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.

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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…!

 

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??

Finally…! A crop circle in Indonesia…!

Read the news here.

Do you believe in Alien? Well, being a dormant scientist that  I am, I would say that anything is possible until proven otherwise. 🙂

We have heard about crop circles phenomena around the world. But never before in Indonesia. Well, it has finally happened at a paddy field in Sleman, Jogjakarta.

Am I proud? My country has been chosen by ‘the thingies’ as a perfect location for their beautiful geometric form of art. I don’t think I am proud, but it certainly is amusing. 🙂

The owner of the paddy field did not believe that the circle was man made, because of it’s sheer perfection, and not a single stalk was broken. The head of the local police department, second that opinion.

Look up to the sky, fellow Indonesians…! Someone might be waving down at us and says:

“Apa kabar? Indonesia adalah bagaian dari saya. Saya suka makan bakso, dan sate enak.”

translation =How are you? Indonesia is part of me. I like to eat delicious meatball and meat skewers.

*lol*

So what do you think…? Someone or something, in Indonesia, was doing that. Pretty neat huh?

Dian Retno Wulandari. Howdy Alien? Did you like mount Bromo or Kuta beach?

PS: For you who missed the joke, that sentence I quoted above was what President Obama said in his speech during his state visit to Indonesia. (He lived in Indonesia as a child, and thus speaks the language a little bit)

PPS: Come down to Ghana, Aliens! Make a crop circle at the cocoa plantation!

What a Ghanaian Schoolboy Showed Me: The Ogling Business

My husband has long told me that many Ghanaian men would stare at me in an obvious-creepy-manner. Almost shamelessly… or better: proudly. To put it shortly, my husband often tells me that some man is ogling me (since we’re in Ghana, that is).

Isn’t he sweet… –my husband? I always thought that he would say things like that to help me feel beautiful or sexy or interesting. But I knew better. Such thing is impossible. Not because Ghanaian men don’t ogle, oh they do. The Ghanaian men would ogle the Ghanaian ladies in their super tight clothings, and the Ghanaian ladies would know that they are being ogled, and play along by smiling flirtatiously, or fiddling with their stylish hairs, or moving around in the most interesting manners. I have watched such behaviours between Ghanaian men and women happened in the mall, restaurants, clubs, alliance francaise, etc.

Anyway, despite my being familiar to the Ghanaian ogling business, I couldn’t believe it when my husband said that I am being ogled quite frequently. As I said before, such a thing is impossible. Why is it impossible, you ask…? Oh, don’t make me explain.

See, people ogle Angelina Jolie’s smoldering look.

Or people ogle Meriah Carey’s voluptuous boobs.

But surely people won’t ogle me.

That photo of me above, was taken last Sunday, yes… only 2 days ago, taking my son for a little trip around our compound. That is how I look these days: a very comfy t-shirt, shorts or jeans, and a pair of flip flops. My dress code for most occasions.

Now tell me, who would ogle me…? You wouldn’t, would you? I can imagine I could get some well-deserved-disgusted-stares from fashionistas out there, but definitely not an ogle. 🙂

Having said all that, little did I know what was about to happen a few days ago.

— A Few Days Ago —

So off my husband and I went to Accra Mall –to do our weekly grocery shopping. He parked our car near Gate 1. We walked from our car to the gate, holding hands as usual, complaining about the dust as usual, and having our little conversation as usual (about quantum physics, numeric trigonometry, DNA mutations, bla bla bla mundane stuff).

Just before we reached that God-blessed-gate, my husband jolted my hand and abruptly stopped. I was stunned for a few seconds, but before I knew what was happening I heard my husband was talking to a schoolboy who stood –strangely– very near to me with a big grin on his face.

He must be about 12 yo, or 14 max. Perhaps about 5 cm shorter than me (and I am not tall, mind you). He was wearing his school uniform, a white shirt, and a pair of dark shorts.

I vaguely noticed that a group of schoolboys were walking in the opposite direction, but I didn’t pay attention to any of them. But my husband obviously did. He said to the boy, “Do you know her??” pointing a finger at me. I stood silently, flat faced, bewildered.

The boy, with a big grin on his face shook his head and said, “No”

My husband turned to me and asked, “Do you know him??” to which I answered “No”.

This is weird, I thought.

All that time the boy managed to keep the grin on his face. He looked somehow amazed at what he was looking at (that’s me, fyi). The look on his face was priceless.

Trying to be polite, I took my sunglasses off, and calmly said, “How are you?”

At the very sight of my-uncovered-eyes, his own eyes were widened, and his big grin got bigger, and he just stood there marveling at me (or so it seemed). He nodded as a response to my small talk. Not the right answer for a ‘how are you’ but he was probably off somewhere else in his head. 🙂

Never will I say that I have pretty eyes, but they are the best feature of my face (I think), and to make things clear, let me describe how I looked that day we met the boy. I was wearing a loose comfy t-shirt. A pair of tatty jeans. A pair of worn out flip flops. No make-up none whatsoever. I didn’t even brush my hair, it was simply tied back to a simple pony tail. Suffice to say that I was not dressed to impress.

To break the awkwardness, my husband suddenly said in a light-hearted tone, “Isn’t she the most beautiful woman in the world?” (I kicked him –furtively– for saying that) 🙂

The boy, still oddly grinning, raised both hands and gave us 2 thumbs up! He said, “Yes!” promptly and nodded vigorously (still grinning, mind you).

I got shivers down my back, and cued my husband to move on to the gate and leave the poor thing alone. I put my sunglasses back down on my face, and casually walked away from the boy taking with me my sometime-hard-to-believe husband.

At the gate, I curiously turned my back to see if he was still there. Lo and behold, there he was. Standing still, facing towards me (still grinning!), not caring that all of his friends were already along way ahead of him.

So my husband was right. I do get ogled sometimes. 🙂 But the whole experience lit a light bulb inside my head. All the things about how the Ghanaians would be so generous with their expression to the beauty in the world.

The morals of the story are:

  1. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. 🙂
  2. If something is beautiful, don’t be afraid to marvel at it. If something is attracting you, let the world know it.

I remembered how many times I have been stopped by strangers at the market (in Makola) just so that they could tell me that they think my bracelet is pretty. I remembered how many times my maid told me that she thinks some of my shirts are nice. I remembered how many times the nurse at my chiropractic stroked my hair and said it’s beautiful.

Yes, marveling the beauty of God’s creation is not a sin, and the Ghanaians know this since a very young age. God bless the Ghanaians. 🙂

Dian Retno Wulandari. Lessons learned.

A Quick Apologetic Note

Yes, no new post after a week now. As I have expressed earlier in this blog, I don’t feel like I deserve to be blogging.

People are starving in Sudan. Kids are orphaned in China. Gabrielle Gifford was shot in Tucson. Alix starts having nightmares. So on…. so forth…

There are many other important things in the world rather than sitting in front of my PC and indulge in blogging aimlessly.

Having said that, I had been blogging quite regularly for a few weeks now. But I am beginning to wonder if I should keep going. (I know it’s too early to say anything like that, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering anyway)

Few days ago I decided that I should not be blogging in the evening when my husband is at home. Wouldn’t it be better to just chill and chat with one’s spouse rather than babbling endlessly on the internet? Well, which ever way, I don’t think it’s fair to make him a blog widower.

I have also decided that I should not be blogging in the day when my son is at his busiest. Wouldn’t it be better to just play and sing and read and feed and deal with poop and puke? (well, may be not the poop and puke part. *lol*)

We all travel through time only one way. All the time that has slipped though our hands is not going to come back. My son, my husband, and I are growing, I surely don’t want to miss anything in the process.

To sum everything up, I won’t blog in the evening, nor in the day. So the only time I can do it, is when everybody is asleep: at night. Perfect!

Wait, only one problem… when everybody is asleep…

Yeah right, I am one of the everybody, so I will be asleep as well. 🙂

Oh isn’t life full of dilemmas and dead-ends? How should I deal with this predicament? (I have waited my whole life to have the opportunity to use the word ‘predicament’. :D)

Anyway… I am sorry (not sure to whom) I haven’t been doing anything with my blog lately. I hope I can get my self out of this predicament (ha! that word again!) one way or another.

Don’t give up on me just yet, will you?

Dian Retno Wulandari. Dealing with a particular predicament. 😀