Folklore

I am not gonna spin a yarn this time but writing my sincere upstanding to folklore. I’ll try to make it short.

I wrote my appraisal to the genius Taylor Swift here, giving my honest opinions on what is the best among all records she had ever released and best songs from each record. Last week, the whole world was shaken by her again when she suddenly dropped her newest record called folklore ~ yes, it’s stylized in lowercase. You might remember reputation, she never jokes if the album title is written in lowercase. This time around, there was no Easter eggs, not even one, crazy.

I remember I was about to watch another episode of Korean Drama series in the evening when I accidentally opened Twitter and I was bug-eyed when I read,

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“Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore. Surprise. Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into.”

 

 

July, 23rd, 2020.

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The day I woke up on Friday, I could not find the album in iTunes and went straight to YouTube when again, I was a bit shocked that she had released all tracks through visually appealing videos complete with the lyrics.

My impressions when I listened to the first track was fresh and brilliant, distinct. In iTunes it describes as an alternative album, which is another genre she dug in after the success of country and pop. I was flabbergasted with the storytelling as her power as always, the instrumental details, how smooth and calming the entire sound in the record, the mesmerizing aesthetic, everything about this album is genius. I deeply apologize Red, I used to tell the world that you are her best craft ever, but this time around, folklore stole my entire heart.

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It has been a week I’ve been listening to all songs every single day, delicately sweet through my earpieces, dramatically harmonious in the air through my Allure. Truly, I couldn’t describe in words about August, the sweetest track in the record. I fell in love with Exile (Bon Iver is such a rad. After I listened to Exile, my love to Ed Sheeran when he did sing with Taylor in Everything Has Changed gone. The one with Bon is a killer, man, his voice!), Betty, Seven, Cardigan and all tracks. Yes, all tracks. This is a record in my humble opinion, is her irreproachable masterpiece. That is the simplest admiration and respect I could describe.

I almost forgot she wrote Afterglow, Begin Again, and the one and only, All Too Well for a whole week.

 

P.S. The aesthetic above is gathered from different sources in Pinterest.

Oreos In My Pancakes

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“I might not feel guilty because there is oatmeal inside…”

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I once woke up by 3 AM out of the blue, starving, and grabbed whatever was onside (read: my working table). I took one Oreo without feeling guilty that I started the day (literally, it was a new day) with sugar. Sleepy eyes but my palate was happy, “Shit, so good.” I won’t lie, I took three more.

When I’m not that lazy on the weekend, I do prefer to have warm pancakes for breakfast than heavy Indonesian food, for instance. There is a ready-to-cook pancake flour but I always love to make it from scratch just because I love the process. I sometimes get what I call failed-pancakes when the batter is not right, I sometimes master it. It is a waste when I do not get it right, but it is fun when I get the fluffy pancakes – I use my feeling when I add baking soda and powder, perhaps that’s why. If I have ripe bananas, I always love adding it to the batter. No sugar added. Change white flour with oats, it is better. At least, you won’t feel much guilt for calories-reason. Just like others, I cheat to myself sometimes. Once in a while. Adding crushed Oreos along with oats for pancakes is what I’m talking about.

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lngredients:

1 cup of oats flour (it’s oats, just blend in the blender) ~ 1 teaspoon baking soda ~ 1 teaspoon baking powder ~ a pinch of salt ~ 1 cup of buttermilk (if you have it’s better than you add lemon or vinegar in to full-cream milk) ~ 1 egg ~ 2 ripe bananas, mashed ~ 4 to 4 Oreos without the cream, crushed ~ 2 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Steps:

  • Mix oats flour + baking soda + baking powder + mashed bananas + salt + crushed Oreos in a bowl
  • In another bowl mix egg + buttermilk + melted butter
  • Stir dry mixture into wet mixture, the batter will be slightly lumpy
  • Heat your pan and add a little butter, medium heat. Scoop the batter onto the pan and cook until pancakes are golden, both sides.
  • Serve with berries, coconut flakes, hard-crushed Oreo, and honey

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You are ready to make your weekend morning brighter, enjoy along with your favourite coffee or tea!

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An Ode To Miss Swift’s Songcraft

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Talking about music, it has been a part of my morning rituals listening to some favourites beside a cup of coffee. I’m easy, I listen to any genres as long as its sweet and easy listening (mostly pop, of course, heavy metal? perhaps the only genre I won’t bother to listen to). According to my true self ~ this may sound overrated ~ I’m more into Ed Sheeran’s music. I just love how he creates songs that could touch any souls (Divide is my fav album of him, so far). I’m not going to write about Sheeran on this post but praising Miss Swift. If you read the reason behind all my online accounts named Ayiswift here, Swift isn’t really for Taylor Swift yet perhaps this time around, I won’t bother if it does just to show how much I adore her talent on songwriting. I don’t read celebrity news anymore (I did, ages ago) but from Twitter, I do read some flash news about popular human beings sometimes. Miss Swift, from the snake emoji from wellknown worldwide feud until giant snakes appeared everywhere on her Reputation tour, she shows us how to cleverly build a castle from the bricks they threw at you.

I have a playlist in my iPhone called “Taylor’s Masterpieces” where I gather 5 top songs from her each album and some released singles. I have no idea how often I play them in the air because truly, she is an amazing singer and songwriter. I have all her albums in my iPhone excluding her first debut, well I actually can put more than 5 songs from each album right?

Before I share which album is the best, in my opinion, I’d love to start with thirteen top songs she has ever released till date (why thirteen? isn’t her lucky number is 13? That’s what I know from social media. This list is inspired by an article by Rob Sheffield on Rolling Stone)

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Lasst uns beginnen!

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13  //  I’m a Nightmare Dressed Like a Daydream

We could count that particular lyric as a triumph of songwriting as most of the credible music critics praised Blank Space. Well, you must agree that nothing beats Miss Swift for her creativity on this song even though Thinking Out Loud took the trophy as Song Of The Year at Grammy, the same night when she became the first woman won Album Of The Year twice. That was a crazy night. She won the highest trophy when she was in country music and got one again when she created a pop album.


12  //  We Never Go Out of Style

Without mentioning how artistic the clip is, Style never fails to lift my mood up in the morning. It is such a perfect sophisticated song dedicated to imagining a dream of passing the California endless coast in an open vintage car in summer with a style when the sun disappears below the horizon.


11  //  No, There is Nothing Good Starts in a Getaway Car

All of her fans were wondering why she didn’t release Getaway Car as a single in reputation, most of them have been asking for a music video too, to complete the epic story behind one of the best tracks in the record. She built a cheating love story in a very smart and classy way along with Jack Antonoff. As I admire how both of them came out with the damn-I-love bridge on a creative writing session, I also admire how dark Getaway Car sounds from the intro.


10  //  Remember When We Couldn’t Take The Heat?

It’s weird but genius. I also love the idea behind the music video directed by Joseph Khan. I must admit the first time I listened to Out Of The Woods I didn’t really like the song, I was still trying to figure out how clever the idea behind the songwriting, how the chaotic love story was. But in the end, I must admit this particular song ages like wine. The best live version? when she performed with piano at Grammy Museum, it was deep, it was fragile. It was a magical version indeed which made me realised how her genius brain could turn the same song into a deeper love song.


9  //  I Love The Riddles that You Speak

Ours is a kind of simple romantic song yet cleverly done. The strength is on the lyrics, only an acoustic guitar is enough to let it resonance beautifully in the air. Ours teaches you that people throw rocks on the thing that shines which makes love looks hard but in the end, they can’t judge just because they have no clue how beautiful your love actually is.


8  //  My Thoughts Will Echo Your Name, Until I See You Again

Enchanted is definitely my favourite track in her self-written album, Speak Now. It’s romantic, charming, and sweet. I fall in love with the bridge as she never fails writing beautiful song bridges indeed.


7  //  They Took The Crown but It’s Alright

I’ve read what the co-writer behind Call It What You Want, Jack Antonoff, wrote when the song was just released, “Use your earpieces on midnight walk when listening to this song”. I tried once when I was walking back to my hostel in Hong Kong at 2 am. He was damn right, the song turned to be more magical.


6  //  I Don’t Wanna Miss You Like This

If you never know this song, it’s also written by Dan Wilson, the same magic hand behind Someone Like You performed by Adele. I find this song is vulnerable but in a very artsy way. It catches my attention first time the rhythm and the lines “Taxi cabs and busy streets, that never bring you back to me”, and “But you’re in London, and I break down, cause it is not fair that you are not around”. Although it’s never been released as a single from Red, it’s one of the best tracks from the deluxe version which she performed live for the very first time during the reputation world tour in Toronto, Canada, 2018.


5  //  Isn’t It? Isn’t It? Isn’t It?

Delicate’s one of the top tracks from reputation (I’ll be confused if you ask me which will I pick for the best between Delicate or Getaway Car). The music video is gorgeously executed even there was a rumour it looks similar to Kenzo ads. She’s well known for Easter eggs in every clip but the message behind Delicate is just stunning even without those eggs you need to find. My favourite part is the bridge, “Sometimes I wonder when you sleep, are you ever dreaming of me” , oh wait, this one too: “Sometimes when I look into your eyes, I pretend you’re mine all the damn time” I have one more: a whole song.


4  //  Everyday is Like A Battle, but Every Night with Us is Like A Dream

This one is also in my “Morning Booster” playlist. One of the best from 1989, I’ll repeat ONE OF THE BEST SONGS IN 1989, PERIODAAAAH. It’s the single and the way I love the music video which shows how magical attending her live stadium tour. You’d agree with me after looking at the endless ocean of crowds with those light sticks glittering. It must be an experience for everyone who has attended the tour, I hope I’ll get to attend at least once someday.


3  //  I Don’t Want Keep Secrets Just To Keep You, And I

I remember I once woke up in the sunny morning when Lover was officially released. I was still laying on the bed and my iPhone was automatically downloading the entire album as I did the pre-order. When it had finished, I reached my earphones and suddenly like, “THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE BEST!”, right after I listened to the first chorus. It’s an excellent bop from Taylor, Jack and St. Vincent which in my opinion I do not really need everyone’s approval to claim as the best song in her seventh album.


2  //  But On a Wednesday, in a Cafe I Watched it Begin Again

Okay, I admit it’s quite hard selecting her songs by how beautiful the lyrics are but my number two from her best would always be Begin Again. I mean, let me make it clearer. Paris, cafe, Leica, subtle morning sun, pastry and coffee in the music video, how could I love the whole scenes? How could you not love this timeless country song?


1  //  Cause I Remember it All, All, All

There is only one word to describe All Too Well: masterpiece. Everything about the song is perfect. The songcraft is something else, the details on the lyrics are brilliant. I didn’t know before that refrigerator light in the dark could be so romantic until I heard the line of “We’re dancing around the kitchen in a refrigerator light.” Only a genius could create that out-of-the-box lyric kind of. Every line shows the fragility of brokenhearted of losing someone in a very, really, I lost word to describe it any more.

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To understand Taylor Swift’s stardom, you have to start from a beautiful country track titled Tim McGraw from her first debut. I admit I started from Fearless, that was like ten years ago in a small office I worked as jewellery conceptor. There was one colleague of mine who loved to play You Belong With Me from a speaker placed at the corner of the room. I had no clue who Taylor Swift was until I copied a whole mp3 songs in Fearless from another colleague whose sister had a deluxe CD. Well, I wasn’t into country music then. It was just because I loved to have it for my music collection.

As of today, I praise Fearless as one of the best country albums of all time. I love to see how her transformation grows in each era which is impressively conceptualised. After watching some of her world tour videos and interviews on YouTube, I came to realize that Miss Swift is such a hard-working artist, out of the box thinking person, always craves for something best, and she’s (this is just an honest opinion, you can’t trust what media said right?) such a super kind. I adore how she controls her creative license on music, her ideas on how people said bad things about her and turned to be something could slap them back with Grammys. Isn’t that cool?

Before I end this post, I’ll rank all of the released albums excluding her debut based on my preferred taste from 1 to 6. Also, seven top tracks in each album including the ones mentioned above.

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#1 Red

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1989 is no doubt an outstanding record, but my highest appraisal is dedicated to Red: stunning, monumental, a timeless record. I fell in love on how wide the love spectrum was captured in the album through different romantic states. And in my humble opinion, her best songwriting so far was in Red.

Best tracks from deluxe version: Come Back Be Here, Red, All Too Well, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Begin Again, The Moment I Knew, State Of Grace (Acoustic).

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#2 1989

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If everyone has the most favourite record of hers so far, mine is 1989 Deluxe. For me, the album is genius, classic, and chic. I love the fact that the world success of this album also made her as the first woman to receive Album of The Year twice at Grammy 2016. She definitely nailed everything in 1989 from the aesthetic till “Trust me, mine is better”.

Best tracks: Style, Blank Space, Clean, Out Of The Woods, New Romantics, Shake It Off, Wildest Dream.

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#3 reputation

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She showed us a bold statement, “Sit down and watch me” vibe, badass-side and the dark version of used-to-be-a-sweet-American-dream-girl in reputation. The world was shocked when she erased all her online platform and came back with Look What You Made Me Do. Most of the music critics didn’t really praise her songwriting in LWYMMD, but for me, it is a powerful come-back track which the longer you listen to it, the more you’ll understand she is not an average artist. She is big. She is powerful. She is unstoppable.

Best tracks: Delicate, Dancing With Our Hands Tied, Dress, I Did Something Bad, Getaway Car, Call It What You Want, End Game.

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#4 Fearless

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Her stardom raised in fame from Fearless, an important record in the country music history. Her success in this album with no doubt was because of her songcraft, her honest fairy love stories, and the fact that she successfully brought country music to the younger audience. A record with bunch of no-skip gems from the fragile Come In With The Rain until her sweetest lyrics in The Best Day, I put Fearless as one of my favorite country albums ever along with Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves.

Best tracks (platinum edition): Fearless, The Best Day, You Belong With Me, Love Story, Come In With The Rain, Untouchable, Forever & Always (piano version).

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#5 Lover

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People had different opinions when she dropped Me! as the lead single of Lover which most of them thought why in capital letters where there is Cruel Summer in it. You might think Me! sounds so childish and garish, don’t count Hey Kids! perhaps it makes it worse, but for me, it is a fun song. Lover is a romantic record where you could listen to her most-honest side, it’s raw in a certain point, plus one of the most beautiful bridges she has ever written in a song titled the same with the album– in my honest opinion –, Lover is a love celebration in every angle, from her shiny love story, her voice for the LGBT community, to a hint of Saint Tropez, it is her most mature record till date.

Best tracks: Cruel Summer, False God, Afterglow, Lover, The Man, Cornelia Street (the live version in Paris is something else!), London Boy.

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#6 Speak Now

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I had a fickle heart to choose Lover or Speak Now for the last one because there are bunch of favorite songs in an album where she wrote every single track by her own. I repeat, by her own a.k.a. Taylor Swift only. She is a genius human being who could turn mean critics to Grammy in which she has taught all of us that the best revenge to people who look down at us is our success. Period.

Best tracks: Sparks Fly, Enchanted, Back To December, Ours, Long Live, Mean, Mine.

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P.S. All Swift’s photographs were taken from different sources on Pinterest. Edited by me. Originally written and published on January 11, 2019. Being updated on June 19, 2020, as an addition to complete her latest album, Lover.

Wrap It Up

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Guys, we are in the middle of the year already. How heartbreaking 2020 is so far, huh? IT REALLY DOES :(

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There is one verse I’ll always keep in mind if I’m in the middle of a bad situation: “Do not lose hope, nor be sad” – Qur’an 3:139. Even though it is really hard this time on all aspecs of life, globally, please do not lose hope. We are all in this together. I’m sometimes wondering to all plans I’ve had this year that most are need to be postposed and some are even cancelled. I wonder how long we have to be patient again to face our normal life back (or a new normal, as they call it).

Staying at home from the end of March and now I’m in June, holy moly! how fast. During the first days of the period, I was afraid of how would I manage myself in boredom. Some interesting ideas were in the sky: “You have time to play around with new recipes, take photographs and write more on the blog!.”, “Time for Netflix would be longer! Yes! Bonus: stay late and wake up late too.”, “Updating your portfolio must be inside your list!.”, “Decorate your room, probably repaint your wall into grey!.”, “Get your acrylic paint and start creating creative pieces of stuff!.”, “Back to IELTS online, sharpen your English!.”, “Don’t forget to exercise your basic German, see, it was a good thing you brought your Kursbuch und Arbeitsbuch!.”, etc, etc.

Facts: I did some of those activities even though hey! it wasn’t that easy. Sometimes your system has to adjust to the new situation and condition when mostly, bed is screaming louder than working table. Youtube was more pleasing than my books. As if boredom was just flying around your body, looking at the ceiling wondering when everything would be back to normal was such a daily activity. Checking what I have left in my account to survive (if you’re still working and having an income don’t forget to be grateful!), trying to look for something else to do just to let your system won’t be so bored and stuck. But here I am – as I supposed to fly back to Indonesia on early April but never know when will I go – feeling better with the new adjusted system. I know I had spent so much during stay-at-home, I know there are still a few personal things I have to accomplish, going back to the office twice-thrice a week as we’ve started back to the business slowly, I know I have to let some plans go, but again I must remember one thing: health is the priority, and I thank God for that. Also, for my beloved people over there.

I one time scrolled on Twitter during those days when everyone had started working from home and found there was one thing that seemed like a new habit: buying stuff online just because of endless boredom and ended with things they didn’t actually need. I thank God that kind of trap didn’t come to me as I know I love spending on food and nice things. To be honest, if you ask me if I have something I’d love to purchase online, two things: Airpods (Pro) and a cake mixer. The first is O-Mai-Gah stuff I’d love to have after I did borrow the one my flatmate has. I do think it’s not a bad idea to get one but I realise during this time, it could be wiser not to spend some money on a luxury. Two, I’ve been dying to start baking again, the fact that I have more time at home and wondering the smell of fresh buttery banana cake in the air from my oven, it could be something that makes me happier. But for myself? I’ve kept my faith for not to buy just a mixer but KitchenAid Artisan. Guys, I love nice things, but thankfully I’m happy being wise to myself at the moment. I’ll keep my dream mixer in mind but for now, I’d love to share a simple recipe yet super yummy you can try at home.

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Here is a super easy recipe you can try when there is a free time at home. Trust me it’s yummy.

Bonus: you don’t need to worry about hygiene and anything about the fat cause you have the control when you cook at home.

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Be generous with the chicken!

Sacred. Silent. And The Enchanting Dawns I Won’t Forget ( i )

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There is one man who always reminded me that I should have gone since. “You can afford it, you travel places but not there, why?.”

Every time that question stood in front of my face, I smiled.

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I kept answering with the same answer: “You know you can afford it easily because you have the money. But when the echo here, in your heart, never calls you, no matter what, you won’t go.”

His name is not Ibrahim but I don’t know why I always call him Mr. Ibrahim. He’s the one I always come to if I need to exchange foreign currency. Perhaps, what he told me was a sign from up. And perhaps, I was also true having that kind of logic because I do believe in one thing. A spiritual trip to the Holy Ground is not just about you can afford it, it is more about the perfect time He invites you to come.

I sat on the floor with my legs crossed. It was after evening prayer, there was an echo in my head whispering me one thing: “Perhaps it’s time.” Perhaps, I had to make the time. As I heard the echo, I was sure that was the time I had to make the trip. If I’m not mistaken, that was two months before one of the saddest times I had in life happened: my dad passed. It was October 24th, two years ago.

The echo in my head came down to my heart. That time was stronger, I had to make it. I didn’t think anything but to send him a prayer. I had a lot of wrongdoings I did when he was still alive, the distance could be one of the reasons but truly, I felt nothing but chagrined to the bottom of my heart. I should have done these and those but everything is futile right now. Nothing could bring him back, nothing I could fix. Until I’m typing this sentence I still grieved, I still keep my last tribute in the draft, I’m still brokenhearted yet what I could only do to ease myself is to let him peacefully smiling up there through prayers.

Three days before my departure I told my mom about the trip. She was a bit surprised yet smiling at the end when she looked at my passport. I could feel she was relieved with the fact that I finally made the trip she always reminded me of. In our culture specifically, making a trip to the Holy Mecca could be considered as one of the essential life achievements. There is a culture of celebration by inviting people to send some prayers a day before the trip starts but I didn’t go with such a direction. I prefer to keep it as secret as the trip is such a personal one, and I did go there just for two things: to pray for my late dad and my self-healing.

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Time changed. And I didn’t feel the same.

I packed light. I dressed casually in black. I kept the tailored uniform inside my blue Herschel. I kept everything tidily as it should be.

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-Medina-

After seven hours of flight from Singapore, I found myself in Jeddah with a group of people. I found it interesting with the fact that the group contained forty years old and above. As I never involved myself in a tour before, it was such an experience.

I got a box of too-late dinner on the bus. It helped me a bit from starving but it didn’t release my exhausting mood. It was a quarter after one and I felt the weather was chill. Five hours on the road didn’t feel long as I thought it would be. I tried not to feel nervous cause I did prefer flying if I might say. Perhaps it would be different if we were looking at the sunset and being offered by a distinct landscape, but it was too dark from the bus window to see the road. Our old travel guide was telling some kind of rules and different prayers when I checked on how long we had until we could reach our hotel. As I kept everything tidily silent, I landed in Medina at midnight. By the time I stepped my feet out of the bus, I did finally feel the spark. I looked around, the street was quiet with some not-too-bright yellow street light at some corners, tall buildings everywhere, marbles, and different kind of midnight talks.

When we were almost done checking in, our tour guide announced we would have free time until 7 am. The only thing I would love to do was just to get some rest on the bed. I stayed with two gentlemen in a room with three twin beds. I was truly exhausted but I couldn’t laze because the time we had wasn’t much. I unpacked all necessities out of my small suitcase and started preparing what to wear in the next few hours. I could only close my eyes for 2 hours and found myself under a warm shower thirty minutes before 4. My muscles could breathe, my eyes relaxed and my mind somehow was still in the air with the fact that I made the trip. Our hotel is right in front of Nabawi Mosque, one of the biggest mosques on earth and was built by Prophet Muhammad. As I’m writing this sentence I remember vividly the sensation when I first stepped out of my hotel: freezing, sacred, and memorable. When I finished with tahajjud, I did my last sujūd and accomplished my main purpose: asking God for forgiveness for my dad. It was emotional, relieved, happy tears on my eyes.

I took a deep breath, I felt indescribable peace in my chest. I received an endless blessing from above. I sat among millions of people in Medina on the alluring marble floor, I could clearly see my dad was smiling from above.

“I did it, I did it, Dad.”, I whispered to myself, calmly, waiting for the first obligatory prayer of the day.

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The twilight was enchanting. The dawn at Nabawi was the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen in my life.

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Medina stole my heart from the day I breathed the air. The sun, the sky, the breeze, the marble floor at Nabawi, how serene the morning was, everything. I won’t forget the feeling of gaiety in my heart every time I stared to the enchanting sky after dawn. The fresh air, the echo of prayer calls five times a day, the beauty on every corner of Nabawi mosque, the endless sacred prayers by diverse faces who came from every part of the world. The tranquil vibe in the sky before sunset.

I was speechless on how my system received such unbelievable goosebumps among the crowd in front of Prophet Muhammad’s tomb. Goosebumps which led me to shed tears. My eyes used to cry a little when I saw Prophet Muhammad’s hair at a museum in Istanbul with the calm Qur’an chant in the air. But standing in front of his tomb, where everyone cries, I didn’t know if that was a mixture of elation and desolation. What I knew, it was real. It was spiritually impalpable.

The day I realized I had to send such an adieu to Medina, my heart sank. Three days came to end and I headed to the next indelible journey.

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~ to be continued ~

What A Friday Morning

 


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Everything went normal like usual, I played my playlist through Allure, left it loudly so I could still listen to it from my room even the door was closed.

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There was something unpleasant happened to me days ago. I woke up from eight hours of sleep, even though I was still feeling so sleepy, I got up and went to the kitchen. I took my cutting board and went straight with an idea that was in my head from the night before. I had seasoned two chicken legs and continued making the sauce from the chicken broth by adding more red onion, chopped tomatoes, basic spices and curry powder. I like to plan what I cook even sometimes an idea pops out during the cooking process. I prefer to spend not more than an hour every morning if I cook the main food plus condiments, okay, if I have to do everything from scratch I will allow myself to spend an hour plus. That counts including packing the food, cleaning my kitchen station and washing utensils.

The curry sauce was done, I only had two chicken legs to be fried but I saw a leftover batter. Fried chicken legs with curry sauce weren’t complete for lunch, my mind said. At the same time, I didn’t want to waste ingredients because hello, I had spent money like crazy on food. It was a wiser version of me when I only took one medium size carrot, dice-cut, added chopped leak and red pepper, red onion and seasoned with basic spice plus crayfish. Everything went to the leftover batter and started frying.

Carrot fritters were done but my brain thought of something when I saw leftover spaghetti I cooked the day before. If I had to blame myself for spending more time at the kitchen, I would blame Masterchef Canada for giving me different kind of ideas, I spend my evening on Youtube watching different ideas on food through the competition these daysThis means I would become weaker in terms of saving cause my ideas are flying as well as my money. I wanted to deep fry the spaghetti and turned it to be something crunchy. I took some with a fork and put it in the same oil I used for the fritters. First one was okay, the third one gave me a surprise when the pan accidentally fell and boom! The hot frying oil kissed my left foot, near my ankle to be exact. I ran to the bathroom and took toothpaste. No no, something wrong, I shouldn’t have spread it on my skin so I put my tap on and let the running water chilled it out. I was worried like crazy because I knew what would my skin be after sometimes. I felt the same peppery feel in my left thumb, on my tight too, and eh some marks on the inner shin. Okay, I was done.

My hand was shaking looking for what was the best first aid to do on Google, options: cold milk, a mixture of honey and cumin, or aloe vera. The last one I didn’t have in the kitchen. I tried washing my leg with very cold milk also spreading honey plus cumin with hopes it won’t make my skin as terrible as I thought it would be, even though I knew it was useless. What a Friday morning. Even though one of my colleagues helped me to burst the blisters with a syringe and a purple liquid – I don’t remember the name –  that Friday at the office, but I still went to the hospital the day after in the afternoon for more professional treatment. Even the swollen part of my foot was reduced but got one injection, blisters were burst, cleaned and wrapped with a bandage, two different pills I must take in the morning and evening, were enough to make myself felt better. When the doctor said it would take six weeks for my skin to be back to normal, I had no choice but wishing it could be faster. Ah, at least I didn’t let myself see how he did burst the blisters because truly, I hate the hospital.

It’s been seven days and my left foot is still “uh” every time I manage walking. It shows progress but the open skin is the one that’s bit painful. I hope it will heal faster than it should be, I want my skin back :). Well, I knew I thought about that carelessness sometimes but lesson learned. Safety first, health is the priority in life, isn’t it? I know I’m managing my feet for now but it won’t stop me cooking. I’ll take sometimes to slow myself down not to cook every morning. I know it gets crazier since I started watching Masterchef. It makes me crave for more and more to cook something different every morning which I could just cook once for two days before that.

I would like to share some photographs of West African dishes I tried lately. Deep frying isn’t my style – which you would find easily in Africa, just like in South East Asia – but it was interesting when I could achieve the food as close as it should be. I need to learn more, I know, but knowing different techniques and tastes like Nigerian Jollof Rice and Coconut Rice, will enrich my cooking skill. Next time, I’ll share the ingredients and the step-by-step when I could achieve creamier taste in the coconut rice because this one below wasn’t close as I wanted even though overall, it tasted so good. The curry sauce was on point and I was proud of it.


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Coconut Rice Served with Curry Fried Chicken and Fried Plantain, and Coconut Brown Plantain with Strawberries.

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Jollof Rice Served with Coriander Infused Beef and Fried Plantain, Minimalist Coleslaw for the Condiment, and Butterscotch Almond Plantain for the Dessert.

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Fallen On Chocolate


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Two things, I hate white chocolate. I prefer the dark one that has a minimum of 65 per cent cocoa. In case you want to send me a gift, you have a clue now :).

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No, I’m not going to tell you what kind of chocolate I enjoy the most.

I once looked at one of my close friends on how she enjoys spending her weekend on movies at the cinema. You know what it means by watching movies at the cinema: stress-releasing, spending some cash (it’s more if you grab cinema’s pop-corn which has nothing more than cheap packed pop-corn outside), and making free time to actually watch a movie that leaves some memorable memories or even lessons. I did think she lives in a balanced life.

I read one of someone’s tweets on Twitter when she shared a comparison of the cinema in Indonesia with the one in Australia. She made some clear points which in this case, Indonesia wins. It has an excellent sound system, comfortable seats, friendly service, and the most important thing’s affordable. That’s not a lie even it’s more relevant to the big cinema in the main city. Comparing with where I could find since I moved to a city I’ve been living in for years, those four points are missing. And that could be the reason why I could count how many times I went to the cinema here. It’s two and a half times more expensive and less quality. So, how about Netflix? I mean, these days there are variations on how you want to spend leisure time with online platforms.

Here’s the thing: I once made a promise not to include Netflix in my monthly bill. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to spend but mostly about insecurity to waste my time by watching movies. Don’t get me wrong cause I do love watching movies (romance and drama are my genres, please note not an only beautiful-touchy story but when I see interesting sets, I’ll love it!). But I finally swallowed my own vow and I didn’t regret anything. One, it has various interesting movies and series to watch. Two, I don’t need to spend extra money on transport to the cinema cause chilling in my room under the blanket watching Sex Education or Eat Pray Love is much more pleasing. Since I found an offer of cheaper internet subscription (ofc, not all day I can watch in HD! but I feel enough), my decision to join Netflix was just right.

Now, straight to what I want to share. I once did a random pick on what series to watch on the weekend. I never interested in Korean drama before but it suddenly changed my opinion when I found Chocolate. I just picked after I read the short description of the series. The first thing that caught my attention was “These series are mostly about food? It must be interesting as I first watched Chef, will it?”. Second, I heard Korean drama is such a heart-warming one with a happy ending story. Ok, done. Two things were enough to finally fallen to Chocolate.

I didn’t only fall on the love story between Cha Young and Lee-Kang (not to mention how many times I gasped when I watched tear-jerking moments), but more than that is an ocean of life-lesson about love, health, forgiveness, self-love was what made me stay till season 15. I even took a week gap when I knew I was about to end it with the last episode. I mean, I didn’t want to end it just like what I did when I stepped on some pages of Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman (I never read the book again till today cause it’s too beautiful to end). After most of the whole story could be summed up in episode 15, my mind was trying to guess how the end would be. And I did plan how I wanted to end Chocolate because it had to be at the perfect time and in a proper way.

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Sunday morning. Popcorn. Scented candle. Chocolate in two forms, a cake and chocolate bar.

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The mouth-watering food scenes, some picturesque Greece sceneries, artistic cinematography (this one, I mean it!), overload natural cuteness between Ha Ji Won and Yoon Kye Sang (I mean, look at those screen captures I took from the last episode, I just can’t. One of my fav scenes from the entire is on episode 12 when Lee Kang is waiting patiently on his knees at the beach for Cha Young to wake up), and cheesy humor, could be strong reasons for me to influence you to stay at home on the weekend with Chocolate.

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An Early Self Note

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“You have been treating everyone at the office like a shit.”, somebody said to me one time at the church.

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It was in the evening, and I tried to absorb what was this someone just said with an open heart and big ears.

I thought about it when I was still working on something that evening. My body was a bit exhausted while my brain was a bit full from everything I faced that day. I was glad at the time I listened to what this someone said about me. It was such a reminder on what I perhaps didn’t realise I did. I sent a text to one of my colleagues minutes later just to figure out if she has the same opinion. Although I prefer us to keep texting about characters on Sex Education and when season 3 is going to start, receiving another thought from her in which she agreed at some points was such a good thing. When I looked down at people working under me, how I reacted in a stressful situation which it happens all the time, how perhaps my cheesy jokes won’t land as stupid jokes but hurtful ones, et cetera, et cetera.

On my way home I was still thinking about it. I’m living with a funny season called Harmattan right now when sometimes it gives me a free feverish vibe and the dust I hate. That evening around nine thirty I was in the car with an open window cause the AC is still faulty. Then I remember this sentence on reputation prologue written by Taylor Swift:

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.“We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them that they have chosen to show us. We know our friend in a certain light, but we don’t know them the way their lover does.

Just the way their lover will never know them the same way that you do as their friend.”


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The prologue is amazing and geniusly written. The fact of what she mentioned in the first sentence was what has been stuck in my head from the first time I read. That is related to what this somebody who said I treated people like shit might have only seen the worst part of me where my best friends have found the best of me. And life will always give you two sides of the coin no matter what. I personally took the thought of hers as a lesson of self-reflection. I keep looking down at what I have ever done to people I knew from the past, people I didn’t really have strong connections in life with, people I met only a few hours and disappeared with a trace of memories, someone I called a stranger who just turned me might be to open to a new friendship after he first sent me “Hello.”, somebody who used to drive me who ended calling me “Fucking Indonesian!.”, somebody who used to drive me too which out of the blue called me on the phone just to greet with how are you in between, and another somebody and another somebody.

After I looked at how I had faced a different kind of human beings in my life through the best and the worst then I found a thought I should be stick to, always.

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“No matter what people think about you, look at you from a different angle they choose to stand from, they will always have their rights to either value or hate you. You will never can pleased everyone cause you were not born with that such of responsibility. You were not.

As for how they have their rights, you also have your own to be used to decide on how you want to value your life. Just remember that in life you will always have good and bad days, you will always meet kind and mean human beings, you will always face sadness and happiness, you will always have choices to be made for your dreams, you will always have choices to be a winner or a loser. Everything depends on you cause you are you.”.


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I took it as a reminder on what I actually see in a real life where I will always have a choice about who I want to be a friend with, a choice of being firm to change something wrong to the right even though people will hate me, to listen or to ignore to someone who talks something hurt yet I do not know her that much. Either to build a castle out of the bricks people throw at me, or crying out loud and ask for sympathy. What I know in life, when you are still having freedom to speak, freedom to react and stand on something right and say it loud without fear, freedom to choose what’s best for you, you are free. You are rich.

I ask myself to be firmer and stronger to life this time.

If I wish you a happy new year, I might be late aber kein Problem, I wish you a more prosperous one!

Allure In The Air

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When I realized, my heart was sparkling. One of my favorite songs sounded so clear, and I was wowed.

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But I sticked on my vow cause I had to.

No, I couldn’t just spend my saving money easily because I’m planning for such a serious future plan. And, I do need a lot of money. I repeat, I do need a lot of money honey. I thought to get mine twice but I postponed and still borrowed my colleague’s.

“No, I can’t keep doing this.”, I whispered to myself.

How could I play it loud without became ashamed with the fact that the device isn’t mine.

I got up, I cleared my mind. The one I got before was definitely far from what I was lurking at for days. “Hey, you love nice things. Don’t you?”, I did whisper again to myself. If I’m not mistaken, that was the third whisper. I got bored listening how my mind echoed on “Remember, save money save money.”.

I knew it, I just had to. I had a clear reason why I wanted to get it. The old one was faulty, well, quality comes with price. And I couldn’t skip one of my morning rituals everyday, how could I?. You should go ahead with something that makes you happy, right?. Also, recording acoustic version from favorite songs (I mean, my voice ladies and gentlemen *grabbing mic*) and play it in the air also makes me happy.

So, I went ahead spending some cash on October and got one. This is why I love nice things.

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If you are curious which and which I’m most happy listening through it, these are some beautiful ones which I mostly play them hundred times and never feel bored:

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Cruel Summer Taylor Swift

All The Good Girls Go To Hell Billie Eilish

Happy And Sad Kacey Musgraves

New Romantics Taylor Swift

Love You Anymore Michael Bublé

Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by cover version Joseph Vincent

Need You Now Lady Antebellum

Falling To Pieces Rita Ora

Watermelon Sugar Harry Styles

7 Rings Ariana Grande

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I created some personal playlists in my iPhone based on which mood I am up to.

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Torry And His Story

 


I remember, I read one of Torry’s tweets right after I finished with one of prayer sessions.


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His tweet was up among mutual people I follow. When he shared his feeling after his dad was just passed, my fingers were frozen.

I came to Mecca with a specific purpose months after I lost mine so I knew exactly how he felt. I took a piece of paper and started writing some prayers for his late dad when I was still in front of al-Ka’bah al Musharrafah. People say our prayers would be answered straight away in front of the most sacred site. I didn’t know Torry, I never met him in person but I just wanted to let him know at that moment, prayers even from strangers could make us feel better.

When I looked back at how Torry and I connected after that piece of paper, it reminds me of one thing. When I was a kid, I grew up as an introvert. As you could imagine, being alone was one of the most comfortable circumstances I had all the time. It didn’t bother me that having bunch of friends was actually cool. As life changes today, even from social media, an introvert could learn to open himself to connect with bunch of kind people out there. Ah, I should have told him if he had time for coffee when I managed my last three days in Canggu before flying back to Africa, I should.

Since I have been following Torry on Twitter, I suspected one thing: he must be a graduate either from English Literature or International Relations. The way he addresses his thoughts in English is so tidy. Easy peasy, I knew I was right. When Torry responded my nerve to share some interesting facts and sort of on KitKat (oh my world, when last I posted something on KitKat), I was excited to hear from him through an email. As I couldn’t keep for myself but sharing it for you guys, here is Torry expressing his love for his mum, his unforgettable experience in China and more. Take a cup of hot lemon tea when reading this. Enjoy!

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The first thing to ask näturlich, who’s Torry Jatiprakoso? What do you do and where do you live?

Hi! I was born in Solo on May 6th, 1993. I was raised in Solo and I am pure-blood Solonese! So, if you are looking for a native Solonese, my family is the one you’re looking for.

My family strongly hold Javanese culture, but they also embrace tolerance. For example, they want me to be a Javanese guy who speaks Javanese, understand the culture and manners of Javanese family, but they let their kids to choose their own religion as for them religion should not be given to an individual. So, we can be anything without forgetting where we came from.

I am now working as a manager in one of multinational company and posted in Bali.

When I read one of your tweets written in English, I did suspect your background must be so close with English. Funny enough, I guessed you were graduated from International Relations. So tell us more about your background?

I had decided to take International Relations later in college since I was 12. I joined my school’s debating team and most of the motions were international issues, and that was when I started to dream to be a diplomat.

I was focusing on diplomacy and negotiation, because I am fascinated on how leaders all around the world make agreement and surprised that biggest decision sometimes made in informal approach. This concentration lets me know more on how to behave, how to negotiate better, how to analyze my interlocutor’s body language, table manner, seating arrangement and how a small event can create big impacts. Other than that, I know better that negotiation and diplomacy is an art.

What did you have in mind before decided to learn International Relations at the university? What was the most interesting part from your study?

I have always wanted to have an international exposure and what a 12-year-old boy was that anything labelled with “international” is super cool and will later give me an international access. I was thinking International Relations is about understanding the relations and culture of many countries, apparently it’s more about politics.

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The most interesting part of learning International Relations is that diplomatic relations between one country and another is very unique and complicated. We need to understand that in diplomacy there are protocols which rule the outfit we should wear, which perfume we have to wear, and our body language speaks a thousand words. There’s one subject that was very interesting for me called “Cultural Communication among Nations” where I can understand body language or signs in each country may differ, we need to learn this to avoid misunderstanding.

That sounds interesting, now if you have something to say to young students whose International Relations is their passion, what would you say?

If you have set your mind to learn International Relations and 100% sure to pursue your dream to be a diplomat, you are in the right place. You will never regret to learn this subject and will never find it difficult. Keep going but read more about specific issues in specific fields, as in International Relations you will learn many other sectors other than politics but not in details.

So T, let’s talk about your passion. Anything?

Actually, International Relations is something I am passionate about since I wanted to be a diplomat, but for now I have something else in my head that I want to pursue. Other than that, I think singing is one of my passions. I don’t sing amazingly, but at least I can always get through bad days with music plugged in my ears and sing along!

Should I mention here that your Japan trip was such a blast? Tell us more if you don’t mind!

I have never been interested in Japan before and even I think people who are fanatic about Japanese culture are weird. However, lately I saw that many people are going there and everything looks very pretty. Finally on November 2018 I purchased a return ticket to and from Tokyo.

When I first arrived, I was fascinated by the view along my train trip from Narita airport to Tokyo station as everything looks super clean and well-organized. I went to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Nara, Fuji and those places are very pretty. I tried many kind of food including Ramen and Gyukatsu, they were all finger-licking good!

I finally I understand why those people are very obsessed about Japan. Not only pretty, but their food, people and culture are also amazing.

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So, how many countries you’ve paid a visit so far? Which one has marked your heart?

I have visited 9 countries so far and the most meaningful experience is China.

I went to China on 2012 after being awarded an exchange program from AIESEC. I did a project in Xinchengzhen, an under developed small village which ironically only 3 hours away from the amazing Beijing. I went there to teach English and cultural understanding to children from 6 to 15 years old. The village is very poor, and many children are not confident to talk about their dreams, so we called our project as “Dare to Dream Project”.

I applied for some other programs other than teaching, but the project’s timeline was not suitable with mine. So, the only one left was teaching project which I lied during interview by saying that I love kids because they are cute, playful, and kids love to be around me. In fact, I hate kids!

Everyday, many kids came to my room to wake me up only to hand me a sheet of paper with some questions about my full name, nationality, my zodiac sign, and many more. Maybe you remember biodata paper from Loose Leaf. They woke me up with their big eyes and cute smile. How could I hate that?!

I was frustrated at first the kids were hard to handle, especially I had one big boy who was a rebel. There was a very shy little chubby girl who ran away each time I came to her. In addition, I lived at the school’s dormitory which toilet was a big square room with 14 square holes on the floor. Those holes are squat toilet with no walls to separate one another, and I had to stay there for 3 months.

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Unfortunately, on the last week of the first month of the project, Beijing and its surrounding were hit by flash flood and I still remember the worst flash flood happened only 5 minutes from our place. We had to stop the project that day and we would be relocated back to Beijing on the next day. When I told the students that Dare to Dream Project ended only in the first month, the students cried and hugged me. I was surprised that the rebel boy came to me and would not let me go. He hugged me so tight and he cried loudly, he said, “Teacher, don’t go!”. The next day before leaving for Beijing, the shy little chubby girl came to me just to hand me a small box with a jade necklace inside. I was about to hug her, but she ran and cried.

I was so proud that the first day we came, no one was brave enough to say even only one or two words in English but the day we left, they had started saying words in English. It was very memorable, and I keep wondering how those kids are now. It was life changing and now I really really love kids. They are cute, indeed.

Do you have personal thoughts about life that apply in “this is my rule and it’s written in my life dictionary”? 

Everyone wakes up in the morning and sleep at night. Living life is a routine and it repeats for a lifetime, but the way we live and make each day meaningful is the thing that matters. The first thing I have in mind is to treat people the way we want to be treated and to make them feel appreciated even in the smallest things.

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Second, as a person I believe that we were born with so many talents. Therefore, I always want to push myself in doing new things and open myself for any good opportunity coming to my way.

How do you see yourself in the next five years?

I see myself as someone with master’s degree title after my name, while running my own business.

What are the things that could make you proud to yourself?

I am a happy person and I am able to radiate the whole room with happiness. Other than that, nothing makes me feel prouder than my Mom saying that she’s proud of what I have achieved.

This might be one of compulsory questions on KitKat. Three things you can’t live without?

Phone, money, phone charger.

If you must mention one name whose inspirations have lived in your own life, who would you mention and why?

Endang Listyorini. She is my Mum. She’s the strongest woman ever walked on earth! My Mum is a very independent woman who knows her strengths and puts her family above all. I lost my Dad last March because of lung cancer and only a week after his death, my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer.

However, my Mum didn’t lose hope and follow all the treatments with strong desire to recover.

People make some resolutions every new year but let’s talk about this instead: do you have some unforgettable moments until this end of the year that made you feel pain, free, grateful, and stronger than before?

Yes, my Dad’s passing. I was not so close to him as we always had different ideas on things. However, I really love to learn about my own culture and my Dad knew a lot. Maybe, that was the only thing we could always talk about. When he was diagnosed with the last stage of lung cancer, I left my job to take care of him.

I drove him to hospital twice a week from Solo to Sardjito Central Hospital in Jogja, we left at 4AM and arrived at home at 9PM. After everything was settled, I came from Bali to Solo once a month to see him. Unfortunately, after 7 months struggling with cancer, my Dad could not take it anymore and he passed away. Even we were not too close, I am grateful to be by his side during all the struggles and let him know that I loved him so much. It is still painful to remember, but I know I can only be stronger each day.

Mention one song which could describe your life. Anyone inside your life-playlist? Tell us why.

Circle of Life!

This song does not really describe my life in particular, but this song describes life in general. Circle of Life tells us that life is a never-ending journey to discover ourselves. It tells us that there’s much to see than can ever be seen, more to find than can ever be found, and so much more to do than can ever be done.

I sang this song as well on my graduation ceremony, therefore it becomes the song that is very close to my heart. I cried listening to this song when I visited Hong Kong Disneyland where the sang it live on The Festival of Lion King, it was very beautiful.

 

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Last one. Surprising side of Torry Jatiprakoso?

I can be harsh and do not care about things, but I am actually very soft at heart. I hate to cry in front of someone else just because I do not want to look weak.

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I couldn’t thank enough to Torry for sharing all these and hoping we can actually sit and sharing more life experiences with good cup of coffees, someday T.

You could follow him here and here, he sometimes shares his talent in singing too.