Monday, March 20, 2017


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Let's talk about roots.

Oh, no, not those curly-fingers-of-mother-nature roots. I'm referring to family history. Not the whole history but, more like, hometown. My parent's hometown, as I technically have none—I was born and raised in Jakarta. So yea, hometown.

Think I've told you once about my Dad's. It's Cirebon, the used-to-be small city that is now one of West-Central Java's top travel destinations. When I was a kid until several years ago, my family and I always paid a pilgrimage to the city every Eid holiday - it's a thing in Indonesia, remember, the homecoming thingy? Cirebon's pretty reachable from Jakarta by road. It didn't take long to get there, and we've got places to stay, so, it has always been Cirebon, when it comes to homecoming.

Meanwhile Mom's, is Manado. It's like thousand miles away from where I live. Located on the other island, crossing the seas, with different time zone, plus the fact that the city itself is the northernmost capital in Indonesia, and that Mom's close relatives are all in Jakarta, we didn't have much reasons to fly there. And much time too, remembering that my family and I have intolerable schedules.

Visiting Manado has always just been a dream to me and my family. It's pretty sad, because when people ask about origins, and I answer I'm half Manadonese, and they ask if I ever been to Manado, then I say no, it feels so wrong.

Well I've always had opportunities to visit the city. As a free individual, non committed guy and of course, a solo traveler, I could just easily browse any cheap flights and fly myself there. But I never want that. Because Manado is my family's destination. I won't be there just with myself—I want to land in my mom's hometown, for the first time, with all my family members.

And so it happened.

Spontaneously, quickly, without thinking much, without considering too hard. We've had enough plans. It's time to actually go, and so we finally went... our long lost hometown.


It meant a lot to all five of us.

To finally be able to go on a family vacation again, to travel somewhere local further than Bali, to listen to all Mom's stories and memories every time we passed a glimpse of her childhood, to eat all the divine Manadonese food - this was one of the major highlights of the trips—I actually gained THREE KILOS, whatever we did, wherever we went, it meant a lot.

But what made my heart reached its fullest content were, to know that I still have relatives there, making Manado a city not only for traveling, but also to come home to...


And to realize that I really love these people.


Thank God we made it.

Now if I ever get another chance to solo-travel Manado,
I no longer have to feel bad about literally everything.
Because I've finally been there, completed my list,

With my family

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Toy Story

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Have I told you that I'm a big fan of this Disney craft?

Well, I am telling you now: I am.

Back then, just when Toy Story was out, I was entirely rooting for the animation. Toys in general were the center of my world, and seeing them alive in this movie was, something. So I had always felt jealous of Andy because of course, I wanted to own all his toys.

But it was pretty complicated to make it come true. The real toys would cost me weeks of begging and gallons of tears. The happy meal toys would cost dozens of chickens and burgers for me to eat. The replicas, just weren't powerful enough to satisfy my budding OCD need. The best thing I could do was just to draw em all on a paper, in their actual sizes, cut it all and acted like those 2D thingy were real toys.

As I grew up, things weren't necessarily getting easier. The toys were kept coming, in their real sizes, which I was extremely dying to have, but I was just in the middle of my highschool and campus years. Which means, I had no money to buy those expensive toys.

Having all Andy's toys remained only in my dream.
Until working days came, and Japan happened.

I knew it'd come. I had anticipated it because it was Japan, the land of imagination and childhood. So when I was walking around this hobby store and found one of Toy Story's gems on top of a shelf, the long lost hope for reclaiming Andy's toys slowly emerged from my barely-breathing childhood spirit. So without thinking much, I bought the toy.

Mr. Potato Head.

Which was definitely my most favorite. So returning to my dorm, I created a throne for this grand discovery. Not only because Mr Potato Head was my #1, but also because it was my first ever as-seen-on-TV sized Toy Story figure. It was a very tremendous moment. Because I realized that my journey to having Andy's toys, after almost 20 years, had finally begun.

My collection didn't change much for almost 1.5 year, until last month. Yep, my Hong Kong trip. Which included Disneyland in it. Ever since the amusement park was mentioned by our tour operator, I had this plan of hunting the toys. Anything, anybody. I told myself not to think much about the money, because one, you're working already, and two, you've had a better Disneyland experience in Tokyo, so dedicating this one for shopping would be really really fine.

The day finally came. My coworkers and I arrived at Disneyland. I acted normal, but my heart was beating hard and my eyes were wandering scanning where the toys were. I saw no clue of them until about 2 hours later, I spotted these two hanging out at a booth. I began trembling, but I stayed cool. Until I entered a store and saw them seated nicely on a shelf, with one other toy. So there were three of them, and I knew I couldn't buy them all at once. It was such a crazy and frustrating moment, deciding which one(s) to buy. But after thoughts and deliberations, not just with myself, but also with the help of my coworkers, I made up my mind and bought the two main stars. Yes,

Sheriff Woody, and Buzz Lightyear.

Fuck. Never thought this day would actually come. These two, which could only appear in my screens, or in front of my eyes without me being able to buy them because it cost a fortune in Jakarta, yes these two, could really be mine. No more replicas, no more stupid figurines, no more fvckin paper toys, it's now a real deal. I'm not exaggerating it, really, but I'm proud to buy them. Even some coworkers of mine said that they regretted their clueless-ness about these toys and not buying them. Yet here I am, typing this story with those two by my side.

It didn't end there. Remember the other toy I had difficult time deciding whether to buy or not? Well, ever since I left the park, I admit that I couldn't stop thinking of it. My friends said that I made a right decision because it was Woody and Buzz, for God's sake, you score! You don't need that other one. But then, it's not everyday that I could find the toy. But then again, it was too late. We left Disneyland, and now it was time for us to return home. Leaving the city, leaving the immigration desk, leaving my opportunity—and approaching a Disney Store.

Yes, for God's sake, what are the fvcking odds? Disney Store, at the airport? Just several steps away from the officers, and there it lied gracefully in front of my broken-hearted self, calling me inside to see if I still had the chance. And yes, I did. The toy was there. I doubted at first, but come to think of it, it was God's call. Rejecting it, and I'd be sinful. So I lined up at the cashier, made my last payment and went home with another addition to my Andy's toys collection:

Jessie the Cowgirl

You've suffered enough, Jessie, you're not going to be left behind anymore. I will always love you.

Now you can imagine how hard it was in the store in Disneyland when I had to decide which one to buy, eh? Because it's Jessie. Buying Woody and Buzz is everybody's default and instant call. But buying Woody and Jessie could be good too, because then I'd have both the cowboy and the cowgirl—and buying Buzz and Jessie couldn't be wrong either, because they're an actual couple!

But hey, that difficult time had gone. And now instead of having just two toys, and calling myself foolish for abandoning the other one, I have them three, plus Mr Potato Head.


I can't believe it all happens.
This may seem nothing to you,
But it's a very big thing for me.
It's childhood, and faith.

So this toy story of mine,
Won't stop here