20 February, 2010

~to a girl with a grudge

You didn't return my last email. I know you are one of those people who constantly check their messages and reply immediately. I understand. It is fine. We both have been hurt. It's just...it saddened me that you are still in the same place as the last time we spoke. Before everything changed and threw us apart.

I am no saint. I don't know if I would ever recover. From the hurtful feelings, from the betrayal, from the fact that you could judged me so wrong despite our decade of friendship. There were times when I shield myself, kept myself from other people. But reading your blog I could not stopped myself to care... and I even felt a moment of sadness...that life have not changed much for you. That you still not talking with your mother. That you made your own family an enemy. That you're the same angry bitter person full of bad thoughts toward others. That you would never stop carry grudge on your heart. That you are lonely.
Maybe we were no different after all. In the way we view the world and other people. After all we are our mother children. We were both born from women with anger. And so here we are, two broken people that would never be fully recovered.

But I just want to say this to you...we must stop this anger.

We must heal ourselves. No one can cure us from bitterness, it is the one thing that we must do alone. By ourselves. 

We cannot continue our life like this because then we could make ourselves an infectious decease...the kind of people that injects their bitterness to people. A cancer to others.

18 February, 2010

Maastricht Carnaval

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Easter is coming and Maastricht --once was a Catholic city in Holland-- was throwing the city's famous carnival last Sunday.

I picked up Agnes near Centraal Station at 2. She was coming from Utrecht because partly because I invited her to stay at my place, partly because she heard that Maastricht Carnaval is of course...one of the biggest and famous in Holland. 

From what I heard, Maastricht is not the only city throwing a Carnaval before Easter. There are several other Catholic cities in Holland throwing similar pre-Easter Carnaval. But Maastricht is the great one, people from all over the Netherlands mostly opt to go see Maastricht's other than the one in Neijmegen or Arnhem.

We was walking toward St. Servaas when I heard someone calling. It was Mone, he was with Rio and Billy. Later in the afternoon, we were joined by Kenneth, Brian and Steve. 

After standing for hours, we all agreed to have a drink in a bar & eateries around St. Servaas. Being Indonesian, most of us went for Chocomel (noted by the waitress with a roll in her eyes...), while Brian and Kenneth went for beer.

We had a good time there, it was already dawn when we stepped out from the bar.

Medieval Spell: Bruges

"There is this movie: Lost in Bruges, you should watch it before you go there." 
That's the respond I got from at least three people when I told them that two of my friends, Cumaziye & Denitsa, and I would go for a one day visit to Bruges. 

I ended not seeing the movie (too busy writing paper for our last module), but loving the city. 

The first thing I noticed about Bruges: 

Petite town, line of old brick houses and medieval buildings. Upon strolling around the city (that can easily be done by foot), I could not help to think about Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Beauty & the Beast. The town looks exactly like the background setting in those bed time stories.

The things I did in Bruges: 

Sightseeing of course. There is no better way to explore Bruges than by utilizing your shoes. I enjoyed walking between Bruges' many alleys with line of old brick buildings and cute little shops. 

Three of use managed to pass the Katelijnestraat -- Steenstraat with its St. Salvator's Cathedral -   Roezenhoedkaai with its beautiful view and canal -  Dweerstraat - the Markt with its long colorful buildings and then visited Bruge's famous chocolate museum, Choco-Story, not far from the city's Royal City Theater.

I firstly imagined something like Tim Burton's Willy Wonka movie, turned out, Choco-Story is a serious museum. Despite we were fed on chocolate history and documentary (we also ended watching a documentary about chocolate), it was not all boring though, because the best part of Choco-Story lies on its ground floor. Where visitors could see statues made from chocolate and see chocolate making demonstrations. This shallow lady favorite from all was, of course, the museum's shop. All nice and warm. 

The thing about the food:

Three things cross my mind upon Belgium food are: chocolate, frites and waffle. The three of us know that to have a cheap yet fulfilling snacks in Bruges is to buy ourselves frites with mayo. But I never into big fries like Belgium type of frites, and it was a cold 2 degree winter, obviously too cold to eat outside. 

"Too cold to eat outside, it's nice if can rest our leg in a cafe and have something to drink," says Denitsa.

"We should try Belgium waffle while in here," says Cumaziye.

It was almost three when we finally settle to a place that not too expensive yet quite nice and warm with light wooden furniture. I had waffle with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup while Cumaziye ordered waffle with strawberry toppings and strawberry ice cream. We both had chocolate milk for drink. While Denitsa ordered lunch menu and had beer. 

The thing I was most impressed with:

The ancient medieval architecture of course. Bruges indeed is a very old town, started to form during the Pre-Roman Gaul era and by 19th century was one of the world's earliest tourist destination. In 1909, an association called Bruges Forward: Society to Improve Tourism was built. 

If anyone ever asks how I describe Bruges in one line, it's this: European traditional. 




06 February, 2010

Brussels: A Three Days Trip


Got another email from auntie Mir. This time she was coming to Brussels for another international event. So I came to meet her there.The journey was a lot less drama than my trip to Vienna since Maastricht - Brussels is only an hour away by train. I didn't even need to book a ticket because there is always a train from Maastricht that goes to Brussels every forty minutes. 

Maybe because the trip would not have been too much hullaballoo...by auntie standard, I had got in late at her hotel room. She had wanted to take Brussels City Tour bus and we were forced to run catching the latest one without much success. It was valuable experience for me though, seeing my high-power auntie ran to catch a bus like an ordinary Jakartans. Oh, and she even ran faster than I did despite her age. 

Running to catch a bus, however, was not the only ordinary thing we did that day. We then went for a cup of coffee around European Quarter and than took underground metro to an area near Brussel's Historic Centre. I couldn't remember the district name but the street is wide with line of chic shops and nice restaurants. Auntie went in to one of the shops and bought herself a pair of shoes. Afterward we went for dinner in a Chinese restaurant. 


While auntie spent entire day attending conference, I took the time to sleep until 9 o'clock before having breakfast downstairs. I think nothing can beat the experience of having breakfast in five-stars hotels in Jakarta. Five-stars hotels (4 stars also) commonly offer much wider varieties from Indonesian selection to Western (sometimes Indian and Chinese) menus. From Jakarta to Medan, I usually ate multiple plates and bowls when I was staying in a five-stars hotel. Here in Europe, in a five-stars hotel in Brussels, with choices only include cereals, muesli, breads and fruit, without even a scrambled egg station, breakfast only took me around 15 minutes.  

I later spent the entire day until late afternoon exploring the city all by myself. First walk was around EU Headquarter and then lunch at a busy restaurant around the area, then I walked (yes walked!) to Saint-Gilles area. Saint-Gilles probably the busiest area in Brussels, with multiple shops, bars and eateries. 

The most interesting place I went that day is the Comic Museum. During my mom last six months, dad used to come home after a long day at St. Carolus with children books he borrowed from the hospital's library. In between thick books he brought for me  and my brothers, there would also be comics such as Tin Tin, Asterix Obelix and Smurf (my favorite). In honor of childhood days spent reading Europe-original comics, a visit to the Belgian Comic Strip Center surely could not be missed while I'm in the city that claims itself a comic-strip capital. 

Having spent that afternoon on my feet, I decided to get an early dinner so my tired legs could rest. I stopped by at one of those eateries around Grand Place-Grote Markt and ordered escargot with garlic sauce (forgot the name) when came a text from auntie. 'Where are you, let's go to dinner with people from the embassy', she wrote. 

Apparently information that former Deputy Senior Governor of Indonesia Central Bank are in town has reached the embassy people. Resulting to our ride --the embassy's black Mercedez dong ;D--- to a posh Indonesian restaurant that night. There, waiting for auntie, were a bunch of 'suite' people aka. the bureaucrats. Not all though, some of the the ladies were ordinary 'ibu-ibu pekerja', all nice and friendly. One of them is around my age and her husband is an editor for Indonesia's National Geographic magazine. Cool, eh?

Like in a Vienna trip, sometimes I feel guilty when I get to spend time with auntie, like I stole her from her daughters. But I also know that she always does equally the same to her nieces and nephews.Overall I did enjoy my time there. Watching auntie calmly tackle all cornering questions on Century case made me proud. And one bureaucrat couldn't believe his ears when I told him that we took underground metro to dinner the previous night. Well, me too... when auntie told me that Japan is the only country with super clean subway stations, I realized --with a slight surprise-- that she must have had taking public transport when she travels abroad. Which is very unlikely for a famous figure like her.  

Since it was auntie's last night in Brussels, she decided that she wanted to see a bit of Brussels on the way home. We dropped by in front of Grand Place-Grote Markt where she told me that almost every cities in Europe are designed similarly. "You can find a church, town hall, shops and market all in the center," she says.


It was early morning when auntie woke me to say goodbye and catch her flight. She reminded me that a car from embassy would take me to go to Tin Tin Museum and Atomium, places that I had failed to go the day before. I have to say, going around in a Mercedez feels a bit too posh for me. But I had spent hours trying to find Tin Tin Museum without much success, while that unfriendly driver at least knows how to get there.

Of course I couldn't found the place, because there is no Tin Tin Museum...but Herge Museum! The place was in a small alley that could be easily mistaken as a regular apartment slash regular shop building. An interesting place, they even keep old stash of the comics' original in line of glasses. 

Next stop before the driver took me to Brussels Central was Atomium which I don't think I get. It supposed to be one of Brussels's icon, a mix of artwork, super modern architecture and science (atomic shape?). Then I found the place is built in demand for (pretentious) reflection, aiming visitors to question things like: what kind of future we want tomorrow? Our happiness depends on what? Huh?! Contradiction aside (it's impossible to build such an impressive figure without inviting --even the tiniest-- effect to environment), top of Atomium does overlooking a nice view...covering entire city all the way to Antwerp.