Archive for the 'Culture' Category

When in York

I remember when I was in York for New Year, I and my friends met an old Chinese (ethnicity) man. He thought we were from Malaysia. I immediately noticed that his accent was very Malayan peninsular with probably 10% Hong Kong/Cantonese part. He initially didn’t want to say where he was originally from, but later on he admitted that he is Cantonese who was born in Penang and grew up in Singapore, before moving to UK around the independence of Singapore (I don’t know if it was the independence from UK or the separation from Malaysia).

I don’t know how it feels like to become an overseas Chinese. My impression is that Chinese people are everywhere, you are all travellers who once reach your destinations you settle down there. Everywhere you go, it is quite likely to meet somebody who speaks a similar language, culture, and that same vision*. But that old man seemed to express that, loneliness, and remorse. Singapore was a new and underdeveloped country back then, so he decided to go to the UK. But he seemed to regret that as the rest of his family is still in Singapore. BTW he also quite fancied Lee Hsien Loong, repeatedly saying “The Singapore PM studied in Cambridge.” Something that I feel many Singaporeans friends don’t share perhaps haha.

*(A little side note: My people, the Javanese people, are rather at the other end of the spectrum to me: if I meet a random Javanese person on the street here, and that is already quite unlikely, I would guess 99% of the time that s/he is a student; and s/he will probably go back home after finishing her/his study. That, or a diplomat. But they will be in bigger cities probably. A tourist? Nah, who would think to go to Cardiff.)

Anyway he said that there is only a small Chinese community in York, so every year he travels to Manchester, about 1-2 hours away, to celebrate Chinese New Year. Manchester has probably one of the biggest Chinese communities in the UK and the celebration is much merrier there. He even compared to the Gregorian calendar new year celebration, which I agree with him is very humble: no fireworks, only people gathering in front of the York minster and the church bell ringing a few times. That’s it. Anyway he recommended us to go to Manchester on CNY as it would be much much bigger.

Well I don’t know how I should close this post. But I felt a little bit strange as my story is a little like him. Three weeks and a few hours before that I was still in Singapore, where I had stayed for more than 8 years.

(originally a Facebook post)

Renungan Martabak

fritz-martabak

Postingan ini adalah sebuah respon terhadap foto martabak yang diunggah [Fritz] di Facebook, seperti tergambar di atas.

  1. Tentang martabak: Ini baru martabak! Bukan “martabak” manis alias terang bulan itu!
  2. Tentang sepi jualan: di sebuah kantin di sini ada satu stall yang sepi, walaupun lokasinya di dekat pintu masuk. Jualannya katanya makanan Cina ala Taiwan. Yang jualan juga bapak ibu sekitar paruh baya. Kalo waktu makan siang sepiiiii begitu. Jarang sekali saya liat ada yang beli. Beberapa minggu/bulan lalu saya nyoba beli juga. Setelah dimakan, yaa…memang bisa dimengerti kenapa sepi. Ndak ada rasanya. Lama saya ndak beli lagi…kemarin kami ke kantin itu lagi, stallnya udah kosong. Bisnis makanan memang keras. Kalo kerja kantoran, ada kolega/bos yang marahin situ. Kalo jualan begini, ndak ada feedback dari siapa-siapa. Pembeli ndak kasih info apapun. :/
  3. Tentang lapak di pinggir jalan depan rumah: waktu di Jogja dulu, ada bapak-bapak jualan ayam mentah di perempatan dekat rumah, lagi motong-motong ayamnya. Itu sekitar 6-7 pagi. Mungkin bapak itu baru buka jualan, jadi belom ada yang beli. Kami–saya dan bapak saya–lewat naik mobil. Bapak saya nyapa, “laris Pak…” “Njih, matur nuwun,” jawab sang bapak penjual ayam. Buat saya menarik sih. Di Singapore ndak ada yang ngucapin begitu. Mungkin kalo di sini udah diteriakin, “laris laris, beli dong!”, setidaknya bingung. 😆
  4. Tentang martabak lagi: di Jogja kemarin saya nganterin beberapa temen orang asing + Indonesia jalan-jalan. Salah satunya ngidam(tm) martabak jalanan. Maka belilah kami martabak dari mas-mas yang jualan di dekat tempat mereka nginap. Belinya martabak spesial pake sosis dan jamur jumbo, pokoknya yang paling besar dan paling mahal buat mereka, beli dua! Bikinnya terasa lama, soalnya kami musti pergi ke tempat lain buat acara selanjutnya. Lalu setelah jadi satu, ebuset ternyata besar banget. Saya bingung, ini mereka (lima orang, plus saya plus teman bapak yang nyopirin) bisa habis ga. Elhadalah, beberapa jam kemudian dua martabak jumbo itu habis. Dan itu mereka masih pingin nambah martabak Italia aka pizza, jumbo dua juga. -_-

Cultural Confusion

Another sekat/partition.

I have a feeling, that if I spend considerable amount of times in two different countries with completely different cultures, I will be confused about what is right and what is wrong.

Suppose in one country, A is right, and B is wrong. In another country, B is right, A is wrong.

If go back and forth between the two countries, I will get confused about how I should stand with regard to that matter.

Of course I can die-die say, even though I just keep it to myself, that A is right and B is wrong. However, if life brings me to the second country and I accidentally do A. bang. I will be in trouble.

lambrtz and Languages

Just now, this [Superman] shared [this link] on Facebook. To understand this, I need not to look farther than my mirror. I consider myself belong to the earliest generation in which this phenomenon starts to be prevalent. By Indonesian standard, even for non-native standard, I speak fluent English. But my proficiency in Javanese, which is supposed to be my first/second language, is limited to the ngoko/”rude” form and very little krama inggil/the “polite” form. That’s like only knowing a half of the language. There are a few reasons of this. Somehow my parents decided to teach me more Indonesian, which I am very fluent in, and only little Javanese. Family members can also speak to each other in ngoko, although with some krama inggil words when referring to the parents (although I usually just replace those words with Indonesian words instead), so it’s no wonder that my krama inggil doesn’t improve much.

I live in Singapore, so there is very little need of knowing and speaking Javanese. There was one occasion though, when I die die had to speak krama inggil Javanese. When I still rented my previous room, I stayed with, well, the Singaporean owner, of course, and a Javanese family also from my hometown (actually our homes are just a few hundred metres apart). The couple’s parents often visited them, and they seemed to speak Javanese more often. So, when I conversed with them, I had to use krama inggil. It felt very awkward, since I didn’t know the polite forms of many words, so at times I had to resort to Indonesian, or mistakenly used the rude forms. Another thing is, older Javanese generations speak veeeeeery slowly, whereas I am known for my fast talk, so the way I spoke krama inggil was like very un-Javanese.

On another occasion, when I returned home last year, my Father took me to his school reunion, in which I talked to some of his friends. At this time, however, I initiated to talk in krama inggil, instead of Indonesian. At home, my Father laughed. He seemed very surprised and was very keen of talking about this to my Mother.

Closing remarks. I talked to my Father just a few weeks ago when he visited me (I am in [Palapa Oath] mode, so I don’t want to return home until I submit another paper), that quite likely I will not have a Javanese wife. I understand very much about the surrounding issues of having girlfriend/spouse of different ethnicity/nationality, but like it or not, with this current condition most women I meet are not Indonesian, let alone Javanese. So the family line from my branch may stop being and speaking Javanese at some point of time.

Analogue and a Few Notes

via Wikipedia, from the games Steam page

My hardcore gamer friend [disc-co] told me about this game called [Analogue: A Hate Story]. I was fascinated at the future setting and premise of it featuring “transhumanism, traditional marriage, loneliness” and LGBT, from the Wikipedia entry. Upon playing the game for the first time, I was annoyed by the stacks of letters I have to read. At a glance, they appread to be soap opera-ish, featuring family affairs here and there. Also, I was reminded of the letters in early Resident Evil (RE) games. I always skipped those letters in RE as I had the walkthrough, but in here I had to read the letters. However, on the next day I tried to be more patient and read the letters one by one. It turned out to be not so soap opera-ish. Behind the family affairs and adulterous wives, there are things which I would like to take some notes of.

  1. Albeit being interested in transhumanism, I do have some degrees of scepticism, especially about the future of humanities. One thing which draws questions from me is cryonics as means to escape death. I am not sure if the people whose bodies or brains are preserved are brave or something, but I am certainly curious as for how they predict the future will be, and what if the future turns out to be as what they have predicted.
  2. It’s funny to me that while in the past women were confined from further studies and to domestic matters, now I am looking for an independent and intelligent woman who is basically my equal. Oh how fast time flies. And this creates problem for me as well, considering my small pool et cetera et cetera.
  3. Another funny thing is that while women are typically only regarded as child-factories and child-bearers, the population is portrayed to be shrinking. I wonder what is the rationale behind this phenomenon.
  4. Apparently the developer has some opinions to be expressed in LGBT matters. While I have no problem with this, I am scared of the prospect of [having relationship] [with AIs], let alone with those with no proper physical embodiment.

BTW, the sequel is supposed to be released today.

Lighting Business

“Daddy!” I called him last week.

“Daddy, I found one lamp, one antique lamp, which looks wonderful, and may look good for our house. Take a look at this photo…*sending e-mail*…how do you find it?”

“Well, son,” he replied, “it indeed looks good…and indeed it is your right to choose a good lamp for you. But are you sure that it can match other lamps in our house? You know that our house is very old and have a very Javanese atmosphere.”

“Yeah, I know, Dad, that a Javanese-style lamp might fit better…but I am in Singapore, how can I find Javanese lamp sellers here? My network contains mostly locals–Chinese, Malay, Indian, you name it–and some more from other countries. If I should go for the ‘perfect fit’, I should just return home, right. And to be honest, I want to have some foreign touches to a little bit diversify our house. You can see that the houses in our neighbourhood; no, our hometown, are very local. We are not global enough, and in fact that is why I started my journey to go abroad.”

“No no no. Son, I am fine if you look for a foreign-style lamp. But you have to know that this lamp has to match our electricity configuration and house style. Our concern is still compatibility. The lamp does not need to be of Javanese style, but it has to fit a Javanese atmosphere here. You don’t want the lamp to explode or fall to our heads, right?” *laugh*

“…Hahaha, yes, I  agree with you on that thing Dad. That’s the scary thing. I don’t want our house to explode because of a single lamp…”

“…and I have to be honest with you: based on my experience, the style of the lamp in the photo is not generally suitable for a Javanese house like ours. Well, I am not saying that all lamps which fall under this category are not compatible, no. Some are compatible (I have seen some), but not all. Heh, even some Javanese kind of lamps are also not suitable for us. If you really want foreign style kind of lamps, why don’t you look for such and such styles?”

“…Dad, my network is limited, and lamp with those styles are very rare here…”

“Well, I understand that…”

“…Dad, I am scared now. Actually I have doubts as well about that lamp…*explaining such and such doubts*…and that’s why I haven’t made any enquiry.”

“It’s OK. It’s just an enquiry, so if you think the lamp looks good, go for it: contact the seller and ask things about the lamp. I just have to warn you: 1) do not, I repeat, do not say prematurely that you want to buy it, and 2) do look around as well. Take a look if there are actually lamps which actually are more suitable.”

“Yes Dad, I undestand that. The thing is this…if it turns out not to be compatible, it is easy. I can go to other sellers in my list,”—I do make a list!—“but what if it looks compatible? Can I proceed with the paperwork? Because I can’t help to think about it (I mean the above things), and if you don’t like the style at all then I better don’t enquire at all, right? Waste of energy.”

“Well…”

***

I forget the rest. Well I can just ask him though. Anyway, my hope is actually simple: to find one lamp which I can use not only to brighten my room, but also other rooms in my house. But given my journey, this turns out to be not so simple. I have been dreaming, since I was a kid (probably about 14 or so) to have my own lamp someday. But I always failed in the past. Now that I have gained some knowledge on electricity and lighting art as well as some skills in business negotiation, I want to try it again, but my past failures make me very very careful now. Doing lighting business is quite tricky (and I do speak in understatement): one day you might find a lamp is good, another day you don’t. You may suddenly decide that one lamp does not fit your house style, but the seller may think that you are a perfect buyer (well lamps are precious!), and ha! Drama. I have seen some friends’ lamps crack, fall, or even burn an entire house because of these things, and these add up the worry. On the other hand, I saw some friends—or competitors, depending on your point of view—find their lamps so easily, to the point that I wonder, are those lamps really fine for their households?

Anyway, if a good situation arises, I have to make my enquiry. I have concerns, a lot of concerns, but apart from being constantly tied to computers (because of my job), I think solving compatibility issues is another thing I am “trapped with” in my entire life, as I want to visit many countries and broaden my knowledge on different styles of lamps. I have to face them and solve them. For now, at least I am glad that I (think I) have been given a green light.

A Coptic Hymn

As an Indonesian, I automatically perceive Arabic chants as Islamic. Well I don’t speak Arabic, so when I listened the above hymn it is very very hard for me to accept that it is a part of Christian tradition. I have to listen very carefully for any word I am familiar with; I think I heard some “Kyrie”s there. Also, I live with a Protestant family, and the neighbour next door is a Muslim family, so I am wondering if they think I am listening to an Islamic prayer, as IMO Orthodox Christianity, let alone the Coptic rite, is not widely known in this part of the world. But I have loved Arabic chants for a few years already, and somehow listening to this song makes me want to attend a Coptic service someday.

Update: I played the video again and realised that the video actually begins in English (…and forgive us our sins)! Gosh, it does take time!

Another update: not only does the video begin in English, but the first half of the video seems to be entirely in English! So I can confirm that my Indonesian ears are more sensitive to the Arabic tone than the actual prayer.


lambrtz looks like this

Me

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