Success Is Relative, Happiness is Absolute.

I know I have been neglecting this blog. But I can’t help but posting a little thing that  just crossed my mind this minute! Yes, it has everything to do with the title above.

“Success is relative. Happiness is absolute.”

No, I didn’t copy it from anywhere. It was pure revelation.

Yes, I do believe I hold the copyright for that sentence above.🙂

So what brought it about? Well, it was actually putting my children to sleep. For a few moment there, a scary thought went through my head…

“Is this it…? Rearing up my children? Has my life been reduced to just this?”

But then I realised that not all is lost. No… no… my dear readers… Not at all… So fear not!🙂

As I was thinking it, I realised that I was not sad, nor any other negative feelings were within me. I was actually… happy.

I may not be a successful woman depending on what your measures are. But I am a happy woman.

“Oh, hell yeah!”

(Some cowgirl might add…)

Success is relative, happiness is absolute.

Regarding the shameful neglect of this blog, I promise I will try to catch up some time soon. I am trully sorry.

Now then, back to VAT reports.

I Like Religious People

I just have to talk about this.🙂 Both Ghana and Indonesia are full of religious people. Both consist of diverse religious beliefs, and in both cases the people manage to co-exist peacefully. (There are some minority groups fighting each other though… I am not going to lie about it, and again, such fights happen in both countries).  Have I mentioned that Ghana consist of the most devout Christians community I have ever seen? Well, for this particular reason, I like Ghana.🙂 I like religious people regardless what religion.

OmkarI am not a life guru to speak about what life is in general. But based on my experience of travelling and meeting people, those who are religious (or honestly believe in the existence of God), are the most peaceful, kind, serene, and tolerant people I have ever met.

Religious people (or believers) have a certain aura about them. Calm. Content. Worry less. Have a steady view of life. And believe it or not, they are just happier people (compared to their nonbelievers counterpart). I personally have been bugged by nonbelievers (or atheists) about my faith and religion, and never have the same problem coming from fellow religious people even when they belong to a totally different faith.

Islam symbolWhen I was still working for Siemens, my 3 favourite close friends were Catholic, Protestant, and Hindu. The Catholic always reminded me to go to prayer if I was still at my computer at 4 pm, the same way I always let her borrow my motorbike to go to her church every evening and I always made sure my motorbike would always be available. I never ate beef when I was out dining with the Hindu girl, and the same way they would try not to eat pork when they’re eating with me. The reason being: Respect. Now in Ghana, most of my friends are Buddhist, although some are Christians.  We have been extremely tolerant, I am very proud with how things are going in my life.

Well, the thing with us -religious people- is… we simply accept that we are different. Not worse, not better, just different. And yet our mutual beliefs of God seem to bind us somewhat.

And then there is the atheist side of life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind atheists at all. As much as I want people to respect my faith, I respect the atheists for not having any. But there are 2 types of atheists that I have encountered in my life. The first type is the kind of atheists who simply don’t believe in the existence of God, but let other people have their faith. The second type is the kind of atheists who not only disbelieve, but also pester other people as to why they believe in God to the extent of ‘boohooing’ them.

CrossTo share a bit more… when I lived in the ‘western countries’ (won’t name them), when I told people that I am religious and sincerely believe in the existence of God, the most common reactions I got were: a frown, raised eye brows, a “why?”, a bemused look, and an awkward silence (often followed by a fierce argument that religion is the sole reason this world is totally f*cked up). It’s never an easy “oh ok, we understand” situation. It is a lot easier to say I am a Muslim to a Christian, than to say I believe in God to a nonbeliever.

The modern world -usually from the advance western countries- are the least religious places as we speak (yeah… yeah… I know that we can find both atheists and religious people anywhere in the world). >>But why is it that the poor are those who would normally be religious? I’m still searching for an answer to that. >>Is it true that the religiousness of a country prevent the people from advancing properly? Maybe. >>Is it true that religions can’t work side by side with the modern way of life? Probable. >>But why do we need to advance to a certain level that is defined by others anyway? The aborigines don’t need to be dressed up or to learn the Internet. They were happy exactly as they were. >>Is it wrong to just be happy with what we currently have and progress slowly (if anything at all)?  No.

This whole thing begs for the question: Is ambition a virtue anyway? Now that question, my friends… still causes my husband and I to have heated debates to this date…😀

Dian Retno Wulandari. Religious and proud.

PS: Please remember that the crusades were more about the leaders and their politics, and less about the religions.

Jakarta: The Metropolitan City of Indonesia (via Amalia Suryani)

I have always thought of writing about Jakarta for a long time, but I couldn’t find a way to sum up such a big city into a single post. Luckily my friend already did it. So please read away… It’s Jakarta, baby…!!!
(I also dedicate this reblog to my husband -who always insists on saying that Bangkok is a bigger (and better (probably true)) city than Jakarta)🙂

Jakarta: The Metropolitan City of Indonesia I was a bit surprised when a friend asked me: “Do you think you can live in Bangkok? It is such a big city and dangerous for a girl to be alone, isn’t it?” My jaw dropped and at that very moment I promised myself to post something about my beloved capital city of Indonesia🙂. Here it is. First of all, Jakart … Read More

via Amalia Suryani

Attending A Japanese Tea Ceremony 101

The Master

I have been quite lucky, and I will tell you why… 🙂

Because I have been to a Japanese Tea Ceremony. Yay…!

If any of you think that a British Tea Party is some serious business, you might want to rethink that, once you’ve been to a Japanese Tea Ceremony.

The British one is a party to begin with, on the other hand… the Japanese one is a ceremony… as in… ceremony.🙂

Apparently, there’s no special occasion for having a tea ceremony.  Such ceremony is more of a hobby thing. Meaning: some Japanese-traditions-&-heritage-aficionados will get together and carry out the tea ceremony. Sadly not many Japanese youngsters are interested in continuing the traditions but the elderly would normally do so.

To give y’all a rough picture on how serious this is… The personnel who were to serve (and attend) a proper Japanese tea ceremony should take a full course/study on how to do it right.

Yup…! A course about drinking tea… (so stop whining about your French or tennis course! *Lol)😀

Now let me begin describing… I won’t get too detail. No worries here…🙂

  1. Before it all started, the guests will be provided with some Japanese traditional little snacks –to be had before drinking the tea.                           Gyuhi
  2. Once started, the master of the tea ceremony must prepare the powdered green tea in a cup –that looks like a small bowl (no handle on the cup). A pinch of this powder is mixed with some hot water and then whisked gently (with a delicate bamboo whisk) until it forms some froth (no sugar at all! Eeeek….)🙂            
  3. The master will hand the prepared tea cup to the guest, and the guest must receive it with both hands (using only 1 hand is out of the question, and you’ll be out of the window :D). Both hands must hold the cup in a particular way with left hand at the bottom of the cup, and right hand at the side of the cup.

    Reese Witherspoon & Japanese Tea Cup

  4. The guest will then turn the tea cup twice –clockwise, and look at the master.
  5. The master will say “Please”.
  6. The guest can drink the tea. Strictly speaking, the entire tea in the cup must be gobbled down within 3 sips (or 3 gulps depending on how full the cup is :D), and at the last sip (or gulp) the guest must make a ‘slurping’ noise –to be polite… as in showing the master that the tea is delicious!🙂
  7. Once finished, the guest will wipe the rim of the cup (where the lips have touched) with their right thumb. Then, the guest should turn the empty cup twice –still clockwise, and then return the cup back to the master.

That is how it’s done in a nutshell. *bloody hell* would be the right expression if you’re amazed by it.🙂

But it is a lot more complicated in real life… I know I make it sound too simple here (I hope my Japanese friends won’t start flattening my car tyres for my clumsy explanation of their custom. :-))

The point is… it is not just about drinking tea. It is about how socially accomplished you are. It is about relishing the entire activity. It is about enjoying the serving of the tea. It is about connecting with the cup (yes, it is… :-)). It is about respecting one another.

Now compare this with the Indonesian way of making tea…😀

The Indonesians will put a whole lot of tea leaves into some boiling water in a big pan, and then add some monstrous amount of sugar into it. Stir well. Then add big blocks of ice. Stir well.  Then put some of the tea into 1 litre plastic bags, drop a piece of plastic straw in each bag, and then tie the opening of the plastic bags with rubber-bans.

There you have it…! Best served chilled and drunken while walking down by some hot busy road in Jakarta. *Lol.😀

I am blessed to ever experience such a thing like a Japanese tea ceremony. It was lots of fun… lots of it…! Such a day couldn’t have been better… It just couldn’t…🙂

 

Dian Retno Wulandari. Life is sweet, even without sugar sometimes…

PS: Happy birthday to Inoh Chung Ryu. Thanks to Mika Hattori, Fumi Shigetta, and Keiko Mapperley for the experience. Thanks to the host Michelle Potin, and other attendees: Dorcas, Erie, Darunee, Rubaba, Farina, Grace.

PS: Happy Chinese new year… Gong Xi Fa Cai…!

 

Diskusi Lanjutan Tentang Rajam (Harus Dibaca Ya!)

{To my English speaking subscribers, please  skip this one, it will be in my National language : Indonesia…}

Saya memuat posting “Death by Stoning in Islam” beberapa waktu lalu. Hari ini postingan tersebut mendapat perhatian dari salah satu pengguna facebook, yang (dengan nyamannya) tidak memakai nama aslinya, dan tidak memasang foto dirinya.

Diskusi yang tadinya sedikit bermutu berubah menjadi diskusi yang tidak bermutu sama sekali, dimana banyak pihak hanya mengeyel tanpa mengutip dalil-dalil baru dari Al-Quran.

Sebagian besar hanya meng-kopi-paste dari artikel-artikel yang ditemukan di tempat yang bermacam-macam.

Saya dikatai memiliki “otak rusak” akibat postingan saya tersebut. Astaghfirullah… sungguh penilaian yang pedas, apa lagi datang dari orang yang semestinya tau lebih baik tentang Islam (dari pada saya lo… hehe)

Berikut saya lampirkan print screen dari hasil diskusi tersebut.

Peringatan: Diskusi yang sangat… sangat… sangat… panjang.😀

Bapak-bapak, ibu-ibu, silakan membuat secangkir teh hangat, sebaskom popcorn asin, dan silakan dibaca… (take your time!)

Eits… tunggu dulu…! ternyata diskusi belum bisa berhenti. Ini lanjutannya: (ayo tarik nafas panjang….)🙂

Sudah… diskusi yang berlangsung dalam profile saya alhamdulillah berhenti di situ… Tapi ternyata, diskusi terus berlanjut di profil Ummu Hafizh. Berikut dokumentasinya:

Aduh, panjang ya…? Hehehe… siapa yang mengira kalo diskusi ini bisa jadi sedemikian panjangnya padahal yang dibahas cuma itu-itu saja…🙂 Sayang sekali, ini belum berakhir… masih ada lanjutannya: (ayo tarik nafas panjang lagi!)

Apa bapak-bapak dan ibu-ibu sudah mulai capek? Tolong sabar ya… tinggal satu screen capture lagi kok…🙂

Sampai saat saya menulis posting yang ini, diskusi di profile Ummu Hafizh berhenti di situ. Mungkin nanti ada kelanjutannya, tapi saya belum tahu.🙂

Ya… ya… ya… semua argumen yang dipersembahkan pada saya bisa dianggap valid.

Fiuh…. *mengelap keringat di dahi dan di ketiak*

Saya harus mulai dari mana ya? Tidak pernah saya membayangkan akan dihakimi dan dikata-katai oleh orang-orang yang tidak saya kenal di facebook. Mungkin saya kenal, tapi namanya tidak ada yang pakai nama asli, dan semua tidak ada fotonya. (Apa ini kebetulan?)

Kalau pembaca sekalian sudah membaca komentar-komentar tersebut di atas, terlihat jelas kalau mereka semua… sekali lagi… SEMUA… menganggap saya ini orang yang bodoh. Yang tidak pernah baca Al-Quran, tidak pernah baca tafsir, tidak pernah baca kitab-kitab hadist, dan lain-lain…

Bahkan ada yang mengatakan bahwa saya tidak bisa mengerti bahasa Indonesia, boro-boro bahasa arab. Hehehehe…

Diskusinya jadi ngalor ngidul. Tapi biarlah, saya punya pemahaman sendiri mengenai agama saya ini… saya punya metode pembelajaran sendiri yang orang-orang di atas pasti sulit mengerti.

Mereka mau menganggap saya buta, dan berotak rusak, kan hak asasi mereka. Mau menganggap saya sulit berbahasa, juga terserah mereka. Untuk saya, cukuplah fakta bahwa Tuhan Maha Mengetahui.

Tuhan yang bisa menghakimi saya dengan adil. Betul tidak?

Saya sudah sering berdiskusi dengan ustadz-ustadz mesir lulusan Al-Azhar, dengan muslim-muslim dari Iran, Lebanon, Moroko, etc…

Saya bangga menjadi muslim yang berpendidikan dan mau berpikir. Mau berusaha dan mencari kebenaran sendiri. Bukan yang sekedar datang ke pengajian dan selalu mantuk-mantuk pada apa yang dikatakan pak imam sambil membuat catatan-catatan kecil di dalam buku tulis saya.

Saya tanya semua orang, saya pernah mengirimkan surat ke Quraish Shihab, dan sekarang sedang menulis surat ke Presiden Ahmadinejad di Iran.

Saya melaksanakan pesan yang terkandung dalam ayat pertama yang diturunkan pada Muhammad: “Iqra”. Saya belajar, dengan pemikiran terbuka, dan saya tidak akan berhenti sampai nyawa saya dicabut oleh Tuhan.

Saya berpikir sendiri, dengan bekal kitab-kitab yang saya percaya, kemudian saya menanyakannya pada orang-orang yang berpengetahuan lebih.

Saya nggak sekedar menuliskan di facebook saya: “Hei… tolong bantuin aku dong… aku gak bisa beragumentasi sama orang ini…” dan kemudian mendapatkan segerombolan kawan-kawan saya yang siap mencerca siapapun yang berpikiran berbeda.

Kapan dan di mana “lakum dinukum waliyadin” bisa dilaksanakan?

Dian Retno Wulandari. Tuhan Maha Mengetahui.

PS: Apparently, kalau mau termasuk golongan muslim yang baik, kita harus lebih sering menggunakan kata-kata arab. Seperti : ummi, abi, ikhwan, akhwat, ana, anta, etc…

PPS: “Siap pak polisi…!! Saya juga mengaku bersalah atas ketidakbermutuan thread facebook di atas!”😀

My Giving-birth Story. Part 1

29 January 2009; around 4 o’clock in the morning. 2 weeks before our expected due date.


A normal winter morning, and most people must’ve been fast asleep, but I was sitting on a chair at a small dining-table-turned-office-desk in our little studio-flat in Belgium.

Surfing through my facebook news-feed page, the blue-pregnant-lingerie I was wearing was wet from waist down, so were my panties, so was the chair I was sitting on…, and there’s a puddle of water on the floor –around my left foot.

Yes, my water broke about ½ hour earlier and it gushed down my left leg and formed the afore-mentioned puddle on the floor, wetting my lingerie, my panties, and my dining chair on its way down.

When we were pregnant

While it might seem odd to check one’s facebook while one is in labour… at that precise moment, I couldn’t think of anything better to do whilst waiting for my husband getting ready for the hospital run (it was winter, so getting ready means thermal undershirt, sweater, boots, shawl, gloves, etc)

My peaceful facebook surfing was disturbed by my husband irritated voice. “Are we giving birth or not…?!” He was all togged-up in his winter jacket and sweater, tapping his fingers against the kitchen sink with an ‘are you kidding me…!?’ look on his face.

So then…, ladies and gentlemen, I got myself ready for the hospital. (I was not efficient. I know, but let’s move on… :D)

— o —

I thought it was going to be all fast, and hectic, and frantic, and busy when my water breaks. (Just like in those Hollywood movies we’ve seen around.) But that was not the case for me. When my water actually broke, I strangely felt calm and content… perhaps because I had been through 2 miscarriages before.

Calm was not how I’d describe my husband though. He was nervous and highly strung. He was worried that we might get stuck in a traffic jam. (Yeah right… a traffic jam in Brussels at 5 am?)

So he hurled his pregnant wife in a VW Passat –company car. He drove so fast through the empty roads of Brussels, leaving skid-marks on every turn, checking his watch every 5 minutes.🙂

We didn’t talk to each other at all on our way to the hospital. It was too intense… at least for him.😀 Poor thing…

The first contraction was when we were at the parking basement of the Hospital. This is it, I thought. Standing still, and bracing myself to cope with the pain, my husband didn’t understand why I should stop to do that.

“Shouldn’t we just run up quickly and see a doctor or a midwife to check on you?” He said.

Oh men… ! They don’t know anything about labour pain do they?😀

It was all very, very, sweet though…, being a Mr.Cool-At-All-Time that he is, I enjoyed looking at my husband’s worried face and hearing his snappy impatient tone. It was endearing to see how worried he was and how frustrated he seemed.

What was happening was beyond his control. There was not much he could do to help me. It was just me, myself and my uterus at that point, and I think he hated the thought of not being able to help much.

— o —

Greeted by a midwife who spoke only French, I started feeling anxious. My husband squeezed my hand firmly. The midwife put her fingers into my birth canal, and then… smiled.

She asked my husband to pass her a stainless-steel bowl (all said in French). She put the bowl under my… uhm… crotch… and pulled her fingers out slowly, and with it came gushing down what seemed like tons of water –filling the bowl in no time.

“3 cm cervical dilation. She is in labour, we’ll check you in.” She gave me a hospital robe and there began the adventure.

It was still very early in the morning, if everything was going to go textbook-like, we were informed,  we should have ‘our new bundle’ by noon, or afternoon.

We were so excited…. But as it turned out, things were not straight forward. My labour had to be induced –twice, and a whole set of doctors (head of OBGYN, anaesthetist, neurologist, and some resident-doctors) came in and out of the delivery room.

I will tell you the rest later. To be continued…🙂

Dian Retno Wulandari. Reminiscing away…

PS: It was my son’s 2nd birthday a few days ago, and I spent the last few days feeling nostalgic, thus my writing this post.🙂

PPS: The pregnancy was conceived in Indonesia, but I spent most of my 1st trimester in Canada, most of my 2nd trimester back in Indonesia again, and most of my 3rd trimester in Belgium. My son is a world traveller even before he was born.🙂

PPPS: Our pregnancy was not categorised as high risk, but a normal delivery (non-caesarian) for someone with a spinal condition like me could be categorised as high risk. Luckily we were handled by some of the best doctors and midwives in Belgium.

We Are All Just Bees

Am I a secretary to my husband, or am I a boss to him?

In this era where gender equality is still being fought-for, I would understand when people think that a husband is the boss and a wife is the secretary.

It’s untrue. I know…! Right?

Nevertheless, when I deal with people, and they get exasperated with me, the first thing they would say is: “Can I speak to your husband…?”

As if saying: “Can I speak to the restaurant manager? I don’t want to speak to a low-life-waitress like you!”

Nothing…

I mean…

NOTHING... would anger me more than that… as if I am just a daft bimbo…?  (As if I have big enough breasts to be a bimbo anyway?)

  1. One time (and still on-going) I got into a difficult conflict with the visa center in Ghana of the UK Border Agency. After a long tiring discussion, the officer said, “Perhaps you can come again with your husband, tomorrow?” (!!@#$$%^%$$#@#!!) Ha…! As if my husband would know what to say and what has happened… I single handedly dealt with everything!
  2. Once, a Ghanaian plumber came to our house to fix the washing machine tap. Apparently he refused to take order from me because I was only a woman. He demanded to speak to my husband and so he started to talk shit to me. Needless to say, I called the building management and had that ‘God-forsaken-plumber’ fired at point blank. He shouldn’t have messed with me.
  3. Well, many other examples but I won’t waste time on them.

I am the brain of the family. Yes, that sounds arrogant, and… trashy, but I am.😀 (I can feel my husband is rolling his eyes behind my back, but let him be)

My husband always comes to me when something needs deciding or when something needs considering or when something needs taking into action.

But why?

It’s not because he’s telling me to do those things, as in: “Oi! Secretary! Come here! I need 4 copies of these documents!”

Everything is more like “Excuse me boss… do you think I need to make 4 copies of these documents?”

😀😀😀😀

He appreciates my opinions. He needs my approvals. -Oh bless his heart…😀

Once, my husband told me that he is just like an old faithful dog. He only needs a little love to keep him going. -Oh let’s bless his heart even more…!😀

But nobody is the faithful dog, nobody is the master. Nobody is the boss, nobody is the secretary. We are all just bees in the end. We carry around some little mud with us, we then build a bee hive where there are flowers nearby, and we live happily ever after in that little hive.

My husband happens to be the worker bee.

And I am the Queen bee.


With our little son as a wanna bee.

“bzz….. bzz…. bzz….”

Dian Retno Wulandari. Gender equality, ah… taste the sweetness!

PS: Later that evening, the plumber called my husband and had some man-to-man conversation. The plumber told him that his wife is a bitch. *LOL*

PPS: Do I really look like a daft bimbo? Or does this happen to every housewife??