Why Indonesians Litter Everywhere

LITTERING everywhere is one of Indonesians’ worst habits. This of course is not only found in Indonesia and its people. Thoughtless littering knows no races and geographical boundaries and nationalities. Even in the West (read: Anglosaxon countries), such a habit may be spotted in green and spotless countryside in summer. David Sedaris has been a witness and a relentless trash-picking activist in his idyllic English neighborhood where he now lives with his partner.

However, thoughtless littering has reached a shameful level in Indonesia as we all can see in public places where cleanliness must always be maintained. Such ignorance subconsciously conveys a message that thoughtless littering is never a social disgrace or misconduct. Although placards of waring have been stuck, erected and hung here and there (stating that litterers can be sued and fined for a huge sum of money or sent to jail), I personally hardly believe and feel positive that it will be in fact reinforced.

Why? Here are some underlying assumptions and perceptions why Indonesians – or people around me and myself – have come to this worst level of super massive thoughtless littering which we should have felt ashamed of but unfortunately is never taken very very seriously.

Ignorance in family education

Not many children I’ve seen these days have the innate and ingrained awareness since their early years that littering is never okay and thus must never be deemed trivial violations of norms. The simplest reason behind it is perhaps these children are advised to maintain cleanliness within their school area or home. Once they are out of the school or home zone, they understand by examples of adults aroud  them that littering is always forgiven.

Cleanliness is a mere formality

Adipura, I guess, is the most ridiculous award there is on earth. In Indonesia, the award is meant to show which city deserves the cleanest title.   It is so sickening to me because it never manages to awaken public awareness of cleanliness. Since a long time ago, I have questioned what is the essence of Adipura as winners are determined based on cleanliness of certain zones in a city or town. I know this because I read myself a sign stating that the spot must be maintained clean because judges are to observe it. It definitely ignores trash management in actuality, people’s ways of life, city plan and design and cleanliness maintenance in general. It does not only apply in certain hours, dates but also the entire year. Cleanliness here is a false mask to put on when deemed necessary, to please leaders/ superiors, and to bring more prestige to a local leader and administrations s/he leads.

Trash – including plastic – is considered perishable naturally

Indonesians treat plastic trash and other types of trash – whether it be organic, anorganic or toxic – pretty much the same. Just throw away to fill an empty patch of land and burn it down, not knowing that burning has even polluted the air even more. What an ignorance. That explains why people here buy and use plastic bags and containers liberally and guiltlessly, like their grandparents buying and using banana leaves to wrap foods without thinking twice.

Money solves all

Indonesians never think in the long term. So when they see trash, they seek instant solutions, i.e. pay other people to set trash aside from their view. “Why bother going all the way to find a trash can or litter bin if you can just throw trash away? There will always be people who are willing to get paid to clean all the mess.” That’s what is in their heads. Those who get paid for cleaning by the authorities are abundant and thus spoils everyone. Therefore, they only care about cleanliness around their own neghborhood or house or apartment. Outside their homes, cleanliness is the responsibility of the government. This overdependence on the government explains a lot why Indonesians always blame all their mess on authorities or public officials. They never blame it all on themselves. Pathetic. Now you know why it always looks clean in a well-off neghborhood but poverty-stricken neighborhoods almost always look horribly littered.

Littering is no serious offense

Is there viral news showing us how unforgiving and stern the Indonesian law is towards littering? Impossible. In the middle of a people so infatuated with sensational gossips and political updates, such news would be very much less interesting. And because of this, Indonesians are so ignorant of the awareness that littering is a serious environmental crime. And who are you to make reports even if you witness a person littering where s/he must not. Everyone must think,”Well, that’s none of my business. It’s totally the public officials (government). Who am I?” Plus, usually a litterer is a familiar person to us, e.g. a person living next door or family members you ought to respect or at least treat nicely no matter what happens. What mostly happens is pretending you never saw or witnessed it. That’s the best and easiest solution.

Trash management is never an important issue

Indonesia’s trash management is never serious and comprehensive and the government fails over time to show its goodwill to improve systematically and sustainably and real. And it is more about importing cutting-edge, very durable, and so pricey trash containers. Though it helps, of course it requires more than that to solve this extremely complicated problem. Another thing to show the failure is the fact that Indonesians don’t feel necessary to throw away trash according to its proper categories although they are already provided with 3 trashes to simply separate trash of dissimilar types. Such separate trash cans act as prention that this nation has also applied what other more developed nations have applied. But too bad it’s all fake and staged because after that the trash is treated just the same way as before.

Is cleanliness part of faith?

It is no concidence that Indonesians are mostly muslims and they never care about cleanliness. Since their early years, they are taught that cleanliness is part of their faith. “So there is no problem because there’s still the rest. Not all of it is gone,” their subconscious mind makes a lame excuse. So maybe from now on, it had better to start deconstructing such world view. Dirt is part of sin, perhaps that is how it should be taught. (*/)

Firefox Support Sprint 2018

WE had much fun today as we concluded our “Firefox Support Sprint“. I happened to take part actively in the event and I can say it was a blast.

So what is cool about joining this?

As a volunteer, I was assigned to respond to as many reviews as possible.  Though you are authorized to write a response, you have to comply with some guidance, which is as follows:

  • Share the love, be kind. It’s not your job to defend yourself, others, or even Mozilla. Users may just be venting because their problems are frustrating. The best thing to do is to help the user get his or her answer. If you feel that a post has crossed the line, skip it.
  • If you get stuck on a difficult support question, you can use the Support Forum Contributors Advanced Troubleshooting forum to discuss difficult questions or to see if other contributors are able to help. The #sumo IRC channel (accessible here via Mibbit or via Kiwi) is another place to ask for help and you can ping @guigs for staff support. On Telegram you can also join Support Mozilla (SUMO) and reach out to @rtanglao if you’re really stuck.

First thing first, you have to identify some common issues types such as speed, crashes, hatred, problems with latest updates, compatibility, keyboard, video capability, app file size, etc.

Once the type is identified, you may supply an appropriate response to it. But if you find it ambiguous or you feel reluctant to respond to such a review (not all review is nice to read for your information), just skip it for another to handle. That is pretty much how you can respond to a Mozilla Firefox review on Google Play.

That also means you need to develop extraordinary level of patience and vast range of vocabulary so that you will find it easy to select right words to address an issue without harassing or insulting others. Here chances are you will discover impolite reviews which you think are as derogatory and insulting as you have ever heard in your life time. But still, you have to maintain decorum while responding to it. Never lose temper because you have to focus on addressing issues.

The next step to take after responding to many reviews is taking a role of moderator. Here you are dealing with a collection of responses (that you and other fellow have previously posted). To be qualified and publishable, a response has to be positive, to address issues, and personalized.

This might look simple but at the end of the day, it proves to be useful for users of Mozilla Firefox. (*/)

Social Eating in Ramadan: Pros and Cons

THE English and Korean may have been campaigning against loneliness, depression and unhappiness which have been too prevalent among them. Americans also complain about not eating together as often as they used to (read this).

Here in Indonesia, we have our best cure to the aforementioned global pandemics: having meals together on every occasion. Yes, indeed eating together has been proven as an effective method to get rid of a sense of being all alone and forlorn.

As Wikipedia says, social eating tradition has its root back in the Ancient Greek age. People cooked and enjoyed foods and drinks to join a commemoration of a special moment or day.

In Ramadan (the fasting month in Islamic calendar), social eating in iftar time has been also a norm. Even those who are not muslims join dinner and chat together as it is a perfect time to interact over good foods. That shows just how much people can mingle with each other irrespective of their faiths, races, tehnic groups, and other differences.

But things are not as ideal when we see it in reality. That includes the case of social eating. Here is why.


Social eating is certainly good when it comes to restrengthening social connections. Science proves it (read here). Conversations among individuals at dining tables can alleviate someone’s chronic stress. Talking about recent experience or life events is even more relieving with friends face-to-face, instead of telling them via chat applications or social media.

Maintaining social ties over foods at dining table also lowers down the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Being in the middle of family members, friends and neighbors can be intimidating for some introverted folks but it turns out that it helps people slow down the brain aging process as well.


We all have been familiar with the bright sides of social eating. So how about the dark, undiscussed side of it?

As pointed out here, social eating can be bad as it potentially unleashes most people’s unhealthy eating habits. People are encouraged to swallow more foods and drinks which later causes overeating. I have seen a coworker who was taken to a nearby hospital days after Idul Fitri just because he lost himself during the festivity season. He ate almost everything he saw on the table.

Overeating also means people tend to consume more and more calories, leading to accumulation of body fats. This is ironic because you have meal together after you refrain yourself from eating anything for 13-14 hours in daylight in Ramadan. In Idul Fitri, the tendency of overeating is even higher. Suddenly you can eat anytime you want again and that is not an opportunity to get wasted so people binge-eating and find themselves clogged inside after eating like the greedies pig ever born.

Science also proves that social influences on eating are powerful. Eating together can affect someone’s body weight. So if you have a weight-related health conditions, eating together very often especially with people who are more ‘promiscuous’ will definitely bring you more issues than benefits.

What to heed

Now, what should be paid attention to when you want to eat together without having to endure its negative effects? Remaining mindful throughout social eating rituals is needed so that you won’t get yourself stuffed with junk foods or overload the intestines with foods in enormous portions.

When you are mindful, chances are you will eat more controllably. You are aware of making choices, which food to pick and to avoid. And of course, trying to limit that comfort food as least as possible because you know once you chew it, you cannot stop.

On that note, also never forget the essence of social eating, i.e. uniting. Some people are trapped in making more enemies than refreshing their stale friendships or relationships here. They bully each other, show off their latest posessions, which is at the end totally against the aim of social eating itself.

And what matters most is that you know that social eating should not get in the way of observing your religious responsibilities (read: your essential daily rituals). For muslims especially, what is the point of eating out at malls if you miss your maghrib prayer? (*/)

My Experience of Using Merahputih.id

Indonesia free email service Merahputih.id is the one and only free service of its kind available so far to support Indonesians’ communication and productivity. [Photo credit: Merahputih.id]
CONSIDERING the creepy dominance of Gmail in Indonesian market, at the same time I too cannot deny my dependence on this webmail service. I have owned and actively used my Gmail account since 2009 and there must be countless data I have stored in it. The service has really made my digital life easier and more comfortable.

But far before using Gmail, I had used Plaza Mail [correct me if I am wrong] in my college days. And the experience was — as far as my memory served right — quite good, if not extraordinary. Somehow I no longer used my Plaza account, partly because I have forgotten the password and do not bother to try recovering it.

In short, I truly miss that sort of free email service built by fellow Indonesians or Indonesian company. Why? Because if your nation can build its own products, why do not you support it by using them? Using our own digital products also supports our digital industry growth. I have been so sick of seeing Indonesian treated as a mere market. With resources this big, I think we could have been bigger than what we are now. Also, using our own digital products save us from negative impacts of data misuse done by foreign parties. If anything bad happens, suing service providers in our own jurisdiction is more plausible than doing so to overseas service providers such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc. Of course other reasons [like what is pointed out by Marsya Nabila of Dailysocial.id here] make sense as well but my own motive is mostly nationalism.

So when I discovered Merahputih.id on the 15th of April 2018 [amidst Facebook-Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal], I was so delighted I ‘jumped into the wagon’ right away.

The interface is clean and smooth and minimalist. There is much to complain about. [Photo credit: My own screengrab]
Having used the service for roughly a month, I can tell you it is AWESOME as the substitute of Gmail. At first I thought I can totally migrate to my Merahputih.id and close my Gmail account but then I decided to still let it active for a while to allow people who know nothing about my shift reach me through my Gmail. Now I have been less and less on my Gmail, which is good.

The bright side of this service is that it offers you 50 GB inbox capacity [compared to Gmail’s 15 GB]. As generous as it can be, it is also secure. IP Network Solusindo [the company offering this email service] claims it has applied the latest encryption algorithms. And what I like best is that all of its servers and tier-3 data centers are located in Indonesia.

One of points of improvement that I have in mind is that the service should also try to allow users to see the inbox or currently opened or read email when they are typing a new email or reply. Just like Gmail does. What I see now is the service leads you to a separate webpage dedicated solely to typing a new email and attaching files. This way, it is impossible to take a glance at a previous email you want to use as a reference. You may open it on another tab but that would be impractical.

As for mobile use, I found no difficulty in setting up my Merahputih.id email account in my iPhone. It is seamless to say the least.

Aside from MP [Merah Putih]  Mail, the company also offers MP Boks which I assume functions as your Dropbox. It allows you to automatically upload images from gadgets, automatically back up your contact, and enjoy free 2 GB storage. But too bad it is only available for Android-powered gadgets. As an iPhone user, I have no option other than wait for the launch on Apple Store.

In the near future, the company plans to  enrich their service portfolio by launching a group chat service, social media/ forum, news portal, IPTV, marketplace, to collaboration messenger.  So it could be like what is Kakaotalk to Koreans or WeChat to Chinese.

I myself have huge expectation that this service will proliferate anytime soon so this nation is no longer overly dependent on foreign services. (*/)


In Indonesia, Terrorism Has Never Been This Close and Alarming

Prevention of terrorism attacks are never too late. Start from now before it is too late for Indonesia to become as wretched as Middle East. [Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]
WE had this conversation over a dinner with some really good topics. As much as I hate the traffic, I also respected the person who invited me to the dinner (or ifthar). I am by no means a huge fan of bukber at a shopping center or any place where crowd gathers and people kill time by avoiding maddening traffic jams.

We had this conversations about yoga and pleasant themes but it suddenly took an unexpected turn.

I had nothing to comment about the recent terrorism attacks in Surabaya. Of course I curse and never ever condone such inhumane acts. That is perhaps because I find it hard to relate to terrorism. I kept thinking that it would never happen around me, or it would happen but I don’t think it will happen to me or my immediate family or in my neighborhood.

But one of my friends at the dining table there had opened my mind that there is always possibility that terrorism has appeared and given – even the slightest- signals around us but we choose to ignore these until it is too late to prevent them from claiming casualties around us.

We are awaken that terrorism has reached a new level. Now children have also been sacrificed to reach the so-called holy goal of realizing fully sharia nation and government, which we never knew they would do.

“Also in our WhatsApp groups of family and friends, we all have those people with fundamentalist way of thinking. And we cannot help it. They are around us,” he said.

I totally can relate to his anxiety. All of us, I guess.

Some of us have courage to fight against this by plunging into the ocean of debate and endless argument and some others just watch and sit and wait. Nothing real is done.

I used to be silent and give no comments on this issue but this time I cannot hold myself back.


But at the same time we should bear in mind that we should not fight against terrorists.


Because these people are actually parts of us. They can be your acquaintances, your neighbors, your coworkers, your mates, fellows, parents, siblings, and spouses who buy into the belief spread by irresponsible parties claiming that muslims in Indonesia are under attack, treated unfairly by the current government, marginalized in some way, and so forth.

If we take time to let them know and comprehend what is better for us together and let them know that the dogma and doctrines they have in mind are unfeasible in this diverse world, there must be some improvement in terrorism prevention measures.


Leave screens and start building interactions. I mean real interactions with human beings in person. Because that way, we can really understand how they think and set aside bias in our own mind and theirs. It is less about finding who wins or loses but more about compromising. We can work it out. (*/)

Every time you think terrorism has a justifiable reason, see these deprived homeless young children. That is what can happen to our future generation in the country. [Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Two New Online Tools You Must Use to Combat Hoax

THERE is nothing I hate most nowadays but hoax. Fake news is so prevalent on social media that I recently deleted my Facebook personal account [though I am occasionally still on it for the sake of this blog’s presence].  I swear I never consume content through social media ever again. At least until the political situation is cooling down, which means after the next year’s Indonesian presidential election is over.

Good news is here now!

Two online weapons are already invented to eradicate fake news on the web.  By means of these tools, everyone can discover who initially spread the fake news in their circles. That way, we will easily find out who must be held responsible for any misinformation and later on blacklist these allegedly reckless and irresponsible accounts. So let’s check them out.

Once you enter the Twitter handle in the box at Hoaxy, you can see the analysis of a Twitter account [to find out if it’s a bot or not], its followers, and friends.


To find any culprits of fake news on Twitterverse, you can rely on Hoaxy. The open source tool presents you visualization of how online content gets spread and trackskinks published by two types of websites; i.e. low-credibility news outlets and independent fact-checking organizations. It can also detect bots or automated accounts. Hoaxy welcomes any feedbacks to improve their accuracy.

You can see the result of my own Twitter account in the above screen capture. And interestingly I can also detect all of my followers to know whether they are inclined to be bots or real accounts. Real accounts have lower scores [lower or around 1]; whereas, bots or automated accounts have higher scores [apporachig 5]. Twitter accounts with scores between 1-4 are allegedly using automation tools in some various extents regardless of the possibility if they are real people or bots.

Botometer is qite tricky to use if you are an occasional internet user because it is more technical and the interface is a bit more dull and rigid.


The next is Botometer. It assesses the degree of likelihood that an account on Twitter is in fact a bot. The higher the score gets, the higher as well the likelihood of being a bot is. To find bots around us is important because it helps to detect hoax. Hoax or fake news is usually spread by bots or automated accounts to give an impression that it is widely talked about by many people while in fact it is not at all. Botometer also serves us visualizations of scores.


I definitely recommend using these online tools to stay sane in the Twitterverse amid these political events. But I do hope in the near future it is possible to use the tools  on Facebook and any other social media sites. For the time being, both have shown quite satisfactory  and reliable performance actually. (*/)

From “Global Sprint 2018” at Mozilla Indonesia

“Global sprint” may sound too foreign to most people. It in fact refers to a global online event run in many countries by Mozilla. In Indonesia, Mozilla Community held it today (May 10, 2018). It aims to spur people’s contribution to many Mozilla’s nonprofit beneficial projects.

One of its open source and nonprofit projects is Common Voice, whose goal is to teach machines how humans speak. Another product that may share similar functions is Google Voice. But Common Voice is different in that the data gathered here is NOT intended for commercial, forprofit purpose.

Here we contributed by collecting a huge amount of written texts in a certain language. In my case, my team was working on Common Voice in Bahasa Indonesia [Bahasais the improper way to refer to the language, for your information] or Indonesian.

Why does our contribution matter?

Because we all know that Internet is dominated by English-speaking, Anglosaxon-cultured audience. How about other Internet users who don’t speak or write the language? Did we notice that English content on the web is so easily found but in Indonesian less content can be found?

Mozilla is focusing on how to include these marginalized people while still giving control of their data. And because it is nonprofit by nature, they rely on volunteers.

Speaking of Indonesian representation in Common Voice, there is hardly data stored there. To fix the situation, Mozilla allows anyone to contribute by donating their sentences to the database.

“Wait, why should I do this?” you may ask yourself.

So here is the advantage. You may not help yourself directly but if you contribute, the database may help those who plan to do research on a limited budget for educational, nonprofit purposes (such as for their academic final project, thesis or dissertation research) to make their dream come true.

We read some texts and later our voice can be changed into texts by means of STT (speech to text) feature. The more sources provide texts and feedbacks, machines would distiguish voices better and more accurately. If there is any error, it is correctable.

In this Global Sprint 2018, contributors present in Jakarta’s Mozilla Community Space were sitting together to store as many sentences as possible on the database of Common Voice to improve the machines’ performance in recognizing various human voices.

Below are important and informative links you can click in case you need more resources on this Global Sprint:

  • about Mozilla Global Sprint: https://mzl.la/global-sprint
  • about Mozilla Common Voice Project: https://voice.mozilla.org/id
  • about Mozilla Community Voice Sprint: https://voice-sprint.mozilla.community/contributing/
  • Where to upload your sentences: https://voice-sprint.mozilla.community/upload/

Perjuangan yang Padam

Cita-citaku bukan menjadi sopir sebenarnya. Aku mau menjadi sutradara panggung seperti ketoprak, wayang orang, ludruk dan sejenisnya. Sayangnya kuliahku di Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ) putus di tengah jalan setelah aku menghamili anak gadis orang.

Masa kecilku bahagia. Aku menikmati banyak hiburan dari televisi. Saat aku kecil sudah ada sebagian orang yang memiliki pesawat televisi hitam putih. Setelah aki habis, kami mesti sabar menunggu tiga hari lagi. Kami mesti mengisi daya lagi peswat televisi itu di tempat khusus yang jarang dimiliki orang. Paling satu atau dua tempat pengisi daya ini bisa ditemukan di sebuah kecamatan. Cuma mandor atau orang-orang berada yang memiliki pesawat televisi mahal itu.

Acara-acara TVRI menjadi kesukaan kami. Misalnya Ria Jenaka. Selain itu, kami juga banyak menyaksikan acara-acara serial televisi Barat yang berkualitas. Sebelum aki habis, biasanya gambar televisi menjadi bergoyang tanpa peringatan sebelumnya. Hal ini membuatku jengkel karena kadang membuat kami ketinggalan jalam cerita.

Begini -begini saya bangga menjadi salah satu saksi sejarah reformasi tahun 1998. Saat tanggal 12-13 Mei saya turut turun ke sumber kerusuhan. Kami para aktivis mahasiswa dibidik menjadi sasaran empuk para penembak jitu (snipers) yang sudah bersiap siaga di jembatan Semanggi. Aku ikut berkonvoi bersama ribuan orang mahasiswa lainnya.

Kami pikir penembak jitu itu hanya memakai peluru karet yang tidak akan membuat kami sekarat atau terluka. Nyatanya, kami ditembaki dengan peluru tajam seperti hewan buruan di hutan-hutan pedalaman Kalimantan. Beberapa teman kami terluka dan bahkan tewas. Kalian tentu tahu nama Elang yang legendaris itu. Ia salah satu korbannya.

Mulanya kampus kami itu damai. Kampus yang bernuansa seni kental tidak perlu memusingkan pergolakan politik dan pergantian tampuk pemerintahan di luar sana. Begitu keyakinan kami para calon seniman andal negeri ini. Sebagai calon pemimpin negeri ini, kami memang buta politik. Kami tidak pernah diberikan pendidikan politik yang memadai. Murni seni. Hanya seni yang kami yakini dengan sepenuh hati.

Tanpa diduga, kami dikirimi oleh Himpunan Mahasiswa Jakatrta dan Himpunan Mahasiswa Indonesia bra dan celana dalam wanita. Kami mendapatinya dalam paket yang dikirim dalam sebuah paket yang tertuju pada sebuah kantor BEM dan kami buka ramai-ramai. Kami dikatai banci, itu pesan yang kami tangkap dari paket itu. Kami pun terpaksa turun ke jalan dan menganggapnya sebagai perjuangan.

Setelah pak Harto lengser justru muncul pro kontra di kalangan mahasiswa sendiri. Mereka menanyakan pada diri sendiri:”Mengapa yang kita perjuangkan ini malah menceraiberaikan Indonesia?”. Di sini, para mahasiswa mulai pecah dan ditunggangi.

Aku sendiri ikut berunjuk rasa turun ke jalan karena aku anak kos yang semata-mata tergiur oleh suplai makanan gratis. Pasokan makanan seolah tanpa henti dan menjadi bagian dari sponsor. Merek-merek makanan berbau Barat mendominasi pasokan makanan kami yang turun ke jalan-jalan di Jakarta dan membanjiri gedung MPR/ DPR di Senayan. Mereka seperti diperintahkan untuk memberikan kami ‘bahan bakar’ agar terus bisa berunjuk rasa mengkudeta status quo. Siang datang ambil makanan lalu ikut demontrasi ala kadarnya dan malamnya berpesta pora. Sayangnya pesta pora ini tak sampai berlangsung tujuh hari tujuh malam. Kami hanya bisa mengecap makanan enak saat tanggal 12-13 Mei 1998 saja. Setelah tuntutan kami dipenuhi agar Soeharto lengser, kami pun tidak lagi mendapati makanan gratis yang menerbitkan air liur itu.

Amien Rais bukan orang yang ditakdirkan menjadi presiden. Terbukti seberapa kerasnya ia berjuang menjadi orang nomor satu di negeri ini, kursi presiden itu tidak kunjung bisa ia duduki. Berkali-kali mencalonkan diri dalam pemilihan presiden di Indonesia membuatnya sadar bahwa ia tidak memiliki takdir sebagai pemimpin nomor wahid Indonesia. Bahkan ia mendirikan Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) sebagai partai yang dipenuhi orang-orang cerdik cendekia sepertinya. Tetap saja ia tidak terpilih kan? Akhirnya ia menyerah dan memilih untuk duduk di belakang saja.

Gus Dur membuktikan kehebatannya dengan bisa merangsek ke jajaran elit dan bisa menunjukkan bahwa dirinya tetap bisa memerintah walaupun secara fisik ia tidak bisa dikatakan bugar atau sehat.

“Night at the Museum”: An Attempt to Revamp the Image of National Museum of Indonesia

[Photo credit: MuseumNasional.or.id]
National Museum of Indonesia (Museum Nasional) that night was unusually hectic and bright, when it was supposed to be silent and dark. Some crowd consisting of youths was spotted, scattered throughout the museum. They seemed to have fun as night set in.

I was part of the party as well.

I never fancied to visit the museum at night. A friend said it gets too eerie and she is not a fan of being in the complete darkness and shocked by sudden scream of an unknown creature, for example.

I used to visit the museum once a couple of years ago. Alone, during daylight though. And what I visited was the original museum site, known as Gedung A or Building A.  It was built around 240 years ago.

If you have no idea how this museum was founded, I will let you know here. For your information, it is way older than the republic itself. The museum was initially founded, officiated and named Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen [Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences] on April 24, 1778, by the Dutch Government. At the time Batavia [Old Jakarta] was occupied and governed by VOC or East Indies Trade Company. The first building of the museum  located in jalan Kali Besar was a house donated by J. C. M. Radermacher [we shall touch more on this in the next paragraph] served as the headquarters of Dutch renowned thinkers living in East India [later known as Indonesia]. It was built thanks to the advent of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Dutch top thinkers had previously built their own association in Haarlem, the Netherlands, called De Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen. Upon seeing this, a number of Dutch intellectuals who lived in East India were also motivated to build and foster the same intellectual community far away from their homeland.

We were at the museum that very night to commemorate that day, when the Dutch thinkers gathered and launched their intellectual and scientific pursuit and mission in the country which their country annexed. The co-founder, Jacob Cornelis Matthieu Radermacher, was known as a public and historical figure contributing much to promoting the East India arts and sciences. Born in the Hague in 1741, Radermacher was a young VOC official. He was also a founder of the first Freemason order  in Batavia. He proposed the establishment of Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences, especially  physics, biology, literature, ethnology and history and published research findings. The association later transformed into Museum Nasional.

His contribution was enormous, ranging from donating hiw own mansion in Kali Besar [an area in Old Jakarta, located in the northern part]. He donated his highly valuable collections, such as archeological artefacts, musical instruments, books and six filing cabinets loaded with documents pertaining to the association.

As a botanist, Radermacher made flora and fauna catalogs of Java and Sumatera island throughout his tenure in Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen. On his voyage back to the Netherlands, he was tragically murdered in 1783 after a bloody onboard mutiny.

And I was there to be one of the participants, looking for rare experience And it turned out GREAT.

Around 7 pm, participants were divided into several groups as they would be led on a brief tour. It only lasted for 30 minutes so we in no way could enjoy the proper, serious and detailed museum tour and asked some questions.

I have previously roamed some spots in the museum especially in Building B (Building B, the newly built one with modern yet dry and identity-less architecture and Greek-style pillars which to me are so out of Indonesian cultural context).

The tour leaders guided all participants in three spots which represent the past and present of the museum. The first to visit is the awkwardly named art installation, “Ku Yakin Sampai di Sana” [roughly translated, “I Believe I’ll Be There”], skillfully crafted by Balinese artist I Nyoman Nuarta. Having bronze and brass as materials and the gigantic size, the artwork catches visitors’ eyes very easily. To myself, the artwork looks like a blackhole sucking people into infinity.

The second spot was Taman Sanken (The Sunken Garden). This is located between Building A [the 240-old building] and Building B [the modern one]. Still under construction, the garden was not properly lit. It is one part of the expansion of the museum [read on here to find what is in the grand plans]. But I am more than sure that after the completion, this will be an Instagrammable corner for everyone to take pictures at.

The third was probably the most familiar spot. That is the elephant statue, gifted from the Crown Prince of Thai Kingdom, Chulalongkorn. The statue is the reason why the museum is widely known by the locals as “Museum Gajah” [the Elephant Museum].

The best was yet to come. The last to visit was the most precious collections of the museum on the fourth floor. We participants were not allowed to take any photos in the exhibition room and displays for whatever reason as there are risks people will misuse photos of these artefacts to make fake items and sell them while claiming they are original.

In this place, there are a few horrid stories the leader presented us. First, the story of mandau [a saber of Dayaknese men] and mengayau tradition [beheading enemies]. As if beheading humans were not traumatic enough to even imagine, we were told that Dayaknese tribes also used to keep these bodiless heads of their slain enemies at their homes. These were even treated as trophies. The more enemy heads a Dayaknese man had, the more respect he would have from people around him in his tribe. And it was believed that the more heads a Dayaknese man had, the more power they possessed, making him to become unbeatable. And one of the ways to amass this power was to sleep on one of these enemy heads every single night. An expression of terror immediately followed the explanation.

I myself still believe that to some extent this seemingly inhumane tradition still exists in Borneo as I was told sometime ago by a friend residing in Singkawang that he witnessed  Dayaknese men collected heads around town when an ethnic riot broke in Sambas, West Kalimantan. He said the horrendous scene left him a permanent psychological scar.

As I observed, the museum management seemed so eager to revamp its image as “Museum Gajah” to “National Museum” which deserves its national status.

And I safely say this is one of the best, most creative efforts made to attract both local and global visitors, as well as to let them know that Museum Nasional Indonesia is trying to be more innovative in any possible fashion so more young people learn history without too much boredom and frustration. Visiting museums can be awesome and cool, just like malls, with which urban Indonesians are now increasingly  familiar .

To stay up-to-date with the museum’s upcoming events, never hesitate to follow its Instagram account @museum_nasional_indonesia and visit its official website MuseumNasional.or.id. (*/)


P.S.: As quoted from the museum management representative, actually the first building of this museum was NOT Building A on Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, just the opposite of Monumen Nasional (Monas). It was a house donated by J. C. M. Radermacher, its co-founder.

Menelisik Fitartistik: Pentingnya Imagery

Imagery dalam senam, bergunakah? [Sumber foto:Wikimedia Commons]
SAYA masih menghadapi mental block yang besar dalam melakukan back handspring seperti yang sudah diajarkan coach saya di kelas Fitartistic, Jonathan Sianturi, dalam beberapa pertemuan terakhir.

Sebenarnya saya sudah tidak ada masalah berarti saat mengeksekusi gerakan ini dengan matras tinggi di belakang saya. Tapi begitu matras setinggi lutut itu disingkirkan, otak saya seolah memberitahukan kecemasan akan ancaman potensial. Seolah-olah saya tidak mempercayai kekuatan kedua telapak tangan saya dalam menopang tubuh agar kepala ini tidak terbentur lantai. Konsekuensinya, saya bisa melenting dengan percaya diri saat masih ada matras setinggi lutut itu. Begitu matras itu tidak ada, keberanian dan kepercayaan diri saya juga sirna seketika.

Padahal secara esensi, gerakannya sama saja. Hanya saja saya harus membangun kepercayaan diri itu dengan imagery, demikian kata coach Jonathan.

Saya mencoba meresepi kata-katanya itu. Pertama-tama saya tentu heran. “Apa hubungannya imagery dengan senam?” protes saya dalam hati. Rasa-rasanya kedua bidang ini sama sekali tidak berkaitan, batin saya terus memberontak.

Sebagai mantan mahasiswa sastra, saya tahu apa itu imagery. Menurut Collins Dictionary, imagery merujuk pada bayangan yang kita ciptakan dalam benak/ otak kita berdasarkan pada kata-kata yang biasanya ada dalam karya sastra seperti syair, bait lagu, atau puisi.

Lama-kelamaan saya paham dengan saran coach Jonathan untuk menggunakan imagery dalam berlatih gerakan-gerakan yang menantang.

“Kadang dalam melakukan gerakan-gerakan senam, Anda harus menggunakan imagery karena apa yang Anda pikirkan itu mempengaruhi realitas,” tegasnya.

Dengan kata lain, pikiran memiliki pengaruh pada apa yang terjadi dalam kenyataan. Jika Anda hanya berpikir,”Duh, saya akan gagal pasti habis ini” atau “Gerakan ini susah. Pasti saya jatuh deh!”, vibrasi pikiran itu seolah akan mengirimkan sebuah sinyal ke alam semesta bahwa Anda memang pantas untuk jatuh. Maka, saran coach Jonathan, bangunlah mentalitas positif melalui imagery yang positif juga.

Dan inilah tantangan mengajarkan pada orang yang sudah dewasa, selain tubuh yang sudah lebih kaku dan terbiasa dengan rutinitas lainnya, mental mereka juga lebih sulit dibentuk.

Kenapa? Karena kita sebagai orang dewasa sudah memiliki kemampuan untuk membentuk pendapat dan pemikiran sendiri. Dan kita lebih asertif dan defensif dalam memegang opini itu dibandingkan anak-anak.

Karena itu, saya memiliki pekerjana rumah yang sangat besar di aspek ini. Bila saya sudah menaklukkan mental block satu ini, saya akan bisa menaklukkan yang lain juga. (*/)