Moving to Tumblr

May 14, 2010

I know I’ve had this blog for quite a while. But starting from now, allow me to move my thoughts to tumblr instead. Click here.

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Morning Thought

April 4, 2010

“By the morning hours, And by the night when it is stilles, Thy Lord hath not forsaken thee nor doth He hate thee, And veryly the latter portion will be better for thee than the former, And veryly thy Lord will give unto thee so that thou wilt be content. Did He not find thee an orphan and protect (thee)? Did He not find thee wandering and direct (thee)? Did He not find thee destitute and enrich (thee)? Therefore the orphan oppresses not, Therefore the bounty of thy Lord be thy discourse.”
(Ad Duha: 1-11)

The Last Night of 2009

January 1, 2010

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let us down, probably will. You’ll have your heart broken and you’ll break others’ hearts. You’ll fight with your best friends or maybe even fall in love with them, and you’ll cry because time is flying by. So take lots of pictures, laugh a lot, forgive freely, and love like you’ve never been hurt. Life comes with no guarantees, no time outs, no second chances. you just have to live life to the fullest, tell someone what they mean to you, speak out, dance in the pouring rain, hold someone’s hand, comfort a friend in need, fall asleep watching the sun come up, stay up late, and smile until your face hurts. Don’t be afraid to take chances or fall in love and most of all, LIVE IN THE MOMENT because every second you spend angry or upset is a second of happiness you can never get back… Happy new year!

– A best friend texted me this last night.  Thank you for reminding me that it’s not the breaths I take that I have to worry about, it’s how I breathe.

Earthbound is for Sissies

December 19, 2009

In the midst of my attempt to catch up on writing, I took a trip down the memory lane last night: listening to Gigi’s Terbang. This was the song in my head during those 22 hours flight, 14 years ago. Ah … those nights of secret cigar party at this secluded hotel in L.A. When we still didn’t know who we are. We were anything but drunk. We’re just intoxicated by the thoughts that we got the world on our feet and people worshipped the ground we walked on. Well, whaddayaknow? I wish we still approach life the way we did back then. Earthbound, after all, is for sissies.

An Early Birthday Wish

November 12, 2009

If only I can write as passionate and as honest as John Mayer writes songs. Listen to ‘Edge of Desire’ from his recently released album ‘Battle Studies’ and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The Cendol Analogy

October 16, 2009

The four of us were having lunch at Ah Tuan Ee’s at Pacific Place the other day when we ordered es cendol as desert that didn’t taste as good as we thought it would be from the look of it.

Then out of nowhere, my best friend said: “You know, relationship was a lot like ordering that cendol. You’ll never know how it feels to commit to a particular someone until you try it.”  All the while she was grinning and glancing at me and the guy.  “Just like that cendol, it looks so good, but you know how disappointed we were once we put in in our mouth.  But you won’t know that until you taste it.”

I glanced back at her, smiling with the smile of death.  She laughed: “Okay, I’m gonna shut my mouth now.”

Because really, darl, you don’t know how it feels when the person that made me come up with the tattoo analogy is the same person that you just threw that cendol analogy at.

Okay, I’ll shut my mouth now.

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People often ask me how I suddenly take up photography after a long history of interest in writing (which I still do). I don’t even remember how I got into photography in the first place. I vaguely recall being particularly interested in this photography exhibition about the Aborigines culture in Canberra once. And then there’s hours of being awed by Annie Liebovitz’s work on Vanity Fair. But I do remember the moment when I thought I should get a serious camera. Both my best friend rina and I were in Jakarta for business – this was way back when I was still working in Medan – and we decided to grab a quick bite at Pacific Place (it was within walking distance from the head office). And there happened to be a WorldPress Photography Exhibiton all around the ground floor, showing the best works from the best photographers from all around the world in many themes: humanitarian, environment, culture, sports, to war. We spent probably a good 45 minutes staring at those pictures, but I particularly remember a couple of photos that caught my attention right away. One was in black and white, by a Hungarian photographer Zsolt Szigetváry, of a man looking ghastly and scared, whilst holding another man with a bullet hole on his forehead. The caption said that this was taken during a gay parade in Budapest in 2007, and the couple was a one of the targets in anti-gay violence after the Gay Pride parade. Another one was in color, this one was taken by a British photographer Tim Hetherington in Afghanistan. It was photograph of a soldier, out of breath and strained, sinking onto an embankment bunker after a hard day of combat.

To me, it was amazing how a photograph – it doesn’t speak, it doesn’t have music as the soundtrack, it doesn’t move – just a silent photograph, could speak a thousand words. It can leave you wondering for days, provoking your thoughts in ways you never thought possible before. It is still amazing how a moment captured on photograph has the power to awaken me, open my eyes to other parts of life outside my little egocentric self. The second one, for example, raised a lot of questions on my part. Did the guy survive the war? What was on his mind during that very moment? Did the photographer risk his life by being in the middle of combat to take this shot?

I just love how a simple picture could tell a long, complicated story. It’s very different from, say, seeing a movie: the sequences of scenes, dialogues, and settings all provide you with almost everything you need to get in touch with the story. Or reading a book, for that matter. But getting, not just seeing, a picture is a whole different experience.

Coming back from that business trip, I had one thing in mind: getting a serious camera – and by serious I mean the DSLR one – and learn photography. For somebody who’s grown accustomed to delivering my thoughts, ideas, emotions through words, changing the media into photographs was not that easy. Writers have this godlike power of telling the story through their carefully picked words, leading the readers towards the perception that they want to build, supporting or killing a character whenever they want to. If I want to describe that somebody is sad, I just have to write as blatantly as “he’s sad.” Taking pictures is a whole different story. I can not easily lead the ones who see them to get my message as saying as writing “he’s sad.” I have to capture the essence of that feeling through the object’s facial expression, movements, body language, or even better, his eyes. I forgot where I saw this, but I saw this remarkable picture of a sad clown once. His face was all painted in color, even his frown lines are invisible, all we saw was a big grin, but his eyes said it all. They were not glowing despite the smile. It was at that moment that I truly believe that eyes are the windows to someone’s soul.

So, now, if you ask me why I love photography so much lately even more than writing, the answer is easy. It’s because through this lens that I’m most honest. I can deceive you with my words when I write. I can say that something is truly fictional when it’s not. I can bend the truth with my ten fingers striking the keyboard. But eventhough I choose which parts of life I want to capture with my lens, it’s you who decide how you want to see it. I can always take pictures of smiling people, trying to deliver a message that they’re living a picture-perfect life, but you can always see through their eyes.

With this lens, I finally feel that I’m not such a hypocrite anymore.