Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Category: Ramblings

The One I’ve Been Waiting For

About 5 weeks ago, I was invited for an interview in an IT company in KL. A friend of mine who had been working there (and *loved* it) told me to apply. I was quite nervous about the interview, because I really wanted this consultancy job that I applied. The interview itself was surprisingly relaxing and it’s so different than other companies. It was not a one-to-one nervous racking question and answer sessions. It was more about group-based activity and how well you work as a team — which is definitely one of my strengths as I really love working in teams. During lunch, the candidates got to meet the “bosses” — again it was very relaxing and they were very friendly. As I love meeting new people, I took this opportunity as a way to engage conversation with them and to show them how BADLY I wanted to work at this company.

Alhamdulillah, few days later, I got a news that they wanted to hire me. I couldn’t imagine how happy and grateful I was. I couldn’t believe it!!! But I didn’t want to tell a lot of people about it as I still had to apply for the employment visa. What if my visa application was rejected?! I kept on praying that this wouldn’t happen.

Finally, my visa was accepted within two weeks of applying! This was soooo fast! I was told that normally it would take more than a month to complete. I was lucky indeed. Alhamdulillah.

So officially, today was my second day. It has been great so far. My boss and colleagues have been very nice and friendly. They always help me out whenever I have some problems. They are very casual (including my boss) — which is great! They would also make sure I wouldn’t go alone for lunch. The team that I have joined in is also a crazy, outgoing, and friendly team. Although there are only two girls (including me), I really enjoy talking to my team buddies. This is the reason why I try to have dinner with them after work so I can get to know them a little bit better.

InsyaAllah everything will run smoothly for the next few months and I hope I can learn, contribute, and grow in this company 🙂 Looking forward to it!

The One Thing that is Ignored

It does not matter how busy I am. How many things I do in a day. How many different places I visit. Or how many people I meet and talk to in a day. There is always one thing that is missing. One thing that saddens me. One thing that makes me suddenly cry when there is no one looking.

I’ve been saying to myself, everything is going to be okay. I can get away from this loneliness. Let’s get myself busy with different things. Let’s put a different focus this time. Let’s just not think about it for a moment.

But you know what? Those things are temporary. I haven’t solved the root of the problem yet. I’ve been ignoring what the inner part of me is complaining about. I’ve been treating it as if its opinion is not counted, or to make it even worst… I’ve been treating it as if it does not even exist. I was (and am) being ignorant and for a split second I thought the trick was going to work. Apparently, I was wrong. Very wrong, indeed.

But what can I do about it? There is nothing I can do at this moment. I cannot solve it in a short time. Even if I meet new people here and there, that doesn’t mean I would be connected with them easily. I can talk to them, definitely. But to be connected and to feel that I am comfortable talking about anything to that person, takes not a day or two. For now, while I am waiting to meet friends that I am comfortable with, I am gonna be in the same state… miserable, sad, and lonely.

Does it sound like I am complaining? Maybe I do. I am extremely grateful to be here, rather than in Jakarta. But my heart is saying different things. I haven’t fulfilled its basic needs yet. Sometimes I don’t even realize that tears are pouring down from my eyes. The next thing I know, my eyes and cheeks are already wet. This is beyond my control and I can just hope that this stage of my life will be over soon insya Allah. I am hopeful and I know that He is listening.

I really miss my friends in the Netherlands 🙁

First Person, Present Tense

My Middle East trip had ended months ago and I still hadn’t had an inspiration to write about it — until two days ago.

This blog post is different than any other posts that I wrote. It is using first person, present tense. I’m not sure why I experimented in using this technique but I can say that it was really hard to do it. I’m not sure it’s good enough though!

Check it out: ME Trip: Arriving in Tehran

KL: Week 3

Third week of living here. I kinda get the hang of it. I’m not as miserable as in previous weeks. I still feel so lonely though, due to lack of friends and activities. But I temporarily ‘heal’ it with some daily routines. I need to make myself constantly busy, doing different things every day. When I’m bored with chatting, I would watch some Islamic-related talks on YouTube. When I’m bored with the Internet, I would cook and try out new recipes (mind you, I’ve been cooking different things every day for the past 3 weeks). When I’m bored with doing household chores, I’d go out to the market or eat out with friends (I have less than 5 friends here to be honest haha). And recently, I have found a new way to pass my day by doing something really positive: volunteering. But that’s another topic to write about :P.

Anyhow, I’ve recently moved to a new apartment. My sister and I found a master bedroom to be rented and decided to move in immediately. It’s located within the same complex, but it is in a different building. The view from my room is not spectacular, but at least the highways and roads are a bit further than the view of my old room. Our housemates are also nice and clean. They work most of the time so I barely see them around except in the evenings. I wish I can invite my friends over for dinner (which I usually did when I was in Eindhoven). The thing is, I don’t have that many friends yet! 🙂 Plus, KL’s foods are delicious and affordable so why would anyone want to try my not-so-good cooking?? 😛

What about KL? Still a mystery city for me. One thing I realized about KL is that the city is not as extensively covered by public transports as in Jakarta. While they are very comfortable and clean, its buses are not widely available or they come rather infrequently. Jakarta’s public transports may be awful, dirty, and risky but they come frequently. In some areas in KL, I still need to take a taxi to reach some places — including my place. There is only one bus passing the area where I live and they come every half an hour at their best. Taking a taxi means that I have to pay 5 times than a bus fare — that’s not good for an extremely-low-budget-jobless-person like me. But sometimes I have no choice. The only solution to this problem is to find a job!!! haha…

Oh I hope I can get it soon… so I can at least get away from this boredom and stress! InsyaAllah soon.

The Hardest Thing…

is to wake up everyday, not knowing what to do, not expecting anything, and thinking that tomorrow will be the same.

The hardest thing among all is not knowing who to ask for a shoulder to cry on… or just to share about anything.

Ya Allah… You are the only One I count on. Help me with this. Keep me in the remembrance of You so I can go pass this stage soon.

Culture Shock: Malaysia

A friend once told me, “Their language is the same with ours. Their culture is similar too. Why do you still need to adapt?”

Ooooh, yes! I still need to adapt and I’m struggling with it.

Culture shock is inevitable, even for a person like me who have lived in 6 different countries across 3 continents. Living in a new country is like starting your life all over again from scratch. Finding new friends. Getting acquainted with a new culture. Learning a new language, dialect, or accent. Getting familiar with the life pace. Getting used to the routine. Not knowing where to go. Not knowing who to ask for a shoulder to cry on. Not knowing where to find your comfort zone. Adapting. Adapting. Adapting.

They are all part of the stages that a person may have to go through when living in a totally new place. It is normal and I expect this to happen when I’m about to embark on a new life. It is known that there are four stages of culture shock: excitement/honeymoon, withdrawal, adjustment, and enthusiasm. I went through those stages when I first came to Indonesia, Australia, and the Netherlands. It took me at least two years to reach the fourth stage — the stage where I feel very much comfortable and familiar with the place, people, culture, and everything surrounding me.

What I find most shocking about starting a new life in Malaysia is how fast it was for me to shift from the honeymoon phase to the withdrawal phase. It took me less than two weeks to feel restless, moody, lonely, and isolated. The honeymoon phase passed in a blink of an eye. I even forgot that I actually went through that phase! Why is that?

When it comes to Kuala Lumpur, there is a lack of excitement within me to explore and get to know the city, its people, and culture. What can I say? Indonesia and Malaysia share almost the same culture and language. There are barely any differences between us. Unlike Australia or the Netherlands, I am not THAT curious. This is also not the first time I visited this place. I’ve been here two years ago and have pretty much visited some (touristic) spots. So I wasn’t interested to see them again.

But those are not the only reasons. When you are a student (especially in a foreign country), you are part of the recently established “community”. You are one of the newly enrolled students. You are not the only one in the boat. Others take the same boat too. They experience the same thing: struggling to fit in the new culture and environment. They share the same struggle as you do. And they need new friends as much as you do.

What about now? It’s a totally different scenario. I am no longer a student. I am a jobless immigrant. I belong to not a single community. I am alone in this boat. There are no meet and greet sessions. There are no orientation programs to go to. There are no available activities or events. I have to search them by myself. That’s the different.

Don’t get me wrong. I have few friends and most importantly my sister whose presence has helped me to get over my loneliness. But I can’t constantly depend on them and disturb them. They have their own life and I am the only one who can fix this problem.

So… is that it? Well, not really 🙂 I’m in the process of getting up again after a week of miserable moments. I’ve contacted some people on CouchSurfing to meet up (and would probably join some activities too) and I’ve applied for a volunteer work. I love being busy (with activities, not with studies haha) so I’m trying so hard to find some things to do while looking for a job (and while waiting for my laptop to be repaired). Traveling outside of Kuala Lumpur is currently not an option as I am penniless and jobless :). I would love to, though!!

I am confident that I can go through this, insyaAllah. I just need to be a little bit more patient. Yay to the new life!

The “White” Asians

Sometimes I don’t realize that it’s been so many years since the last time I lived in an Asian country. To recap, I left Indonesia in the beginning of 2004. So that’s exactly 6 years ago. Six years don’t seem to be a big deal to me, but actually I’ve been missing or forgetting about a lot of things! Things that once was normal, is now an alien to me.

I’m talking about beauty products.

My only moisturizing facial creme ran out yesterday. So I went to a nearby hypermarket, which was just few minutes walk from where I lived. I went to the skin products section, scanned through the brands, and found the brand that I always bought. There were a range of products that this brand had and I was totally shocked to see that *ALL* of them contained whitening stuff in them! Yes, all of them were whitening creme.

Disappointed, I went to a pharmacy, hoping to find a non-whitening creme of the same brand. I found it, with only one left on the shelf. I was not very satisfied because this one got no UV-protection, unlike the whitening creme products. But I didn’t have much choice. I quickly scanned through the other brands and all of them were whitening products! (as far as what my eyes could see)  A big disappointment!

This is not about Malaysia. This is not about Indonesia. This is an Asian disease.  Even the Japanese and Korean people who are already SO white, still want their skin to be whiter! Can you imagine that?! And this is no different with white people wanting to get their skin darker. But at least, I can still find a lot of creme products over there that don’t make my skin darker. Not in Asia. It was a big shock for me to see almost all products in the shelves were for people who wanted to get their face “whiter”!

To be honest, it’s ironic that this thing was normal to me back then when I was still in Indonesia. Many of my friends were “afraid” of the sun and tried so hard to avoid it. Having a dark skin was never a favorite among many Indonesians. The guys too would prefer girls with fair skin. Look at all those advertisements. All the models. Actors. Actresses. Most of them have fair skin.

Alhamdulillah, I was never a person who wanted a fair skin. I love my skin and I’m grateful for what I have. I was even more proud when my “white” friends used to compliment my skin color.

What can those products do to your skin? I don’t believe they can make your skin any whiter. I do think they’re just placebo effect 😀

The Feeling of Losing A Loved One

Death. The word you won’t understand until you have a person you love breathing for the last time in front of your eyes.

I never witnessed death in my whole life. I never understood the feeling of losing loved ones. I had no idea how it felt. I never experienced it. Having to live abroad for most of my life, I don’t get the luxury of being close to my extended family and relatives. We seldom see each other, perhaps only once in 3 years. So when the news about the passing of a family member brought to my attention, I didn’t feel the effect of losing him/her. I was sad, but the feeling only lasted for a day or two.

It was only a month ago that I had a painful experience of having to lose someone I dearly loved.

On the 23rd of January, my grandma passed away.

She was my only grandma that I personally had known since I was a kid. The only grandma whom I always referred to as Ibu (mother). The grandma who used to take care of me when I came back home from the boarding school during my high school years. The grandma who used to be very active, full of energy, sociable, and friendly to anyone. The famous grandma that everyone loves, from our neighbor’s  security guards to tukang ojek; from her grandchildren, to her great-grandchildren; from the old to the young souls. The super-generous grandma who loved to help and give advice to others. The independent and tough grandma who was a natural businesswoman and who could earn money more than the average grandmothers in her age. The traditional grandma who were very fashionable and knew how to use a mobile phone. “I cannot use this MS!”, that’s what she always said, referring to SMS.

Losing her was no doubt one of the saddest moments in my life. Until this very day, I still cannot believe that she’s not around anymore. Her voice still freshly resonates in my mind. Having to wake up every morning in Jakarta without hearing her voice seems surreal. Am I dreaming? I have to remind myself that I am not. Even though she is no longer physically there, I can still feel that she is sitting in the terrace, walking around the house, talking or commenting about something, or giving some allowances for her small grandchildren. Her presence was strong that the house became so empty and dull without her. Her death was a huge loss for our family. It was no doubt a huge loss for our community.

Perhaps, the saddest thing for me was when I realized that I did not spend a lot of time with her. But despite all the regrets, there is one thing that I am extremely grateful about: the fact that she would wait for my mom and me to be by her side before her last breath. It did not matter that we could only see each other for 2 hours (that were very precious to me!). It did not matter that she could no longer speak anymore. But what mattered is: I saw my grandma before her soul parted from her body. I saw her beautiful and peaceful face before she was covered. These are the moments that I would never forget.

Ibu, I miss you. I hope you are in a better place now with the One you truly love. Al-Fatihah.

Being (in)dependent

My parents raised me to be independent from the very early age. Back in those days when we’re still financially unstable, my sister and I had stay at home — just the two of us — while our parents worked hard to earn extra money during Hajj.  Being the eldest child, I was already trusted to take care of my sister and myself. I was still in the elementary school at that time, but we managed to live like this for a month every single year.

I then became totally independent when I came to Indonesia to study. For the next 10 years after that, I had been living independently without my family. I was too comfortable to be apart from my family that it felt weird to stay under one roof with them for more than a month. I had to re-adapt.

I love living my life without having to worry about others 24 hours a day. I don’t need to take care of anyone or be worried about anyone. The only one that needs to be taken care of is only me. It doesn’t mean that I prefer to live alone. I hate living alone. But there’s a big difference between living with your friends and living with your family. Yes, there’s a big difference.

This is something that I still need to get used to. Living with my sister is such a big challenge for me. She is the most needy person I’ve ever encountered. She doesn’t like to be alone at all. Even if it means going to the market next door, she wants to be accompanied. I don’t want to make it a big deal, because that’s what I come here for. I’m just not used to it and that’s a real challenge for me.

But then I thought to myself. Imagine if I have a child. Like any children in the world, this child constantly needs the care, support, and attention every single day. If I can’t even stand having my sister by my side, what would happen next if I have a child?!? Would I be able to stand with my baby?

I really need to sort out this issue!

The View of KL

The view of KL Tower & Twin Towers from my sister's apartment

This picture was taken from my sister’s apartment. Not the best view, to be honest, but hey! It’s better than nothing, right?

Oh, wait a minute! Let me paraphrase that sentence. It’s so much better than THIS one:

The view from my sister's apartment

Did you see that? The two highways? I never dreamt of living nearby busy highways. It’s like a nightmare, really. You are forced to hear the annoying sound of traffic every single day and night. Cars. Trucks. Constructions. I live in the 24th floor. Imagine that.

Well, I didn’t have any choice. This is where I need to be. I just have to live with it. I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I miss my house in Eindhoven and its quiet neighborhood. Its calmness and tranquility is definitely priceless. What can I say? Big city is just not my thing. I’m going to be out of here in two years!