well that was the initial plan, but apparently this become a scattered space of my inconsistent ramble and incoherent mumble. I write my heart out, I throw my anger and frustation, I jotted my hopes and dreams, I record my random thoughts here

March 30, 2010

this is my story

I grow up in reasonably religious (yet liberal) family, in one of the most conservative region in my country. I went to public primary school and made the decision to pursue higher education in islamic religious school, called Madrasah Tsanawiyah (later abbreviated as MTs). I was twelve at that time. It was the requirement from the school to wear headscarf, at that time headscarf is not yet compulsory for woman in the province (things are different now). On the second year (when I was thirteen) I made the decision to wear the headscarf outside school as well. My parents was proud of my decision.

Despite the headscarf, I was not THAT religious when I was thirteen. When my parents told me to pray, I often lied to them and pretend that I pray when I didnt. I mumble through pages and pages of arabic words during the Quran recitation lesson. My parents used to hire a religious teacher to teach us kids to read quran and to understand the book. We used to spend the afternoon sitting in the living room reciting the Quran together and discussing its meaning. I used to hate those lessons, but I guess I was just lazy back then and I am more interested in playing outside and climbing tress, be fascinated with the natural worlds rather than reading the holy scriptures.

In the MTs (literally translated as junior high school in arabic), half of the curriculum consist of islamic studies of some sort, from the History of Islam, Quran and Hadist lesson, Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Calligraphy, Qiyas and Kalam (Islamic theology) alongside of the modern study like biology and physics. All of those study were taught at school and discussed at home, the study and the discussions with my parents encourage logical thinking and sense of reasoning. My parents also taught me Ijtihad, the process of seeking the answer within yourself, using your reasoning, sense and perception and logical thinking when you encounter problem that does not have explicit solution in available scriptures (Quran and Sunnah). Less than religious that I am, I have follow all this guidance in making lots of decision in my teenage life.

The seed of doubt about religion has always been inside my head even then, but I have always suppressed them and label those thoughts as evil thoughts. I shouldn't question god or my religion. Who am I, afterall, a mere human being to question her creator?

I remember on my biology class, the theory of evolution were first introduced to the young, innocent me. I was fascinated when my teacher said "According to darwin, we human evolve from apes" (later I learn that she get it wrong, what Darwin said is that human and apes have common ancestor), in my mind.. what an amazing thing! how that could possibly happen? impossible!! so I asked her (bear in mind that at that time I was very young and I have no intention to ridicule this teacher, I was only curious little kid) : "If human evolved from apes, could it be that Adam is the first apes to be given logical thinking by god?" my question was dismissed the second I finish pronouncing it, "evolution is just theory, its unproven. Quran is FACT", she said sharply. I was silenced, retreat back to my corner and never asked her anymore question for the next three years.

I also remember the time when my Islamic History teacher taught us about the Kafir (infidel) Quraisy at the time of Mohammed. She told us how stubborn and ignorant they were, when they're lucky enough to life in the time of the prophet and yet they choose to not believe in his god and continue to pray to their totemic god instead. And yet us, all of us in this classroom is enlighten with Islam in our soul even if we were born much later than the time of the prophet, we all will be saved from the blazing fire of the hell that god promised for the infidels, for the unbelievers. Given that I dont have any traumatic experience with this teacher yet, I raised my hands and vomit the question that has been daunting my mind the whole session. I asked her "So, will Mother Teresa and Lady Diana (at that time, those two figures is still alive and is very-very-very famous for their altruistic action) will be tortured in hell as well because they're infidels*?" my teacher looked at me and explain, very gently: "If you're a moslem, and you cant make it to heaven on the first assessment, your soul will undergone purification through torture in hell and you will eventually get to heaven. But If you're not a moslem, even if you're a good person, hell is the place for you, but perhaps your torture will be lighter than a non-moslem bad person". That doesnt make very much sense to me at that time, but for the fear of the authority, I shut up and nod. "I understand".

Throughout my teenager years, my level of religiousness has experience its ebb and tide, there are times when I am too lazy to pray and forgot about god, there are also times when I kneel down, put my forehead on the floor, praying, intensively.

Graduating from the MTs, our family have to moved to the capital and my parents were rather worry with the bad reputation of public education in Jakarta, they decided to send me to private boarding school that still teach religion, but take moderate approach and encouraging personal development as well. So its not all academics, it give good balance of creativity, logic and reasonal thinking, as well as subsequent amount of religious study. I was excited with this opportunity, I decided to let go of my headscarf when I enter this school ground. I was "liberated" and keen to explore my new world.

I become more and more rebellious within three years of high school education, suddenly criticizing the teacher is an option! we were allowed to argue with the teacher if we think they were wrong, we were allowed to contest their authority, students even have the "legislative bodies" that were set up as opinion channel to encourage democracy at school. It was awesome. Suddenly having a rebellious thought is acceptable. The english, arabic and quran recitation class were also divided based on your current ability to cope with the level of learning. Ironically, the placement test put me at the beginner class of english, medium class of arabic, and expert class of Quran recitation!

I was still, experiencing the ebb and tides of being religious/unreligious throughout this times.

The turning point of my religious belief happened towards the end of my unstable teenager years, at first I thought it was just a decision of an angry teenager loosing grip of her life and fall into depression, but after all this years.. I know its not just anger or frustration that fuel my rebellion, I have think about my decision, I have weight my reasons, and I am fairly confident in defending my position. However, I did not deny the possibility that I might be wrong, and if I am proven to be wrong I am ready to admit that my argument is invalid.

*note that the concept of infidels for me at that time is anyone who is NOT moslem, doesnt matter is that person is a devout catholic or very religious jewish, they're infidels to me. - let alone if they say they're atheists, blazing HELL for them -

in an effort to make progress with this dummy assignment

I get out of that claustrophobic room, intended to move to the library but get to depressed even before starting the assignment.. and for some reason I landed at the coffee shop instead..

You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?

When I was in primary school, I was the best in Calligraphy. My calligraphy teacher love me because I did some amazing work (back then, not anymore), at the same time.. my religious teacher hate me because I asked too much irrelevant question and I told my mother that she's a liar. Because in front of my mother she's nice to me, but once my parents out of sight she start saying mean things to me, things like I can never be as good as my sister or I am stupid and all those.. Its almost like a typical soap opera.

oh well, I made my choices.

why crawl through life? I am sure my life has been so much better that what she can ever imagine for herself.

thanks teacher!

this tiny corner

Finally I managed to make this tiny corner a little more.. personal. Soon, the whole room will be re-defined and re-decorated. It seems like such a waste of time, given the number of month I might be spending living here, but I cant seems to bear the dull, plain, uninspiring white walls.

those three square board were meant to be one BIG whiteboard, but due to my self-inconsistency and personal attraction to colorful things, one BIG whiteboard were swapped with three colorful board, which serve the same function, for the same price.

and yes, the family potrait. of course. I am, a family person.. despite the dysfunctionality (typo) of some members of the family (uumm.. all of us, actually)

I put the quote from Rumi "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do" to remind me (on those extremely stressful day) that I love doing my thing, Its a choice. No one is forcing me to go on study, its my choice.

Those three little orange stars were written with the species name of three different type of jellyfish, Chinorex flecken, Aurelia aurita and Physalia physalis.


Physalia physalis, also known as Portuguese Man of War was the first ever jellyfish who dare to sting me. It happened last weekend, when I went to surf in Gold Coast. It comes rather as a suprise, I was flat chested, paddling my board, waiting for the waves.. and suddenly I feel this painful stinging sensation on my wrist. I stop paddling and lift my arm above the water to see the long blue tentacles of this creature wrapped on my arm. bitch!
then all of a sudden I realize that there's so many of them in the water!!! lucky I was NOT naked.

Aurelia aurita is the species name of moon jellyfish, I come across this name some time when I was in high school. Back then, I had this little public diary, where everyone is free to read and write. Random jotter from the whole batch filled this book with stories and memories. uummm.. apart that. So, one day Mirna write a nursery rhyme Betty Botter Bought some Butter (which turn out bitter and make her batter bitter) on that book. Me, not understand that much english at that time, draw some silly jellyfish on the corner of that page, then Mirna write that word *we were in our biology class*: Aurelia aurita, and then take the whole 10 minutes to explain to my half-functioning brain *i dont function very well during lecture* what it is and what it mean. for some reason, that name stuck in my head. Now, nearly two years after graduating as a marine biologist from a crappy university in malaysia, thats one of the very very very few species name that I can manage to remember.

Chinorex flecken is the box jellyfish, I dont have special story with this particular one just yet, but its name hanging there because as long as I am still living in Australia, and still intended to swim in its blue ocean.. I got to be careful with that one creature..


species names because I am trying to be a marine biologist geek, something that I should have done some five years ago, since now all those knowledge is evaporating and my brain is trying to make space for the new knowledge while obtaining the wisdom that suppose to come with age. supposedly.

The colorful marker have to be within reach just in case my creative bone get activated from some random reasons. It rarely happen though.

and did you notice I dont have cigarette on my desk anymore?

In this part of the world, mangosteen IS a luxury

I was in coles on the other day and I spotted mangosteen!! I was so so so so happy to find this tropical fruit. Was about to grab a bag until I spotted the price...

back home I could get 5 Kilo for the same amount of money of getting one, not that, ONE here.

March 24, 2010

librardy (pun intended)

could you possibly spend all day sitting in the library meddling with computer and lots and lots and lots of peer-reviewed papers feeling under constant pressure and chased around by your supervisors and achieve nothing at the end of the day? welcome to the grads life.

March 11, 2010

A day in brisbane (written on 19 Feb 2010)

The air is warm and humid, the typical tropical weather after heavy rain.. water particles suspended in the air, making it heavy and sticky.. it feel bizarre to adjust to this weather again, after three consecutive month of hot dry air of Canberra and icy cold rain, when it rains.

Breathing in.

Hmm.. Brisbane.. my first Australian city..

It doesnt feel the same anymore, the people seems less friendly than how it used to be..I noticed the smokers, they're eveywhere. In every street corner, nearly in every bench and coffee table.. there's someone blowing their smoke..

For some bizarre reason, walking doesnt feel great either.. as I feel this sudden urge of sadness as if I am surrounded by lugubrious mood and I am absorbing the ambience into my chest..Maybe its just me, maybe its just this little chaos I am in, maybe I was reluctant to leave Canberra as I start to find my niche in that concrete jungle..

Why am I not too excited about Tasmania? I've been waiting for this to happen all this while, yet when it finally arrives on my doorstep, I am panic more than anything. I feel I wasnt prepared enough, I feel there's too many outside influence that could screw things up. I hope I am wrong.

Too many accident happen today, the day started off with a minor bicycle accident. As I ride along the street and approaching a traffic light, a woman inside a car suddenly opening her car door without checking her mirror first. I slammed into the car door, but wasnt injured. that woman was too shock to apologize, I just shook my head when I ride away. The next thing that happen is being shouted "idiots" by a bus driver and missed a stairs on my way out of a camera shop, resulting in minor ankle twist. It hurts. I am worried, will it recover sufficiently before the walk??

Shopping for things that I need is not that easy either, I've run around like stupid for more than five hours now, trying to find the raincoat for my camera. Feel like being passed around like a ping-pong ball from one shop to another. The camera shop either have no-bloody-idea of what i I am talking about or told me to look at the outdoor shops. The outdoor shop insist that the camera shop should know better, or simply said we dont have such things. Until there's a slight, dim light at the end of the tunnel. Finally someone who doesnt think I am some sort of an idiot. A guy in outdoor shop is an avid landscape photographer and he understand my confusion. He direct me to a camera shop in Newfarm, and he was certain they got one. aha!

However, as my knowledge about brisbane street start to deteriorate after all this month in Canberra, its only predictable that I got lost trying to find this place. Having a less than accurate GPS on my mobile phone is not making things easier either. When I finally get there after an hour of meandering around the area (supposedly its 10 minutes away from the last shop), I was exhausted to find out that they just sold the last piece yesterday and the new stock will only come in three weeks time. ah, bugger. I am leaving tomorrow!!

My last hope lie on the shop at Mt. Gravatt, and the shop will close at 5.. it 4.13 now, I am so gonna miss my chance. panic panic panic. I run around to figure out which bus going to Mt. Gravatt and how can I get there ASAP.

persistence pays though, I did find the thing at that shop, but after paying at the cashier, I looked at my watch, its 5.30, why are they still wide open? and I look at the clock on the wall.. ah, bugger. I havent adjust my watch back to brisbane time!!