Compromise is an active verb.

Most of our current generation cannot live without internet connection and signal, even to think about it gives us chills. The feeling of missing out, they say. And apparently, this phenomenon is well captured through the recently releases film titled “Susah Sinyal”, a bit challenging to translate the words but let’s agree to say “Difficult to receive signal”. A glimpse of the storyline, it tells about two persons, mother and daughter, coming from metropolitan most sophisticated city in Indonesia, Jakarta, to spend their holiday in a remote area of a far, pretty unfamiliar place in the south eastern part of Indonesia, Sumba Island. In short, they were annoyed by the fact that to get them connected to the Internet was a (insert an idiom of difficult work).

Just recently, I was invited to share my experiences with students during an English camp organized by MELC, Ambon. When they came to pick me up, they warned me “Di gunung seng ada sinyal, paling susah.” (No signal there in the mountain, most difficult bit). I took it lightly as I didn’t have the rush to check the Internet especially when I am socializing with people, at least I tried to avoid it as much as I could. The sharing session went very well, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm the participants showed us. It was only due to the time limit that we had to end the question and answer session before everyone got their chance.

What interests me most is that how the local people who’ve been living in that mountain for years got used to not being able to stay connected anytime they want it to. A friend of mine couldn’t help himself but asking, “how did you manage to live without signal? How could you be ‘able’ to do that?” The other nodded and smiled, as if this question didn’t surprise him at all, “it’s not merely about our ability to adapt to it, being able is one thing, and getting used to is another.” And when they said that, it somehow punched me in the face. I used to tell myself that “to be a subject of our lives, we have to be able to make choice, to object thing, to take control over things that matter and affect us”, to choose not checking on social media when we are socializing with friends, to choose only spending 10 minutes online every two hours, to choose doing this not doing that, and so on. But we, at least I, sometimes forgot that being able to compromise to something we can’t control is also a choice, an active act of being the subject, still.

Cause in that sense, you don’t surrender yourself, but you scrutinize to handle it.

And what also interests me was that they got used to it in so they invented many funny expression to make fun of their situation. “Batu 4G” “4G stone” a sacred stone which enables people to get 4G signal when they sit on or stand next to the stone. Etc.

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What to bring abroad?

Early in the morning and there is something that pops up in my mind. I’m gonna tell you some stuffs you should probably add to your list before you go abroad. This applies for Indonesian (or Asian) people mostly.

1. Minyak kayu putih, kampak, fresh, or you name it.
2. Seasoning, especially when you plan to go to country less inhabitated by Indonesian people. Cause you’ll hardly find asian herbes then.
3. Your favorite shampoo. It is true that here you’re gonna find lots of kinds of shampoos indeed, but just in case you have sensitive hair that requires special treatment, then you should bring some from your home country. Since there will be different in terms of hair types, weather, water, and so forth, normally shampoo’s ingredients will vary from one country to another. (I have problem with my hair every time I go abroad, that’s why I’m a bit insisting on this matter)
4. Indonesian food. You can bring abon, rendang kering, orek tempe, teri, etc. that will help you to survive the first 3 months. At least you can bring some packs of Indomie. Who knows.

I think that’s all for today. I’ll get you noticed if I have something to add. Or maybe you have your own exoerience to share? Feel free!

What a coincidence!

[studying] Instagram meet Annisa, Annisa meet Instagram. So the coincidence does happen. If you ever read about my story when I met a Dutch girl named Lianne at Starbucks Coffee in Balikpapan then we talked and reached a point where we realized that we’re going to the same university in the Netherlands, subsequently we became friend and she stayed in my house, and we went to Bangka Island, and we traveled around Jakarta, and we are friends. In a way, this girl is a mixed-race Indonesian-Dutch, Annisa. Well on my first day, she came over me and said, “Hai Abel, saya Annisa, saya teman kerjanya Lianne.” The story was, at her workplace Lianne told Annisa that she’s just come back from her trip to Asia including Indonesia, that she met an Indonesian girl and stayed at hers.

Some couple of days afterwards, the list of student of Master’s program was distributed and Annisa saw an Indonesian name on it. She then searched my name on Facebook and found that Lianne is our mutual friend. So she said to Lianne, “hey your Indonesian friend you once told me will be in my class we’re in the same master’s program.” And we both three were excited because of this friend circle. 🙂

In a whole, I believe that everything in the world is connected to each other, what we need to do is to find its clues and realize the God’s winks.

This photo was taken last night, it was an honour for to be invited for dinner at her house in Arnhem, a 1-hour-by-train town from Tilburg. 🙂

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Obsolete? Not really

[traveling] in April 2013 I had the chance to costless visit Bangka Island. Yes, you are right, it’s Bangka, not Belitung. I do realize that Belitung, as you said, is way more beautiful and stuff and stuff. But for a free pass and free accommodation and free tour guide and free meals and free nanana and nanana, and that is Bangka which was offered to you. Then what would you say? May be no? Or of course yes? 🙂 let’s be straightforward everyone, question. Now that these things are obsolete. Please do tell me, what purpose do they serve besides Instagram? I mean, really, what do they serve? (I was standing and taking picture from a new metal beton harbor)

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Build my own castle

For years I have been dreaming of owning hotel chains all over the world. I would be glad to start this job-based-on-interest by constructing a backpacker hostel. Yeah, it’s true that I am passionate with travel, and of course I have been backpacker and visited some countries especially in Europe. For me, traveling has given me new glasses to see the world in different way, better way, and broader way. If you haven’t yet experienced some, go grab some tickets and travel!

Well, I know working in this travel domain nowadays is not a piece of cake. It requires us lots of work and patience. I started to create a new Twitter account named @ID_backpacker almost a year ago, and I have 208 followers till today. It is not much. You know that persuading someone to believe or trust in what we are trying to offer is hard.

From now on, I will agressively promote and develop my @ID_backpacker as much as I could. This is important especially when later on I aim to drag international tourist to come to my Backpacker hostel!

Finger crossed!

[traveling] Bangka Island, Bangka Belitung Province

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[traveling] I had the chance to costless visit Bangka Island. This island is located on the East side of Sumatra island. Formerly part of South Sumatra Province, now along with its neighboor island, Belitung island, it has become an independent province. Anyway, do you see the small black boats on the photo? Yes, despite this pittoresque landscape made by their appearence. Those boats endangered the sustainable life of this beautiful beach. They are tin illegal miners who destroyed the land by digging the coastline layer everywhere. In 10 years ahead, I’m doubting that its beauty could still be admired.

Mengejar kelas

“at what point you can tell that one is poor and the other is rich?”

Tiba-tiba saya teringat perjalanan saya di tahun 2011 ke Kupang. Mungkin ketika mendengar kata Kupang, atau provinsi Nusa Tenggara Timur, bagi sebagian orang Indonesia bagian Barat akan ada selintas pemikiran bahwa provinsi ini kurang berkembang, masih alami, tingkat pendapat perkapita rendah, gersang, dan hal-hal lain yang tidak jauh dari topik tersebut.

Kupang merupakan ibu kota provinsi dari Kepulauan Nusa Tenggara Timur. Sebenarnya, jika dilihat dari potensi alamnya, daerah ini memiliki beragam kekayaan alam yang bervariasi seperti kekayaan maritimnya yang masih lestari, keindahan alamnya, sabana dan stepa, peternakan kuda, serta perkebunan jagung. Tidak banyak lapangan pekerjaan yang bisa ditemukan di kota ini. Berkisar antara supir angkot, supir bus, pedagang, serta PNS. Industri-industri kecil tidak terlalu berkembang dengan baik, hanya beberapa kerajinan tangan khas daerah ini yang kemudian dijual di beberapa outlet untuk dipasarkan.

Beralih ke topik utama, kuniungan sejenak saya ke Kupang, berinteraksi dengan beberapa tokoh masyarakat di sana, serta menyaksikan secara langsung ritma kehidupan masyarakat NTT membuat saya berpikir ulang tentang definisi kaya dan miskin. Dalam sebuah forum yang diadakan oleh pemerintah daerah NTT, ada salah seorang pegawai menceritakan tentang kehidupan masyarakat di daerahnya yang cukup terpencil, sekitar 8 jam perjalanan darat dari Kupang. Dia menceritakan bahwa di sana, kemewahan adalah ketika kita bisa mandi sehari sekali.

Masyarakat di desa tersebut tidak mengenal toko, mereka tidak bekerja, jika yang didefinisikan bekerja adalah kegiatan untuk mencari uang. Mereka menyelaras dengan alam, menanam apa yang memang musimnya. Jika memang bukan musim jagung, mengapa harus memaksakan diri untuk menanam jagung? Maka mereka beralih menanam singkong dan tanaman lain. Mereka menernak ayam, sapi, atau memburu apa saja yang ada di lingkungan mereka. Jika pun tidak ada protein hewani, itu bukan menjadi masalah yang perlu dipermasalahkan. Dengan sistem kehidupan seperti itu di sebagian daerah di NTT, sangatlah wajar ketika provinsi ini dinobatkan sebagai provinsi dengan tingkat pendapatan per kapita terendah di Indonesia. Tapi, apakah itu menjadi tolak ukur bahwa daerah itu, orang-orang yang tinggal di situ adalah miskin?

Konsep miskin lahir untuk menjadi anti tesis bagi orang yang memiliki banyak uang. Sehingga ketika ada orang yang tidak memiliki akumulasi uang yang sama, akan dikatakan miskin. Secara umum kita dapat simpulkan seperti itu. Tetapi, bagaimana jika situasinya adalah, sekelompok orang ini tidak mengenal uang? Tidak mempersoalkan uang sebagai alat tukar? Apakah kita juga bisa mengkategorikannya sebagai miskin? Menurut saya, tidak.

Ini hanyalah bagaimana kehidupan dipandang dari setiap kelompok yang berbeda. Memakai kaca mata yang berbeda dalam menafsirkan makna hidup bukan berarti salah satu lebih mengerti dari yang lain.

Ketika kita semakin masuk dalam sebuah komunitas, kita akan lambat laun mengadaptasikan diri kita pada kelas itu, pada pemikiran mayoritas di dalamnya. Akan sulit lepas secara sadar tanpa adanya pertentangan, percayalah. Contoh saja, ketika seseorang sudah mulai mengenal arus pengikut mode, ketika dia sudah mengenal dan mencapai titik mampu membeli merek tas tertentu, dia akan berat hati hingga alergi dan enggan membeli merek yang jauh di bawahnya. Karena sudah tidak bisa. Dengan rentetan pembenaran yang mungkin diajukan seperti “ini bahannya bagus, elegan, kuat, tahan lama, dia juga pakai lho, nanti aku setara dengan dia juga, dll.” akan mewarnai perang batin masing-masing orang. Tentunya ini berlaku bukan hanya untuk kaum hawa saja. Bukan begitu?

Jadi, bukan karena masyarakat tradisional di Indonesia yang masih hidup dengan mengandalkan kemampuan bercocok tanam, mereka tidak mampu membeli Louis Vuitton kemudian kita mengasihani mereka. Mungkin malah sebaliknya, mereka yang mengasihani masyarakat masa kini yang mengorbankan seluruh waktu, hidup, dan pikiran mereka untuk mengejar suatu kelas dalam masyarakat.

Balikpapan, 3 April 2013