Catatan Singkat tentang Negeri Jiran dan Para Perantau Dermawan

Desember tahun lalu adalah kali pertama saya mengunjungi Malaysia. Agenda pelancongan ini menjenguk saudara dan nonton Timnas main di Piala AFF 2012. Saya sempat menyinggahi dua tempat: Pulau Pinang di lepas pantai sebelah barat semenanjung, lalu Kuala Lumpur di selatan. Tentu saja, saya berharap untuk mendapatkan pengalaman menarik di bangsa yang sering dipandang secara antagonistik oleh banyak dari kita orang Indonesia.

Kata jiran, seperti yang anda ketahui, diserap dari bahasa Arab yang artinya tetangga. Maka selayaknya saat bertamu ke tetangga samping rumah, saya berusaha untuk membuang jauh-jauh prasangka buruk tentangnya. Akan tetapi, ketika berada di dalam taksi dari bandara ke penginapan di Pulau Pinang, masih saja ada keraguan untuk sekadar berbicara tentang pertandingan sepak bola yang dihelat sebentar lagi itu. Dengan naif, saya khawatir kalau-kalau sopir taksi, yang selama lima menit pertama perjalanan diam, akan mengurangi kualitas pelayanannya setelah mengetahui penumpangnya dari Indonesia.

“Ini mau lihat bola, tapi mampir Pinang dulu,” saya akhirnya membuka obrolan.

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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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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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New Year Celebrations x3 in Jogja, True Tolerance & Fire Crackers

Featured at Latitudes, January 2, 2011

Together with the rest of the world, Jogja just celebrated the coming of 2011. People thronged the streets and public spots with friends and family. Peddlers hawked on the sidewalks, selling food, trumpets, fireworks, and whatnot. Musical shows were held since early in the evening when people began to come out of their houses. As the clock struck twelve, big fireworks were lit to mark the transition of the year.

The festivities downtown were mirthful as always. Though, it was not the first New Year that we, Jogjanese, had celebrated last year.

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