Monday, February 25, 2008

Is a Visit by the President and Vice President to Your Office a Good Thing?

Not for me. It’s a bother. We’re told not to bring our cars to the office. All the spaces are to be reserved for the VIP guests.

And how do the big guys propose for their lowly subordinates to come to the office in this rainy season? Are we supposed to use a cab with our meager income? Or try the unreliable not to mention unsafe public transportation – braving the wind, the rain and the floods not to mention the traffics – for a change and still be on time?

I’ve always felt that there’s something wrong in the way we treat our VIPs. We’re treating them like they’re some kind of holy aliens to be protected against all the pains and inconveniences which plague the daily lives of other unfortunate mortals, namely us. And what worse is that I think these VIPs are also expecting that they are to be treated differently, to be given special treatments.

While you and I have to keep reminding ourselves to be patient in the middle of terrible traffic jams, those VIPs would cruise freely, and adding another kilo or two of parking cars in the middle of highways, since we’re forced to let them through.

No wonder the traffic problems have never been solved. I tell you what would speed up the effort to solve it. Let all those VIP drive their expensive cars by themselves (without a driver) and then let them enjoy the lovely and educative experience of driving in Jakarta in the middle of heavy traffic. See how they’ll love that.

How could you hope those powerful people to solve your problems, if they don’t have a clue and never experience those problems themselves?

I really hate VIPs. Well, I guess I don’t hate them personally, what I hate most are those special treatments given them. And the fact that they take it as their due.

What I’m trying to say is that those VIPs don’t have the divine rights to live comfortably when their subjects (you and I) live miserably. And they definitely have no right what so ever to experience all the comforts they enjoy at the costs of their subjects!

If we’re miserable than they have to be as miserable as us. They only deserve to have their comfort after all of us – their subjects and people, live comfortable lives, not vise versa!

Bit of Wisdom:

Leaders are chosen to lead their people into prosperity and out of misery and not achieving them by imposing poverty and hardship.

Good leaders would be ashamed to display any sign of wealth and privileges while their people have no wealth nor dignities/rights to mention about.

Review: The Tiger Prince by Iris Johansen

I don’t think I’ve read her book before and if The Tiger Prince is to be a showcase of her works, it got me hooked big time.

One of the things that I dislike in romance novels is its supporting characters. I have a mountain of disgruntlement had the writers dare to write more extensively on the sub-plots of their love stories. As most of the time all they’ve managed to do was wasting pages and getting me extremely annoyed and bored for being distracted from the main story.

The Tiger Prince is an exception of exceptional proportion. Its two leading characters Ruel MacClaren and Jane Barnaby are ones of the strongest and most steadfast heroes and heroines that I’ve ever encountered. Its supporting characters happen to have the most remarkable and unforgettable quirks and repartees which give you no choice but to love them.

With his extra-ordinary good looks and vengeful nature Ruel MacClaren is perhaps the closest thing to what is often described as fallen angel. Despite his looks, not many people dare to make a mistake of underestimating him, as the result would be deadly.

When he sets his goals there’s no other way for him except going forward to accomplish them even if he has to trample whoever happens to be on his way. His passion for gold had him traveled around the globe to chase the trail of the golden lady and slaved over her.

Jane Barnaby has always had a strong determination. Even when she was eleven, she believed that if you want something bad enough, you could make it happen by the sheer power of will.

She got herself out of a destiny which she didn’t like, leaving everything behind, including a drug addict whore of a mother, bringing with her her beloved pet and best friend Li Sung toward a new beginning in destination unknown. Despite her strong and tough appearances - though physically small, she has a soft, kind and loyal heart.

Her soft heart put her in a difficult and dangerous position when she decided to protect John Kartauk – the self proclaimed greatest goldsmith in that era, against Abdar the crown prince of one of the richest Maharajas in India. It also brings her path to cross with Ruel MacClaren who came to India to materializing his biggest dream. Acquiring Cinnidar, an island of gold.

Despite Ian MacClaren’s warnings – his brother, the Scottish Earl who has big generous heart and great wisdom – Ruel set to use Jane in order to get help from the crown prince.
Having no personal experience with love and so used to putting people at arm length – including Ian himself, who crossed the ocean to take him home after their father’s death – Ruel doesn’t know that ever since the first moment he laid his eyes upon her, his heart was already captured. He mistakenly thought his feelings and emotions for her as lust.

When he saw the love and affection between Jane and Li Sung, and witnessing how close the two really were and experiencing the sudden pain in his heart, he didn’t recognize it as jealousy. When he hurt her and felt hurt instead, he still didn’t know that it was love that caused him to feel her pain as his own. Not even when he felt happy the first time he saw and heard her laugh, and want nothing more than to keep her that way.

I love the fact that Jane never shed a tear during her encounter with Ruel. But what I love most is the fact that we could see how deeply Ruel has fallen in love with Jane without realizing it himself. I love the fact how everybody else around Ruel like Ian and Kartauk can see that his dealing with Jane has changed him, showing what a good person he actually is.

Besides the main characters, I also love its supporting characters. I love Li Sung with his intelligence, tart remarks, pride and pragmatism. I also love Kartauk with his arrogance, perceptiveness, and self-serving nature. The most surprising is that I also love Ian MacClaren! I don’t normally like a good guy either in the novels or movies, since the most they can do is grovel. But I think I’ve fallen in love with Ian MacGregor. I love his good sense and great understanding of human nature. The part that I love most about him was when he asked Kartauk to come to his apartment, and then ask Margaret to leave them to have man to man chat. Gosh… It was so touching. It beautifully conveys how deep his love for Margaret is. It also shows what a great man he is.

I don’t know what else could I write about it without spoiling the reading for you. It’s simply magnificent. Now, I’ll consider Iris Johansen as one of my favourite authors and start looking for her other books. Hopefully they are as good as this one if not even better.

I don’t really like the ending though. I didn’t even realize it was the end. I was still turning the page to look for something more…

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What Does the Reprinting of Prophet Muhammad’s Cartoons Mean?

It means that there are people out there who strongly feel that they have rights to do what ever they want to do regardless of the consequences of their actions. To say what ever they want to say regardless of the feelings of others who would be hurt or offended by the things they said.

These peoples believe that freedom of speech give them immunity to hurt and offend others. They are extremely proud in flaunting their ability to hurt and offend others and then without same hide behind this powerful new religion called Freedom of Speech.

I think they are basically and inherently mean. These peoples who worship freedom of speech without limit and caution are no different from those fanatics or brainwashed people who do whatever they want to achieve their goals, and then hide behind ideologies or religions. While the plain fact is that they don’t care about others except themselves.

I wouldn’t dream of calling one of my friends “Chinese” with certain intonation here in Indonesia, even though he/she is a Chinese, as I am aware of the hurt that this calling will cause them. I wouldn’t dream of calling one of my friends ‘Nigger’ even though he/she is black, as it might offend them.

Do I have a freedom to say what ever I want to say? Of course I do. But why don’t I try to exercise it? Because, common sense, good heart and good manner will prevent me to offend or hurt others intentionally.

I could only see the reprinting of Prophet Muhammad’s cartoon as an extremely aggressive stance intentionally designed to offend and hurt others (Muslims). The first printing could be accepted and understood as a misinformed decision made without understanding the cultures and believes of others. But to do exactly the same thing twice after seeing how offended and angry most Muslims were, it could only mean one thing. Those people are shouting to the Muslims worldwide:


It’s simply mean, bad, inflammatory and lack of better judgment.

With such people around, no wonder we live in such violent world. They don’t try to promote peace. They’re more than willing to go a mile to insisting what they believe to be their rights regardless of the costs.

They thrive in promoting hatred and angers when there are other ways, more peaceful, non confrontational, more respectful ways to convey their meanings and goals.

Unless their true goal is not to make a point that they have a freedom of speech but to offend others. Which in this instance I believe is the case.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beware of Dewata Agung’s Irresponsible Driver!

His name is Madar. His mobile’s number is 0815 11515111. And he’s driving his boss with B 8254 JY to their office in Menara Batavia through Casablanca Street.

Everybody who’s ever been involved in an accident in which they were hit by somebody else (usually motorbikes) has been saying these things:

1. The hitter hit from behind when we were at full stop.
2. And then had the audacity to get angry while accusing their victims of speed driving and not being careful.

In my case to my surprise I wasn’t hit by a bike but a monstrous big car driven by Madar. I was about to start running with the second gear when a strange sound stopped me. At first it didn’t register that my car was being hit. It took a few seconds for me to realize it.

How could it be possible to be hit by someone when I was in the second lane among five (almost right on the right side of the road – the relatively safe one)?And the lane on my right was almost a meter away! But then again, there’s nothing impossible when you’re driving in Jakarta. I should’ve known that.

Especially not with a driver like Madar who when I got out to have a look at the damage and asked him how’s he going to repair those damages boldly told me that I was the one who should pay the damage to his car which wasn’t the least bit affected after grazing my car.

When I told him that it was him who hit my car right from behind in a fail attempt to squeeze his big car in (I should’ve taken a picture of our positions), he took exception to that. Especially to the words that he hit me. Perhaps he’s attempting another brilliant move to make me admit that I was the one who hit him from up front while I was trying to try a reversing gear.

I was the one who told him to move over since everybody else had been impatient to move on to their offices. If his boss wasn’t sitting comfortably in the car I had a bad feeling that he would speed his car to run away - another probability in his book even in the middle of the heavy traffic that we’re in.

When I told him to ask his boss to get off he said that I wasn’t going to get paid if I was dealing with his boss, the car was his full responsibility. It did cross my mind that he himself wouldn’t pay for the damages done to my car. He said he would settle it with insurance. Fat chance that he would. I let him go just with his promise to settle it latter on.

When my superior heard that story he told me I shouldn’t let him go that lightly. I was in full agreement. The only reason I let Madar go that easily was because he was a driver. Madar can lie through his teeth with his boastings to pay with insurance, my car was insured. His lies didn’t concern me. I would be really surprise if he keeps his words. I promised my father I would give him those 200,000 if Madar somehow paid it. The reason I let Madar off lightly was because I couldn’t bring myself to ask Rp 200,000 which was needed to claim the insurance from a driver. However, I was very angry. I still am.

When I got home and told my mother of what happened she got upset, because she thought I would spend a lot of money to repair the car. She was quite supportive when she heard my angry outbursts that I was going to make Madar pay dearly for his actions by writing a formal complaint to his company or even send someone to his office to collect the payment or whatever to make his life hell.

But when she heard that it was only Rp 200,000, she changed her mind. She said Madar is only a driver. I should think about the consequences of my actions, what if Madar was fired as the results of my actions. What will happen to his family? Did Rp 200,000 worth ruining somebody’s else’s life?

Not that I disagree, it's just very unsatisfactory to let Madar go that easily. It wasn’t the Rp 200,000 that was grating on my nerves. Neither the fact that my brand new car was hit. Nor the fact that I had to use the uncomfortable and unreliable public transportations for a week in the rainy season – as I’d rather like the experience for a change.

I just didn’t like the fact that Madar was unpunished. It against one of the basic principles I hold dear to let Madar goes his merry way. If one does something good. One should get a reward for their good deeds. If one does something bad one should be punished for it.

With his easy escape Madar would be a loose road hazard to everybody else. He didn’t get hard lessons he wouldn’t forget in a long time to help him to be more careful onward.

So, everybody, if you’re passing Casablanca Street on daily basis just be extremely careful if you happen to be driving around him. Give him a wide berth if he’s in front of you. And speed up if he happens to be behind you, or slow down and give him a way, otherwise he would hit you because he’s so impatient to move forward as quickly as possible to deliver his boss in time regardless of its costs to others.