A therapy in the foreign land

I had my first psychotherapy session when I was 30 and was back at school again in a far flung foreign country. At that time, I had been contemplating suicide for some time as part of my existentialism quests. I had always had an affinity for big questions in life and felt that at the end life is purposeless since we will all die. I generally feel that life is not interesting and not worthy fighting for. My existentialism quest stretched out abit when one day I caught myself dangerously crossing the road with my bike. I didn’t do it to commit suicide ( I knew car crash would barely kill me). I did it to gauge people’s reaction towards dangerous behaviour (Again, part of existentialism quest).

I wouldn’t have actually gone to see my university therapist at that time had it not been free. First, I just wanted to talk to someone and practiced my English. Second I knew seeing a therapist was an acceptable activity in the West and assumed that while living abroad it would be my only chance to experience it without losing face. And the last it was free. So there I went. I was assigned for 10 session an hour therapy, once a week. Continue reading

An epiphany at early 30s

I love to spend time thinking hard what went wrong with my life and in disbelief I learned that there is actually a term devoted for this sad activity. It calls rumination. I have been ruminating on my failures, my disappointment and grievances a little bit too much than I should. I need to stop. Seriously.

Rumination is one among the many epiphanies that came to me in my early 30s. A while ago I wrote in Medium about all the lessons I learned throughout my 20s. Now it is time to anticipate what lessons I am going to learn in my 30s and I suspect eschewing rumination is high on my priority list. I was having an epiphany when I found out that I was an infj type of personality, prone to rumination and susceptible to eat to excess when being emotionally unstable. For the first time in my life, I managed to see myself one shade clearer. Continue reading

First encounters

I first met you in Narathiwat one day in July 2010. You were part of the entourage of Col. Songwit Noonpackdee, the highest charge of security in the volatile Southern Thailand at that time. You were a soldier and I was a journalist visiting the rural province for an assignment. Your presence has drawn my attention since the very first night I arrived. You looked tall in your military uniform and black boots. I thought you resembled a movie star with your posture, fair skin and high nose.

I was becoming aware that you had sneaked some furtive glances at me when we were visiting a local muslim school the next morning. You were standing under a tree with your hands clasping a weapon while watching the surroundings. I somehow knew I was in your radar and secretly wished that you would finally approach me and say something.You didn’t (later you told me you were forbidden to do so). Then I walked past by you on my way to the bus after lunch in a restaurant. I had spotted you standing alone on the sidewalks but too nervous to greet you properly. Once I boarded the bus, I realized how much I wanted to know you. I garnered my courage and got off the bus and walked towards you with a friend. I handed you my business card, then asked a few questions in English but your answers were not always relevant. I wondered what your age was and blurted out the question just like that, hoping that you would understand this one better. You said 31. Continue reading

I grew up in a small town

I was born and raised in Pontianak, one of the handful cities where Chinese community has thrived on as a minority group in the archipelago. It is a mid-sized city with humid temperature, steamy days all year long. In 2001, I left my hometown to study in another city and never looked back. This city had always looked rather sad for me.

The house where I stayed with my parents and two other siblings was located along a major street. It was a 3 story townhouse. My father ran a textile shop in the ground floor and we lived in the two floor spaces above it. I never really given it much thought but once I left the city I realize that I was never fond of living in the house. At first I thought I wanted a proper house with a garden, not a townhouse-for-business purpose where you never felt like having a privacy. But later I knew the house and the city never took my liking. The house lacked warmth of a family house while the city was not vibrant enough. It was just a place to get by day by day. Continue reading

My Post’s days

I first met the Post’s editor-in-chief Endy Bayuni sometime in late 2006. I was 23 years old fresh grad from a small town in Borneo, who had never taken a course in journalism. The only article I had published was an academic paper in a national journal but it came with such a fatal misspelling in my name that I prefer to regard that the minor accomplishment was not mine. When I came for the interview session for the Post and met with Endy that year, I had worked as a junior secretary for a Japanese company, a job that I knew was only for temporary until I could get into journalism. During the interview, I told both Endy and then managing editor Meidyatama Suryodiningrat that I had unsuccessfully applied as a journalist for several publications, one of them being a sister company to the Post. They burst into laughter, telling me that they could just eliminate me right away, saving their precious time of doing selections if their sister company had done so. I was feeling nervous yet hopeful. If I could make it to the interview stage, there had to be something they saw in the writing test that I had submitted. When the interview was over, I told myself this could be the last time I tried to venture into journalism. If I failed the Post, I would quit trying all together. Not long afterwards, I received a phone call from the Post. I had been selected to become one of their cub reporters. Continue reading

My first office in Jakarta

This was back in 2005. I moved to Jakarta as soon as I finished college from a mid-sized old city called Yogyakarta. I remember I was not very keen on moving to the capital city as I dreaded the packed traffic and worried having to start all over again. I was aware that I would have trouble fitting in to my new life as a transplant in the metropolis. Life in Jakarta revolves around consumptive behavior;  We flock to shopping malls at weekends and get carried away with the shopping scene. I was craving for an intellectual crowd just like the one I had back in my university years. I was trying hard to fit into this big sprawling city and am still not done with it some 10 years later.

The first few weeks in Jakarta felt surreal. As I had expected, I had hard times transitioning from exciting academic world where I had thrived successfully to the drudgery of office life. I had secured a job at the management office of a bustling shopping center in the heart of the business district. I remember I was earning little and had to save on food, transport and clothing expenses. I rarely renewed my wardrobe and unlike my colleagues who ate out during lunch I brought meal box from home. Continue reading

A Personal Day

I went to a shopping center which has been my favourite for the past 8 years. It isn’t a big mall or anything but I like the youthful vibe there when students from two nearby universities flock to the place between their classes. Their presence filled the place with a cheerful energy I have been looking for.

That day in the mall, I ate in a Chinese restaurant where I had a bowl of rice porridge and a plate of fried prawns served with small pieces of salted egg. I had stopped eating rice for so long until a day earlier when I felt sick and was craving for a good bowl of rice. After lunch, I did my grocery shopping. Next in my agenda was to chill in the Starbucks. I had called in sick several hours earlier. Continue reading