Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Don't Like Shopping!

I was stuck shopping near midnight and didn't like the experience being in a crazy crowd in the middle of the night.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's Been A While..

Untitled. Yogyakarta, 2009 / Rony Zakaria

Yes, it has been quite a while since I wrote something here. I must admit that a lot of things happened during the last five months. It made me a bit preoccupied. That and added some laziness explained my long absence on writing here. Anyway, I now want to write an overview as a remembrance of some of those things I experienced.

In April I went to Manila, Philippines for a course in Visual Journalism diploma program. I was granted a full scholarship from Konrad Adenauer and Asian Center For Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University
for one year diploma program. It was an exciting experience since it's been a year or so from my last trip abroad and plus I never get a scholarship before. The course itself is a mixture between online learning and on-campus sessions. I had to do written and field assignments every week for the courses I enrolled and there will be two on-campus sessions, one in April which I did already and another one coming up in March next year. Well, generally so far it went so good :)

Another surprise caught on me in late July, a team consisted of me and two writers was awarded a reportage grant from Mochtar Lubis Award. The grant, named after the late veteran journalist, Mochtar Lubis,gave us financial support to pursue our proposal idea of investigative reporting on mental institutions in Jakarta. The reportage is still ongoing and hopefully by the end of November we can finish and compiled it. We are quite optimistic on it.

I pledged now to write more to pay off for my laziness. Reasons no more!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Situ Gintung : Five days after

Early morning, dawn, March 27th, a massive flood struck unexpectedly into a heavily populated neighborhood in Cirendeu, greater Jakarta. A man made 16-meter high dirt dam collapsed releasing water and debris into residences causing many losing their lives.

I didn't come to the place on the first day of the tragedy. I did go eventually five days after. People, locals and volunteers, are still working hard on the site to clean the place up and still searching for another hundred of people still missing. As much as a hundred lives were lost.

It was sad just to hear the news but it was depressing to see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Harmonie - Yogyakarta, an Exhibition in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Located in Central Java, Indonesia. Yogyakarta is the smallest province in Indonesia with only approximately 3000 square kilometers. Yet, its geographical location between an active volcano and an open sea on its south bring its own uniqueness.

The Yogyakarta Sultanate resides between a volcano and the sea it composes three kingdoms that makes up Yogyakarta. It is the last existing pre-colonial sultanate in Indonesia, According to Java mythology, The Yogyakarta Sultanate is located in a perfect straight line between Mt. Merapi and Parangtritis beach, the last two are believed where two mystical kingdoms resides. Many Javanese believe the sultanate as the center of universe.

People of Yogyakarta live with an open mind and simplicity, which many believe related with their closeness with nature. This closeness brings people with many blessings from mother nature. A fertile volcanic soil to farm, sea in the south, rich with fishes and the last but not least, a peaceful heart and mind.

When Mt. Merapi erupted and the big earthquake struck Yogyakarta at almost the same time in 2006, it didn’t left vengeance instead it strengthened their connection with mother nature. To appreciate the biggest blessing given to them, a heart, mind and body synchronized with nature.

Freedom is often referred as something to fight for, something we believe that we are willing to sacrifice anything to get it. But for the people of Yogyakarta, freedom has always been a part of their daily life. It’s been a way a living, living life in harmony.

This series of photos (a total of 11) is exhibited and featured in the fifth Chobimela International Photo Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Unfortunately I couldn't be there and feel the enjoyable and enthusiastic atmosphere at the festival.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Selected Quote

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, January 26, 2009

On Reading and Forgetting

I was sitting reading a book in a quiet and small bookstore. In the background a slow bossa nova music was playing. There weren’t too many people since it wasn’t the weekends and it was during office hours when most of people were likely to be working instead being in a bookstore in a mall. I picked a spot where I can read while stretching my legs comfortably. It was my perfect kind of ambience to read.

"Israel is just great, don't you think?" I barely finished reading half the book when my solitary state of reading was disturbed. For a moment, I wasn't sure what to respond and whether he raised a question, asking for my opinion, or just exclaiming about the currently-hot Israel-Gaza issue. It took me precisely six seconds before I could answered to him with a rather standard "what do you mean?" reaction, which it was more than enough for him to smile and start a conversation.

Sitting next to me, the man was wearing a black cotton jacket, one that usually wears when riding a motorbike. He was in his late forties, his short hair was all but completely gray and his face, decorated with big oval glasses, was a bit wrinkly yet it shows you a fresh kind of look. A look that if you put a few years more would give you a perfect idea how all happy grandfathers should have looked like.

“Yes, they are great don’t you think? They are now thinking how to rebuild Gaza city after they torn it down with missiles” repeating his first statement and continued on without waiting for my opinion.

He then showed me an article in the newspaper he was just reading about Gaza and gave his opinions. I just nodded along. It was neither the cruelty, inhuman attack from Israel nor the casualties of war that interested me. To be frank, I was quite bored with all the news about what happened in the Middle East. It was everywhere, in television, in magazines, in internet, even in billboards.

Instead of the news, I was very intrigued in how often the man used the word “great” in his sentences. I counted at least 20 “greats” in just a minute. Oddly as it seems it brought the curiosity out of me to think how many things that use the word “great”, The Great Wall of China, Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, The Great White Shark, Great Gatsby, Alexander the Great, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Depression.

“Where do you think all that money comes from? For those missiles, to rebuild Gaza. How come Israeli are so wealthy?” he raised another question and this time was waiting for my answer rather anxiously, blowing away my imagination filling the list of “greats”.

“First, probably because they are generally smart. A lot of Nobel laureates are Jews”, I replied to him, trying to give an answer that sounds reasonable enough and less ridiculous.

Before I could continue with another sentence, he took over the conversation by telling his opinion furthermore. About Hamas, Fatah, the Six-Day war, from Yasser Arafat to Ehud Olmert, everything he could think of in related with Jews, Israel and Palestine. Still, none of those interest me deeply. When he saw my straight-faced expression, he soon realized my lack of interest thus changing the subject.

He had been to America. The United States of America. He stayed there for a month with his relatives he told me. “I prefer Indonesia” expressing his impression during his visit. He was talking further about the life in the US and comparing it with the life here in Indonesia and asked me several times,which in every single time I answered with a short response.

I noticed an instrumental Jazz music was playing replacing the bossa nova. I looked at my watch. It was 3.30 pm. The man also checked time and suddenly stood up. He said thank you for the chat, asked for my name and introduce his name before leaving. A very brief and sudden goodbye. I then looked at my half-finished book, took a glance at the remaining pages and decided to finish it another day. I simply lost my mood to read.

I met a friend later on that day. We went together to watch a play in Taman Ismail Marzuki. The play lasted for three long hours. Paying $3 for the ticket was worth every penny, not just because it was long, but it was also entertaining. Midnight was approaching when we stepped out of the theatre.

Driving back home, my friend switched on the radio. Changing the FM channels several times, she finally settled with a news program. The program was reporting on the situation in Washington prior the inauguration of the newly-elected president, Barack Obama. Later that night, Obama would be sworn to be the 44th president of the USA and the first black to be one.

Hearing the news from America, all of a sudden it came back into my mind about the conversation with the man in the bookstore. And the first thing I tried to remember was his name. Giving my full effort to remember the name, I still couldn’t recall it. What I remembered that his name was simple and should be easy to remember. In the end I just couldn’t believe I forgot it.

I then realized all the news about the Gaza sooner than later would be forgotten and replaced with the more high profile news from Washington. The world’s eyes would be back to US after a sojourn journey to the Middle East.

I remember what Milan Kundera, the Czech-born writer, once wrote, “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”.

Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to remember the man’s name as the world, we, didn’t try hard enough about Gaza and eventually calling it a day and forget about it.

Oh well, I will try to remember it again tomorrow.

Rony Zakaria, January 2009