Following Ratih Journey

My eldest girl, Ratih, is a very active girl. She is very enthusiastic about everything. I want to write down her journey here so one day when she is older she can recall all of them. So, this one is for you Ratih :*

She always love drawing. So, she joins GlobalArt, a visual art academy that provide creative art lessons including drawing, coloring and handicraft making. She often joins drawing and coloring competition held by her academy or other organizations. The competitions are held in various places, mostly in big atrium in shopping mall. So, our family who usually go to the nearest shopping mall, get to go beyond our normal territories πŸ™‚ I can recall that we went to Ciputra World, Pakuwon Mall, Grand City Mall for her to join the competitions.

In addition to drawing, she also loves performing. She tries everything from choir, musical drama, poetry, and more recently she even tries pantomime. For these kind of activities she often perform in Taman Remaja Surabaya. But her latest adventure is when she and several of her friends join pantomime competition in local community close to her school. She was excited because it is part of an initiative for Green Community and it was hoped that our major, Bu Risma will come to open the competition. Although in the end, our major could not make it due to other commitments, Ratih and her friends were so happy because she got first place.

Then, two weeks a go she participates in story telling competition. Because of that I got to go inside Airlangga University Rectorate building and even join a writing seminar from Tere Liye, a famous writer. I wrote about it my previous post here.


Today, her journey has brought me and my husband to Aula Bengrah, in Komando Daerah Militer – (Regional Military Commands) Kodam Brawijaya, where she is having a test to gain her Yellow Belt. Again, it is the kind of place that we would not visit. First she and her fellow participant get ready. As many other test like this, she must wait patiently before she can get her turn.


When she does, it gave me goosebumps seeing her doing all the Kata moves.

To me, she really nailed it. She has done so many things I can only imagine when I was a little girl her age.

Hopefully, you will have many more journeys that we will cherish forever.

Your most loyal supporter

With Love

Mom, Dad and Hita



Be Strong Working Mom!

About 6 years a go I wrote my thoughts on working mother struggle to balance motherhood and work. I wrote it when I just had my second daughter. I am sure that many working mothers in Indonesia face the same problem. In Indonesia, women are allowed 3 months maternity leave (there are no official paternity leave). So, come the third months we must make a tough decision on how to take care of our baby when we go back to work. Some are lucky enough to have their family, usually the grannies to help look after the baby. But, for those who live far from their parents like me must seek other help such as hiring a baby sitter or a maid. That was the choice that I made. But, I have a friend who prefer to put their baby in a day care. Each method has its pluses and minuses, and I would not go into details about them, because either way it is a difficult choice.

Today, I read an article about a member of parliament in Kumamoto, Japan that is barred from bringing her 7 months old baby to the parliament. So, it does not just a challenge in emerging economy like Indonesia. It is a universal challenge for working mother all over the world.

I can really relate with Ms. Yuka Okata struggle. There were times when I have to bring my girls to my workplace because of so many reasons. But, I was lucky that my colleagues and workplace is quite understanding. Nowadays, two of my friends often bring their babies to campus. But, in other situation where the workplace does not allow for this option, then juggling between work and motherhood can be a constant struggle for the mother, baby and the family. This will also affect the employer.

Other countries offered better solutions. If you read on to the story from the Telegraph, member of Senator Larissa Waters in Australia is allowed to bring her baby and even breastfed her baby girl inside the Chamber. During my IVLP trip to America, I got a chance to speak to a female senior faculty at MIT. She said that in the US there has been a move in the university to allow female faculty member to take longer maternity leave. At the same time, female lecturers are given longer period to obtain their tenure to allow them to focus on raising a family. Swedia, is at the front of this issue because parents are allowed 480 days paid parental leave and 60 days are reserved for the father.

Other solution that would also helpful is to provide more childcare units. In Indonesia, it is still very scarce.

I just hope that working mother are not left alone making the hard choice to care for the child or continue working.

Until that time comes, let us working mother encourage each other and stay strong!





Why do you need to write?

These days it takes something quite extraordinary to bring myself to post to this blog. As always I promised myself to write more often. But, something always came up…

But today…that extraordinary thing came in the form of inspiration from a famous writer.

It all happened without any planning whatsoever.

This Sunday morning, just like many other Saturday or Sunday I accompanied Ratih my eldest daughter take part in story telling competition. It was held by students from University of Airlangga. Though I am not totally fit (just recovering from a bad cough), I found myself actually having a good time listening to these kids tell stories from Indonesian heros including Sukarno, Bung Tomo, and Raden Ajeng Kartini. Ratih chose to tell about Dr. Sutomo. She performs really well considering that she only have 1 week to prepare for it…and in the end she got third place! Yay, I so am happy for her. But, the organizer said that the awarding ceremony will be done 2.30 in the afternoon after a seminar. So, we went back home first…

Later, as instructed we came back at 2.30 sharp. We joined many other participants in a big auditorium. Apparently the seminar is about encouraging literacy culture. Ha! It was spot on. The audience were all listening to a man, who is a famous writer in Indonesia, Tere Liye. I have never read his books. Well, I hardly give any time to read books these days…But, I came across his name several times because someone that I follow retweet his tweets :”>

The first thing that I heard from him are several facts about Indonesian literacy culture. He said that Indonesia literacy is far behind developed countries like America and Singapore. Singapore, a country with a population of a little over 5Millions, but its national library recorded far more visits compared to Indonesian national library in Jakarta (I could not remember the exact number). He then asked the audience…how many books have we read in the last couple of weeks, months or years? “There is no way that you can be a good writer if you do not read,” he said.

From there, he moves on to writing.

He shared another facts…China published over 400 thousand books in 2013. Indonesia only published around there is only 1 writer among 10.000 Indonesian 😦 Interestingly, Indonesia scores highly in terms of number of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram posts. Does this mean that Indonesian spend more times tweeting, chatting and posting on Facebook?? Well, can reading Facebook posts considered as reading? He said, yes, but of lower quality than reading books.

He asked how many in the audience have written a report, an article in mass media or write a blog. Just like many in the audience, I answered yes to the first and the last πŸ™‚ But, to my dismay, he continued ,”how many of you wrote regularly on your blog? did you write only one or twice a year?” HA, you got me there Mr. Liye :((

He said that during his talks many people ask him, how to be a good writer, how to score a book deals and how to make money from writing. He said that with this kind of attitude you are not going to be a good writer.

He then tell a story about one of his acquaintance, “a high school students from a broken home family. His parents are divorced, and he was so angry about his situation. Mr. Liye convinced him to write all his feelings in a blog. In the beginning, it was hard for him…but then he gave it a try…at first his writings are all about anger…then after a while his writing improve until he finally write about hope and inspirations. He never get a lot of likes on his posts. But, little did he know that in another part of Indonesia, another high school kid who is also having the same problem, broken home, and even considering suicide…at one of his lowest point, came across the blog…the kid feel that he is not alone in this world and finally got inspired to pick himself from misery”

Mr. Liye concluded “A good writer is a productive one…you must write because you enjoy writing…getting a lot of readers, money and fame are bonuses. The point is to write because your writing may inspire others”

Thank you so much Mr. Tere Liye…I am taking one baby step today, by sharing your inspirations πŸ™‚


Chicago Architecture

Once upon a time in 2012, I got an opportunity to visit Chicago as part of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). During our free time we were taken for a Chicago Architectural Boat Tour, which enables us to admire Chicago’s architecture.

We set off from Navy Pier, which offer great view.

And here are the building and architecture pictures. The tour guide explained each famous building and land mark, but I was too busy taking pictures so I did not remember any of it.

All these pictures were taken with my old Sony Cybershot digital camera. Looking at the pictures again, the neck pain that I got after looking up to take them is all worth it.

Why Change is So Hard?

As a human we don’t live in an empty space…We live in our environment. Unless you are an exceptional human being, most people tend to conform with their environment. It does not mean that we are happy with it. Most of us just don’t wanna face the hardship of changing. We fear the unknown. Its a natural trait.

Last year I had an opportunity to teach Change Management course. One of the book that I used isΒ  Cadle and Yates. One of the things that they proposed is a Change Equation that goes as follow:

D x V x F must be greater than R

This equation means that for a change to happen the Dissatisfaction (D) of current situation times the Vision of what could happen (V) times the achievable First Step (F) must be greater than the Resistance to Change.

Lets take an example. Say that you are unhappy with your current job. But, you would not change to another job if the level of your dissatisfaction of your current situation is great enough, or if you don’t have ideas whether other jobs would be better (more beneficial) for you, or if you do not think that the first steps on the way to get the new job is easy enough.

Now, that is only you against yourself. Consider if the change involve several people, an entire organization or even an entire country. We can now see, why Change in a certain environment would be difficult. Some people may be dissatisfied with the current situation, but then again some might not. Some may have different visions. Finally, some may willing to go the extra miles to get to their vision. Some may not.

But should we do nothing?

One of my lecturer once said, you probably cannot build an entire wall by yourself. But you can certainly help by putting one brick.

I guess, if we cannot change others, at least we can change ourselves. For the better of course.

Stay positive!


Hita’s First Day at Elementary School

My second girl, Hita, reached an important milestone today.

She is now a first grader at Elementary School.

We put her in kindergarten a little too early… at that time whenever her big sister went to her kindergarten she cried and wanted to join her. She would watched and hung around her kindergarten so we decided to enrol her…But, it turned out she just wanted to be with her sister and not really joined the activities :(( She did not socialise much with other kids too. There were times when she just did not want to turn up to her playgroup. It really was a bad decision on our parts. Thankfully,Β with the support from her teachers, she gradually grew…She is naturally shy to others. Being a the youngest in the family, she also had a penchant of having things her ways. But now, she listens to others more, trying hard to understand and a lot more responsible.

Last year, Hita was 6 years old when the kindergarten year finish…Some of her friends opted to ”graduate” from their kindergarten and enrolled straight to elementary school at the age of six (and over). But, her dad and I chose to let her stayed another year in kindergarten. First and foremost because we want her to be ready to go to elementary school. There are also other consideration. Hita wants to go to public school that her sister went. Public school in Indonesia has a strict rule that children must be at the age of 7. Children at the age of 7 or more will be guaranteed a place in a public school. Younger children will be ranked according to their home location (within the same neighbourhood and district with the school) and their age.

She started her day very early. I told her that I would wake her up at 6 because she should be by her school at 6.30. But, when I woke up at 5.30 she jumped right off her bed. I asked why she woke up very early. She said that she was so excited that she could not sleep well πŸ™‚

Then, she ate her breakfast and get ready. I can see that she was really excited. Ratih joined me to take Hita to school. She was assigned to class 1B with 31 other students. As she entered the class, she opted to sit alone in the back. But her teacher was quick to react. She asked her to sit with another girl.

Ratih and I watched on from outside of the class as her teacher started the lesson with introduction. The teacher called out each student and asked what the child’s nickname. Then comes Hita’s turn.

Teacher: Kadek Erahita

Hita: shyly raised her hand…

Teacher: what is your nickname

Hita: Hita


Hita: started spelling her name…H..I…T…A

good girl πŸ™‚

Then, we left her at school.

I came back at 9 to pick her up. Her face beamed as she saw me…As I took her hand, she proudly mentioned that she made 1 new friend. All the way home in the car she could not stop talking about her first day.

Congratulations on reaching this important milestone Hita. Hope you will enjoy your school years!

Harvesting Shallots in Songan

Being born and bred in bustling city like Surabaya, spending the holiday with their grandparents in Songan, Kintamani, Bali offers a much needed break for my children. Different weather and different environment gave them a lot of opportunities to learn and experience new things.

This time around they got a chance to join their grandparents to harvest shallots in their field. Shallots are an important produce for Balinese and Indonesian in general as it is used as seasoning in almost every dish. In Bali, Shallots are also eaten raw as condiment.

My two girls are really excited to harvest the shallots. Its not that hard to pull them from the ground. The difficult part is actually judging whether the shallots should be pull at that time or it should be left to grow for a couple more days. But their dad and grandparents pointed out which part to pull. So in the end they did really well.