How a Bunch of Yogyanese Kids Spent Holidays Making Films

The edited version of this piece appeared on the Jakarta Globe (print) on July 10, 2012

Film screening at the 2nd floor of Yogyakarta Municipal Library

“If Hanung Bramantyo can do it, we can do it, alright!?” shouted Krisna Mulawarman, a broadcasting lecturer at the Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta, in front of a room at the 2nd floor of the Municipal Library of Yogyakarta on Thursday (6/5) morning. Before him were a bunch of kids, sitting on the floor looking afire. These youngsters responded Krisna’s rhetorical question in sync with a quick, loud alright.
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Garis-Garis dan Setenun Makna

The edited version of this post appeared in July on Garuda Magazine

Suatu sore setelah hujan reda, tujuh bidadari kayangan sedang asyik mandi di sendang ketika seorang pemuda diam-diam mencuri sehelai selendang mereka. Ia telah terpesona dan sangat ingin memiliki salah satu gadis surgawi yang sungguh elok itu. Ia pikir bidadari yang selendangnya ia curi dan sembunyikan akan terpaksa tinggal di bumi, lalu dapat ia jadikan istri. Mimpi pemuda itu untuk meminang bidadari akhirnya terwujud, tetapi tidak untuk selamanya. Kelak sang bidadari tak sengaja menemukan selendangnya yang telah lama hilang. Ia kemudian terbang kembali ke kayangan, meninggalkan pemuda itu berduka seorang diri.

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Brace Yourself, SBY, a Sack of Postcards is Coming

First published at Latitudes on May 21, 2012

Postcards for president (Card to Post archive)

In the award-winning clay-animated film Mary and Max, the two main characters find a best friend in each other through letters. Mary Daisy Dinkle and Max Jerry Horowitz feel so excited every time an envelope comes, immediately write back after one does, then can’t wait to receive another.

The story is set in the 70s, a time when people were not yet familiar with modern “space-and-time compressors” like cell phones and the Internet. Today, we obviously are. Yet, as shown by Card to Post; an independent project run by writers Rizki, Putri, and Dea; the excitement of keeping in touch by post is back! The long distance and time as well as the human effort involved in sending — and waiting for—postcards, apparently have a nostalgic effect on our generation.

Card to Post is a wordplay on kartu pos, the Indonesian word for postcard. As the name suggests, it promotes the sending of postcards among people. Here, anyone can write to anyone; anyone can share with anyone; and sure, anyone can make friends with anyone.
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Taru Martani: A Story of Cigars and Indonesia

First published at Latitudes on March 14, 2012

While its liking of cigarettes is no longer a secret, the fact that Indonesia produces (and consumes) cigars remains less renowned. One of the country’s cigar factories is located in Yogyakarta, called Taru Martani. As a venture that has managed to survive after decades, Taru Martani has become part of Indonesian history.

Source: Taru Martani Company Profile Book

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The Art of Making Cigars

Published in Asian Geographic, 2nd Edition, 2012

Centuries after Columbus’ crews brought it out of the Caribbean to Europe, the habit of smoking cigars has evolved into a global culture. Colonialism took it along to regions afar. In my country Indonesia, for instance, it was the Dutch who brought it, and since then, a number of cigar factories have been established there since early 20th century.

Cigars now come in so many colours, shapes, and flavours, varying from greenish to dark-coloured, from the coronas (common shape, evenly cylindrical with round head) to the figurados (a varieties of irregularly shaped cigars), and from sweet to dry flavoured. The materials, too, have been produced in various places around the world, offering assorted qualities and characters. When we talk about why someone likes a certain cigar, its colours, shapes, and flavours are all contributing elements. But what makes cigars so special is how they are made.
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Chinese Faces in Indonesian Football: Celebrated Past, Humble Present

The shorter, edited version of this article is featured at In Bed With Maradona, February 8, 2012.

Ramang vs Soviet

There are many meanings one can attribute to the word ‘achievement’. But in football there are only two. For behemoths, it’s trophy. For underdogs, it’s either that or making a top team suffer. Currently sitting 143rd in the Fifa ranking, Indonesia clearly belongs to the latter category. So as Brazilians recall of their glorious past by counting silverwares in their trophy cabinet, Indonesians can associate their greatest time in football with the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

One of the two games they played in the competition turned out to be the best page in the over a century-old book of Indonesian football. It was against the mighty Uni Soviet. Powered by the great Lev Yashin, team captain Igor Netto, and genius attacker Eduard Streltsov, this was Soviet’s golden string playing under Gavril Kachalin as coach. Indonesia played fearlessly throughout the match and managed to survive the opponents’ bombardment. They even nearly scored one themselves through Rusli Ramang, the country’s legendary forward. Yet, neither side conceded a goal.

Indonesian football story actually began long before that match. It began since the country was still referred to as the Dutch East Indies, involving a kind of players that have become rare today: the Chinese.

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