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 Ă–berg)

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