Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Too serious!

It has been too serious in the last posts. So i will loosen up a bit and fuck around. Sounds fun, doesnt it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beauty does matter!

When i check my blog again, I realised that i have too much to say. But again, i need to spew it all before i am going daft. Too prolific but insufficient to be eloquent.

Beauty is the topic that i have been pondering for so long. Long time ago, i didn't believe in beauty since i could not find the 'real one'. I was aware at that time that i was sort of realist. There must be an essence, i thought. But the harder i tried to find out what the beauty is, the closer i am to the idea of relativism. There is no beauty in essence. It is utterly a cultural construction.

Everyone has different view of beauty. I saw many people in the West are insanely sunbathing to get their skin tanned. Otherwise they will go to solarium to get their skin brown. Meanwhile, in other places, such as Indonesia, people are unbelievably obsessed with having a white skin and to do so, they buy whitening lotions.

How do we explain this phenomenon? I believe that colonisation contributed partly to the construction of beauty. During colonisation, the natives were represented as backward, traditional, uncivilised and so on. The scientific racism in 19 century could tell us more about this representation. This created images, which gave a sense of inferiority amongst natives, were accepted as their identity and therefore agreed with the idea of white supremacy.

We can still see this legacy in our modern day. In Indonesia, if you have white skin and your parents are mixed between Indonesia and Anglo, you are very likely to be approached by model agency. Once your faces are displayed in magazines and TV ads, it just needs a little bit an effort to be a soapie actor/actress. As to representation, the ideology of beauty is produced and distributed through media.

While in the West the idea of White Supremacy did not gain its prominence, albeit some will subscribe to it, the notion of beauty also changed. This is perhaps due to the changing construction of beauty. I can think of one particular reason why this construction has changed. Black Beauty culture which began in 1960s contested the dominant notion of beauty and most importantly reclaimed the meaning of black is beautiful.

Can Indonesians perceive black beautiful? I am a bit sceptical if Indonesians could see black beautiful. To be beautiful means you must have a pointed nose, white skin, a long straight hair, free acne's face, and so on.

So it baffles them if they saw an anglo saxon looking man walking with Indonesian women whom they thought have an avarage facial feature. 'Maid-looking-women' is a derogatory term ascribed to these women (mmmmm was wondering since when look has a close relation to social class). "Why do so many westerners like 'a maid looking' women?" is the question they often raised. It is because they are open to the idea of beauty and are not looking at beauty with the sense of inferiority, shit head!

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Story Behind Your Meal

We heard many criticism are launched against a gigantic fast food business, McDonalds. It ranges from causing environmental hazard, ruining your health to exploiting staff. Anti-globalisation activists are relentlessly campaigning against the unfair practices and calling for a boycott of McDonalds and others companies which has similar attitude to that a giant burger makers. Some groups within society who are concerned about the health, environtment and labour condition will be also reluctantly buying any food of it. Fair enough! There are many places that offer cheap and healthy food.

While McDonalds is no longer an option when you would like to get a cheap fast food, Chinese, Thai, Kebabs, Koreans, Indian and Malaysian become an alternative solution. When your tummy is rumbling after working since morning, you just go off to the nearest food store and order a vegetarian kebabs or a plate of rice and vegetables in a Chinese take away. Life then is perfect (you taste it from your spit!) when you dont have to feel guitly everytime you are chewing your lunch.

How much you paid for a plate of rice? 7 dollars. Great! It suits everyone pockets, doesnt it? But things might get a bit shocking when you can listen to the story behind your meal. How much the workers will get paid if they are selling a very cheap food? Do they get paid according to minimum wages policy?

When i used to work at the restaurant in Sydney, i met a guy who worked for a Chinese restaurant that is located exactly beside the restaurant that i worked. He told me that he got paid 50 per shift. If one shift could be 6 hours long, then he gets less than 10 dollars per hour. I was absolutely gobsmacked! Believe it or not the restaurants in that area will sell at least 40 dollars for a main meal. So if I've got paid 15 dollars/hour that will be fair. But less than 10 dollars for more than 6 hours working? Does it make you want to join a radical leftist organisation? Things got clearer to me when there was a raid, many staff of that restaurants were arrested by immigration officers.

Illegal immigrant are great labour force. They are keen to work hard. The minus is only their language skill. But if they are working in the kitchen, you can still use the gestures to ask them to re-wash the dishes, cant you? And they wont be rebellious as they are not aware of their rights, let alone being knowledgeable of labour regulation. What matters in the end for them is to earn income to feed their families. Ironically, they are paying tax too (selling tax).

I was wondering why there is no protest in Chinatown or in front of take-away shops. If McDonalds is always under attack due to their ability to pay their workers better, so shall we be apologetic with places that can't afford to pay their workers according to minimum wages policy? Or maybe we are afraid of loosing our favourite dim sum, kebabs, and Pad Thai. Maybe no ones will care if we discuss McDonalds and workplace conditions, while we are having a plate of chicken dim sum and drinking a free tea out of plastic mug.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I have been thinking of our mundane behaviour in this modern world. Modernisation indeed has mould our way of life. Efficiency and effectiveness are becoming the daily philosophy as it is seen in how people rationalise and bureaucratise their life. Time management is then essential to make things easier.

Interestingly some will find their mundane activities are uninspiring, banal, and unextraordinary even though they are doing it for twenty four-seven. We got up in the morning having a bowl of muesli and a glass of juice then off to work. On our way to workplace, we pick up newspaper and read them on the train station or shelter bus.

Quotidian life is the most tangible manifestation of capitalism. Routinisation of life goes on following the logic of capitalism. Marx warned us about the alienation from which capitalism will produce. As the system is growing stronger and solid, some fear of being alienated. Once alienation happens, it gives a signal to us about the demise of our natural ability as a creative human being. However it may seem stronger, the system itself is not self-sustained.

Resistance, if they might like to call it that way, could occur in a very surprising way. Michel De Certeau in his book The Practice of Everyday Life said, "ordinary people can undermine centralized power systems with a form of consumption characterized by its poaching, its clandestine nature, its tireless but quite activity, in short by its quasi-invisibility”. Reading newspaper in the train is often underappreciated as a form of resistance. Likewise, arriving at work after 9.00 am could have a different meaning than merely a sign of being slack. But these are short of forms of escaping from our routine. Reading or even sleeping on the train mean that people can invade a public space with their routine which is usually done at home.

You might like to have what-the-fuck look when you are telling your friends about this. Given that any meanings attached to social and cultural activities is not natural, we should be humble enough to try to understand how meanings are constructed. If two people are walking in two opposites direction in the shopping strip then they stop to have a chat, they will move away from the footpath and claiming the space for themselves. This kind of knowledge is learnt not from a revelation.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Jews and Islam

Jew and Islam in Indonesia

Dan kalau ekonomi negara-negara Islam selalu hancur bahkan malah
terlibat hutang dengan lembaga keuangan dunia, maka itupun ulah yahudi. Dan jangan lupa, kalau ada negara Islam yang merdeka dan berdaulat tiba-tiba dirampok dan dibubarkan lalu didirikan negara baru seperti Israel dan Iraq, maka itu pun ulah yahudi.

“If the economic conditions in Islamic countries are always devastated and they even have massive debt from international monetary organisation, it is because of Jews. Noteworthy, if there is an independent Islamic country and is suddenly robbed then emerge a new country from that bankrupt country such as Israel and Iraq; Jews must be responsible for this”.

I quote this passage from the Indonesian Moslem mailing list. I feel deeply apologetic if the translation does not make any sense for native speaker.

The quote above is one of examples that Yahudi (Jew) has a derogatory meaning in the religious discourse in Indonesia. It is not clear, however, what they really mean by Jews. A guy in a mailing list wrote that Jews masterminded all disasters and many multinational companies are working to help Jews achieving their goal to rule the world. As his comments bewilder me, I asked him what does he mean by Jews? Does it mean the Israeli government? Or are CEO in MNC mainly Jews? If they are the Chosen Ones and the king of the world, what happened to their power when Nazi brutally murdered them? Gulp. He could not support his argument. He maintained, however, that Jews as the Chosen One is ubiquitous and is consistently working to dismantle Moslem power around the globe. Many Moslems in Indonesia, particularly those who have a rather radical perspective, believe that Jews conspiracy is very powerful. Jews are the main culprit for all troubles that are found in Islamic countries.

According to Martin van Bruinessen (Indonesian version), anti-Semitism in Indonesia originates from Middle East. Israel’s hostility towards Palestine leads to a growing sympathy amongst Moslems. Yet another interesting fact that he pointed is that the source which is often cited by Moslems in Indonesia is The Protocols of the Learned Elders Zion that is indeed a fabricated facts written by anti-Semitist in Russia. The protocols which were once used by Nazi to justify the Shoah, reached Middle East. A grand plan of conquering the world would be carried out by introducing modernisation, democracy, capitalism, communism and secularism are included in the protocols.

There are some articles in the Quran that refers to the maliciousness of Jew. But Van Bruinessen suggested that anti-Semitism in Indonesia is initially not based on the analysis of these articles. It is rather the political tumult in the Middle East which leads to resentment against Jews. The hatred feeling is justified by articles in the Quran.

I feel sad, however, that people in Indonesia still believe this misleading information. But i am not daft enough to come to preachers and ask them to give me any evidence for Jews conspiracy. I hope they realise the irony that their existence depends very much on the ever-present threat from Jews conspiracy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Genocide in West Papua?

Let's talk about politic, hey?

In a mailinglist that i am joining in, some people raised Papua's issue. They are annoyed to see "free papua" is advertised in Australian's TV. I havent seen it actually.

Opinions about Papua vary. The Indonesian government officials would unsurprisingly tell the same bollocks. Despite criticism from activists about the deteriorating human rights condition, they maintained that they are doing their best for the easternmost province in Indonesia. Likewise, activists, academics, church organisations have their say about Papua. However, i've noticed that some of them are trying to simplify the problem, perceiving the problem as Papuans vs Indonesians.

John Wing of center of conflict studies at Sydney University said on his speech that there has been genocide in Papua. An English journalist wrote with similar tone to John Wing about Papua. He contended that Papuans are racially discriminated by Indonesians. This racial attitude therefore was the rationale of why human right abuses in Papua have not been solved.

I would not be denying the facts if genocide indeed happened and has been happening in Indonesian's easternmost province, particularly when the facts are collected through a thorough investigation. Yet, the presented evidence were by no means entirely unconvincing. Its research enterprise was pretty much preoccupied with policies and its impact on Papuan society, but it appeared to be conducted in a narrow understanding of New Order policies or, to put it precisely, there is not a great deal of attention paid to New Order authoritarian policies and its impact on the society at large.

Their mediocre analysis obviously showed their inadequate knowledge on Indonesia. Transmigration, family planning (of course military operation) and Islamisation contributed to marginalisation of indigenous people in Papua. Transmigration indeed led to demographic changes but not all migrants are government sponsored. Voluntary migration also took place. Comparatively, transmigration as it was funded by World Bank, was a national program and in this case Papua was not singled out. Likewise, family planning was an icon of New Order development policy. It was heavily campaigned throughout the country. It is very surprising that John Wing did not cite source from Biro Pusat Statistik (Central Bureau of Statistics) to look at the different figures amongst the islands in order to see how these policies affected significantly to depopulating Papuan.

As a rhetoric of human rights, Lemkin created term Genocide has been misused which leads to obfuscation. In Papuan case, the conflict is represented as two ethnics Java and Papuan in antagonistic frame where the former created policies to wipe out the later. Even though 'Javanisation' was closely linked to Suharto style of dictatorship, it has never been proven that he uplifted Javanese at large and discriminated the others. Javanese suffered when Kedung Ombo dam was built and in many occassions conflict over land in Java was rarely succeeded by Javenese. At extreme level, the forming of New Order was tainted by a bloodshed in Java where communist-hunt campaign took nearly 500.000 people life.

This makes me think of others repression during Suharto tenure. No one can fairly deny that coercion was carried out indiscriminately. An important question that need be thrown into discussion is how do we understand the discrimination of Chinese in Indonesia? Chinese have not been disadvantaged group as Indonesians could not fail to notice that Suharto favoured Chinese tycoon as his business partner. But on the cultural and political level, they hardly gained space. If one believes that ethnic identity is crucial, can we then classify New Order attitude toward Chinese as genocide? Allegedly ex-communist members which socially and politically have been controlled during New Order (and to some extent, have been continuing to be controlled since the fall of Suharto) may refer to genocide when they talk about their case--albeit political group is not included in Genocide Convention. How should we respond then if we look at the repression toward Islamic groups which also marked the period of terror during New Order? Do they simply fit the category of genocide if religious group is mentioned in the convention? These blatant examples make the argument absolutely bogus.

Intention is very crucial element in the concept of genocide. Yet it is not an easy task to disclose the motive of perpetrators. Even though, Nazi Holocaust which appeared to be obvious in its motive to murder Jews, on particular case, heated debate over motives was inevitable as it happened between two holocaust historians Goldhagen and Browning.

Sadly, public acknowledgement of his position as researcher which could give him a glorious chance to show in prestigious talks can not make him aware of the responsibility and ethical code as researcher. Response was not given when a guy came up and has a say: "our brothers in Papua were murdered by Jemaah Islamiah".

I find it difficult to criticise publicly as my Indonesian look and identity will justify their claims. "Well it’s not surprising if he had a go with Papuan and pro-independence zealot (mostly leftist). He is Indonesian and will defend his country at any cost". This criticism is also considered to have same tones as government representatives which dispute any claim of gross human rights violations in Papua.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

T-Bone without A Bone

A lady who owns the restaurant near my house rang me yesterday. She offered me a job as a pizza maker. I took the offer for several reasons.

First, it will give me new experience. I've never done it before and with my new hobby of cooking, this will probably be fun.

Second, working in the kitchen means that i can get away from customers. Of course, you are working for them but at least you don't have to talk to them and most importantly to stick your tongue in their arse to get good tips (Australians rarely tip).

Third, its all about the money. The bills await me on the table. Oh dear....

But i like the idea of getting away from the customer the most. I've never thought how annoying they can be, until i started working as waitstaff. Sometimes i thought it has something to do with power relation between waitstaff/restaurants and customers. They have money to spend on and expect something good in return. Fair enough. I'll be giving them a good one. However, some of them would think that they are always right and therefore keep complaining to get whatever they want. Not always, i would say. They have rights but they are not always right. I would say number of them are dumb.

Yest they are sometimes dumb. I remember when one customer asked me about the steak. He spoke with Australian accent.

"I have a question about the steak", he said.

"What is the question?, i replied.

"It is about the steak. It is said in here (he is pointing to the menu) that the T-Bone steak is 350 grams. Did you weigh the steak (T-Bone) with the bone or without the bone?, he asked me with a serious expression.

I thought, what kind of question is that. My replied was, "Sir, of course we weighed it with the bone. The name of the steak is T-Bone because of the cut and the bone that is attached to the meat which is like letter T. So you can't call T-Bone without a bone, can you?". I know i was being smart ass but that is because they acted like a know-it-all customers with upper-class background.

On another ocassion, a girl asked me a glass of wine. I told her what kind of wine that we have. I admit it, the wine collection is not really fabulous but drinkable. However, she refused to have them and asked me whether we have a good quality of wine. She is not wrong to ask a good quality of wine but she is wrong for not being aware what kind of restaurant the she was going. She saw the bloody menu before and should know the range of wine that is provided.

Some will whinge at you about food although she/he ate 3/4 of the meal. If you have a bite then yell at the staff and tell them what is the problem with the food. But if you finished 3/4 off the meal then later make a complain, you wont get a good response, i suppose.

Sometimes they are liar. On Saturday night normally the restaurant is packed and it takes awhile to serve the food. Some customers would speak to you crossly and said that they've been waiting for 40 minutes. You wont hassle the kitchen about this order as it is very likely they will tell you to fuck off. Speak to manager and she/he will sort it out. You are lucky enough if the restaurant has electronic system which can record the time of the order. From this docket i can see that the order was made 18 minutes ago and they all ordered Well Done steaks for fuck's sake.

To make a complain is really important as it shows you about the service. What normally happens when they are complaining, manager will decide whether they deserve complimentary drinks, free meals, or dessert. But if you complain just to get something for free then its better to go to take away shop.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Job Interview

It was 38 degrees yesterday and the forecast reported the next day would be the same. The house was uncomfortably boiling as the sun shone continuously the wooden wall. I couldnt open any window to let the air in because the wind was too hot. Disgusting!

What could i do in this horrible day? I will have a job interview later in the afternoon. Surely, no ones would think of going out in this weather. They'd rather stay at their air-conditioned house. But i dont have that luxury.

I was thinking of what kind of clothes that i would like to wear for this interview. 38 degrees! What clothes will suit that temperature? Singlet and short? Or just short? Bugger! Job interview is a big deal really. You need to give them a good impression at the first place before moving forward to a second step: interview. If you are not good in talking or thinking that nervousness would hold you back and freeze your brain, good outfits might be helpful. Superficial but necessary!

Fuck it! I dont give a damn with making a good impression. So i grabbed my denim and put my long sleeves shirt on. As i walked down the footpath, i could feel the hot breeze hiting my face.

4.20 pm. I've got to be there at 4.30. I didnt change my walking pace and thought it must be forgiven if you are late for ten or 12 minutes. This horrid weather could be a perfect excuse.
But i turn up late. 5 minutes only. I went straight inside and was greeted by a lady. She seemed nice. Tall, dark hair, looks a bit firm.

"Grab a seat, i'll get the application form for you"

I sat down on a chair with a round table. While she disappear into the office, i used this opportunity to look around. The restaurant looks okay, nothing special with the decoration. It has wine racks that are attached to the wall. The bar looks a bit small from outside. My observation was interrupted. Two blokes came in. They wore long sleeves shirts! Oh dear! She could be impressed by that and may have appreciated their intention to look neat and nice even though they have to suffer from the heat. They sat down at two tables before me.

It was only a brief interview. She looked on my application form.

"So you've lived in Sydney", asked her.

"Yes. I have lived in Sydney for 5 years, i replied.

"What make you move down to Melbourne", asked her again and folding her arms.

I said Sydney is getting unaffordable and would like to transfer my study to uni in Melbourne. This interview went on for at leas 15 minutes. I've got the impression that she'd like to finish it off by asking whether i have any question or not. Question! Yes, i was thinking of the wage but i happened to ask about other stuff. So i took out my CV and reference and handed them in to her.

"This would be very helpful", she said.

Thank God if it would. As she went to copy my reference letter, i saw a girl standing on the way between bar and kitchen. Yay, another competitor. Five minutes later, she came back and gave my reference letter back. She also gave me her business card and asked me to call her in the next week.

I am not sure whether i would get the job or not. Perhaps i would.

A place for comtemplation

There are some places for comtemplation and these are included! Sadly people use them to read crap or to play shudoku.

By the way, how many minutes people normally spend their time in the toilet every morning. Imagine if they are knitting while they're sitting there? How many jumpers will they produce?

I dont think my arse will deserve this! But i like the style.

This is brilliant as it tells you where all of these will go at the end.

What is it then?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Australia for dummies

Since i have been in downunder, i have learnt alot about Australia. So i thought that it would be nice to share what i've known to others (if there are some interested out there).

You might be confused, particularly Indonesians, to listen to the Australian accent. As you may have noticed, every english-speaking countries have its own accents. Australia is no exemption. But many Indonesians perhaps get used to American english (AmE) rather than Australian-English (AE) or British-English (BE), let alone Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi English. Thanks to all the crap that is fed us by American popular culture. Familiarity is the reason why we are often confused when we listen to other english accents.

  • The most distinctive characteristic in the Australian accent is when they pronounce any words that have E and R letters at the end. Butter will sound like: bata:, without stressing too much on the letter T and with a subtle sound of the letter r at the end. Likewise, summer will sound like samma.

Note: Most of the states in Australia have similar accent but interestingly, Adelaide (South Australia) has slightly different accent. Their accent is a little bit similar to the British accent but i am not sure which part of England (i am convinced it can not be Geordie-Newcastle or Scouse-Liverpool) as England itself has millions accents. Fascinating, isnt it!

Australians like to shorten many words (Dont ask me why as i can regretfully not give you the answer although i've been living here for 5 years)
  • Afternoon = arvo, e.g I am going to the movie this arvo (in the afternoon)
  • Sunglasses = sunnies, e.g Have you seen where my sunnies are?
  • Uni = university, e.g I saw a gig at uni last night
  • Thongs = sandals, e.g Can you please put my thongs inside?
  • No worries = its okay, nevermind, no problem, e.g It would be no worries if you're popping in this arvo.

Note: Apparently, many young people in the UK use the word uni instead of university which infuriate older people. Bloody old people! Stop whinging, cant you? In New Zealand, they have the word jandals for sandals.

Now i'd like to touch upon slang words. There are millions of slang words in Australia and every generation has developed its own slangs.
  • Bonza means great but it is rarely used now, unless you want to be called 'granpa' by your friends. Some people still use the word Ace for great or excellent. But the most popular one will be beautiful to express something good or when things worked out well. These days, many teenagers use sweet, cool, awesome. Americanisation!
  • Downunder is another name to call Australia
AE has different spelling to American but is pretty much the same with BE.
  • They dont use -ize but -ise instead. So you can never find spelling like Globalization in AE but Globalisation.
  • Colour is more commonly used than color. The latter is American spelling.
  • Mummy (AE and BE) is preferably used. Mommy is American spelling.
Food? Mmmm this might be the most dificult question to answer. Traditionally, Vegemite (made out of yeast) and peanut butter sandwiches are Australian food. The wave of migration that has been hitting Australia (and other countries such as England and America) has made Australian food various. This is the result of a blending culture between migrants and others cultures. But here are some food that you can easily find in every shopping strips.
  • Pad Thai (Thai Noddle)
  • Kebab (Turkish bread stuffed with lettuce, tomato and onion)

Note: As i heard from other people, in England curry and chicken masala are becoming national dishes replacing fish and chips and roast beef.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sex, sex and sex (reposting)

What does everyone think of sex? This topic has been very interesting one. Interesting, perhaps it is because you will get millions of responses. Often with an arrogant tone, people become so judgemental when it comes to sex. I think the reason is that sex is always understood in a moral sense. The sexual practices and values are linked to a broader concept of cultural and social beliefs, values, norms in our society.

Speaking about sex, i recalled that night when K and I had a conversation about women and sex. There are some issues that we brought up: male's perspective, low-self esteem and confident with the body. I dont believe however that male's perspective is working like Adam Smith's invisible hand to permeate into women's consciousness. Of course, the existence of the male chauvinist is undeniable. This genaralisation reduces the complexity of women's sexuality into an abstract entity called male's perspective.

Sometimes some people tend to judge sexually active women for having a low self-esteem. If we see a woman confessed that she was so happy to have learnt a new technique of blowjob, it is very likely she will be labelled of having low self-esteem and reliant on sex to get appreciated by men. Is it always like that? My answer will be: DEFINITELY NOT. What is wrong of having a new headjob technique anyway? But some will argue that number of women will use sex to fulfil their emotional needs. This is myth i presume. It is like the other myth: women offer sex for love and men give love for sex. In this sense, women do not sex as it is merely a mean of achieving something else (love). On the contrary, men do not need love as they seek for sex. Wait a minute! Women can enjoy sex without love, cant they? So do men. They can be emotianally needy.

We are now surrounded by the hype of DIY (Do it yourself). In a virtual world, i saw many girls, couples, and men have their own websites or blogs. They happily shares their sexual fantasy, stories or even advertise themselves to find a sleeping partner. This must have given a serious blow to porn industry. People are claiming their spaces but not for the market. Its rather to make an extraordinary journey of exploring their sexuality. From these instances, shall we assume that they are driven by male's perspective?

It has been a long time that women have been sexually surpressed. Thanks to sexual liberation! In the past, they couldnt express themselves freely. Medical scientists judgement of women as sexually passive is kind of a conspiracy. But these days, many find that women should not express themselves freely in respect to their sexuality. Otherwise, they are likened to a slut. It bugs me to know that some will grab a Victorian goggles to see girls these days outragesly showing their flesh to the public. Ariel Levy grumbled and is gobsmacked by these phenomenon then spoke of the peril of raunchy culture. I cant be sure if raunchy cultures will produce a raunchy kid, neither can she, i presume.

Some stupid and narrow-minded people will claim that exhibitionist tendency contributed to the increasing number of rape cases. Where is the data? You can't convince someone without giving any relevant statistical figures.

I am influenced by Foucauldian thought in this matter. Discourses on sexuality produce knowledge about sexuality and create boundaries upon which society should hold.

Living in a country with a vastly different culture to mine, i began to learn about how our knowledge of western world is misleading. The idea of 'Free Sex' which many Indonesian parents will be aware of its danger, is not widely subscribed. Many are happy to have a monogamous relationship be they gay or not. But many will be okay with the idea of a casual sex. I'd rather think sex as kind of pleasure and have to be satisfied in an appropriate way when you have the urge to do it. Most importantly, women who are sexually active are not definitely sluts. They just want to feel the pleasure as men do.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Have a night out!

It has been two months since i left Sydney but I haven't had a chance to look around Melbourne. Last week i had a party at Northcote and many friends came along. I thought this party would continue at the city.

After having a party with a nice little crowd at Northcote Social Club, some friends and i went off to the city, tried to get a different vibe. First stop was Section 8. This pub is unique. It is only a square of land and they transform a container into a bar. Don't expect any comfy cushion as they only have pallets. On the corner, there was a box full of broken light globe but only one in the middle that is working.

Another venue that is worth checking is St Jeromes. Appearently this bar looks like a house which was transformed into a bar. Again, forget about spoiling your bum on the comfy chairs. This one also has not got any sofas. But it has a very laid back atmosphere and it is always crowded.

After we had a few drinks (glad to know that melbourne always has Coopers!), then we headed off to another pub. It is the Croft Institute. This bar is located in Croft Alley in Chinatown. Mark Brownley described its discreet entrance as "everything is as Hitchcock you would have it". He is damn right! I felt like a guy who would like to buy a packet of drugs.
What i like from this place is the test tubes that are used to decorating the place. They gives a nerdy sense to the place. However when they are combined with cool music and crowd with up-to-date fashion style, (i would add: Beck on Tap) could make the boundaries blurred. Another possible meaning could be a bunch of nerd try to reappear from any given stereotype.

What interest me about these places is the drinking culture. While i was in Sydney, i rarely, perhaps never, see people sharing a long neck beer. Maybe they have some jugs from which you can share with others. But in these places, you can hardly see people siting down with a jug of VB or Carlton Draught in front of them. They are holding a bottle of long neck (mostly Coopers yay!). This culture will give a sense of closeness as well as laid-back.
I definitely go back to those places but am keen enough to try others.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Many years ago it didn’t bother me, or perhaps many of us, what kind of food was siting on top of the dining table. We were quite happy with the smell of fried chicken saturating the small kitchen. Even the smell of potato wafting through a gap in the microwave could make us aware that our lunch would be ready soon. “Hooray, the food is nearly ready!”. We would sit down at the dinning table and wait to be served. There was no question about where she bought all the ingredients or how it was processed. My mum was pretty chuffed to pay less than normal price for 2 kg of chicken in a traditional market, where petty traders sell left overs of big traders.

Now things have changed. The quality of food has become a topic of dinner table conversation, in talk-shows, news, or in brief chat between mothers in the shopping strip. Health researches and celebrity chefs talked in a similar sense about the quality of food as if they worked as partners. As many people are more concerned about the quality, delicatessens, bread shops, restaurants, fruit and veg shops have to attach some adjective in their menus or advertisement on their glass windows. It is not surprising the words are fresh and organic are easily found in shopping strip. In recent years these two words seem to have been the key to enter a healthy life-style. I was quite surprised as I opened my friend’s fridge, there are some products labelled organic. On another occasion, a friend of mine talked about her organic milk.

Organic food is always more expensive than non-organic ones. The price, however, does not seem to give frown than what organic foods will offer. Will it matter to pay one or couple dollar more for a bunch of spinach although the tray on the desk are full of unpaid bills? Perhaps, some would respond: “Surely, it won’t matter as health is far more important than anything else”.

“The idea behind organic products is to encourage people to be self-sustained by having their own plants in the garden”, said my close relative. I partly agree with this. However, these days it is hard to find house in the city with ample yard to plant things. Alternatively, people can have a community garden but this might be easy for those who live in units.

Pad Thai

Surely, many Australians know that an original Thai dish Pad Thai is one of the most favourite food in downunder. Pad Thai is easy to get as many Thai resturants can be easily found in nearly every suburbs of big cities. It suits students pockets. The portion is always generous with a very affordable price.
Pad Thai is comprising of rice vermicelli noodle and vegetables. Combination of sour, sweet and spicy which gives a tangy flavour makes Pad Thai very special compare to other noodles. The crunciness of bean sprouts and coarsely ground roasted peanut is another layer of pleasure that we must experience.

I have been dying to know how to make this tasty noodle. Luckily, a SBS food master, Maeve O’Meara shared the authentic recipe of Pad Thai through her program Food Safari. So i looked up on the web and have a go.

A talented songwriter: Vanstone

The Australian former minister of immigration, Amanda Vanstone, tried to build a new career as songwriter. She arranged a song which can be added to other list of patriotic songs such as Waltzing Matilda. The Land of Hope and Glory (what a title!) is not replaced national anthem, said Vanstone. However she said:

"It's important that we have additional songs that reflect the sorts of things that we value about Australia and the things that I value are that we recognise that we're an immigration country, that other people were here before us, that together we've moved forward and built a fabulous nation," she said.

Despite some criticism from public, John Howard praised her as a talented person and congratulated her for composing this new song.

Perhaps, this new career was something that she has been thinking of after being sacked by Howard administration as minister of immigration.