Friday, July 31, 2009

The Surprising Madura (3): The Beauties of Human Creations – Architecture, Arts and Crafts

When it comes to arts and crafts, I personally think these three things are must see and do in Madura:

1. Cemetery visits – there are two main ones: Ratu Ibu in Arosbaya near Bangkalan, and Asta Tinggi in Sumenep. You can see the different styles of these cemeteries. In Ratu Ibu there is still a strong Javanese style. While in Sumenep the mix of Chinese and European styles on the carvings and the tomb ‘houses’ may surprise you.
2. Batik centres. We visited three centres: Tanjungbumi, Pamekasan, and Bluto not far from Sumenep. I am not an expert in batik, but my layman’s eyes sensed that there are different details from each area.

3. Antique goods hunting – or at least, you must see the beautiful creations of Madurese. Before they are gone to other countries.

1. Cemetery visits

From Bangkalan, it is only around 45 minutes to go to Arosbaya. It is a location of one of the Royal family’s tomb complex called ‘Aer Mata Ibu’ (or Mother’s Tears).
There is a story behind the name, as told by the tomb guard. Ratu Ibu (or the Permaisuri), one day was left by the king for a war for so long. In one of her dreams, she was told to retreat and pray to a place on a hill, for the safety of her husband and all people under his ruling kingdom. So she went to Arosbaya, and stayed there to pray. She cried remembering the fights that her husband must have gone through. Tears that she could not stop flowing, until it created some kind of a pond at the place where she prayed. Hence, the name Aer Mata Ibu (or Mother’s Tears).
The pond still exists. According to the juru kunci it is still the same source. I did not go there as it was full of visitors. I was actually curious if it tastes salty just like tears.
Over here we saw lots of similarities with Javanese carvings. Even the entrance looks like some temples in Java.

The entrance to the main tombs

Details of carvings from the Royalties’ tombs – still very much look like those in Java, even the style resembles Gunungan (or literally mountains) which in Javanese it can mean the beginning and the end

Another tomb complex is Asta Tinggi in Sumenep. This is supposed to be the main complex of the sultanate families.

When we arrived, I was expecting a complex with lots of Madurese carvings. But from the entrance, I was in for a surprise.

There is a very strong European style – on the entrance gate, the dome. But inside the buildings that housed the tombs of the main members of the sultanate, there are carvings with strong Chinese style. The main tomb – the oldest part of the whole complex, the house has a very Javanese style with its high ceilings and details like a Joglo house. The whole complex is so mixed with different architectural details that I found it surprising at every corner.

Two different worlds?

The main entrance from the inside of the cemetery - I really felt that I was in a different part of the world, if not for the styles of the tombs

The strong Chinese style on the ‘gebyok’ (Javanese’s language for some sort of carved wooden screen) behind the tombs

2. Batik Centres

There were three batik centres in Madura that we visited: Tanjungbumi, Pamekasan, and Bluto which is between Pamekasan and Sumenep. Though seems that batik in Madura is not as developed as an industry as that in Java, but nevertheless design wise I do not think it is less than its counterpart in Java. And, because it is not yet that developed, it is not as pricey. And all batik that we have seen, is still handwritten. There is not so much of printed batik in Madura.

When we were in Tanjungbumi, we thought there would be signs on the road of where the showrooms are. But, there were none. There was a small, dusty, undeveloped road, with no signs of where we could find a place that sells batik. Then a lady who maybe saw the code of our rented car was from Surabaya, or maybe she saw our confused expressions, waved from the side of the road. She then invited us to get into her house, after we said we were looking for batik. Later we found out her name was Ibu Siti.

And it was our first party.

I was always mesmerized by the style of Madurese Batik. And later I found out that what I first bought 3 years ago, was from Tanjungbumi. According to Ibu Siti, batik from Tanjungbumi always has elements of the sea creatures. And the colours that they use tend to be ‘deeper’ – in my eyes they look more solemn, and to some extent, more ‘primitive’ in style and art work.

The unique patters of Bangkalan's batik - they look rather 'rough'

Next centre is Pamekasan. It was very apparent how they love their batik – everywhere in this little town we see batik graffiti on many walls.

From school's walls to road sides - they paint the city in lots of batik patterns

In this little town, we visited Ibu Soraya’s showroom. Later we found out that she is actually a prominent figure who developed Pamekasan batik. She has been doing her craft since she was 8 years old. Practically lives from it. She graduated from IKIP in Malang, and continued on developing her batik business. She manages many batik craftswomen in 13 villages around Pamekasan.

According to Ibu Soraya, the uniqueness of Pamekasan’s batik is in its playful colour and patterns. Perhaps being one of the bigger town, what we sensed was that the patterns look more modern than those of Tanjungbumi’s. And true enough there were more colours used.

Pamekasan's batik we saw in Ibu Soraya's showroom - more playful patterns

When we finally came to Bluto as our final visit to the three batik centres in Madura, on our last night on this flat island, we met Bapak Zaini. He inherited the business since late 70’s. He has learned to handwrite batik when he was 8 years old, and apparently it is not uncommon to see males able to do batik writing on this part of the island. Now he no longer crafts the batik. Like Ibu Soraya, he determines the patterns, and his craftsmen and women will finish up; and he also controls the colouring process until it has come to the final piece.

Just like in Pamekasan, we also see more playful patterns in Bluto. This is perhaps driven by the fact that this place is so near to the main road, that it is more exposed to the different influences of visitors. Trying to adapt to the different styles and taste. This was my own guess.

According to Bapak Zaini, these are very traditional patterns of Bluto, that goes way back

3. Antique goods hunting

I was brought up by a mother who loves antiques. It did not make me an expert in it, but I grew up loving them and enjoying their presence at home. My husband, is the same. He just loves history and everything that relates with it. So, in most of our travels, we always spend time to go to museums, and, also to search for antiques. Not necessarily to buy them, but more to know what they are (and if not too pricey, letting ourselves be lured to buy them).

So when we went to Madura we have set our minds that we should look for antiques in Sumenep. Why Sumenep?, because it is the centre of the sultanate so we imagined, the arts and crafts will be richer there.

Soonest we riched Sumenep, we went straight to the Kraton. Do not compare the complex to that in Yogyakarta. There was little left of the buildings but still it was enjoyable to look at.

The kingdom's complex

The king's chamber. The queen's chamber resembles it in style and furniture used

Sumenep also has a very beautiful mosque - a place also worth visiting.

The mosque's main entrance seen from inside the mosque's complex

We asked the man who guided us around the Kraton if he knew any place that sells antiques in Sumenep. Lucky enough, he knew just the place. And we just went crazy – looking around, digging up stuff, and ended up buying some things that until now we are not sure where we will put them in our little home.

We found many interesting stuff there, and many of them are uniquely Madurese.

The shop is owned by Bapak Najib. He has been doing the business for 23 years. He’s got his goods from the little islands around Madura. And according to him, his buyers transported the goods they have bought from his shop all over the place, primarily to Europe. He also sells to many antique shops in Kemang area.

He showed us around, and told us what each was for in the olden days. And we were mesmerized by intricate details, the colours of green, red and orange or yellow that are so typically Madura, on each antique wooden goods that he showed us.

Old window shutters

This used to be put on the bows of ships

On our last night in Madura - after this last visit to Pak Najib's shop (this was our second visit), we knew that we have found another holiday haven.

4 days, 3 nights. We finally had to go home. With such impression of Madura, that we know will last forever. And we will come back, one day.

As the sun sets, and the mussels pickers are starting to get busy by the beach, we are keeping the memory of this beautiful island....forever....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Surprising Madura (2): What Nature Gives, Human Enjoys

When we reached Madura, my husband reminded me that it is actually not an island. There are 67 islands and islets that belong to Madura – 66 of them lie to the east of Sumenep, and one island belongs to Sampang. Madura is divided into four Regencies, or Kabupaten, which run consecutively from west to east, respectively Bangkalan, Sampang, Pamekasan and Sumenep.

And coming from Java that has many mountains, looking at Madura landscape can be rather perplexing. There is no mountain in Madura – the land is flat, only contoured by hills. And the long narrow island makes it easy for any traveler to come across a beach, at any point in time, within less than 2 hours maximum from one beach to the other.
Madura landscape – no pointy spots like in other islands of Indonesia

-->Beaches by the road – this is a little bit further down to the East from Slopeng towards Lombang beach, Sumenep. A peaceful retreat just for you, soonest you step out of your car
And as we traveled from west to east, we noticed that the further east we went, the more beautiful the beaches were. From Siring Kemuning in Bangkalan, to Lombang in Sumenep, the different colour of sea and texture of sand were quite apparent. Sand was whiter and softer; the sea was bluer as we went east.

The heat was different too. To us Surabaya always has this uncomfortable stinging sensation of the sun’s heat as it reaches your skin. But as soon as we ‘landed’ on Madura, the sun’s heat became more bearable. You just feel the heat, without the stinging sensation. And the wind is a lot breezier than it is in Surabaya. And it got fresher as we went east.

There is a stereotype about Madurese: they are rude and unkind. My husband’s friend who arranged the car for us, and happens to be a Madurese, told us that outside Madura, that stereotype is very true. In Surabaya, for instance, if we ask for directions to a Madurese, the answer is likely not true. But he said, in Madura, everybody is very nice. Ask anyone and very likely that you will get the exact answer. He even experienced that he was led to the person’s home when asking for a direction.

I wondered why it could be like that. One reason I thought it must be because in Madura, the breath of Islam is stronger than in a big city like Jakarta. So you would be behaving in front so many Hajis and Hajjahs and ulamas. Then in your own home town, everybody knows you. So who dare misbehaving?.

But when I touched the main land of Madura – I suspected nature may have an impact too. Though hot and flat and dusty in dry seasons, but with the lovely beaches, very blue skies, stars at night, wouldn’t you be softer?. Ah well, I am not going to discuss this any further.

Water Jewels

The eastern part of Indonesia tends to fascinate me for its beaches. But I did not expect I would experience such fascination in Madura.

There are three beaches that I consider as ‘must see’ when you are in Madura. And you may also find this suggestion in travel books.

One is Slopeng. The other one is Lombang. Both are located near Sumenep. Closer from the crossing to Surabaya, is Camplong beach in Pamekasan.

Slopeng is the farthest from Sumenep. What is unique about this beach is its sand dunes, and also the quality of sand. According to my husband who once went to Dubai, the sand feels exactly like that in Dubai. And the contour of the sand dunes makes it feels like you are somewhere else – not in Indonesia, especially with its palm trees.

There are gazebos up in the sand dunes where you can sit and enjoy the sea breeze and enjoy the sea. It was just…heavenly.

Slopeng with its very soft sand, and the contour of the sand dunes. The water is very blue and clear. From afar one can also see the different layers of colours – from the deep to the shallow water. I loved the feeling that this beach gave me: like you are in the desert.

A little bit further up from Slopeng, to the West, there is Ambunten beach. It does not have the sand dunes but the quality of water and beach is just as excellent. It is also a fishermen village – so at certain times of the day you will see colourful boats.
Some boats that we saw – we went there almost mid-day so we could not enjoy the pleasures of seeing the rows of boats

We then went to Lombang, decided to take what it looked like a shorter route. Turned out, it was supposed to be shorter, if only the road was ‘friendlier’. It was so bumpy that after 20 minutes we decided to turn back and take another route.

But the view from this patchy road is as breathtaking. At some points we could see the layers of colours of the sea. And there are secluded beaches – you can easily park your car and plunge into the refreshing, blue, sea. It all reminded me of what my family used to do whenever we traveled to coastal areas: pack up 2 galons of fresh water, searched for secluded beaches, and plunged in.

The road to Lombang from Slopeng - supposed to be the shorter route. It was very bumpy. We would have gone through this if not remembering the risk to the rented car on our heads. And look at the landscape. Later we realized that this is actually the place where they mine lime stones. We saw them used in many building projects across Madura – replacing the common red bricks

Free, secluded, clean beach…at your doorstep

If Slopeng is unique for its sand dunes, Lombang is unique for its pine trees. Yes, pine trees – locally they are called ‘cemara udang’. I don’t know what it is in English – in latin it is called Casuarina equesetifolia (the beauty of internet – you can find anything!). Its sand is whiter than Slopeng’s, the sea is as clean.
Lombang and its pine trees – ever saw pine trees in a beach area?. If not then maybe about time you pay a visit to this place

Compared to Slopeng and Lombang, Camplong does not have any uniqueness in terms of landscape. But if you are in Pamekasan and wish to have a dip in the sea, then Camplong is your best bet if you do not wish to travel all the way to Slopeng or Lombang, which can take around 3 hours travel from Pamekasan.
Camplong beach – clean sea, a wide stretch of beach, nice to have a dip and to play around

Lombang has more facilities than Slopeng and Camplong – the wash rooms and toilets are cleaner too. But one thing that broke our hearts in all these places: we could not find garbage bins. And people left their garbage just as they pleased. It made us wondered how long will it take for the place to deteriorate. But here’s hoping that one day, the local government will do something about it.
This picture may look beautiful, but these were empty coconut shells left by visitors at Slopeng beach. How much longer will the beach be as white and clean with all the garbage left behind by visitors?

Stretches of Salt Fields and Tobacco

Madura is a land of salt. We went to Kalianget to see the largest salt fields. It was interesting, at least for me, to see stretches of white fields in front of you. And if there are stretches of cloud up the fields – the view can be rather breathtaking.
Salt fields at Kalianget. Looking at them for long can actually make you dizzy thanks to the blinding reflection of the sun light on them

Madura’s economy is thriving not only for its salt, but also for tobacco. At least in the past, this used to be one of the main income of Madura. So it is not strange to see many tobacco fields everywhere. Even nearing the beach (though we were told that the taste of tobacco will not be great).

Tobacco flower – I never saw it before, it looks lovely
Working at tobacco fields – this was in Pamekasan

There are 2 unique places that we did not visit: Dhangka near Pamekasan, and Toroan water fall. Dhangka is unique for its everlasting fire in the soil. So if you dig a little bit, there will be fire coming out. We tried looking for this place with no avail. I guess because we were already too tired traveling all day in Sumenep to all the beaches, as well as the journey to Pamekasan.

Toroan water fall goes straight into the sea. This is in Ketapang area – around almost 2 hours from Bangkalan. We reached Ketapang too late in the afternoon that the sun was ready to set, to search for this supposedly beautiful water fall.

Madura is certainly a jewel waiting to be polished. We left this flat land with a hope in our hearts: whoever is going to polish this land, hope they realize that Madura needs a loving touch.And we have found many of those loving touches in the handicrafts and buildings that we saw at many corners. From Bangkalan to Sumenep.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Why We Love Jakarta..

Saya bersorak gembira ketika Desember tahun lalu akhirnya majalah Time Out Jakarta (TOJ) terbit. Kegembiraan yang kurang lebih sama dengan saat saya mendapati National Geographic Indonesia (NGI) dan Rolling Stone Indonesia (RSI) terbit. Bagi saya ini bukan sekedar penerbitan majalah kebanyakan. Tapi ini juga sebuah pengakuan. Meminjam istilah mantan boss saya, terbukanya satu lagi “jendela Indonesia” untuk diintip dunia.

Telat bertahun-tahun dibandingkan dengan kota-kota tetangganya – seperti Bangkok, Singapore, dan bahkan KL – Jakarta akhirnya diterima sebagai kota yang cukup exciting bagi komunitas internasional, paling tidak menurut para editor Time Out. Majalah ini merupakan franchise dari seri Time Out yang berbasis di London, penerbit travel guide dan city guide, alternatif untuk Lonely Planet yang klasik itu. Kredo Time Out adalah: Your guide to what's happening in the most exciting cities on the planet.

Edisi perdana, Time Out Jakarta, Desember 2008. Satu lagi jendela Indonesia terbuka bagi orang luar..

Setelah bertahun-tahun di cap sebagai kota yang tenggelam dalam polusi, disparitas sosial, kemacetan, inefisiensi, dan infrastruktur yang sama sekali tidak ramah untuk para pelancong, pelan-pelan Jakarta merambat ke atas, dan diterima (kembali). TOJ ini adalah salah satu bentuk penerimaan itu. Beberapa kali Jakarta disebut sebagai hidden gem (permata yang tersembunyi). Terutama karena kehidupan malam-nya, café dan galeri seni kontemporer-nya, serta ITC! Ya, ITC, mal murah dengan barang-barang (bajakan) berkualitas bagus itu.

Dan tiba-tiba Jumat pagi yang kelabu, tepat setalah 5 tahun kota ini terbebas dari kabar buruk. Semua orang pilu. Istri saya yang sama sekali tidak bisa mengapresiasi bola, dengan penuh duka, menulis notes tentang MU, Budi, dan Indonesia, menyusul kejadian ini. Saya sendiri menanti-nanti, apa yang akan ditulis oleh editor TOJ pada edisi Agustus mendatang, menyusul kejadian Ritz dan Marriott.

But anyway, tak ada guna, meratap terlalu lama. Jakarta, will rise again, like she always did. Dan hal ini mengingatkan saya pada salah satu edisi TOJ.

Edisi ini terbit bulan Juni kemarin, bertepatan dengan ulang tahun Jakarta ke 482. Di dalam volume ini, para editor-nya menulis satu artikel tentang kota kita ini, dalam sebuah tajuk “101 Reasons Why We Love Jakarta” Saya mencatat ulang secara singkat, 17 diantaranya, disini. Why we love Jakarta?

  • Reason 101 – Its not KL! Enough said.
  • Reason 93 – Karaoke. Jakartans are songful folk, which goes some way to explaining the prevalence of Karaoke joints.
  • Reason 91 – Massages. Jakarta’s a great place to get a cheap rubdown. Naughty or otherwise..
  • Reason 82 – Soto Betawi with Nasi Uduk. Combined, you have a meal worthy of a king
  • Reason 63 – J.Co. Who would have guessed that local donit can beat US donat powerhouse? Now you can find J.Co in Singapore or KL
  • Reason 55 – Office boy. Domestic help, rite in the office.
  • Reason 45 – Nightlife. Guys, the city has everything..
  • Reason 35 – Its Music Scene. From Dangdut to Electronica. From Jazz to punk. According to Times Magazine, Jakarta has the best and liveliest music scene in Asia..
  • Reason 32 – Fatahillah Square. It’s old and decrepit. But no other place in Jakarta has that kind of character..
  • Reason 26 – Underrated. A recent survey ranked Jakarta as a 2nd worst place in the world for expats to live (after Lagos??!!). Fine by us! We didn’t want to share it, anyway..
  • Reason 17 – Ojeks. Dice with death on your commute to work. And beat the traffic!
  • Reason 13 – Blue Bird Taxi. Safe, friendly, reliable.
  • Reason 11 – Cheap Cinemas. Pirated DVDs, good theatre with only 1.5 bucks! Surely no city in the world can beat this..
  • Reason 8 – Malls. They’re big. They’re air conditioned. They’re everywhere..
  • Reason 6 – Jalan Tikus. Every cith has its short cuts. But in Jakarta, theyre more valuable.
  • Reason 2 – Jakarta Street Food. The minute you think about how it’s made, or how they clean the dishes. You’ll loose your appetite. So, enjoy..
  • Reason 1 – Jakartans. A city would be nothing without the people living in it. Jakarta happens to house some of the warmest, craziest, most coulourful people you’ll…. etc etc..

What about you, guys? Why you love Jakarta?


Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Surprising Madura (1): “Why Madura?” (Well, Why In The World Not?!)

I had wanted to go to Madura since I bought my first Madurese batik in one of the handicraft show, about 3 years ago. Something fascinated me: the patterns on the batik gave me a kind of raw feeling. Something that was almost wild.
My first Madurese batik (2006). Love the pattern and color, as it so different from Java's Batik

And so, I have kept that wish that someday, I must go and see this island. At the very least, I really wanted to go to each of its batik centre. Talking to the artists who have beautifully crafted all the hand written batik that I have seen in the show.

Then some months back, my husband got hold of a magazine – Tamasya (or Recreation), a Bahasa travel magazine, that featured Madura. I read it, and got even more fascinated. Then, every time I mentioned to friends that I really wanted to go there, many always looked at me with bewildered expression, “But why Madura? What is there to see in Madura?”. That only made me more certain that I had to see it for myself.

Finally, that chance came. My husband seemed to be less enthusiastic than I was (or maybe it was just my impression because he kept on saying, “Lower down your expectations, you may not find what you are looking for”). He tried talking me into going to Bromo instead, but still, I was adamant that we just had to choose Madura.

And….how we just fell in love with every single corner that we went to…..

We started our trip with a free map from Tamasya magazine. This was our first trip where we did not equip ourselves with a ‘proper’ map. One reason for it because we could not find any map of Madura. The other reasons because we thought we could always try a different style of traveling: be lost in the place and be surprised.

Our little map – our only clue of what to see and find in Madura. We never expected that we would find more, much more…
Looking at it, we decided to ‘comb’ Madura: Bangkalan – Sampang – Sumenep – Pamekasan – back to Surabaya. All those in 4 days and 3 nights – the only days my husband could take off from work. We planned to only stay over night in Sumenep and Pamekasan, and spent the last night in Surabaya. But we changed our minds – all three nights we spent in Madura.

Our itinerary that we improvised along the way

Before I tell you more about what we experienced, some travel tips if you are interested to go to Madura (in no particular order!!):
-->Take off your city hat. Live it at home. I mean it. No use coming to Madura expecting all the facilities are there. If you are expecting an easy vacation – meaning that everything is ready for you by your feet, then brainwash yourself before planning to come to Madura. Get prepared - most places do not have proper public facilities. Just enjoy the beauty.

Camplong beach - one of the beautiful beaches that are lovely to take a dip at. But you cannot find any garbage bins, and toilets are very basic. Still, why bother, you are on holiday and the place is beautiful...just enjoy it

Don’t act like a tourist. Don't only come and go to see tourist places. Madurese are lovely people. Despite the fact that there is a myth about them being very rude, straight to the point. They love talking to you. Ask questions, sit down with them. And who knows, they may offer you lunch just like what happened to us several times. And I think because of the opening of Suramadu bridge, the Madurese are now hungry for interactions with people who suddenly flock into their areas.

Talking to some coolies at a harbour off Pamekasan. They just love talking to you

Watch what they do, find out why. Before the cow race practice began - ways they do to hurt the cows so they are outraged and can run very fast

Have low expectations about hotels.
They are still not ready to offer you with good rooms. The best bet is Pamekasan because it is the provincial city so it is the most developed. At Bangkalan and Sumenep – good rooms are hard to come by. But, think of it this way: if you have had such a lovely life staying at star hotels on your holidays, maybe it’s about time you go down the grade so you know the experience of both worlds.

The room of the hotel in Pamekasan - small TV but it has HBO!
I have only seen this once: leaving your sandals outside your hotel room. What I learned from this: though room is very basic, but this must be safe hotel for your personal belonging (depends on what it is, I know...still, imagine doing this in Jakarta)

Forget about dieting you women!. Madura’s food is excellent!. I was actually worried that I would not find anything that I would like. I have this perception that the food in Madura will primarily contain petis, or shrimp paste, which I do not like. But, what surprises I found. I ate and ate and ate. We could have explored a lot more of Madurese food. But between exploring the place, embracing the local life, and eating, many times we had to juggle our priorities.

Nasek Jejen (or a kind of Nasi Campur) - available at most road sides in the morning....and ooohhhh....what a taste.... I miss this a lot now

Shopping is scattered.
So again, this is about living city attitude behind. The attitude of having used to get everything in one place. It is always best to go to the sources, talk to the crafters, know their art, then shop there. Doing this gives you the best prices. And, the stories of each piece that you get. So do not attempt to find a handicraft centre – Madura is not huge. It is easy to go from one place to the other, people are helpful. So why not find them at their sources.

We did not see many of these souvenir stalls even at supposedly tourist places like the beaches. This was at Asta Tinggi - the Royal Kingdom's tomb complex ( of all places....)

Start your day early.
6am already feels like Jakarta’s 7. And the sun begins to set at around 5.15. So plan your trip carefully, start very early so you do not miss the views.

This was 6am in our room in Sumenep

Madurese have strong Islamic belief and practice. It is the land of pesantren (or Islamic boarding schools). It does not mean that women have to use veils, but you have to wear appropriate attire. I would not suggest hot pants – even on beaches. You would not be shooed away, but you will invite people to stare and whisper about you (unless you like that kind of attention). And if you are visiting the tombs, do not wear shorts even for men. It is not only considered impolite to the royal family members buried there, but also impolite in the eyes of Islam tradition.

The best way to explore Madura is to rent a car. But you have to do this from Surabaya. And be patient – bikers are generally more dangerous outside Jakarta…hehehe.
Now, you think you are ready for Madura?. Stay tuned.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

02:15 Dinihari, Starbucks Thamrin, dan Bom 17 Juli

Jam 2 dinihari. Hampir satu jam saya duduk di sini. Memilih sofa beludru hijau, tepat disamping jendela kaca yang menghadap perempatan Sarinah Thamrin, bersandar sofa rendah setengah telentang. Ini Starbucks. Tak penuh. Tak juga lengang.
Tepat di hadapan saya, empat orang muda-mudi Tionghoa sedang sibuk menyiapkan pesta ulang tahun kecil-kecilan. Menyalakan lilin dari sebuah cake mungil berbungkus Bread Talk. Tepat disebelahnya 4 lelaki muda tenggelam dalam laptop, koran, dan lamunan. Dibalik punggung saya, ada beberapa kali letupan bahak-bahak tawa..
Sementara dinding Starbucks berdengung lembut oleh lagu-lagu Fleet Foxes. Vokal Robin Pecknold seperti melayang-layang di antara pucuk-pucuk pinus, dan bunyi genta gereja di pinggir desa-desa di Alaska.
Di beranda terbuka, separuh meja kosong. Tiga perempuan muda berpandangan kosong, menekuni permainan kartu mereka. Sementara kursi-kursi lain terisi oleh percakapan santai tanpa masalah, seakan ledakan besar tadi pagi tak pernah terjadi.
Ya. Jakarta di bom lagi. Anda semua tahu ceritanya.
Tadi saat memesan Iced Café Late, si barista berbisik pada temannya: “Eh gila, langsung ngaruh ya! Sepi nggak sih, rasanya?”. Buat saya ini hiruk-pikuk. Ada sekitar 40-an orang di Starbucks Thamrin dini hari: hidup, sibuk, dan cuek. Seperti layaknya Jakarta sehari-hari..
Semula saya mengharapkan deretan mimpi kecil Amerika – Burger King, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, dan McDo – di bilangan Thamrin yang menyala hampir sepanjang 24 jam ini akan lengang. Sewajarnya, orang waspada dengan bahaya menyusul ledakan. Yang saya lihat adalah pemandangan ganjil. Untuk standar orang rumahan seperti saya, ini menyerupai pasar malam kecil.
In a way, saya amat bersyukur dengan keganjilan ini. Sebagian orang Jakarta, mungkin sebagian besar, meneruskan hidupnya seperti biasa, bahkan setelah tragedi yang biaya ekonomi dan psikologisnya belum bisa kita perkirakan ini. Mengunjungi tempat ini dinihari, saya ingin menyaksikan sendiri: apakah orang bereaksi, atau melakukan perlawanan? Apakah tempat-tempat berbau Barat ini akan dihindari atau tetap dihampiri?
Baru beberapa jam sebelumnya, saya menceritakan pada seorang teman, betapa saya mengagumi daya perlawanan komunitas Muslim Sarajevo sepanjang perang Balkan di tahun 90-an. Terutama dalam menghadapai bertahun-tahun kepungan dan pembunuhan brutal dari separatis Serbia. Dalam hujan mortir, kelaparan, dan desingan platina panas yang dibidikkan oleh sniper dari perbukitan, orang mencoba hidup seperti biasa.
Salah satu perlawanan terbesar, muncul dalam bentuk yang paling ganjil. Bukan bambu runcing, bukan mobilisasi massa atau sabotase militer. Tapi kontes kecantikan, dalam tajuk “Miss Sarajevo,” yang dilakukan di sebuah basement, dan direkam secara amatir untuk dipertontonkan ke seluruh dunia. Sebuah pernyataan bahwa Sarajevo tak akan jatuh bahkan jika seluruh Tank Serbia dikerahkan untuk membuatnya luluh lantak. Kontes ini diselenggarakan pada tahun 1993, tahun-tahun paling gelap dalam sejarah Eropa pasca perang Dunia II. Ketika genocida di halaman rumah mereka sendiri, dibiarkan berlangsung begitu saja..

Melawan bisa dilakukan oleh siapa saja, dengan banyak cara. Spanduk "Dont Let Them Kill Us!", ditengah-tengah kontes kecantikan di Sarajvo (1993)

Dua tahun kemudian, U2 – band Irlandia itu – mengabadikan peristiwa tentang kekuatan jiwa manusia ini dalam lagu yang sama: “Miss Sarajevo”. Sejujurnya, salah satu komposisi paling indah yang pernah dibuat oleh Bono dan teman-temannya.

Dan Anda semua tahu. Sarajevo tak pernah jatuh. Berdiri di atas bahu belasan ribu penduduknya yang melawan dan terbunuh. Bangkit kembali seperti phoenix dalam legenda-legenda Cina. Dan pelahan lahir kembali menjadi kota penuh pesona di Eropa Timur.


Starbucks dini hari, bom di Mariott dan Ritz, dan Miss Sarajevo. Tragedi adalah satu hal. Entah mengapa, ada yang memimpikan negeri ini terperosok ke dalam kegelapan. Tapi ada hal lain yang lebih penting. Dan ini tentang kita. Tentang semangat. Orang-orang kebanyakan seperti saya dan teman-teman mungkin punya satu tugas saja. Tetap memancarkan hidup, tetap berjalan, tetap berusaha bahagia dan sebisa mungkin berbagi kebahagiaan. Saya memilih hal yang paling tidak penting, dengan duduk-duduk cuek di Starbucks Thamrin.

Stay strong, Jakarta! I Love You!



Siapa yang tidak pernah bohong pada orang tua?. Bohong tentang apa?. Ya tentang berbagai hal. Dari hal kecil semisal harusnya belajar ta...

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