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: Memories

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

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.

The Unexpected Gift

Not many people knew that I’d go back for good. Most of them found it out a week or even a few days before my departure. So I never expected to receive anything from them. I have too many stuff with me already. I didn’t want to bring anything more. But there was one special gift I got from our angklung team that really touched me and almost made me cry:

From Angklung Eindhoven

The thing that made me cry :'(

This frame is now put in my room in Jeddah. It’ll be brought to Malaysia next year, for sure! I’ll definitely miss playing angklung with them! 🙁

Old Passport

I just love it to have my passport’s page(s) filled with  stamps, leaving little or no empty space. These are the pages of my old passport, that almost caused me heart attack. This particular passport only contains 24 pages and it only has 5 empty pages left. Too bad I had to renew it, otherwise I could get the entire pages of the passport full of stamps 😉 hehehe.

The year 2009 was a great year indeed. I traveled to 8 different countries in one go! 🙂 I started with a road trip with some friends to Luxembourg, Strasbourg (France), Heidelberg and Köln (both in Germany). From Köln, I went to Düsseldorf to catch a flight to Jeddah. I had an almost 20 hours of transit in Dubai so I decided to explore Dubai (which — as expected — I didn’t really like. Dubai was not my thing). From Saudi Arabia, I flew to Indonesia, visited some friends in Singapore for a day, and stayed with my sister in KL for five boring days (it was an exam week for my sister. So I was there feeling rather bored. Nothing much to do). I came back to Europe through Paris, where I stayed there for 3 days. That was my first time visiting Paris. I love Versailles!!! 🙂

It was a crazy trip, to be honest. At the end of the trip, I was left with only 10 euro on my bank account! hahaha.



How I Used to Spend My Free Time

My mom used to tell me how she used to play in sawah (rice fields) when she was a little kid and she always told me how during those times there were no such things as dolls or Barbie’s. Whenever I see small children playing with their parents’ phone or iPad, I smile. I see the same thing as what my mom saw. Oh how the world has dramatically changed! People of my generation didn’t have those gadgets or even computers to play with. We didn’t have internet or mobile phones. But still, we were happy. Probably even happier than today :P. This post is just to reminisce about the good old days before the social media- and gadget-era 🙂

How did I spend my free time?

Teddy Bear

My most favorite toy was definitely my teddy bear! He’s the only one I used to sleep with — I actually couldn’t sleep without him! LOL. I used to bring him everywhere I went. My parents told me I lost my teddy bear during 1990 Hajj. I fell ill because of it! (!!!) We still lived in Mekkah at that time and my dad had to go all the way to Jeddah to find a similar version of it. You couldn’t find any dolls in Mekkah at that time. He found a similar one and this was the one I still remember til this very day. I started to abandon my teddy bear as soon as my little brother, Aiman, was born. Not sure why! I think my mom threw away my teddy bear during the time we moved to a different house.

The brown teddy bear was my teddy bear! :)


Like any girls, I loved playing with Barbie. I didn’t have the original Barbie though. We couldn’t afford the original one, which was quite expensive, because I would buy more than one Barbie dolls. But still, I was happy enough to have those Barbie-looking dolls. My mom used to make some clothes for these dolls. I would play with them for hours! My childhood friend, Anne, would come to play with me (or I would come to her house to play with her original Barbie’s… hehehe).

Some parents refuse to buy Barbie for their children, because they’re afraid that their children will attempt to emulate her. As far as I remember, I didn’t have a slight attempt to imitate her. It never occurred to me that I would ever see her as a role model. I just loved playing with her. That’s all. Perhaps this was because I was not influenced by the image portrayed on TV. The only thing I watched on TV was Tom & Jerry and other animal or hero cartoons (which got nothing to do with beauty or anything like that). I rarely watched Disney princess-like movies (I watched them at my friend’s house. We didn’t have them at ours). I got a feeling that my parents discouraged having these Disney cartoons in our house. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions that my parents ever made.

I have to say, Saudi government also did a great job of selecting which cartoons were worth to be watched by children!!! (Note that we didn’t have satellite TV back then. So the only thing we watched was the two Saudi channels)


I used to build a big tent out of sheets of blankets inside my room (which was also my sister’s room too). I tied them by the door, on the chairs, desk, and on any strong objects I could find. My whole room was covered with these blankets — or tents — and I would pretend as if I was camping in a forest. I would bring my teddy bear, Barbie’s, and other dolls inside these tents. Sometimes my sister (who used to follow whatever I did) joined me. I loved playing the camping game! 😀 After the game, I had to tidy my room up and fold those blankets again, otherwise I would get into trouble 😛

Crystal Maze

The Crystal Maze was a popular British game show aired on Saudi Channel 2. It was one of my favorite TV shows at that time! It was very fun to watch each team playing various games in different settings (or so-called zones). The final challenge of the game was entering the Crystal Dome,  as shown in this picture:

The teams had to enter this big Crystal Dome to collect as many “gold tokens”. The tokens were made of foil and were blown around from the fan below the dome — and the team had to catch these tokens and collect a minimum number of tokens in order to win. Here’s the video if you want to have a look on how it actually works:

Inspired by this game, I recreated the “Crystal Dome”. Well, I didn’t create the Dome itself, of course. But I liked the idea of blowing the tokens and catching them as many as I could. So, when my friends came over, we used to play this game. We cut out papers to make them as big as a paper money. Then one of us would take turn of climbing on top of my wardrobe (which was quite high). The person who was on the top had to “blow” or throw these papers down. We also put a big fan so that they were blown. The rest of us had to collect them. The one who could collect the most was of course the winner! Hahahaha. Creative enough? 🙂

Riding a Bike

I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood where we used to live. I used to do that almost every afternoon after school. This was the time when I also played with other Arab neighbors. The thing I remember about them was that they always wanted to decide everything. They wanted to control everything. Other children had to follow their lead. It annoyed the hell out of me haha. Anyway, I stopped riding my bike right after a religious police screamed at me for not wearing an abaya. I think I was around 13-15 years old. Riding a bike with an abaya on is too troublesome. So I decided not to play outside the house anymore.


I had a cooking/kitchen set (as shown in the picture above) and I also loved playing with it. I wonder why cooking is not my favorite activities these days :P. Well, eating is!


Every weekend, my family and I used to go to Obhur (which is part of the Red Sea) to swim. Some of my childhood friends joined us too. We would stay there until the afternoon and had lunch together afterwards. When I got a little older, my dad became so busy that we didn’t have time to do it every weekend. So we would do it every year instead. We would rent a cottage for a night and stayed there. When I was in Junior High School, I used to also go to a women-only sport club nearby to swim with some friends. I did that every weekend and I loved it! I remember swimming was the only sport I enjoyed doing. Ever since I put on hijab, I became too lazy to swim despite the fact that I had a swimming pool in my apartment in Brisbane.


By the time I reached the age of 13, I no longer played the same game I used to play when I was much younger. So I tried to find something else to make myself entertained. I began doing a correspondence. The idea came from one of teen magazines (I think it was Anita magazine). I sent my profile to them and they published it on the correspondence section. I began receiving letters from people in Indonesia.

After some time, one of the penpals introduced me to a “worldwide” correspondence. The idea was that, she sent me a so-called penpal book. This small book was filled with names and addresses of people who had received it. The last person who got the book (who could fill it on the last page) had to return it back to the book’s owner. Those who filled the book were also allowed to send letters to some people in that book to make some friends. It was just a great idea :).

I had hundreds of penpals around the world by the time I was in Junior High School. It was really fun and it was really great to practice and improve my English. Every month I got at least 100 letters to be replied. I remember the person who worked at the post office looked always pissed off every time I went there. Because he knew I would cheat. I would put a 50 halalah (cents) stamp on each envelope, instead of a 100 halalah (or 1 Saudi Riyal). That’s one of the ways to reduce the expenses my dad had to endure for my correspondence activities. Sometimes I would ask some penpals to return my stamps, so that I could wash and reuse them again.

I stopped corresponding by the time I went to High School in Indonesia. I didn’t have much time to write anymore (as we had a 9am-to-10pm activity every day). I remember I still received some letters (delivered to my Saudi address) when I was in Australia!


My first exposure with a computer was when my dad first bought a PC with a DOS in it. I think it was around 1993. There were some games in it, but I didn’t remember playing them (or maybe I didn’t like them). I remember there was a Qur’an software which I used it to play some short Surahs. I memorized Surah Abasa from this software.

We got an Internet when I was in Junior High School (around 1997). I think I was one of the first few people in class who had an access to the Internet at that time. The first thing I did when I had an Internet access was to create a Yahoo! email (which I still use until today) and check out Leonardo DiCaprio’s and Mariah Carey’s websites!! LOL. I was a huge fan of them. I used to have their posters all over my room.

But Internet at that time was not too huge. I couldn’t do much with it anyway (slow dial-up connection, anyone?). All I could do was chatting or browsing. But it definitely didn’t take more than an hour. After few years of knowing the Internet, I had the opportunity to create my own personal website using Geocities. Creating a website has become my favorite thing ever since! I’ve been learning everything from scratch. From building it using Geocities’ web builder, Microsoft FrontPage editor, to manually writing HTML and CSS codes. From a static website to a dynamic one. Everything was self-taught!

Video Games

I didn’t have video games during my childhood. My parents never allowed my sister and I to have one (but somehow this rule was relaxed with my brother…). The only way I could play video games was in my friend Anne’s house. I used to play Nintendo’s Mario Bros and Sega’s Sonic. That only happened few times a month. Hehehe.

Oh the good old days!!! 🙂

The Same Pattern

2007. I started my final year project with 6 other great teammates. I became involved in a student organization called AIESEC, became in love with it, dived myself into it, and devoted my time for it. It was such a busy year, but I found a way to divide my time between uni, AIESEC, and Saman Dance. I met a lot of new awesome people, but I had much less quality time with my closest friends. I was ignorant enough to realize that this was my final year! I wasn’t ready to be apart from my best housemates in the world, Jenny and Mayu. As expected, time flew by and suddenly I held my farewell dinner. I had planned on going back to Jakarta upon graduation. But suddenly, my mum changed the plan; she would rather having me back in Jeddah.

2011. I’ve started my thesis project. I’ve been involved in an Indonesian student organization, PPI/e, become in love with it, dived myself into it, and have been devoting my time for it. It’s been quite busy time for me: thesis, PPI/e, and angklung! I’ve been meeting a lot of new awesome people, but I’ve been having much less quality time with my closest friends. No more potluck dinner or hanging out in a café for hours — I wonder if it was me or them who have no time. As usual, I’m ignorant enough to realize that this could be my last year in the Netherlands. I’m not ready to face farewell and to give up my routine that I come to love and enjoy. I’ve been planning to go straight to Jakarta upon my graduation, but 2 days ago, my mom called and she told me to go to Jeddah first because she misses me hahaha… 😛 So it seems like Allah SWT still wants me to go back to visit the Baitullah, uh? Lucky me 😉

I feel like my life is in a circle and I’m almost approaching the finish line. After the finish line, I’ll start the lap again — from the beginning — fresh, confused, and excited. I’ll be in the stage where I’ll try to adapt again, find new friends, be longing to go back to the past, and then… at some point in time, I’ll be enjoying my life again and thinking nothing but about the present and future. If my life is a process, then this would be the so-called steady-state (geek mode: ON hahaha).

Oh dear life. Please be gentle on me.

Memories of Egypt

with cousins in Cairo, Egypt. I was the one with the white bear

At the Cairo Tower. Little me sitting on the right hand-side

I’ve had little memories of my years in Egypt. Yes, I was born there. But I only lived there for 4 years until 1989. I managed to visit the country for a month in 1997, but sadly I didn’t have that much things to remember. We were there during summer, making it harder to enjoy our travel as it was SOOOO hot!

So I’m planning to come back. I’ve been planning to come back for so long. The one city that I’ve been wanting to visit is definitely Luxor. I’ve been to Alexandria and Suez, but I’ve never been to any cities in southern part of Egypt. I want to see Abu Simbel toooo! (and all temples around Aswan!)

Wait for me, Egypt. I’ll be back for the third time. I’ll visit the New Egypt, insya Allah.

"Amalia" in hieroglyphs

The Joy

Mayu & I

Two months ago, I wrote about a close friend of mine who was going to get married next year and who "forced" me to be her maid of honor. I didn’t reveal who she was because it wasn’t official yet. But today, I got a message from her saying that she’s officially engaged!!! I was so delighted to hear it! It was a mix of joy and tears! I knew that she and her boyfriend were going to get engaged anyway. But you know, sometimes you just felt so moved that those tears couldn’t be stopped…

The euphoria of visiting Brisbane and seeing her one more time has got me again! Aaaah, I’m so excited! I’m kinda picturing of how the wedding is going to be like. I know that it’s going to be a small and simple one (I like it!!). But will there be any Japanese elements in it? Or perhaps a mixture of Japanese and Aussie culture? I’ve never been to any weddings where the bride and groom came from two very different countries. So I’m thrilled!

Happy Mother’s Day!

To the woman who has given me endless inspirations…

To the woman who has taught me how it is to be a real woman…

To the woman who never fails to remind me to be strong…

To the only woman who has given me life…

Mom & I at the top of Cairo Tower in Cairo, Egypt

To my only mom. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you always.

High School Diary

Yes, I used to write a diary when I was in High School. It was started at the end of May 2002, when I entered the last year of my High School. I have long kept my diary in my bookcase in Jeddah and it was a loooooong time ago that I read it. So I decided to take it with me to Holland hoping that in my spare time I could perhaps read it for fun :D.

And I actually did! It was really weird reading back my own diary, to be honest. It was embarassing in some ways (waaaaay too childish LOL). I kinda skipped some parts of the stories, refusing to remember them. The diary is no more than my day-to-day life: the pleasure and hardship living at a boarding school, my relationship with other friends, and teenage love slash crush. It was quite memorable! I couldn’t believe that I didn’t remember a lot of things that were written there!

For example, I used to have a lot of nicknames. I did remember most of them, like MuLong (Muka Lonjong or oval face), onta (camel — and I assume you know where that one came from!), Mellie (inspired by Melly Goeslaw; I actually forgot why my friends related me to this famous singer), and Jomel (I forgot why I was called with this name, but I hated it hahaha). But I didn’t remember at all that I was called ‘Truly Asia’ before, just because I had a stupid crush on someone who lived in KL! Hahaha. I wonder where he is now actually! LOL. (Hello, You! Haha)

The diary also reminds me with a lot of things: my cat & dog and brother & sister relationship with (apparently) one of my closest friends, Anas; my habit of sleeping in the class (sorry, Pak Uya!); my first time receiving an appreciation in a form of a chocolate from my favorite teacher :); my habit of sneaking into my room to eat chocolate every evening alone :P; and the obstacles after graduating from school. Being done with school and not living in a dorm anymore was probably the hardest one for me. I was used to the non-stop routines and activities from 8am to 9pm, so I couldn’t stand doing nothing at home, waiting for the university to start. I was also used to having my friends around, 24/7. They were within easy reach when I needed somebody to talk with. But suddenly, everyone went their separate ways and I found myself alone in my room. Farewell was indeed the hardest thing, especially when we spent time together for 3 years! We knew each other so well, even in the worst possible state! We were like a little family, even until today.

The most boring part of the diary is about the hurdle of breaking up (talk about teenage love, huh?!). I just realized that it took him almost 6 months to finally let me go. It’s boring because it’s too repetitive. And it caused my relationship with one of my closest friends to worsen. She remains one of my good friends these days and whenever we talk about it, we laugh and laugh, thinking how stupid we were back in the old days! 🙂

I actually enjoyed flipping through the pages of my diary without reading them. I was surprised that I was quite creative back then! Every pages were made with different styles, colors, and design. I was so devoted to it and I managed to write the diary until I reached the last paper, which was more than a year! That was hard and that was the only diary I had! 😀 (because afterwards, I turned to blogging).