etc.

People said that it's hard to get a true friendship, therefore, I feel really blessed to have this 28-year-old friendship. I always hope that this friendship will be lasting forever. Amien.

*Dedicated to Karin, happy birthday and also for Tutu, thanks for being my best buddies all this time.

**the cupcakes are ordered from here.

***the picture of cupcakes' taken from here.

Batik Fiesta

I don't know who starts the Batik Fiesta first, but I have to admit that it really works. Perhaps since Malaysia proclaims that Batik belongs to them, we as the legal owner of Batik get furious and show it by wearing it. Great ideas, indeed.

I remember, in the old days, we only wore Batik for attending wedding party (usually for men) or special for civil servants, they're obliged to wear it on Friday. But, recently, Batik is everywhere. Everybody comfortably wears it. Go and check it, from ITC Kuningan (Mal Ambasador) until Metro Plaza Senayan, they all sell Batik in various models. Just choose, you want a babydoll model or an elegant one, all provided. Beautiful patterns, colors and models. Even myself, who never felt interested to buy Batik dress, got over excited and bought some Batik blouses and wear them as office outfits.

Actually, it's all started when I visited the latest Inacraft, where I saw so many Batik seller and also there were crowds everywhere, people (mostly women) got overwhelmed with a lot of Batik collection to purchase.

Well, I am so happy to see this Batik trends. Wish it's not going to be a temporary trends. Let's support Batik to be an everlasting trends in Indonesia, our beloved country.