Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Trendy Styles

Source: Sunday Kompas

These are some cartoon works which best depict this year's trend: Wearing legging - even to your workplace (1) and taking pictures in cuttle fish-style (2). We Indonesians simply hate it if we lose one to another in the fashion battle :))

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Wrap-up

"What do you want to accomplish in the new company?"

"I want to improve my writing skill, especially in English."


What do you know; this year actually brings a wonderful turn to me. After battling with my conscience, assuring and re-assuring myself that it had been a good decision to move to a new company and start everything almost from zero by being a management trainee at my age, finally I make peace with it. After a 'horrible' first semester, followed by another three months of not much excitement, I am able to conclude this year with fantastic feeling.

To come to think of it, 2008 has been quite a dynamic year. I started it with almost everything new: I got a new job and also a new life as somebody’s wife. And then there’s the job rotation period which offered its ups and downs – many of the latter, in fact. Having finished the rotation, I went through the on-the-job training period which should have last in six months, but was abruptly over in three and a half months before I was moved to another division.

That is before I "asked to be moved" to another division, to be precise. Now, this is the part I never thought could and would happen. After the job rotation was over, I really believed that I would be stuck doing marketing-related assignments forever for as long as I work for the company. I felt helpless back then, thinking that although my background study & working experience was in no way relevant with the job I was doing, I had no other choice but embracing it as best as I could and restraining myself from complaining.

It was begun when my fellow trainee tried to influence me to propose for a transfer to her division – the Research Division. She said that it would be great to have another fellow trainee to accompany her in the division which she considered 'unfriendly'. The situation was indeed favorable as there were enough vacancies in the division to allow for another person to join.

I did not take her words seriously back then. Firstly, I believed that getting rather hostile welcome from the people in your new working place was something unusual, so I wouldn’t move just for the sake of getting her out of her so-called trouble (was I mean for reasoning like that?). Secondly, I feared that it would only be a sign of my incompetence if I asked for a transfer to another division before I fully finished my on-the-job training period.

But something happened which changed my mind. After that, I knew however hard I worked, I would never really fit in that division unless I changed into someone else; someone not me. So I sent an e-mail to the head of the Research Division, proposing for a position.

To cut the long story short, here I am now, ending the year as an Equity Analyst instead of a Marketing one. I must say it has been Allah’s big plan for me, to get me into the winding road before reaching this position, so that I would really be able to realize that my true potential lies in becoming an analyst – something which I have taken for granted all this time – and be most grateful to Him.

What makes me more grateful is the 'bonus' that comes with the new position: I get to work in a division which requires me to write and it is done in English. It means that the conversation I had with my ex-boss last year is coming true!

And, you may call me shallow, silly, or anything, but finally, after good long six years of my career, now I get to work directly with an expatriate. A Western one. I’m talking about my boss, the head of the Research Division. He’s a British. Swell! I have long wanted to get a taste of working with an expatriate so that I could learn the working ethics of a foreigner. The thing is I have been working for local companies all this time so there was not much chance available for me to do that. I am actually working for a local company now – a state-owned enterprise, in fact – but if Allah is willing, even the most unthinkable happens.

Another bonus: As much as I hated it, this year I got the chance to travel to two different cities – one in the Western part of Indonesia, the other one in the East – because my works required me to. You see, I do not like traveling if it requires me to stay for a night or two (or more) and consequently pack my clothes. Still, I had to do it and I should thank Allah for that for the fact that it was barely a year that I had been working for the company.*

I hope all these would lead to something bigger and better in the coming year(s). Hopefully.

*Many times I wonder whether I really deserve these 'luxuries'.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Careless remarks

I hate it when government officers make careless comments such as this one:
"Elpiji ini, kenapa sampai langka karena masyarakat sudah seperti orang pacaran. Sekali sudah senang, jadinya terus-terusan deh," katanya sambil tertawa.
Uh, excuse me, Sir. It's not like we were the one who were eager to switch from kerosene to gas in the first place. Wasn't it your part, the government who deliberately kept kerosene supply off the market that its price skyrocketed? Secondly, now that gas is cheaper than kerosene, everyone (by that we mean everyone including households and businesses - small and not-so-small scale) is using it. So isn't it the time for you to stop blaming us for your mediocre supply management???

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Oh my. I never thought this book could hit me quite hard. After reading the book and watching the movie just last night, I can't spend my day today without my mind wandering back to the characters and the story. Gee, like I don't have tonnes of important things to do!

I'm talking about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight. Actually I had wanted to read the book since last month when this fellow of mine recommended it and spoke so high about it. But it is not until I took a glance at the movie ad on the e-paper two weeks ago that I thought, "Wow, is the book really good that it is filmed?"

It happened that about the same time, Andrea Hirata just released its fourth and last installment of the Laskar Pelangi tetralogy: Maryamah Karpov. So I wasted no time and made an order of the two books via this online bookstore.

The books were delivered to my office fast enough; around 4 days after I ordered them. Of the two, I decided to read Twilight first. It's funny. I mean, I had been waiting for Maryamah Karpov for a long time, but when it was finally available, I shoved it off and picked another book instead. Perhaps it's because the book is hit enough to be made into a movie that I landed my choice on it.

And there... I started to read on Thursday and had to stop before I had been through the entire book because I got to sleep or I would have been late to work on Friday. To tell you the truth, I only read the first few chapters back then and skimmed the rest. From what I read, I noticed Twilight was only a love story, only this time it's between a human being and a vampire. So why has my pal been raving about it?

It was not until I read through about three quarters of the book on Saturday that I realized why the book had become a best-seller. Yes, the book is about a love story, but once you're done reading it, you'd feel you want to be in the position of Isabella Swan, to be loved so deeply by someone (well, "something", to be exact) who should have hated you so much. You've heard the phrase "I hate you so much that I love you" (or is it the other way around?), right? That phrase cannot be more appropriate to be used to picture how Edward Cullen - the vampire - feels for the girl.

Images of some scenes from the movie are included in the copy I read. Apparently Gramedia has run out the old copies and issues a new version which makes the movie poster as the book cover. I have to admit, those images help in bringing some understanding of how handsome this Edward is supposed to be. However, I keep picturing James Franco (the guy who played as Harry Osborn in Spiderman) instead of Robert Pattinson (the guy who played as Edward Cullen in the movie). He's way more handsome than Pattinson and really fits the idea of a person whose beautiful face and body is Greek-god like. Or why not that guy who plays as Jasper Cullen?

To satisfy my curiosity, later that Saturday night I went to see the movie with my husband. Although many parts of the book were changed in the movie, I still liked it. Maybe if the movie had been made as precisely as in the story of the book, it will not tell the story as interestingly as if it had not been moderated.

However, after the heyday of it all, I wonder why so much fuss is being made about the book by... MEN. I can still understand if it's girls or women who, like I, have been fantasizing of what it feels like to have a gorgeously handsome man (or vampire, whatever) who has that mysterious aura around him, devoting his love and life for you and your sake, although that would mean jeopardizing his entire life (not to mention family). Plus, I think it's overrated to place Twilight on the same level with Harry Potter.

So pal, care to give me some explanation? *wink

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An economics lesson

Last Saturday (11/22), I had to sit for a capital market examination … and it sucked! Suddenly I realize how little I have understood economics, the very subject which I should have handled quite well at least, considering I graduated from namely “Faculty of Economics” of a prestigious one (in Indonesia, at least). Moreover, with economic crisis going on and off for the last ten years (if you think about it, there IS always an economic crisis all time around), I should have put extra effort to re-learn various economics concepts which had been taught back in my university years.

Still, a wish remains a wish if I don’t actually do something about it. But after a painful experience with the exam, probably I will be more serious with my plan. And today’s global economic panorama has given me an extra incentive to start re-opening my economics books. Watching the turn of laissez faire economics in the superpower country – USA – to one which is more “socialist” is not something you get to experience every year. It is now suddenly easier for me to understand what Keynes, Hayek, and Friedman talked about, after real life illustration is being displayed right in front of me.

Actually there is one more thing which has helped improve my understanding of economics. This has got to do with a weekly event in my office, which is video showing on Monday noon. For the last three weeks, the video being shown is titled “Commanding Heights” and wow, how that video has significantly improved my understanding of economics and its history over the years since the beginning of the 20th century! I wish I had seen that video when I was in my undergraduate study!

But then, maybe I was not as enthusiastic as today when watching the video. I mean, back when I was a university student, I didn’t feel the urge to understand economics as high and imperative as today, and maybe I would have slept throughout the movie (*grin). Nevertheless, if I were an economics lecturer today, I would definitely make a special session for my students so that they could see this movie.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Welcome back to hell

After a week of smooth sailing through the main roads of Jakarta, today everyone joins the 'devil' traffic once again. What took me 45 minutes to go from my home in Pejaten to my office in Thamrin, turned into a one-hour-fifteen minute journey, this morning. Darn. Why don’t those school kids take public transportation instead of private cars? That made my supposed-to-be first day in the new division ruined by showing up late to work.

I guess tomorrow I should come much earlier (I hope I will make it, considering my bad reputation of arriving late almost every time *big sigh).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Good Representative

Ooh, sometimes I hate having this oily face of mine! I know, I know. People say it’s great for me to have this kind of face because I will look old less fast than those who have normal, or worst, dry face. But it’s constant agony to have to wipe the thickening oil off my face once every half an hour and practically remove my "work of art" a.k.a. my makeup which has taken me about 15 minutes to put on before going to work. More than that, people think I don’t put on any face powder or even accuse me of not having a shower (darn!) while as a matter of fact I do.

Well, what can I say? I’m not a pretty face, I know that. I have done something to fix it but the oil keeps on coming so what else can I say? So rather than worrying about my physical appearance, why not focusing on doing my works better? After all, I have seen examples of women with modest appearance yet they manage to come out as leaders.

In my line of business, there’s Lily Widjaja, the previous commissioner of Jakarta Stock Exchange. I really admire her for achieving her success by relying on her brain and personality, not her look. Her achievement is really something, considering that in the capitalist world of business, a lot of times your appearance matters. Whereas from what I see and read on magazines, Ms. Widjaja is someone who perhaps only puts on face powder and lipstick as her makeup, and nothing else.

Plus, I grow up with this mindset that what matters most is our head and soul in living our everyday life, including at work. There’s a dress code for working which a professional has to obey, I’m aware of that too. You can’t possibly wear a sarong to the office, right? Yet I like to keep my attire simple. By saying 'simple', I mean I’m not the type of woman who wears her jilbab in a stylish way. I’m really the old fashioned type when it comes to clothing, although not that old fashioned because I wear trousers at times.

It was not until recently that my belief was challenged. You see, after my rotation period was over, I was assigned to the Investment Management division for my on-the-job training session. The division was suitable with my choice, BUT the subdivision where I was actually assigned to was way, way beyond my expectation. You see, I had educational background in accounting and finance/investment. I spent my six years of career in investment, finance, and management consulting/training. I landed my choice on the Investment Management division with the hope that I would be able to join the asset management or the products team so that I can make good use of my knowledge and little experience in finance/investment.

Yet, what was I assigned to when I joined the division? M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G. Yup. I spell it right. Marketing. Well, I was not assigned to make a sales pitch. Since my background was quite heavy on research, I was expected to make a marketing research for the division.

I thought, 'Okay, although I was never involved in making any marketing research – not one tiniest bit of experience – maybe I could learn to do it.' Still, because I’m new to this, it took me quite some time to fall in love with my new works.

Now, as I was trying to 'force' myself to fall in love with the works, one day a senior came to me and asked me to meet him in the meeting room. Can you guess what he said in that room? He said, "Metty, the director as well as your seniors want you to change your look and how you dress." Well, it was not exactly what he said, but that was what he was trying to convey to me. He – as well as the big boss and other fellow seniors – think my appearance 'did not provide good representation of the company.'

During my years of working, never had I been reminded to mind how I look and appear. To tell you the truth, the words came to me like a thunder during the day. I was shocked and frankly, stressed out. I took a day off the next day for sick reason. Yeah, I was sick indeed. Sick and surprised because my working there was not judged by the quality of my work (i.e. research), but by my exterior standing. If that’s the measure this division took, then I was a loser from the very beginning because I knew then and I know now that to give those people what they want, I would have to make quite some changes. I could maintain my jilbab wearing, but if I want to make them happy, I would have to start wearing it like most of the big artists do, while I know that’s not me and I don’t want to be like them.

The good thing was that the person who supervised me directly was not same type of person as those 'look matters' gang. She was fair, seeing me from what I produced and how good it was. She was one of the few reasons why I still wanted to work for the Investment Management division.

Yet, fate says different. Last month, an opportunity knocked at my door. A vacancy in the Equity Research division was available and I thought for myself, 'Hey, why don’t I try to apply for the position?' It was merely an effort for fun. If I was accepted, that would be great. If I wasn’t, that’d be fine too because it wasn’t at all that bad working in the Investment Management division if I counted off the "physical performance" factor.

What do you know, I was in at the new division (at least that’s what I think. The head of the Equity Research division hasn’t said a word, but my supervisor said it was okay if I wanted to join another division). What do you know, I already miss the people in the Investment Management division although I haven’t moved to the Equity Research division. I guess with all the ups and downs I’ve been going through in the past three months, I begin to form quite an attachment to the division.

But then again, thinking how I have been a lousy representative of the division and will always be, I’d better say "Sayonara, Investment Management," and "Konichiwa, Equity Research! Here I come!"

Monday, July 07, 2008

Double dipping

I was browsing to get some ideas on dual employment when I "bumped" into this article about double dipping. Double dipping is the act of dipping your food into the sauce pot, taking a bite, and returning to the sauce pot for another dip with that same chunk of food you've been holding. My mom used to yell at me and my sister when she caught us doing it. "It's gross," my mom said. "What if you get to be the next person eating? Will you still want to eat with the sauce?"

She got her point and since then I would spoon some sauce onto my plate and dip into it instead into the sauce pot. Or, I would break this food I have into two pieces and so that way I would not have to make a double dip.

What sucks is that while you try your best to make sure you don't do gross thing such as double dipping, your friends absolutely dishonor your effort. Maybe their parents didn't teach them. Or maybe they know what's to do but they play ignorant. Whichever it is, it's no better-off situation.

Anyway, there is another interesting part I found in the bottom of the same article. It tells about this list of "ten worst chips ever" and guess what chips sit at number one? The chips' brand is "Sepasang Naga Squid Cracker." Mm, sounds familiar to me, I said to myself.

I followed the link and ta-da! The reviewer said this:

"The initial odor is that of a 3-day-old fish market in a third world, or at least the section of the fish docks where the chum isn't even processed. ... The actual taste is that of dead fish, not really squid as the bag promises. It's also not the taste of say, dead grilled salmon, more like the dead fish that didn't make it into shore via net, but rather was carried in by the tide. That's about it. It tastes like dead fishy styrofoam. ..."

And, as if to confirm my suspiciousness, the reviewer said that the package bore these words: "Dibuat dari cumi asli gurih lezat & renyah".

Ah, another "lovely" piece of work from my fellow Indonesians...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Whom are you kidding???

Today I read this job vacancy ad posted in a mailing list:


Bayer Industry, adalah pemimpin pasar di bidang industri perlindungan tanaman (pestisida). Saat ini perusahaan membutuhkan segera tenaga profesional muda yang mempunyai motivasi tinggi untuk menduduki posisi sebagai berikut:


* Pria / wanita min 21 tahun
* Pend. min Diploma
* Fresh graduate dipersilahkan melamar
* Basic komputer
* Disiplin kerja, teliti dan dapat bekerja dibawah tekanan
* Basic salary Rp. 2.500.000 ke atas

Kirim lamaran lengkap, CV dan pasphoto ke alamat:

What? A supposed-to-be "leading company" requests eager job seekers to send their application to a Yahoo e-mail address?

Whom are you kidding, people???

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Oh really?

Sensitive Doer (SD)

(Just visiting? Take the free test and determine your personality type!)

sensitive DoerSensitive Doers are gentle, modest and reserved persons. They cope well with everyday life and like their privacy. With their quiet, optimistic nature, they are also good, sought-after listeners and other people feel well in their company. All in all, this type is the most likeable and friendliest of all personality types. Tolerance and heir regard for others distinguish their personality. They are very caring, generous and always willing to help. They are open to and interested in everything that is new or unknown to them. However, if their inner value system or their sense of justice is hurt, Sensitive Doers can suddenly and surprisingly become forceful and assertive.

Sensitive Doers enjoy the comforts life offers to the full. They are very happy in everyday life. Sensitive Doers are often gifted artists or very good craftsmen. Creativity, imagination and an especially keen perception are just a few of their strong points. Sensitive Doers are very presence-oriented; long-term planning and preparations do not appeal to them. They take life as it comes and react flexibly to daily demands. They do not like too much routine and predictability. Their talents come more to the fore when work processes are variable and there are not so many rules. Sensitive Doers like to work alone; if they are part of a team, they do not get involved in competitive or power games and prefer living and working together harmoniously and openly.

Sensitive Doers are completely satisfied with a small, close circle of friends as their need for social contacts is not very marked. Here, too, they avoid conflicts - quarrels and disputes put considerable strain on them. Sensitive Doers are often very fond of animals and are very good with small children. As partner, this type is loyal and reliable and is willing to invest a lot in a relationship. Mutual respect and tolerance are very important to Sensitive Doers. Their love of pleasure makes them a pleasant companion with whom one can experience intensive moments. They like to look after their partner with attentiveness and small gifts and are very sensitive to the partner’s needs - often more than to their own. However, should they meet the wrong person, they run the risk of being taken advantage of. They are then deeply disappointed.

Adjectives which describe your type: Introverted, practical, emotional, spontaneous, sensitive, peace-loving, reserved, gentle, good-natured, independent, empathetic, friendly, playful, carefree, sympathetic, relaxed, quiet, modest, pleasure-loving, loyal, obliging, caring, helpful, optimistic.

These subjects could interest you: Art, music, craftwork, garden work, animals, nature, literature, drawing/painting, astrology, spiritual things, meditation, music, handicrafts, writing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Be thankful

For the last few days, it has been very cold in my office, particularly in the third floor where my cubicle is located.
I guess the pouring rain and frequent shower in Jakarta have contributed to the the room temperature drop. With the air-con still blowing, I had to bear a room temperature of 21 degrees Celcius. That is cold! I have been practically shivering all the time it was raining.

Having been born in a city by the sea like Surabaya, I am absolutely not made for living in areas with low temperature. Maybe I would never go and live in Europe or America with this physical condition. But then I should thank God for that, or I will not survive a day. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps yes. But I'm telling you, you can keep me - with jacket and head scarf - in a room without air-con. I would gladly stay in that room than in that space of mine in my office.

Still, I need to thank God once again because as I was shivering, at least I had a job.

According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, today there are 10 million people unemployed and 19.5% of them are youngsters (detikFinance, 6/11/08). Wow, that's a lot of people to compete with. What's more, having had high education does not guarantee one a job.

Yesterday an old friend sent me a text message saying that she was still waiting for the result of her last interview. She was my companion when I studied for my postgraduate degree. With her eloquence and interpersonal skills, I suppose she should not have a hard time finding a job. But no. Until today she is still searching for a job, all the while her husband is unemployed.

Another acquaintance from my postgraduate years had also contacted me recently. She has been busy being a mother of two, and now she believes the right time has come for her to start working. As a professional, I mean. I guess it won't be easy for her. She does have a master degree, but I don't know whether that will give her a bigger chance to get a job.

At the same time, my ex-house maid has asked for my help in finding a new boss. At home, my current house maid is also trying to get her sister a job. And this morning, while I was on my journey to the office riding an ojek, the driver asked me if the company I'm working for happened to have a vacancy for office boy.

Sometimes I envy my college mates who are now already a manager. Some even get to be an AVP (assistant vice president). But then I come to think that all this time I haven't had much difficulty in landing a job. Except when I was studying for my master degree, there was never a time when I did not have a job. And I hope there will never be.

Really, I should be thankful to God I have a job.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Protest and protest... Got (better) solution?

Filename: j0422496.jpg Keywords: automobiles, cars, fueling ... File Size: 146 KBMay 24, 2008 00:00

I was watching Indiana Jones in Setiabudi 21. Little did I know that cars and motorcycles had formed a long line at almost all gas stations in Jakarta for hours and practically caused traffic jams everywhere. Yup, when the clock stroke midnight, the government officially announced increase in the price of all subsidized fuel. What usually took Rp4,500 to buy a liter of gasoline, now is changed to Rp6,000 per liter.

More mass rallies followed, adding to rallies which already took place before the announcement. Students, labors, housewives, drivers of angkot, all protested and demanded for cancellation of the policy. 'Like I care,' that's what probably the government was thinking. With the increasing oil price in the global market, the policy is simply inevitable. Well, that is if we want to keep the government intact and not let it go bankrupt.

Anyway, despite the price increase of gasoline and many household stuffs, and people going on rally day in day out, I don't see significant decrease in the use of cars and other motor vehicles. I mean, if you can't afford the oil, why not taking cheaper transportation such as motor cycle or bicycle? I guess some of us talk too much but do or offer nothing as solution.

Well, it's always easier to talk than to act.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An ordeal

Filename: j0428670.jpg Keywords: aircraft, airlines, airplanes ... File Size: 130 KB Provided by: PhotosToGo
He's leaving on a jet plane
(Although) I know when he'll be back again
Still I hate to see him go...

I know you go only for a week to Padang, but I'm missing you already.
I hope things are okay with you, hun. Take care.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Long awaited movie


Finally, my favorite flick is on air at cinemas in Jakarta.
Long live Indiana Jones!

(I can even hear the soundtrack being played in my ears at this very minute!)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Grow up, man!

What happened in the Morning Meeting session today would absolutely make a good headline if only our company had a newsletter or bulletin. I was not there to witness it (since I was still on the bus trying to make it to the office on time), but from what I heard, it was so shocking and tense. So here's what has happened according to my colleague's story.

As always, presentation by our analysts during Morning Meeting was either interfered by or continued with discussion. Today was no exception at all.

However, something changed the mood of the meeting. When our head of research asked something about a company to the analyst who covers it, this analyst browsed through the newspaper he was holding as if he had not heard anything. He simply ignored her (the head of research)! And he did that not only in front of its research & marketing colleagues, but also in front of us, newbies! My pals were even holding their breath when the scene happened.

I don't know what problem he's having with his boss, but that is surely not the proper attitude to display, especially in front of people beyond his department. He shouldn't mix his feeling with his job. And to think that he is a senior (as in the years of service AND age), he should have known how to work professionally.

Gosh! Sometimes age does not matter.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The problem with love

“Now you can tell the difference between three-o’clock and nine-o’clock direction, Metty?” asked my friend, Donita. We were on the back seat of her car, on our way home from office. I was lucky that evening to get a free ride home (relatively free, actually, because I still needed to get on an ojek (chartered motorcycle) to reach my house) on Donita’s chauffeured Land Cruiser.

“Yeah,” I smiled sheepishly, recalling the scene that afternoon. We had been away to a public expose in Sen-Ci, and when we went back to the office, I saw a bunch of Caucasian guys going up on the escalator. They were probably on their way to have their lunch. I rushed to tell Donita because she’s such a big fan of this kind of guys.

But in an instant, I remembered I had been telling her the wrong direction! I should have said “Donita, (cute guys) at three-o’clock!” but instead I said the opposite. Not only had Donita missed the opportunity of feasting her eyes on those guys, but also she had smiled at the wrong person. We laughed hard over what we had done.

“You are responsible for what you have done, Metty,” Donita looked at me straight to my eyes, trying to be serious.

“Excuse me? And what am I responsible for, exactly?” I looked back at her, perplexed.

“You know, you have cost me an opportunity to see those guys,” said Donita in a no-non-sense way (but I know it was a made up), “so next time you see another bule (Caucasian guy), you have to come to him right away and introduce me to him.” At her last sentence, she gave me a big smile.

“And what are you going to do with James? Poor James, having a flirtious girlfriend like you are,” I teased her.

Suddenly Donita’s face changed. She looked a bit troubled. When at least she said something, she said this: “I want to dump him, anyway, you know that?”

“Huh? Are you serious?” I was shocked. “Ah, so that’s why you have been avoiding his call?” I inquired her. Two days ago I did see her getting all panic when her cell phone rang and it turned out James was the caller. She later let us listen to the record of James’ voice in her phone answering machine. He said he was sorry and he loved her. So romantic yet it tickled my ears, hearing someone else saying that to his girlfriend for real. I usually heard that kind of line from some romantic movies.

“Mm, that’s not all. I was mad at him. But I also want to break up with him. This relationship just can’t go on.”


“He’s too old for me, Metty. He’s 40 already while I’m just 24 years old, for God’s sake. If only he were much younger, I probably would carry on with this relationship.” Donita sighed. “The problem is he’s so nice and kind to me. That makes it so difficult for me to end this.”

Indeed, James has been such a nice and loving, not to mention generous, person. He’s a retired U.S. army who is now working as a professional gardener in his hometown in U.S. Yet living so far away didn’t keep him from sending presents to Donita on Christmas and Valentine day. Everyday the couple always chats either by Yahoo! Messenger or by phone. Seeing how she maintained her relationship, nobody could tell that she actually has no longer the eagerness to keep it going.

“Well, if you want to call it a quit, you’d better say that to him as soon as possible. It is not fair for him if you in fact don’t love him as much as he’s thinking,” I said.

“Yeah, I know that. But it’s difficult to tell him that.”

“It’s not gonna be easy, I know that. But you have to do that, Donita. If you keep postponing, it would get a lot harder because you two will be too emotionally bound,” I advised her. “Come on, don’t be mean to him. ‘Stop playing games with my heart,’ Backstreet Boys said,” I said, giggling. Donita did too.

“Maybe I should find her a beautiful girl first and introduce him to her,” she uttered.

“But he loves you, Donita. He won’t want another woman.”

“What if you tell him on my behalf, Met?”

My jaws opened. “You’d got to be kidding me! No way, girl! That’s your relationship, your problem. I don’t want to have anything to do with it!”“Ha-ha. I’m just kidding, and you know that,” Donita smiled faintly.

Our conversation that evening was over as the car stopped at this bend of the road where it would be easier for me to get an ojek. It had not been a free ride home after all.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

When money does not lure

The one topic which keeps on being discussed nowadays amont my MT (management trainee) fellows is who will be assigned to what division once this rotation we have been doing since January is over. In fact it has been discussed since we join the trainee program, but now the discussion intensifies as we are approaching the end of our rotation.

When we first started the program, we have been asked to mention three divisions we would like to be a part of. There are at least 10 divisions we can choose, but it ended up roughly half of my fellows had chosen Equity Research as their first choice. Considering that everyone in the current batch comes from respectable educational institutions in Indonesia, my fellows’ choice should come as no surprise at all. Being graduates from top notch schools, it is natural if they want to preserve their reputation as “smart people” by joining the research division.

However, it was rather shocking for our superiors when they find out that the number of trainees who would like to join the Investment Banking (IB) division - the one division which is considered prestigious in the capital market industry - is not as many as they had thought in the first place.

Why prestigious? Here’s an answer: In the IB division, you’ll get to meet CEO, CFO, and other senior officers of various companies. IB deals with assisting companies who wish to go public or issue new capital market securities, or decide whether they should let go one of their subsidiaries or acquire new business.

Since the action is a one-time activity, the nature of the works done in the IB division is in projects. That is why you will work with different companies. If you get many projects, you can handle at least three projects, all demanding the same amount of attention at the same time.

And since the corporate action to be done is a major one, you don’t meet staffs of the same rank as you are. No, you meet the senior officers, the CFO and CEO – the ultimate decision makers. Not only will you meet them, but you will talk to them and have them hear what you have to say. Isn’t it lovely to be able to speak to people of high importance – even let them listen to you – when you are in fact only a staff in your company?

Another reason is that meeting with VIPs is surely done in special places (places where the bill comes with special prices, too) or in exclusive ways (pricey food, one thing for sure). You will wear nice outfit and look – even smell – wonderful because you represent your company to meet these people of importance. You will travel to various cities for free although what you do there is piling up documents you will bring back with you to your office to work on. The best thing is you will get extraordinary bonus. If you are lucky enough to be promoted to officer position, you will no longer go to your office on that TransJakarta or Zenia of your parents’; you will drive a Mercedes.

Still, all these luxuries have been unable to lure my fellows to join IB. Of the 10 people in my batch, only one person is truly interested to join. Others take IB as their second choice at best.

When asked why not join the IB division, the answers are mostly the same. “I believe I need to learn much about capital market, so that’s why I want to join the Equity Research (division),” as quoted from one of my fellows. “I was told that to get a good plentiful knowledge about capital market, I should join the Equity Research division,” remarked another fellow. “Perhaps I would consider moving to another division after two or three years in the EQR (Equity Research division),” he continued.

I understand why my employers get such answers: Six of us are fresh graduates of undergraduate study. There is this belief that to enter the capital market industry, one needs to start from the research division. What if one joins the IB division and is later unable to answer client’s simple question about the stock market? To avoid getting trapped in such embarrassing situation, it would be better to arm oneself with the knowledge needed first before taking a plunge into the high-class environment.

But then, of the four of us who are not fresh graduates and already have a working experience, why is there only one person who wants to join IB?

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Perhaps age and working experience matter. My colleagues (let’s say their names are Lucy and Roger) and I share one thing in common: We have experienced years of overtime works and maybe we grow tired of it. Should we join the IB division, we will definitely spend 15 hours (and sometimes more) a day working our butt off (sorry about the sarcasm) so that we don’t miss the deadline.

Nonetheless, Roger said he would reconsider his option if he gets more compensation than what he receives today. Could it because Roger is a man? That’s because Lucy and I are married and we absolutely shrug off the idea of working as IB staffs. I told the IB chief that I couldn’t possibly get home much, much late at night when my husband already complained for the three weeks I spent my rotation time in IB, during which I never went home before the clock stroke 10 p.m. There’s no way I would lose my husband because I prioritize my career over my marriage.

But then again, what if I were a man? You know what, I might actually consider working in IB. No, I don’t search for the money and glitters, but I know well that I enjoy working for project works. If it is possible to go home at 7 or 8 p.m. at the latest in the IB division, I will seriously think on working for the division.

Ah, so much of wishful thinking.

Images taken from office.microsoft.com

Monday, April 28, 2008

Am I stupid or what?

The other day I had a conversation with a colleague who happens to be my junior (way way junior) back in the university. The conversation started with discussion over how students today have to cope with so many tasks. Every day there is at least one task to submit because lecturers of each subject give homework to their students.

"The tasks are too many. I used to trade my assignments with my friends from other classes, and on the other hand they will provide me with the assignment for another subject," prompted my colleague. "The lecturer wouldn't find out because we had different lecturer anyway," he gloated.

"But that was not the right thing to do," I protested but did not want sound too offending.

"How come? The lecturers were happy because the students submitted their assignments, and we're happy because we could prevent ourselves from not turning in the tasks. Everybody's happy, right?"

I did not know what to say. To me, that's against my heart. But then again, listening to all my colleague's defense, I'm thinking again: Am I just a plain stupid or what?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ernest Shackleton

Last week I just watched a documentary film about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his journey aboard the ship Endurance during the year 1914-1916 for an expedition to the South Pole. I am always fascinated with how great leaders were able to provide excellent example of leadership, and this person is one of those people I admire. In the following article you can read my short story in Bahasa Indonesia about Mr. Shackleton. You can always check the Wikipedia or other websites, of course, if you want to explore more about this powerful character.

Ernest Shackleton - Pemimpin yang Peduli Anak Buah

Terdapat banyak cara untuk belajar menjadi bijak dalam hidup. Salah satunya adalah dengan mempelajari cerita hidup para tokoh yang inspirasional sehingga kita dapat memperoleh hikmah yang berguna sebagai panduan untuk kita dalam menapaki hidup dengan lebih baik.

Salah satu tokoh yang mengagumkan yang patut kita ketahui adalah Sir Ernest Shackleton. Dalam sebuah film dokumenter, pemirsa diajak menghayati keteladanan Shackleton selama memimpin sebuah ekspedisi untuk melintasi benua Antartika. Ekspedisi yang disebut Ekspedisi Trans-Antartika tersebut dimulai pada tanggal 8 Agustus 1914 menggunakan sebuah kapal bernama Endurance. Kapal tersebut dinamai demikian sesuai dengan motto keluarga Shackleton yang juga menjadi judul film ini, yakni, ”By endurance we conquer”.

Kerasnya perjalanan yang ditempuh dalam ekspedisi ini sudah tercermin dalam iklan lowongan untuk mencari anggota ekspedisi yang termuat di surat kabar The Times, berikut ini:

“Men Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

Kendati dari iklan tersebut telah terbayang sebuah perjalanan penuh bahaya, lebih dari 5.000 orang mengajukan lamaran untuk ikut dalam ekspedisi Trans-Antartika tersebut. Pada tanggal 5 Desember 1914, Shackleton bersama anggota tim ekspedisi terpilih yakni terdiri dari 28 orang awak berpengalaman dan 69 ekor anjing meninggalkan Pulau South Georgia sebagai pulau terakhir yang mereka singgahi sebelum menuju Antartika.

Tantangan dari alam merupakan tantangan pertama dan terberat yang mereka hadapi. Misalnya saja, pada tanggal 17 Januari 1915, kapal Endurance menjumpai lautan es di hadapannya sehingga kapal tersebut tidak dapat bergerak hingga 7 bulan lamanya. Di sini Shackleton menunjukkan salah satu salah satu karakteristik hebatnya, yakni tidak menunjukkan satupun tanda pesimisme. Kemampuan Shackleton dalam berbaur dengan awak kapal dan menempatkan diri sebagai bagian dari sebuah tim sehingga tidak ada situasi ”elo-elo, gue-gue”, menjadikan tim ekspedisi Trans-Antartika tampil sebagai tim yang kompak.

Dengan kemampuan interpersonal yang luar biasa tersebut, Shackleton yang dijuluki ”Bos” oleh anggota tim ekspedisinya berhasil mengangkat moral tim yang tiap saat terancam mengalami kemerosotan akibat buruknya situasi alam yang melingkupi mereka saat itu. Yang lebih mengharukan adalah kerelaan Shackleton untuk menempatkan keselamatan anak buah di atas kepentingan dirinya sendiri. Tak segan Shackleton memberikan jatah makan yang dimilikinya ke anggota lainnya demi menjaga agar anggota tersebut tak kelaparan atau sakit.

Ujian paling berat terhadap karakter dan kepemimpinan Shackleton dimulai ketika pada bulan Juli 1915, pergerakan lapisan es mulai ”menyerang” kapal Endurance dan menyebabkan rusaknya buritan kapal. Pada tanggal 24 Oktober 1915, kapal Endurance mulai kemasukan air dan tiga hari berikutnya, pada tangal 27 Oktober 1915, Shackleton memerintahkan anggota ekspedisi untuk meninggalkan kapal. Kapal Endurance akhirnya tenggelam pada tanggal 21 November 1915.

Momen ketika Shackleton memerintahkan awak kapal meninggalkan Endurance merupakan momen yang paling kritis dalam ujian kepemimpinan Shackleton. Saat itu ia harus mempertaruhkan egonya yakni keinginan untuk menaklukkan Kutub Selatan demi menyelamatkan nasib anggota ekspedisi Trans-Antartika.

Di samping itu, Shackleton juga dituntut berani mengambil tindakan menembak mati anak anjing yang terlahir selama masa ekspedisi serta kucing peliharaan salah satu anak buahnya. Berkat langkah tersebut, jatah makan yang ada dapat dikonsentrasikan untuk orang dan anjing-anjing yang tersisa sehingga keselamatan hidup para awak kapal dapat dipertahankan.

Tantangan yang menghampiri Shackleton berikutnya adalah bukan lagi es, melainkan moral anak buahnya. Hal ini terjadi mengingat pada bulan-bulan berikutnya tim ekspedisi memulai perjalanan untuk meninggalkan Antartika dengan kapal penyelamat dan perlengkapan seadanya di tengah-tengah ganasnya cuaca dan kondisi Kutub Selatan. Dalam perjalanan melintasi bongkahan es di atas kereta salju (yang sesungguhnya merupakan kapal penyelamat) yang ditarik oleh kelompok anjing milik tim, sempat timbul protes dari salah satu anggota, namun oleh Shackleton protes tersebut berhasil dikendalikan. Kendati Shackleton berhasil menjaga otoritasnya saat itu, ia sangat marah terhadap anggota yang melontarkan protes tersebut karena sangat membahayakan kondisi moral anggota yang lain yang saat itu sudah lemah. Namun, berkat kepemimpinan Shackleton yang luar biasa, para anggota yang lain akhirnya tetap mengikuti perintah Shackleton.

Pada tanggal 9 April 1916, lapisan es yang selama ini dijadikan landasan lintasan kereta salju, patah. Shackleton pun memutuskan agar anggota tim segera memasuki kapal penyelamat dan mendayung kapal menuju pulau terdekat. Awalnya diputuskan bahwa kapal akan bergerak menuju Pulau Deception, namun pada tanggal 12 April 1916, diputuskan bahwa sesuai dengan perbekalan yang mereka miliki saat itu, Pulau Elephant adalah pilihan terdekat.

Setelah tujuh hari berlayar di atas tiga buah kapal penyelamat, tim ekspedisi akhirnya sampai di Pulau Elephant. Namun, kondisi Pulau Elephant yang berada di luar jalur lintasan kapal tidak memungkinkan bagi tim ekspedisi untuk berharap akan datangnya pertolongan. Karena itu, Shackleton memutuskan untuk berlayar menuju Pulau South Georgia. Ia memilih lima awak kapal terkuat saat itu dan yang paling berpengalaman untuk berlayar dengannya menggunakan salah satu dari tiga kapal penyelamat yang ada.

Perjalanan yang mereka tempuh menuju Pulau South Georgia merupakan perjalanan yang penuh bahaya, dengan ombak yang ketinggiannya dapat mencapai 16 meter dan cuaca buruk yang mempersulit navigasi. Namun, Shackleton dan kelima awak kapal akhirnya berhasil mendarat di Pulau South Georgia setelah 14 hari berlayar.

Perjalanan tidak berhenti di situ karena ternyata mereka mendarat di sisi pulau yang tidak didiami manusia. Dengan ditemani dua dari lima orang awak kapal yang ada, Shackleton melakukan perjalanan dengan berjalan kaki melintasi Pulau South Georgia selama 36 jam hampir tanpa henti menuju Stromness, yakni wilayah South Georgia yang berpenghuni. Ketiga orang tersebut menjadi orang-orang yang pertama kali berhasil melintasi pedalaman South Georgia, karena sebelumnya tak ada yang berhasil melintasi pedalaman pulau itu lebih dari 1 kilometer.

Sekali lagi, kepemimpinan Shackleton yang handal kembali terbukti dengan keberhasilannya memimpin rekan-rekannya dalam melintasi pedalaman South Georgia yang penuh lembah salju yang terjal dan badai salju yang ganas. Ketika suatu saat mereka beristirahat sejenak, Shackleton sempat berbohong dengan mengatakan kepada rekan-rekannya bahwa mereka telah tidur selama setengah jam, meski kenyataanya mereka baru lima menit tertidur. Namun, tanpa kedisiplinan serta daya juang Shackleton saat itu, mungkin mereka tidak mampu sampai di Stromness hidup-hidup.

Sesampainya di Stromness, Shackleton pun tidak tinggal diam. Dengan kerja keras, ia mengupayakan agar rekan-rekannya yang tertinggal di sisi lain Pulau South Georgia dan yang berada di Pulau Elephant dapat diselamatkan. Kendati memakan waktu cukup lama karena harus mengupayakan kapal yang dapat digunakan untuk berlayar ke Pulau Elephant, akhirnya pada bulan Agustus 1916, seluruh anggota tim ekspedisi yang berada di Pulau Elephant dapat diselamatkan.

Pada tahun 1921, Shackleton melakukan ekspedisi ulang ke Kutub Selatan, namun ketika tiba di Pulau South Georgia, ia menemui ajalnya setelah sebelumnya mendapat serangan jantung. Kendati demikian, kepimpinan Sir Ernest Shackleton yang luar biasa, yang selalu menempatkan anak buah di atas kepentingan dirinya dan menempatkan kekompakan tim di atas segalanya, akan dikenang selalu untuk selamanya dan dijadikan teladan bagi siapapun di seluruh penjuru dunia.

As always

Last Friday, I brought home some of works in the hope of getting them - or at least the majority of them - done. All to no avail, however, because I never stopped finding reasons to keep myself busy and away from working on them, reasons such as washing my clothes, shopping, dining out with my husband, going to my parent in law's home, and of course, sleeping and waking up late.

And it was just like a week before, and two weeks before, and three weeks before...

Friday, April 04, 2008


Explaining some of the changes I'm going through.

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No longer the same

I was standing in a line to get my groceries to the cashier. Everything was normal at the grand hypermarket that day. Moms were busy with their groceries and their kids, either getting another pack of sugar for the family’s monthly consumption or trying to tame down their kids’ sudden hunger for snacks and candy bars they saw on TV the other day. Girls were talking loudly while browsing at the variety of body spray and trying each one out without actually making any purchase. Couples were cruising down the aisles, looking around for the goods they need.

Everything was normal that day except that I was standing there no longer as a celibataire, but as somebody’s wife. And to me, things would never be the same again.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Senang sekali rasanya melihat angka-angka yang tertera di layar klik BCA pagi ini.
Pay day, man. Pay day. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Let's go home!

I'm so happy because I get to go home on time this week. By "on time" I mean I can leave at 5.30-6.30 PM. Just when I need it, this rare chance comes by. Alhamdulillaah...

Just admit it

This week my team and I are being rotated to the BUMN [Badan Usaha Milik Negara or state-owned enterprise (SOE)] Research Center unit. Our main task during our rotation in the unit is to help prepare the BUMN monthly newsletter.

During my time doing my work - which I find quite boring because what I do is just collecting data & information on CEO's profile of several SOEs and turning it into a short article in English - I've been thinking about SOEs in Indonesia. Currently there are about 130 SOEs in Indonesia, and the majority never cease to have negative bottom line from year to year. Concerns on this have been raised since more than a decade ago by professionals and the government itself. Efforts such as downsizing the number of SOEs and having some of the SOEs sell their shares to the public have been executed.

So far the last effort is the most effective one. SOEs which have gone public are now among the top ten listed companies whose shares are the most liquid and actively transacted. These companies' losses have been able to remedy and now they almost never fail to make profits year in year out.

But of course, there are still many other SOEs which are helpless. SOEs such as PLN and Pertamina, for example, are notorious for their inefficiency and consistent net losses. The question is: Will and can these SOEs ever book profit?

Despite the basic problem such as corruption which has plagued SOEs and contributed to their high inefficiency, in my opinion some SOEs are inevitably cost centers. PLN, for instance, is expected to produce and or distribute electricity to households and manufacturers at affordable tariff because, if you remember our constitution article 33 verse 2, the state is supposed to protect and regulate the provision of goods and services which are related to the basic needs of the people of Indonesia. Now with the condition of soaring oil price and costly infrastructure procurement, there is no way for PLN to make a profitable company. Small income deducted by big big cost equals: Loss. Huge loss.

Take another SOE like PANN Multifinance. This SOE never misses being listed as one of the top five SOEs which suffer losses every year. If you look at the business of the company, you’ll see why it has such poor performance.

PANN is basically a financing company. Rather than financing motorcycle purchase like nowadays regular multi-finance companies do, PANN helps finance the purchasing of ships. As you know, ships are like properties: it takes some time before we can sell one. So it’s no surprise if we find the company’s revenue and cash flow fluctuate like roller coaster ride.

I can mention you a list of SOEs which are burdensome to exist but they just have to exist. For the sake of providing goods and service which a normal private company won’t do, I say these SOEs deserve not to be dissolved. Why don’t we just admit it that some SOEs are simply cost centers?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Do you have the guts?

It's only 8:07 and my colleagues are already rattling on the gloomy stock market. No wonder, with the index's nerve-wrecking fluctuations since last week, those who have buy positions are scoring losses. Some are already getting margin call for their leveraged buy.

In fact, the buzz is not happening in this country only. Everybody in almost all corners of the world who invests in the stock market at this point of time is getting the jitters due to expectation of recession in the US. Indices all over the world are marked red, saying they suffer downturns.

But like they say, some people's misfortunes are some others' good luck. For those who want to take a dip into the stock market, this is actually the right moment, because you can get to buy stocks at lower prices. The question remains, however, how low can the price be?

Time to test your guts.