I'm astounded. In the poll about whether or not my readers want to know more about dating in Saudi, 6 out of 7 voted "Yes". If any of you Yessirs are single and actually come here to know more dating tips – in Saudi, of all places?! – are you THAT desperate?

Not that I won't write about it again. I might. If…

…If you look back, throughout the years of this blog's miserable existence, I mainly wrote stumbling blabbers about heretic-antisocial beliefs and stories that are supposed to link myths with everyday living. Supposedly, there are lessons in these stories, and I might have missed the punch line like I often do, so I retell them to you, in case you can make better use learning from it.

Most Saudi dating stories I've heard are dangerous to the parties involved. And I mean dangerous is that, since the society denies it, it's just like drug dealing and gambling in conservative societies, or leftist journalism in a communist country, or smoking in my mother's house. Viewers', doers' and readers' discretion is highly suggested through all its stages.

So why promote it? Writing about dating in Saudi, or dating anywhere, or writing about anything at all, is not because I encourage or discourage such "deviant behavior", but because I believe in what every writer believes in: That their craft provides the readers with options. Looking at how others lived their lives, provides you with choices upon how YOU would have (wanted to) lived yours. Isn't that why biographies are published?

You may not immediately jump out of your window to find your true love by the end of this post (I sure hope you won't! You are supposed to be good to the environment and shut down all unnecessary electrical appliances before you jump), but you may learn how others have made such decisions, and what of their choices you might want to apply on your own search.

…if I do write about dating in Saudi again, it'd only because I am inclined to believe that you're just looking for someone to wake up with in the morning, a companion and a witness to your life.

At least until you realize that you've always been a complete person, all along, whatever your social status may be.

The last time I wrote about dating in Saudi, was when somebody was generous enough to ask those specific questions. This blog is Anonymous-Comment enabled, and my email is listed on my profile. I would rather you asked; because, probably a lot of you know, I'm usually gracious enough to respond without completely insulting your intelligence.

What do you want to know about dating in Saudi?

Wishing you a lovely New Year,
Now, why can't Blogthings be as honest as they were today?




Stop Wasting Everyone's Time



You're a narcissist and would love nothing more than having a story made out of your life. You have a knack for details and dialogue, if you can stop from becoming obsessive. Chances are, you indulge on sadistic tendencies by forcing everyone to read your story, then watch them gag and vomit and die from boredom. The joy is in watching their unsuspecting faces go: "What the hell did I just waste my life on?" And nothing would please you more than millions of people tricked into seeing your story on the big screen after threatening your more-talented baby brother into making it.






You're a Nuerotic and Egoistic Blogger



You think you are a well liked, though underrated, blogger. But you're WRONG; people don't visit your blog because they want to spare themselves the bullshit. You convince yourself that you're nice and are likely to blog for a cause. But secretly you know that you're doing it because you're an attention whore.
A good listener and friend, you tend to leave thoughtful comments for others just to show off that you know more English words than everybody else.






You Are an Arse!



Your blog tries to be smart, insightful, and a quality read. But you blunder at common sense and you're too anti-social to know your feet from your mouth. Of all the blogging types, you put the most vain thought and effort into your blog, which eventually nobody cares about. If only you could be less generic and self-centered!!! Get a life for crying out loud!!



PS: Answers like the ones up there can only appear on your results if you write them yourself. Blogthings are too nice to be THAT obnoxious, you know what I mean?
I got asked more than once. So I respond; and writing it down here drastically lessens the verbal frequency .
Press (Ctrl + W) or (Alt + F4) whenever you feel the need to vomit. Vote on the poll (top of sidebar) to stress your opinion. I listen.

[Update: Poll is now closed. Click here for the feedback post. Or just scroll up, for heaven's sake.]

How does dating in Saudi work?
How does any dating anywhere work? Dating is courtship, a behavior of choosing mates. Whether it's life mate, diving mate, best mate, class mate, roommate, play mate.

Traditionally it goes like this: You meet someone who ticks your fancy. One of you proposes a plan of spending time together. One of you agrees. The date happens. Then you evaluate whether you want to date some more or you would rather date someone else. If you're lucky, and you've dated long enough, you might have the chance to make it to the sex-date.

The Sex Date.
In a lot of sitcoms, this is usually the third date. Which is creepy and risky by any standards. The sex date should happen only when both parties are really, really comfortable with each other. Some folks can only be so comfortable after the wedding, and that's fine. Some folks sex date every first date, and that's bestial and oh-so WRONG.

Can the sex date happen in Saudi?
Yes, sex is the basic reason why animals and people date. Just like in the animal kingdom, sex is a commodity with different pricing levels. It is the appraisal that makes the dating scene so colorful and this blog so interesting. Haha.

In the animal kingdom, males need to prove that they are able to provide sustenance, and the females assess whether or not these offerings fit their fancy. Humans have more complex desire system and SOME would want to get laid just for the sake of it. Now in my black-and-white opinion (and in my mother's voice), humans who settle for less than the basics animal prerequisites for a sex date (a.k.a. sustenance) are just tragic.

Dating in Saudi is doable. It can be enjoyable and for what it's worth, can end up in long term commitments.
Dating in Saudi is not to be taken for granted. Generally speaking, no protection method provides 100% prevention from pregnancy and STD.
Dating is not an option that can be applied by for everyone.

How did the dating scene change in the past little while?
Crash course in history: people dated from the days of Layla w Majnoon, Antara and his Babe, Sulaiman and Sheba. After graduating from elementary school, my classmates and brothers dated, heaven knows what happened in college and beyond. You can blame Bluetooth, the internet, GSM phones, even little torn pieces of paper with phone numbers on it, but the idea is obviously the same: Dating has always been around.

Where to Find a Date in Saudi.
The good news is that you're not the only one who's looking. The dating scene is lush with potentials. Whatever your intent maybe, there's market for most sorts of folks. Although I still wondering if there're BDSM clubs in Jeddah.

Work Based:
Hospitals, schools, institutes, good causes. Be involved. Don't just show up to drool. You're missing the entire point.
Niche Based:
Diving, photography, literature, medical, education, internet communities that arrange meetings on diverse frequencies.
Internet Based:
Forums, deviantart, facebook, blogoshpere. If you're patient you are actually increasing your chances meeting folks you actually like. The challenge is that you actually HAVE. TO. STAND. OUT.
Event Based:
Private parties (considering the risks, I wanted to leave this out because it's something I wouldn't do), embassies, bazaars, movie premiers (where the hottest, smartest and bored-est folks gather over some amateurish movie done by some Saudi who happens to be my little brother. I'll tip you the next time he gives another premier) .
Reference Based:
Weddings and wakes and everything in between. Same sex gatherings with folks who have siblings and children from the opposite sex who might have hobbies and brains. The drawback to this is that you also get to meet the cousins and aunts you've been avoiding.

Is it really so common to date in Saudi?
Depends on location, community, and interests. Jeddah is pretty laid back, loaded with cafes and meeting places and events. And of course, the cool ones live in Jeddah.

Having a hobby actually increases your chances in finding dates and makes you look hotter than midday Saudi sun. My brother makes movies, so whenever he's desperate for a smart pickup line, his movies do all the talking for him. My cousin is a mutawwa, he didn't date or talk to girls unrelated to him, but he married a beautiful (in every sense) girl nevertheless.

What kind of bullshit is this?
Hey, man, you asked. Learn to appreciate bullshit, because nobody would write so much of it if they didn't know it well. You are gifted with ultra-superior mental processes compared to primates, which endows you with the ability to sieve through information. Think, man, don't just swallow it whole.

How valid is all of this information?
Information is worthless without comprehension. Comprehension is useless without faith. It doesn't matter what anyone knows or thinks or says, because at the end, truth is only what confirms with your conscience. So I hope you maintain to have a clear one.

Bring condoms.

Who are you kidding? Saudi Arabian dwellers – by statistic, observation and experience – are probably the most sexually suppressed human beings on the planet. You can prove this by leaving your house without an abaya. If you happen to be a guy, try imagining your sister walking in front of your best male friend in her house dress.

There's always that distinctive line between seeing a date and risking a reputational catastrophe. The baseline is, if you can tell your mother about it, then chances are that you're there for legitimate reasons. If can't tell momma or your sister about a date you're going on, then don't leave home without a condom. Ever.

The other option? Don't date in Saudi.

That's even more unlikely, isn't it? Naturally, everyone gets interested in the other sex on the strike of teenage years. Parents are supposed to provide the middle grounds in explaining about the opposite sex. Not by frightening a teenager about the dangers of copulation and promises of eternal damnation, but with a straight, scientific face.

And even that can't guarantee copulation-less dates.

So here are the basic considerations BEFORE you decide on dating in JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA:

1.       If it's too much burden on your conscience, then you're not ready to date.

2.        If you're afraid getting caught, then you're not ready to date.

3.       If you're still tempted even though you're scared shitless, then you have to fully realize what risks you're putting on your body and your family's name and honor. Some kids are lucky to have supportive/authoritative parents. Some kids get shot in head.

4.       If he really loves you, then he definitely would care about how comfortable you are, whether or not you guys are in sizzling terms.

5.       Ask yourself why you want to date. Do you just want to know what a guy is like? Or do you just want to scratch an itch? This sets the mind frame for the rest of your dating career.

6.       If anything he's suggesting strikes any bell, even the tiniest tinkle, then it's a warning sign. Pay heed to that and spare blaming yourself later.

7.       If he insists on meeting you in a place where you're not comfortable in, chances are that he has seen a lot of other girls in that very place, and you're the latest addition to the top of his list. Consider that everytime he feeds garbage to your ears.

8.       If a warning sign strikes, and you still want to see this guy, give an alternative. If Café Aroma or Albaik are too claustrophobic, try Casper's or Starbucks. Being seen by others adds more safety, and contrary to common perspective, Jeddawis nowadays are less judgmental at the sight of a dating couples. Seriously, everyone dates these days. Just don't go where your parents go.

9.       Do your research. Go with people you trust to the designated dating place BEFORE the actual date (so you don't lose your cool!). See how much privacy you need compared to how well you know your date.

10.   Tip heavily. And I mean the waiters, not your date. Waiters have seen all sorts of patrons ; building tip-based  trust with them is not degrading, it's an asset and convenience. It's your safety you're paying for. Unless, it's the waiters you want to flirt with.



For a gentler take on this issue, trackback to American Bedu's original post: Saudi Guide to Dating

Have fun dating, and take care of yourself.

 


How do you define your blog? How do you frame your concepts? How do you know what stuff you would and wouldn't talk about in your blog?

There are a number of ways that can encourage your writing and hone your skills and clarify your voice and thoughts. These bullet points helped me through the writing-identity crises when I couldn't for the world know what the hell I was going to be write about.

Write what you like.
Chances are that you know a lot about the stuff that you like, so your topic(s) would have substance and depth and personality in it, and you probably don't need to spend so much time on research. We all look at things differently. We might all like the same game, but for different reasons and each of us have our point of views, our own ways of telling the story.

Like what you write.
Being a writer when you prefer cooking by nature is certainly doable but out of context, like celebrating 4th of July in December. Wheras if you write because you actually love writing, it doesn't really matter what others might say about your craft because you've satisfied your first audience: You. 

Not liking your own writing doubles the chances for disappointment. And whether or not you're good at hiding it, your other audiences will smell the dislike and insincerity. Murphy's Law, man.

Enjoying it is the first reason why you should write, and that joy will show in your writings, even if you're just repeating vowels. A loooooooooooooooot.

Know a little about everything.
Read, browse, listen, watch, touch, taste. Google, wiki, howstuffwork.com your free thoughts. Involve your senses in everyday learning process. Indulge. Do you know why zakah is only 2.5% of income? Did I tell you about a teacher who raised a family on $4 (yes, four dollars only) a MONTH? Do you know what the area behind a man's balls is called? Experiment with your thoughts, and just get out of the box, something new is waiting for you to discover it, everyday.

Know everything about something.
If you've clicked every link, read every book, debated in every forum and have known every-possible-thing about something, it's called expertise. We all got our areas of expertise because the way the world works nowadays limits our ability to diversify our knowledge. That's sad. The good news is that  the way the world works today also allows us to converse and exchange information, so your expertise can teach me a thing or two about something, and my expertise can improve the quality of your life by a gram or two. Which is great. Don't worry about experience or good looks, it's the grey matter in your head that I'm attracted to.

Knowing a little more than most people makes you the Google of that particular subject. And people will ask, and it'll make you the center of attention if you can be interesting while you tell it. And I mean by interesting is being down-to-earth and enthusiastic and courteous. So get off the ivory tower, you jerk.

Talk about it…
Talking is reflecting. People talk because they need mirrors, they need to test their ideas out there in the real world. What do you think about becoming the first African-American president? When the world said "Hell yea!", he must've thought that it's a good idea too.

You can only know the validity of your ideas when you test it in the open. You can only know how people would react to your book, if you got it published. Putting your ideas out there makes you courageous; learning from it allows you to grow. Plus, it makes you look cool for a while, no matter how bruised.

…with the right folks.
Yes, be a hardcore Marxist if you must, but not with your 3 year-old cousins. It's waste of breath. So mind your audience. Find someone who might mentor and give you feedback. Someone like OmArie and the Timekeeper. People who'd provide the toughest criticism and most sincere opinions. People you look up to and have a better understanding of how the world works. I have my prejudices about the selection process, but generally if they don't come in cheap, they're not there for the right reasons.

Fuck the niches.
When all fails, the hell with it. If you have been doing all of the above and you haven't been able to frame your niche or concept or theme or genre, then maybe it's not the time to limit yourself. Maybe you just need to write some more for a while, and keep it personal, until something stands out. Don't fuss about appearances and enjoy the journey; you'll be surprised how many surprises you'll find when you are unframed with a destination.


So tell me, what gets you into writing?


June 2007

I opened my laptop for him, exposing 25 of my latest posts for him to scrutinize.
He commented on my writings, and after a pause, he said,

“Your men,” he said, , “They’re confused.”

I heard my heart clunking at the bottom of my stomach “Huh?”

“You tend to become attracted to fragile men because of your instinct to protect as the oldest child. Yet, as a woman, you also long to be protected, so you’re attracted to the dominant aspect of their personality too.”

Something else clunks, maybe it's my pride.

My uncle continued, “Men who are both domineering and fragile are – in reality – very confused men. They father and preach you in one scene and ,in the next, they’ll go berserk if you express individuality. That’s why your relationships with them never last, because their confusion added to your own, is exhausting.”


*****

November 2008

For once, a lot of people would agree with me; that his charisma and social skills were outstanding. That women would flutter at his feet and men would follow his whims. That he is matured and beautiful and hold the kind of grace preserved for aristocrats, and the kind of power preserved for conglomerates. We know this. He knows this, and he takes it for heartbreaking granted.

That afternoon, we sat over coffee and donuts, over elaborate monologues centered around his amour-propre, over the submissive want to indulge in his captivating presence.

I gave in to him, to his detailed description of his extraordinary affair with a princess, to his childlike ideas about God and utopia, to his weakness for praise and my need to please him. I needed to give in to every possible second and thought and breath filled with his miniscule details: the way he breathed, the way he mouthed my name and nickname and endearments, the way his palm felt on mine when he accidentally allowed as much, leaving me bothered and conflicted.

I yielded to his every command; I am a nodding dashboard puppet when he stated his ideals, I am a vehement provocateur to his subjects of disapproval, I am the muse to his whims and fancy, and I am the fool with my soul bared for him to pick.

I wanted him and I wanted him to want me, while trying to keep myself afloat in a pool of handsome candy, tuck inside a thundering rollercoaster of lust. Sweet. Intoxicating. Rush.

*****

I managed to get away right before anything that could disappoint me and God and my parents happened between me and that very beautiful charmer.

I reached home and slumped into the majlis, exhilarated and exhausted, combing my consciousness through layers of sensory overload.

Barely noticing it served.

Barely noticing it brought to my side, by someone who is worlds apart from the man-whore in the café.

Barely noticing the second man at all, when he closed the door behind me as I walked into the house, when he replied "Wa'alaikum Salam", when he brought the tea, and every time he is in my presence. Keeping his eyes and voice and limbs strictly within propriety's range. Dutiful. Quiet. Efficient.

Somehow the old fear of abandonment allowed me to catch the sight of him walking away, leaving me staring inquisitively at the cup he brought, for as long that it took for us to converse: "Did I ask for you?"

"No," said the cup, "but your manservant thought that you might like me here."

"Oh."

It was the warmest, serenest and most fulfilling tea that could possibly fill a cup.


There is a stack of unread books in my room, in the Timekeeper's house, and an entire folder in my laptop filled with ebooks from Gutenberg.

My unread books and ebooks are the kind that critics and parents would approve of. I know I'm going to enjoy Pamuk and Márquez as much as I have enjoyed Wilde and Tolstoy. But to enjoy Joyce and Kundera? Or Faulkner and Beckett?

Have you ever dipped your eyes into a bucket of Nietzsche? Wicked. OmArie said that if you can understand Nietzsche's ramblings, you probably can understand anything else remotely philosophical. A word of warning though, don't go too far with Nietzsche; if you start agreeing him, you might contract some of his diseases. I read that Nietzsche caught the wise man's fever and lost his mind two years into his death. It might have been just a bad migraine. Or a brain tumor.

Anyway, back to that stack of books in my room and laptop folder. It's the difficult ones that I want to put my attention to. The ones I've been trying to read since I heard of them years ago. Alas, the lack of time and abundance of excuses distracted me for years. Starting with the aforementioned, merely the weight of Nietzsche's Spake started a migraine in my nose. The fonts in Xingjian's Soul worried me of Communists. And just the thought of Mrs. Dalloway gave me shudders; because just as much as she loved her creator, Mrs. Dalloway certainly could not talk Mrs. Woolf into floating.

But, no, this time I won't cower. As worrisome as they may seem, the demons plastered in these cryptic pages won't thwart my quest in conquering them one page, one paragraph at a time. And I won't stop at reading. I don't want to just read these books, I also want to enjoy them, as much as I enjoyed Voltaire's Candide and Tolstoy's Karenina. I want to hear the magic. I want to have phrases ringing in my head like Roy's "Tu. Morrow." I want to dream the imagery, losing myself in their space and time, instead of feeling stuck and stupified because of them.

Then again, why should one bother reading the classics at all? Aren't they, the contemporary writers, good enough? Didn't I enjoy Potter's company as much as everybody else? Isn't Coelho more uplifting and enjoyable? The Lords of The Bestselling Pop Novels sure did well in garnering mass attention for a while, and the masses concurred anonymously. So why bother with Joyce's dastardly impossible stream of thoughts?

Simply because they're classic. There is a timeless column, by Tamim Ansary that started my attempts in digging deeper into the ancient vaults of classic literature. Something he said ringed in my head every time I start with a new book:


If you can't remember a book you really enjoyed, it might be because your attention was the only part of you the book engaged.




Now for someone with ADHD, that rang a lot of bells. Good books, that stand the test of time and are still read by millions through generations, can definitely keep the average reader's attention for at least more than a chapter (and sometimes for years to come); because it can touch the imagination in more concrete ways than pulp fiction.

Another "cooler-than-thou" article I found simply stated that Einstein read the classics too, and attributed some of his intellect to such habits. Sure, John Wesley can be a bit condescending in his arguments about why people should read classic books, and that was just fine by me. Besides, who in the world would consider themselves intellectual if they don't wonder how Einstein got there in the first place, genetics aside? You DO want to keep learning for the rest of your life, don't you?

So, yeah, maybe you're not going to pick up a classic novel today, like I might not going to go straight to Joyce's Ulysses until I finish Keats' Endymion first. But I'm getting there. For sure.

When Baba was a boy, he used to chase kites with his brothers and buddies in Djatibarang, a nearly-remote village in the center of Central Java. One day, their kite chasing was cut short by a group of people looking upwards, to the purplish-orange evening sky.

Have you noticed how, when you see people looking to some direction, you'd involuntarily look in their direction too? Mass media in its simplest forms, I tell ya!

As they looked up, at the height of a full-grown coconut tree, a Gestaltian process of giving comprehension to the senses slowly gathered and formed this collective memory to all who looked at the stunning view of the long figure, with the majestic strength, glimmering in red from the aging daylight.

They were graced with the magnificent and indeed rare sight of an Asian Dragon.

Back in the days, when nature was true and undisturbed, man muddied their feet for food, dug the ground for water, bathed in the rivers, and breathed from mountains and seas. Back in the days, when the human body and spirit were integral parts of nature and balance was maintained in reverence to all of its elements, the dragons and dwarves and demi-demons peregrinated the lands and skies and caves and waters, visible and audible and touchable even to the common child that my father was.

I often look up to the very skies that my father looked up to as a child and I wonder where the dragons have went, if not deeper into a child's imagination or drug induced hallucinations. I wonder if, in my lifetime, I could touch the edges of purity, in body and mind and surrounding, that would grant me the glimpse of a true dragon, just like the one that my father and his village-kin fleetingly witnessed hovering that evening, years ago.

I gather these story crumbs trying to piece together my own Gestaltian memory of a dragonless life that is (at least) less ordinary, less disappointing, than the way I have always perceived it.

It's not the dragons that is worth seeing or writing about, it's their magic and wisdom and benevolence that is worth working on in each of us. Whether or not dragons are real, whether or not god or demons or faeries exist, it's the ideas that we caress and coddle and nurture that will eventually shape the roads we walk on.

I wish us well.

When Okhti left, Yumma blamed the entire world.

She blamed Yubba – may the Lord rest his soul – for his inability to protect their daughter. She blamed Yubba's wives' jealous and evil eyes upon Okhti's serene grace. She blamed us, for not watching over her carefully enough. She blamed God for breaking her heart. She blamed the king and country, for inefficient police work and convoluted politics. She blamed the years and days, and the weather and the food, and days and the nights and all that irked her senses and cognition with dismay.

Yumma said that Okthi's lost because everyone's too selfish these days. Yumma said that Okhti left because we drove her away with absentmindedness. Because we didn't take her out enough, or showered her with enough gifts, or covered her in the finest silks and purest gold. Yumma said that Okhti wouldn't have left us if she was happy with us. Yumma insists that we have failed Okhti, consequently failing Yumma too.

When we felt like humoring her, we tell Yumma that we did all of that and more.

When we didn't feel like it, we shrug and move on with our daily routines.

In fact, we don't listen to Yumma anymore, not since she came back from her 3-years silence bout, not since Okhti is proven happily married and has given Yumma three grandsons, not since Yumma's been called to degenerate.

In fact, Yumma doesn’t care that nobody listens anymore. Yumma knows that the faeries are listening, and the djinns, and the angels and demons and the secret lovers underneath her bed, from where Yumma eats and sleeps and shits and fills her entire room with the ammonic sense of decay. Yumma, knows that Okhti left out of her childhood because she wanted to become a real person, and a step closer to what Yumma was becoming. Yumma, or whatever is left of her, blames herself for raising Okhti into the fine woman that she was, because Yumma knows – or she thinks she knows – what children become and think and do when they grow up.

Despite all odds, if the sands that surround her in her grave were the last ones to hear her, to each one of them Yumma would repeat and re-repeat how growing up could cost an entire life spent in wanting, to redeem.

This post parades tent on Creative Carnival for March, 2009.
Got this question from Anon:
Hning, does size really matter? be honest.



Does it matter to you?

I guess to you it does, otherwise you wouldn't be asking me this, would you?

I've never heard this question coming from a size-assured guy, so I'm guessing that your size would fit an average Indonesian's Koteka. Assuming that all Indonesians are small, ya?

Forget that line, I was just being mean. Let's start over…

I've only heard this kind of question come from men. So what is it with guys and sizes anyways? It comes in different forms, but basically it means: "Am I man enough for you?" I bet you wanted to ask this question to every woman who caught your fancy, whether or not you know her last name.

How about this, if you wanna make it all that matters, then it does become all that matters. Because sex, if it's not from the heart, then it's only dependant on the mind: what you think becomes what you are. If you think that you're not big enough and that no woman would last with you for longer than a one night stand, then be it. If sex is the basis of your relationship, then yes, size and longevity and prolonged orgasm and acrobatic performances in bed are all that matters. And you can expect a very steamy, unreliable and untrusting relationship with the very person who lays beside you as you sleep.

My question really, do you really want to know? Do you really want to know if your size is appropriate for a girl's appetite or not?

Or do you have something else to sell?

I'll point out some elephants in the room here. You can't satisfy a woman if your artillery only enlists "extra-size". You know all the cringe-worthy Hollywood crap they show on melodramatic movies about guy-meets-girl? Yeah, you need to be that guy and some MORE. You HAVE TO be sensitive to her needs, her demands, her whines and yelps. In AND out of bed. And it doesn't matter whether you have a mammoth's trunk or a cigarette's butt tuck between your legs; if you really care about your girl, and she cares for you too, and you see kids in your future together, then size is really the last thing you should worry about.

Besides, even Marlboro Man gave up smoking at some point in his life.
Here's an interesting thought:

If almost half the world population live on less than $2.50 a day.
Then why are we so unhappy with our meager $1'000/month income?

How much does happiness cost?

Something gorgeous for Lebaran (Indonesian: Eid)


Happy Eid, everyone.

You know why I picked Psychology as my major?

It's the science that teaches the art of asking questions.

            Good questions…

                    …lead to great discoveries.

Doing what you're good at 

Makes you a living 

 

 

Doing what you love 

Makes you alive 

 

 

To love what you're good at,

and

To be good at what you love, 

Gives your life meaning. 

 

 

How could you insist on wearing the hijab amongst the brothers and cousins you've been raised with, yet display uncovered profile pictures of yourself on facebook?

I don't geddit.

It's either that you learned your religion wrong, or that secretly hoping that one of your cousins would have a crush on you.

And they call me the confused one…

“Death is terrifying because it is so ordinary. It happens all the time.” ~ Susan Cheever
Three of my uncles are buried in Ma'la cemetery in Mecca and, very recently, a cousin of mine lost her husband, Nasser, who was also buried in Ma'la as the rest of my uncles.

How I See Death
I imagine that, once the administration issues with the angels were done, Nasser met up with his parents and relatives and extended relatives, spreading news to the rest of his dead-kin about the living, eventually bringing news to my uncles as well.

I imagine my dead uncles surrounding Nasser with different and evolving dead-expressions, depending on whom they would ask about: expressions of worry and pride when news of their children are passed, expressions of jealousy and kindness when their wives are mentioned, and wonderment when shocking stories of some of their nephews and nieces (ahem) are brought up.

Readjusting how the weight of his doings are now burdened on his ephemeral body, Nasser would – for the rest of his death – repeat the stories heard from the living, and later – along with my uncles and the rest of the dead relatives' society in Ma'la – anticipate some else's arrival in their world to refresh the gossips and readdress the judgments.


The Stories They Tell On The Other Side
If Nasser was familiar with the internet during his life, he might have recognized the similarity in the living world – of such situation and expressions – in social networking websites, where the long gone and forgotten reappear in your screen.

He might have been amused to see that the same expressions my uncles wore when news about the living were passed amongst themselves, when someone discovered someone else on the internet.

I imagine the ancient dead asking the newly arrived (or recently departed, in living terms) the very same questions I've exchanging with my kin and friends when I meet them for iftar/coffee/sahoor/dental checkup: "Who got married? Who's unhappy? How are they doing? Who has been blessed with a new child? Do you remember? How am I remembered?"

The thought brought me to the resolution that I want to live well or better, at least. So that when someone dies, they can pass news about my life with laughter; how I got up and down the goodness scale and eventually settled in semi-self-satisfaction-and-acceptance,

The thought that when I die might put me in a position where your family and friends expect news about you, made me wish that you'd live well, or better at least, so that the news I pass to them would lighten their deathly burden and flick that glimmer of hope that, through you, their lives did not got at all in vain.

I wish you well.
You know where the word "Kotex" came from?
The koteka, or penis sheath is a phallocrypt or phallocarp manhood-cover traditionally worn by native male inhabitants of some ethnic groups in western New Guinea Indonesia to cover their genitals.

Geddit?
About the Blog

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Big ideas are awesome. Big ideas give life meaning. Big ideas make us look and feel good about ourselves. After all, we are what big ideas we stand for; the sacrifices we make, the time and dime we spend.

Whether it is in the name of love, or freedom, or God, or Benjamin Franklin.

Big starts small.

Practicing big ideas flickers every day, and fizzles every night. Big ideas are tougher to stand up for when they are sheathed with dailiness. Ordinariness. Mundaneness.

Like underappreciated work, and loving the same person even if they're so average, even though you secretly think you could've done better than dying obscure.

But does it have to be big? Do you have to be famous and rich and married to have access to peace?

That is the core to these stories. (Kadang-kadang dalam bahasa Ibunya juga.) Take a big idea, pluck its plumes and see it among the mundane. Accessible to the ordinary John and Jane. So that the mundane regains its shine, and Jane can love John again. Even though and even if.

Which is kind of cool.

About the Blogger

Alia Makki. Thirty-ish. Saudi. Indonesian. Psychologist. Vipassi. Can be funny. Hermitic. Terrified of heights.

What she does: Write. Yoga. Tell stories. Massage. Sort money. Cross-stitch. Smoke kretek cigarettes. Refuses to get upset about things she can't change. Translating on TED. Showing off books she has read for lack of other sources for instant gratification. Audiobook recording and serious food & beverage consumption.

You can stalk her on Twitter and Email. And even Facebook. The point is, she's pretty approachable. Just be nice.
Featured in other places
About the images:
Unless they're from the blogger's personal stock, from Feb 2010, some cheekiness can be found hiding behind the images accompanying the posts. HOVER over them to see the cheek. CLICK on them to be redirected to where the images were stolen borrowed from.
Blogger's profile and webicon photos were taken by the ultratalented @RifaLee
Something about this country's lack of creativity and activity drives it nuts about marriage. I haven't met a relative or a friend who hasn't mentioned or judged or frowned upon my unlikely decision to postpone my marriage indefinitely.

- Yes, I'd like to be married one day, but not now.

- No, I'm in no rush, because children is not my right to decide on, when it is time, it is time. And the time is not.

- Assuming that I agree to be married right away, and crotch is desperate to be trafficked with flesh and semen (neglectful to the fact that marriage isn't always the only mean to have pleasures of the flesh satisfied), do you have someone in mind who'd dare to come and propose to the kind of she-demon that is me?

- Assuming that there is a fool absentminded and desperate enough to marry me into settledom, do you think that he has the strength and patience to tame a mare like me into servicedom?

- Assuming that – out of kindness – I spare this fool of a husband the dangers of losing his mind after living with me long enough to consummate and bear my tired womb with children, what kind of children do we think I'm going to raise other than Halflings of my own self?

Shove it, you fools.
…who kept nagging me to brush my teeth, tormenting and hemorrhaging in the process my sensitive gums on a daily basis, I'd like to mention that my very handsome dentist polished my teeth into pearls and mentioned that I have the happiest big white teeth.

Oh, and did I mention that my dentist is good-looking?

McDreamy material, I tell ya.
...freedom comes at a high price and responsibility.
...to know the rules, and have the guts to break them.

Mehmed, this is part of my response to your Wall-2-Wall note on my consideration to plant cassava for a number of purposes, one of which is biofeul: "Cassava eh! … if you can also get bio-ethanol out of it that seems to bring more promise for a sustainable environment, although I am not a big fan of using potential food for fuel! it takes more energy to produce a gallon of biofuel then what you can get out of it, and raises the price of food when there is a huge potential for famine in the 3rd world countries at the moment."

Me been very sick since the initial plantation. This is what's been rambling in my head.

You covered a range of arguments, the strongest that's bursting in my feverish mind is the one about "potential famine". The thing that I truly appreciate about your thoughtfulness is the way it just so easily breaks all the blocks in my writing. So what was it that made you think that there's a potential famine?

1. There is food and the Lord has stated this fact in all His Books: That the earth has been created to serve and support the presence of man. No matter how big the population is, food is available. In abundance. As the Lord has promised. With every irreligiousness that I am, some promises I still believe and take for granted.

2. In 3rd world countries, people are hungry not out of lack of resources, but the severity of imbalance in distribution.

3. This is how that imbalance is created: With television in farmer's houses, and consumerism attacking the agricultural mind, young folks want to buy Nokia N70 and do hair bonding instead of feeding their severely malnourished children. (something I saw on TV, both dying child and mother-with-the-made-hair. The thing with Media, they'd offer you shock and disgust, but no solution as long that advertisement slots are filled).

4. So everybody moves to the big cities, thinking that everything they see in television is gonna instantly move into their living rooms once they move to Jeddah, or Jakarta or Beijing. And because nobody is left to plant or herd or water the fields, farming becomes expensive and out of date, the ground is stretched beyond its seasonal capacity that it no longer produces normal and healthy food and, well, "real/organic" food becomes out of common man's range of purchase.

5. With so much labor stress in both urban and rural areas: too many people want to work in cities, too little people want to breed goats and grow rice. Hence the stress on the food balance.

6. Sometime back, someone suggested to me that a vegetarian diet is one way to solve the imbalance (since once of the causes of the shift in tastes made people feed rice to their cows and goats). I have nothing against vegan diet. But I can't see the sacrifice I make for passing on a plate of tenderloin or 5 sticks of young goat Sate is worth saving the world or world economy. I see that avoiding McDonald and IKEA and STARBUCKS and Carrefour is worthwhile, because that's how the evil jaws of gigantic enterprises squeeze on small industries. Hence – again – the stress on the food balance.

7. Now I'm gonna go off-track and give you a personal insight on why it is just so goddamn difficult for me to move back to Jeddah, and why risking 8 months of waiting for that cassava to grow seems to make more sense in the selection of my life's course. I live in one of the most corrupt and malnourished 3rd world countries in the world. Yet, for all the time I've spent most of the last 6 months here, I haven't missed a single meal, and I eat 6 meals a day (breakfast, brunch, lunch, teatime, dinner and supper), and I'm probably bigger than a common water buffalo.

8. I wouldn't have believed that not having a conventional job or income could support such a living, but the land is lush with food for those who seek its wealth. I'm probably sick from overeating. Which is a wonderfully coinciding with Ramadhan. And since Big Daddy's forbids sleeping beyond 6 am, I look forward to presenting you with a supporting hypothesis to your argument about restraining from making fuel out of food, once I'm a little bit more hungry.

Feverish and sincerely yours,

H

PS: I don't know if you have seen the argument I've stated above anywhere else; been too disconnected to google. It's just common sense. IF I am making any sense. Can't shake off that fever!! Link me if you do, ya?


Q: What kind of work do you dislike?
A: Counting.
Q: Why?
A: Am color blind.
In 30 seconds, write 10 things in life that you want for YOURSELF, let it be ambitions, possessions, big stuff or small stuff. A new car? A better job or education? A bigger home? More money? Name it.

Remember that you only have 30 seconds.

Ready?

Start!

1. ___________________________.
2. ___________________________.
3. ___________________________.
4. ___________________________.
5. ___________________________.
6. ___________________________.
7. ___________________________.
8. ___________________________.
9. ___________________________.
10. ___________________________.


Okay, 30 seconds up. Done?

Good.

Now answer the question below:






















Obviously, you've survived well enough without those 10 things you mentioned up there. So are you just so unhappy with yourself that you'd want to have more than what you really need, or just plain ungrateful for what you already have?
I feel that I'm going to writing realms that I've never been to before. The clarity of this thought is as scary and exciting as that moment before jumping over a cliff with a bungee rope tied around our legs.

I found this prayer assuring, as much as it is fitting with the rest of the topics that's been pouring out of my head in the last 3 weeks or so…

"Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars."


May The Force be with you...
"We are constantly hatching an enormous number of false ideas, conceits, Utopias, mystical explanations, suspicions, and megalomaniacal fantasies, which disappear when brought into contact with other people."
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980)

I was sitting in my favorite chair in Big Daddy's backyard garden when Big Daddy showed up from his bedroom. Big Daddy usually takes a nap in the afternoon, and today, he came out of it wearing a full grin and a story on his lips, right when the rain started pouring cats and dogs and frogs.

"Did the rain wake you?" I look up to him from my laptop, slightly alarmed by the marks of mischief on his normally tranquil face.

He spat, "A man came to me this morning, telling me in full condescension that the Qiblah in my mosque is not aligned with the sun. This smartass then said that he was going to make it right."

I sit silent, partially because I enjoy his grandfatherly-style of storytelling and partially knowing well enough when to keep my mouth shut when a man in his position is venting about a pet peeve.

He continues, "So before I went to bed this afternoon, I said to the Lord, 'Lord, we want some rain',"

He raised his voice to high enough to penetrate my ear against layers of thunder claps and rain and an uncontrollable laughter, "So there you have it, kiddo, lots of rain, and no sun to align the Qiblah with."


Morals of the story:

1. When a you're a smartass with ideas, reconsider your style of approach. Never ever approach the elders with disrespect. I got this from experience, that no matter how small, or senile, or traditional they may seem, elders are elders, and bad luck always comes when we cross their path with disrespect. Especially when it comes to adding adjustments to a well-established system in the elder's care. If you're right, you'll have your ideas implemented, and still win his respect. If you're wrong, you'll just learn something new and not walk away embarrassed.

2. Some elders do reach the leadership position without bribe, or tyranny or corrupted democracy. Some elders really are natural leaders in a society, out of intelligence and wisdom and sense of justice. Rare qualities to find in mankind today, but maybe the world is not yet in complete mayhem in favor for people like them. In Big Daddy's case, who secretly holds a doctorate degree in the practical matters of his religion, would it be too difficult for him to know the direction to which billions of Muslims would face during their daily prayers?

3. This is controversial, but it's the thing that started me write: Some people are gifted with abilities beyond measurement. Like power of words. The power to heal. The power to move clouds. Most of us would rather not pay attention to what the senses cannot perceive. But then, we've abused our cerebral capacity to conform with what is normal and accepted. What if one day everything that you're sure of is challenged, everything that the media has fed you with proven fabricated, and the fairytales you no longer put your hopes in become true?

Tell me a story.
"Things are seldom what they seem,
Skim milk masquerades as cream."

W. S. Gilbert (1836 - 1911)

This one's for the ladies.

I don't know how this started to develop, but I think that I have a slight tendency to distrust younger women who are wearing the jilbab.

First of all, this point of view is absolutely not based on a religious views. I have absolutely no problem with the fact that women from all monotheist religions cover their hair. Hair covering is not a Muslim thing, or a religious thing, or a social thing. It's merely a statement of modesty and humility to the Lord. It's personal, it's private, and it is ibadah (an act of worship).

That said, what were these women thinking when they covered their hair and then went out dating in tight clothes? What were they thinking when posting photographs of themselves on facebook or friendster? What were in God's name were they thinking when they plastered the jilbab over their heads?

Modesty my royal Indonesian ass, that's what I think they were thinking.
You see why I don't trust these women – specifically, younger Muslim women who are not living in fashion-challenged areas like Aceh and Saudi – who cover their hair?

They embody the epitome of hypocrisy. They claim religiousness, yet they never miss an opportunity to speak ill of others. They claim modesty, yet the price of that headdress covering their hair cost more than an month's worth of meals by civil servants' salary standards. Not to mention the money spent on the internet and phone, trying to nail species of the opposite sex (especially because covering your hair decreases your fucking chances to get laid, you fools!).

I'm not so obtuse to generalize that ALL covered women are hypocrites, shallow and materialistic. I'm talking about the general population of the bell-curve. You know whom I'm talking about, because they make up most of the covered population. And it pisses me off.

I would rather, with all seriousness, have the jilbab banned in all states, than to have hypocrisy be an accepted social standard. Being religious, covered and humble, is not a social trend, or a barometer to social sophistication. It is supposed to be private, and personal, and Godly. You don't need a sheet of fabric to claim religiousness, and by all means, no goddamn fabric or cement could fool the contents of your heart to Whom It Truly Matters.

And don't let me start on companies with policies of not hiring women based on whether or not they are covered. Sure, having all the women covered decreases the sexual tension in an office environment, but why go half-way? Why don't you have separate offices for women and men? Isn't that more effective in eliminating the sexual tension, if that's what you're worried about? Or have a training on social dress codes! Or hire people who are actually there to work, and not to gawk at the opposite sex in the first place!

Now, if - in anyway - the contents of this post bothers you, and makes you want to start spamming my blog with flammable comments, then you are in a way stating your agreement with me.

As it should.

Just please, don't tell me that just because a person is muhajjaba she is more worthy of anything for her apparent religiousness; because nowadays, it fucking hell is not.

Note: There you go, Ms. Kusayer, our long due vent on what we were reluctant to say but heartily, for different reasons, believe in.

"Arrogance functions on the oxygen of its own modesty. 
The self-confidence that is part of being young is sensibly flexible."
Jerome Weidman (1913 - 1998) 

5) Some things just need to be repetitively mentioned.
There are a couple of things that should always bother you. No, I'm not talking about the broken air-conditioner or the pain in your lower back. I'm talking about social injustice and religious exploitation and recycling. I'm talking about too much money, too little money and why it's so imbalanced that even nature disapproves. Some causes need to be raised, awareness need to be promoted, and dogmas questioned. When you read about that in anyone's blog, it's because the person writing it really cares about these issues. So pay attention.

4) I'm an absentminded fool.
Research has proved that writing improves memory, and since I often lose my diaries in my travels, blogging electronically helps me keep track of my thoughts. Since I've mentioned this, have you seen a diary with a big "H" embroidered on its cover, somewhere in a train between the two ends of Java?

3) I have people I want to avoid/update on my wanderings.
This is how catching up becomes as simple as FB or FS or BS for the not-very-attention-deficit. 
When you're prone to travel, you're prone to hear the question "So, how/where have you been?" a lot more than you feel like answering. Nowadays, when I forget to press the" invisible" status on YM, I usually answer: "Do you know that I blog?"

The same goes for the stalkers and former lovers/husbands/wives/pets. Putting this blog in their face is a kindly gesture that automatically sieves them through the thought processes that they don't want to commit to when reading through my slightly deranged mind.

2) I'm a plain, old fashioned exhibitionist.
I show off. I brag. I please my hedonist need of self-love. I leave a blazing trail of broken hearts (mine included) along my travels. Oh, don't judge me too harshly for that; you wouldn't be reading this in the first place if you were not a voyeur yourself.

1) I love writing.
 Cogprints

Aside from that, writing is my main ventilation system, and when I vent publicly, it's supposed to inform and entertain and inspire. Not happening? Tell me how I can make it better. What do you want to know more about that is most likely within my range of knowledge?

Why do you blog?

SaudiWoman tagged me.

Here are the rules:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers’ blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

I must quite quirky; because this list wasn't so hard to dig out.

1. I'm a sucker for stories.
Good stories grab my attention and make me sit still (unconventionally) longer than what an ADHD person would. This is why I love Margarittta and Trevelyana's posts so much. They tell wonderful stories. In a wonderfully sarcastic tone and honest voice that I wish I had enough of.

2. My muse comes to me in the mornings.
Right after that first gallon of coffee, when the shadows are still long and consciousness is not really there yet. She's always there, between 06:30 until 10:00 in the morning. Problem is, once I miss her wings and sleep in too long, I'm usually unproductive for the rest of the day.

3. I cook best when slightly drunk.
I don't know how it works, but the combination of booze and food preparation almost always guarantees a happy stomach. No, I don't put booze in the food. All my dishes are strictly Halal/Kosher.

4. I don't wear makeup anymore.
Based on my terrible sense of fashion, I rarely wear makeup, and out of pure sloth and over-confidence in showing how well I'm aging, I haven't even bothered about lipstick in the last year.

5. I'm genetically prone to bipolar syndrome.
The only non-medication way of tackling that was so simple that I realized I could never live in a place without it, knowing that I'd – literally – lose my mind. It's in the point below:

6. Walking and cycling are my meditation (and medication).
Security issues aside, I would walk or cycle without destination for hours, rain or shine. Yoga has the kind of stillness that frightens me, which is perfectly alluded with the concentration, motion and maneuvering that cycling through jam-packed Jakarta streets has.

I tag
a. G
b. Seth
c. Marahm
d. Saudi Jawa's
e. Trevelyana
f. And because I haven't seen a list like this one before on her blog, I tag Aysha too.

Cheers!
Correct me if I'm wrong...
…being Saudi means that my social status is either limited to spinsterhood or a legal status correction that includes the change of hands to my guardianship from one Saudi (my father) to another (a foolish husband).

That last trip to the Saudi Embassy confirmed it when the very shocked Saudi Diplomat's eyebrows touched his hairline because I had told him that I'm quite happy living in a non-Saudi country. "But that means that you may never get married! Aren't you worried about THAT?!"

I know a lot of my kin would rather not marry Saudis. And it's kind of expected to want to have a non-Saudi wife when you have had and been raised and fed by a non-Saudi mother. Especially for my chronically Oedipal cousins and brothers.
Whatever in the world gave those law-making Saudis the assumption that ALL Saudis would only want to marry other Saudis? Are our options limited to marrying just our own cousins?

Dude, not even the bedus do that anymore.

Some Saudis do get away with marrying a non-Saudis by having the right wastah to smooth things up for them in the Department of Innards. But for us hybrids - who are practically second generation immigrants by Purebred Saudi Standards - beyond elementary school, our collection of wastah are only powerful enough to book airplane seats on peak seasons. Which means that there's no way that we can puff our ways into the legal Saudi systems.

Much less legalizing an international marriage.

I almost sound like a bitter spinster even though it's very unlikely for me to rant on such issues; for I have never so grateful for my unleashed status, nor have I laughed at the peculiarity of my life as much I have today. This what happens to a girl on PMS and reading too many feminist-Saudi blogs in one day, giving way to that devilish thought to creep up on me: why have I not been dating Saudis if that would have raised my chances of marrying?

Right, because no Saudi boy would want to live in a Javanese farm.

Thank God I still have that.
This is a list of things that I really enjoy doing with literally anyone. I decided to share it here because they seem to bring out the best and most memorable moments with my friends and family. It's also something for you to look forward to in case you wanna hangout with me someday. :)

All of the things here work marvelously for me, that's why they're written with such enthusiasm. Tell me which are the ones that work for you too, and maybe add some more.

1. Help me choose and purchase outfits.
The question "what do you think about this shirt?" or "how do I look?" really are serious questions because I've been severely cautioned from wardrobe shopping unattended. No, I don't have a bad fashion taste, I just don't have taste at all. Except for underwear (which I still buy on trial-and-error basis), I always have someone to choose it for me.

2. Go out on a walk/ride/drive.
Some of the best stories I've heard came from fellow travelers. Some of the best conversations were exchanged during a walk/ride/drive. Something about being on the road does things to your head and attitudes. They can be quickest way to trigger meditation and it only gets better with good company.
The bonus is that once the conversation dies and sweat begins to break, the silence is surprisingly never uncomfortable with the change of scenery shared with someone else.

3. Cook. The kitchen is like a playground for grownups. Good food warms the heart as much as it fills the stomach. Experimenting with ingredients brings out the creative side in you. Even the seemingly tedious work of plucking leaves from the spinach stem has that calming effect. And nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing someone enjoy the food you've prepared.

4. Massage.
I'm almost certain that lack of physical contact makes us prone to loneliness and more aggressive/defensive towards others. Massage is one of the best ways to tackle the lack of physical touch because it can be done almost anywhere, doesn't require condoms, or complicated emotions.
A good massage doesn't require the recipient to lay butt naked in a mystical ambience with candles and New Age music. A good massage only requires the sincerity to wish wellness for the person receiving the massage. If you got that part right, just press your palms and fingers, and let your heart flow.

5. Teach me something. Some of the most practical lessons in my life were learnt out of the classroom. Skills like driving a car, standing on my head, punching a drill into the wall, saying "F*ck you" in German and Acehnese, drink a tequila from a shot glass with no hands, navigating through South of Jakarta. Every time I use these skills, I remember the people who taught it to me, wishing them (most of the time) well.

Others: - Tarot card reading. (works like math)
- Gossip marathon. (see how many people you can talk about in one hour)
- Compliment. (Everyone is a sucker for these)
- Share things. (Shirts, photos, music, food, candies, stories, stories, stories)
- Travel together. (I read this quote somewhere: "You never know someone until you've traveled with them.")
- Cuddle for a full-minute. (No such things as too much love)
- Try a new place to eat.

What's your thing?
 
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