Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: Grace Mineta’s “My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy”

I used to own a blog through high school to early college and my blog address was “crazyvinny”, so when I know about this book I don’t feel that it’s weird at all. Somehow I feel so much related to the author. It’s good to admit you have a little craziness inside you, isn’t it?

This book is about an American girl named Grace being married to a Japanese guy named Ryosuke. This is not a romantic novel of interracial marriage. It’s a comic book about their daily life in Japan, which I think mostly contains each other’s misunderstood because of the cultural differences that somehow comes up really cute. Even though it’s racial; something that people usually avoid or just don’t talk about, Grace can put it up in a funny way in her comics. If I were Japanese, I guess I wouldn’t feel offended at all.

Not just comic, Grace also writes about how she sees Japan culture from American point of view; which apparently represent how people from other country mostly see Japan too.  I found these writings pretty deep, especially when Grace talks about onsen (public bath) in Japan and how it can boost a girl’s self-esteem about their body. I’ve never been to an onsen, but to think that you have to be completely naked already shivers me. However, after reading it, I think I’m scared because I’ve never been to one. If I give it a try, I probably can see her point in her writing (maybe, let’s see).

What I like the most of this book is that Grace makes interracial marriage sounds very fun, despite of all the stereotypes. Getting married with someone who doesn’t have the same mother language is already hard, let alone moving across the country where most of the people don’t speak her first language. Her ability to see a problem not as a problem is somewhat amazed me. She just doesn’t seem to make it as a big deal, although sometimes I can sense the anxiety in her writings. Ryosuke manages to calm her down and it makes me wish that in the future I could marry my own Ryosuke too.

If you’re about to go to Japan, studying Japanese culture, having a relationship with a Japanese guy, or just love something to do with Japan, I suggest to read this book. Grace is on her way to publish the second book “My Japanese Husband Still Thinks I’m Crazy” *gasp*. Cool, right? You can check out her website (not sure if I’m doing her any favor because this blog is new and don’t have a lot of visitor). 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Education Went Wrong in Indonesia

I just saw the movie Whiplash. For you who already watched it, it was intense, right? But I’m not going to write a review about the movie.

It’s just, this movie somehow reminds me of my elementary school’s math teacher. She was able to make this fear atmosphere every time she walked into the classroom. The class would be in a total silence, pupils are nervously prepared their books on the table, and yes, we were afraid of her. Or was it just me who got very, very scared of her?

Why the hell did I get so scared of her?

I’m not very excellent in math. You wouldn't believe how much time I spent standing in front of the class being punished, desperately trying to solve the math problems she gave just to get my ass back to my seat, and almost crying thinking how stupid I was because I couldn't give her the right answer. And she, in all of her arrogance, successfully made me think that I’m not an excellent student and that I’d probably end up not having a good education in a higher level and would not have a bright future. She was totally brainwashed all the students, probably the parents too, to think that math is the basis of all kind of education.

This is where education went wrong.

A teacher should see what their student really best at, and not push them to be good at something they don’t have any interest at, or simply just not born with that particular ability. I’m not saying that if I’m not good in math then I shouldn't study math at all. D’uh.

What if someone was excellent in other subject but they already got this ‘not having a bright future if you don’t excel in math’ stereotype planted in their brain and lose their interest to education? Teachers SHOULD NOT turn this against their students and make the students feel embarrassed by not excelling in a particular subject.

Well, here I am, being not good in math, reached a high level of literature education in a reputable university, graduated cum laude, got a full time job 1 week after my graduation ceremony, and make enough wage to pay my own study abroad in Japan.

If she thinks that I can have more than that if I was excelled in math, then why did she become an elementary school math teacher in a small town herself anyway? Shouldn't she be riding her limousine eating caviar after having a holiday in Hawaii with her private jet plane?

Wow it turns out to be an emotional post, sorry.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why Indonesian Kids Looks like They’re Obsessed with Doraemon

I’m telling you why. Because we grew up with Doraemon.

During my childhood in the 90s, TV channels in Indonesia have this “marathon” of cartoon shows (mostly Japanese cartoon) on Sunday morning from around 6 to 11 AM almost in every channel. To be fair we don’t have that much of TV channels at that time. There were only like 5 or 6 channels if I’m not mistaken.

The highlight of these cartoons is of course, Doraemon, which is aired in RCTI at 8 AM. Even until now, it’s still aired at precisely the same time. I think it’s started since I was born (?) and never change until I’m already 25 years old now. How cool is that?

As a little kid, we can relate to Nobita who’s always asking Doraemon to give him the magic tools that come from the future so he can do the impossible things like flying, go anywhere we want in a blink of an eye, or tools that makes you smart without having to study. 

It makes innocent kids like us thinks, “Hey, I want my own Doraemon!”

Sadly we won’t have our own Doraemon until like, 200 years from now, probably. So we keep Doraemon in a special place in our heart.

Hence the obsession.

Last month the movie Doraemon Stand By Me is on theaters in Indonesia. I know that in Japan, Doraemon regularly have a movie that comes in theaters, but not in Indonesia. This is the first time that we can watch Doraemon in theaters, so everybody who grew up in the 90s is so excited. Plus, the plot of the movie is that Doraemon is going back to the future and leave Nobita behind. It feels like the end of Doraemon and it kills a little bit of our child soul deep down inside.

The tickets sold like crazy! Even I had to buy online about a week before the premiere day. And when me and my friends went to the theater to see the movie, MY DEAR LORD I’ve never seen such crowded theater in my life. After I done watching the movie at 9 PM, people were still in line to buy the tickets!

Funny thing is, when I talk about how excited people in Indonesia about this upcoming movie of Doraemon to my Japanese colleague, they don’t seem slightly interested at all. They’re like, “yeah lately I saw a lot of Doraemon commercials on TV in Japan but I’m not really sure why” or “you DO know that this is NOT the ending of Doraemon, right?”.

Now I see why we seem a little bit obsessed about Doraemon. Even my boyfriend calls me a “Doraemon Otaku” when we visited Fujiko F Fujio museum in Japan. If I’m being called obsessed over Doraemon, I’m taking all the 90s children in Indonesia down with me to the Doraemon Otaku land. LOL.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Guangzhou Eats: Halal Food in Canton Fair 2014

If you happen to be a Moslem and will go to Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China, I will tell you one of the “safe food” I found in Canton Fair’s food court last year.

Canton Fair is where the businessman and traders from all over the world gathered and I met A LOT of Middle Eastern businessman there. So you don’t have to worry about being in a Moslem in China and couldn’t find any food that doesn’t contain pork meat.

How do I know that they’re Moslems? 

Well, first is their face, if they happen to be a Middle Eastern blooded guy (d’uh). But, surprisingly there’s another way on how I found it out. My middle name is Athina, taken from Arabic language; it’s common in Indonesia to name your kid with Arabic words even though you have absolutely no Arabian blood running in your family. So every time I handed my name card to them, they would go all “Aah, you’re a Moslem!” or “Assalamualaikum!”, something like that.

Now I know why it feels so good to find other “Moslem Brother” in a nowhere land where they eat pork and everything. It warms your heart.

So yes, like other Moslem who has a tough time finding halal food, I too had a hard time finding what to have for lunch. But, fear not, Moslem Brothers and Sisters! I present to you: Guangzhou Salam Catering Development Co.,Ltd  (totally exaggerating it, hahaha. It’s actually only one of the kiosks in the huge food court).

Let's zoom in...

See that "Halal" sign among the menus
Basically they have chickens and beefs on their menu, served with rice and potatoes and vegetables. The price is reasonable I guess, it was about 25-35 yuan (USD 5.00 – 6.00). I bought the chicken dish. The portion was ridiculously large; I couldn't finish it although I was pretty hungry at that time. It tastes pretty delicious and you won’t tell the strange smell they usually have on foods in Chinese dish (Indonesian will know).

You can eat this food on the “Halal Food Table” in the food court. It’s nice that Canton Fair set these separate aisles for them who eat Halal Food. You can eat your meal without being afraid you’ll get your plate splattered by pork oil from other people’s plate (?). Too bad I didn't take a picture of the “Halal Food Table” sign, but they have it in every food court, so don’t worry.

Anyway, there are always other options to find something to eat. It’s to bring your colleague who speaks Chinese to make sure you order the no-pork-dish. But, since they cook and serve it in the same equipment with the pork dish, well, you could tell a little bit of porky taste. If you’re too paranoia about this, you can choose one of these halal food in the food court. I’m sure they have lots in every food court in Canton Fair. Yay!

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Old Blogspot Blog Disappeared

I was an active blogger since high school to early years of college. Probably around 2005 to 2008 if I’m not mistaken. This was huge at that time, for me, since not many people in my age really aware what blogging is. Note that at that time, we didn’t have facebook syndrome like now, so I could really focus in blogging.

Oh, I didn't have a full access to internet in my home PC (my Mom was very strict on the limitation of my internet usage), so I would go to an internet café to post my blog. Good times.

I used blogspot, just like now.

And then I got busy with college life. Moving out from home and live alone in a different city did take my time. I stopped writing in my blog. But, I never delete it. For the last 4 years I still visit my page sometimes. I didn’t sign in, though. It’s good to see my writings are still there. Embarrassing moments too, but that’s OK. I can live with it.

And just when I thought to start writing again, I tried to visit my old blog, and then…

It’s gone.

All my post.
All my pictures.
Blogspot deleted my old blog, just like that.
*lay down*
*cry like a baby*


I guess it’s a blogspot’s way to tell me to move on to the next blog. Really, I never want to post anything in that unstable-high-school-girl blog anymore. But is there any way I can get my post back?
Just out of curiosity. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Guangzhou Travels: Guangzhou Pearl River Night Cruise

One of my Chinese work colleagues took me and my other Indonesian friend to Guangzhou Pearl River Night Cruise while we were there for a business trip. This boat cruise is supposed to take you around the river, back and forth, to see Guangzhou Tower a little bit closer.

Guangzhou Tower is also known as Canton Tower, I don’t know which one is the popular name. When I was there, I thought it’s famous as Guangzhou Tower instead of Canton Tower. But I’m not really sure because everybody was speaking Chinese, LOL. 

Guangzhou Tower looks like Tokyo Sky Tree, in my opinion. Both of them also functioned as Television Tower. Guangzhou Tower’s height was beaten by Tokyo Sky Tree in 2011. I visited Guangzhou tower during night time so I get to see it color changes. The color changes in like, every 5 seconds, I guess. It came out colorful, or one color like gold, blue, purple, red, etc. See the left picture, it's soo colorful. Meanwhile, Tokyo Sky Tree doesn't change the color periodically in one night, and I visited it in day light, so I only got this picture in the right.

From my hotel in Tian He district, it took about 20 minutes taxi ride to reach the boat port. It’s a small port for tour purpose only. I’m sorry I don’t know the port name, or the location name. I just went where my colleagues took me. Haha.

In front of the port building
The ticket was about 80 yuan/person if I’m not mistaken (about USD 16.00). This is for probably around 1 to 1,5 hours ride (vaguely remember).

I went there at around 8 PM so it was a bit windy, but I visited in April so the weather was still pretty nice. The boat was decorated with colorful little lamps around it. I think it’s a little bit tacky, but oh well who cares. 
The boat decorated with lamps all over it
Inside the boat, we were served with Chinese Tea (refill) and peanuts. There were tables covered in white sheets just like in a restaurant, with a wide window right beside these tables.

After sitting for 10 minutes, we decided to go to the top of the boat. There were also tables here, but the atmosphere is more romantic with all the candles and the flowers and the starry sky. Just the right place to propose your girlfriend (yeah right).

The scenery from the top of the boat
All of a sudden there was this Chinese guy shouting with loud voice and was pointing to a certain area on the boat. I was shocked and thought if there’s an accident or someone was jumping out to the water. But people were so calm and they started to make a line. Apparently it was for taking pictures, and people have to move very fast to take turn to get a good picture angle when the boat was passing right below the Guangzhou Tower. 

It was so fast that I didn’t have time to gather up my cute face and suddenly the cameraman told me to move my ass because it was the next person’s turn. The picture was printed immediately while we’re on the boat and we have to pay 20 yuan (USD 2.00) to take it. You don’t have to pay if you don’t want the pictures, though. But it was already printed, and it looks like this business strategy is paying them off really well.

Also they print your picture in a small size to put it into a keychain. It was a D.I.Y. All you have to do is take one key chain and put your picture in it. Voila!

Tada.. Awkwardly posing while holding my camera
About 6 months after I visited Guangzhou Tower, I went to Japan and visited Tokyo Sky Tree. I sent my Mom the pictures of these 2 towers, and I proudly tell her everything about them and how happy I am to have the opportunity to visit them. But she’s all like: “Why are you so obsessed with towers? Last time it was tower in China, and now it’s tower in Japan. What is so special about towers?”. Apparently I suddenly became a tower-freak to her.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Resolutions: 3 Things I Need to Stop in 2015

Happy New Year guys!

Talk about resolution, I’m not the kind of person who would list all the things I want to be happen in the whole year. 1 year is a pretty much long time, I think, and unpredictable things happen all the time. So I’m not really into listing all the details.

However, generally, I believe we can be a better person each day. Let it be New Year’s Eves, birthdays, or any special occasions. This is more like introspective resolutions, not “Stop eating and lost 10 kg this year” or “Visit 10 new countries” kind of thing.

So, here are the 3 things I should stop in 2015 and on.

1. Stop Doing Things Only For Social Media Sake

You have asthma and can’t breathe with cigarettes smoke around you, but you still go to the club just to post the pictures in the social media. Trust me; this phenomenal really happens in Jakarta. You shouldn't be miserable just to be able to show people that you’re so hip, or something like that.
Just, stop it. It’s not healthy. You may have an “attention-whore-disorder” or “thirsty-of-people’s-approval syndrome”. Go see a psychiatric.

2. Stop Trying To Please Everybody

I can’t stress this enough, but THERE’S NO WAY TO PLEASE EVERYBODY IN YOUR LIFE. You don’t live for people’s happiness; you live for YOUR happiness.
I’ll be quitting my job and go to Japan this year. My family might not approve this 100% (though my Mom is acting very supportive, thank God). The managers in my office might not be happy. But if I have to please everybody, I’ll never make any decision for my life, ever. Something’s gotta give.

3. Stop Expecting People To Do Something You Think They Should Do

It’s the other side of the coin of the 2 first points. Just because a person is living in a metropolitan city, they don’t have to wear branded stuff all the time (and miserably eating instant noodles at the end of the month). Just because a person has a technical degree doesn’t mean he/she can’t open up a café and be a cook.
Stop pushing your opinion and be judgmental all the time. It’s none of your business. You do people a favor by stop shoving what you think ideal to their brains.

That’s my so-called-revolutions this year. Ganbare!