Sunday, November 1, 2015

Makeup and Skincare: On Expiration Date

In the wake of my mom’s complaining on how all of Hada Labo alpha-gokujyun products sold in Bintaro Xchange were nearing their expiration date, I checked all of my skincare products for their expiration date. I was disappointed to find that all of the Hada Labo products I was using, including one night cream which I intended to use after I run out of my current night cream, were nearing their expiration date as well. The night cream will be expired in three months! I immediately switched my night cream so that I can use it for at least 2.5 months. Meanwhile, most of the skincare products I have will not be expired before late 2016 or 2017. That should be relieving for now, though that also means I have to actively use them as effectively as possible before they are expired.

I am very concerned about expiration dates that I cringed when I read how someone, a beauty blogger, kept a really good liquid eyeliner for 2 years after being opened for a few times. I mean, I know it is really good… I like that eyeliner too… but keeping it for years while their average lifespan is about 6 months… *cringes again*. Everybody, please do not do that, especially if you suppose to be a role model for some make-up enthusiasts and younger girls learning makeup out there.

Since not every product mention their expiration date explicitly, and sometimes the expiration date is covered by some sticker containing translated product ingredients and the product’s exporter name and address (YES I am talking about you, The Body Shop Indonesia!), here is the compiled information on the average lifespan of some kinds of makeup:
  • Foundation: 1-2 years
  • Mascara: 3 months
  • Liquid Eyeliner: 6 months
  • Lipstick: 18 months - 2 years
  • Pencil Eye/Lip liner: 1-3 years
  • Eyeshadow: 18 months - 3 years
  • Powder: 18 months - 2 years
  • Blush on: 18 months
Please replace them A.S.A.P once they begin to smell weird and or show some texture changes, even if their expiration date is still a while away. I know that can be difficult to accept because we love our make up so much we do not want to part with them. What a trial of our life. Reality bites, and nothing is eternal. Anyway, I also put little sticky labels containing information on expiration date on almost every makeup and skincare products that will expire a few months after being opened.

After the recent finding I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I learned that I must not keep too many spare skincare products in my stash. I will only keep one per kind of product, e.g. one spare serum; one spare emulsion; one spare night cream; etc. I also learned that I have to be constantly reminded to check the expiration or manufacture year when buying any makeup and skincare products. I have to make sure that their expiration date is at least 2 years after buying.

Since I became aware of the risks of using expired makeup and skincare products, I abandoned the thought that I should save the best products for special occasions instead of using them up almost daily. For me, having them expired without being used often is more wasteful than using them up. The difficult part is that nowadays I want to buy a new lipstick every so often. There is just so much temptations, so many brands to try, and the trending lipsticks look so interesting (despite that I am not really into matte lipsticks that are trending nowadays - they look so dry! I thought glowy and moist look was trending a short while ago). It may be true that one cannot get enough lipstick, but sometimes we gotta rationalize our acts for good and fight back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Light Novel Review: June

Title ジュン (June)
Author/Circle ekakun
Genre slice of life, supernatural
Length 49
Self-published (approx.) 2014

I am not sure when did I start to buy more light novels than original manga or doujinshi in doujin market events such as Comifuro, Cocoon Festival, AFAID's Creator's Hub, or artists' booths at cultural conventions such as Popcon Asia or Hello Fest. Despite not being among the most common product in those market events, they usually take most of my expense there, followed by some original art prints (traditional art prints, especially ones done in watercolours, are my weakness) and a few fanart keychains. June must be one of the first light novels I bought there, besides a couple of light novels by Arief Rachman.

The theme of this light novel is interactions between the living and the dead. It is opened with a rather chaotic but peaceful morning of two neighbouring families, both with one child that seem to be close to each other despite their arguing every now and then. The girl, Junelia Alexandra, June, is a cheerful and energetic Francophile. The boy, Jun Miruzamu, is an anime otaku who conveniently lived under a Japanese name inspired by his dad's friend and a Japan-esque house. Lived, mind you. Turns out that Jun has been dead for a few months, but somehow remains a wandering ghost among his family and June. Somehow it is only his family and June that can see him. Why June though? Does she have any special meaning to Jun, or simply have a special ability to see ghost? One more mystery rose near the end of the light novel, when a little girl made him visible when she holds his hand. Oh, and how that train ticket seller be able to see Jun? Is that a part of the mystery that suppose to happen here, or just one of a few inconsistencies detected in this light novel?

Unfortunately, this light novel has yet to answer the "why"s and "how"s. It seems to be the first of a few planned volumes. After a bit less than a year, I have not seen the continuation so far, though. I kind of hope that I will be able to read the continuation someday, when I have not completely forgotten about the first one at least *LOL*.

I also hope that the writing will be improved by then. As how I mentioned earlier, there is a few minor inconsistencies found in this light novel. First, of course, is the train ticket seller's ability to see Jun due to his special ability or just to make it convenient for the comical scene to work? Second, if June takes commuter trains every so often, why does she have to buy individual ticket instead of just getting the prepaid train pass? Last, at the beginning of the novel where Jun and June's family's peaceful morning is described, their fathers were portrayed to enjoy contrasting kind of coffee. Oh, wait, contrasting? Did cappuccino suppose to be the opposite of Arabica Coffee? LOL.

Despite the questions that remain unanswered and unpleasant experience of finding inconsistencies, I fairly enjoyed reading this light novel. I managed to finish reading it from start to end in about less than two hours. The author may have a quite long way to go, but I would say that this light novel is a good start.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Manga Review: The Scarlet Chair (Hiiro no Isu)

Title: The Scarlet Chair (Hiiro no Isu)
Author: Yuki Midorikawa
Genre: Shoujo, Drama
ISBN# 978-602-02-2320-9 (Volume 1)
Elex Media Komputindo 2013

I have to admit that I was confused the whole time I was reading this manga. First of all, I had a trouble on telling which characters are male and which characters are female. I had the same problem on Natsume Yuujinchou (and Mushishi actually, but that is out of topic). Maybe the mangaka does have an issue on that, or maybe the mangaka intended to imply a message that most personality traits are independent to gender – or something like that.

Second, I was confused with the whole conspiracy that is going on this manga. The story follows Setsu, a girl who seeks to meet Luca, the newly crowned kind who happens to be Setsu’s childhood friend in the countryside. Luca’s mother, the former king’s concubine, was exiled due to her being accused as a rebel. Turned out that Luca is the only child of the deceased king, thus he was summoned by one of the retainers to be crowned as the new king. However, the newly crowned king Setsu met in the capital city is not the Luca that she knew. Who is that king? What happened to the real Luca? What did actually happen to Luca’s mother, that she had to be exiled? Will Setsu be able to see Luca again?

Third, back to the difficulty of telling who is what, I also had a trouble telling who is who in some panels. Many characters look similar to each other, so I had to pay a close attention to their distinguishable characteristic. The king, especially, was difficult to tell apart from Setsu when they were together in a panel without having Setsu has her ponytail on. Sometimes the mangaka wouls show hints of gold on his hair color, but the other times he just look like a blonde, just like Setsu.

I have known Midorikawa Yuki through her strange heartwarming and bittersweet stories such as Natsume Yuujinchou and Hotarubi no Mori Ie. To be honest, I also expected this manga to be heartwarming or bittersweet. Maybe it is intended to be like that, considering the complicated nature of the relationship between the characters. Though, the confusion rose from reading this manga ruined the expected mood.

On the good side, I am happy to see many strong female characters in this manga. Seems that prominent female figures in the military are not uncommon in this manga’s realm. Besides the tomboyish Setsu who made a living from duels, there was Luca’s mother and her best friend. I like how the manga focuses more on the emotional bond between the characters, especially on friendship, rather than pointing out gender differences (role-wise). I also like how the relationships in this manga are more on friendship than romance. In addition, despite the difficulty to tell some of them apart, I like the complex characterization of each one in the manga. Almost each character, if not all, has their own story. This manga could be longer to explore each of them even more and make the whole story clearer, but overall I do not mind this story to be wrapped out in just three volumes either.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Book Review: Tiada Ojek di Paris by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

Title: Tiada Ojek di Paris (No Motor-Taxi in Paris)
Author: Seno Gumira Ajidarma
Length: 207 pages
ISBN# 978-979-433-846-9
Penerbit Mizan 2015

Seno Gumira Ajidarma (SGA) has been my favorite author since I was in junior high school. I enjoyed reading his works that ranged from literary journalism, magical realism, essays on sociopolitics and urban lifestyle, to adaptations of classic epochs such as Kitab Omong Kosong (Ramayana) and Nagabumi. He has been working on the latter, which usually resulted with super thick books that will keep us occupied for days to weeks.

Tiada Ojek Di Paris is the collection of his essays on urban lifestyle in Jakarta (not Paris, actually). Most of the essays were originally published in Djakarta! magazine, a lifestyle magazine that is usually provided for free at coffee shops in Jakarta, for the exchange of tons of ads. OOT speaking, the magazine used to be sold. It was when the magazine had much more interesting articles that we do not usually get in average lifestyle magazine. Ayu Utami, Nova Riyanti Yusuf, and Wimar Witoelar also used to contribute in the magazine. But the era keeps changing, I guess. Anyway. SGA’s essay is always the reason why I keep looking forward to pick up and read Djakarta! at fancy coffee shops in the city. Unfortunately, I do not hang out in the city every so often since I got a job just 15 minutes away from my home. I missed so many essays of him, and always looking forward to this kind of book where he put his essays altogether.

This book contains 44 essays that are mostly 3-4 pages long. In some essays, he provided some insights behind the urban social phenomena, analyze them using some theories on sociology; postmodern and cultural studies, or simply provided some social commentaries. In his other essays, he wrote about some prominent figures such as Pramoedya Ananta Toer and interpret some literary works related to Jakarta. He usually refer the people who reside in Jakarta as Homo jakartensis. I find a lot of his essays about the behavior of Homo jakartensis interesting, as how writings about urban life often have their charms for some poeple. However, there are also some essays that require us to read in cultural studies mind-frame, of which may not really easily “digested” by some readers. Having not read much about cultural studies for a long time, I found myself having to read some paragraphs a few times before getting the gist of them. There are also essays that sound pure grumpy (nyinyir, as how many Indonesian social media activists would put it), such as the one about how Homo jakartensis tend to spend their weekends and how we often ask people on where they came from in terms of area of origin/birthplace. In my opinion, those phenomena are not only happened in Jakarta.

Anyway, I like how SGA expressed his concern on how Homo jakartensis are so fixated with morning news and celebrity gossips (which are often packed in those so-called “infotainment” shows). For many Homo jakartensis, morning news is one vital part of their dailies. Heck, let alone morning news, many of them still believe that it is vital to know every single thing that were portrayed as “important issues” by the mass media. In the last essay, he also warned us that we should not fully trust the mass media. Their increasingly commercial framework has sacrificed the readers’ rights to access actual news by magnifying the less-important news that can be more engaging, while neglecting the actually important news. For example, we can see that there is an increasing number of news covering the so-called celebrities’ private life and sensational scenes from social media such as Twitter; Facebook and Path. What do we gain from from following and paying attention to those trashy news? Well apparently, reading online news sites such as news can raise your prestige as a well-informed one. I find myself relating to this concern in this front, as I find this phenomena constantly occurring in my social circle. I also shared his concern with the notion of car ownership as the symbol of success in Indonesia. 

There are some citations inserted to credit the source of theories SGA used for his analysis. Unfortunately, there is no bibliography/daftar pustaka page that would be useful if we want to look up further to the sources. SGA most likely had inserted the bibliography at the end of each corresponding essay on its initial publishing at Djakarta!, but the published seemed to had cut and overlooked it. Which is quite a shame for Mizan, as the publisher; and risky for SGA, as an intellectual who should have been familiar with the ethics on quoting and citing. Should this book gets any reprint, I hope Mizan and SGA will consider to address this error. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Title: The Magic of Reality (Sihir Realitas)
Author: Richard Dawkins
Illustration by Dave McKean
Length: 269
ISBN# 978-979-91-0852-4
Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia 2015

It has been ages since I bought a non-fiction, let alone a scientific non-fiction (I had my days when I read heaps of books on socialism). I have my regret that I did not bought those Selidik National Geographic series that tell about history of different ancient civilizations, now that some (if not most) of them have been sold out. When I saw this amazing book by Richard Dawkins, loaded with interesting illustrations by Dave McKean, I knew I could not miss this book.

If I am not mistaken, this is the second book by Richard Dawkins that have been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Maybe third, considering that I have seen the Indonesian version of The Selfish Gene by another publisher ages ago. Though I guess that it was just a summary, because it is so thin in pocket size. Anyway, I kind of doubt that all of his books will be translated in Bahasa Indonesia, considering the advocacy of atheism he implicitly inserted in his books. Apparently even some parts in the Indonesian version of River Out of Eden were censored, although I am not really sure on that. Just something my old friend guessed long time ago.

Dawkins opened this book by the two subjects on the title, reality and magic. He elaborated reality and how to tell reality from imagination, myth and assumptions using scientific methods. Then he elaborated magic, and stressed on the poetic magic of reality. In the next chapters, he presented some myths and folk stories that tried to answer some fundamental questions that became the title of each chapter. then he elaborated some scientific theories that explain the answer to those questions and sometimes counter the myths. As a former science and biology student in high school and college, I am familiar with many of the theories explained in this book. However, I am amazed by Dawkins’ explanation on sleep paralysis and false memory syndrome to encounter the myth on alien abduction and ghosts like incubus, succubus, old hag, or the “ketindihan” phenomena in my country.

What I like the most about this book - besides the interesting illustrated format - is Dawkins’ storytelling style to elaborate the theories he presented. I always had problem on understanding how atom works when I learned it at school. Dawkins’ answer made it so much more understandable. Now if only it can be presented in much less words, it would be great for pre-teens and teens who are struggling to understand it at school. This book would already great for them who are keen to read more, though. As a member of a society that is not commonly trained to read on regular basis, I can find myself too lazy to read even this nicely illustrated book.

  • The transitional paragraph between page 21 and 22 seems to be cut.
  • The transitional paragraph between page 126 and page 128 also seems to be cut (page 127 is fully in illustration).
  • Page 254. “Mengganggu bila memang b terjadi” may suppose to be “Mengganggu bila memang benar terjadi”, since there was no b variable given and described earlier. 
  • Translation issue:
    Page 256, “kesaksian gadis-gadis ini menyebabkan nyaris dua puluh orang digantung”.
    The use of the word “nyaris” made me almost thing that the Salem Witch Trial’s accused witches were just almost executed rather than actually were executed, if only I did not look up the reference about it. The words’ arrangement still makes sense, though. It is just rather confusing. Maybe the use of the word “hampir” would be less confusing. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Anime Review: Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru Zoku, Oregairu Zoku in short, may be one of the most awaited sequels in anime world. I began to watch this sequel that has been long awaited with a hope that I would see more of Hikigaya Hachiman’s epic wisdom as an outcast. I had been waiting for quite a long time that I forgot where it had left off. Thankfully, this sequel began by refreshing our memory on how the prequel left off. Some unpleasant talk with Hayama, I see. Not something too noticeable not to forget, I see. So the sequel began.

It began with the Service Club having its usual rhythm: Yuigahama enthusiastically talking about her day, Yukinoshita calmly listening, and Hachiman sitting from a significant distance to where his club partners usually sit. Then a request would come, and they would be discussing on whether they should take the request or not. If they agree to take the request, they would immediately set a preliminary discussion on how they would solve the problem.

Unlike the episodic nature of the prequel, this series consists of three main arcs, two of them ended with love confession attempts. Maybe three. I am not really sure about the last arc though. Does that make romance more prominent than the other elements such as comedy and friendship drama? At least I did not see it that way, and this series remained to be more about high school life as a whole rather than one specific theme or two.

Anyway, all of the arcs drove me quite mad. Not because the confession results or whether any ship becomes canon or not, but more because of the majority of the characters inside. Some of the characters are openly plain annoying, some are bloody indecisive and change their mind every few days to hours, some are simply pretentious, and the usually calm and collected Yukinoshita was acting like she expects everyone (Hachiman especially) to read her mind. In the first season, I had an impression that Yuigahama was among the less likable characters because she seemed flat (character-wise... *coughs*) and just went along with the flow. However, she is among the characters I truly respect now. She always try her best in her role as a bridge between the characters, and between the groups.

I guess that is indeed relevant to the central theme of this series, though. And it is completely realistic, I assume. At least I remember encountering similar treats during my junior high school to college days. In some cases, I found some of those traits in my past self. In some other cases, I found some in my peers, making me an annoyed or possible troubled outcast like Hachiman.

I wished for Totsuka and the chuunibyou guy (he was not shown much that I keep forget his name!) to show more. But now I realize that their appearance may would not contribute much to the story since on the contrary, they seem not to have much issue about themselves and their peers. They are doing fine with their quirks and how people perceive them. They have nothing to pretend.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this series. As how I mentioned earlier, I got annoyed by many of the characters. In addition, I feel quite clueless about the open ending. My reaction when I saw the last seconds of this series was pure "????? is that it? what". Will this series continue so that I can see how they will go through such communication problem? Or should we read the light novel that has no official English or Bahasa Indonesia translation yet? Personally, I would rather read the printed copy if there is any that I can read.

Despite being annoyed many times with this series, I like how its speaks for many audiences, whether through Hachiman or through other characters such as Hayama or Yuigahama or anyone else. It speaks for different types of outcasts (cynical type, too-perfect-to-be-true type, chuunibyou type..). It speaks for popular guys who can get tired from living up people’s expectations. It speaks for the clique of averages who want to maintain the status quo of their group friendship. This is why this series is so much celebrated among its viewers.

According to my attitude towards selfies and group-fies, I have to say that I am more like Hachiman. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Review: Maya by Ayu Utami

Title: Maya
Author: Ayu Utami
Length: 232 pages
ISBN# 978-979-91-0626-1
Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia 2013

Maya is the third book of the Bilangan Fu series by Ayu Utami. This book is also linked to the Saman dwilogy that were published in early 2000s. During the read of this book, I tried to answer the question on whether we should read the previous books or it can be read as a standalone or without chronological order. Apparently it is the second and third option, but I felt the need to refresh my memory on the previous books’ plot as I began reading it. Later I found out that its position is as the transition between the Saman dwilogy to the Bilangan Fu series. But anyway, worry not, the beginning of this book would tell you the gist of what happened earlier.

This book is divided to three sections: Kini (present), Dulu (past), and Kelak (future). Kini was opened in a melancholic mood of Yasmin Moningka. In 1998, when The Reformation Era was just about to begin in Indonesia, she received three mails from Saman. Saman is a former priest who abandoned his faith after he got involved in some social resistance movements in South Sumatera. Saman was among the activists that were considered missing in the last years of The New Order Era. His story can be read in the first book of the Saman dwilogy, of which title uses his own name. The three mails Yasmin received contained three letters in Javanese and one gemstone which apparently shows the image of two Semars.

Yasmin met Maya, a midget albino dancer from the Saduki Clan that performed Ramayana shadow dance after hew meeting with Suhubudi. Suhubudi is a mysticism expert with whom Yasmin consulted about the three letters and gemstone she received from Saman. Some parts of this book portrays Maya’s view of the world as a midget albino. While the Ramayana shadow dance liberated her from her (apparently) hideous figure to the servant of beauty, the introduction of the world outside the Suhubudi compound brought her a shocking change of her paradigm. It was like how Adam and Eve was shocked by the exposure of knowledge after they tasted The Forbidden Fruit. This shows how different individuals would perceive the taste of new knowledge differently. Some will reach with enthusiasm and excitement, longing to know more. Some others will react with shock and terror. There are also some others who react with doubt or apathy. In Maya’s case, she was terrified. She was terrified by people’s unsympathetic reaction to her unusual figure. She was terrified to find that Ramayana is not originally from Java, that the purification of Sita was considered taboo among the Javanese in the ancient time. Furthermore, she was terrified that Semar, whom she idolizes, was not celebrated in the outside world as how the Saduki Clan and her celebrate him.

Dulu features more about Saman, Parang Jati, and their relationship. It was when the AMD (ABRI Masuk Desa - ABRI in the village) program was implemented and the farmers were required to plant the IRRI rice seeds to support the Swasembada Pangan (food self-sufficiency) program. We were shown the dark side of those development programs that a lot of ahistorical Indonesians long to return today, as well as the mysticism behind The New Order’s legitimacy. I am not sure whether the mysticism behind The New Order part is true though. It also presents some moments between Saman and Yasmin, and a bit about Larung Lanang, the character that becomes the title of the Saman dwilogy’s sequel.

Kelak emphasized how Maya was conflicted and terrified after the exposure of knowledge happened in Kini. Meanwhile, the Reformation movement started to emerge. Parang Jati decided to take a part in the student’s movement to end Soeharto’s regime, despite that he is still on duty to guard Yasmin and her daughter from something that is after the gemstone Yasmin carried. It was the first time Parang Jati acted without Suhubudi’s approval. Unfortunately, that was also the first time an incident happened under his responsibility. What will happened to Yasmin and her daughter? Why is the gemstone targeted? How will Maya overcome her internal conflict after she tasted The Forbidden Fruit? And most importantly, how is Saman doing now? Did he survive as a missing person?

Compared to Ayu’s other books, Maya is remarkably rich in melancholy. There are Yasmin’s search of Saman’s trace, Maya’s struggle to overcome her physical limitations and deal with the shocking exposure of knowledge, Saman’s spiritual struggle, and Parang Jati’s guilt. Meanwhile, as how her other books are, this book is also rich with historical reference and Ayu’s interpretation to those references. In this case, she interpreted Ramayana and the role of Semar as the Saduki Clan’s patron.

I always like the mystic atmosphere Ayu created in her texts. Sometimes it would cause your heart to beat faster and tremble. Sometimes it would grasp your heart, crush your feeling. The part when Bandowo lost his right hand broke my heart and made me want to stop reading for a few minutes to dive in the sadness. There are also some new-to-me facts presented, including how the Javanese used towritelikethis in the past. It reminds me of an old friend that likes to write in that manner on blogs and social media. Could it be related to that fact?

At the end of this book, Ayu provided some credits on the source materials she used during the research for this book. As usual, the book made me want to explore the ancient epochs from India that were adapted to create the Javanese feel. I would recommend this book to the historical fiction enthusiasts, especially if you have read the Saman dwilogy. Anyway, it is interesting that I finally this book with a bit about the myth of the Semar gemstone just when the gemstone fever is happening in Indonesia!

This review is an entry for 100 Hari Membaca Sastra Indonesia by lustandcoffee.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Tackle Your TBR Read-A-Thon

Hello to everyone who visit and read this blog. It has been quite a while since my latest update. I supposed to post a report on my visit to the Indonesia International Book Fair two weeks ago, but work has been hectic lately. I admit that when I have some spare energy after work, I would indulge myself in my cross stitch project instead of writing the event report lately ;P Anyway. I have been planning to participate the Tackle Your TBR Read-A-Thon since a few months ago. It is already started today and will end on Sunday, September 27th. You can click here if you would like to sign up. 

In this read-a-thon, I plan to finish reading at least one Indonesian literary novel. Once I finish it, I plan to continue reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I am still not sure about what to read after that. Maybe I will re-start reading Haruki Murakami's Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, or more Jane Austen. I am also looking forward to read the two books by Jared Diamond I just recently bought, Collapse and The World Until Yesterday. There are so many options!

I did not read much in my previous read-a-thon. I hope I can get to read a lot this time, as the project that has been taking most of my time and energy at work is nearing its end this week. I just hope I can have a decent amount of time for both reading and crafting then. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: Dari Parangakik ke Kampuchea by Nh. Dini

Title: Dari Parangakik ke Kampuchea
Author: Nh. Dini
Length: 423 pages
ISBN# 979-22-0303-6
Gramedia Pustaka Utama 2005

Dari Parangakik ke Kampuchea is a memoir of a French consular’s wife that took place after Jepun Negerinya Hiroko’s time frame. It is opened by an “abstract” that tells the gist of the whole book. The narration style is slightly more poetic and emotional than the two previous memoirs, despite that Dini admitted that she spent her early days in this memoir’s period in apathetic mood. Under Yves’ presence, Dini mostly let the days passed by all of its imperfections without trying to make them better. The gradual change in her relationship with her husband is shown in how she gradually refers her husband as “my husband”, “Lintang’s father”, even “the husband” and “Mr. Consular” more than using his name, compared to the previous two memoirs. The poetic mood may be due to the presence of a captain that will have a significant role in Dini’s life for the next three memoirs.

After a touristy trip to Greece, Italy and Rome, Dini and her husband stayed in an apartment in Versailles until Yves got appointed as the French consulate in Cambodia (formerly known as Kampuchea, hence this memoir’s title). The great deal on the cheap apartment turned out to be a small, humid “apartment” that used to be a storeroom. The worse thing was that they had to endure the coldest winter in the past 40 years in such inconvenient apartment. Dini had to struggle with the modest living and stingy husband for almost a year, in contrast to her convenient lifestyle in Japan. Thankfully, there was her beautiful daughter, Lintang, and a visit of her old friends, Francis and Anis, that helped her survive the tough time in France. When Yves finally got a job in Cambodia, Dini and Lintang was scheduled to travel by ship while the husband arrived early to settle their living arrangement in Cambodia. As usual, Dini’s sociability got her acquainted with a few passengers in the ship, including the captain that would put butterflies in her stomach. Her life in Cambodia was not just all about dealing with her difficult husband. Besides getting busy with all the consular’s household chores, she spent her days taking care of her daughter, contributing in Women’s International Club, and spent some time with the captain.

Like the previous memoir, the book contains tons of descriptions of the places Dini stayed in. There were also a bit more explanations on the historical background of those places, but mostly not on the events that were going on. An exception would be on what was going on in Cambodia under Norodom Sihanouk’s leadership in the 1960s, when Cambodia went through an impressive development progress after the World War II. Many reviewers on Goodreads praised her vibrant descriptions of the places and food Dini experienced in this memoir’s time frame. Her description on her living arrangement in Cambodia reminds me of an American consular’s place where my former employer once held an event. That brought such happy memory of my own experience, which is nice.

On the technical side, this book is noticeably thicker and text-heavier compared to the previous two memoirs. The font is also noticeably smaller to pack more words in a page. One thing that bugged me besides Yves’ hellish behavior is that Dini often uses the expression “...X, dengan siapa aku...” and “...Z, siapa yang...” like the direct, Google Translate-ish translation of “...X, with whom I...” and “...Z, who was...”. If I am not familiar with English grammar and structure, I would be confused with the text, as Bahasa Indonesia noes not normally work that way.

After reading three memoirs of Nh. Dini from the beginning of her adulthood as a stewardess, I have been thinking a lot of her and her family. I thought about how an impressive, well-disciplined working woman like her had to suffer under an unexpectedly unhappy marriage. Her husband once saw her as an intelligent lady, but as they embarked on marriage life, he started to limit her intellectual activities such as reading and writing. He even limited her writing because he perceived it as a non-productive activity that could not be monetized. And when Dini started to paint, he cynically whine on how art supplies are so expensive while her new hobby was seen as yet another non-productive one. As a reader; blogger; and crafter, I personally felt so sad for her and angry to her husband. While many readers judged her negatively because of her not being faithful in this memoir and the next three memoirs, I sympathize her pain and longing for a genuine relationship that respects and appreciates each other. It is very unfortunate for her, though thankfully she still managed to sneak her writing time out of Yves’ notice. Thanks to that, now that her books have been published and able to be read by many. In addition, she may also be enjoying the health benefits of those intellectual activities, despite that she still has to struggle with her vertigo nowadays.

I also thought a lot about her relationship with her children in the present. How is their relationship nowadays? How is Lintang doing at the moment? That may will be answered in her latest memoirs, which I have not read yet. Maybe not. She must be proud of her son, but is she actually? How she has to struggle with her financial condition, while her son must be enjoying his fruits of labor? I also found out how her son was born when I read the synopsis of the next memoir that took place after this one, Dari Fontenay ke Magallianes. I will not spoil on that to you as much as I was spoiled by many reviewers of her next memoirs (!!!), but I found that deeply saddening.

I had quite a hard time to finish reading this book, but that is just because a few parts of it felt emotional for me. Overall, I would recommend this book, especially to people who are about to read her next three memoirs: Dari Fontenay Ke Magallianes, La Grande Borne, and Argenteuil. This book will explain a lot of things you may will question in those three memoirs, especially those moral questions concerning her marriage and faithfulness to her husband. I do not have the next memoir yet and it is currently hard to find as I am writing this, but I have a few more memoirs of hers that are not in chronological order. However, as you may have already implied, I am having a kind of hangover after reading three of her memoirs consecutively.  I plan to take a break from reading her books for a while, and continue with reading another Indonesian literary author’s work after this. 

This review is an entry for 100 Hari Membaca Sastra Indonesia by lustandcoffee.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Event Report: Comifuro 6

On Saturday, August 22, 2015, I went to Comifuro 6 with my boyfriend. Comifuro, stands for Comic Frontier, is an event that accommodates independent creative circles to market their products. We can also say that Comifuro is one of a few doujinshi market events that are held every once in a while in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is my third time going to Comifuro. Unlike the previous Comifuro, this event already has its own mascot and more solid branding. As the previous one, this event was held at Smesco Exhibition Hall. This venue is informally known for its shaking elevators among its previous visitors. Having experienced a few seconds of terrifying moment in such shaky elevators, we took stairs to go from the parking lot to the venue room. F&B-wise, we had our lunch before going to this event, because there was only one outlet of 7-11 convenience store nearby to replenish our energy. Later I found out that there were a few food booths outside the venue, but there were not so many accommodating seats, so the customers had to sit on the stairs and floor to eat and drink. Therefore, it was still recommended to eat your lunch somewhere else first before going to this event

To be brutally honest, I did not expect much from this event. The last time I went to such doujinshi market was on Cocoon Festival 2015, which was held around May 2015. Cocoon Festival 2015 was dominated by fan merchandises of Japanese browser games such as Touken Ranbu and Kancolle, and sports anime especially Free!, Kuroko no Basuke and Haikyuu!. While I used to play Touken Ranbu, I admit I am not really fond of sports anime. I do not play Kancolle either. Furthermore, while I am cool with LGBTQ, I am not a big fan of shipping fictional characters as homosexual couples. In Cocoon Festival 2015, there were lots of fan merchandises that involved such shippings, and much less ones that portray just individual characters. I had quite big expectation back then, that I allocated quite big budget for the event as well. However, I went home with only a few key chains, a couple of art prints, a doujinshi about Mana (a Gothic Lolita icon), and a lot of sweats because of the small, crowded venue. It was quite disappointing, although relieving for my wallet :p. 

Last weekend’s Comifuro, however, exceeded my expectation greatly. There were a lot more varieties in fandoms and mediums offered in Comifuro 6. While there were still a lot of Touken Ranbu fan works, there were significantly less Kancolle and sports anime ones. Unexpectedly, there were noticeably a lot of circles selling Gangsta. and Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure’s fan works. There were also some fan works of other anime, manga and western series, the ones that are still ongoing and already finished. Besides on the fan work front, there were a few memorable moments that told us how the visitors and participants of this event have grown to enjoy more variety of series. When we entered the venue room, a lot of visitors were singing Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure’s opening theme for the first part. Some participants even recognized the Psycho-Pass kanshikan jacket I was wearing. That was quite a hopeless wish in the previous doujinshi market events we visited in Jakarta, since we assumed that Psycho-Pass and other seinen or more “masculine” anime were not really popular here. Anyway. There were a lot of original works in various forms such as light novels, comics, games and music as well. That was much an exciting event.

Some interesting-looking randos encountered at Comifuro 6.

Medium-wise, the products offered by the participating circles in Comifuro 6 were also more varied compared to the previous events. Previously, there were mostly keychains, phone straps, badges, doujinshis, fanbooks and art prints that mostly involved BL. This time, there were handmade straps, a few tote bags, small pouches, mobile phone cases, mugs, et cetera. There were also squishy keychains or small pillows featuring the artist's drawing.

On booths and stages arrangement front, I am happy to see some improvements. There was more space between booth groups, which allows 3-4 “lanes” of people passing the way without having to bump to each other or even create a “traffic jam”. There were two stages that are noticeably smaller, of which in my opinion is more appropriate than one big noisy stage on the previous Comifuro. One of them was located at the corner of the spacious venue room, and another one outside the venue room but still inside the building. Again, I think the placement of those stages were appropriate, considering that Comifuro is more known for its doujinshi market rather than anime karaoke stage and other creative industry-related stage shows. It is also convenient that the stages on this Comifuro was not placed too near to the circle booths, in contrast to how one big stage was placed directly in front of the furthest booth groups on the previous Comifuro. That made the karaoke did not feel too loud for the visitors. On the previous Comifuro, my ears suffered quite intensely when I came around the booths that were too near to the big stage that were currently holding a very loud karaoke session. It was very noisy. Thankfully, I did not experience that on Comifuro 6.

Anyway, there was also a maid and butler cafe outside the doujinshi market room. I am not a big fan of such thing, so I did not go in it and cannot make any comments on the cafe. There was also a lolita booth outside the doujin market room. Apparently there was a lolita makeup workshop as well, which I did not attend.

I bought quite a lot of stuffs from this event. They were mostly original light novels, art prints and art books. I also bought a few bookmarks, stickers, key chains and badges on mostly Psycho-Pass and Gangsta, and a few ones on Tokyo Ghoul, Durarara!!, Touken Ranbu and Katamari Damacy. I intended to show off my event haul again *laughs*, but I have not gotten any chance to take their photos under daylight setting. I may will update this post later for those photos.

The next events I plan to attend are the Indonesia International Book Fair 2015 on early September, Jakarta Comic Con 2015 on late September, and Indonesia Comic Con 2015 on November. I have been considering to skip this year's AFAID because I kind of losing interest to it, after all those anisong and utaite-oriented marketing campaigns. I will get back on writing about that sometime after I post the Jakarta Comic Con 2015 report, so do look forward to it! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Length: 372 pages
#ISBN: 978020989457
Noura Books 2015

Eight years ago, Frederick Wentworth was still a poor naval officer who had no family connections from the riches that would recommend him to be Anne Elliot’s husband. On the contrary, Anne was born in a baronet family with a snobbish father and older sister who are too conscious of their rank and looks. Her engagement with Wentworth was seen as inappropriate, because of their social gap. Under Lady Russell’s—her older friend who was also her deceased mother’s friend—persuasion, she broke her engagement with Wentworth, leaving him broken-hearted and disappointed. She later rejected Charles Musgrove’s proposal, because of her lingering love to Wentworth and, again, her social gap, under Lady Russell’s persuasion. Musgrove later married Anne’s younger sister, the whiny and attention-seeking Mary.

Eight years passed, and in the present setting, the Elliot family was forced to rent their estate—Kellynch Hall—because of their financial difficulty that could not be contained by their glamorous lifestyle, which the father and oldest sister refused to tone down. Turned out that Kellynch Hall’s new tenants are the Crofts, which are Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law. At the same time, Wentworth just recently came back from the Napoleonic Wars. His success in the wars got him promoted with a big prize money, making him a much desirable dream husband and in-law. He and the Crofts became well acquainted with the Musgroves and their teenage girls. Since Anne had to take care of Mary before she moved to her family’s new residence in Bath, she got to stay close to the Musgroves. Her close relationship with the Musgroves brought her to spend time with the Crofts and Wentworth. However, while Wentworth became friendly with the Musgrove girls, Henrietta and Louisa, he became highly formal and rather awkward with Anne. Seeing Wentworth’s close interactions with the Musgrove girls, the Musgroves; the Crofts and Lady Russell speculated on which girl would Wentworth fell in love with and later marry. Anne was certainly out of their speculation.

The Musgroves’ friendship with Wentworth brought them and Anne to Lyme, where Wentworth’s brother officers lived. They got acquainted with Captain Harville and Captain Benwick. Coincidentally, Anne and Mary’s long lost cousin, William Elliot, was seen in Lyme and became attracted to Anne. Shortly after Anne got back from Lyme, she had to finally move to Bath to join her father and oldest sister. In Bath, she found out that William Elliot (mostly referred as Mr. Elliot) had reconciled with her father. He stayed in Elliot’s residence in Bath and slowly made his move to court Anne. How will Anne respond Mr. Elliot’s move? How is Wentworth’s feeling towards Anne after eight years of separation? Who will Wentworth choose to marry?

Now here is a confession: I did not intend to buy Persuasion when I bought it. I bought it from an online independent book seller as a replacement of another book that was already sold out. I chose it because of the beautiful cover, and because-apart from what I bought-there was no other book that got me interested more from the seller’s catalogue at the moment. It was a romance book seller, anyway, though for some reasons it sold one of Astrid Lindgren’s books back then. Another confession: I have never been into romance as an entertainment genre (on the contrary, my love life has been great these past 14 months). When I thought about Jane Austen, I imagined yet another group of typical romance stories in classic setting. Classic, but still all about romance. I did not set any plan on when I was going to read it, until I found out about Austen in August. I have never had any of her works as required reading during my schooling years, so I never read any of them in the past. So I thought, finally, a perfect time to read it.

Turned out that I enjoyed reading it much more than expected. It is indeed a romance, but not a hopelessly romantic one. It also portrays the lifestyle and family culture of the British in the past. As far as I remember, I had only read about it from George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which portrays the life of the poor in both cities in early 1990s. In contrast, Austen’s works seem to portray the lifestyle and culture of the rich in England. She explored most of her characters thoroughly, including those in Persuasion. I like how she got most of the characters’ traits and quirks explained, which I also enjoy in Pride and Prejudice that I am currently reading. I enjoyed getting to know each of her characters, from the timid Anne, the snobbish Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot, the fishy Mr. Elliott, the poor Mrs Smith, to the whiny Mary. I would recommend this book to people who enjoys light stories and romance. I would also recommend people who is not usually into romance books to give Austen's works a chance.

After I read the book, I watched the movie adaptation that was released in 2007. While a lot of scenes were similar to what I imagined when I read the book, there were some scenes that were changed at the end. It is as if the ending was rushed to meet the less-than-2-hours duration allowance. Some things that may be important were not explained, leaving the movie making more sense only to those who have read the book. Meanwhile, people who have not read the book may will find the movie less understandable, not to mention the rushed ending compared to the lack of "chemistry" between Anne and Wentworth. It may feel as if things escalated quickly, though it actually does for Louisa. As for the movie, I would recommend it more for people who have read the book.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Event Report: Popcon Asia 2015

On Sunday, 9 August 2015, I went to Popcon Asia 2015. This event was held from 7-9 August 2015 at Jakarta Convention Center. There was a lot of events going on the Gelora Bung Karno complex, including We The Fest and the FGD Expo (which apparently was not the expo about focus group discussions). So there was a lot of people going there and the parking lot was packed with cars, motorbikes, and... ticket scalpers. Anyway. This is my third year of my regular visit to this event. I am happy that this event was not held in Smesco Building as how the previous Popcon Asia was. I wish I could attend from the first day, but I had work on Friday and Saturday. Thankfully, the most anticipated talk show of the event featuring Fluxcup was rescheduled from Friday evening to Sunday night. 

Popcon Asia is an annual event that celebrates creative contents to the growing market of teens and young adults. This convention claims to promote the emergence of local creative contents. Apparently some artists and prominent figures from globally-recognised publishers came to scout some talented artists as well. While much of the advertised features potentially attract more creators than consumers, I was intrigued to see more amazing original artworks and creative contents the artists would offer. 

I have been following its twitter account since around last year, and I could see that their media social campaign was much more active than its previous years. They had been campaigning since a few months before the D-day. And unlike this year’s AFAID that has been only focusing on Anisong (with similar line-up from the previous years..) and a bit of cosplay for their marketing campaign, they had launched many different teasers that would attract the lovers of comic, games, movies, toys and cosplay since the start of their campaign. That active campaign really paid off. Since the first day of the event, apparently there were so many visitors and some goods were already sold out since the first day. At the end of the event, there are heaps of local comics that were sold out. People started to pay attention to local creative contents such as comics, board games and movies. 

This year’s Popcon’s theme is “A Voyage to Creative Galaxy”. Coordinating with the theme, there were space-themed attributes that involved astronauts and aliens. The early social media campaign tried to attract the geeks that are often perceived as the aliens, the outsiders, the outcasts. They reminded us on how “the muggles” told us that as a grown up it is no longer our time to enjoy comic and animation, or how they cringed at our expensive toys and figures, et cetera. Then they convinced the geeks that “Popcon understands”. Nifty, no? 

After we purchased the tickets, we were directed to a short space-themed “tunnel” with blue lights that brought such inter-galactical feel, the feeling that we were travelling through the space. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera, and I only had my phone camera that I assumed not sufficient enough to take photos in such rather dark room (hence the low-Q photos in this report). Anyway, it was cool! You can visit this post to see how the tunnel was. 

As usual, I “swept” through the artists’ alley to find some amazing artworks and comics. As how the previous year was, the first booth I visited was Pronto Pixel’s. His booth sold noticeably less goods than last year, but they are still equally great. There were these very cute carpet of his original character, which I would totally buy if only my budget was not limited. He did not remember us, but he was very friendly. He asked about my boyfriend’s visible wound (he had an accident just recently) and we talked for a short while. He was also noticeably friendly to other visitors. A perfect way to get people to buy your stuffs really. I doubt I will be able to afford other things if I bought the cute carpet or plushies, so I bought his postcard package that also contains a badge and a few stickers. I also bought some comics, a few stickers, and a couple of huge gorgeous art prints that were signed by the artist. I bought another huge art print from him last year! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Event Report: JakBook & Edu Fair 2015

On Saturday, August 1, 2015, I went to the JakBook & Edu Fair 2015. This event was held from July 27 to August 3, 2015, at Plaza Parkir Timur Senayan, South Jakarta. Despite the controversy, I was looking forward to explore the book fair and possibly get some good deals of interesting books.

Before the event started, Jakarta’s Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (also known as Ahok) promoted this event enthusiastically, as the excellent way for the Jakarta people to afford more educational books and study tools. However, apparently he was very upset and disappointed when he found out that the books sold there are more expensive than the ones sold at Jakarta’s famous wholesale market centres such as Tanah Abang and Asemka. After he found out such thing, he even encouraged the Jakarta people not to shop at the book fair, and shop at Tanah Abang or Asemka instead. So as the online news’ headlines said. Later I found out that he was inspecting *note* books, which was probably indeed more expensive than the ones sold at Tanah Abang. However, I regret that Ahok encouraged people not to shop at JakBook just because of those note books. I was certain that there would be a lot of interesting books *to be read* with nice bargain price there. I mean, those books *to be read* seller were also put at risk of losing potential customers because of Ahok’s reaction to his *note* book sellers inspection! I do admire Ahok for his straightforward, fair and (apparently) transparent actions as a governor, but this time I was disappointed by his careless statement.

Anyway, so I went to the book fair with my boyfriend on Saturday. I left my written wishlist at home, but I still had some author’s names to equip on “the book radar” in my mind. I was expecting that I would be able to complete Nh. Dini’s memoir series and get some Indonesian edition of books by Astrid Lindgren and Pearl S. Buck that are already rare nowadays. I struggled to resist the strong temptation to buy books online for this day. Unfortunately, turned out that the book fair was 50% school necessities such as school backpacks; shoes; socks; uniforms; and those note books that triggered Ahok’s wrath. While the rest (50%) were real books to read, a lot of them were religious; motivational; and lesson books. The fictions and historical books probably only took 5-15% of everything sold at the book fair. To sum this up, it was disappointing. The “Edu” part of the event’s name may be something to watch out, but at my defense I thought “Edu” means more about educational books to read.

Nevertheless, I still bought a lot of books at good to excellent deal! In total, I bought 8 books.. *laughs* Imagine if that was a legit book fair with at least 85-90% books to read. The 8 books are:
1. Casper the Commuting Cat by Susan Finden
2. The Secret History of The Lord of Musashi and Arrowroot by Junichiro Tanizaki
3. Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan
4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
5. Neuromancer by William Gibson
6. Emma by Jane Austen
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

The discounted price of these books were crazy. I paid Rp66,000,- (approx. US$5) for these three. 

Some sci-fi gems found at the used books seller, published in the 1980s. They were Rp90,000,- (approx. US$7) in total.

These books’ discount were only 20%, but anyway..  Now I have more books for Austen in August. Considering the future event reports planned to be posted here, this also means that I may will post twice a week in two or three upcoming August weeks.

I only spent approximately less than an hour at the dissapointing book fair. I went to Plaza Senayan afterwards to eat at Yoshinoya and check Kinokuniya and Periplus out. Log Horizon’s 2nd light novel was already released in English, so I had a little hope of finding it at any of those bookstores. Turned out that I did not find it. I guess I will buy it at Periplus Online sometime later. Anyway, I still bought one book: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. There were some other books that got caught on my radar, but one had to choose and I have bought a lot at the book fair anyway.

So in total, I bought 9 books last Saturday. I still long for those Astrid Lindren and Pearl S. Bucks’ books though. There is another book fair coming in September, Indonesia International Book Fair 2015. I am looking forward to that book fair as well, and I hope it will be legit book fair with many more of books to look forward to!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bout of Books 14 Read-a-Thon

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is coming on August 17th! That will be the Independence Day in my country, and I will have a day off. I hope I can optimize my reading time on the first and last day. If you are interested to join this read-a-thon, you can sign up here

One of the books I will read is Emma by Jane Austen for Austen in August. But before that, I hope to finish the last 120-ish page of Pride and Prejudice first. If I still have more time in the read-a-thon, I plan to read the sequels of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet

Let me know if you are joining! :) 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Jepun Negerinya Hiroko by Nh. Dini

Title: Jepun Negerinya Hiroko
Author: Nh. Dini
Length: 355 pages
ISBN# 979-655-957-9
Gramedia Pustaka Utama 2005

Jepun Negerinya Hiroko is a memoir of a French diplomat’s wife during her living in Japan. This memoir took place after Kemayoran, after Dini was proposed by Yves Coffin. She began her life as the diplomat’s wife in Japan. She spent her days in Japan by taking French cooking class, watching her friend’s ikebana class and learning Japanese language with her Japanese friend. Her sociability helped her to get some new friends, including some close friends whom she would need to endure her tough days with her husband. As how the previous memoir was, we were shown many things she observed during the time-frame of this book. She observed the characters of her Japanese friends and the intricate details of Japanese buildings and environment. However, there are significantly less historical events mentioned, compared to her previous memoirs that took place in Indonesia.

Since Dini got engaged and married Yves, she noticed that her husband was either changed or simply not as perfect as she thought. He became stingy and temperamental. Because of his moody trait, they kept changing their household assistant. Each assistant could not bear with his impatience and harsh scoldings, while the ones who could bear it were recalled by their family to get married. Thankfully, Yves was still willing to help with the household chores. The middle to the end of this memoir told us how Yves' photography hobby took more and more portion of their daily life. In contrast, Dini had a hard time keeping up with her writings, of which Yves perceived as an unproductive hobby that could not be monetized. Even Dini had to hide her novel's draft to avoid Yves' anger for bringing "useless thing" during their travels. As tough as it was, Dini gave her best to bear with Yves’ difficult upbringing, for the sake of her baby and her family in Indonesia.

Thankfully, her days in the wonderful Japan were not just all about living with her difficult husband. She got to know some Indonesian, Japanese and French friends who helped her a lot. They helped with her daughter's milk, borrowed each other's clothes and jewelries, and taught her some tricks to deal with her stingy husband.

As mentioned earlier, this memoir captured significantly less historical events compared to the previous memoir. In contrast, there are significantly more descriptions of the places she visited and stayed in Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. There are a lot of people introduced in this memoir. Sometimes it could be confusing, and unfortunately Dini tend not to refresh our memory when some characters reappeared after a long while. For example, during their visit to Hong Kong, they stayed at their acquaintances' place. The acquaintances appeared without any introduction, which made me assume that they were already introduced in the earlier chapter. However, there are so many characters that I could not recall when they were introduced!

Because of the detailed descriptions and daily life events that dominate this memoir, sometimes I found myself bored when reading this. However, if we intend to follow her memoirs up to the latest one, this memoir is an important part that shows us the gradual change of Dini and Yves' relationship. This memoir may also tell many new things for readers who are not familiar with Japanese living yet.

Maybe I found myself bored partially because there are not so much things that are new to me as a Japanophile. However, this shows me that the daily life in Japan in the 1960s is not significantly different from the present. Many still hold traditional value, and some out-of-traditional-norm relationships such as premarital domestic partnerships, mistress-keeping and one night stands in love hotels were already seen as not-so-unusual back then. However, I may be biased, considering that Dini is known for her explicit sexual descriptions and openness to taboo topics in her writings since her books were published in the 1990s. Apparently, some of her books were banned because they were considered vulgar in the New Order Era.

I would recommend this book for people who have read Kemayoran and intend to read Dini's later memoirs. This memoir can also be considered as Namaku Hiroko's behind-the-scene, as it was obviously inspired by many events occurred and people Dini met during this memoir's time-frame.

This review is an entry for 100 Hari Membaca Sastra Indonesia by lustandcoffee.

Friday, July 24, 2015

#TBRTakedown Readathon 2.0

While the High Summer Read-a-Thon is still going on until Sunday, I decided to extend my readathon by participating the #TBRTakedown Readathon 2.0 hosted by Shannon @ leaninglights. This readathon runs from July 25 to 31. I never have any formal TBR list or pile, but I well realize that I have HEAPS of unread books in my shelf. There are five challenges that have been officially set up in this readathon:
  1. First book in a Series
  2. A Sequel
  3. Out of Your Comfort Zone
  4. On Your Shelf for Over a Year
  5. Most Recently Hauled Book
I am still doing the 100 Days of Reading Indonesian Literature challenge and planning to continue until it ends in October, with the exception of reading for Austen in August. For the sequel challenge, I plan to read Ayu Utami's Maya, the 4th book of the Bilangan Fu series. That book can also be counted in the 4th challenge, as it has been in my shelf since 2013. As for the first book in a series, I plan to read Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Bumi Manusia. It has been translated to English as The Earth of Mankind, just in case you are interested but cannot read in Bahasa Indonesia. Out of my comfort zone, I plan to read Kumpulan Budak Setan, a horror short story anthology that tributes to the legendary Indonesian horror author, Abdullah Harahap. I have not read any of his book, but apparently he is one of the most important literary figures in my country. I think I have not read any mystery/horror/thriller book since I was in high school. I used to read a lot of R.L. Stine's books from the Goosebumps and Fear Street series, but not anymore since I got hooked in the literary world. I just recently purchased Nh. Dini's earlier memoirs and novel from Jualbukusastra, an excellent place that sells Indonesian literary books, including some that are not normally sold in most Indonesian mainstream-ish bookstores. I plan to read the 3rd book of her memoir series, Langit dan Bumi Sahabat Kami.  

Pretty covers!

As usual, I am going to update this post with wrap-up report once this readathon ended. I am looking forward to read a lot and find out how much I read until 31st!

Wrap-Up Report

Although I only managed to read 2 books (again), I really enjoyed this week of reading under the #TBRTakedown 2.0. There were sprints I always missed but still did outside their running time anyway, and they helped a lot to boost my reading time. A progress graphic will be here soon.

My current read when I started this readathon was Maya by Ayu Utami, a sequel and a book that has been in my shelf for more than a year. As how I mentioned on the previous readathon wrap up, this book was a page turner. I did not read much on the first day, but I managed to finish it on the second day. I continued with Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Bumi Manusia,  the first book of the Buru Quartet. I finished it on the last day of this readathon. I intended to continue with Jane Austen's Persuasion to kick-start the Austen in August, but I was already too tired :)) I did not read much on the sixth day either, because I got so tired after work and a long walk that day.

Total pages read: 748
Total books read: 2
Challenges done: 3 of 5 (First in a Series, A Sequel, and On Your Shelf for Over A Year)

Books read:
1. Maya by Ayu Utami
2. Bumi Manusia by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Did you participate in a readathon recently? What did you read last week?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: Kemayoran by Nh. Dini

Title: Kemayoran
Author: Nh. Dini
Length: 295 pages
ISBN# 978-979-22-4962-0
Gramedia Pustaka Utama 2009

I have been familiar with Nh. Dini's fame since I was in junior high school (approx. 14-15 years ago). Some excerpts of her works were featured in the linguistic and literature lessons in my school. I have intended to read her books since ever, though somehow this book is actually the first of her books I ever read.

Kemayoran is Dini's memoir as a stewardess. She chose to work after graduated high school instead of becoming a full time university student because she did not want to keep giving financial burden to her family. Despite being welcomed to stay at her uncle's place, she also worked hard to find a room for rent so that she would not be a burden, and so that she could get ready to work along with her colleagues. Besides working as a stewardess, she took French and B-1 History course to become a teacher. I personally admire Dini's hard working attitude and work ethics. The spoiled me is obviously nothing compared to her.

Gaining her superior's favor with her work ethics and passion in reading, she and her team (The Big Five) were promoted to serve the president and his honorary guests from The Soviet Union. Her sociability and intellectual features got her acquainted with many prominent figures she encountered during her work, including Soekarno and his favorite foreign journalist, Bernard Kalb. She also got acquainted with some foreigners, including her future husband. Many reviewers expressed their notice on Dini's sociability and openness to talk about things that were (and still are) taboo with men, such as pre-marital sex and domestic partnership. The way she interacted with her male friend reminded me of what Ayu Utami told in her memoir, Pengakuan Si Parasit Lajang. I did not feel surprised that she decided to stay together with her male friend in a hotel room during a gathering of literary authors and artists, though it must still be considered taboo among Indonesian traditional and religious society, especially during that age.

As a writer, Dini enjoyed people-watching a lot during her work and her break time, besides reading books. This book tells a lot about the people she observed and the life during The Liberal Democracy Period in Indonesia. She described the daily life of the only national airlines' employees in the 50s. She observed the distinct characteristics of different generations of air crew, as well as different ethnic group's habits from her colleagues' behavior. I like how I can learn about the life in the past through historical fictions and autobiographies like this. Dini also wrote her commentaries on some historical events that were occurred during her career as a stewardess, from Soekarno's agreement with Worosilov of the Soviet Union, the rise of some rebel movement such as PRRI; Permesta and Darul Islam, to the rise of Indonesian Communist PartyLekra (a literary and social movements associated with the Communist Party) and its counterparts from non-communist factions. Her commentaries are usually not explicit to the political aspect, instead they are more to their implications to the people.

This memoir is linked with Dini's four other memoirs from different phases of her life: Sekayu, Sebuah Lorong di Kotaku, Padang Ilalang di Belakang Rumah, and Kuncup Berseri. I have some of her other works in my TBR pile. Some of them are memoirs that took place in the periods after Kemayoran's time-frame, some others are fictions. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. I am looking forward to read a lot more of her works, especially her autobiographical books.

This review is an entry for 100 Hari Membaca Sastra Indonesia by lustandcoffee.