Thursday, December 26, 2013

Clothes for the Occasion

Here is another essay I wrote for our writing class. It is a “division and classification” essay. Basically, you have to pick a topic, preferably a noun, that you can divide and describe accordingly. From the list we were given, I chose “clothes”. I thought it was simple enough for the condition I was in the at the time. I was, as usual, swamped with work and assignments. I’m not undermining the subject, but the topic meant, again, little research (I’m sorry I’m so lazy sometimes). Besides, to put it briefly, I like clothes. Again, I hope this can be a reference to some people who need to create this kind of essay. 

Clothes for the Occasion

To me, clothes are not just pieces of cloth that cover the body. Their function is not merely to protect your skin from direct sun rays or the sting of the cold air in winter. More than that, I think they make a statement of who you are. Thus, I can express myself through what I wear and I get a sense of enjoyment from mix and matching the clothes that I have. However, like most young women, I have a lot of clothes and my wardrobe is gigantic. Based on that fact alone, it is hard to find certain items when I need them. However, this does not become a problem for me because I arrange all my clothes into certain groups and place them in my wardrobe accordingly. The division is based on a certain functionality of the clothes which is “occasion”, and therefore classified into 3 major groups: everyday clothes, going-out clothes, and formal party clothes.

The largest section of the wardrobe is probably for this first group, my everyday clothes. It consists of clothes that I wear for my daily activities, which can be more specifically divided into clothes that I wear to campus, clothes that I wear to teach classes in the afternoons, and clothes that I wear at home or more efficiently labeled as pajamas. These clothes are usually quite straightforward and conventional. There are plain blouses and neat-cut trousers for work. Alternatively, I have various long-sleeved shirts and jeans for school. I allow myself to wear bright colors and prints to campus just for fun, but nothing flashy or extravagant is appropriate. Then there is a large pile devoted to baggy, comfortable clothes to wear at the end of the day when I am ready for bed.

The second largest section of the wardrobe is for my going-out clothes. The clothes within this section, as the name suggests, are for special occasions such as a day at the mall with my friends and going to the movies. This may be my favorite section because it is filled with bold color and vibrant patterns. There are asymmetric shirts, frilly skirts, and baggy trousers with unique prints. This is the section that encourages a streak of creativity for the mixing and matching process to create an outfit that is both attractive and totally me.

The last group takes up the least space in my wardrobe because it is just for one type of occasion: formal parties. How often does a young lady attend weddings or formal dinners in a year? There are only a dozen of such occasions if you ask me. However, I do enjoy attending these events to the point that I assign a special section in my wardrobe for them. Here are the chiffon gowns, batik dresses, and silk blouses with their intricate embroidery. They are rarely worn, so they always look brand new and sometimes magical to me. Therefore, I like to call this section “the princess section” because, like any typical girl, I like to imagine that I am a princess getting ready for a ball and this section is filled with my ball gowns.

In conclusion, I take a lot of thought into what I wear. It is not for an outer-locus pleasure, but rather a personal enjoyment which circles around the artistic value of the activity. Therefore, I arrange my clothes just as an artist arranges his paintbrushes and color palettes. In the end, our goal is the same: to create a work of art. The painter creates a pretty picture. I create a nice outfit.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to Stay Young: The Harmony of Body, Mind, and Soul

I want to share another essay I wrote for our writing class at my campus. This is an example for writing about a process or procedure, which is indicated by the explanation about the steps you need to take to reach a certain goal. Out of all the topics listed in our textbook, I chose “how to stay young” because it interested me (and I am a lazy goose because I didn’t want to do too much research, which was required for the other topics). Anyway, I hope it can be a useful referrence for anyone who is also learning about how to make different kinds of essays.

How to Stay Young: The Harmony of Body, Mind, and Soul

Time is often a plague for every consciously aging person. Wrinkles and fatigue become clear symptoms of passing time. Freedom becomes limited as the body becomes less dependable. The mind is somehow not as sharp as it used to be. Life itself has fed the soul with a variety of experiences which are either unfortunate or painful – at least those are the ones which most often come to mind. Therefore, for many, regaining and maintaining youth has become an ambition. For a considerable number of women, it has even become an obsession. Wrinkles are considered as unforgivable defects on their beauty. Millions of dollars are spent on plastic surgery and cosmetics every day. Some people consume expensive health tablets to regain their energy and boost their brain power. Others schedule regular appointments with therapists to seek answers to their never-ending discontent and sorrow.

The question is, are all these efforts worth it? People spend a lot of money just to maintain a piece of their youth, whether it is beauty, health, or the long-lost feeling of true joy that once filled their childhood. Very few realize that what they need is actually not very complicated – nor very expensive. Long-lasting youth can be achieved when a harmony is created between the body, mind, and soul. Each of these aspects requires a certain amount of appreciation and care, which can be ensured by following a few simple steps that involve less frustrating efforts and unnecessary spending.

First and foremost, take care of your body. There is no need to take expensive and dangerous shortcuts such as plastic surgery to halt those wrinkles. The simplest way is just to eat well. Firstly, make a healthy diet plan. List all the meals you plan to have in a week and recheck it to make sure it is balanced. Most importantly, make sure you will actually like those meals. There are many foods that are both healthy and delicious. Secondly, make sure you actually buy those foods in accordance to your list when you go to the grocery store. Refrain from buying any junk food, however tempting they may be. Thirdly, go home and prepare those meals without complaining. Tell yourself that you are doing a big favor for your body and you will reap the results afterwards. Combine this effort with regular exercise. Download a Yoga or aerobics tutorial from YouTube. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy.

When your body feels better, your head becomes clearer and it is easier to think. Most of us don’t realize that junk food creates toxins that prevent the brain from working as well as it should. Now that you are avoiding it and eating healthier food, you are rewarded with an optimized brain. So, after following the first step, what you need to do is enrich your mind. Since your brain-power has been boosted, you can feed your mind with numerous information that keeps you brilliant and, therefore, young. To begin with, make a reading list. Scout for interesting books on the internet; ones you will really enjoy reading. Go to your local bookstore or library to claim them. Schedule a certain time for reading every day. Perhaps you could do it for half an hour before you go to bed. Next, keep up to date with the news. You should know what is going on in the world today and keep an open mind. You will find that your intellectual capacity has not deserted you at all. Lastly, do not forsake your imagination. Let it run free once in a while. Write a fictional tale or tell a fantasy-filled bedtime story to little children.

After you have done such efforts to invigorate your mind, you are ready for a deeper experience. It is time to feed your soul. It is not enough to cater to the needs of your body and mind only. You have to remember your inner self. Start by re-evaluating your personality. Can you consider yourself as a good person and be content with it? What habits would you like to change? Next, act upon it. Remember that there is always room for improvement, so be open to any renovations on your current self. Keep a positive attitude. Spend more time with your friends and family. Be kind to others and love unconditionally. You will feel the change like a breath of fresh air. Others will feel this positive change and embrace it. Then, last but not least, pray. Rejuvenate your faith. Realize that you are abundantly blessed, even after all the hardships you have faced. You will face more obstacles in the future, but keep believing that God is always with you. With Him at your side, you can conquer mountains. Know that He loves you and will love you more for all the good that you give to those around you.

Age can be both a blessing and a curse. However, the important thing is not to avoid it, but to spend it with care. If one manages to face life positively and keep the balance between the body, mind, and soul, one may conquer time, thus youth will be eternal. This quote could be true for anyone. Let it be you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Essay: The Hijab Fashion Trend and Its Effects in Indonesia

It seems like it has been an eternity since I last made a post for this blog. I have been darting backwards and forwards between school and work and other freelance jobs, struggling to keep up with time. Old story, huh? Anyway, the least I can do for now is post a few writings I have on hand.

The following is an essay I made for our writing class. We are currently studying how to make good thesis statements and their corresponding supporting statements. I’m enjoying it, even though we have to submit a new essay every week. This essay was the first essay I made for the class. The topic is “Fashion” and I limited it to Hijab Fashion in Indonesia.


Title: The Hijab Fashion Trend and Its Effects in Indonesia

Hijab is considered a symbol of religious faith for Moslem women all across the globe. It displays the value of modesty and beauty at the same time. Nowadays, more and more women, young and old, are embracing it as part of their lives. This phenomenon can be seen in our very own country, Indonesia.

There are many speculations as to how the hijab “trend” has boomed into existence in Indonesia. Some say it is because of the increasing rate of Islamic organizations’ movement. Some say it is because of the reverse-psychological effect of 9/11 which put Islam into the spotlight. Others, especially those categorized as possessing the more conservative faith, say that it is just fate. Islam has reached its inevitable glory and one of the indicators is more women embracing hijab.

However, a more generally-accepted theory doesn’t border on the development of Islam as a faith and religion itself. It borders on something more common-place and down-to-earth. It says that this display of faith was actually triggered by the heavily stigmatized industry which is fashion.

These past few years, certain prominent hijab fashion designers from Indonesia have gained significant acknowledgement both domestically and internationally. The names that come to mind are “Dian Pelangi” and “Irna La Perle”. Dian Pelangi is famous for her youthful and chic sense of style. She has brought tie-dyed fabric back into the scene and the way she wears her scarf has been followed by many young women in Indonesia. She has already displayed her collection on the Paris fashion runway and she is only in her early twenties! Meanwhile, Irna La Perle, several years above Dian Pelangi, adds a more elegant and sophisticated nuance to her designs. She specializes in using soft fabric like chiffon and combines middle-eastern and European culture in her designs. She is the ultimate choice when it comes to wedding gowns for Moslem women.

irna-la-perle-8.jpg (934×700)

This positive development in Indonesia’s hijab fashion industry has brought major effects in Indonesia in many aspects. Firstly, in the economic aspect, producing and distributing hijab fashion has proven to be a very fruitful business. As more women embrace the hijab, the demand for the latest Moslem wear increases. The unique hijab styles from Indonesia are also popular in other countries such as Malaysia, so this triggers a surplus from the nation’s GDP.

Secondly, the social media has been an attractive platform for hijab fashion. This is not merely because it provides space for online shopping. In essence, it actually correlates with the basic idea of social media itself: freedom of speech. Many young women have made videos about why they decided to embrace the hijab. Hijab tutorial videos have gone viral on YouTube. Hijab fashion websites continue to multiply. The viewers are also multiplying, which is beneficial for both the dawa’ (Islamic preaching) purposes and also the social media tycoons.

Lastly, in the psychological aspect of the women themselves, embracing the hijab has affected their personality positively. Wearing the hijab is believed to be a sign of commitment to the God, Allah. Therefore, this concrete act of faith should give them more peace for abiding by His laws. Furthermore, the hijab is supposed to act as a shield from wandering eyes. It reflects a woman’s modesty. Women who embrace the hijab should also feel more protected and dignified.

In conclusion, the positive development in hijab fashion in Indonesia has also given positive effects to those who embrace it. Indonesia receives acknowledgement for its success in endorsing the trend. In addition, women everywhere are experiencing the changes it brings to their lives and themselves as individuals.

So, Moslem ladies, have you worn your hijab today? ;)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pieces of a Young Woman’s Tale: For a Father

The Photo

“My little girl, Daddy has to go,” said the man to his three-year old daughter. “I’ll be back in a few months, don’t worry.”

The little girl stared longingly at her father’s back as he walked away. She clutched her mother’s hand tightly, feeling a higher need for protection. Her father would be away for a long time. He was their hero, their protector.

A few hours later, her mother rushed her outside after hearing the sound of an airplane passing through the sky. They watched the bird-like structure disappearing into the clouds. “That’s probably daddy’s plane,” said her mother.


The handsome man, in his early twenties, walked wearily to his flat. It had been a long day at the university. Meanwhile, there was nobody there to greet his place. His wife and his daughter lived thousands of miles away. He stopped by the mailbox before he entered the building. He saw one brown envelope situated awkwardly inside the compartment. He took it out and checked the address. It was from home.

He rushed inside the building, sped up the stairs, and bolted into his small bedroom. Carefully, trying not to tear the contents, he opened the envelope. He took out the letter and read it. He smiled in spite of himself, reading the sweet encouraging words from his loving wife. Something else slipped out of the envelope. It was a photo of his little girl.

16 005-1

She wore a cute pink dress and her hair was decorated with a red hairband. Her face was as innocent as a toddler’s could get. Her eyes were like her mother’s, but her gaze was exactly like her father’s. Behind the photo were a few simple words:

To our darling father

Love Naya.

A drop of water fell from the corner of his kind eyes.

“I’ll be home soon,” he whispered. “Wait for me.”


New Shoes

“Look at these new shoes, Dear!” The man brought a pair of leather shoes to the little girl’s feet. She stared at the brown bulky shoes. There was a simple floral pattern on each shoe. They were Mary Jane shoes, but they looked really old fashioned. She knew they were old. They were bought at the Salvations Army store near their house. Despite that, they were in pretty good condition.

But they weren’t her style at all.

She tried them on anyway. Despite her very young age, she was already aware of their economic condition. They weren’t exactly millionaires. Compromises had to be made. Being extra thrifty and meticulous were the only options.

The shoes were tight. She immediately despised her long feet. She wanted to please her father, so she said nothing and walked around casually when he asked her to. “Do they feel good?” he asked. She smiled and nodded. She figured lying was acceptable in this situation.

The next day, she went to school in her new-but-old shoes. Most of the other kids wore pumps – the newest style on the shelves. She hadn’t made friends with much of them yet. She was the new kid – the short little Asian girl who was strange and talked funny. She tried not to think of their glances at her feet as she walked by. Meanwhile, her feet started to bug her. Each step was uncomfortable.

Then it got painful.

After a while it got unbearable.

After that, she made up so many reasons to avoid wearing those shoes. She told her parents she wanted to wear her other shoes every other day. “But look at the state of those other shoes,” said her mother. “They’re worse for wear.” She just smiled at her and said it was fine. The next day, she said she had sports day at school so she couldn’t wear those Mary Jane shoes. Then she had to make more excuses. Inevitably, her parents became suspicious.

“Why won’t you wear your new shoes?” her father asked. She hesitated, thinking of yet another excuse. “Is there something wrong?” asked her mother. She looked at the ground uncomfortably.

They pressed on. She had to answer. “They hurt,” she muttered. “You said they were fine,” said her father. “You should have told the truth.”

She felt her face getting red with shame at being caught lying.

“Don’t be so hard on her,” her mother replied.

And now they are arguing because of me, she thought. She should’ve kept her mouth shut.

They argued on. She knew she probably had hurt her father and disappointed him when he uncovered the truth. He was so proud of those shoes. She knew buying them wasn’t easy. However, her lies had caused much trouble and arguments as well. Lying itself was tiring.

After a while, her parents stopped arguing. They bought her new shoes that fit her better. She knew it must have cost a lot. If she had just told the truth earlier, her parents could’ve exchanged those shoes for another. But she lied too long.

She realized her personal trait and rather troubling habit that day. Pleasing the people she loved just made her so happy. It became addictive and progressively destructive.

I’m sorry, Daddy…


Caught in the Act

I am totally gonna fail this test.

The young teenager stared at her history textbook sadly. She was the new kid again. Her lessons were difficult to grasp, especially history.

These words look like gibberish. I’m gonna fail and my parents are gonna be so embarrassed, especially Dad.

Her father was a lecturer. He had already got his Ph.D. Very few achieved that degree at his age in her country. He was awfully smart. So was her mother.

And I am going to fail and be a total embarrassment.

At this point, she had no liking for logic and reason, for they had betrayed her. She needed other measures. She remembered how one of her friends had slipped a piece of paper scribbled with history notes under her skirt.

I couldn’t do that. She couldn’t bear being caught lifting her skirt ad exposing her legs.

“How about your arm?” asked a small voice in her head.


It was easily hidden if she wore a jacket. It was also easy to steal a few peeks this way.

She started hastily copying facts from her history book onto her arm. She would have to go to school in about 10 minutes. This might just work…


“Hurry, Dear. We have to go now.” Her father walked past her to start the motorbike. “In a second!” she replied.

Suddenly, she felt a shadow hovering above her. “What’s that?” her father asked. “Just a scribble,” she replied. “It was an accident.”

“I know what that is. Those are notes.”

She froze. He is gonna go ballistic. She waited for the torrent of words as color deepened on her cheeks. She was gravely mortified.

A chuckle broke the silence. She looked up in surprise. “Now, don’t cheat. You know it isn’t right.” With a goofy grin, he casually walked to his motorbike and started the engine. She smiled sheepishly and joined him on the motorbike.

On the way to her school, she rubbed the back of her arms vigorously. She knew it was wrong to even think of cheating. Her father could’ve scolded her, and she would’ve deserved it.

But he didn’t.

I will never do this again, she thought. Thank you, Daddy.


Mathematics Mania

It was a hard Math problem. He didn’t have to be so mean.

The teenager slouched on her desk, reading the question for the hundredth time. She had been at it for hours. What did she miss? Why is this so unconceivable?

Her father’s words rung in her head. Didn’t they teach you this at school? As annoying as those words were, he did make a point. The teacher must have said something about it. She should remember. She mustn’t let her mind be lazy. She shouldn’t give up so easily.

She closed her eyes and tried to picture the question in her head using simple analogies. She used commonplace variables. Then she forced her logic upon the story. Then something clicked.

Of course. It was so simple.

She realized that her father needed to be hard on her sometimes. It stirred up her ambition.

A wide smiled spread across her face as she realized another thing. I do like math. I would have given up by now if I didn’t like it. And I am stubborn as hell.

I am my daddy’s daughter.


Curiosity and Discussions

The young woman always loved talking to her father. He was so informed about practically everything. He listened well. He was open-minded. He used exceptional logic. He was witty. He was ethical.

Meanwhile, she was always a curious child. She asked questions and sought answers hungrily. Her parents fostered this characteristic by giving her all kinds of puzzles as her toys in the early years of her childhood. They bought her many books, including giant encyclopedias and atlases. Her father, who majored in computer science and mathematics, taught her quite well. She learnt how to use the computer when she was just a toddler. She came to love working with numbers. And it was never enough. She wanted to know everything.

“Daddy, do you believe in aliens? We can’t be the only life existing in this wide universe.”

“Do you think ghosts are real?”

“Why do you think God does the things he does?”

“Tell me about your childhood.”

“Why did you choose math and computer science?”

“What do you wanna do when you retire?”

“Wouldn’t it be cool to build a garden in the middle of a house?” 

“What’s your testimony on the statement that most government institutions are corrupted?”

“Let’s talk about classical-crossover music.”

“No, Daddy. You cannot make a series of aptitude tests for my fiancĂ© later.”

“The crisis in Egypt? Problematic. Tell me about it.”

“Let’s talk about proper eating habits.”

“Tell me about Einstein’s theory of relativity again…”

He always gave good answers. There were almost no limits.

He continued to foster her curiosity. She asked more questions. The discussions went on. 

Undoubtedly, she would expect more to come.




All the above are based on stories of my life, since I was a toddler – those that I can remember at least. They’re not 100% true but my purpose is to convey the meaningful lessons I’ve learnt from them. I dedicate them to my father.


Thank you for being such an inspiring father. You have taught me so much in my life. You are a role model for me. I aspire to be as smart, kind, responsible, and strong as you.

I am still learning to be a good daughter. I have stumbled many times, but you, together with Mom, have always embraced me and the rest of your children with your patience and love.

May Allah be forever in your heart and may He grant you much happiness in your life. Continue to be the greatest father, and teacher, in the world for me.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! You’re never too old for us, for age brings you wisdom and your cheerfulness sustains your youth.




Your loving daughter and devoted student,


NayaWinking smile

Thursday, August 15, 2013

To the Strait of Malacca

Yesterday afternoon, we had a family outing on the shores of the Strait of Malacca. I had never been there before. There isn’t exactly a jaw-dropping view there, but I found the atmosphere very pleasant. I have always loved the smell of the sand and the sea and yesterday was no exception. The air was cool and fresh. We could see the sun slowly setting on the horizon.

We passed some fancy hotels and visited a very beautiful mosque called “Masjid Selat Melaka”. My dad also called it “Masjid Terapung” or “the floating mosque”. It is situated on the edge of the land in such a way that it seems to float on top of the water. Cool huh?

However, since we had other plans, we didn’t stay until prayer time. We took a lot of pictures on the seashore then went to have dinner at Johnny’s, our favorite restaurant in our town. We always order the steamboat. I love looking at the green vegetables and bright colored prawns and other seafood boiling inside the pot. It’s delicious and fresh and makes your body feel good. Totally recommended.

Anyway, here are some photo’s we took on the outing. Who knows. It might make you tempted to visit Malacca. Smile

*on the grounds of the mosque

*my two brothers playing on the seashore

*my mom and dad

I tried making a collage from the candid photos my brother took of me. I used the “page” feature on PhotoScape. It’s wonderfully easy to use. I had a lot of fun rearranging the pictures. What do you think of the result? Could it be page from a fashion magazine? (laughs)

*I call this ensemble “bright sunset”.

Blouse by Xiu Xiu
Jeans by Log Jeans
Shoes by Gosh
My mothers gipsy scarf bought at Mataram (no visible brand, I’m sorry)
Bag by Enola
Accessories: 1. my sister’s brown bangle 2. beaded bracelet – handicraft bought at Kute Beach, Lombok 3. watch by Mirage

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy Eid! It’s Always the Time for Improvement

Honestly, I have no urge to write or do pretty much anything that requires a bit more thinking or elbow grease. On the contrary, I can actually think of many topics I want to write about and I have dozens of tasks pending. I’m just too lazy. The only statement to justify this disposition is: “I’m on holiday, dude. Sue me.”

However, I have mustered just enough willpower and energy to write this post. I have two things to write about. Initially, I wanted to make two posts – one topic per post, obviously. But, again, it just seems too herculean a task right now. Plus, if I did one topic now, the other would end up in the “pending” pile for an immeasurable amount of time. Then my guilt would build more and it would be oh so pleasant, wouldn’t it?

Do I sound sarcastic? I might’ve slept on the wrong side of the bed, but I think I slept well last night. I don’t know why I woke up with an ounce of sarcasm. Or maybe I’m just sarcastic to begin with.

This is getting me nowhere.

Okay, firstly, I want to greet everyone with a huge EID MUBARAK!


Taqaballahu minaa wa minkum shiyamana wa shiyamakum.
Ja’alanallahu minal a’idin wal faidzin.

May Allah accept it (good deeds) from you and us, the fasting from you and us.
May Allah place us among the returnees (to the state of fitrah) and the winners (of the inner struggle against the nafs or base desires).
Please forgive me for my mistakes and wrongdoings. Winking smile

I had a great Eid, Alhamdulillah. I spent it in Malaysia with my family. I praise Allah that we could spend it here together, all of us complete.

As usual, we had the Eid prayer in the morning. Here, we had it at 9.00 am. Well, everyone went to the big mosque except for me. It was that time of the month again so I couldn’t pray. I just stayed at home and cleaned the house.When everyone came back from the mosque all fresh and pretty, I was still a mess. At least the house was more welcoming (laughs).

In the afternoon, we went to some of our neighbors’ houses for silaturahim. I don’t know about everyone else, but I ate a lot that day. I had chicken curry, rendang, ketupat, sayur nangka, asinan, cookies, cake, and many colorful drinks. Afterwards, we took some pictures (we mostly means my sister, my mother, and I) as our personal memorabilia of the day, like we do every year.


*One of the pics we took after visiting a neighbor. As you can see, we love purple.

Secondly, I want to share a thought that has been stuck in my mind. It is actually something commonplace but I would like to utter it in the following words:

You could spare just a few seconds to make someone happier. Use those few seconds well and you could make such a difference.

No, this is not implying the typical I-want-world-peace wishes of a beauty pageant contestant (although it is perfectly relevant and okay to do so). It is just something I have witnessed at home and I think everyone can relate to it.

Being kids, we must have tormented our parents with our disobedience a few times. Do you remember refusing to do the dishes? Do you recall making up reasons to avoid doing chores? When was the last time you pended a task your parents asked you to do with a classic “later” or “in a minute” remark?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we were royal pains and we might still be so. I don’t have to lecture you about how being a parent or guardian is hard and how much work they have to do and how much time they sacrifice to make our homes worth living and so on, right? We all know. If you aren’t aware of all this, give yourself a dose of corporal punishment (read: smack on your ungrateful backside).

Now, most chores don’t take up a lot of time to do. Taking out the trash, for example, is a task we could do in five minutes, including the decontamination process later (read: thoroughly washing your hands *my OCD alert*). Washing an average amount of dishes takes ten minutes. Sweeping the floor takes about fifteen minutes.

Observe the other seemingly tiny things we frequently overlook:

  1. Tidying up your own toys after playing: 5-10 minutes (unless you have like 100,000 Lego pieces and you used it to make a life-sized dinosaur or something, it might take more minutes)
  2. Ironing your own shirt before school (or work): 5-10 minutes
  3. Making your own bed: 2-5 minutes
  4. Washing your own plate after a meal: 1-2 minutes
  5. Picking out your clothes carefully, assuming they’re folded neatly in your wardrobe (instead of yanking them out in a hurry, as we do so often, creating an avalanche in the process): 20-15 seconds
  6. Throwing your dirty clothes into the laundry basket instead of leaving them to decompose on your bedroom floor until your mother finds it: 5-10 seconds
  7. Putting your coat on a hanger after using it: 5-10 seconds
  8. Switching off the light in a room you’re not using anymore: 1-2 seconds
  9. Putting the toilet seat down after use: 1-2 seconds
  10. Saying thank you: 1 second

Of course, you could add so many things to the list above. Most of them don’t take very long to do. Compare them to the other things we do in our free time or in place of the chores we are supposed to do. A conversation with your boyfriend/girlfriend on the phone could take an hour or more. Browsing the internet could take hours (I’m guilty). Checking your social media profiles could make hours breeze by and you would be the least aware of it.

Another thing we tend to forget is how much difference we could make if we spared our time to do those things we frequently overlook. You could save your parents, guardian, roommate, or anyone who has to put up with you every day from muttering words of aggravation under their breath. You could give their patience a huge break. You could reduce their workload quite significantly. You could actually determine how they’d start their day.

Best of all, you would make them exceptionally happier.

Is that so hard?

The tricky part is mastering the willpower to do everything. Most of our faults come from bad habits and habits are hard to change. However, if we don’t change it we’d definitely regret it in the future.

So, how about it? Could we gather the determination to change our habits? It will only cost us a few seconds, but the reward is priceless.

Besides, it’s never too late for improvement. Ramadhan and Eid has already provided us the great momentum for betterment. Carry on.

Have a happy year ahead!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ramadhan, a Month Full of Blessings


Ramadhan is here again. Praise Allah who has given us the blessing life so that we can experience it again.

This year, I have mixed up feelings about Ramadhan. Of course, I am happy because I get another chance to greet it, but I am also anxious about it because I might not do it justice. Self-pity is also present because it is my first Ramadhan spent far away from my family for this long. Yup, I’m still in Jogja and will still be here until the final days of this fasting month.

Why am I still here? Well, it’s not because of an unpleasant thing, really. I actually have quite a few jobs to do (yay!), among them teaching “English for Midwifery” at a midwifery academy in this city. I am grateful for it and it is fun. However, pleasure comes with sacrifice. I have to teach until late in July and miss out on spending almost the whole month of Ramadhan with my family. Consequence.

Next, I have a bundle of projects at hand including event organizing and my (neglected) arts & crafts projects. Debating and adjudicating is a routine activity. A few articles are pending on my writing list. I also have some books and a magazine to edit. I accepted a request to design a special outfit for my friend. It is imperative to make arrangements for my little brother’s college enrollment. Plus, there is a pile of my student’s homework, assignments, and tests waiting to be marked.

Hence, this blog has nearly reached its final breath. I checked my blog stats and they are atrocious.

So, it is more than appropriate for me to try to get at least half of the above done before I go home, right? It is totally impractical to manage everything from as far as Malaysia where I can’t even make an important phone call to my colleague without getting a headache from the phone bill.

But then Allah tests us in many ways. Fasting far away from the comfort of home (and the prospect of Mom’s delicious cooking) with work and projects to do is a challenge indeed. I have to learn how to teach in a classroom in the middle of the afternoon to inevitably hungry and unenergetic students while gathering the focus to forget my own hunger and be as lively as I can. On the other hand, I get to occupy the free time that I have to be productive instead of indulging myself in laziness while waiting for Magrib – when I can finally eat like crazy.

Waking up for Sahur is also challenging. Mom or Dad isn’t here to wake me up lovingly and patiently. There’s only my annoying and emotionless phone alarm blaring at 3 am in the morning. Then I drag my zombie-like body to make almost the same meal every day. Try having either instant noodles or rice & sardines with a glass of an oatmeal drink every day before dawn. It’s quite a picnic. I curse myself for being so pathetic at cooking. So, don’t ask me why I don’t prepare dinner at all. I go out to buy my meal at a local warung (kind of a small and simple place that serves traditional food) every day, half an hour before Magrib.

Anyway, the description above isn’t actually to complain. I actually find everything hilariously enjoyable. I face the prospect of Sahur with an ironic chuckle and breeze through it with little difficulty. I cherish dinner (even if I still drool at the thought of Mom’s cooking at home) and ravish whatever food I buy, however simple it is. But then again, I almost always finish my food (the exception is when I’m sick), every last grain of rice, even when I’m not fasting. I love food. I learn to cherish it more by fasting and I believe a lot of people get to do so as well.

Allah has promised us so many benefits from fasting: the virtue of patience, the blessing of health, the gift of empathy, the wisdom of charity, and so much more. I thank Allah for being able to fast without much difficulty. It is an opportunity to gain his blessing, achieve his ridho, and bring us closer to heaven (InsyaAllah).

I do hope that I can get all the benefits of Ramadhan and feel the long-awaited and craved sense of achievement from devotion, worship, and prayers. After a whole month of fasting during this holy month, it is said that Allah forgives our sins. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).”

We get a chance at a blank slate. A chance to renew ourselves. Start over.

Isn’t He indeed the most Merciful and most Compassionate?


Wallahu a’lam.


Happy Fasting, everyone!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time


The angels are loose on the edge of the jagged cliff,

And the demons are marching into the scene,

And all the king's men and all the king's horses can't save you from the fall,

As the sky crumbles and shards of broken clouds pierce your skin.


Don't scream,

When the fairies are burnt to ashes,

And no knight in shining armor comes to save the shrieking damsel in distress,

Watch the giants smash the once majestic castles,

And the city of lights turns into the city of flames.


Deep down,

You know that fairy tales are not meant to come true,

A fairy godmother will never come to dry your tears,

The genie will never grant you 3 wishes,

And the wicked witch may triumph over your fears.


So fight back,

Pull the sword out of the stone,

Fashion your own armor,

Saddle your horse,

And march into the battle.


Before the hypothetical doom is too evident,

Before the ending is here,


You can turn the tale around.



Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Endless Fuel Debate: Government vs. The People

This is a post that I wrote for our Campus magazine, POINT. The issue is a bit outdated (by a year, lol, and the edition was published very late because of a few technical difficulties), but I want to share it anyway, since I got a lot of the info from my friend Seagate, and he inspired me to write about it. Here goes, Pal! Thanks for your help!


Currently, there is a debate on whether or not the price of fuel should rise. In essence, there are two equally strong teams, voicing out their opinions about it. It might remind you of an Austral-style debate setting, where there are two teams: Affirmative and Negative. The motion for the debate is: “This house believes that the price of fuel should be raised”.

The affirmative team is the government team. The supporters are most of the representatives, the high officials and the civil servants, seated rather uncomfortably in the audience. They base their opinions on the fact that the international price of the refined fuel oil has skyrocketed, leaving them no choice but to lift the subsidy in proportion to the consumer price resulting from the crisis. “We can’t take the subsidy anymore” they say. “We need to use it for the other sectors.” “It is more than our budget can take.”

The negative team, which comprises the majority of the society, responds to this argument by emphasizing all the detriments that may come from this proposal. “Extreme inflation”, “significant decrease of purchasing power”, and “poverty” are (and has always been) their major headlines.

Meanwhile, we can hear a joyous shout of “hear, hear” in approval of the negative team. We question whether or not this is an objective opinion or just a vain attempt to gain the people’s sympathy. It is indeed suspicious since the owner of that voice is sitting among the members of the party obviously striving to gain a place on the government “hot seats”.

The blitz from the camera’s light up the room. Journalists are scribbling on their notepads, no doubt in the process of creating yet another sensational article about their favorite black sheep: the government.

On the next day, the news is filled with the accounts of the last debate, in a slightly twisted narration. Yes, certain well-known media are very creative with their words. There is immediate uproar. The people are out on the streets, pioneered by an army of students, claiming to be academia but strangely acting like Neanderthals. They parade the streets proudly while stopping at the nearest McDonalds to cause mayhem. “Look! We are on TV,” they say. Then they prance to the headquarters of the House of Representatives. “Let’s break this fence while we’re at it!” And so they did.

April 1st was supposed to be the dreaded apocalypse. The fuel price would rise to Rp6000, an extra Rp1500 from what they had to previously pay. However, the day passed without mayhem. The implementation of the policy was pended until next month. The people could finally sigh in relief.

Little did they know, the government did not cancel the motion to amend themselves in response to the society’s demonstrations (or so the society thought). In regards to article 7 paragraph 6 letter A of the Revised State Budget (APBN-P) 2012, if the average of the Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) during the last 6 months increases or decreases 15% relative to the International Crude Oil Price that was assumed in the Revised State Budget of the year 2012, the government is permitted to adjust the fuel prices and make the supporting policies related to it. In fact, the average of the fuel prices in the running period prior to April (October 2011 – March 2012) was $116.52 per barrel. The assumed international crude oil price for the running period was $108 per barrel thus a 15% increase would equal to $120.25 per barrel (information derived from the Ministry of Energy and Human Resources online database). We were still under the limit. This is the legal and rather economical reason behind the cancellation of the fuel price hike.

However, this logical reason is either neglected or unknown by the society. Possibly to enjoy their satisfaction derived from the assumption that it was them indeed that had the government on their hands and knees, thus revoking their policy for the current period. And why shouldn’t they enjoy it?

It is a small treat compared to the disappointment they have to feel day after day, after receiving news about the latest government corruption case, proudly presented by the media as if it were the latest fashion. The majority of the audience isn’t any better. They’d swallow the information whole, like a hungry little bird that has never stepped out of its nest. Meanwhile, the opposite parties couldn’t be happier as opportunities to gain power become more evident.

The fact is: fuel is not renewable. The stock is scarce. Experts predict that the stock may last for only 30 years. So, whether we like it or not, the international fuel price shall rise. In the meantime, alternative solutions are always sought for.

Currently, the latest development is about the government trying to implement fuel usage restrictions in the society. “You have to have a specific type of vehicle to use premium,” they say. Of course, the people start to mutter incoherent protests, maybe devising another animal attack on the government premises. However, did they consider the other restrictions? “All government owned vehicles are not allowed to use premium fuel.” “Government offices will serve as a pioneer to conserve electricity in offices and houses.” “There will be a conversion of fuel to gas.” It doesn’t sound so bad, no?


There’s always something positive about the government. Not all of them are corruptive criminals. Sure, sometimes their regulations seem to be imprudent or poorly prepared. Sometimes they make mistakes. That is why the society is given a right to protest and sound out their aspirations. However, there is question to whether or not they can do so as a “civil society”. Current wisdom suggests that blindly diving into a demonstration, conducting vandalism, and practicing ignorance is not the answer. We are blessed with the freedom and right to educate ourselves, but it is easier to listen to the negative whispers of provocation rather than reasonably assess the situation from different perspectives (anonymous quote).

The politics will never die and the battle may never end. We have to learn how to survive. One way is to remember that it doesn’t have to be a debate where only one side can win. It should be a discussion that ends in a fair agreement. This way, both sides can be winners. Sure it sounds rather utopic but it wouldn’t hurt to try our best, right?



Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Long Awaited Family Vacation

It’s been more than a month since my last post. The “writer’s block” syndrome has hit me again. Combined with a hectic schedule and constant travelling, it is indestructible. Nevertheless, I am back and I owe myself and this sad blog a post. Luckily, I have something quite interesting to share: my first ever family vacation!

On the 16th of March, I went to Bali for the first time in years to meet my nuclear and extended family from my dad’s side. We were all very excited because some of my siblings have never been there before. It felt very special to be complete, at last, at our grandparent’s house. We did a LOT of catching up. As usual, we swapped stories about school, work, and daily habits, eager to catch up with every detail that we have missed all this time.


*My little brother, my young aunt, my mother, and I at our home in Bali

I was so happy to meet everyone. As usual, I ate a LOT. As a student far away from her home and family, that’s normal, right?

We stayed in Bali for three nights and four days before departing to Lombok on the 19th of March. I was just as eager to touch down at Lombok. The last time I went to Lombok was around three years ago, all by myself, to prepare some documents for work. Of course, it wasn’t a satisfying trip at that time because I was preoccupied with all the bureaucracy.

Anyway, this time it was a real holiday. We stayed at a hotel during our stay at Mataram. It had a pool so my brothers got to fool around in it (none of them can actually swim properly, haha) while we laughed at them. My extended family from my mom’s side came to visit us often. It has been such a long time since I saw them last. My old friends from high school also came to visit. I was so, so happy to finally see them again. We went on plenty of outings and shared many stories. So many interesting things have happened while I was away.


*Some pictures of my best friends in Mataram (we held a fashion makeover session and my friend creatively edited the pictures from the occassion)

My old house was finally sold. My best friend was going to get married. My cousin was also planning for a marriage. Some of my classmates already had kids. A lot of things have changed.

Unfortunately I couldn’t do everything I wanted to before I had to go back to Jogja on the 22nd of March. I couldn’t visit my grandmother’s grave. I couldn’t attend my cousin’s pre-wedding party. I didn’t even get the chance to go to any of the beaches. Someday later, maybe…

I plan to visit Bali and Lombok again, of course. Maybe not as soon as I would like, but as soon as I can. I didn’t realize how much I missed both places until I came back. The same goes for the people. I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them…

Geez… I’m getting sentimental. Back to reality!

Gotta study hard and work hard. Maybe I’ll be successful enough to visit my two homes regularly, someday. Amin.

Wish me luck!


PS: I wish I could post more pictures. Unfortunately, I lost my bluetooth device for my laptop so I can’t transfer the pictures from my phone to my laptop yet. I might post them later when I’ve found it – or bought a new one.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Especially for You, Mom

I haven’t dedicated a post especially for my mother. I have been meaning to do it for a long time, but there was always something else I had to do, which is not a good enough answer, I know. But today, February 25th, is her birthday, the least I can do for her is this. So, here it is, a post dedicated to you, Mom.

There are so many interesting things people should know about my mother. For one, she is the greatest cook ever. She can cook anything she wants, from gourmet dishes to fancy desserts. Out of all the dishes she makes, my favorite is her “sambal goreng tempe”. It’s a simple dish, but she can make it extraordinary. That’s how good of a cook she is.

My mother is also good at designing and sewing clothes. My sister and I are her main models. She has made so many pretty clothes for us since we were very young. I remember her talking about having a boutique someday. She would name the brand “Nakayda” which is her acronym for all her children’s names.

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*My sister (right) and I (left) wearing the dresses she made for us at Idul Fitri, 2013.


*Another dress she made for my sister.

My mother has a lovely voice. She used to sing a lot, on big stages, when she was young. She is also good at traditional dancing. When I was in primary school, she taught me my friends how to do a traditional dance from Lombok. When we had to perform it for our school, she prepared everything by herself, from our practices to our costumes and make-up.

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*My friends and I performing a traditional dance from Lombok (mom actually made all the costumes by herself).

Like everyone, she has hopes and dreams. But like most mothers, she has had to sacrifice a lot of them for her family. In the past, she wanted to be a career woman with a stable job, earning money independently. She had all the basic tools for it: brain, beauty, talent, and great personality. Then, when she was only 21, she married my father. He wasn’t against her job, but he had to go far away for a long time to get his Master’s degree. As a good wife and mother, she went abroad with him, bringing me along when I was just a baby. In doing so, not only did she have to quit her job, but she also had to endure living far away from her close-knit family for years. I know my sister was born when she was far away from her own mother and that must’ve been tough on her. Nevertheless, she was faithful to my father and caring towards her children.

My mother came from a rich family with a high position. No doubt she was used to living comfortably with her family with everything she wanted at her grasp. Like most girls, when she was young, she must’ve dreamt, at least once, of marrying a man with a fancy castle for a house and having lots of money to buy pretty clothes. But she chose my dad, a man from the countryside with only a couple of Rupiahs in his pocket. After they got married, all he could afford was a small house with only a couple of rooms and very simple furniture. However, my mother was patient and she supported my dad all the way, helping him become the man he is now: a wonderful, loving father who dedicates himself to spreading knowledge, earns honest money from his job as a lecturer, and provides all the things his family needs. He couldn’t have done it without my mom at his side.

Right now, her main purpose in life is to be a great mother. Throughout my life, I have watched her do her job, in laughter or tears, in sickness or health. Like most children, my siblings and I are a handful. Each of us has caused our share of problems. I am not proud to admit that we have even made her cry so many times. Even so, she has survived all the storms. She has never deserted us. She wipes our tears away and embraces us with warmth.

When times are hard, she never forgets to tell us this: “When there is something wrong, tell me, your mother. I will never desert you. I will keep all your secrets. You may not always get this from a friend, but you can always trust me, your mother. I will always be there for you. I pray day and night for you, for your happiness and salvation.”




Dear Mom,

I know that you have many problems of your own, but you never hesitate to help us solve ours.

I know that we frequently ignore your words, but you have never failed to lend us an ear when we need to talk to you.

I know that doing all the housework must make you so tired, but you keep the house so wonderfully comfortable and cook delicious meals just for our pleasure.

I know that you get sick often and, despite that, we still disturb you, but you never really left our side when we were sick, always checking on us every minute when we needed a snack, a warm drink, or even a massage.

For all the above and more, thank you.


Dear Mom,

I know that you have had hopes and dreams of your own but you had to sacrifice some of them for your family. I know that sometimes the old dreams come back to bother you and tease you with regret. However, know that we could not have been the way we are now, a wonderful family, without the decisions you made. I hope you will forever be content with the knowledge that we owe so much to you and that we admire you and we are proud of you. I hope that I can at least be half the woman you are when I become a mother.


Dear Mom,

I know that I have countlessly disappointed you, but know that all I want is to make you and Dad proud. I believe all your children feel the same way.


Finally, I wish you a happy birthday, Mom. I’m sorry that we are so far apart and the only present I can give you is this simple page of words. I pray that Allah blesses you with health and happiness. Keep being such a great mother.




Your daughter, Naya



*A picture of the family my mother and father have raised. We love you, Mom!

Friday, February 1, 2013




Do you see that silver line at the end of the sky?

It’s where the ground seems to touch the clouds

And the lush green fields evaporate into thin air

It’s where dreams are made, and hope is stored

It’s where imagination finds its freedom

And the possibilities are endless


Now look at the ground beneath your feet

Where everything is exactly as you see it

Where the senses collide with the absoluteness of reality

And you may gain only what your hands can reach


Sometime, long ago, we all stood on the edge of the horizon

Gazing at the blue wilderness above

We could somehow grasp the stars

And feel the warmth of wonder


But time has to play its part

Space keeps expanding, moving us away from what we used to know

Through a labyrinth of random events

To an alternate dimension of perceptions


Waves of questions will emerge throughout this expedition

Demanding answers about the world, about ourselves

Casting doubt on our hopes and dreams

Blurring our faith


Thus, build a sanctuary within our souls

To calm the fears, to quell the anxieties

To mind the thoughts, to guard the faith

To renew the hope, to nurture the dreams

To rekindle the spirit,

And foster the courage to face the day




Heart, beat steady

Find the balance once more

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year Resolutions

So many people have made New Year resolutions. Some promise to quit smoking or lose weight. Some are focused on correcting their personality. Others place high value on achievement in knowledge and position. Most of them are great and noble, really.

I don’t know where I stand when it comes to making resolutions. I was once so enthusiastic about it, making goals high enough to reach the stars. However, life has its own course and some of those goals had to be postponed until an indefinite time in the future. I used to be so spirited about correcting bad habits. I have made a million pledges about keeping healthy and being productive. Little did I know that they were so easy to break. Now, I realize that I am denser than an ox. I keep falling into the same wretched hole. For the hundredth time, I acknowledge that I had failed yet again and now I am back to that big fat zero.

Zero. That is the number that should describe me right now. I have not only neglected my resolutions, but I have also repeatedly gone off the main road, taken a few wrong turns, tripped on the edge of the pavement, fallen through a hole, and dropped into my imaginary-yet-realistic-OCD-nightmare sewer. I might as well be a negative number since my personality curve has been descending for quite some time.

One. That’s the number I have always wanted to be. That’s where my resolutions have been directed at. I wanted to be the best at everything I set my mind to: school, career, social life. I wanted to be the one. It is ironic that it is just a number away from zero, but I haven’t been able to climb onto that one step. I kept tripping off the edge.

I remember the gloomy times when I thought resolutions were stupid. What good was it to make resolutions and break them? A lot of people break their resolutions on a regular basis. Why should I feel so darn guilty? I should just forget about them altogether and just go with the flow, live life as it is, let fate take its course, etc. I caught the habit of rationalizing to overcome my guilt and low self-esteem. This resulted in some content – but it was short-lived.

Now I am back to the present, back to figuring out what my stance on resolutions is. I realize that they should be different from life plans which are complex and ever adjusting to the uncertainties of life. So, I won’t resolve to do anything drastic like get married or go abroad. I should also abandon the self-destructive obsession to be number one. Currently, any positive number should be better than zero.

I refuse to admit that I am less motivated. In fact, I feel more confident than I have ever been. The fire inside of me is still ablaze. I will still strive to be the best. However, this time, the definition of the best is more personal. I want to be the best version of me. I have my own standards and my own pace. I shouldn’t hate myself when someone beats me to the finish line or gets a better score. There’s a point where comparing ourselves to others is more pathetic than it is motivating, don’t you think? Above all, it makes us lose ourselves and forget to be thankful for all the blessings that we have been given.

Another thing that makes us lose ourselves, in my opinion, is our past. Some of us had to experience unpleasant things, things that continue to haunt us in the present. It prevents us from being ourselves and creates soul-consuming fear. When I start spending too much time dwelling on the past, it makes me neglect the present and the prospect of any future. It makes me afraid to dream. Plus, the pessimistic version of me is far from attractive. I think this phenomenon doesn’t just happen to me.

So, I refuse to be haunted by the ghost of a past, no matter how dismal it is. The past should be there to teach us to be wiser and stronger, not to bring us down.


After all this rambling about the typical soul-searching issues of an individual like me, what is my point? In the end, I can think of one meaningful resolution to suit myself:

I want to be more grateful for everything. I thank Allah for my loving family, for all my friends, for my relatively sane mind, for my healthy body, for my current occupation, and last but not least, for the chance to be myself. After everything that has happened – the hardships, the confusion, and the hysteria – I am still here, alive and free, with all my blessings and so many opportunities to become a better version of me.

Therefore, this year, I present to you… Naya 1.1! She is driven, optimistic, and tough. She is full of wonderful dreams and isn’t afraid to achieve them. She believes in Allah and her religion. She loves her family and friends very much and she works hard to make them proud of her. Her passion is English Literature, music, and art but she is also interested in math, science, and computers. She enjoys going to the beach, the mountains, waterfalls, and caves but she hates getting dirty. She likes eating fresh and healthy food, especially vegetables and fruit – with the exception of fried duck, lamb, and steak Winking smile.

She is both a workaholic and a couch potato. She is individualistic but easy-going. She is critical but absentminded. She is stubborn but amiable. She is just one person but she’s so much more…

She might sound like a bundle of contradictions, but she is certain of who she is and what she wants to be.

Like every individual, she is special and she cherishes this fact with all her heart.

She welcomes the New Year with a wave of enthusiasm for all the exciting things that may come.

Happy New Year, Everyone!