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.

Tag: culture

When You Greet… in Arabic

The Arabs have a weird way of greeting their friends. They would ask the following questions:

  • How are you?
  • How’s everything?
  • How’s your health?
  • How’s your family?
  • How’s your son/daughter?
  • and the list is expanding… (but usually those first four questions are asked)

And what’s the answer to all those questions?

Alhamdulillah. All praise is due to Allah SWT.

In Saudi Arabia, when you greet a person, you’d kiss him/her on the cheek. So if you ask him/her four questions above, then you’d kiss him/her for four times. So it all depends on the number of questions that you ask. And all of them must be answered with alhamdulillah.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I suggest you watch this funny and short video made by MTV Arabia about Saudi kiss:


My brother and I used to make fun of the way Arabs greet. It’s funny, when you think about it. I mean, you ask so many questions and no matter what you ask, the answer will always be alhamdulillah! It’s soooo “basa-basi”.

Anyway, it turns out that this way of greeting has existed for so long — it was once the habit of salafus shalih (the ‘pious predecessors’ from the first three generations of Muslims) which has been passed down until now! The reason why they did it was so that they can say the word alhamdulillah for so many times. In other words, they deliberately did it so that we can praise Allah SWT more often — i.e. so that we can be grateful to Allah SWT more often.

Subhanallah, I didn’t know that!!! I’m such a loser for thinking about it in another way. Oh God, please forgive me.

* Taken from a book titled “Kaya & Bahagia dengan Syukur” by Ahmad Hadi Yasin.

Cultural Differences


Interesting one 😉

Taken from here.


I finally met up with a Brazilian CouchSurfer, Vivian. She contacted me two weeks ago but I had been busy the past two weeks so we only got to meet today. I was so glad I met her! She’s my age, friendly, open-minded, and thoughtful. We had a very nice conversation for 3 hours at Usine, my favorite café (of course!). We just talked, talked, talked like we knew each other for years! Hahaha. It was a great afternoon!

Well, I learnt quite a bit of things about Brazil from her:

  • Not many Brazilian can speak English. If you can speak the language, you’re considered "educated" or "higher" than others.
  • Brazilians are usually not so fond of Portugal due to long colonial history 😛 (I asked her if she’d live in Portugal since they speak the same language, and that was her answer hahaha).
  • You’ve probably heard about Singlish (Singaporean English) or Manglish (Malay English), but have you heard of Portuñol? LOL! It’s Portuguese Spanish! I didn’t know that!
  • The word gereja is from Portuguese! How come I didn’t know that?!
  • The Portuguese in Indonesia were kicked out by the Dutch in 1570’s while the Dutch were kicked out by the Portuguese in Brazil! 😛 They both got their portion, eh?!
  • Brazilian guys are hot and sexy but they’re not "created" to commit on their relationship. She said that it’s common for them to cheat on their girl or wife 😐 She was even very sure that all of the Brazilian guys (99%) at some point in time have cheated on their woman! That’s not good.

I can’t remember what else we talked about. There were too many things, but these were the main ones. We’re going to meet up for lunch next month probably… I’m going to cook an Indonesian food and she’ll cook a Brazilian food. Excited 🙂

Which Floor Am I On?

I was invited to a close friend’s housewarming party in the evening. We’re a group of international and Dutch students who happened to take the same courses. There were Chinese, Taiwanese, Romanians, Columbian, Turkish, Indonesian (only me), and of course Dutch. All of the sudden, we were talking about floor buildings and we started to have some arguments for few minutes!

The Chinese and Columbian argued that the ground-level floor of the building is called the first floor, while the floor above it is called the second floor. However, the Romanians argued that the ground-level floor IS called the ground floor. The floor above it is called the first floor. While the Dutch seemed to agree with the Chinese and Columbian.

And me? To be honest, when it comes to floor numbering, I always get confused. Maybe because I’ve lived in different countries, so I get confused with their respective conventional ways on how to name their floors. When somebody say which floor I have to go to, I need to ask him/her again that we refer to the same floor. I just have to do it somehow.

Then the Dutch compared this floor numbering with centuries. You don’t call zero century, do you? You’d call it first century instead.

Hehehe. It was a loooong discussion and a friend of mine had to stop it by explaining in a Petri net way *geek mode on* LOL. Ah, what a day.

Playing Angklung!


There were many things I missed out during my stay in Jeddah. One of them was to play angklung at our first ever cultural event, Made in Indonesia, held at our campus.

I always loved cultural events! Besides having to promote our beautiful culture to others, it’s a great way to learn my country’s culture too! When I was in Brisbane, I had a chance to learn Acehnese Saman Dance and perform it for a number of times at different events around the city. I was proud of it. The reaction was incredibly great. People were amazed by us and we became more famous hahaha. It was a great success. So I really wanted to be part of something like this again… but it turned out, I couldn’t.

Suddenly, I was told that the angklung group was going to perform again next November and they were recruiting new members! So I immediately joined the group. Hehehe. Today was my first day of practicing. It was yeaaaaaaars ago that I saw and "read" the numbered musical notation. Phew. It was fun though! Finally I could play angklung! Hahaha.

* Photo courtesy of Windi, taken at Made in Indonesia event.


I’ve been very interested in Afghanistan ever since I read Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner which provided me an insight about the country and how cruel the Taliban was. When I first came to the Netherlands, I met an Afghan guy who quickly became a friend. He came to the Netherlands after being granted asylum about 7 years ago and took a Dutch citizenship a few years afterwards. Although not explicitly, he told me that he was thrown in Taliban prison by the regime. I asked him whether Hosseini did an honest portray about Afghan society, and he said yes.

Today, I just finished reading The Bookseller of Kabul written by a Norwegian journalist Ã…sne Seierstad. The book tells a story surrounding the life of a bookseller named Sultan Khan and his large family in Kabul. The author got the chance to live with the family for three months which allowed her to peak through their unique everyday lives. But as I read more pages of the book, I realized that the author focused too much on the negative and backward aspects of Afghan culture, and ignored the fact that Afghanistan had something positive to offer too! I couldn’t help thinking the reaction of the whole family, especially Khan who was depicted as a very unforgiving, merciless,  and authoritarian person.

So I tried to google it and found this interesting article. It turned out that Seierstad was sued for her "inaccurate and invasive" stories by Shah Muhammad Rais, the real Sultan Khan. The court found her guilty of defamation and "negligent journalistic practices" and ordered her to pay more than 31,000 euro in damages to his second wife. The case did not end until here. The other seven members of the family also planned to sue her!

Oh well, the stories that followed are as interesting as the stories in the book :D.

You know you’ve been in the Netherlands for too long when…

Found this group on Facebook and I thought I put up some points that I really like and that apply to me here 😀 (And I edited some)

So… You know you’ve been in the Netherlands for too long when…

  • Walking from your faculty to the cafeteria has become unimaginable. You take your bike, even if it’s for 50meters
  • Eating 7 slides of bread for lunch doesn’t scare you anymore
  • You think 15°C is warm
  • You don’t remember what a mountain looks like
  • You still don’t know how to speak Dutch. But your English has improved. You don’t even bother to ask "do you speak English?", you just speak English right away
  • You always check the weather before leaving home
  • You have 4 seasons in one day
  • You know that kapsalon is not a typical Turkish dish, but a hairdresser
  • You can ride your bike in the rain, wind and even snow
  • You “wash” the dishes with a detergent without rinsing them
  • You go to the market and you only buy the stuffs that fit in you bike
  • You have mastered the art of riding a bike and drinking coffee/smoking/eating lunch at the same time
  • You understand why they don’t serve coffee at a coffeeshop.

The One With The Gift-Giving

One day, I gave a gift to my friend when I was in Indonesia. It was wrapped and that was quite rare because I just couldn’t bother to wrap any gifts that I wanted to give. Anyway, so I gave it to her, she said thank you, and she immediately put the gift in her bag!

At that point, I was offended. Was she a person who didn’t like to receive gifts? Was she too busy to open it? Or didn’t she appreciate it at all? Or what?!

Then I was told that in Indonesia, gifts were not supposed to be opened in front of the giver! It’s not actually polite! I seriously didn’t know that! I really hope I didn’t offend anyone 😐

But then I’m thinking, why can’t we open it in front of the person who gives the gift?! Hmm, let’s see…

From the point of view of the giver, the reason can be that we’re not confident about the present that we give for others. We don’t know if he/she will like it and we choose to be ignorant about it (not wanting to know whether or not he/she likes it).

From the point of view of the receiver, perhaps we don’t know how to react if we don’t like the gift that is given. Indonesians are polite people, we try not to hurt other people’s feelings. Of course, most people would rather pretend that they like the gift. But still, not many people are good with it.

I admit that I’m quite terrible at gift-giving. I call myself an ignorant; I barely notice many details surrounding me, including the things that others are interested in. And I’m extremely forgetful person. Somehow my brain doesn’t allow any details to be kept. It’s a waste of memory, my brain once complained.

So most of the time the gifts that I presented to my friends were not that special. I did feel embarrassed — not to the fact that I gave a lousy gift, but because I didn’t pay attention to these important details about my friends. If these people were part of my life, how could I be unaware about the things that concerned them the most?

But whatever the outcome would be, I’d appreciate if the person opens the gift in front of me. Somehow it feels better that way. And I don’t mind if they tell me that they don’t like the gift. Choosing something for someone else is not an easy job. Everyone has their own preference; when I buy gifts, although I’d picture the person first before choosing the things… in the end, it’s based on my own liking. So I don’t actually blame them not to like my gift. Perhaps, the way they tell me matters the most. At least, I’d expect a little appreciation 🙂

Anyway… now that I know the difference between the two culture, I try to be more understanding. The next time I give/receive a present, I need to remind myself: the Indonesian way or Western way? 🙂 Either way is eventually fine.

Reverse Cultural Shock

I chatted with a friend of mine who had spent quite a number of years in the States, but finally came back to Indonesian for good about a year ago. It’s been sometimes since I last talked to her and it’s always a joy to share each other’s latest updates.

She told me how hard it’s to be in a society where men are expected to be served by their women all the time. Many people think that the relationship between she and her husband are quite strange — merely because they share responsibilities together. These responsibilities are not only about household chores, but it also extends to their daily life as a couple. There are no unwritten rules about who do what. They take turns — naturally. Though for example, the wife is used to make tea for the husband; when she’s tired, the husband sometimes makes tea too. When dinner is served, then no one is expected to put the meals on the plate for the husband. As long as he’s able to do it himself, why should anyone serve for him?

This is what makes me not completely “connected” to Indonesian guys. I’ve been raised in a different environment. My dad, though he’s a busy man, always has time to help my mom. Yes, he never cooks because he doesn’t like it (I don’t think I remember he ever cooked for us. If mom was ill or was tired, he would rather buy us foods). But doing laundry was his job in the house. Gardening too. Cleaning the backyard. Sometimes vacuuming. And many more. I think it’s hard to find the kind of husband (in Indonesia) who sees his wife as a life long partner rather than a server. Even if I can find such a guy, it’d be very hard to implement it because people in Indonesia expect different things. They expect the wife to serve her husband and they’ll try so hard to “enforce” it on other families. I’d say: mind your own business!

But yes, it’s hard to find  the kind of person I describe above. My mom even told me the same thing. If you can find him, that means he has either been abroad (meaning: live. not visit) or was raised in such environment. My dad was a student in Egypt and I figure: that’s how he gets that “behavior” and open minded thinking. People who have lived abroad have completely different mindset than those who have never seen the outside world. Besides being completely independent, they have the chance to see different culture and see how people in different countries conduct themselves. They are able to compare it to what they have been taught to believe in and realize that a few things need to be left out.

A friend told me that I need to find a guy who had lived abroad. Otherwise it’ll be hard for him to fit into me. Or vice versa. That’s true. If only I can peek on my future 😛

Working in Belgium

I worked for the whole day today in Belgium (I don’t even know the name of the city! Hahaha). I was asked to help at the Indonesian food stall there. It wasn’t so busy coz there weren’t many people. Unlike Dutch people, Belgians were not really open to new things. They didn’t really want to try new foods and were definitely not familiar with Indonesian foods. Most of the people who actually bought our foods were Dutch who lived in Belgium. Many of them were even Indo (people who have some portions of Indonesian blood :P). Yes, we did talk to them and they were extremely friendly. The friendly behavior that they got from their Indonesian blood would never disappear 😀 hehehe. It was a tiring yet fun day! I got an extra pocket money too and had delicious lunch so I couldn’t be more thankful!