Is It Always in The Blood?

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I’ve just finished watching one of 2018’s most buzzed film Crazy Rich Asian, a Hollywood film that portrays the life of Asian millionaires. Adapted from a novel by Kevin Kwan with the same title, the film is about how Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American econ professor, struggles to adapt with the old-money-rich family of her boyfriend, Nick Young.

I’m not going to give you an in-depth review about the cinematographic aspects of the film, but instead I’ll share my opinion about it as a South East Asian girl—Indonesian to be precise. A little note for you who probably skipped geography class: Indonesia is that wide archipelago near Singapore and Malaysia, the two countries where Crazy Rich Asian was shot.

Living in Indonesia which is home to so many cultures and races makes it easy for me to understand to the characters of Crazy Rich Asian. Around 3% of Indonesian citizen is Chinese, and that makes me quite familiar to Chinese people and culture (I have friends who are Chinese too, and overall they’re amazing!). So, if I may speak something based on my experience, I would say that Crazy Rich Asian does give a pretty accurate picture of Chinese people in general: excellent, strict, and rich. Those I’ve personally met don’t seem that rich rich, but yeah, they’re rich (they’re great businessmen, of course y’all know!). And don’t get me start talking about their excellence! They’re so fine! Almost all Chinese people that I know personally are the best on the circle. They aim for the brightest star, they don’t take tolerable as a target. Just like the whole world know, Chinese people are the best of fighters.

Alright, now let’s dive deeper! Crazy Rich Asian revolves around Nick Young’s Chinese family. Before I continue, for you who haven’t watch the film, Nick Young is a NYU professor who hides his identity as the potential sole heir of his extended family business by living a modest life. Why would someone like him conceals his identity? I mean, isn’t it a major pleasure to have an unlimited access to wealth and fame? The answer will be subjective, but most of people would agree if the answer is a simple “Because he don’t want to be recognized and remembered that way”. Nick is that kind of person. He doesn’t want people to judge him for his family’s wealth and fame; he wants to be judged for being himself.

For the Young family is a top-notch Singaporean family whose business is all across Asia, living the expectations of the family elders is challenging. Every members are expected to maintain the family’s good rep and to pass on family traditions to the next generations. Children are prepared and shaped by their parents will so they’ll be fit enough to run the family business, or perhaps fit enough to dominate the world. Family business and wealth become that important to them because they perceive people with expensive net worth as a big yes whilst self-made people are perceived as a “meh, okay, but we don’t compare”. They’re also expected to keep their family lineage pure, Chinese only (Half-Bloods, Squibs, and Muggles are a definite no!). Those family expectations are what stand between Rachel and Nick’s family blessing.

Seeing how Hollywood depicts an Asian family’s life in this film reminds me of the Asian families I know, even mine. Although not all families are Chinese, at least we Asian share similar values and perspectives.

First, family first. Asian people has this tendency to put communal needs before individual needs.

Individuality and selfishness are not quite tolerable here. Subjectively speaking, I see this lesson as a quite good one. We want it or not, we live in a society, and people within a society will need one another sooner or later. Prioritizing communal needs seems like a good way to maintain the harmony of a society.

However, I don’t agree on Eleanor Young’s (Nick’s mom) on this. There’s a scene that goes this way.
Eleanor : You’re a foreigner. American – and all Americans think about is their own happiness.
Rachel : Don’t you want Nick to be happy?
Eleanor : It’s an illusion. We understand how to build things that last. Something you know nothing about.

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Eleanor (left) is a good mother, tbh, but she’s the worst soon-to-be mother-in-law!

Well, yeah, individualists value individual happiness above others’, but that doesn’t mean happy individuals couldn’t make things lasts! I mean, what’s the meaning of having everlasting things if those don’t make you happy? All those unnecessary family traditions.. what are those for if it brings family members together for nothing but sorrow?

Second, blood purity still matters for some family.

Since Indonesia (and South East Asia in general) was home to Hinduism, castes existed. Family reputations and lineage matters here. Having a royal married a peasant would be such a disgrace to the royal family, I don’t know why.

It is no longer that strict here nowadays, but the lessons are still passed on. Most Asian families require young adults to marry someone who is at least equal to them. The aspect being assessed might differ from one family to another, such as intelligence, wealth, fame, family history, and else; it depends on the value the family upholds. I personally can understand the reason because a life-partner is a serious matter and similarities might be the key to an everlasting relationship. However, I disagree to the lesson if those shallow aspects are the only things being accounted when parents decide the eligibility of their future son-in-law or daughter-in-law. I believe there are more to it to decide, such as kindness, politeness, life vision, integrity, etc.

Third, the last I’ll discuss, most children avoid becoming their parents and families when they grow up.

I don’t know whether this is just an Asian people thing or a global thing (since I recall a scene in The Breakfast Club mentions this as well), but this is a thing (why did I wrote so many things in this thing?).

In the film, Nick seems like he wants to break his family’s rules regarding to his freedom. He seems like he is not interested in what his parents have planned for him (running a family business). He seems like he is not interested in keeping the family blood pure. To make it simple, it seems like he doesn’t want to be like his family members.

I once discussed this with my mom, on “to learn how not to be like my parents”. I and my mom agreed that almost all children grow up with this little dream of not becoming like their parents. This dream might stem from bad parenting style which triggers children’s wish to eradicate some bad things parents do from life. And truthfully, I find this quite good. Wishing like that indicates that children (or people in general) are striving for the better instead of maintaining a mere tradition for fulfilling individual ego.

However, isn’t that ironic? How long will this lasts? Until when do children have to fight their innate tendency of imitating their parents’ and family’s behavior? Until when do children have to feel hatred for what they’re supposed to love the most?

Since I’ve left those rhetorical questions above, I’ll put this story of mine to an end. To wrap up, let’s just agree to take everyday life events as a lesson in the means of shaping ourselves into better individuals in the future! Crazy Rich Asian is a fresh air to the Hollywood filmography, I recommend you to watch it. And, oh, I’ll leave a Mayer masterpiece too in case you want to be more disturbed by the third discussion! Arrivederci!

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Despite All the Odds, Why HIMYM and F.R.I.E.N.D.S?

HIMYM x FRIENDS

Right, right. I might be a decade and 4 years late, but this holiday I finally finish binge-watching the notorious sitcom of all time: F.R.I.E.N.D.S! After previously binge-watching How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) back in 2014 till 2015, now it’s official, I have finally watched two best sitcoms of all time!

Two best sitcoms? It’s irrelevant! There should only be one best! You must pick sides; choose one!

Riiight. The never-ending debate of which one is better has been going on since 2014 (the year HIMYM’s finale aired) and I don’t think that it will come to an end in the near future. Just take a peek at this very long thread: https://www.quora.com/In-a-battle-between-How-I-Met-Your-Mother-and-Friends-which-show-do-you-think-would-win-and-why! HIMYM and F.R.I.E.N.D.S have similarities and differences and that is normal to stories. Don’t they say that ‘great artists steal’ and that nothing is really original since art is a product of inspiration?

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A comparison of HIMYM and Friends I found somewhere on the internet that pretty much explains each sitcoms. Thank you internet!

I won’t do the same thing, comparing two sitcoms that portrays different eras, since the comparison is abundant out there. Instead, I’ll elaborate my reasons on why HIMYM and F.R.I.E.N.D.S is worth watching for those who seeks the meaning of friendship, relationship, and life.

HIMYM

This show offers a bittersweet beautiful story in the making. The main plot of this sitcom is about How I Met Your Mother, about how Ted Mosby (probably the main character of the show, idk, he seems like one) is in quest of his love of his life. Throughout the journey, Ted encounters many ups and downs, all witnessed and accompanied with his best friends: Marshall Eriksen (college roommate), Barney Stinson (a stranger Ted once met on a pub’s toilet), Lily Aldrin (Marshall’s partner since college), and Robin Scherbatsky (Ted’s love interest).

The gang, what they have been through, and how they deal with it may make people believe that it is okay to not have a perfect life. It emphasizes that life is not a wish-granting factory (that’s for you, Augustus Walters!) and that life is full of struggle.

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Re-uploading this because insecurities like these are real; many people are battling this.

Life will make us regret things and realize things. Life makes us deal with the grief that comes afloat when we lost our loved ones. Life will beat us hard till we get that near-death experience. All that hardships are necessarily given by life so that we’re prepared to greet what they call as good times or happiness. All are given so that we remember that the days worth being thankful for aren’t allowed to be taken for granted.

HIMYM offers other wisdom too. One of my favorite is S08E20 “Time Travelers”. Here’s an excerpt of the episode:

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Simply, that episode teaches us to not dwell in the past, a lesson Tracy (Ted’s wife) points out later too on S09E19 “Vesuvius”. This lesson is a gem because, yeah, life moves forward. We must live in the now since now and future are what actually matters.

HIMYM also teaches us to be brave, to take risks in order to seize the day, and to make things right. Mistakes are inevitable, thus we must face it, work it, and make it right. Marshall and Lily have that “PAUSE” every once in a while whenever they’re fighting; all to stop them from making stupid decisions two emotionally unstable adults could probably make. Ted has been taking so many girls on a date in order to find the love of his life (though I don’t encourage this). Barney stops being a womanizer to finally pursue Robin, what he thought as the love of his life. Robin has to land a friggin’ helicopter all by herself before her career blasts!

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I could’ve written a damn long essay about the life lessons I get from HIMYM if only I finished binge-watching HIMYM yesterday. However, since the last time I watched HIMYM is around three years ago and since I have forgotten which episodes have the best wisdoms, I’ll just repost something from the internet:

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F.R.I.E.N.D.S

This 10 season long sitcom tells the story of six New Yorkers living their twenties on 1994 until 2004. The show doesn’t possess a main plot; instead it offers us the opportunity to peek into the life of six extraordinary people: a paleontologist (Ross Geller), a struggling actor (Joey Tribbiani), a statistical analysis and data reconfiguration specialist (Chandler Bing), a chef (Monica Geller), a fashion enthusiast (Rachel Green), and a masseuse (Phoebe Buffay).

Each of the characters deals with many rough circumstances over the courses of their lives. Ross Geller, a prodigy of the Geller family, has to deal the fact that his wife is in fact a lesbian. Joey Tribbiani has to deal with the harsh reality of being an infamous actor who struggles for a living. Chandler Bing, the funniest and the most sarcastic guy in the group, has to deal with the fact that his father becomes a woman (who works at a night club) at some point of his life. Monica Geller has to deal with the fact that her parents doesn’t really account her as a part of the family since she was once a fat loser compared to her brother Ross. Racher Green runs away from her wedding, gets disowned by her own family, and has to start from zero (like, really really zero). Phoebe Buffay has to grow up on the street with the fact that her mother killed herself. Practically, F.R.I.E.N.D.S tries to tell us that everyone has their own history that shapes him or her so we remember not to judge someone only from their attitude at the moment.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S also reaffirms that old proverb “Friends are the family you choose“. Those six people were once complete strangers, but they keep cherishing their friendship over the time. They have each other backs. Whenever Joey needs financial support (or food), Chandler and Monica are always there. Whenever the group needs frank opinions, Phoebe will give it without them even asking. Whenever anyone needs advice on something, the others will be there. Perhaps the main soundtrack of F.R.I.E.N.D.S has spoken it all:

Oh, of course the group has many quarrels over the course of the time! Sometimes they avoid the talk, or even the person they’re having problems with. But, hey, they always find a way to resolve their problem! They apologize, they forgive.. because that is what friends do.


Both offers laugh, jokes, and puns you can use someday in real life. Both offers dramas and silly twists. Both offers heart-warming moments that will touch your heart—or even your soul! Both offers the end of an era, because, let’s face it, they’re not going to produce the sitcoms for the rest of their lives, aren’t they?

But the most important thing I get from those sitcoms is the lesson to not take someone’s company for granted. To not take a friend for granted. Even for once.

for my favorite 14
for bearing with me

from the beginning
and, hopefully,
until the very end.

p.s. HIMYM is undoubtedly the best.

I Am Sarahza: A Proof That The Butterfly Effect Exists

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(Disclaimer: this post is written in Indonesian because I Am Sarahza is also written in Indonesian)

Saya tidak akan me-review karya keenam Hanum Salsabiela Rais dan Rangga Almahendra dari A sampai Z karena saya yakin banyak orang yang bisa melakukannya lebih bagus dari saya. Alih-alih, saya akan merefleksikan perjalanan perasaan saya beserta beberapa bulir hikmah yang saya garis bawahi ketika membaca I Am Sarahza, sebuah rekam jejak perjuangan Hanum dan Rangga menanti buah hati selama hampir 12 tahun.

I Am Sarahza merupakan ‘buku sejarah’ perjuangan Hanum dan Rangga menanti keturunan. Sebagaimana semestinya perjuangan, novel ini menceritakan perjuangan dalam rentang waktu yang panjang, yakni sekitar kurang lebih sebelas tahun. Cerita diawali dengan pertemuan Hanum dengan Rangga di parkiran FKG UGM dan diakhiri dengan kelahiran putri mereka, Sarahza Reashira, sebelas tahun kemudian. Di antaranya? Perjuangan hebat seorang perempuan untuk go straight outta hell alive: 5x inseminasi buatan, 20x terapi herbal, dan 6x bayi tabung (IVF).

Kenapa harus banget pakai diksi go straight outta hell ya karena perjuangan Hanum masyaallah banget. Gimana enggak? Kesuburan seorang perempuan itu—setuju nggak setuju, percaya nggak percaya—sebuah aset berharga, sebuah nilai plus bagi seorang perempuan. Dalam I Am Sarahza, Hanum menceritakan dengan gamblang sebelas tahun pernikahannya yang dihantui oleh pertanyaan “suburkah aku?”. Selama sebelas tahun, batinnya bergulat mempertanyakan nilai dirinya sendiri, nilai yang seharusnya bisa ia banggakan sebagai bagian utuh dari dirinya.

The Butterfly Effect

Perjuangan dan pergulatan batin sebelas tahun Hanum menurutnya berakar pada satu kejadian penting dalam hidupnya. Saat itu, pada perayaan ulang tahun ke-2 pernikahan mereka, Hanum berkata kepada Rangga:

“Buatku nggak punya anak juga nggak papa.”

Bum! Kalimat tujuh kata itu dengan mantap mengalir dari bibir Hanum. Diceritakan, pada saat mendengarnya, Rangga takut bahwa perkataan Hanum akan diamini malaikat yang mendengarkan.

Kalimat emosional itu merembet keluar karena Hanum pada saat itu tidak ingin menomorduakan kariernya sebagai presenter TV di bawah kepentingan keluarga, yakni mengusahakan keturunan sebelum keadaan semakin rumit. Sebenarnya, perasaan Hanum bisa dipahami. Pada saat itu, ia tengah menjalani kehidupan yang ia inginkan—berkecimpung di dunia media—setelah selama enam tahun berkutat pada dunia yang tidak ia nikmati—kedokteran gigi. Sebagai seseorang yang tengah mencicipi terpenuhinya kebutuhan akan self-actualization, jelas Hanum tidak akan semudah itu melepas sumber kebahagiaannya hanya demi menemani Rangga kuliah di Austria.

Akan tetapi, terlepas dari relativitas benar-salah terhadap persepsi masing-masing orang, tidak selalu apa yang bisa dipahami itu harus dibenarkan. Dampak dari perilaku Hanum muda yang dilandaskan pada emosi dan ego ternyata menggema melintasi ruang waktu hingga sebelas tahun kemudian dan juga seterusnya. The Butterfly Effect, suatu perubahan atau tindakan kecil di masa lalu dapat berdampak besar di masa depan. Sehingga, bisa kukatakan bahwa bulir hikmah utama dan terpenting dari cerita ini adalah selalu berhati-hati dalam setiap tindakan, seremeh apapun tindakan itu, seremeh berbicara.

The Playbook

Penantian Hanum dan Rangga yang diceritakan dalam novel ini mengingatkanku akan suatu kejadian lampau yang pernah kualami. Pada saat itu, aku tengah bersekolah di tingkat 2 suatu sekolah dasar yang luar biasa. Guru kami dan asistennya akan mengajari kami cara menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” dari dua bilah kayu yang disilangkan dan gulungan benang warna-warni. Karena keterampilan itu perlu pengarahan dan pembiasaan sekitar sepuluh menit, murid-muridnya dipanggil secara bergantian. Mereka hanya memanggil dua murid setiap sepuluh menit. Sehingga, untuk mengisi waktu menunggu giliran, mereka menginstruksikan kami untuk bersantai di kelas. “Kalian terserah mau ngapain aja, yang penting bersantai,” begitu perintah guruku.

Begitulah kami selama beberapa jam kemudian. Ada temanku yang berbincang, ada temanku yang membaca buku. Pada saat itu, aku yang tidak sabar untuk segera menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” tidak bisa benar-benar bersantai. Aku berusaha berbincang dengan temanku dan membaca, tetapi mataku kerap curi-curi pandang ke arah teman-temanku yang telah terlebih dahulu dipanggil untuk menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba”. Ketika teman-temanku menyebar ke segala penjuru ruang kelas untuk benar-benar bersantai, aku terdiam menunggu dengan duduk tenang dan rapi di karpet dekat guru dengan kedok pura-pura membaca. Rupanya gelagatku itu diketahui oleh guruku. Alhasil, aku harus menyaksikan semua temanku—kecuali satu orang yang kini aku lupa siapa—dipanggil dahulu sebelum aku. Ya, aku menjadi orang yang dipanggil kedua dari terakhir. Saat itu jujur rasanya sedih. Apa salahku? Bukankah aku jelas-jelas menunjukkan minat pada kegiatan menyusun “jaring-jaring laba-laba” itu? Kenapa justru teman-temanku yang senang bermain-main itu yang dipanggil terlebih dahulu?

Seolah melempar memori akan kejadian itu ke mukaku sekarang, I Am Sarahza mengingatkanku bahwa kesalahanku pada saat itu adalah satu: enggan mengikuti petunjuk. Boleh jadi aku yang paling berminat, tetapi karena aku tidak mengikuti the playbook—aturan mainnya—, maka aku masih kalah.

Pada kasus yang dialami Hanum dan Rangga, Hanum merasa bahwa ia melupakan playbook-nya, yakni kitab suci Alquran. Ia merasa bahwa selama ia menginginkan keturunan, ia tidak pernah benar-benar meresapi setiap prosesnya sesuai Alquran dan sunnah. Ia lupa bahwa ada peraturan main yang harus ditaati supaya Yang Maha Kuasa berkenan memberikan kuasa-Nya.

The Main Objective

Karena I Am Sarahza berotasi mengelilingi perjuangan Hanum mengusahakan keberadaan janin dalam rahimnya, novel ini juga berfokus pada tugas utama seorang perempuan. Pada awal novel, diceritakan bahwa Hanum adalah seorang mahasiswi koass kedokteran gigi yang merasa tidak bahagia dengan takdirnya menjadi dokter gigi. Hal ini karena ia ternyata memiliki minat yang lebih besar pada dunia media dan jurnalistik. Ketika pada akhirnya ia bisa menyelami dunia media dan jurnalistik, ia menjadi lebih memihak pada kariernya daripada keluarga kecilnya bersama Rangga. Bahasa kerennya, Hanum menjadi career-oriented.

Hal ini kemudian menimbulkan banyak rintangan bagi Hanum dan Rangga dalam memperoleh keturunan. Ketika akhirnya Hanum merasa berada di titik nadir hidupnya, Hanum mengevaluasi orientasi hidupnya dan melakukan pivot, perputaran sebesar 180 derajat. Ia kemudian menjadikan rida Allah SWT sebagai orientasinya. Padahal, dalam ajaran agama Islam, rida Allah SWT bagi perempuan yang sudah menikah adalah rida suami, bukan pada karier, ketenaran, dan segala hal duniawi lainnya. Hanum menjadi afterlife-oriented, berorientasi surga.

Kisah perubahan orientasi Hanum mengingatkanku akan game masa kecil yang suka kumainkan. Dalam beragam game tersebut, ada yang istilahnya main objective (tujuan utama) dan small errands (pekerjaan sampingan). Main objective jelas lebih susah untuk dilakukan karena ada banyak langkah rumit yang harus dikerjakan untuk menyelesaikannya. Sementara itu, small errands adalah pekerjaan ringan yang tidak memakan waktu dan pikiran, tetapi memberi reward yang lumayan. Terkadang mengerjakan banyak small errands bisa lebih menyenangkan daripada melanjutkan misi utama untuk menyelesaikan main objective. Akan tetapi, sebanyak apapun small errands yang kukerjakan, game tidak akan selesai.

Begitu pula dengan hidup. I Am Sarahza mengingatkanku kembali bahwa dalam hidup ini pasti ada hal-hal kecil menyenangkan yang bisa mengalihkan fokus kita dari mencapai tujuan utama. Sebut saja karier, kemewahan, dan kesenangan duniawi yang menggiurkan. Sementara itu, kita terkadang sering melupa bahwa ada main objective yang harus kita tuntaskan sebaik-baiknya. Apakah main objective kita sebagai manusia? Sekali lagi, jawaban dari pertanyaan ini relatif. Akan tetapi, aku cukup yakin bahwa banyak yang setuju bahwa salah satu tujuan kita di dunia ini adalah untuk menjadi orang yang pantas mendapat surga-Nya.


Ada banyak bulir hikmah lain yang bisa dipetik dari I Am Sarahza, tetapi setidaknya tiga di atas merupakan tiga bulir hikmah yang paling mengena bagiku. Ketika membaca novel ini, aku tidak menangis, sepertinya. Mata berkaca-kaca, iya, tetapi dengan sekali kejap air mata itu hilang seperti diserap lagi oleh kantung pembuatnya. Meskipun ada beberapa ulasan I Am Sarahza yang menyebutkan bahwa novel ini membuat mereka menangis meraung-raung ketika membacanya, aku tidak menangis. Entahlah.

Akan tetapi, I Am Sarahza berkali-kali membuatku harus berhenti membaca dan meresapi apa yang barusan dipindai oleh kedua bola mataku. Beberapa kali aku menjadi teringat akan kejadian masa lalu karena mendadak jawaban kejadian masa lalu itu kutemukan verifikasinya pada novel itu. Beberapa kali pula aku harus berhenti untuk beristigfar karena I Am Sarahza rupanya juga menjadi buku yang mencatat dosa-dosaku. Beberapa kali pula aku harus berhenti untuk menanamkan bulir hikmah yang kutemukan kuat-kuat dalam diriku supaya aku kelak tidak lupa.

I Am Sarahza merupakan buku mengenai perjuangan. Sungguh tidak berlebihan apabila aku mengatakan bahwa I Am Sarahza menjadi kado indah dari Hanum dan Rangga bagi pembaca. Kado yang dapat mencegah pembaca terperosok dalam lubang yang sama, kado yang dapat menjadi lengan bagi yang perlu dikuatkan. Sekalipun tidak ada satu pejuang pun yang langsung menang di medan perang sehingga kita perlu bantuan banyak tangan untuk berjuang. Jadi, selamat membaca dan merasakan sensasinya!

Sarahza

Never Have I Taken A Commercial This Serious

Hullo! It is almost that time of the year again: holiday. Yeayyy! I have been trying to retain ideas on my mind until next Wednesday (the day I finish this semester) so that I can focus on my final exam, but oh well, I guess I can’t hold it anymore and I guess this piece won’t really bother my exam prep. So here it goes!

Around three weeks ago, 50s-90s musics were on my YouTube’s top suggestion list since I often played Sinatra’s while writing my almost-100-folio-pages assignment. If I’m not mistaken, before the never ending music suggestion list played Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man, a disturbing short silence followed by a traditional Javanese rhythm came along out of nowhere.  I minimized my Word and checked my YouTube tab to find a commercial made by Blue Band Indonesia (a prominent margarine brand under the flag of Unilever) which featured my hometown, Yogyakarta. It turned out that the commercial was a web-serial with the duration of 12 minute-ish. I somehow didn’t want to click that Skip Ad button on the bottom right side, and so I watched it for the next 12 minutes.

The serial is titled Cerita Nada and it tells the story of a nuclear metropolitan family who returned to Yogyakarta to celebrate Ramadhan with relatives. It only has three episodes which is released once in a week, and I have been following that serial until today, the day it ended (I guess). I’m not going to talk too much about the plot, you can just watch it down below:

(make sure you’ve watched the episodes down below before moving on to my next paragraph as I will reveal more spoilers and pop the magic!)

As a matter of fact, compared to Tropicana Slim’s Sore which came out around a year ago, this serial is not highly buzzed among Indonesians. Although Blue Band is more widely used among Indonesians than Tropicana Slim’s Stevia Sugar (the product introduced on Sore), it’s not too surprising that Sore went more viral than Cerita Nada. Why? I guess Tropicana Slim understands the basic recipe for Indonesians better than Blue Band: love story and settings abroad.

(a peek on Sore)

Besides that, if we compare both serials, Sore seems to be crafted more artistically than Cerita Nada. Sore has a unique plot, a great choice of original soundtracks and artists (Adhitia Sofyan and Kunto Aji), and an uncommon way of promoting its product (they rarely put Stevia in its frames). Adhitia Sofyan’s Forget Jakarta on the beginning of the first episode is enough to light people’s curiosity and capture their attention for the next 12 minutes. Meanwhile, Cerita Nada is simply not that unique. Plus, the way each character interacts with others seems too unnatural. In my honest opinion, it is harder to enjoy Cerita Nada because some parts are too soap opera-ish.

HOWEVER, I highly appreciate the writer of Cerita Nada for the moral values it contains. I praise anyone who made the story for bringing up Indonesia’s latest national problem: the lack of attention towards surrounding due to gadget use. I’ve experienced it myself (being ignored for gadget and being chosen second after other people), and believe me, Key (the child in the story) and Nada (the mom, the wife) perfectly resembles what I feel. This is a problem most people have, but too scared to speak about since it is often being done by parents, older people, whom we must respect. I really hope that more people will watch this because I believe this serial can speak what we aren’t brave enough to speak about.

Another thing that I like from this serial is that it implies the idea of the importance of food as a fuel for love. Yep, this sounds cheesy too in my ears, but believe me, we really are what we eat. Back when I was a kid, my grandma (who happens to be the greatest home cook I’ve ever known ’till now) told me that “Love springs from the stomach”. She told me that the reason why she always fed her family with her own cooking is because homemade foods also contains love other than those physiologically-important nutrients. It sounds cheesy, but she’s right. You can feel the difference between restaurant’s food and your mom-made or your grandma-made food; those mom-made or grandma-made food feels like home. And here, on the series, most of their problems are solved by cookies. It seems unrealistic though, but hey, good food can lead to a good conversation–or so they say: good food, good mood.

So, bottom line, thank you Blue Band and Tropicana Slim for pioneering creative audiovisuals to promote health (and your product, of course). I truly enjoy the storytelling, and I really hope that someday in the near future our TV channels will be filled with quality contents like these.

Arrivederci, peeps! Until next week (I guess, ehehe).

Why “The Greatest Showman” Is NOT The Greatest

Disclaimer: if you haven’t watched “The Greatest Showman” and you don’t want any expectations ruined, you better skip this post and go ahead.

Okay, okay, before I elaborate the reason why I ‘mock’ everyone’s favorite lately, I must inform you that I watch this movie without any expectation. I hadn’t heard anything about The Greatest Showman until the day I accidentally saw the trailer on a local cinema while I and my dad queued for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The trailer didn’t enchant me the way Pitch Perfect 3‘s enchanted me (which happened to roll on the screen right after The Greatest Showman‘s trailer). Just compare it yourself:

To me, The Greatest Showman‘s trailer is lacking of conflicts and baits. The trailer only emphasizes its audio and visual aspects, it doesn’t sell the story. On the contrary, Pitch Perfect 3‘s trailer has everything a trailer should has: short and catchy line(s) that describes the whole conflict the movie is about. It also has interesting puns (thanks to Amy!)(but I’m fully aware though that puns won’t be available on The Greatest Showman since both of them are on the different pole of the genre spectrum).

However, since I don’t want to miss any Oscar-potential movies, I decided to watch The Greatest Showman too, without any expectation. Plus, people say that it is even better than the anticipated Insidious 4, so why not? Turns out… I like it! Despite the trailer, The Greatest Showman gives me more satisfaction than Pitch Perfect 3!

Yes, I admit it, The Greatest Showman is totally a movie worth watching. It is great, really. But why do I still think that it is not the greatest?

Now that I’ve watched The Greatest Showman, I put it on the same class as La La Land. Why? Because both of them are musicals and quite phenomenal.

Comparing those two makes me notice flaws in The Greatest Showman. But before I go, I must inform the great things about The Greatest Showman to make it fair:

Its audio and visual are really pleasing.

The great thing about The Greatest Showman is that the crew managed to find the perfect cast for the characters. All of them are so good on screen: eye-pleasing, great at acting, and able to sing!

You can see the chemistry between Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams when they’re on screen. I see that both of them are suitable for each other ’till I and my friend (who I went to the movie with) panicked when P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) started being flirty with Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). You can also see the chemistry between Zac Efron and Zendaya when they sing “Rewrite The Stars”.

Plus, the colors of the scenes (although still not good as La La Land‘s) are able to make us feel the mood the story wants us to feel. Bright colors coated with upbeat lyrics and tones really make me want to sing and dance (although I can’t). Dark Manhattan sky with some household fumes make me feel like I was suffering the way they do. The depiction is great, honestly.

The set is neatly arranged too. I can see that the crew put lots of effort on it, mostly on the costumes. Dang, the costumes are so old fashioned (and it is a good thing, of course, considering its era of the story)! I wonder… is it possible for The Greatest Showman to win the Oscars for The Best Costume Design this year?

The last great thing about The Greatest Showman is the lyrics of the song they sing. The lyrics really speaks its singer’s heart.. it is the kind of song that touches your soul, kind of. When I heard it, I feel like I was waiting for the next part of the song because I want to know what can possibly happen next. Although the lyrics are better than La La Land’s or Beauty and The Beast’s (another musical you must have heard of), I don’t find it as catchy as La La Land’s.

Yes, The Greatest Showman is great, but for me, there are still some flaws that keep it a little lower than La La Land on my personal chart:

1. The story can be easily guessed.

Since the very beginning of the movie, everything seems so smooth. Although P.T. Barnum has lots of misfortune, he seems like he’s able to overcome his problem eventually. You won’t see a lot of his struggle on the movie and that will make you feel like everything is kinda easy for him. The father of the girl he likes disapproves him… but hey, look, he get her eventually! He’s fired from his job… but hey, look, he has a tricky idea! And so on. It is unlike the characters in La La Land or in Sing whose struggles can bring out our empathy.

So, as I watched the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking “What is the big conflict which he cannot overcome easily?”. And until the end, I don’t see one. There is too many small conflicts until there’s no big fat conflict as its main attraction.

2. Unexplained cases and unfinished conflicts.

  1. When P.T. Barnum mails Charity regularly, what is his address? Isn’t he homeless? How could he still receive messages from her?
  2. What does he, a poor little boy, do on his childhood and teen age ’till he can walk up to Charity’s parents’ door to ask for her with a clean suit and a fancy hat attached to his body?
  3. Okay, what’s wrong with P.T. Barnum and apples? You can see two apples on this movie: one when P.T. Barnum is still a boy and one when P.T. Barnum is already a dad. The problem is, you don’t get to see him finish eating the first one! Undoubtedly, you’ll mistaken the second apple as the first one because the second appears on screen not long after the first!
  4. Why does people keep saying that he is a fraud and his circus is fake?
  5. What happened to the protesters? Does moving the circus to a tent on the outskirts of Manhattan silence them?

I wanted to add “He’s very stupid because he buy a lavish gigantic house instead of paying his debt” to the list, but that won’t be fair.

The flaws aren’t that many, but those still disturb me from completely enjoying the movie. Nonetheless, the great things about The Greatest Showman can still cover its flaws, making it still eligible as one of the movies you recommend to friends.

If you have watched the movie and you agree or disagree with me, tell me on the comment section below! I’d love to know what you think. (Wow, I sound like a YouTube-er). Arrivederci!

Resensi Buku – Malam-Malam Terang

Tasniem, siswi kelas 9 SMP Negeri 5 Yogyakarta, merasa seakan dunianya hancur ketika mengetahui nilai ujian nasionalnya. Pasalnya, nilai ujian nasionalnya tidak mencukupi syarat minimal SMA idamannya, SMA Negeri 3 Yogyakarta. Siswi yang kerap sekali menduduki peringkat atas merasa terpuruk, merasa malu tidak mampu mendapatkan yang terbaik sesuai usahanya. Ia merasa bahwa kehidupan tidak adil ketika masa depannya hanya bergantung pada angka desimal yang ia usahakan selama ujian nasional berlangsung.

Setelah berhari-hari mengurung diri di kamar, Tasniem mencoba mengobati kegalauan hatinya. Ia pergi mengunjungi neneknya di Solo. Dalam perjalanannya, ada satu kata yang sering Tasniem temui: Singapura! Pada awalnya, Tasniem merasa tidak yakin terhadap seluruh pertanda itu, hingga perkataan neneknya membuatnya tersadar bahwa Singapura adalah pemberhentian selanjutnya.

Berbekal kemampuan bahasa Inggris yang apa adanya dan semangat untuk ‘mengambil apa yang seharusnya miliknya’, Tasniem lantas bertolah menuju Singapura untuk menuntut ilmu. Ia bersekolah di GC (Global College), sekolah internasional dengan siswa dari seluruh penjuru dunia. Di sana, Tasniem berteman dengan ketiga roommates-nya: Angelina dari Indonesia, Cecilia dari Cina, dan Aarin dari India.

Kehidupan di GC tidaklah mudah. Tasniem merindukan keluarganya, kehidupannya di Indonesia. Tasniem yang perlu mengejar ketertinggalannya dalam berbahasa Inggris juga merasa terpukul ketika mendapat nilai yang jelek di pelajaran komputer. Tasniem ingin berhenti berusaha dan kembali ke pangkuan kedua orangtuanya di Indonesia.

Suatu malam, ayah Tasniem yang saat itu sangat sibuk menjadi pegawai tinggi negara menelpon Tasniem-suatu kejadian yang bisa dibilang langka. Mendengar lantunan ayat Al-Quran dan beberapa pepatah bijak ayahnya malam itu membuat rindu Tasniem terhadap rumah terbayarkan dan semangat Tasniem kembali berkobar.

Di tanah rantau, Tasniem berusaha mendapat pengalaman sebanyak mungkin. Semua kejadian yang menimpanya sebisa mungkin ia cari sisi positifinya. Ia jalani kehidupannya dengan doa dan usaha supaya suatu saat nanti ia dapat membuat kedua orangtuanya bangga.

Sepintas, kurasa “Every cloud has a silver lining adalah kalimat yang tepat untuk seluruh kejadian dalam novel karya Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi ini. Pada kali pertama aku membaca sinopsis novel ini, aku langsung tahu bahwa novel ini begitu cocok untuk membangkitkan semangat para pemimpi yang telah dijauhkan dari mimpinya.

Ketika aku membuka novel ini untuk yang pertamakalinya, aku merasakan aura yang familier. Novel ini berlatar di tempat-tempat yang terasa tidak asing bagiku berkat penggambaran-penggambarannya yang begitu ‘nyata’. Novel ini terasa begitu ‘dekat’ berkat pilot chapter-nya yang menggambarkan kejadian yang sering terjadi di sekitar pelajar: NEM yang terlalu rendah untuk masuk ke SMA idaman. Plot awalnya memang merupakan suatu kejadian yang biasa, tetapi every student can relate to that point of story.

Setelah membalik beberapa puluh halaman, aku berasa membaca kembali novel-novel favoritku: trilogi Negeri 5 Menara dan tetralogi Laskar Pelangi. Ya, menurutku, novel ini memiliki semangat yang sama dengan trilogi Negeri 5 Menara dan tetralogi Laskar Pelangi. Persamaannya adalah karakter Tasniem yang sebelas-duabelas dengan karakter Alif dan Ikal yang pantang menyerah. Novel ini seakan terletak di antara trilogi dan tetralogi besar itu; tidak sereligius Negeri 5 Menara (religius karena berlatar di pondok pesantren) dan tidak seutopis Laskar Pelangi (utopis karena menurutku semua tokoh mendapat akhir yang bahagia). Malam-Malam Terang berada di titik kesetimbangan.

Menurutku, Malam-Malam Terang adalah ‘camilan’ baru bagi para pecinta novel-novel petualangan penuh inspirasi. Aku suka cara Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi membuat usaha tokoh Tasniem untuk berprestasi tampak menonjol pada cerita itu. Cara belajar Tasniem yang jitu digambarkan dengan detail, mengakibatkan cerita itu terkesan seperti tips dan trik bagi para pelajar. Bagian cerita yang menggambarkan Tasniem ketika berdoa dan bermunajat kepada Tuhan membuatku sebagai pembaca tersadar bahwa setiap usaha itu perlu disertai dengan doa. Selain itu, aku suka cara Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi menggambarkan Tasniem yang selalu berpikiran positif. Pikiran positif Tasniem terletak dimana-mana dan tidak menggurui; pikiran positif Tasniem bisa ‘mendoktrin’ pembaca dengan mudah (tentunya dalam hal-hal yang baik).

Meskipun begitu, menurutku ada beberapa hal yang membuatku berpikir “Sedikit lagi dan novel ini akan menjadi petualangan yang sangat tak terlupakan.”

Pertama, kurangnya dialog pada beberapa bagian membuat urutan-urutan kejadian dalam cerita ini kurang dapat tervisualisasi dengan jelas. Meskipun latar ceritanya digambarkan dengan penggambaran yang begitu ‘nyata’, kurangnya dialog dalam cerita membuat beberapa bagian di cerita ini kurang nge-feel.

Kedua, masih ada beberapa salah ketik yang kurasa cukup mengganggu kenyamanan pembaca. Beberapa kata yang seharusnya ditulis dengan huruf kapital justru ditulis dengan huruf kecil. Sangat disayangkan!

Terakhir, aku masih merasa digantungkan ketika membaca bab terakhir dalam buku itu. Aku merasa bingung; sebenarnya apa, sih, inti dari novel tersebut? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah perjuangan Tasniem melupakan sakit hatinya karena tidak diterima di SMA idamannya? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah pengalaman Tasniem ketika bersekolah di SMA dan hendak kuliah? Apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah upaya Tasniem untuk mendapat beasiswa kuliah di Jepang? Atau apakah inti dari novel tersebut adalah kisah Tasniem untuk pada akhirnya bersama dengan Edo?

Menurutku, novel ini berisikan kepingan-kepingan kisah Tasniem yang antarkepingannya tidak begitu berhubungan. Seperti misal, pada bab awal hingga beberapa bab sebelum bab terakhir, novel ini memang terfokus pada cerita Tasniem bersekolah di GC. Namun, beberapa bab terakhirnya membahas mengenai kegiatan Tasniem di Indonesia ketika mencari beasiswa ke Jepang. Kemudian, dua bab terakhirnya membahas mengenai Tasniem yang akan ‘ditunggu’ oleh Edo dan mengenai Tasniem yang sudah sampai di Bandara Fukuoka, Jepang. Aku merasa novelnya menjadi sedikit antiklimaks karena kurasa klimaks dari cerita tersebut adalah ketika Tasniem diwisuda (adegan itu benar-benar membuatku merinding!), bukan ketika Tasniem memperoleh beasiswa ke Jepang (bersekolah di Jepang tidak menjadi fokus cerita ini dari awal). Alangkah lebih nge-feel apabila novel itu hanya sampai pada adegan Tasniem diwisuda dan adegan-adegan selanjutnya dilanjutkan di novel selanjutnya (aku benar-benar berharap ada sekuelnya yang menceritakan petualangan Tasniem di Jepang hingga pulang dan ‘bersatu’ dengan Edo, hehe).

Akan tetapi, secara keseluruhan, menurutku novel ini merupakan novel a must-read! Ada banyak sekali adegan yang ‘mencerahkan’ dan adegan-adegan yang menyentuh hati. Aku tak sabar untuk membaca sekuelnya (kalau memang ada)!

Tambahan, berikut ini beberapa kutipan yang aku suka dari novel ini, hehe:

“Memenangkan proses itu sendiri lebih dahsyat daripada memenangkan skor pertandingan.”

“Kesepian adalah kutukan bagi seorang petualang.”

“Carilah suami yang pandai membaca Al-Quran. Kalau dia pandai membaca ayat-ayat Tuhan, membacamu sebagai istri adalah perkara yang mudah.”

Judul: Malam-Malam Terang
Penulis: Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi
Penerbit: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama

Tasniem Rais dan Ridho Rahmadi - Malam-Malam Terang

Book Review – Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Above all, mine is a love story.
And like most love stories, this one involves chance, gravity, a dash of head trauma.
It began with a coin toss.
The coin came up with tails; I was heads.

Sixteen years old Naomi Porter fell from the stairs on her school after taking a camera at her yearbook office. She passed out for a while. And then.. she woke up just to found herself forgetting the last four years of her life.

In a nutshell, this book tells you the story of Naomi Porter in her amnesiac days and how she faced all her lost memories. After she woke up, every information were confusing to her. From her stepparents divorce (yes, she’s adopted), her father’s plan marrying a dancer named Rosa Rivera, her relationship with her mom who she barely met, her sisterhood with her stepsister Chloe who annoyingly called her ‘Nobody’ instead of ‘Naomi’, her relationship with a social butterfly tennis player in her school named Ace Zuckerman who set questions to Naomi why she loves him at the first place, and else.

Fortunately, Naomi has a best friend who’s so kind-hearted and loyal to her, Will Landsman. They both used to be the co-editors of the school’s yearbook. Trying to bring his best friend on her feet again, Will told Naomi everything, everything about things she should catch up and who she used to be.

Being told by someone about what we should do sometimes annoying though we know that he or she is just helping. And that’s how Naomi eventually felt to Will. Will told Naomi that James Larkin (the one who brought Naomi to the hospital after she fell down) is one of those creepy guys who she shouldn’t date with while Naomi fancied him a lot. Stuffs like that happened, Naomi felt annoyed by Will’s presence and warnings and advices. Couldn’t hold her anger longer, Naomi went overboard. She ended their precious friendship for catching up with James. The broke up tore both hearts but it tore Will’s deeper. Naomi hadn’t knew yet what’s actually between them before she’s an amnesiac.

When Naomi was having a French lesson in the middle of her date with James, she somehow got her lost memory back! She then remembered what happened between her and Will, they kissed the night before she fell. And that made everything crystal that Will really do have feelings for her, even after he has a girlfriend. She came to know why did she loved working in a yearbook (she quit after she ended her friendship with Will) and why did Will became her best friend. She came to know everything, everything. And Naomi questioned, what will happen if instead of choosing James and Ace, she chose Will? Will their friendship ended like that or ended in another beautiful ending?

Well, first thing first, a few weeks ago, my aunt gave me 5 books. From those 5, I chose to read Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac first because something from the cover tells me that the book is special. And yes, this book is something.

In short, I can tell what Gabrielle Zevin wants us to know from this book: give yourself a second chance. This whole book is about giving ourselves a second chance. It’s crystal. After Naomi became an amnesiac, Will is right there to lead her to her past. But then, Naomi refused to be what she used to be. Instead of staying in the yearbook, she quit and rebelled. Instead of being with the school’s heart-throb Ace who she knew from the tennis club, she dated a creepy guy named James. She changed her self by simple things, like cutting her hair short, a motion most girls do when they’re getting rid of their old self. And when she gained her memories back, she’s also in the crossroads of her destiny: will she still be the rebellious girl who dated a creepy guy or will she be the sweet Naomi Porter she used to be? Even though she can be a different Naomi (in a bad way), she didn’t be that girl. She chose to give herself a second chance to be the sweet Naomi after considering what’s so bad about being a bad Naomi. I like that. Even though it is kinda a waste of time creating a character that doesn’t really developed in the end compared to what she is in the first pages, the journey itself is pretty and educating.

I love this book because it speaks what most people need which is giving themselves a second chance. Nowadays, when people are so depressed, instead of giving themselves a second chance to start a new life, they committed suicide. And that’s not cool.

This book also tells us that we should always give people in our life second chances. Naomi used to hate her mom for having an affair, Naomi also used to hate Rosa Rivera. But when she became an amnesiac, she learned what made she hated them and try to find a spot, a part of them, which is worth to be loved. And Naomi did give them a second chance to be loved by Naomi.

Overall? This book is a MUST-READ for people who is still concerned whether should they give themselves and other people a second chance or not 😉

Title: Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac
Writer: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: BloomsburyGabrielle Zevin - Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac