This Is Why We Naturally Feel Happier After Taking Photos on Trips

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Taking photos while traveling is a common practice, even an addiction among travelers. But to what extent does taking photos benefit us in experiencing our golden life moments? (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Nils Öberg)

There’re moments when I’m traveling I would be so enthusiastic I forget taking pictures. As a yoga practitioner, I’m told that being so immersed in your positive experience means that you just have to forget taking pictures. Because taking pictures is deemed a distraction of my genuine experience. Also, I see some friends who are going somewhere just to take pictures for their Instagram feeds instead of experiencing things around them: nature and themselves. So why ruining our life moments with taking photos that are just shown for the sake of impressing other people?

That was what I used to think of taking pictures during travels. But finally our addiction of taking photographs while we’re on travel is justified by science.

Cited from American Psychological Association, scientists found that those who like taking photographs of their experiences usually enjoy the events more than people who don’t. A team of scientists from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania discovered how taking photos impacts our enjoyment of life experiences. Compared to those who don’t take photos, those who do feel heightened enjoyment of positive exxperiences.

So how could this happen?

The explanation is this: taking photos helps us boost engagement in our activities we’re doing. And I can see that some of those who are enthusiastically document their experiences in photos are more enthusiastic and engaged. They look more motivated and high in spirits.

However, it’s not all about good news. There’re times when taking photos just won’t be advantegous to us as it is dependent on types of activities we’re involved in. If the activity is more about arts and crafts, chances are we’d better avoid taking photos to be more engaged in the experience. This totally makes sense. How can you enjoy making, let’s say, a vase with your hands if you’re always taking photos?

What is interesting is also the size and practicaility of the equipment of photography. Cumbersome cameras will slow down us on a trip and definitely less easy to use on the go.

The final conclusion is our documenting should not just about taking pictures with cameras. We also need to get actively involved and decide selectively as to which moments are worth documenting and which are not.

The researchers also touched on the importance of taking ‘mental photographs’, meaning that we so actively participate in whatever we’re doing we cannot forget all of experiences in it. So, again this is not always about how many clicks of camera shutter in your hands but more about engagement and participation with your mind, body, and soul. (*/)

Why Apples and Green Tomatoes May Be The Ideal Vegan Replacement for Your Whey Protein

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Thinking that only red meat can grow your muscles? Wait until you read through this.

Two natural substances (ursolic acid and tomatidine) found in apples and green tomatoes apparently can make your as strong as Popeye. They may help us combat aging processes in our muscles. As we all know, as our age advances, we lose more and more muscle mass.

This is a finding that scientists had after an experiment involving mice. Old mice that fed on apples and green tomatoes are known to have a higher muscle mass (10% higher) which enables them to be 30% stronger than their counterparts with no such fruit consumption.

Most of us may find out that muscles get weak and their strength decline as we grow older. And this means elderly people are more vulnerable to less quality of life. They should be able to lead an independent and productive life at an advanced age with sustained muscle mass.

Even if you’re not an elderly and young enough in your twenties or thirties, benefits of the two compounds are still existent. Eating apple peel and green tomatoes helps you replenish your muscle mass and strength, which may make both produces an ideal pre and post workout meal.

The research was conducted by Christopher Adams, who teaches internal medicine in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and senior study author. He founded Emmyon, Inc., a biotechnology company which worked in partnership with the University of Iowa.

BodybuildingWomanWe know the trend now that more and more people are told by advertisers that the more protein they consume, the better their physique and health would be. But that is not always the case because overconsumption of protein supplement such as protein powder can bring us more risks of health destruction than improvement. Cited from Harvard Medical School, protein powders may contain added sugar, calories, or even toxic chemicals. Which totally makes sense because they are artifically produced by humans.

Apples and tomatoes are different especially the organic ones as they are less likely to have such disadvantageous substances.

So, are you ready to replace that protein powder and whey protein with more FRESH fruits and vegetables? (Source: University of Iowa)

Finding Vegan Pho in Jakarta

I have developed a heavy aaddiction of vegan pho (Vietnamese noodles) recently. Jakartan weather has been getting frigid and polar-like in some way, with intermittent downpour and ….perpetual drizzle.
But because I’m living in Jakarta, Indonesia, there’s no way I can get the palatable food easily.
The first time I ate pho (the real pho made in Vietnam by Vietnamese chef) is when I visited  Vietnam in 2015 and I simply fell in love with it. Pho might be the equivalent of Indonesian soto. It’s anywhere to find in its country of origin and super affordable.
Yet, as I live in Indonesia, the price of pho is of course so un-cheap. This Vietnamese food chain outlet named Madame Mai at Lotte Shopping Avenue I found here in Jakarta sells vegan pho that I really like. Just because it tastes so fresh and warm in the belly..
One ingredient that I seriously get addicted to is the herbs that I can just add liberally and generously and guiltlessly. Seventh heaven!

 

Refugees and Literature

To some people, picturesque and Instagrammable panorama and places provide them a flood of inspiration to write. However, some draw inspiration from misery. And misery does love company.

Kurdish journalist cum Australian immigration detainee Behrouz Bouchani wants everyone around the world to be his company, too, in his lonely and gruesome life in a prison on Manus island, Papua New Guinea, a neigbouring country of my homeland Indonesia.

There is something about jail that no other place can have. Boochani reminds me of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, a renowned Indonesian literary giant who was once nominated as Nobel Literary Prize Recipient when he was still alive and sound. Toer was imprisoned for decades under Soeharto’s regime. His works were banned and thus erased him from the national literary radar. But that didn’t last long as the regime crumbled, he regained his dignity and lived a life he deserved. Toer was so prolific that he could not help writing while being jailed in Buru Island. The fact that guards may have come at anytime to ambush and seize any of his vey precious manuscripts, notes or materials did not seem to scare him. He even insisted on writing his words in paper and tactfully hid them all with the assistance of colleagues, fellow prisoners, and foreigners coming to the prison. He wrote on pieces of cement powder wraps as well as he knew that paper is so worthwhile as his tool of eternalizing his thoughts and feelings about what he had been enduring for so long behind bars.

The man just won Australia’s top literary prize early this month after he authored a book that he wrote on his phone, “No Friend But the Mountains“. The book won partly because it speaks about the author’s miserable life as a detainee in the remote island. Living there since 2013, Boochani definitely has amassed a myriad of materials. Even he could write and produce some works to get published, he has to face the next problem: how to get these materials out of the island? Thus, writing in a physical material is not an option.

Luckily, the island is not that remote as he is still able to be connected with the world outside. He has a mobile phone, on which he wrote bits of text and voice and video messages that he sent to his fellow literary worker who resides in Australia and acts as his translator. This kind-hearted fellow then compiled and stitched these long messages in various formats together and get them published as “No Friend But the Mountains”. Bloody genius. And of course, what a perseverance! It’s not easy to type long texts on mobile phone with touch screen as small as iPhone but he just managed to do that.

My next question is: “How could he get the mobile phone?” In a phone interview with Kristie Lu Stout of CNN, he mentioned about the fact that he actually got the phone by smuggling. He had one previously but then the phone was taken by force by guards and then he got another one somehow. Charging it also requires a power outlet, which takes me to another question: So are power sockets are readily available in the jail? Exactly how it is possible I still can’t fathom. But I admire him and all his hard work.

And I also get really curious whether the the signal reception in Manus Island is existent or strong enough to convey his message. Not to mention the way he pays the phone bill. Or is it a prepaid one? I am just crazy about these unraveled details. My hunch is he still keeps all these details to protect his own safety and of course, all of his ‘accomplices’ inside and outside of the jail.

As someone who has a bit of contact with some immigrants from poverty-stricken Africa and the tumultuous parts of Middle Eastern countries, I know first hand the kind of life they lead here in Jakarta. They live in a rented house in the heart of Jakarta, made available by the ‘generous’ support of the Australian Government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and UNHCR.

In my capacity as a yoga instructor, I simply had talked with them in a very very limited amount of time, i.e. while I was teaching and some minutes before and after classes. They are usually very secretive and introverted. Few are agressive if overly stimulated and agitated. But that may be because I am a male and they are women. This gives us some distance in communication. I remember a large-bodied lady from Somalia who almost always came into my class and faithfully followed each and every of my movements and cues on the mat. Called mrs Fareha, she is a persevere student of mine who I can be proud of. She pointed out her belly and thighs whenever I was about to teach her and some of her fellow inhabitants of the camp. She just wanted to get her limbs toned and her belly flat and slim. She had acquired very little Indonesian and English, making us very hard to communicate smoothly without using gestures and smart guess. The more we tried to chatter, the more we realized we pushed a cold, motionless, giant wall. Useless.

Another Iranian girl and her sibling were ocasionally coming but they seemed to be on-and-off participants with unstable inner motivation. Very little I could do to encourage them to come regularly because we did not speak much in fear of intruding their private life and interfering. These girls were more comunicative and relatively more fluent in English but they again are hard to crack open. It’s just not a place to make friends.

They are sometimes allowed to go out with the prior permit from authorities in the camp. And they can just leave the house with their friends and phones to contact. So they are actually very connected digitally speaking. They can just talk and chat on the smartphones that they own anytime anywhere. But the problem is whether they still remember the phone numbers or social media accounts of their most beloved people who may be now scattered, living in distant places or in their country of origin.

Boochani again also mentioned about the ruthless treatment of the Indonesian authorities and law enforcement. Asked why he still wanted to go to Australia after having landed in Indonesia which is a muslim majority country, he replied that the people are not welcome and they can be captured by police and get deported. Religious similarity doesn’t guarantee any solution to life problems, for sure.

Still living in Manus Island with other 600 refugees, Boochani is entitled to $125,000 Victorian premier’s Literary Prize but he didn’t manage to attend the event. Instead, he sent a video in which he delivered his victory speech. He said:”I would like to say that this award is a victory. It is a victory not only for us but for literature and art and above all it is victory for humanity. It is a victory against the system that has reduced us to numbers. This is a beautiful moment. Let us all rejoice tonight in the power of literature”.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people, says Martin Luther King, Jr. And Boochani has proven that his literary prowess has managed to break the silence. Powerfully. (*/)

National Press Day: Indonesian Journalists Need More Protection

I don’t know if you agree or not, but a blogger is also a journalist in some way. S/he is sometimes more opinionated than a journalist is allowed to be and that what makes him/ her unique and more humane than a journalist.

In reality, the profession of writer and blogger and journalist more often than not overlap each other. In my case, that is also the case.

This year in Indonesia, we still see some unsolved cases of journalist murders in the country. As reported by Kompas.com, there are still ten major cases of Indonesian journo murders, i.e. Herliyanto, Ardiansyah Matra’is Wibisono, Naimullah, Alfrets Mirulewan, Agus Mulyawan, Fuad M. Syarifudin (Udin), Ersa Siregar, Muhammad Jamaluddin, AA Narendra Prabangsa, and Ridwan Salamun. I am not going into the details on how these journalists got murdered but murders are still murders regardless of the methods.

The recent news that made headline today is that the president of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo has revoked the remission of Susrama, who has been convicted as the murder of AA Narendra Prabangsa. This definitely a major victory on the side of press activitsts. However, it is never enough as there are still many other homicide cases involving journalists in Indonesia that have gone unsolved for years and even decades! The murderer of Udin (Bernas Yogya Daily journalist in Yogyakarta) in 1996 has never been perfectly solved. And this is I guess one of the most monumental cases of journo murders in the country.

Murder is not the only type of crime that can happen against a journalist here. One can also experience violence. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) or Independent Journalist Alliance, one of the most progressive journalist organizations in Indonesia, recorded that the recent development of Indonesian press in 2018 was not quite bright. The data that AJI gathered showed that there are at least 64 violence cases involving journalists here. They were expelled, terrorized, physically beaten (or slapped), or sent to jail because of their pieces.

Journalists are now even expected to be more cautious than ever before as a new modus operandi emerges in Indonesia: doxing. It’s simply defined as an online form of persecution, in which people who hate the work of a certain journalist can just hunt him or her for any private details and then unravel them to the public to be judged. Horrible and disgusting on so many levels.

Sources:

  • https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2019/02/08/17302821/mengingat-lagi-10-kasus-pembunuhan-wartawan-di-indonesia
  • https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20190209111833-12-367698/jokowi-resmi-cabut-remisi-pembunuh-wartawan-radar-bali?tag_from=wp_wm_cnn
  • https://www.idntimes.com/news/indonesia/teatrika/jokowi-batalkan-remisi-pembunuh-wartawan-bali-ini-kata-moeldoko/full?utm_source=lineND&utm_medium=lineND&utm_campaign=lineND
  • https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1160304/aji-kekerasan-dan-persekusi-wartawan-di-2018-tinggi

 

Apakah Harus Nge-Blog Sesering Mungkin?

Menulis blog mirip lari marathon. Bukan sprint.

Menulis blog tiap hari terasa mudah awalnya jika memiliki banyak ide tetapi di tengah jalan, setidaknya pasti sesekali saya ‘disergap’ kemalasan, atau kesibukan lain yang tak kalah pentingnya.

Dengan bangga, saya mengatakan saya tak lagi bisa disebut sebagai narablog yang produktif. Blog-blog saya sudah lebih jarang diperbarui. Tetapi itu bukan karena saya malas menulis. Justru karena saya lebih produktif menulis untuk kebutuhan profesi saya.

Betul, saya sudah tak seproduktif dulu lagi. Namun, itu bukan karena saya sudah tak memiliki passion atau karena kemalasan yang susah dihalau. Atau karena saya tak memiliki alat dan sarana.

Tidak.

Justru saya bisa menulis dengan leluasa dengan koneksi internet dan laptop yang tersedia.

Kini saya pikir menulis blog hanya untuk sekadar eksis hanya memberikan kesia-siaan. Sering kita menulis blog hanya untuk menulis ulang soal apa yang sudah diutarakan banyak orang di luar sana. Atau kita hanya menulis sebuah blog hanya untuk bisa terkesan mutakhir, tidak ketinggalan langkah zaman yang begitu cepat. Kalau ada isu terbaru dan blog kita tidak membahasnya, kita menjadi merasa terbelakang dan ‘nista’ karena tidak cepat menanggapinya. Semacam FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Ketakutan yang menjadi penyakit laten dalam diri para sosok social media influencer. Bukan, saya bukannya berambisi untuk menjadi seperti itu tetapi setidaknya saya bersikap realistis, bahwa kehidupan semacam itu berisiko untuk membuka masalah baru.

Namun, bukan berarti bahwa saya berhenti untuk membahas topik yang sedang panas dengan sudut pandang yang segar tetapi saya akan mengarahkan upaya lebih banyak untuk memberikan opini yang otentik daripada sekadar mengekor opini dari A, atau B, atau C, atau X. Dan inilah yang susah, sebab saya harus berpikir lebih banyak.

Jadi, apakah memang frekuensi kita menulis blog itu penting?

Ada saat saya merasa sangat bersemangat dan memiliki banyak ide untuk ditulis. Semakin banyak yang ditulis, akan semakin banyak pembaca datang juga. Kunjungan naik dan blog ini makin populer. Bukankah itu yang diinginkan seorang narablog?

Yang jelas, mengisi blog dengan tulisan baru dengan teratur memberikan sejumlah keuntungan, misalnya:

1. Semakin banyak Anda mengunggah, semakin banyak laman web yang diindeks oleh mesin pencari.

2. Semakin banyak yang Anda unggah, makin banyak kunjungan yang Anda terima dari pengguna Internet yang menerima konten Anda.

3. Makin banyak Anda mengunggah konten, makin tinggi potensi konten Anda untuk dijadikan rujukan oleh orang.

4. Makin banyak Anda mengunggah, makin tinggi peluang Anda untuk mengukuhkan status sebagai pakar atau ahli.

Ada banyak manfaat sering mengunggah konten baru ke blog kita.

Masalahnya, yang patut dicamkan adalah kualitas seharusnya menjadi prioritas dibandingkan kuantitas. Jika yang kita lakukan sebagai narablog cuma menulis ulang apa yang sudah ditulis banyak orang, orang tentu akan jemu. Akhirnya mereka menjadi tidak tertarik untuk menjadi pembaca blog kita.

Sekarang, apakah kita harus menulis blog setiap hari?

Narablog berbeda memiliki opini dan jawaban berbeda tentang ini. Betul bahwa menulis blog saban hari atau setidaknya beberapa kali seminggu akan menghasilkan angka kunjungan yang lebih tinggi dan membuat kita lebih profesional. Apalagi jika Anda menulis blog untuk kepentingan finansial, frekuensi menjadi penentu keberhasilan. Masalahnya, jika konten itu cuma mengulang yang sudah ada, tidak ada manfaatnya Anda membuat sebanyak mungkin konten untuk diunggah setiap hari.

Beberapa kiat yang pernah saya coba ialah bereksperimen dengan beragam topik yang relevan dengan ceruk atau bidang yang saya tekuni; frekuensi mengunggah konten baru. Satu yang belum pernah saya coba ialah meneliti kebiasaan pembaca blog saya. Apakah mereka lebih banyak yang membaca pada waktu tertentu? Saya belum tahu. Mungkin sudah saatnya saya berusaha mencari tahu. (*/)

What Getting Involved Actively in Non Profit Communities Has Gotten Me into

yogem.PNGThis year marks my 9th year of involvement in a local yoga community in Jakarta. It’s a totally nonprofit community that grows purely organically. As one of the witnesses in the early phase besides the founder himself, I was proud enough to see how the community has thrived in all these years. I still recall one weekend when things were not so bright. It was post savasana (corpse pose) bliss that I experienced under the morning sunlight after I had a quite depressing week at work. It was just a nice person behaving badly under the spell of hormonal imbalance, I guessed. And it was more than enough to ruin my work mood.

In my hometown, I’d never been involved in a community. In fact, I had always avoided the world of organization or community whenever possible. I hated being appointed a member in an organization as it brought so many social responsibilities. I’ve been always an introvert so getting too social is a lot of ‘work’. I always felt what I had was just enough and never wanted to ask for more.

Yet, in this yoga community I feel a totally different sensation. I came into yoga through the community, and it makes me a lot like home to practice here. In this social, super supportive circle.

Why so?

The first and foremost, it was because I got into the community on my own will. Unlike in the past, I participate because I voluntarily signed up for it. It was never obligatory, compulsory, or such. I had made a decision to be committed to the community and whenever I feel like I’m not being social, I am not made to attend or join. And I’ve experienced many times when I had a bad week, going to the park and seeing the yoga community turned out to lift my mood up. And this is a very genuine feeling that is beyond transactional terms.

Getting involved in a community has led me to another world of opportunities that I’d never imagined before. Such as, making new friends, getting a lot of new acquaintances, and sometimes – unexpectedly – a number of professional opportunities for my development. To me, it was more than my own expectation as I started joining it not because of any possible rewards but more because of self development.

Getting involved in a community that is diverse in terms of the member composition also allows me to acquire better social skills. This is absolutely beneficial to balance my introvertedness, which sometimes can bring me trouble than benefits.

 

Getting involved in a community makes me feel liberated

Because I have time for others, I feel like I have more time for myself, too. Research shows that volunteers feel they have more time. In other words, the more you give, the more you have. It might be illogical and doesn’t make sense but — unlike economic, transactional activities in our life — giving has its own logic, don’t you think?

 

Getting involved in a community helps me acquire new skills

We’re getting transactional here. When we talk about self development, of course we turn a little bit more self-centered. But it’s unavoidable, really. Based on the research finding published in Stanford Social Innovation Review, skill-based volunteerism is a golden opportunity for employers to hone new skills of their employees and executives, which are essential in career development.

 

Getting involved in a community aids me to stay healthy and fit

Being an active member of a community, a report says, helps us to stay healthy as they are said to have “lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life”. Isn’t it fantastic? Besides, what I join is a yoga community so obviously enough I can never be more healthier than now!

 

Getting involved in a community helps amass more experience of life and work

In a tightly-knit community, I can see multitude people from various walks of life. More often than not, they have life and jobs that I have never familiar with before. From chats, I can usually see their foreign perspectives towards life events and this is very interesting and stimulating in every possible way.

 

Be prepared for any opening of amazing opportunity doors that can catch you off guard. I sometimes run into people who needs my skills in these community meetups, and this is not made up. They come to me naturally. It’s a totally genuine and real example of word-of-mouth marketing method.

 

And if you’re looking for work, getting involved in a community may be a good idea to fill up your scanty resume. Without having to be pompous!

 

Getting involved in a community makes you happier

Feeling low about life or demotivated after a recent massive life failure? Be happy with only joining a community. A study conducted by London School of Economics discovered that volunteers are happier when they do more for the community. It does make sense as getting involved actively in a community builds empathy and social ties, which eventually leads to a more meaningful life.

 

How about you? Have you joined a local community around you and make your life more meaningful in 2019? (*/)

 

On Benefits of Writing Thoughtful, Sincere Handwritten ‘Thank You’ Notes

New year, new writing goals and exploration.

As of now, I have been a diarist for years. I have been blogging for 9 years I have also been working as a professional writer for 8 years. I have also published my work although it is still under a big publisher’s name instead of my own name.
So today I found this interesting scientific finding on sciencedaily.com. It read:’Writing a ‘thank you’ note is more powerful than we realize”.

I was startled.

I have no idea how significant a thank-you note’s impact can have on human beings.

But as I gave it a deeper thinking, I can make sense of this.

Let’s delve into the report first. The University of Texas at Austin published this finding on August 28, 2018. “New research proves writing letters of gratitude, like Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Thank You Notes,’ is a pro-social experience people should commit to more often. The gesture improves well-being for not only letter writers but recipients as well,” wrote the website.

Intriguing, indeed.

The subjects of experiment were told to write a letter of gratitude to someone who has done something good for him or her and then expect the reaction of the recipients. But if you’re an introverted person like I am, chances are you’ll find saying gratitude in person is a daunting task. Not to mention the growing anxiety of being misunderstood.

The researchers also pointed out these issues, too. They said anxiety about what to say or fear of their gesture being misunderstood causes many of us to avoid expression of genuine gratitude.

The takeaway of the study is that we should from now consider writing and sending people around us (whether they be family members, coworkers, etc) more thank-you notes.

What needs to be taken into consideration is that writing such a brief note, though, is not an easy feat for anyone. Even for those who proclaim themselves as prolific writers or professional writers, writing a heartfelt letter takes another type of skill and, of course, bravery to let our vulnerability known to another person or others. (*/)

“Aroma Karsa”: The Review

DEWI LESTARI and the literary prowess she is now having are quite astonishing, to be honest. Because I am not her huge fan, I am not quite familiar with her works. I once read “Rectoverso”, a compilation of short stories published back in 201. But that is all what I know. I have never read her works like Supernova and the family which are considered big in the contemporary literature in Indonesia.

And to be brutally honest, my skepticism of her work is partly – or maybe largely – because she had a celebrity status prior to her being a literary figure. Maybe people view her highly because she is just a singer-turns-writer commercial success. But I ask to myself again, is that a symptom of envy? I laugh out loud. Indeed, it is true. That IS envy. Literary envy. Apart from everything, she is just so lucky to have that fame which helped her in some way to soar. But I know that fame only won’t get her so far and Dee – her pen name – proves her literary journey does not end too soon. So okay, she has that X-factor that no other authors in Indonesia ever have but I am convinced she works hard, really hard for this and she totally deserves it all.

While I am writing this review, I am still reading her latest work “Aroma Karsa” which is one of the hottest recent published Indonesian novels this very year. I got this from a friend working at the publisher of the novel, hoping to get a cheaper price. I just believe that I made a good bargain even without comparing the selling price at bookstores around me. Why? First of all, no bookstores that sell Indonesian novels around where I live. Tragic I know. Yes, they just closed that Trimedia outlet which was the nearest I could get whenever I want to know some recent Indonesian novels. My place to go is then a local public library, but then I doubt they have that novel because the book is too recent to be displayed in the public library. I am not sure they have it already by now and even they do have some copies, people would just – I assumed – borrow them all. And I have no copy left to borrow.

My first impression upon reading the book is that the book was like fairytale set in the modern, capitalism age. We have got this corporate setting as the entire backdrop. Of course, the palace (keraton) and Bantar Gebang and Sentul are just real settings but I cannot find the proof that Dee is using these settings as more than just settings. She obviously focuses more on the plot.

That said, the novel is very much plot driven. And like her main character, Jati Wesi, Dee knows very much that curiosity is one thing she needs to sustain during the whole reading experience from beginning to end.

I can feel the pace is quite fast. Even a little bit too fast. Imagine you are in a journey and Dee as a tour guide is taking you to a series of destinations. But in every destination, you only have some minutes to sit and ponder and ruminate. On other occasions, she just lets you take a few minutes and take photos and leave. Isn’t it the Indonesian style of traveling? Maybe. But apart from that, I guess this is what a popular, best-selling novel has to have. It has to encourage readers to read on. Once they are bored and put the book down, that is considered failure. They must be glued to it all the time. It is even better if the book which sprawls 690-ish pages is so compelling that readers can devour it in one single sitting or night. Of course, it is possible provided that you are jobless so you have so much time to spend alone, and you are living alone in your apartment and no relatives can bother or disrupt you in the process of enjoying “Aroma Karsa”.

At the first time, I was stunned by Dee’s diction. So many Indonesian words that are infrequently seen in the contemporary works of literature can be found here. They emerge from Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, I am sure. And it gives the impression that Dee is trying so hard to follow the rule. Or perhaps her editor made her do this? I have no idea. But I conclude that was quite impressive. I am glad that she takes her work seriously, now that N.H. Dini is gone. She may be her successor.

Another comment I have in mind is that Dee has a peculiar taste of naming her characters. Jati Wesi is not a common name for a Javanese man, as far as I am concerned. I am Javanese myself but never have I seen a man named this way by his parents. But then, hey this is a fiction work anyway! But if I were her, I would select another name which ensures audience that Jati Wesi is a real one. And Tanaya Suma? I have no idea. That is a very atypical name of a Javanese girl.

And the Javanese mythology involved here is unbeatable. Further research is needed to know if this is made up or not.

Speaking of the description of smell that Jati Wesi and Tanaya Suma have is just awesome. Yet, in a certain point I feel so bloated with all the names of essential oils, chemical substances that are hardly pronouncable for laymen like me. This to me slowly turns sickening because Dee does not bother to give even a short footnote as to what X means or is commonly used or discovered in what. Once, twice, thrice, okay I am impressed but the rest looks like a sheer show off of olfactory-related vocabulary. It stresses that the author does the hard work of researching but how can it be informative to us readers when we cannot even know a glimpse of it? That is it.

(More review to follow as I finish reading the book)