Monday, September 29, 2014

Dad's Request

Sorry for my absence. I'm still battling my flu and have been taking naps every day. I have a long list of blog posts to read, but haven't had the energy to do so, but I promise I'll blog-hop when I feel more energized. Still no appetite yet. No fever (haven't had a fever in a LONG time), but I still get tired, my head is still weird (every now and then a headache appears), and my body still produces lots of mucus. Yuck! 

Anyway, during my time in Bandung my mother told me a story that I hadn't heard about my dad. In 2007, when my brother was preparing for his wedding, my dad had a stroke and had to be taken to hospital. My brother was stressed out because he and his bride were saving money for their wedding party. We are thankful for my brother's church friends who collected money to help pay out the hospital cost, lightening my brother's burden at that time. 

Apparently after my dad got back home, he wrote a letter to God (literally wrote a letter), saying that if he could just ask for one thing, he would ask for a little bit more time. My dad was going to be 65 at the end of 2007 and he asked God to give him at least until 70 because he wanted to be able to see a grandchild and spend time with him/her.

My brother's wife gave birth to a boy in 2008 and in 2012 my dad passed away a few weeks after his 69th birthday. Prior to his passing, he was determined in talking to as many people as possible in wedding parties and other events that he could participate in (something that wasn't his usual habit). Needless to say my eyes got wet when I heard this story. :-)


P.S. Almost forgot one incident that happened in Singapore airport. We were queueing in front of the immigration counter and near the area there was an old Chinese guy (an airport worker) asking people whether or not they had the immigration form (making sure that each passenger had filled it up). For some reason the guy reminded me of my dad in his old age (it's only natural as they're both Chinese, I suppose) and I started feeling tears welling up. Rest in peace, dad. I love you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Indo/Singapore Trip Highlights

If you wonder why I've been quiet, it's because we just had our summer holiday and during that time, I wasn't online much. I had prepared some blog posts prior to leaving, scheduled at different dates so that this blog wasn't empty for too long. Yesterday we came back with a cold. Actually the cold had started already at the end of the trip, but it got worse when we arrived home. So trying to take it easy and rest before going back to work.

Here are some brief highlights of our Indo/Singapore trip:

1. When we booked our trip, we had no idea that it would coincide with F1 race in Singapore. So hubby was really excited about it, especially because I read that people could try on the race car simulator, though I didn't know whether one had to book beforehand or pay to try it on. 

In one mall we found a Ferrari car simulator and saw the sign saying that one had to spend at least 250 SGD (€ 150) in the Ferrari merchandise store before one had a chance to try it on. Yikes! No way in hell were we going to pay that much just to try it on. No wonder there weren't a long line of people wanting to try it out.

Lucky for us, we went to another mall where they had two Renault car simulators and turned out anyone could try it for free (just for one lap). So I got hubby to sign up twice ha ha ha...actually anyone who had the best record could win a pass to go to a kind of after-party place, but we didn't care about that because we didn't have time to attend the party anyway. All that I wanted was for hubby to be able to try it. 

The first time around was at around midday and before he tried it, there was a store worker taking photos of the contestants and right after he was done, he received a copy of the photo for free. There was also a free photo-printing booth next to it where people could take photos in front of an F1 race car for free. Here's the free photo that they gave us:


A few hours later after we had lunch at the mall, I dragged hubby back to the same place and asked the girl in charge if he could try it again and she said yes. Hubby was too shy to try it again, but I knew he wanted to try again, so I pushed him to sign up again ha ha...This time there was no photographer, so we were lucky to have come earlier when the photographer was there. :-D

2. One funny thing happened on our last day in Singapore. We went out in the morning, gave our room key to the receptionist, and when we got back in the afternoon, hubby said, "We would like our room key."

Apparently the receptionist heard wrong. She replied, "Oh, I'm so sorry, but our rooms are fully booked today."

Hubby was shocked, so he stared at her in confusion. He wondered if they had given our room to someone else or something like that. I told the receptionist, "We're here to get our room key. Room number XXX."

The girl blushed and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Here's your key." LOL LOL!!!!

3. A few people asked us if we had had kids and a few neighbours told me to "hurry up and make kids"

When I told hubby about it, he said, "You should have told them that your husband is your child." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHH...Bless him! Imagine people's faces if I say such a thing to them he he he he he he he...

4. When we got back home and hubby was unpacking his backpack, he suddenly started laughing out loud as he took out an object. A pair of tongs. Yep, when he was packing to go to Indo/Sgp, he hadn't noticed that there was a pair of grilling tongs that he had used earlier to grill in Kelujärvi in the bag ha ha ha ha ha ha...

5. While browsing through stores in a mall, we spotted a winter wear shop and decided to go in. We found some good winter jackets at least half the price of similar ones in Finland and we found two that we liked, so we didn't hesitate to buy them. The shopkeeper said that they had a discount, but I wasn't sure how much, but even a small discount would make me happy enough.

Turned out the discount was 32%. Imagine that!!! I was shell-shocked and happy when I realized that we had saved SO MUCH money. 

The price for my jacket was 159 SGD (about €95) and hubby's parka was 199 SGD (around €120). Total price: 358 SGD (around €215). Discount: 114.60 SGD (around €68). End price: 243.40 SGD (around €146).

€146 for two good winter jackets?!?!?!?! We couldn't believe our luck! :-D :-D :-D

6. I had a haircut in Indo in a beauty salon at a mall. The price for a haircut + wash and blow = 47,000 (€3.20). I think the cheapest haircut in this town is €18 - 22. 

7. Cheap full-body massages in Bandung (ranging from €11-15 per person for a 1.5 hour full-body massage) and the one we had in Singapore was €48/person for a 1.5 hour full-body massage. 

OK, I'm going to stop here for now and tell you more about our trip later. :-)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quote of the Day: Real (Takehiko Inoue)

I love reading manga (Japanese comics) because I get to know Japanese culture shown by different authors as well as gems of thoughts. Some of them can really humor me, some of them really move me, some of them make me see things in different perspectives, some of them teach me things and some of them can be pretty deep.

Here's one quote I'd like to share with you when reading a manga called "Real" by Takehiko Inoue. When I was in Indo, my bro and I LOVED his other manga called "Slam Dunk", which was turned into an anime (cartoon). I'm not really a big fan of any type of sports, but that basketball manga really kept me interested until the very end - and I still want MORE and MORE and MORE of it. I think that's a sign of a good story - a story that keeps you wanting until the end, even until you've finished reading it.



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But OK, here's the quote:

"People show their true value when they get smacked down. Do they look down? Do they look forward? Do they continue to challenge themselves without giving up? That's the most important thing - something that's often hidden by talent and experience."

However, I'd also like to distinguish giving up and letting go. Here's another quote:

There is a big difference between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. It means removing toxic people and belief systems from your life so that you can make room for relationships and ideas that are conducive to your well-being and happiness. 

Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care. 

So the next time you make the decision to release something or someone that is stifling your happiness and growth, and a person has the audacity to accuse you of giving up or being weak, remind yourself of the difference. Remind yourself that you don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to live your life in the way that feels right. No one has the authority to tell you who to be or how to live. No one gets to decide what your life should look like or who should be a part of it. No one, but you. 

~ Danielle Koepke 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Magic in the Air #3

There's magic in the air when someone says something to you that touches you so deep inside, like a miraculous salve soothing the hidden wound in your heart that you didn't even know existed. And then all of a sudden you feel the warmth bursting forth from that spot, spreading out to your entire body and soon tears stream down your face even before you realize what's going on. 

There's magic in the air when a squirrel stares at you inquisitively with its cute little eyes and bushy little tail from less than two metres away, both of you wondering what the other is thinking about.


There's magic in the air when you plan to go somewhere and then your trip coincides with some big events that make you feel giddier with excitement, especially because you didn't plan your trip knowing about them, yet at the same time you just happened to find out about those events not long before your trip started. 

There's magic in the air when the night starts getting darker again and the street lights are on again after many nights of Midnight Sun. And the leaves start changing colours step by step as the air gets cooler. 

There's magic in the air when you are doing a monologue in front of someone, pretending to be yourself and that person (voicing the monologue in your character and that person's character) and not scare that person away. 

There's magic in the air when two people say the exact same thing at the exact same time and ended up laughing together. Bliss!

Letters and Friendships

Writing has been a part of my life since I was young. I remember exchanging letters at fourth grade with my best friend who was moved to the next classroom (we had been in the same classroom since kindergarten). Luckily for me at that time her aunt and my mom picked us up from school, so we could exchanged letters through them. I don't remember how long this letter exchange lasted, though, because I didn't keep the letters.

This habit continued until my uni days. For some weird reason I always found at least one person to exchange letters with. There were two girls in Junior High (one in second grade, another one in third grade). Then the one in third grade kept exchanging letters with me when I went to High School and she went to a vocational school that started right after I finished my classes, so when she came to school and I was going home from school, we had time to exchange the letters. :-D

At uni I also found a friend who exchanged similar letters with me. I think we mostly talked about boys, love life, and also life in general. It was easier to share our innermost desires, thoughts, and feelings through writing sometimes instead of talking face-to-face, especially for tough subjects. These three girls had a habit of folding the letters into an origami form, so I followed suit. :-D I kept the letters until I moved to Finland and then my mom wanted to clear up some space, so she asked me if she could burn them. Gone with the wind, but the memories are in my head. :-D


In High School I also started looking for penpals from abroad because I wanted to practise writing English. One funny thing happened when I wrote a snail mail to one boy, but never received a reply. Years later we found each other through an emailpal club (though I didn't realize it at that time) and he recognized my name and he mentioned receiving my first snail mail, which he replied, but he never received any reply. I told him that I had never received his reply. Yeah, Indonesian postal service can't be fully trusted! Three years ago when we went to Indo for a holiday, we sent at least a dozen postcards for our friends and family here, but they never arrived. Never going to send anymore postcards from Indo! Ah, but I digress...let's go back to the topic, shall we? LOL!!!

Halfway through university, internet started booming in Indonesia (the very slow one that had to connect very loudly to the modem like in the movie "You've Got Mail"), so I started finding emailpals through emailpal clubs (that was also how I found my hubby, though I wasn't exactly searching for one by going to emailpal clubs). 

I had a bunch of emailpals from many different countries, but many of them have stopped writing or communicating with me. I found one of them a few years back and we got in touch through FB. I'm still in touch through FB with the girl from the third grade of Junior High and the one from uni every now and then, though. 

Did you have any snail mail pals (assuming you're old enough to have lived in pre-internet days)?


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Friday, September 05, 2014

A Wealth of Lessons

Note: I dug up some of my old posts and found this unpublished post, so here goes...

The stories of people's lives intrigue me, impress me, induce me to feel a mixture of emotion churning inside me. Throughout my life I have heard glimpses of other people's lives and that made me feel that I had been living quite a protected life. It also made me wonder about the crossroads in our lives. Had we chosen a different route, everything would have been SO different. Had our parents chosen a different route, would we have been born?

A woman once opened up to me about her life. She said, "When I first met my current husband, I didn't love him. My first husband left me for another woman when our second daughter was only about a year and a half. I worked too hard and that drove us apart. Then years later I met an expat who was interested in me. We became a couple, yet one day I found out that he had a wife. From then on, I started losing more faith in men. Building a relationship based on love becomes such a stupid thing to do for me. It even crossed my mind to sell myself for money. After all, I needed the money to support my two daughters. I never really did it, though it did cross my mind a few times.

But then my current husband found me and he asked me on a date. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, whereas I sometimes go to the bars to drink a little and have fun. He didn't mind that, though. We went on several dates and finally we got married.




Things were rough in the beginning, though. His family didn't accept me right away. I cried a lot and asked my husband why they didn't accept me. It took them a while to open up their hearts to accept me. I think one reason was that my husband had never had any girlfriend before he met me. He just lived for work and he even worked on weekends. I told him that when we got married, I didn't want him to work too hard as I wanted to have some quality time with him, as well."

I nodded and nodded while listening to her story. Her family life history was a tragic one, as well. She lost her mother when she was young, then her Dad found another woman who was only interested in his money. After some time, the other woman left him to be with a richer man. Then in the end her Dad died due to some illness. One brother died due to some illness and she lost a sister in a car accident. Another sister died from drowning as she went swimming after she got heavily drunk.

Her story made me feel amazed. I feel that life has forged some people into warriors and warrior princesses. Whether or not you choose to be negative and bitter and pessimistic, it's all up to you. It's supposed to be easier to be thankful when everything is fine and smooth, but the fact is that we are prone to grumble and grumble and grumble. It's so easy to lose perspective on the most important things in life and instead scrutinize all the little things in life with a magnifying glass. I love learning about and from other people. There's a wealth of lessons out there. 



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Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Sound of Waves

They were getting ready for bed and he was fumbling for his mobile phone. He let out a curse, seemingly to have trouble with something on his phone.

She asked, "What's wrong?"

"I need to change my morning alarm sound."

"Oh, why's that?"

"Your sleeping sound has kept me awake."

"My sleeping sound?" she asked, confused.

"Yes, you know that I've been using the sounds of waves to wake me up in the morning and lately your breathing during sleep sometimes resembles the sounds of waves on my mobile phone. So just like last night, I thought I heard the waves, so I woke up and then realized it was your breathing. Went back to sleep and then after a while I woke up again to the sound of the waves, but I realized it was still your breathing."

"Oh my, no wonder you've been tired. Why did you pick that particular sound in the first place then?"

"Because it's the least noisy one. Now I've changed it to the sound of birds chirping."

She laughed. "But what if I end up making sounds like birds chirping in my sleep then?"

"Then I'll just have to change it again."  

"Fair enough," she replied.  



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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Writing Challenge: Disturbing

This is what I found disturbing:

Blogging along mostly for myself, trying to work on my thoughts or simply to record some events in my life...and then one day a popular blogger shared a particular post and suddenly that post had over a hundred views that day. Feeling overwhelmed, excited, and thankful at the same time for the flood of visitors.

After that, every now and then whenever I feel really good about a certain post, I wish for that kind of validation/attention again, even though that shouldn't be my goal at all. And then I wished I hadn't gotten the validation/attention in the first place because then my life as a blogger would have been more peaceful.

Back to earth, blogger! Back to earth! 


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Language Mess

Let me try to tell you how messy my brain gets in incorporating the languages in my head. I have four languages in my head: Indonesian (the national language in Indonesia), Sundanese (the regional language in Bandung, my hometown), English, and Finnish. Indonesian and Sundanese are my mother tongues, whereas English and Finnish are two foreign languages.

I started studying English at the age of 9 or 10. Went to an English course. Back then we only started learning English in Junior High School (13 years old). Continued studying English at uni (4 years) and then I started tutoring kids and translating books from English to Indonesian until the age of 28.

Moved to Finland in 2007, started studying Finnish on my own for about 9 months, then went on a full-time Finnish course for 4 months and self-study continues until now.


I use Indonesian and Sundanese mainly with my family through Skype calls and in Facebook with my Indo friends. I rarely use long sentences purely in Sundanese, so most of the time Sundanese words are used in Indonesian sentences to describe things that can't be described better by using Indonesian terms/words. I use English mainly in my blogs and FB and my online activities. I use English verbally with hubby, because when I used Finnish with him, my English pronunciation becomes so weird (Finnish has a similar pronunciation with Indonesian language). So these days I use Finnish with hubby's family and at work and in FB with coworkers/Finnish people in my FB. 

My skill levels on those languages have declined in some ways. True, I speak more Finnish these days due to my work, but I'm less concerned with the grammar because most people use the informal version of the language anyway, so bye bye grammar to a certain degree!

Hubby says that I have talked in my dreams using English, Finnish, and Indonesian (he guessed it was Indonesian when he couldn't decipher what I was babbling about in my sleep). 


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Now let me give you examples of the mess:

1. Every now and then I blurt out an Indonesian word either at work or at home. I have NO idea why! 

2. Sometimes I think in English, Indonesian, and Finnish respectively on separate occasions. For example, while writing this post, I think merely in English.

3. Sometimes when I start to think in English (for example), I forget one word and have a hard time finding it on my own. Instead, all I have in my brain is the Finnish or Indonesian word or both Finnish and Indonesian word instead.

4. Sometimes when I speak to hubby in English, I have a hard time finding one word, so to make it easier, I use the Finnish word instead. Not good, I know. 

5. Sometimes I try to write an email in Indonesian and then get stuck with one word. I only have the English and Finnish version of the word in my head and the image of the word. Nice! Not! 


6. Because both Finnish and Indonesian only have one word for "he/she", my brain has reverted back to its Indonesian root. These days when I talk to hubby in English, I mix up the use of "he/she", "him/her", "his/hers" because in both Finnish and Indonesian, it doesn't matter either way.

7. Sometimes at work when I've just finished serving a tourist in English, my brain forgets to switch back ASAP to Finnish. So, I end up using English to serve the Finnish customer behind the tourist, which usually makes us both laugh. :-D

8. There are times when I start stringing up a sentence in my head in English, but all of a sudden in the middle of the sentence a Finnish word appears. 

9. I've started getting more and more confused about English grammar, because my brain sometimes automatically tries to use the Finnish structure of the sentence instead of the English one. 

10. I start to get more confused with the new slang words that my fellow Indonesians use. I have no idea what they mean and it's hard to catch up with the new development when I'm not using it daily (well, not verbally anyway). I wonder how much further away I feel the mental distance between me and my mother tongue the longer I stay here. 


That said, don't wonder why my English has become kinda quirky these days compared to the old days when I didn't know/use Finnish too much. Has anyone else experienced similar problems? 

Note: Apparently they have a term for this kind of phenomena. It's called Language Attrition. It can happen to your mother tongue as well as any other foreign language that you've studied.