A Tribute to JM

October 5, 2008

 

Surprisingly, I didn’t shop a lot on my trip to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur last week. I didn’t shop at all in KL (just sandals and t-shirts, really can’t be called shopping), and the only things that I picked up in Singapore are just an Andrew Gn shirt, some home accessories from Ikea, and some books and CD from Border’s. Maybe it’s my resolution to be more financially savvy this year (although my friends who read this would probably scream “dasar pelit” once I show up at the office tomorrow bringing nothing hahaha), maybe it’s just the whole F-1 experience that was so overwhelming: nothing beats barely seeing the race cars as they moved so damn fast, becoming temporarily deaf from the sound of the race car engines, and smelling the tires wounding the ashpalt.
Nevertheless, believe it or not, my most valuable find on the trip is this. I’ve never been a great fan of anyone, yeah I do have some favorite authors or singers or actors or bands or whatever. But for John Mayer, I’d go the extra length (despite the Jessica Simpson phase which threw me off a bit). It’s not just his wide music taste, his funny and friendly disposition, but it’s also his amazingly honest way in writing songs. The words are genuine, vivid, engaging, yet get you thinking at the same time. His live concert in Nokia Amphitheater DVD sets me back more than all those shirts I bought in KL, but it’s worth every penny (although of course, nothing beats flying to L.A and seeing it live myself).  But for now, sitting here, watching him pouring his heart out singing “In Your Atmosphere” is enough.
Quoting him would be the right thing to do right now: “Wherever I go, whatever I do, I wonder where I am in my relationship to you.”

PS: And yes, I’m finally writing again just four hours upon returning from the trip.  Which for me, is priceless.

Tickets: check. Hotel reservation: check. iPod and mobile phone and their respective chargers: check.  Camera: check. Circuit map: check. Sunglasses (I know it’s a night race but still gonna need it to walk around during the day hehe): check. Passport (almost lost this the other day): check. Multiple currencies money: check. Cards: check. Itinerary and contact details sheet: check.  There’s only one thing left to do, the hardest one of them all: packing. Anyone care to help me before tomorrow?

I Hate Packing

August 9, 2008

 

I don’t think it’s being said enough, but packing is the worst part of any traveling. Preparing for the packing, on the other hand, is totally fun (when I said preparing what I really meant is shopping for the stuff you think you might need for the trip hahaha).  Usually what I do is hand-pick the clothes and the things that I need for the trip, leave them next to the suitcase, go to sleep, and by the next morning everything is folded and packed neatly in my suitcase – the packing fairy did it for me ; ).  But I don’t only hate packing, I’m also bad at it.  Every time I’m about to fly home from wherever I am, on business trips or holidays, I just throw everything on the suitcase without even folding them.  And I usually buy so much on the trip that I end up needing an extra bag.  On a recent three-day trip to meet friends in Bandung, I flew there with a cabin-size suitcase and ended up buying a traveling bag at the end of the trip.

Anyway, last night, I tried to do the packing myself.  And here’s what I got in my traveling bag: a pair of shoes, a pair of sandals, a toiletries bag with everything in it, a leather pouch for keeping my two purses, iPod, mobile phones and chargers, pen, and cards, the JBL box (with extra earplugs and cables for the iPod), a pair of jeans, a pair of jeans shorts, a hooded sweatshirt (it’s supposed to be kinda cold where I’m going), a knitted jacket, two pairs of PJs, a V-neck sweater, two polo shirts, two t-shirts, two tank-tops, a book, and a towel.  And one might ask, how long is the trip?  Oh, just for the weekend ; )

The Terminal

June 26, 2008

world arports

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of air travel, especially after this little incident in 1997, when the tail of my airplane was on fire just 5 minutes before it landed. I’m telling you, I was scared shitless, with me sitting upfront and then this group of backpackers started running to the front of the plane screaming: “Fire! Fire!” And I thought, great, I’m gonna die on an airplane crash, on the day before I’m supposed to enrol at university. Anyway, we landed safely, but with about eight fire trucks waiting on the landing strip. It wasn’t a pretty sight, let me tell you.

And I started avoiding flying if I could, but then again, what other choices do I have? I hate travelling by ship, thanks to the acute sea sick. And although the words “road trip” sound sexy, the whole concept becomes so appalling when you think about the rest stops and the traffic and the idea of sitting up for hours. Try to think of it in “Jeepers Creepers” kind of way instead of in “Thelma and Louise” kind of away, and you’ll know what I mean. And I don’t even have to begin to tell you about this terrible car accident that I experienced when some friends and I were on a road trip together then our jeep got thrown off the cliff. I’m starting to think maybe I am accident-prone after all.

Well, anyway, due to my jobs and my love of travelling, I do have to fly a lot, and once I got over the fear of flying, I actually cherish the moments when I’m about to fly, and I’m talking about the one hour that I spent at the airport just before takeoff. And one thing that really excites me is the way the airport looks. I believe each airport is actually an architecture masterpiece, with its own uniqueness and individuality. And I really appreciate airports with cozy lounges, where I could sit with a cup of tea and a good book with a little bit of soft jazz or Sting.

One of my favorite airports is the Tom Bradley International Airport in Los Angeles. First, let me say just how amazing it is that they can build landing strips on levelled concept like that. But who cares about the landing strips. The main reason why I love LAX so much is the fact that it felt like being in a mall when I was there, with stores from The Gap to WH Smith lining up along the hallway. Honestly, waiting for takeoff is usually very exhausting and boring, but if I have to fly from LAX again, I don’t mind coming even three hours before takeoff. Everything from clothes, books, watches, and even shoes are available there. And while sitting on the comfy couch at the airport lounge, you can enjoy a wide collection of glazy donuts and coffee and chocolate chip cookies and potato chips.

Another one with a mall-within-the-airport concept is the Sydney International Airport. You know what’s great about this kind of thing? When you forgot to buy some souvenirs or whatever for friends and family waiting at home, you can just browse through the stores and pick one or two items or even more. I was there just a few months before the Sydney Olympics, so I ended up spending almost an hour at the Olympics store. Okay, another confession, another hour was spent at Portmans and Sportsgirl and Sisley and I lost track of the other store names hahaha. But what I love about the Sydney airport is the fact that their regular lounge is more comfortable than the executive lounges at Indonesian airports, decorated in this black minimalist industrial style and equipped with wi-fi hot spots and cappuccino machines. The Canberra airport was not so impressive, the Ayers Rock and Alice Springs airports even felt like Polonia in Medan (if you’ve been to Polonia, you would be laughing when you read this sentence), but the Sydney airport has my vote any day of the year.

I still have many corners of the world to fly to, and many airports to swing by, because there’s just something about the airport terminal that really condones my fear of flying. If you have seen the movie Love Actually, you will understand what it is. One of the characters in it, I forgot whether it’s Alan Rickman or Hugh Grant, said something that stuck to my head: one thing that makes the airport terminal is such an interesting place is because it’s a zone where all hatred, scars, and resentments are forgotten. It’s a place where you just wanna hug the people leaving or arriving, showing them how much you care. And I don’t know why, but every time I said goodbye to my friends and family before I boarded the plane, it kinda felt like saying goodbye forever. Maybe because the plane is actually a little like the Schrödinger cat box. In his quantum physics experiment, Schrödinger put a cat inside a closed box with a capsule of cyanide in it, and a trigger which would tick off if a radioactive isotope shot an electron. If the electron hit the trigger on target, the capsule would pop and the cat would die. But if the electron missed, of course the cat would live. Now the paradox comes because the observer would not open the box until an hour later, and then find out whether the cat died or not. In the one hour, when the box is still closed, we are left with a paradox of 50-50 chance that the cat still lives. And in the six hours flight to Sydney, two hours flight to Jakarta, twenty hours flight to Los Angeles, or eight hours flight to Riyadh, we don’t know how our friends or family or acquaintances are doing up there in the plane. Not until they landed and called us. Meanwhile, we are left in the blank as to how they are. It’s the same as waiting to open the Schrödinger cat box.

So the next time I step foot on an airport, listening to Tori Amos’ Sleeps with Butterflies on the headphone, whether it’s to mischievously try the hopscotch zone at the Stockholm airport, or to relax in the huge red sleeping chair at Heathrow in London, I will cherish everything that the terminal has to offer, the facilities, the stores, the gorgeous architecture, the smiles and the hugs, and the “call us when you get there,” because I know in a few minutes, I will submit myself as a Schrödinger’s cat in a box called an airplane.  But meanwhile, let me sit in the comfortable couch at the lounge, raise my glass and say “Cheers!” to the whole experience. 

 

i'm busy 

As soon as I landed in Jakarta last Sunday, I went to EX for lunch and haircut.  And as I was walking along the connecting hallway between EX and PI, I saw this very interesting t-shirt place where you could choose the designs or the slogans to be put on the t-shirt and they’ll custom-made them for the customers.  I grinned, I remember just the other day I was googling t-shirts and found this really funny t-shirt which reads: “I’m busy, you’re ugly, have nice day” across the chest.

That would be just the perfect t-shirt I should be wearing these past few weeks.  Things have been absolutely crazy, I barely even have time for myself.  As I am in the middle of five new customers acquisitions, work just doesn’t let me off easy (did I tell you how I spent the last Saturday night having a meeting at the office?  Yeah, that’s right, wanna switch life?).  I got done with two before I left last Sunday, so two down, three to go.  There’s also preparing myself to go back to school (kill me with the GMAT books already).  And then there’s this training that I’m going through right now – which I thought would be a nice time away from work for a while, but when the training is called financial statement analysis, it’s not exactly time away from numbers!

There’s one number that I love though.  I was walking around some bookstores in the Senayan vicinity the other day, and the sales number of AVYW is going great (sold out at two major bookstores that I stopped by at).  Hopefully the second book will be out in the market by mid-year (the proposed cover I ready and now I’m waiting for blurbs from some friends).  But of course, there’s another number that keeps on growing: the number of stores I need to visit before I leave Jakarta again next week hahaha.

Here I am, spending another weekend in the capital city, probably for the zillionth time this past twelve months, always on business.  But there’s just something exhilirating every time I step out of the plane in this city, making appointments with every single one of my closest and dearest friends on the way to the hotel.  And then there’s the most annoying thing in the world that I have to do – unpacking.  I never pack my own suitcase when I leave.  I’m just so bad at packing.  And when I’m about to fly home, I usually just throw everything in the suitcase, stuff everything here and there as long as it fits.

travel

And then there’s lying alone in my hotel room, taking a rest for a while before moving on to the next agenda on my schedule – reporting to the head office, dining with friends, solitary shopping or whatever.  The time that I usually use to plan my next travel – if everything goes well and the budget works, there are two trips abroad that I’m gonna take this year with some friends.  And no it’s not Puerto Rico, we didn’t save that much yet 😉  Although I’d love to go there.  Or Brussels.  Or Morocco.  Or New York.  Or Hong Kong.  Or Zurich.  Or Johannesburg.  As I’m crossing off the list of the things that I wanna do before I turn 30, I’m looking forward to put “see the world” in the list of things I wanna do before I turn 35.

And then, there’s lying alone in my hotel room, calling friends or whatever, and then – always – looking at his name on my speed dial. Thinking I should call him.  Thinking of his name on the other boarding pass of my trip to Puerto Rico or Brussels or wherever.  Thinking of how his signature laugh over the phone can take away all of the clouds in my mind.  Thinking how being in the same city just doesn’t make it easier for us to connect.  Thinking how every time I travel to some place, I’m always finding something that would be perfect for him.  A tie, a t-shirt, a watch, or even just a keychain.

If travel teaches us how to see, how come every time all I see is you?