My Healing with Vipassana (1): A Happiness Seeker and His Breath

Something was terribly wrong with me lately. I used to feel much “alive” when I travel on the road, but returning to days of monotony confined in Jakarta apartment always brought depression to me. It’s ironic to feel lonely amidst a busy and noisy apartment block inhabited by thousands of people. I was sure, my depression had something to do with my family problems. Since I lost my mother five years ago, sadness and fear slowly grew inside me. Three years after that, my father passed away. Year after year, I could not handle this loneliness anymore. I felt more and more insecure. Every quiet night I go to bed alone, I was bombarded by frustrating thoughts. Am I still needed in this world? For the sake of whom do I still need to continue my life? Even worse, I have depression and anxiety at the same time. As the negativity piled up, once in a while, I even contemplated of doing something very, very stupid to end my life. Until then, a friend suggested me to try Vipassana meditation. He himself had attended the course, and called the experience ‘life changing’. I have known earlier that much of our [...]

May 7, 2015 // 5 Comments

The Color is Red (Chinese New Year in Jakarta, 2014)

The Chinese Indonesians welcomes the arrival of Chinese New Year 2014. During the Suharto regime, the celebration of Chinese New Year in public was forbidden. But today, about a dozen years since the government allowed the Chinese community to celebrate their festivals and traditions openly, red is in full swing, red has become the dominating color in temples and shopping malls, on clothes and decorations, on the altar of Buddhist gods and on the lanterns and on the dragon masks. In Indonesia, the Chinese New Year is associated with religion. Indonesia is the only country in the world recognizing Confucianism as one of its state religions, and the Chinese New Year is regarded as religious holiday of Confucianism (as religious holidays are national holidays, thus it becomes nationwide holiday). While in China they say, “Happy Lunar New Year 2014”, in Indonesia they say, “Happy Lunar New Year 2565”, with 2565 is counted from the birthday of Confucius, the prophet of Confucianism. The Chinese believe that rain during the Chinese New Year will brings good fortune. In their ancestral land, Chinese New Year signifies the arrival of spring, and as they say, “Rain in spring is as worthy as oil”, the [...]

February 1, 2014 // 7 Comments

Jakarta, Water City

The heavy rain from midnight until early morning today has caused numerous Jakarta streets flooded. Rains, floods, traffic jams, total deadlock, have been haunting Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia since last three weeks. In Jakarta, somehow it’s important to emphasize the difference between “a pile of water” and “flood”. The local Chinese believe that rains symbolize good fortune, especially if it rains during the Chinese new year’s Eve (which happens to be tomorrow midnight), the heavy rain is believed to bring a super-prosperous new year. But for sure, the flooding at least brings some fortune to the kids (who are always enjoying “beach-waves-and-swimming-pool-right-in-the-heart-of-the-capital-city”) and chart owners, who earned money by transporting motorcycles on their charts. In this year rainy season, some 40 thousands of Jakarta dwellers had to stay in temporary shelters. There were also some kids who participated in swimming contest in a flooded river, drowned, and unfortunately, get killed. What striked me most after living abroad for more than a dozen years and come back to my home country, is seeing laughter and smiles on the faces of my countrymen, despite the fact that they are facing disasters and troubles. The laughter, the never-faded smiles, the genuine [...]

January 29, 2014 // 3 Comments

Indonesia Book Fair (2013): Menulis Perjalanan Ke Dalam Diri Sendiri Agustinus Wibowo: Menulis Perjalanan Ke Dalam Diri Sendiri Agustinus Wibowo (32), seorang backpacker penulis trilogi perjalanan Selimut Debu (2011), Garis Batas (2011), Titik Nol (2013) lahir 08 Agustus 1981 di Lumajang dan besar di sana. Kemudian, kuliah di Institut Teknologi Surabaya dan melanjutkannya di China. Seorang kutu buku yang tertarik pada backpacking ini, setelah berkenalan dengan backpacker perempuan asal Jepang. Pada tahun 2001, dia pun memulai perjalanannya ke Mongolia. Lalu, melanjutkannya lagi pada tahun 2005, setelah lulus kuliah, dengan  melintasi Tibet, Nepal, ke gurun pasir India, pegunungan di Pakistan Utara. Dia juga sempat bekerja sebagai sukarelawan gempa Kashmir, ke pedalaman Pakistan, berkeliling Afghanistan dengan hitchhiking, lalu ke Iran, Tajikistan, Kirgistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan dan Turkmenistan. Perjalanannya terus berlanjut hingga Mei 2009, ketika akhirnya dia harus pulang ke Lumajang karena Mamanya divonis kanker dan harus menjalani pengobatan. Pada kesempatan pameran Indonesia Book Fair 2013, Sabtu (09/11) di Panggung Utama Istoran Gelora Bung Karno Senayan, Jakarta ia membagikan pengalamannya dalam menulis buku perjalanan. Ia sendiri jika disebut berbeda dengan penulis perjalanan lain tidak mengiranya dan begitu tahu. Karena konsep yang ia pahami dari travel writing ini dari awal sebelum ia menulis sering membaca buku-buku traveler [...]

November 9, 2013 // 0 Comments