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Women (whom) I Have Ever Met

Women (whom) I Have Ever Met

As one of the prominent figure, Kartini is well known for her role towards women’s emancipation in Indonesia. Born on April 21, 1879 Kartini recognized as a heroine who fought for women’s right as well as pioneer in girls’ education. Kartini’s profile is depicted not only in some books but also being filmed. The day when Kartini was born is now commemorates as Kartini’s Day.  

Kartini has become a symbol of women’s equality in terms of profession, right and role in civil society. Since long time ago, women’s has had a significant part in Indonesia’s independent movement. Heroines such as Dewi Sartika, Cut Nyak Dien, Martha Christina Tiahahu, H.R Rasuna Said and many more are Indonesia national heroines who has proven the essential roles of women towards equality.

In modern era, women’s participation is seen obviously. One of our president is a woman. Megawati Soekarnoputri, the fifth president of Indonesia (2001-2004) is the first woman’s president that Indonesia has ever had. People also familiar with Sri Mulyani, an economist and the Minister of Finance of Indonesia. Sri Mulyani was also post as Managing Director of the World Bank before she joined the reshuffle cabinet of Joko Widodo. Last but not least, Susi Pujiastuti, one of the controversial minister figure. Ibu Susi is the first Indonesian minister who has never completed a high school education, has tattoos and a chain-smoker.

Looking at women’s role in the past and modern era, how is actually Indonesian women seeing themselves? What are their point of view towards economics, politics and religion (one of the issue which sometimes hard to discuss with). This is my experience meeting some women in different places, venue and definitely perspective towards those issues. This is a story about two years ago and I just have a courage to write it now. Enjoy J           

April 20, 2016          

So I left my office right away after the bell rang. Anwar, our office boy took me to Gading gate. I planned to take a bus to Bandung. It was 7.39pm when I left Tangerang heading Bandung. I didn’t think that it will take a long time to reach Bandung from Tangerang. In fact I arrived there about 1.45am. I couldn’t figure out my feeling when I used online motorcycle with a man namely Pak Purba, a man who tried so hard to speak Sundanese though I knew he is a Bataknese. Though I am familiar with Bandung, yet arriving Bandung in the middle of the night (still) inconvenience myself.

Gb, my host in Bandung welcomed me warmly. She told me that there was a surfer from Austria as well. Located at Jalan Batik Ayu 20, we (include Lr, the Austrian girl) involved in a warm talk. Lr, a European girl, who has tattoo in most of her body reminds me to Indonesia actress, Tamara Blezensky (an Indo-Poland celebrity). I got the impression that she is an indifferent girl for the first time. She responded my questions recklessly while smoking. Her face suddenly change when she talked about a Bandung’s guy called Rz. She said she felt in love with Rz, a waiter in one of the caffee shop in Bandung. She plans to come to Rz’s working place tomorrow morning. She wants to take a picture of him as she always does. (Lr is a photographer).

Our conversation, which I found boring at first, was being alive eventually. Gb, my host, talked a lot about her family’s background. At first, I thought she’s a Jakartan who stays in Bandung to pursue her study. But I’m totally wrong! She is from North Sumatera. It surprising for me to know (someone from North Sumatera) applies liberal system in family life. She told us that her parents allow her to choose whatever religion she wants. And she chooses No Religion! Though she then told us that it doesn’t mean that she’s an atheist. She believes about the existence of God, yet she doesn’t want to follow a certain religions’ rules. When I asked her what does she put on her ID Card, she responded in a sweet manner,

“For sure it’s Islam, Ka since I couldn’t find “No Religion” in our ID Card.

She called me Kaka, knowing that she’s younger than me. She gasps in a deep breath,

If there’s an option of Konghuchu I think I’ll choose it.”  

Lr listened to our chat carefully. She then told us that she has no religion. She grows up with no religion as her parents do. Our conversation became more and more interesting when Gb revealed her family.

Gb, who is in the last year of college began her anxiety about marriage life. Though it is actually not her anxiety, but her parents. Gb goes to one of the prestigious university in Bandung. She takes Metalurgy as her core study. She’s in the final year of her academic study. Just like others Indonesian family, it is now her time to start thinking about marriage life. I can say that her family is an old fashion family (though looks like modern family when she illustrates in terms of religion issue).

Gb’s family keep her sending pictures of guys whom are ready to get married. Lr was giggling listening to that idea. In Padang’s tradition, it is a woman who has to give sum of money to male’s family if they agree to get married. The more educated the man, the more expensive he is. Gb doesn’t seem happy with her parents point of view towards “old fashion” marriage life a.k.a arrange marriage. I think she enjoys being youngsters in a big city like Bandung, which is the capital city of West Java, the second biggest city in Indonesia after Jakarta.

She told us enthustiacally when she she met a-fucking-rich Arabian guy. She didn’t tell where did they meet, one thing for sure this Arabian guy noticed her that she never prays as she often change her nail polish almost everyday.

“So you can’t pray if you polish your nail?” Lr asked in a full of courtesy.

“For sure I can’t. Tr is a devotee Muslim”.

Now I know that his name is Tr

“How do you know that he’s a devotee Muslim?”

“Well I always see him leading a prayer with his friend, five times a day”.

Gb looks frustated. Maybe she knows that she has no chance to get together with Tr. Lr, on the other hand, is a happy-go-lucky person. Though she counts on his relationship with Rz, the waiter guy, she doesn’t know whether Rz is being serious with her or not. She doesn’t even know whether Rz is able to speak English or not! I was wondering how do they communicate J. One thing for sure, Lr knows how to say “Aku cinta kamu”, which means “I love you”. Lr said she doesn’t want to be verbose, the way they talk is by heart to heart.

(Then I believe that love is absurd)

Lr admires Rz for his tatoos as well. She pointed all parts of her body where she can see Rz’s tatoos, even for the hidden part J

“Why don’t you marry him?” Gb asked.

“No no no, no way. I love him. I want to stay with him. I want to live with him, but I won’t marry him. I don’t want to lose my Austrian passport and hold Indonesian one”.

Love is finally beaten by nationality issue. Lr doesn’t want to live in her own country either. She doesn’t want to stay in one place permanently. She wants to keep on travelling Indonesia. Indonesia is the third country she visited after Nepal and Thailand. She works for Workaway, an online portal where you work unpaid but you have free house to stay, or maybe free meals. It depends on what kind of host you have. She just finished her work in Temanggung, teaching English in a school, which she found much more useful than having photography work in Nepal. She left the job in Nepal as the host expects her to marry her with his cousin. Everyday, the Nepalese guy told Laura that they want to have European descendent by marry her with one of his family member. Realizing that this is not a part of Workaway, she left Nepal. She’s happy with her job in Temanggung and by the time it finished she then continued to take another work in Bandung and Jakarta  for a fashion exhibition as photographer. She plans to stay till December or January in Jakarta.

April 21, 2016          

I left Gb’s dorm early in the morning. Lr was sleeping soundly by the time I left. Bb, Gb’s flatmate took me to the nearest place for me to get the public transportation to Bandung’s station. Thirty minutes before the train left Bandung, I bought some meals for my breakfast. Nothing speacial during my journey to Surabaya which takes almost eleven hours by train. I wrote and read. Read and wrote. Repeat! A bit boring but I enjoyed it. A party of Western and couples of Indian are at the same compartment with me. They involved in their conversation, exchanging their experience travelling in Indonesia.

I suppossed to arrive Surabaya at 8.30pm, yet something happened on the road and we must wait for almost one and half hour. Gl, a girl who will host me in Surabaya contact me again and again whether I have arrived in Gubeng station or not. A generous old man dropped me in front of Grand City after I couldn’t catch the taxi for almost an hour. Gl waited me there. She’s a tall, lanky girl. We walked to her house, not far from Grand City, about fifteen minutes. Surabaya greeted me that night.

We shared our travelling experiences, though mine was not so much however she listened to me intentionally. This girl surprised me a lot in every single piece of her travelling story. She had touched the U.S! What an envy! She has discovered almost Indonesian corner. We talked a lot up to late night. She made nasi goreng (fried rice) and a glass of green tea for my dinner. We continued our chatt almost up to early morning. I couldn’t stop admiring her adventures.             

The next morning, a call woke me up. Another Surabaya’s girl has been ready to take me around Surabaya. Her name is Nl. She promised me to show Surabaya and enjoyed its culinary. We made appoinment to meet at The House of Sampoerna.

Gl still in her room when I woke up. She told me last night that I can help myself in her house. She lives alone. She gave me the key of the house as well as what I should take to go to The House of Sampoerna. After having breakfast I was heading the city. Breathing Surabaya’s in the morning is relaxing after a long journey from Bandung last night.

I arrived early than Nl. Waiting in front of Sampoerna’s Museum, I realized how big this tobacco company supports our country. Greeted by the cute and casual girl, I knew that she’s Nl. She’s a cute, girly girl. Wearing pink cardigan and black clutch, she apologized for being late. She excused that her bos needs her hand to manage some letters. She’s a secretary.

We walked along the aisle and chatted about her work and Surabaya. This girl is totally different with Gl. She has no ambitious in her career. She is a calm, mature girl in terms of seeing herself and her life. She goes swimming regularly. She admitted that her late coming due to her swimming activity and helping her bos for sometimes on the weekend. She must keep swimming to keep her stamina, she told me with smile in her beautiful lips.

We spent our day eventually in Taman Bungkul (Bungkul Park), a park was once became headline because a woman was furious to one of the event organizer who was irresponsible in destroying the park. Yes, that woman is Tri Rismaharini, the first female mayor in Surabaya. She became well known after lots of breakthrough she did for Surabaya. She opened eleven major parks with different themes, one of the most famous is Bungkul Park. Risma also a dare leader who took a decision to close the prostitution area known as Gang Dolly. She also famous with her role as a cooperative leader. People could find various tools in her car to clean the city.  Enjoying this park is like figuring out how a woman can change a face of someone.

I met three uniques females at the Hero City, Surabaya. One who travels a lot and had touched Uncle Sam, one who is very simple in life and one who change the city.  

April 22-23, 2016    

Me and Ty made appoinment to rendevouz at Purabaya bus station, Surabaya. We’ll go by bus heading Banyuwangi. We have a rough plan. We dont have a fix plan for  Ijen Crater trip. She suggested to have on the spot and just go show plan. I have no choice bu follow her plan. Took a rusty and fully loaded people we arrived at Banyuwangi the next day. I just couldn’t believe that we had an unexpected travelling journey. We hired a motorbike and started our journey. We spent our evening at Watu Dodol beach and enjoyed the coconut till I felt asleep at the seashore of the beach. Banyuwangi has turned into one of the tourism destination recently. Not only it has the Ijen Crater but also various beaches as well as some festivals.

Around 3.30pm we left the beach. We’re heading Ijen Crater by using Google Map. We predicted that we’ll arrive Ijen by 12am and found a homestay near the crater. Unfortunately, heavy raining wa pouring. We stopped by at a little hut, hoping to sip a cup of coffee. We couldn’t pursue our journey. We finally took a little rest in one of the local residence. Bu Anita, the host served us very well. She provided us the dinner and ginger drink for us. We had a happy tummy J

I dont know what time Ty woke me up. We must prepare ourselves to do tracking. Mas Yono, our guide had waited outside.

It was a tough tracking though. Most visitors were coming from French, we could easily noticed from their language. Mas Yono was an expereince guide. He led us carefully. We shared our story along the way to see the Blue Fire.   

We ended up our journey at the top of the crater. It was a starry night and we could see the Milky Way! We performed the dawn prayer under the stars. And I feel blessed to witness all of these scenario!

I saw Ty chatted with Mas Yono seriously. I knew that she is a serious person. Her occupation as a lawyer confirms this attitude. This is our third travels together journey. Our two former journey were exploring some waterfalls in West Java and visited her hometown in Lampung. She is an enegetic girl. Someone who easily to mingle. Together with her friends she established a law firm.

Sometimes I couldn’t imagine the amount of money she told me when she solved one case to another cases. She has been flying to almost Indonesian parts regarding to her role as a lawyer. She’s an independent, firm and energetic girl. Unfortunately, we have a very sharp point of view toward a special case.

It happened when we enjoyed nasi tempong, a Banyuwangi signature dish consists of rice, chicken, sambal and vegetables, all of sudden our talked hit Ahok’s case. She strongly believes that Ahok is guilty. After a tough argument she eventually concludes that we couldn’t continue our talk as she told me that where my point of view goes to.

It wasn’t a nice experience when we’re doing travelling yet talking about hot current issue and I regret to do that.    


25th April 2016  

It is 7.30am now and I’m in Juanda airport heading Jakarta to go back to the reality that I have to work. Ty is still lying on the bed when I left her this morning. Travelling is done, yet my memories of the girls I met on my journey stays in my mind.


Karya : Irma Rahmatiana