Exchanging Letters Suddenly Feels More Than Nostalgic

Love letters from more than 80 years ago between a couple living separately.

This is almost nonexistent these days.

So I sought a community of such habit.

But I cannot.

I stumbled upon a site which I thought it is for penpalling but wait, everyone seems selling their faces and not that into writing letters.

Fatherhood in “Fanny” (1961)


It is no wonder that “Fanny” is considered “classics”. It displays a theme that is relevant to any human being regardless of their age, citizenship, and status.

It turns out that classics can be very entertaining without even showing you any sexually explicit scenes or nude scenes like our contemporary movies. Not only women, now men too are objectified even more.

After watching the movie here, I like it even more as I found no antagonist character.

Every character is round and seemingly real. What I mean by “real” is that they have innately bright and dark sides, acceptable and unacceptable aspects, desirable and undesirable traits in the eyes of us viewers. These characters are not fully evil. Neither are they entirely angelic. They are just like people around us. Like us!

As a man myself, I can easily relate to Marius and what he feels about marriage. As much as he loves Fanny, a girl at his own age and whom he has known since his tender age, he also longs for an adventurous life as a sailor. At 18, Marius is an able-bodied young man who thinks he should go outside of his father’s small bar at Marseille’s waterfront. Thanks to Admiral’s advice, Marius decided to embrace the free life of sailor on a voyage around the world.

But Marius is also a man who longs for affection and love. He falls for Fanny and the night before Marius planned his escape from Marseille, they slept together and that is when the conflict arises.

Fanny believes she should let Marius go because she cannot let her lover sad and leave his dream of adventure at sea behind. But Marius also cannot make up his mind. He expects Fanny to hold him back. And thus he thinks Fanny doesn’t love him enough, accusing her of devising a plan to accept Pannise, an older and successful merchant who fails to have his own offspring after many years of marriage.

So when Fanny realizes she is conceiving Marius’ child, she panics. She loves Marius so much but he is nowhere around her. Pannise, whom she doesn’t love as much, is ready to accept her as is, ready to splurge her with love and prestige and certainty of future for the fetus.

Pannise, to my surprise, is not a fully antagonistic character. He too is a decent human who has a tender side. Though he wants Marius and Fanny’s son as a successor of his family business, he is aware that Marius is the biological father of the baby and can never change the fact.

Here we are displayed with a conflict that is beyond evil and good. Both characters are decent and they have their own situations to justify their actions. Marius is actually a responsible man but he loves sea too much. Pannise is actually a kind hearted man but he loves a much younger woman. Fanny is also a good girl, not as materialistic as we think, who happens to make a mistake and loves a man who is so young and too immature to make his own decision. Each character has their own fair share of problem and inner conflicts.

And I like most when Cesar (Marius’ father) said when Marius demands his ownership of the son after his comeback at Pannise’s mansion. This line is uttered when Marius and Pannise are arguing which one of them deserves to be called a father.

“A father is the one who loves…” – Cesar (Fanny, 1961)

Humans can change. After Marius knows his son and they meet each other thanks to Admiral’s help, he soon realizes that his son named Cesario needs him more than sea and the adventures that await him. (*/)

Some Flowers from My New Normal Getaway


I told my friend yesterday that humans are viruses to the earth. That human population has now become so high that the balance of our ecosystem has been under massive threat!

He accused me of being overly cynical. He thought of me being an arrogant pessimist who is in denial of the fact that I am too a human being. I am undoubtedly too part of all this chaos.

He is true.

Humans reproduce and babies are born every single second as I am typing this post. And boy, is it a wonderful process of nature! Everyone praises the joy of having a child in their family. But as babies grow older, they lose their cuteness. And starting from their very first second of their lives, they begin to burden this earth.

But plants are different.

Flowers are part or all of plants’ reproductive structure. They are distinctive in color and form. And most importantly they are beautiful even if they grow in abundance.

Flowers are always seen as a symbol of beauty, happiness, respect, and gratitude in global civilizations. All humans without exception agree on this idea. No civilization or faith or religion has ever denied the beauty of flowers.

Plants never destroy our planet even if they are growing fast and proliferate so easily.

Perhaps because plants are not created with greed.

Plants know no ambition to rule or own in their lives.

They are the most delicate and toughest and most persevere sentient beings our universe has ever had. (*/)


Yellowish maroon
Strong pink
Bold red
Broken white
Soft red
Yellowish white
Purplish yellowish white
Pale Purple
Whitey pink

Remembering the Late Sapardi Djoko Damono (SDD)

Sapardi Djoko Damono, an Indonesian poet and giant literary figure in Indonesia, seated holding a cane with Redi of Universitas Diponegoro, my almamater. (photo credit: Redi)

Pada Suatu Hari Nanti

pada suatu hari nanti
jasadku tak akan ada lagi
tapi dalam bait-bait sajak ini
kau takkan kurelakan sendiri

pada suatu hari nanti
suaraku tak terdengar lagi
tapi di antara larik-larik sajak ini
kau akan tetap kusiasati

pada suatu hari nanti
impianku pun tak dikenal lagi
namun di sela-sela huruf sajak ini
kau takkan letih-letihnya kucari

That is the poem Sapardi wrote. Roughly translated, this is how it reads in English.


On a day in the future

My body will no longer exist

But in these stanzas

I will never let you alone

On a day in the future

My voice will no longer be heard

But between these stanzas

I will remain on your mind

On a day in the future

My dreams will no longer be known

Yet between letters in this poem

I will never get too tired to search you


Pak Sapardi came into my life when I was taking my Master’s between 2006 and 2009.

He taught “Literary Sociology” course in my probably second year of study. Soon I was in contact with him in person while he was teaching as an honorary guest lecturer.

As I was approaching the end of my study, I picked a novella titled “A Bird Named Enza” written by Dawn Meier as the subject of my thesis research and the novel recounts the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1920s (and I still cannot believe that I am living the life of the people I read in the novella at the very moment) and I analyzed it from the sociological standpoint.

As a lecturer, Pak Sapardi was respectable and had a wealth of literary knowledge that no one could surpass as far as our faculty was concerned. He was super seasoned, eloquent, versatile (he was a novelist, too) and articulate, making him a great performer and public speaker.

What I remember most about him is obviously his humility and simplicity.

His humility is shown by his attitude and tone while conversing with us in and outside of classes. He loved to share and teach and lecture. You can see him lecturing without us students feeling lectured or tutored. No stress, no intimidating jargon. No academic showoff.

Simplicity is his admirable second nature reflected mostly in his words. Despite his being a literary giant, he hardly ever talked to us his young students with words that are out of our grasp or beyond our ken.

I can tell he just showed us that he embodies what rice should be. Rice stalks with most seeds bow lowest.

We cannot miss you and your poems more, pak.

Au revoir!

From My New Normal Getaway (Part 2 – End)

Can it be Venus?

[Read the previous part here: FROM MY NEW NORMAL GETAWAY (PART 1)]

“Morning Has Broken” might be the right song to sing at 5.30 am on top of the hill ridge that very morning.

I woke up at 4.50 am and got ready for a morning walk (or trekking as it involves uneven surfaces) with my best friend who got me here at the farm.

I hardly ever go outside before the sunrise in Jakarta in fear of cold wind (and the virus).

And now here, I had to deal with the chilly wind to climb up the hill in the absolute darkness which would soon be dispelled by the sunlight.

Virus is no longer on my mind. It was open green space and there were only 3 of us: my friend, I myself, and Pak Usaha who runs the farm with his team and also lives at the compound.

Pak Usaha led the way. I was a virgin trekker here and I had so much to anticipate.

We got the first post and it was a small hut made of bamboo (because what else is more environmentally friendly than bamboo?).

Breaking dawn…


Sunrise is certainly an everyday phenomenon but if you’re so used to urban living so you get chained at your work desk at home or at office, watching sunrise is simply a sublime experience. Something simple that we trade for a comfortable unnatural way of living, which turns out to spark the joy in us.

Watching sunrise is different from sunset. It requires more hardwork and determination. So if you do, you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

But right there I did never think of such a thing. Who cared about achievement? No one would judge my experience of watching a sunrise on a particular morning? Silly, I think.

I watched the firmament only to find some lumps of dark grey clouds moving to block my view to the east where the sun ought to rise.

The weather did not permit us to have such a ‘perfect’ experience of sunrise.  But again, whose definition of ‘perfection’ here? Mine? Who do I think I am? How dare I judge and think that I deserve the control over all these external things from weather, clouds, the sun?

So I just sat down there and let go of my stubbornness to have the perfect sunrise experience that I think everyone must have.


We were brought to another post, and still we had not seen a better angle. I didn’t even wish to improve the angle. But I just wanted to take time to really and fully digest this. This seemingly small feat was actually a big one. I’m sure to see a sunrise is a license to live another day, which some people on earth may have lost on that morning. So this was a great one.

Tea organically grown for you.

As we went down to the tea plantation, pak Usaha told us how amazing our Mother Nature is to allow us to grow tea with the best quality  at this elevation in Mount Salak.

Pak Usaha (in a white long sleeved polo shirt) and us


We grow tea here organically and we try to offer the best quality with the latest technology, said he. He believes technology can enhance our experience of enjoying tea, unlike the traditional methods.

Pak Usaha told us to care about our foods starting from where they are produced, not from when they are served on our plates at home. And from foods, our conversation developed and widened, even larger than our un-simple, mundane lives in Jakarta.

As an organic farmer, his life is a statement of rebellion against the conventional, modern method of growing crops. These days, when food industry tries hard to make profit over benefits for people, he and his crew stay loyal to the natural method of growing plants that we consume every day, from rice to tea.

“As humans, we’re part of nature and when we use chemical fertilizers to grow our crops, we look down on nature and thus it’s a matter of time for us to perish,” Pak Usaha spoke wisely.

No caption needed.

This capitalistic method of feeding humans with industrialized foods is in fact caused by the rising number of world population. More humans keep appearing while resources are getting scarce and scarce. So when the last time we saw a lower pollution level during the corona lockdown around the world, a joke said that coronavirus is not the virus. Instead, humans are the actual virus to the nature! And I guess I cannot agree more on that. 

Am I against natalism? Well, you can say so. But at a certain length. With all this mess our predecessors have made, we cannot just reproduce uncontrollably like rats or cats or paramecium. So please 21st century Humans, reproduce mindfully. Because you cannot now get laid and ‘wash your hands off’ the responsibility as good parents. And having a kid is not only supposed to be a mindful decision but also a mindful life plan to mitigate any risks.

Pak Usaha also tickled our common sense as he criticized the government’s policy on foods. “The idea of providing 9 cheap basic foods (sembako murah) for everyone is just silly. And this is a ‘sexy’ campaign proposition every time a politician is running for a public office. 

So what’s the solution? Pak Usaha answered farmers in Indonesia must be allowed to voice their aspiration. They must be able to sell their crops fairly. HGB Agricultural trade must be done fairly just like in a fair-trade scheme. No economic oppression for farmers because they are the providers of the nation’s foods. Without farmers who can live a decent life like everyone else, it is impossible to tackle the latent and widespread poverty issue amongst farmers in Indonesia. 

Pak Usaha’s protest sort of tore my heart and conscience. I grew up in a non-agricultural family so I didn’t have any faintest idea about how bleak it is to live a life as a farmer but I do agree that farming is not a dream profession for many of youths in Indonesia. Everyone wants to be doctors, policemen, officials, directors, and so on but which Indonesian children are proud to say they want to be farmers in the future? I have never heard one myself. Mostly farmers in Indonesia work as farmers because they have no choice. They just have to do it.

Basked under the sun


What I like most about the farm is the river! I planned to dip my whole body but apparently it’s July and it’s dry season, which means water is getting scarce.

So I understand fully when I went down to the river only to find the river was filled with huge rocks and wild plants. But amazingly no snakes or leeches. Very safe, I’m not kidding. All I could dip in the river was my feet and ankles.

Fresh water in the river from Mount Salak

Besides rivers, visiting ricefields under the house was more than pleasant. Once again in my life, I stepped on earth and let my skin bare under the sun. I used to be playful and adventurous as a kid but as we all know school life brought me into the house all day long and playing outside was then slowly and gradually considered a useless pastime. It wouldn’t help improve my academic prowess, they guessed.

The brief contact with nature helped me sane again after being locked up inside for many months. It healed me in some way I cannot explain.

Sumptuous and fresh lunch: Nasi Bakar


I don’t know about you but if you asked me, I’d tell that this short getaway at the foot of Mount Salak is completely worth it. So worth the time and energy. It took only 2 hours to get there from the center of Jakarta, which is amazing! 

Some say it is overpriced but hey, I thank the price because without it as a barrier, there’d be too many visitors coming. And that’ll make physical distancing a lot more challenging in the New Normal. 

If you’re really interested, go take a personal car or if you want to decrease carbon emission, take a commuter line from the heart of Jakarta and as you get Bogor Station, book a personal car and it’ll get you there in 60 minutes only. (*/)

Fried rice and a sunny side up and fresh produce. Life is simple.

From My New Normal Getaway (part 1)

Burning down the stress in the short corona getaway

In the New Normal, people start to leave their homes and do whatever they can to stay sane by finding a place to destress and unwind.

I am no exception.

This week I was on a very very brief midweek getaway. And I can say it helped me dump all the emotional and psychological baggage I had for the entire corona lockdown at home and working from home period.

I have also seen people around me trying ways to reconnect with the nature, something they lost during the lockdown as they were staying at home like most of the time in the cities witnessing the government and all of us fail to curb coronavirus completely.

Rumah atas sawah or house above the ricefield at BSP Farm, Cijeruk, Bogor, offering you a majestic view everyone will envy.

My corona getaway lasted only two days. But the effect was so great that I can still feel the impact on my soul and wellbeing days after. I was wondering how much time it takes to completely be in need of this getaway again.

Yes, that is the house I was staying. Rumah atas sawah.

I live in the megacity where all I can see from my window every day is a jungle of concrete but in my getaway I was served with an expanse of greenery and fresh air no richest urban folks can enjoy in Jakarta.

Yes I still work on my laptop but this time it was for fun working with a welcome drink from BSP Farm.

Arriving at the farm in Cijeruk around noon, I felt awestruck by things around me. All was green. All was nature. All was neatly treated and well thought.

Behold the amazing picturesque view before you!

Foods are organically grown here because it is an organic farm. My first meal was the lunch and it was a very sumptuous one. As you can see below, it was a vegan lunch. This is thanks to their question before my friend and I booked the house. They even bothered to ask if we wanted to have a vegan menu or regular omnivorous one. Then I picked the vegan menu as I want to enjoy more of its organic produce.

First meal at the farm. Delish and healthy!

My lunch menu was no disappointment. Palatable and as healthy as it could be. Sliced papaya, fresh produce as side dish, fresh sambal, and fried tempeh. (Sorry the oranges were not theirs. I brought them from Jakarta.)

Time to spoil your senses with plants and flowers!

After lunch, it was the time to take a short walk and had a sightseeing that I badly needed to destress. We went to the main lobby which is a very quiet establishment.

Just a floor beneath, pak Usaha (a man who runs this farm) live with his small family and all the workers.

The lobby of BSP Farm
The lounge

I had a short walk around the coffee plantation and soaked myself into the ocean of oxygen.

Afternoon snack

Things went awry when the power failure abruptly struck the entire farm. I never saw this coming! But our phones came in handy and soon after they with a lamp came to rescue at our house.

Cool wind blew and drizzle came down when we went out to the lawn for a bonfire.

Power failure seemed to ruin our getaway but make no mistake! It actually helped us enjoy even more.
It helped warm our body up at night.

No stars were in sight as the sky was shrouded by clouds. Which was unexpected because in July it is usually dry season. But I cannot fight against nature. She is always right! (To be continued)

[Read the second part here: FROM MY NEW NORMAL GETAWAY (PART 2)]

Dinner awaited!

Here is my recap in a video if you don’t bother to read.

Setelah Lepas Kawat Gigi, Lalu Apa?

Setelah menulis pengalaman saya memasang kawat gigi selama setahun di sini (baca: Pasang Kawat Gigi: Perlu Atau Tidak?“), saya tak lupa akan membagikan pengalaman saya mencopot kawat gigi.

Seharusnya mungkin pencopotan kawat gigi ini dijadwalkan lebih awal tetapi kita tahu pandemi berkecamuk sejak Maret, dan layanan dokter gigi dan klinik gigi pun mandek total. Bahkan layanan untuk pasien gawat darurat pun baru dimulai sekitar April di klinik langganan saya.

Sekarang setelah pemerintah melonggarkan aturan Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar (PSBB), kita bisa lagi bertemu dengan dokter gigi untuk kontrol kesehatan gigi. Namun, ongkosnya sekarang bukan cuma ongkos pemeliharaan dan obat-obatan gigi tetapi juga kita sebagai pasien dikenai biaya alat pengaman diri (APD) yang juga dipakai oleh dokter gigi dan asistennya yang melayani kita. Biaya tambahan ini sudah diberitahukan di awal bagi saya oleh pihak klinik jadi saya tidak kaget.

Pencopotan kawat gigi saya sendiri berlangsung 11 Juli 2020 Sabtu lalu di Klinik Gigi Hendra Hidayat (Hendra Hidayat Dental Clinic) di Sahid Sahirman Residence, Jakarta.

Agak gugup juga karena ini pertama kali berkunjung ke dokter gigi setelah Covid-19 menyebar di sepenjuru dunia. Di ruang tunggu, aturan jaga jarak memang diberlakukan. Namun, di dalam ruang penanganan tentu hal itu tidak bisa dilakukan sehingga dokter gigi dan asisten haruslah memakai APD karena pasien ini harus membuka mulut dan selama penanganan, cairan tubuh pasien (ludah dsb.) bisa jadi menciprat ke mana-mana dan berpeluang menularkan Covid-19. Karena pasien juga tak mungkin harus tes swab dulu cuma untuk ke klinik.

Penanganan berjalan lancar. Kawat gigi saya dilepas dan kemudian karang gigi dibersihkan, karena selama 4 bulanan saya tak ke klinik untuk mengontrol padahal biasanya lebih sering. Kemudian gigi dibersihkan dari lem dari pemasangan kawat gigi selama kurang setahun belakangan.

Karena mungkin kasus saya tak begitu parah dan juga saya rajin ke klinik untuk mengontrol kesehatan gigi dan kondisi kawat gigi saya (ada yang copot atau tidak), kawat gigi saya akhirnya bisa dilepaskan dalam waktu kira-kira setahun. Cepat, komentar dokter gigi saya.

Namun, setelah itu saya ternyata masih harus rajin memakai “retainer”, sebuah alat yang dipasang di gigi (namun bisa dicopot jika makan) agar posisi gigi tetap sebaik kondisi setelah memakai kawat gigi. Intinya retainer mempertahankan posisi gigi yang sudah dianggap bagus itu.

Nah, untuk itu dikenakan biaya tambahan pembuatan retainer. Ongkosnya bervariasi. Di kasus saya, biayanya Rp2 juta.

Kemudian saya harus membuka mulut lagi dan menjalani proses pencetakan. Retainer akan bisa diambil seminggu setelah ini, kata dokter. (*/)

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