a Thought on Diversity

I am coming from a diverse family.

My dad is Javanese, my mom is Bantenese-Bataknese both are Muslims, therefore making me and my siblings half Javanese, quarter Bantenese, quarter Bataknese and a Muslim that is. One of my auntie married a Hindu Balinese – well, that was before he transformed to Krishna – so my three cousins are half Balinese, quarter Bantenese and quarter Bataknese, all were raised as a Hindu, one eventually become a Muslim, the other two are Krishnas. The youngest of my cousins went on and married a Balinese of Chinese descent who converted from Buddhism to Krishna.

As it happens, my grandfather – from my mother side – is quite lothario. As a result I have 4 other uncles, and one auntie – from two different “step” grandmothers – one of whom has unfortunately passed aways long time ago. One of my surviving uncle is Catholic – born and raised – he eventually married Minangese Muslim lady, neither of them converting.

My family you see, is a mess, but a beautiful mess.

My best friends are five guys whom I met when I had my first job. All of them are Indonesian of Chinese descent, born and raised in Jakarta. One of them Muslim, another is Catholic, the other one is self proclaim agnostic, the other two are Christians. We are all raised in different social upbringing, went to different schools, have different circle of friends, and as many of our heated arguments have proved have some different perspective of life. One thing that we are all big believers though that being different is okay and that human is not defined by his skin color, ethnicity, nationality or religion, but by strength of character and self possession.

My best friends – and our friendship – is a mess, but a beautiful mess.

It’s perhaps because I accustomed with such diversity, I used to take it for granted that most other people have the same view as me, that being different is normal, and having different ethnicity, religion in one family is not a taboo, that saying Merry Christmas, Gong Xi Fat Choi, observed and respect “Nyepi” even when you are a devout muslim – is okay.

I certainly under no illusions that all people have the same view. Being raised and educated in public schools – I am acutely aware that discrimination does exist, that there is always certain tensions towards diversity, albeit it used to be rather quietly and always was well hiden behind the closed curtain.

What define my view perhaps – and I have to thank my family for this – is that I’ve never seen the difference in ethnicity, religion, believes or skin color is a difference that worth lot of thinking. I just see it as something that is inevitable, something that is absolute, something you accept and get on with it.

That doesn’t mean I’m free of stigmatization that attached to certain ethnicities. But rather then using it to form judgement of a character I elect to think it as anecdotal jokes which could be right in one turn and could totally be opposite in another.
By this point of time, I’m certain that you come to to realization that we are not so different after all. That you, regardless of your ethnicity or religion has or had experiencing what I am experiencing, that you at certain significant portion of your life – if not all – are totally immersed in activity involved in a pool of diversity that is Indonesia. It is a fact of life of being Indonesian, it is simply unavoidable unless you are some sort of deluded alien who lives in ivory tower – such Indonesian I’ve been told – does exist.

So why does a pic showing an elderly nun and a young lady wearing jilbab (or hijab) holding hand can goes viral ? It shouldn’t be special, it shouldn’t be unique, it shouldn’t be glamorized as “Indahnya Indonesia” – as if it is a rare treat. Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed Indonesia, right to the core, it is you and me, our friends, neighbors, acquaintance and how we have been interacting for all those years, it is how our parents were being educated and educating us in return.

Are we forgetting that we are living and practicing toleration and moderation in daily basis? Or maybe most of us – the so called moderates – are far too quite for far too long, succumbed under the pressure and the heyday of the fanatics, that we need such reminder to appreciate the toleration and moderation that is the core of our nation?

Yes, thats could be it, we are so timid, busy with ourselves, under intense pressure by the negative news of in-toleration that swept our nation, by news of extremism and fanatics that swept our cities, that a small reminder of our nation’s touched our inner based so profoundly.

But it shouldn’t be like isn’t ? we should not wait for another reminder to feel proud and stand for toleration and moderation, we should always and continuously remind our self on who we are and what value that we hold, and we shouldn’t be hiding behind the cloak of uniformness and be timid agains the fanatics that stomped our motherland. The Nation’s motto “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” sums it best who we are, what we are and what we stand for.

So do me a favor, next time you hear someone preach intolerant and extremism, don’t just sit and listen quietly, tell instead what is in your mind and shows that we are what our founding fathers foreseen us to be.

So in addition to chipped tooth, several lacerations, and torn bike jersey – I also cosmetically damaged my 910xt – though it did saved my wrist from any harm.

Perhaps its time to get a new one? Maybe fenix2 or v800 or 920xt ? #alwayslookatthebrightside

Doesnt matter whats ur ethnicity or religion or political view or nationality if the sight of hot steamy rice and sambal teri makes you grinning ear to ear – you are Indonesian at heart !!!

View on Path

The Holiday’s Casualties.

As I did my ritual morning shower, I unconsciously counted my holiday “casualty”. Patch of my skin around my back neck was peeling off – giving ways to new healthy skin – as result of weeks exposure under scorching heat of coastal sun, some other parts remains shiny dark – lent me swarthy undertone. My knee wound – as a result of falling mishap during my morning run – was drying by now and so are various blister and chaffing – bi-products from hours of swimming, running and cycling were almost all healed but one of two points of the most severe ones.

An then you wonder, what sort of holiday that I just took. Let’s see, I completed a triathlon in Bintan, went for 4 days diving trip in Derawan, spend almost every morning for either run, cycle or swim – as if its my normal training day and for the first time join the skin bruising, adrenaline pumping cross country MTB ride.

I personally know dozens of people, men of women, of all walks of life who spent their precious holiday completing all sorts of endurance race (triathlon – circa 300 fellow Indonesians race in Bintan Triathlon 2014, marathon or half, trail running, swim marathon or audax) or inherently risky sport (diving, downhill, hiking, sky diving) or training for those.

Waking up early in the morning – day by day was never a question, sore muscle was expected, muscle cramping, bruises, chaffing and blisters were normalcy, sunburn was surety, fever, black nails, falling-off nails, surface wounds were high possibility. The big questions is WHY ?

I recalled a question shouted to me by one my race compatriot in KM20 of cycling stage of my Bintan Tri race, “Why are we doing this to ourself ?”, my answer – in the midst of panting-climbing through notorious Ria Bintan was “Because pain is our friend !!!!” – rather triumphantly.

Sense of achievement of completing something by conquering pain and tackling challenges were always rewarding, and so was the sense of camaraderie gained from going through weeks of training or racing together. We all shared the love of outdoor and nature, the smell of wet morning ground, the ocean, the warmth of the sun and the cold morning breeze. We’d like to learn where was our limit and see if we could push it a little more, but most primordial of all was that we sought and cherish the joy and exhilaration of pure adrenaline rushing through our vein.

But hey, how you want to spend your spare time/holiday was of course your personal choice. There was no right or wrong. Whether your idea of having fun was clubbing, spending idyllic time doing nothing, playing video game, watching movies, binge eating, lounging on beach with a glass of sweet tasting cocktail – no one will disagree. But if you’ve never tried doing sports or participate in sports event as part of your holiday plan – then I strongly suggest that you tried.

Maybe its not your cup of tea at all but at least you gave your shot and have no regrets of missing anything. But if you like it and turn to love it like many of us do, you come to regret why you haven’t tried it sooner but you are thankful to yourself that you are willing to gave it a try. You tried one sports, develop you skill and fitness and then another, before you know it your game room become your hobbies room, you will have 2-3 bikes, half a dozen of running shoes, and your annual calendar will be pockmarked with events here and there. Surely, we gonna meet in one of those events and if we do and you recognise me and other fellows sports aficionado, never hesitate to give us a shout.

Note: I dedicate this note to all friends in Triathlon Buddies, What The Fish, INA MasterSwam and other sport communities whose ideas of having fun involved self inflicted hardships and suffering : )

  • One Camera One Lens
  • One Camera One Lens One Camera One Lens One Camera One Lens

By any means and measure I’m an old school kind of guy. I write cursive, I prefer meeting than texting, I wore black oxford to the office, I like my coffee black and bitter and I believe that good things takes time to mature.

My photography method therefore mirror this.

There was once a point in my photography timeline, where I equipped my self with an SLR and half a dozen of lenses, this was followed by a period where I got thoroughly fed up spending thousand of dollars for lenses, and I switch to a powerful point and shoot with its fantastic zoom.

But now, I am perfectly content with my Olympus EM-5. Equipped with an equivalent 35mm f1.8 lenses, this camera is unquestionably light, small and rather sublime. Because it only has one focal length, it forces me to move closer to subject, a process that when done correctly needs some time but yield amazing results. For exactly the same reason, I can fully direct my attention to detect the momentum and captured it as soon as the opportunity opens, no need to think about lenses, technique and photography jargons. Such simplicity as you can see below, allows an intimate and emotional pics.

It took me almost 10 years – since the very first time I learn about photography – to appreciate this. You see, good thing takes time to mature.


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