Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cisayong Girl on The Jakarta Globe

It was exciting news and I would like to thank Michelle Udem and The Jakarta Globe for the recognition :)

22 June 2009

Michelle UdemIndonesia has around a million bloggers, according to one leading internet publisher. (Photo: Prasetyo Utomo, Antara)

Blogging In English

Michael Jubel Hutagalung, a Web designer based in Bandung, West Java, started Jubel and the Unessential, an English-language blog, primarily to improve his written English. The blog offers Hutagalung’s random musings on Indonesia’s politics and culture.

Within a year of Hutagalung starting the blog in October 2007, the traffic to the site was so high that it was exceeding the bandwidth limit on the platform he was using, and he had to move his blog to another host. The traffic explosion, mostly from Indonesians living abroad, gave him an incentive to do more than just improve his English skills.

“I want to tell the world what Indonesia’s really like — how the people really live,” Hutagalung said. But readers may not always get much on how Indonesians are living on an up-to-the-minute basis, or even about the day-to-day concerns of his countrymen.

Hutagalung last posted on Monday, after a two-month hiatus, filling readers in on his university plans and his personal debate in choosing between studying in London or the Netherlands.

The total number of Indonesian bloggers is difficult to quantify due to the constant deletion and activation of blog accounts. A top Indonesian-language blogger and internet publisher, Enda Nasution, says that Indonesia has about one million bloggers, based on information, Wordpress information and blogs hosted personally — there are about 20 blogging communities in Indonesia, one in ever major city.

For Indonesians blogging in English, many are simply interested in trying to reach an audience beyond their own country and to give a perspective not available in the foreign media. Out of the 10 bloggers listed here, seven do not have a degree in English, nor have they studied abroad.

Budi Putra, a freelance writer and full-time, self-employed blogger living in Bintaro, South Jakarta, writes in English about new gadgets from an Indonesian perspective. Though many of his topics involve global technology news, he feels he provides a unique perspective as an Indonesian.

“My main demographic is both Indonesians and foreigners, especially those who love technology and digital life issues … Blogging is about conversation, so I want to talk to them through my blog. That’s why my blog’s tagline is ‘Talk With Me.’ ”

Hutagalung and Putra’s blogs focus on specific topics, but the majority of the Indonesians bloggers writing in English are diarists, who post as the mood strikes.

Devi Girsang, a 22-year-old medical student born, raised and living in Jakarta, operates the site “It’s My Life,” last updated May 5. With a tagline, “Love & Tears. Laugh & Cry. Achievements & Regrets. Welcome To My Life!” Girsang’s blog ranges from discussions on everyday topics such as poor customer service to inquiries on why people do bad things.

Such topics written from an Indonesian perspective and in English help readers realize that people worldwide run into the same problems and share the same emotional inquiries.

In another blog, “Republikbabi,” 23-year-old Calvin Sidjaja from Bandung posts updates about growing up with a mixed heritage in Indonesia. On his blog, Sidjaja discusses the role of mixed heritage Indonesians, such as Dutch-Indonesians and Chinese-Indonesians. He delves into the history of mixed heritages in Indonesia and how society views these people today.

“Many international students were helped because of the personal essays [on my blog],” he said.

But the Internet is not always the safest place to express personal and sometimes controversial opinions.

Girsang has “been accused of being an ‘American-wannabe’ from an anonymous commenter,” and Sidjaja notices how any type of neutral post he writes on religion always causes controversy.

Regardless of the hate mail and negative feedback, the bloggers find that voicing their thoughts and opinions in English is beneficial. “Though difficult to write in English, I like challenges. I love the rhythm of English words. It’s more personal and subjective,” Budi Putra explains.

To these bloggers, writing in English is their key to communicating to the outside world as they find freedom in abandoning their own tongue for just a few moments a week or month.

“Bahasa can be so difficult because of the formality of the language. I can express myself more casually in English” Girsang said.
These ten English-language blogs appear in the top 50 Indonesian blogs tracked by Web site

Three Popular Blogs Written by Expats Living in Indonesia:

These three blogs written by expatriates living in Indonesia are ranked in the top six on

1. Brandon Hoover
Consisting of high-resolution photographs, Brandon Hoover’s blog takes a look at Indonesia’s natural beauty and his life here as an American. Aesthetically pleasing, Hoover’s blog illustrates how Indonesia has influenced his thoughts and photography. A fan of Indonesia, Hoover’s blog provides an American’s perspective on the joys of living in the country.

2. Jakartass
Jakartass, written by a Westerner living in Jakarta, consists of witty posts chronicling the life of an expatriate in Jakarta. Posts on the blog discuss local news as well as personal experiences illustrating quirks in Indonesian culture. Most recent posts discuss power cuts in Jakarta and a list of books by bloggers. Information on Indonesian acronyms and slang words are found on the sidebar of the blog.

3. Treespotter
Treespotter is a personal blog containing posts mostly on daily life in Indonesia and current, local events. Posts include idiosyncrasies in Jakarta culture, such as how there is always a place to smoke. The personal posts are both entertaining and in depth, while the posts pertaining to politics are written from an outsider’s point of view.

Ten Blogs by Indonesians Who Are Writing in English:

These ten English-language blogs appear in the top 50 Indonesian blogs tracked by Web site

1. Michael Hutagalung
Web designer Michael Hutagalung maintains a blog that consists of his personal perspectives, his design portfolio and discussions on Wordpress themes and Indonesian social issues. His blog offers readers the opportunity to learn about the Wordpress program as well as read an Indonesian perspective on the upcoming election.

2. Budi Putra
Blogger Budi Putra of this self-titled blog provides commentary on local news and technology gadgets. Mixing local technological news, such as Indonesia’s launch of digital TV, Putra also updates readers on more esoteric news such as the discovery of Indonesian sea horses. Technologically-savvy Putra comments on how information from the upcoming election will be broadcast via SMS.

3. Devi Girsang
Attracting both Jakartans and foreigners, Devi Girsang’s personal blog gives insight into the life of a young, Indonesian medical student. Girsang blogs on topics ranging from laptop malfunctions to bus-riding etiquette. Girsang’s blog gives expatriates the opportunity to observe a young Indonesian’s experiences, while peers can relate or rebut Girsang’s critiques of Jakarta culture and society.

4. Merlyna Lim
Blogging from her home in Arizona, Merlyna Lim’s blog focuses on her craft as an artist and her thoughts on both Indonesian and American issues. In between posts of her personal drawings and collages, Lim touches on local topics such as the construction of urban space in Bandung and internationally relatable topics such as inequalities within society.

5. Martin Manurung
Martin Manurung’s self-titled blog covers topical news issues in Jakarta. Providing his own commentary and critique of social, economic and political topics, Manurung tries to counterbalance foreign media reports that he feels are often “misleading.” Straying away from gossip, Manurung’s blog gives foreigners an inside look from a local’s perspective.

6. Calvin Michel Sidjaja
Touching on sensitive topics such as his search for his family tree and being of mixed heritage, Calvin Sidjaja’s blog consists of posts on his personal life and experiences. Sidjaja’s Indonesian heritage is a main theme of his blog, a topic that many young adults can relate to.

7. Ecky
Known on her blog as Ecky, the blogger writes from Australia. Though she mostly posts on personal subjects such as shower rituals and the perks of being a woman, Ecky also writes about the difficulties that come with change and leaving the comfort of her home country, Indonesia. Ecky also posts topical news from Jakarta, such as the upcoming election and President Obama’s effect on Indonesians.

8. Carla Ardrian
Blogging on various topics from gardening to photography, Carla Ardrian provides an Indonesian perspective on everyday things. Accommodating her Indonesian readers, Carla posts innovative recipes and political commentary, while foreigners may be more attracted to her travel and cultural tips. One of Carla’s posts comments on her experience of receiving incorrect directions as a tourist in Bali.

9. Nana Podungge
Nana Podungge’s most recent post on her blog, “A Feminist Blog,” discusses the topic of religion. Podungge considers herself a secular Muslim. Her religious views are mixed with the other main focus of her blog, a woman’s role in society. A unique combination, Podungge’s blog provides insight into controversial topics.

10. Martha
“Frank and Martha’s Blog,” written by Martha, captures the life of a young family in Jakarta. Martha’s updates illustrate the charms shared by all families worldwide, such as receiving her first written letter from her elementary school-aged son. Chronicling the life of a mother, Martha shares her thoughts on baking experiences, the workplace and raising a young child.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Refreshing Changes

I have been living in my new home Canberra for almost 3 months and I like it so far, although some people said that this city is a shit hole *pardon my language* and I have to pursue my husband to immediately move out and get another overseas posting so I don't have to be rotten here. I don't have any specific complaints so far other than this cold Winter and chill mornings, I love the blue sky, I love the fresh air, I love the no traffic jam road and I kinda get used to the quietness compare to Jakarta. It's a refreshing change for me because I fed up with Jakarta's traffic jam especially during wet season, ah it was just hell. The not so refreshing changes are the do it (domestic stuff) by yourself attitude; since I am not a good cook, my speciality is fried noodle with Indomie goreng as the main ingredients and add lots of veggies and chicken/egg, you can't get wrong with Indomie goreng and the last time I did iron was gazillion years ago, but my husband and I are a good team so I don't complaint (so far) :))

I was a bit depressed when I just arrived here because our stuff haven't arrived from Indonesia and we don't have TV, no computer, no internet, limited utensils and very limited clothes, no friends yet. Simple matters became a big deal for me, I remember one night I can't find my camera charger and I cry like someone hurt me so bad, that was the point when I decided I need to get to work otherwise I will be crazy. I am fortunate that Angela has a good connection so she signed me in to her old job in after school care. I started just 3 weeks after I arrived in this country, not bad, not bad at all.

After school care program was a perfect practice for me because it starts at 3pm till 6pm so I can do my English classes from AMEP Program in the morning. The job desk was to supervised and get involve while the children do crafting, play indoor/outdoor, helped the centre manager preparing the afternoon tea until their parents come to pick them up. I even introduced the children with Indonesian words and show them my wedding album so they get the idea about Indonesia.

One day there was this girl Niamh who comes only Tuesday and Friday and when she saw me on Wednesday at the school yard she runs and hug me tight. It was such a nice feeling, and that was the point when I think I can handle the "pressure" working with children. So I decided I will get full time work in childcare industry. When I left the after school care programs, the children gave me big farewell card with sweet notes like "I will miss you", "please come and see us sometimes", "I love you", "thank you for being so awesome", cardboard koala, some of them even draw my picture had melted my heart and I was cried in front of them :).

This week is my third week working full time in early childhood centre, the shifts are varied from 8am-5pm, 8.30am-5.30pm, 9am-6pm and they put me in toddlers room 1-3 years old children. My day usually begins with company the toddlers play, sit with them during group time (listen to story and singing), preparing them for morning tea, company them play outdoor or inside (depends on the weather), preparing them for lunch, preparing them for nap, changing nappies (3 times a day among 3 carers/teachers), preparing them for afternoon tea, company and supervise them play and sit with them during afternoon snacks. Working in childcare is not as easy as I thought, because I need to be firm with them when they are being cheeky and sometimes I have to chase them and lift them to the bathroom during nappies time. But I consider that as my exercise, lift up and put down 15 children during the busiest day to the nappy bench is surely burn some calories :).

I was amazed with the children's discipline, the youngest is 19 months old and the oldest is almost 3 years old but they can wash and dry hand by themselves, sit on the chair during morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, take off their own shoes and help to pack up the toys when we ask to. The youngest Caragh can sit on the toilet by herself and she doesn't have to wear nappy, isn't that good? I try not to compare with Indonesian children but I know some Indonesian children who can't do all of those things even though they are already 5 years old.

It can be a stressful day if the children are being cheeky and didn't listen to me but it all washed away when they cuddle me. It such a wonderful feeling eventhough they are not mine, but still.. It's nice and wonderful. I am not pursue the money because the money is not that good compare to other jobs but I got emotional satisfaction and for the time being that is enough for me. It surely is a refreshing change from a hectic life, tight deadlines and long hours in an advertising company, and I am going to enjoy this until the day I couldn't enjoy it again.

I guess not everything all about the money..