Thursday, November 29, 2007

What are Your Strongest Points?

If you asked this question to Indonesians, you might get blank looks for a few seconds, than stammers and stutters for a few sentences, before finally getting a completely wrong answer.

You might wonder whether they don't know what their strongest points are. It is hard to know what we really good at. But it's even harder to enunciating it to someone else let alone a complete stranger.

What makes it so hard for Indonesians I think is because most of us are raised to be modest at all time about our accomplishments, talents, achievements and so on. So when the time comes to pointing out their strongest points, e.g. in the job interviews, it becomes their weakest point instead.

Being modest is also one of our strongest points, however pointing out all our strongest points modestly, needs to be learned by those who cannot simply say it. Instead of using I, we could say, 'most people think I am...'

But in the interview, the interviewers are more likely to be impressed by the interviewees who could say directly what they are good at compare to those who tried to say it modestly. Sometimes their very directness in answering tough questions scores higher than the answers they're giving.

Your ability to judge when to be direct and diplomatic is also one of your strongest points. If you're good with people or simply blessed with pleasant personalities it is also one of your strongest points.

Your educational background might help you to stand out among other potential candidates for a coveted job, but if you don't have that don't be discouraged, you still have chance to win that job by pointing out your strongest points.

So make sure to start taking stock of what you're good at.

Divine Privileges

I've noticed several things related to praying. Naturally I'm talking about muslim's praying, namely shalat. First and foremost, it gives privilege to those who come first to fill the first row. There is no reservation for those with the highest rank among men/women. God doesn't care about your rank or status among human being. That's the message which I really like. Secondly, the choice of imam to lead the praying is based on mutual consent among those who come first. They are supposed to choose the best among them. Once the praying start, everybody else just follow the imam, regardless of his/her position.

Today, our imam was one of our colleagues who is unfortunately always become the butt of joke and teasing. I wonder whether my other colleagues who followed behind him see the irony or to be precise the error of their way in treating him thus. By making him the butt of their jokes, they feel more superior than him. When in fact it's only their own feelings and imaginations. The one who really knows who's superior than who is only God.

Joking and teasing are fine. But we should be able to differentiate when those jokes have crossed the line into insulting and offending someone else.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dearest Jakarta

The biggest portion of my life has been spent in Jakarta. I grew up in this densely populated city. With over 13 million people during day time Jakarta is infamous for its traffics. New initiatives have been taken by each newly elected local government with the high hopes to overcome its chronic conjunctions.

However, if I were asked what do I think about the traffics in Jakarta, I must say I didn't see any significant improvement. It seems that they just getting worse by day. The highways or tolls are just as bad as other roads, except on very few rare occasions.

The newest initiative which was taken by the former governor, more well-known as bus-way, only becomes the newest source of frustration of others who don't use it and have to drive their own cars to their offices.

The bus-way didn't build its own way, instead it took over others' ways to be their own. The normally pact streets become narrower and more pact if that even possible. As if that's not enough, Jakarta has the highest record of housing demonstrations compare to other big cities. Now you could imagine how's life for commuters in Jakarta.

If I were asked how do I measure the success of the local government in managing Jakarta. My answer is quite simple, if they could make commuting a pleasant or at the very least, a less frustrating experience for commuters, then, that's a success for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Review: The Spring of Oh Dal Ja

This Kdrama is really funny. It tells a story of Oh Dal Ja, a 33 year-old career woman. She's quite successful at her career but completely at lost at social life. Her experience and understanding of men are zip.

She found her self falling for a flirtatious guy. Few years later, they start a relationship in which she's still as clueless as before. Their incompatible relationship finally comes to an end when she finally found out that he's cheating on her with their female co-worker which she had hated at the first sight.

The outraged Oh Dal Ja then hired a 26 year-old, out-spoken, free-spirit, hunk Kang Tae-Bong to pretend as her boyfriend. Through Kang Tae-Bong, she starts to learn the nature of the relationship between men and women.

One day she met Uhm Gi Joong, who is not only wealthy and successful but also very gallant and kind at heart. Naturally, she falls for him. Uhm Gi Joong accepts a relationship with Oh Dal Ja because he has no intention to become emotionally involved.

But as time passes he found out that he really likes her. While on the other hand Kang Tae-Bong also finally realising that his feelings for Oh Dal Ja are more than just business. I don't want to spoil it for those who want to see it, just go and watch if you want to know more about it.

A few friends of mine said that younger guys are off limit. I have to disagree. They are fun to be with. Perhaps that's why I love any movies with older women and younger guys themes ^-^

Monday, November 26, 2007

Overworked, Underpaid!

Yes, that's us! A handful of hardworking, capable, efficient, creative and full of initiative civil servants in this administration. The stereotyping of the old days that government employees come to the office at 11 a.m., read some newspapers/gossiping, go to lunch and then go back home by 2 or 3 p.m. is very far off today's reality. Admittedly, we do still have some left over of the older generation who might fit that stereotyping quite nicely. However, that's not what I'd like to talk about. I'd like to talk about those who are overworked and underpaid.

Until quite recently I thought only Indonesian civil servants have the honor to use the term overworked and underpaid. I was quite surprised and pleased to find out that our counterparts in Vietnam were also in the same boat.

Previously, I always had this inferiority complex while attending international events overseas when the informal conversation started to digress to salaries. As far as I know, other fellow participants from neighboring countries e.g. The Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore enjoy a much higher salaries than us Indonesians. No self-respecting Indonesian could preserve their dignities when mentioning to others that he/she earned a meager US$ 100/month. While every foreigners they met continuously praising their country as a rich one.

Now I'm pleased to learn that while our salaries has increased substantially to US$ 200, our Vietnamese counterparts still earn around US$ 130. However, US $ 200 is not enough to live in Jakarta which has become the 11th most expensive city in the Asia Pacific.

I'm hopeful that the government will take serious efforts to amending this shameful fact. One dignity isn't determined by one's salary, however, a country's dignity shall be undermined if she doesn't pay close attention to her precious workforces' salaries.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Love Generation

I spent few hours in the weekend watching Japanese series Love Generation. It's not a new series. Quite ancient actually. It was produced in 1997, and I've had it in my possession for quite sometimes too. Just haven't got the time to see it.

I don't really like Japanese series compare to Korean or Taiwanese series. But eventhough I haven't finished Love Generation yet, I really like it. Kimura Takuya shows an excellent acting skills as Katagiri Teppei. The storyline is also excellent. For those who want to start watching Japanese series, I recommend Love Generation as your first trial.

I've seen Hana Yori Dango, which was also good, but seeing it after watching the Taiwanese version Meteor Garden made the whole experience lost its bites. The Taiwanese version was better in many ways. It's funnier with more memorable scenes.

I don't know whether my appreciation for Love Generation was borne out of the fact that I haven't seen a Taiwanese version of it.
Anyway it's worth seeing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

God is not Christian

"God is not Christian", said Desmond Tutu. Intriguing. And true. God doesn't need religions. We, on the other hand, need it. We need it as a guidance, particularly on the contentious morale issues of right and wrong. We need it as assurances that this life we lead is not meaningless. There's a purpose to it. That every little thing we do count.

So why so many people like using words like: God's religion? These very words give the wrong impression and sometimes inflammatory. We should stop using and bringing God down for our own cause. Be honest, it's our religion! Regardless of the fact that God himself chose and designated that religion for us, it's still our religion not God's.

Most of us use religion as a weapon. And it is a very mighty one. Most of us use religion as an excuse to do things they want to do. They use religion to gather support from the masses.

What they don't do is using it as it main purposes intended it to be used: a guidance to the right path (to goodness), a reference for justice, a reminder that we're all brothers and sisters.

That this world with all its worldly jewels, pleasures and enticements -which has been coveted by some with such desire, is only temporary. It might seem very precious at this moment so that those people are willing to do anything to get it. But in the means really nothing. One has to leave it all behind. Even if he owns the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Review: Mike He's Weekend

Spending the weekend by watching Mike He's movies gave me a new appreciation of his talent. He's not just another model turned into movie star. Besides having the good looks, surprise surprise, he could actually act.

I started the the journey with Love Contract in which he plays a quiet, hard working, swimming team leader. Then continued with Devil Beside You, where he was casted as the most scariest student in the university, with harsh devil may care manner. The contrasts between these two characters showcased his abilities to act.

Despite his good looks, and his ability to act, I don't think he's succeeded in turning me into one of his fans. I'm not saying I don't like him. Because I do.

However, among Taiwanese young stars, I think I still like Jerry Yan the most. There are so many memorable scenes (with his memorable facial expressions) from Meteor Garden which have been in printed in my mind - and many others- I guess, which would be hard to replace by other actors.

Anyway, if you like Mike He, go and watch Devil Beside You, it's worth your time. I'm not so sure about Love Contract, but if you like Ariel Lin, then of course you need to see it. They make an interesting couple.

Review: Fantasy Couple & Get Karl! Oh Suh Jang

I've finished watching Fantasy Couple (FC) with Oh Ji Ho (OJH)as the male lead. A couple of days prior to FC, I just finished watching Get Karl, Oh Su Jang (GKOSJ) also with OJH as the male lead.

There are slight similarities between the female lead characters in Fantasy Couple and the lead in the Get Karl, Oh Su Jang. Both of them are considered as superficial, self-centered girls, without sensitive bones/heart in their bodies.

When in fact they are misunderstood by most people around them. In their own ways they are quite good, honest, responsible and caring, though perhaps with a touch or more pride than their ordinary counterparts.

On the other hand, there are, thanks God, no similarities between OJH's roles in both FC and GKOSJ.

I'm not impressed with OJH's acting as Karl, in Get Karl, Oh Su Jang. He doesn't look very convincing there. His looks and his incredible body help a lot to distract his female fans from scrutinizing his acting. But his performance improved significantly in Fantasy Couple. But I need to tell you that I love him.

For those who want to see a rude, hateful but lonely heiress, who doesn't know a thing besides giving orders and buying things she wants, including her husband with her money, learning the meaning of love, happiness and purpose in life, fantasy couple might suit you.

For my many sister old maids out there, you could relate to Oh Su Jang experiences in GKOSJ and get your hopes up again and renew your belief that your waiting for Mr. Right is not going to be wasted away... you'll get Oh Ji Ho in the end ^-^

what I love most about Korean movies is its very silliness, its portrayal of people's weaknesses and strengths and its optimistic outlook at life.

Hope is a very important thing in one's life. If there's no hope there's no point in living.

Review: Thank You

It's one of the newest Korean series I watched.

The storyline is quite good. The story makes you cry and laugh at the same time. However, there's no sudden death of the main characters as common in the old Korean movies/drama series. And I love the fact that even the kid with the HIV still lives and leading a happy life at the end of the series.

But what really strikes me as memorable is the theme song with the same title by Hun (Kumapsumida/Thank You). It's really sweet,touching and full of feelings. It portrays the conflicts between the main characters quite nicely. It's definitely one of the best theme songs I've heard in a long time.

Here's the text for you who are also crazy about it (you could hear the song in youtube):

Tangsinun paboneyo.
Chongmal kumapsumnida.
Nahana bakke murugo.
Akimob shita chun saram.
(A fool you are. Really...thank you. You who only see me, who give. Everything to me..without sparing).

Tangsinun chonsaneyo.
Terolhimdelgo chitchiltende.
Amugotomul kodomun saramu.
Pyonhamob shimido chuneyo.
(An angel you are. It must be hard and tiring for you at times. But you believe in me, without wavering. When I have nothing to show).

Isanghajo kudennumul semi.
Apado nalwiye.
(Isn't it strange, it seems. You have no tears. Even when you are in pains. You smile for me)

Kudekyote chongmal.
Hemuke sho-u-neyo.
Mokkute chainun kumal.
Chongmal sarang hamnida
(I smile because I'm happy by your side. These words I've kept at the bottom of my throat. I really love you...)

Motharun monane sarang.
Ijesoya marane yongmal.
Kudeisso sarang kaju.
(My foolish love.Which cannot be expressed. Now I finally said this. I live because you exist)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thick Skin, a Necessity ?

A friend just told me an embarrassing incident which happened to her. Come to think of it, this is not the first time I heard she encounters such 'please don't let that ever happens to me' situation. Come to think of it so did I. Thanks God, I seem to have lost the propensity to have it.

The incident she told me was work related with one of her clients, I told her 'If I were you I would dig my own grave and jump voluntarily'. She said, so would she, except that she just couldn't.

Sometimes, we don't have that easy escape. Sometimes we just have to face it and pretend that it never happens. We need to grow a thick skin if we don't have one. Sometimes the situation is such that we couldn't run away and hide, regardless of how much we want to avoid someone. Life is about taking responsibilities and being responsible about them.

Humiliations and embarrassments are parts of our lives, they shouldn't stop us from doing what we should do, they shouldn't stop us from being the best that we could. They should be taken as lessons learned and not breaks and walls to imprison ourselves.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Trust and the People We Interact With

Trust is invaluable. It's hard to find. It's hard to give. It's hard to maintain. It's so hard because it's not just about you. If you're entrusted by someone to do something or with something, you might have every intention in the world to do it right. But, I found it myself two days ago, I failed to do what was expected of me, not because I didn't do it right, but because someone else decided not to do what was expected of her.

Here's the story:

I was asked to take a credit card out of a safety box, then give it to our tour guide to be used to pay for all our expenses during the day. By the end of the day I was supposed to take the credit card back with all the receipts, keep it in the deposit box, and on the next day give it back to the person who entrusted me to do it.

I did exactly what I was asked to. I gave the credit card to our tour guide, told her to return it to me later with all the receipts. By the time we get back to our hotel, and I was inquiring about the credit card, I was told that the card had been returned to our host who unexpectedly decided to join us for dinner.

I wasn't alarmed. Truth be told, I was glad I didn't have to return the credit card to the safety box and kept the key. I didn't think it was strange at all that our tour guide didn't return the credit card back to me despite the fact that I had asked her to do exactly that. I thought one of the purposes of our host by coming for dinner with his wife was to take the credit card back. That's another lesson: we shouldn't make any assumption, particularly not in foreign countries.

The alarm and guilt came the next day when I met the person who entrusted me with the credit card. It never crossed my mind that he didn't know the credit card had been returned to his superior. And I didn't know either he needed that credit card now to settle all our expenses.

I felt guilty instantly. I felt that it was all my fault. That I had done something wrong. Until a couple of friends pointed out that it wasn't my fault. But still...even now I'm still thinking of what I could do differently.

What I know for sure is that, if I were our tour guide, before returning the credit card to its real owner I would inform the person who told me to return the credit card with all its receipts that instead of returning the credit card to her, I prefer to give it directly back to its owner. That way, the person who gave me the credit card could talk with its real owner to avoid any misinformation and misunderstanding.

But a friend who had lived in Korea for three years told me her candid observation about Koreans: there's no explanation. In this case I think she's right.

The lesson I've learned:

It's difficult to keep a trust given to you. Not because you're not a trustworthy person, but simply because in our daily lives we interact with other people. Sometimes, even though we did and tried our best to be trustworthy, the results were not as expected. Because our actions need to be supported by other people's actions before it becomes fruitful. It's a process. And we could only be responsible for our part.

Knowing that, somehow, I still feel guilty...