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another try

Friday, October 13, 2006

Comments: The Devil Wears Prada

Do your eyes enjoy the dazzling fashion-life? Does your mind need to be convinced of
the superficiallity of fashioned-driven beauty? Does your sinister belief on the impossible combination of physical appearance and inner-beauty need to be refreshed or fed? Then you want to watch The Devil Wears Prada.

It is fun, it is not that shallow, it is entertaining, and it is full of haut couture that makes even a fashion-blind person like me wish to have a 'better' wardrobe.

The story is simple. It is about Andy, an intelligent, beautiful, and yet fashion-ignorant person, who got a job as personal assistant to the chief editor of the most important fashion magazine. It's like watching Alice in Wonderland, but this time the wonderland is filled with creatures drapped in Gucci, Armani, Prada, Channel.

Andy's adventure presents the 'dark-side' of the glamour fashion life. The dark side that is superbly portrayed by Meryl Streep. The cynical and sarcastic comments on fashion from the other side of the table are so witty, you cannot stop but chuckle. Twisted lessons on fashion and identity inject fresh and smart humour to the simple story. The triumph of good conscience over well-dressed essentialism was like a pat on my back saying, "It is alright to dress like s**t, as long as you got your two feet on the ground."

All in all, it was an excellent saturday night movie. It's not the movie of the year, but it made my night and it should make yours.

Pipit, the devil who wears Promod ;)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pagi

Pagi ini saya bangun kepagian.

Jenewa masih diselimuti kabut tebal musim gugur. Lembab, dingin, tapi sangat segar. Dulu saya menyangka kalau embun itu tidak beraroma, tapi saya salah. Pagi ini saya kembali dimanjakan oleh aroma pagi kota. Wangi sejuk dicampur dengan semilir aroma bunga liar. Saya pun berjalan menuju kantor sambil tersenyum. Menikmati dingin dan memenuhi indera penciuman saya dengan semerbak keharuman alami yang melenakan.

Lapangan rumput yang dipenuhi dengan bunga liar di samping jendela kantor pun menyebarkan harum pagi yang tidak bisa tersaingi oleh bayfresh merek bunga apapun. Jendela terbuka lebar, saya siap menghadapi hari ini.

Ah...sungguh saya cinta kota ini.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ketika puasa adalah suatu minoritas

Sudah lima tahun saya tidak dimanjakan oleh suasana puasa massal di Indonesia. Berpuasa di negeri ini rasanya sangat amat berbeda dengan di rumah orang tua. Dari jam berpuasa, suasana berpuasa, sampai hikmah yang dirasakan.

Tidak seperti di Indonesia yang jam berpuasa selalu sama dari tahun ke tahun, di sini waktu berpuasa bisa sangat berbeda. Di musim dingin, hari lebih pendek, sedangkan di musim panas, matahari terus bersinar sampai jam 9 malam lebih. Banyak yang bilang, enak dong kalau puasa musim dingin, puasanya jadi lebih pendek. Pernah mencoba berpuasa dan tetap harus ke kantor atau ke kampus ketika cuaca minus 10 derajat?

Tahun ini puasa jatuh di akhir musim panas. Hari berakhir jam setengah delapan malam, sedangkan suhu udara sudah mulai dingin dengan tibanya musim gugur. Saya pun dengan sabar harus menunggu sampai jam tujuh malam lebih untuk akhirnya bisa berbuka puasa. Tapi paling tidak akhirnya suhu udara memungkinkan saya untuk berpuasa.

Suasana berpuasa pun berbeda, karena puasa di sini adalah sebuah minoritas. Tidak ada azan atau mama yang membangunkan saya untuk sahur, dan tidak ada azan magrib yang mengundang saya untuk minum segelas air. Akhirnya, saya pun jarang sekali sahur dan sampai sekarang sering tidak sadar kalau sudah magrib, karena masih sibuk dengan berbagai kegiatan.

Mau sahur pun harus mengendap-ngendap, seperti kucing mengintai daging rendang. Kan saya tinggal di rumah susun. Jam lima pagi belum boleh melakukan berbagai kegiatan yang berisik (legalnya kita baru boleh mulai melakukan 'keributan' setelah jam 6 atau 7 pagi). Menghangatkan makanan pelan-pelan, membuka keran sambil deg-degan karena takut bunyi air yang mengalir membuat tetangga sebelah terbangun, dan makan pun dengan sangat hati-hati agar tidak menimbulkan bunyi kelontang-kelontang.

Tapi paling tidak ada satu hikmah yang sangat berarti bagi saya. Saya di sini puasa tanpa dimanjakan.

Tidak semua orang di kantor tahu kalau saya berpuasa, dan memang tidak ada perlakuan khusus untuk mereka yang berpuasa. Bekerja seperti biasa, tanpa ada tuntutan perlakuan istimewa seperti kata teman saya nana. Saya pun tetap menghadiri acara makan siang dengan teman-teman untuk sekedar berdiskusi. Mereka santap makan siang, saya hanya duduk manis sambil tersenyum. Meeting jam makan siang pun tidak saya tolak dengan alasan puasa. Habisnya, hanya ketika jam makan sianglah, teman-teman yang bekerja di berbagai tempat yang berbeda bisa bertemu, dan profesor yang sibuk bisa punya waktu untuk diskusi tentang proyek. Hari pertama saya puasa pun jadi diperpanjang sampai jam delapan malam lebih, karena profesor memutuskan untuk mengadakan meeting jam enam sore.

Sengsara? Pasti. Tapi saya bangga.

Saya memang belum bisa menghilangkan rasa marah, benci, dan berbagai sifat negatif lainnya, seperti yang diharapkan dari kegiatan berpuasa. Tapi paling tidak saya sudah bisa melaksanakan kewajiban agama saya secara mandiri, tanpa dorongan, dukungan, atau tekanan dari masyarakat di sekitar saya. Saya tidak memerlukan berbagai keringanan untuk berpuasa, dan bisa dengan nyaman menjalankan kepercayaan saya tanpa membebani atau mengkondisikan yang lain.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Women, film, and social critics

Being assistant and one among few Asians in the university awards me with opportunities to have thoughtful, challenging, cultural, discussion with some professors. One professor who has curious nature from time to time would knock at my door and gave me a print out news, report, or document about Indonesia. Ranging from historial account of East Timor, Indonesian military violence in West Papua, the 1965 massacre, the deforestation in Borneo, competition between Indonesian restaurers in New York, to the increasingly highlighted debate on polygamy in Indonesia.

That afternoon, he came with a copy of english speaking media on Berbagi Suami, a new movie from Nia Dinata. The movie is special not because it wins some awards, but mostly because of its theme, polygamy reality in Indonesian society!

Dear oh dear, I complained silently. Should I go to that shameful discussion again about Islam and men's justification on polygamy?

(I have to endure this kind of discussion at least once per year with another professor (Mr.) who cannot accept the idea as civilised nor just. At that very moment, I always found it hard to be proud of my religion. We always ended the discussion with a declaration that I do not and will not accept polygamy for whatever reason and that my husband knows that perfectly. A declaration that invited a nod from him.)

To go back to the article, I then read it quickly as my professor gave me few minutes to read while looking at me with a look saying "what do you think?"

"So, what do you think?" he asked

"It's very interesting. I didn't know about this movie before. Thank you, sir."

It was indeed interesting, as the article explained how the movie was taken as critic that was hard to swallow by important men supporting actively, meaning doing it, polygamy.

The movie is a critic as it shows a 'side' of the polygamy that has been swept under the carpet of religous right or, dear God, duty. Mark you, I have not yet watched the movie. But if the movie is really about the polygamy life seeing through the eyes of women who have had to agree on the practice due to the social, economic, or ideologial pressure, no wonder those polygamists were reacting like their house was on fire!

The later discussion with the professor reminded me of another discussion I had long time ago with my fellow high school friends. A discussion in which I claimed that a willingness to accept polygamy can be a no-choice type of willingness. When a housewife with three little children without source of income knows perfectly that she will have to raise her children by herself if she refused to have her husband re-marry again and then accepts the husband's decision, can we really say that she is willingly and unconditionally accept (rela in Indonesian) her husband decision?

Thus, I argue, one way for woman to shield herself from polygamy is to avoid dependent-on-man societal trap. To love and appreciate a man does not mean that a woman has to be dependent on him and cannot, literally, cannot live without him. Being able to stand on her own feet, a woman CAN refuse to receive the 'first wife' title instead of accepting it for the sake of the children's stomach and education. An independent woman can also escape from the persuasion of marry-him-to-help-your-family or marry-him-to-have-a-better-life despite of his already-married status.

In the article, Nia Dinata also implies that in Indonesia some women have to endure polygamy because it is better than getting a divorce.

It is perceived that a family with complete parents (no matter how many the mothers are) is better for the children than single parent. Who cares if one of the mother cries inside, the most important thing is that the children will be brought up well, suppossedly, and that none will have to gain the (perceived) worst title a woman can have: widow.

If the fear of being widow makes a woman accept another woman in the household, can we regard this acceptance as an unconditional acceptance?

It is about time a society open its eyes and see how its custom, norms, and structure have prisoned and condemned women. It is, thus, not surprising to have women, who have been wronged, to voice and lift the normality veil.

Speaking about widow, another woman from completely different society has raised her voice and challenged a Hindu old traditional practice that assigned widow to live in penitence and casted away from the society. Deepa Mehta and her movie, Water.

Water depicts an old reality in India that regarded woman, especially widow, as a burden. Widows were then punished for being widows and had to live the rest of their life contemplating for their sin.

The movie shows the harsh reality of old tradition and challenges the logic behind the long-life torture of widow. Living their wasted life in poor residence, without money, food, support, and means to support themselves, the widows' faith helps them to accept their destiny. They beg forgiveness for their sin in their non-stop pray, but yet sacrifice one among them to prostitute herself to feed the whole house.

The picture is colorful, the play is superb, the dialogue is simple yet deep and rich, and most of all the story is striking. It is about strong and painful faith, self-sacrifice, societal injustice, religious and class manipulation, and embedded women degradation.

To see women thrown away to live a living hell and still able to praise those who sacrificed them, made me shiver. The hypocracy of those who arbitrarily interpret religion and faith for their own advantage, a reality can still be found in daily life, filled me with anger. A bitter pray from Shakuntala for her dead friend, "Let her be re-born as a man," stroke me.

I was breathless when Shakuntala, the devout widow, asked her priest, "when one's heart contradicts one's faith, what should one do?" It was not answered.

A question that, I think, our world still cannot answer.