Review on ‘Batavia 1936’: It isn’t all about the ending

I am quite sad knowing Kirani doesn’t end up marrying Hans. I wish they tie the knot, especially as the story draws its finale, both Kirani’s father and Hans’ know Hans actually wants to propose Kirani, not Kirana.

You know, why can’t that happen? I mean if they both follow their hearts, they can do just that. But I know, the writer wouldn’t do that. Because that would be a kind of taking an advantage from someone’s suffering. Precisely, being happy despite Kirana’s dying days.

That don’t really matter much for me anyway. What makes the novel a bit out of sense is the way how the finale unfolds. That Hans suddenly wants to marry Kirana, which is basically out of pity and how Kirani realizes she is more in love with Syam while most of the pages highlight her feeling to Hans.

I am sorry for the author’s immediate ending which for me seems forceful. Not smooth. May be when Hans is in Surabaya, the writer can focus on his changed feeling for Kirana, no longer to Kirani. While he has his heart changed, the writer can also bend Kirani’s affection to Syam who is her best friend.

Suppose the feeling transition runs smoothly I can totally understand why Hans ends up with Kirana and Kirani is more at her best with Syam. But the author doesn’t do her job right for this very essential part, which for me spoils the overall work. I applaud her attempt to craft the fiction, adding historical and cultural contexes here and there. Too bad the author doesn’t put good transition as the story moves to the end, the part that is mostly waited for all readers who have set aside much time reading for it.

 

Advertisements

“Batavia 1936” by Widya Harun

I completed reading ‘Batavia 1936’ a few days ago. In case you haven’t read my previous post about the novel,  ‘Batavia 1936’ is the first long novel in Bahasa Indonesia that I read after like, four years. So long..

I like the book at first. Because it takes historical background in Batavia, the old name of Jakarta before Indonesia gains independence from the Japanese troops in 1945. The author takes a bold move in writing the sort of novel because not many Indonesian readers prefer reading this type of book where you have to read footnotes about old buildings, history about certain places in Batavia at that time. Your brain works twice, enjoying the story while learning about history.

While my curiosity about how major characters get involved in national movement against the Dutch troops dim as they cease doing that, I keep reading the book because I expect something romantic out of the story between Kirani and Hans van Deventer. And obviously, I still wish I can let my imagination running wild when the author describes places at that time. I love the parts when the writer depict places and people when the story takes place.

Kirani, a young, beautiful and rich girl coming from a Moslem wealthy family namely Rijkaard, falls in love with Hans, a Dutch-descent doctor. Kirani is a brave, strong-willed person while Hans is quite the opposite. He is shy, poetic, mellow partly because of his sorrow family background. His mother, his past only friend, passes away when he is still a boy. He is the son of his mother, a Javanese moslem and his father’s brother. His biological father rapes his mother out of hatred when his mother is about to be married as the fourth wife of a local badass man.

His biological father dies shortly. Then Hans becomes the son of his current father, Phillip van Deventer, who is actually in love with his mother. Hans and Phillip are under the same roof but they are emotionally apart because Hans is not his biological son. Their relationship gets so much closer when Hans tells Philip that he is really fond of one of the Rijkaard’s daughters. Hans never mentions her name unknowingly that there are two women in the family: Kirani and her older sister, Kirana.

Shortly to put, Hans propose the wrong woman. Instead of Kirani, the Rijkaard family believes he wants to marry Kirana as she is the one who tells her feeling to her mother, Hillailah.

Hans, a weak man by the heart, gets fainted on the day of the proposal. He gets sad, even emotional. Thankfully, he has Syam, the only good friend that he has who is also in love with Kirani. While Kirani slowly moves on from the fate that her sister is going to have the man she loves. Hans, on the other hand, always wishes the wedding will never happen.

His wishes come true but on ways he never expects them to be.

A thief gets into the house of the Rijkaard family , injuring Kirana and causing Hillailah gets a heart attack then dies suddenly. The thief is later known as Mastur, the man whose sick child is cured by Hans. He does that by intention because he wants to steal the ring that Hans gives to Kirana, his future wife. Mastur knows that Hans get depressed because of proposing the wrong woman. Mastur does this to pay his debt of his son. The purpose that is actually in favour of Hans yet that turns out uglier than anyone can imagine.

Kirana is in her deathbed because she falls off the stairs. Their planned wedding is canceled. Kirani and Hans get closer as days go by as they spend much time nurturing the ill woman. Syam, on the other hand, keeps supporting Hans.

Then what happens next is just too diverted.

Hans departs for Surabaya to work as a volunteering doctor who help people suffering from malaria. Deep down in his heart, Hans wants to die there. This is known by Syam. So Syam asks for the help of his friend in Surabaya. Hans is transported back to Jakarta in very critical condition. Syam’s pal says Hans gets infected by malaria and doesn’t want to be cured.

What happens by the end of the novel? For most people it’s heartbreaking but for me it’s so silly.

Hans want to marry Kirana who is still in her comma because he dissapoint her. They do get married as they are dying. Kirani, who is seen loving Syam, seems happy with the marriage. Yet Kirani and Syam don’t know their feelings each other, too.

So the novel ends.

I read an Indonesian novel again, at last!

batavia 1936

I have been reading ‘Batavia 1936’ for the past a few weeks. This is the first novel in Bahasa Indonesia, my second language (my first one is Javanese language) that I read after Ayu Utami’s Lalita back in 2012/2013, if I’m not mistaken.

As I write in this post, I have been struggling reading novels in Bahasa Indonesia because I spend much time reading books in English language. Reading books in Bahasa Indonesia feels awkward.  It really is.

I can’t remember how enjoyable reading novels in Bahasa Indonesia when I was a university student, which means some 10 years back. Pragmatically, since I want to write books in Bahasa Indonesia, I have to read novels in the language, whether or not I like the idea. Yes, I know. The motivation sounds money-oriented. Sometimes I feel guilty reading books in Bahasa Indonesia out of money. Genuine writers who happen reading this piece will hate me. I’m sorry.

Anyway, I want to regain the delight of reading local literature though, yes again, it’s more because of money. What you may think as incorrect motivation has guided me learning again how to read stories in Bahasa Indonesia. I kind of enjoying the process.

‘Batavia 1936’ is a romance story that takes social background in Menteng area, Jakarta’s elite neighborhood when Indonesia is still under the Dutch occupation. Batavia itself is the old name of Jakarta before Indonesia gains independence from the Japanese troops on August 17, 1945.

The novel, which sadly doesn’t sell well, is quite rare. The writer, Widya W. Harun, opts writing a novel that doesn’t match with Indonesia’s literary enthusiasts preference who mostly like reading books about modern love story.

I salute the author for sticking at what she believes in. I bet she does a hard job matching her idea with the historical and background at the time. I believe she works hard collecting information to support her book. This makes me liking her already.

‘Batavia 1936’, as I read so far, tells about Kirana and Kirani, two siblings who have their hearts set on one man, Hans van Deventer, a Dutch doctor whose mother is a Javanese. While the essence of the story is not something extraordinary,what makes the novel worthy of my time is because the author brings me back to what happens in Jakarta before it is freed from colonialism.

As I go through page by page, my mind attempts to visualize the houses where the major characters live. I let my imagination wanders through time and space when Jakarta, which is now so crowded, is once a peaceful city. No bus, no trains. But horses and carriages.

As I read the book I try to put myself at the era where women, although like Kirana and Kirani who come from wealthy family, are restricted. I mean the two figures aren’t described as having jobs to do.

Male figures take the helms of the families. They work to make ends meet. While women, for instance, the mother of Kirani and Kirana, is skilled at household; cooking and sewing. The life of the rich people in the book is so glamorous even when television doesn’t exist. They throw expensive parties. They are like celebrities.

So far, the novel is a pleasant one to read. Because I can wholly sense the restriction of culture in it. Though Kirani and Hans love each other they don’t touch or kiss. People at that time holds culture so much that they can respect each other before they tie the knot.

The language is so soft, much different from today’s novels. From it, I can draw the conclusion that the language itself has grown so much. Although I am still a little bit struggling putting all of my heart into the book, I’d love to know how the story unfolds. Will Hans be with Kirani or her sister, Kirana?

Guess my efforts of making a good comeback as a national literary lover has been proven fruitful so far. Yeah, I think myself so.

The picture is taken from this

One fun morning in Jakarta’s Cikini classic area

I want to post pictures of me having fun while learning and exploring Cikini, a vintage part of Indonesia’s Jakarta, last Saturday. I was joining a free walking tour with a number of friendly new friends and a very warm tour guide from Jakarta Good Guide. Here are some pics:

20170225_093602

Us in front of the Gedung Joang 45 building, formerly a hotel now it is a museum displaying rare collections from Indonesia’s founding fathers.

 

20170225_095009

Us in a pedestrian area packed by a number of cafes and restaurants in Cikini. Now a creative, passers-by friendly area, the site was a popular hangout place for elites. The cafes and restaurants are still well-maintained by current owners. Very beautiful vintage side of Cikini.

Below: Our pose in front of a theatrical art building in the complex of Jakarta’s Taman Ismail Marzuki, still in Jakarta.

20170225_101838

 

20170225_102532

Still in the Taman Ismail Marzuki complex.

20170225_104344

Eating ice cream

20170225_120345

Our last spot: Jalan Surabaya, where you can find unique and antique stuff.

Thank you very much Jakarta Good Guide and my fellow walkers!

See yaaa!

Wanted: a nice public reading spot in the capital

IMG_0383

Where else can I read in front of these pretty yellow flowers?

As Alessandro Del Piero no longer trains at the Macquarie University sports complex, the only place in Sydney that tops my list if I revisit the city is the Royal Botanic Garden. Not only the city park is such a paradise for a nature lover like me, but also it becomes the place where I eventually have a chance to read a book while laying on clean grass. For a bookworm living in a very hectic crowded city like Jakarta, what I have experienced in the garden is truly an enjoyment.

 

I go to the park three times during the six-days staying in the heart of Sydney. I firstly come to the Hyde Park but I prefer the Royal because it is across the sea, has very large green fields, more various flowers, and best of all it is a little bit secluded. On the other hand, the Hyde is right in the center of the city where you can view city buses encircle the place hence it’s a bit noisy to spend hours reading in it.

Some of you readers who can enjoy pure blue sky all around the places you currently live will say what I have felt there is a bit too much. But if you have visited Jakarta you will fully understand that my statements are understandable.

According to the Gardening and Cemetery Agency of the Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia has 1,178 gardens which for me, becomes rather useless because most of them serve as mere ornament, green refreshment for passers-by. Some famous parks, such as Taman Menteng and Taman Suropati, stands out among the huge number as they are commonly used as public space where people gather, do exercises or simply hang around during spare time.

But given rowdy atmosphere in those parks, I believe bookworms will find it difficult to concentrate reading. In short words, they are not convenient enough as reading spots. Despite the chattering situation in the parks I have a salute both for public and local administration who have made use of the parks as public area for I am really disappointed with the ‘ineffectual’ existence of the Taman Semanggi or Semanggi park.

PENATAAN TAMAN SEMANGGI

The fantastic view of Taman Semanggi from above. Thank you for http://www.ahok.org for this picture.

As you see from the below picture, the garden is really beautiful, very spacious and definitely, trees are all around it. The design is completely adorable where the park is divided into several parts that surrounds the city’s historical bridge, Jembatan Semanggi. It’s too bad, completely useless for the park is a mere garnish because barely no people visit the place for interaction. Usually, policemen or gardening staff who are seen in the park either for doing their jobs or taking some breaks.

taman semanggi (www.voraale.com)

Inside the garden. credit for http://www.voraale.com for the picture.

Aside from the fact that the park is in the centre of the busy Jakarta where it is normally treated as an eyeshot from the rear-view mirrors of vehicles, Indonesians don’t get used to use the parks, including the Semanggi park, as a reading spot because most Indonesians don’t read.

taman semanggi (www.nationalgeographic.co.id)

The picture is from http://www.nationalgeographic.co.id.

Even during Car Free Day, the garden remains empty. People, who run or bike around the place, keep their feet out of it. They only jog or walk around it. Sometimes, I really want to grab a book, a mattress then go to the park. I’d love to do what I have done in the Royal in the Semanggi park; reading while laying on the grass. I would be so happy if I could do that despite not being able to breathe fresh air in the park. But I believe people would stare at me while thinking I am a weird person should I execute the idea because, again, the very low reading habit in Indonesia and the location of the garden in the capital.

Although I still enjoy reading in my room, inside the bus or bus shelter, sometimes I want to do my hobby in an open area just like in Sydney but it’s almost impossible to have that kind of experience in Jakarta. If not because of noisy, pollution, the idea of reading in a garden already sounds silly.

The number of the public park mentioned in the article is taken from this link: http://megapolitan.kompas.com/read/2013/09/02/0820322/Berharap.Wajah.Jakarta.Lebih.Hijau

An unforgettable night with Westlife

If I could make a moment last forever
This would be the one I’d choose
You and me here together ………………..”Westlife’s No One’s Gonna Sleep Tonight”.

The boys during the show (courtesy of Eny Wulandari)

Four days passed while I was writing this piece of story. Endless echoes, colorful lightnings, powerful sound system, crazy crowd, and definitely angelic voices from four faces of Westlife still linger on my mind. Thoughtful lyrics from Safe keep ringing in my ears. I still can’t believe I was part of thousand of people who enjoyed the two hours show at Tennis Indoor, Senayan, on Wednesday.

A day before the show I lost my focus on work. I came to the office at noon because I had to exchange a voucher for a tribune 1 class concert ticket on Tuesday. I arrived at Raja Karcis ticket office at about 9.30a.m. The queue was already long. I was at the 120th. Although I had yet to feel really excited about the concert, I could not concentrate well by the time I was at my desk. I kept on thinking “would I really watch the show?”.

Shane Filan

The much-awaited day finally came. Like what happened a day before, I wasted four hours browsing for Westlife instead of working. Sorry a lot boss. Now the ambiance took over everything that I made use my working times for fun. At 12 o’clock I stopped working. I took a bath for the second time in just five hours! I chose the best dress that I have and not to forget a camera that has been fully charged few days before. Oh my God! I have been 27 years old but felt like a 17-year old girl at that day. The boys made me feel so much younger and alive.

The show was still six hours away when I hit the road at 2 p.m.  I went to Education to USA, part of AMINEF’s office, to get a TOEFL certificate. Traffic was already crazy at Jalan Sudirman. Thankfully, a Transjakarta bus helped me a lot. Although I had to stand during the short bus trip, I reached Senayan area in just 15 minutes. Of course, I did not go directly to the concert. That was still at 3 p.m. instead, I went to one of the most fave places in the city: Kinokuniya bookstore!

And damn! At first glances, I did not discover interesting books at the front bookshelf rows till I moved backward and smiled widely upon reading some great titles: The Circle of Reason, Calcutta Chromosome, The Hungry Tide, and The Shadow Lines. Those are books that I have been searching ever since I finished reading amazing books by Indian author Amitav Ghosh called The Glass Palace and Sea of Poppies.

I faced a great dillema at that time: I really wanted to buy all those books, or at least one. But looking at the price, all I had to do was reading few pages quickly then just leaving the site. Fortunately, my focus about the concert saved me from spending so much money on those books. I could put my desire for buying the books on a hold. Initially, I would have planned to go to the concert venue at 6 p.m, and changed my mind for some unknown reasons.

Uptown Girl!!!!

The location between Kinokuniya store and Tennis Indoor is just some meters away so I preferred to walk. The sky was a bit cloudy and the traffic was smooth. I guessed the concert would be fine as well.

Not so many cars and still few people were seen at 4.30 p.m. I sat and captured some pictures. Few minutes after that, the crowd started to be crazy. I stood up once I heard some girls shouted. I did not why they did that. I joined the queue finally although I knew the concert was still far away though it was getting closer. Just when the gate was about to open, I was pushed from behind. I started to get panic. There was no way I would get hurt because of the boyband. That would be ridiculous!

After the gate was opened, I and others ran fast to line up for tickets checkings. The organizer of the concert divided spectators based on classes: tribune 2, tribune 1, and festival. I joined dozens of girls at the tribune 1 class. For about one hour  or so, we and those at other classes stood and had small chats. Thankfully, one of the major sponsor held a question session for their loyal customers who bought the ticket concerts. The host of the show was so funny that I could not stop laughing. Thanks buddy! You made me forgetting that I was suffering in that long queue.

At 6.30 p.m, the tickets checkings began. Few from tribune 1 class were so lucky to enter the venue first. Everything looked smooth at the beginning until those at the tribune 2 class began impatient to get in the site. I did not know how that happened but a strong pushing started. They pushed forward to some security guards and could not wait to get their tickets scanned. That was how the mess was kicked off! I and other from the tribune 1 class stood up while gazing our eyes at the mess. Not long after that crazy scene occured at the tribune 2 class, those at the festival class started shouting, too. I did not know if they did do any pushings because officers at the tribune 1 class started scanning our tickets. I saluted the girls at my class because they lined up patiently while waiting to go through all of the processes.

I got a seat at the third row. I intentionally chose at the upper row to get a clearer view. One hour away from the big show and I already felt the hysteria. As minutes were passing, more and more people coming in and filling all the empty seats. Surprisingly, a lot of seats at tribune 2 class looked empty despite the fact I failed to get the ticket of the class as they were sold out in just one day.

From where I sat, the crowd at the festival class was getting larger in a short time. I noticed many men did come to the concert. So it was a bit equal between women and men in the most expensive class.

Thirty minutes before the concert began, I went to the toilet! Just look at the long queue! I can not count how many times I had to line up for the sake of the boys! Did I mention I meet soap opera star Zaskia Adia Mecca while waiting for the toilet?

The show featuring local boy band began when I was at the toilet. The crowd, especially at the festival class, was so full. Loud cheer filled up the venue when I sat back at the point where I had secured. The opening act was okay. Probably, the viewers loved them when performing medley from other boybands Backstreet Boys and New Kids On The Block. The night was a nostalgia for all of us.

The opening act was done but Westlife did not straightly come up. Through transparent closed curtain we could see few crews checked light and sound system. I was getting so impatient. Would they really sing anyway??? I was tired in holding my camera while waiting for their first glimpses.

The curtain was suddenly lifted and upbeat song was heard. Four men dressed up in long black blazer, ties, and white shirts started singing and dancing all around the stage. When You’re Looking Like That opened the show. A louder shot was heard. People started to sing along with the Irish guys. I stood up as well and was a bit busy in catching their pictures. After that, I danced and sang out loud. Just one song. And I was sweating already! The song was so perfect to heat us up!

Two songs in a row put us in a much more hysteria: World Of Our Own and What Makes A Man. I still could not believe I eventually listened to their own voices and met them though from far. I wish the clock could stand still. In a bit different music version in World Of Our Own, the boys who were no longer young kept dancing in some simple movements, and the crowd was getting so unbearable.

Since the very beginning, Shane and Mark gave gestures asking fans in the floor to move backward. At first I thought that was just a trivial thing to do since I did not see anything dangerous was happening there. But as they stopped singing after performing Safe and Home that I felt something really bad was going on. Even some members of the organizer came up to the stage and begged fans to move backwards or even moved to the tribune 1 or 2 classes. From the big screen, I was shocked to know few girls were rushed out of the venue.

I sat silent. I was anxious that they did really stop the show since Shane said they would not perform anymore if local security said no. He then asked for the fans to move to the empty seats. To calm the situation down, crews from Westlife gave bottles of mineral water to the audiences.

Thirty minutes later, the guys emerged to the stage. Nicky said the next song was a trial one. If it went well they would proceed the concert. But they would stop singing shortly should the pushings continue.

A soft music of My Love hit the venue. I actually really like the song but did not want to sing it loudly due to a fear that would be the last song of the night. The crowd looked much more relaxed. Smiles from Shane and Nicky made me relieved before the song ended. The show indeed went on again.

Some hits from previous albums — Seasons In The Sun and I’m Already There — were able to put me to get back on the show. I enjoyed the concert again, much more than before the mess.

An interesting introduction from Kian before singing You Raise Me Up amazed me in a way they do love Indonesian fans so much. He said the song was for us who brought them to where they were now. Somehow, the song look so special for me now.

Undoubtedly, the most incredible moment of the show occured when the guys was about to perform Flying Without Wings. They said the song had a special place in our hearts. And that was absolutely correct.

So, best part of the show was singing along Flying Without Wings while waving our hands for them. I was speechless! Being able to sing one of the songs with deepest lyrics with Shane was beyond words. It was just splendid! I believed I was not the only one who felt that. The audiences sang it together from the beginning till the end. WOW!!!

The following songs — I Will Reach You, What About Now, and Uptown Girl — received enthusiastic responses. Uptown Girl became the last song that closed such wonderful night.

All in all, I was so satisfied and thankful for the very rare moment. Despite the mess and less number of songs they performed, I got the best quality of all. That night answered my own questions on whether they could give out their best voices during live concert or not. Now, if someone said Westlife only sold their cute faces instead of voices, I would strongly suggest he or she to watch the concert by himself or herself before judging. And don’t blame me if he or she wants to see it again and again.

Thank you so much Westlife for the concert and all your songs. You guys make my life so much beautiful for the past 12 years. I will always pray that you will get strong and stronger as ever and hold the fifth, sixth, seventh concerts in one of your most favorite places in the world: Indonesia! (They did say that via Twitter).

To Allah swt, thank you so much for keeping the best for me, as always. I look forward for just another best things in my life….