Balinese Blends Modern and Traditional Life

Bali is known for its beautiful landscape and unique culture…the image of Balinese women dressed modestly, carrying offering in their heads across rice field have been the object of a lot of paintings, postcards and posters. But, Bali is not immune to the lure of modernization.

Development driven by tourism has certainly changed the face of Bali, especially in certain area in the southern part of Bali. Now you can see the houses, public places and building mix modern architecture with traditional culture.

This is Titi Banda Statue, representing the story of Rama with an army of Monkey on their way to cross the bridge to Alengka and pick Sita. It is located in three-way junctions of By Pass Ngurah Rai and By Pass Ida Bagus Mantra

But, despite the change from typical Balinese architecture, in every Balinese Hindu house you will see one or two shrine or temple like this.

Sanggah: a typical shrine or temple for Balinese Hindu to pray
The above picture taken in a used-to-be familiar Waturenggong street in Denpasar, Bali.

I passed this road every day when I was little. It has always been a busy street due to its proximity to schools and universities. But, now it was cramped with shops and bustling with cars and motorcycles. But densed among shop selling clothes, bags, foods, minimarts, I am happy to see this shop called Ketut Banten (zoom in for the red signage). As the name suggest, it sells Banten that is an offering Balinese Hindu use in their rituals and ceremonies. The simplest form of offering is Canang.

The base of Canang is a rectangular shape intricately made from young coconut leaves. Then flowers and leave are arranged in it.

There are many forms of artifact in Balinese Hindu.

Garuda is one of the most popular mythical creature in Balinese culture. I took this in Puncak Penulisan temple
Ornament in Pura Hulundanu Batur
Pajeng is a traditional umbrella put beside the temple. The color is normally white, yellow and black

With advance technology Balinese also changed the way they do things. Cars and motorcycle take over the more traditional horse carriage.

Skillful but also risky

This lady balance her Boiled Corn, known as Jagung Rebus by Indonesian, in her head while Riding Motorcycle. Skills you rarely find anywhere else, but in Bali. I took this picture around Pura Besakih and at that time she was travelling in a quiet road. Still, safety riding warrant certainly needed. Even in public places like Ngurah Rai International Airport, Balinese artistry is at full display.

This exhibit of The Good Barong and The Evil Rangda

The Trial and Tribulation of Life as an Academia

Its the first week of January, and I already felt the spirit of New Year has deflated a little…

Perhaps because I spent the last weeks of 2017 in Bali. So, upon returning I felt a little overwhelmed.

As many organizations, we academics also felt a lot of pressure in December. Its the end of semester, which means piles of marking to go through. Having done this for over ten years now, I already work out strategies. In the beginning of the semester I develop Course Planning, which state clearly the assignments and grading required for the course. With this planning I can see what I need to do to ensure that the grading part is less painful. I try so hard to disciplined myself by doing the marking as soon as the assignments, quizzes and exams took place. For some assignments (less complicated with clear answers) I enlisted the help of one or two graders. Of course there are some assignments (projects, essays) and examinations that I must do myself. But, I can safely say that I managed to do it.

What I did not take into account is at the same time, we also have to fill in our achievements of the year for performance measurement purpose. The performance measurement systems in our institution this year are a little different than last years. We have to put every documentation about our research and community service activities online. Its a lot of work, but I know that it will safe us a lot of time in the future. But, still it means I allocate some time to do it. Another things that we lecturer need to do is to supervise our students, undergraduate and masters students. The time to do this cannot be stated clearly because it in itself is a mini project that depends on the subjects, the students and stakeholders.

In the meantime, the girls are having their semesters break from mid December until 1st January. So, this is where the dilemma kicked in. With some of the works are unfinished, I know it is a little risky to leave for several days. But, all our works (my husband happened to be a lecturer too) are pile up until end of January! If we waited to have a break until then, the girls will have to take several days leave from school. It is really a tough decision to make. My mind go through to other countries, particularly in UK where I have studied before. I remembered that there lecturers have a long break during summer and Christmas-New Year period. Of course, here in Indonesia we have long breaks during Idul Fitri, but it is the only time that coincide with School breaks. We also have several long weekends, but that only work for short vacation.

If only we have more synchronized holiday periods during the end of year, it would really helped us to have more quality time with our family.

Academic life is a quirky life. From the outside it looks as if it was a less stressful job, compared to business jobs. But I am sure that every academics will agree that we also have our trial and tribulations.

Perhaps it is just me? I wrote about how to balance work with family. 

Then, the other day I read from LinkedIn, a post from Joos Buijs, a researcher, whose work I have been following for sometime now. I read a lot of his article and I also joined the MOOC on Process Mining that he ran. I am really proud to obtain this certificate.

Joos, with Professors Will M.P. van der Aalst and Colleague at TU/e has helped me and students by providing free open source software to conduct process mining. We looked up to them.

So, reading his post entitled “I (finally) decided to leave academia, here’s why” really intrigued me and I immediately read it from my mobile phone. You can read the article here.

I read it with mix feelings. In one hand, it gives me a confirmation that I am not the only academics that feel this way. But, at the same time I am amazed that everything I have been experiencing also happened to academics in developed country as the Netherland.

He said that the reason he is leaving the academic life is because he must do a lot of management stuffs rather than actually doing what he loves which is data science. It really resonates with me and perhaps my colleague in my department. I love teaching.

I love supervising students.

One of the group meeting with my students

I love research. I love presenting my works.

Presenting at Seminar

I love doing community service.

In fact last year I managed to challenge myself to do community service for micro and small entrepreneurs.

After giving a talk on Business Process Management for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. Hope that they find it useful.

I love it all. But, sometimes we must do a lot of administrative works that are not really related to those stuffs.

One thing that hit me so much is the next paragraph where he explained that he is working long hours per week.

“Secondly, and probably even more important, I do not know of any colleague that is spending <50 hours a week on this job. This is not a bad thing, if you do what you love this comes natural. But for me it is time to do as I say, and really show that “I’m married to my wife, not my boss”. I realized family time was really suffering, and even if I was having a good time in the evening/weekends I could not always enjoy it as much as I wanted to.” (Joos Buijs)

This is exactly what happened to us academics here in Indonesia too. We may work from 8 – 4, to lecture, supervising students and other stuffs. But, when we go back home, we still work in front of our laptops, doing research and sometime administrative works. This sometimes stretch over weekends. I cant remember the last time I went for a holiday without bringing and opening my laptop!

While I wish Joos the best in his future endeavor. It gave me a lot to think of. I love my job so much. But, I cannot afford to love it more than my family.

So how can I love both?

I did not yet have the answers. In the mean time, I try to sneak in family time when possible. Like this time when we brought the girls for a conference in Phuket, Thailand.

Bringing the girls at Conference in Thailand

Only in Indonesia: Kerupuk (Crackers) Lover

Forget all the fancy crackers. Long before those fancy stuffs hit the market, Indonesian already have their original crackers well known as KERUPUK!

There are different types of kerupuk depending on the basic ingredients. The most common one is shrimp crackers also known kerupuk udang. Another common type is cassava crackers (keripik singkong).

Some crackers are taken as snacks. But, dont be surprised to see many Indonesian eats them with their foods such as in Gado-gado and Soto.

In Surabaya where I currently live, people really loves their Krupuk. It was during my undergraduate study that I fell in love with Surabaya type of crackers. It was made from rice flour and looks like spider web.


But whenever I go home to Bali i always try to find the crackers from my childhood. It was not like most crackers which are normally quite soft but crispy. This cracker is quite hard and my friends used to call it Krupuk Beton or Concrete crackers 🙂

I am not too sure the main ingredients. I am sure that it is made of flour…but is it rice flour, or glutinous rice flour or wheat flour? I have tried to find out the recipe, but I still cant find it.

So I am so happy that during my visit to Bali that i got the chance to hit the local traditional market.

Top View of Bangli Traditional Market
Another view of the market

I bought lots of it. Quite enough to satisfy my hunger 🙂

Different types of krupuk, top, bottom and right are different variants of Krupuk Beton. Would really want to know the recipe for it!

Important Milestones for Hita

As a parent there are important milestones of your children development that are widely acknowledged such as when your baby first learn to sit, crawl and walk.

But once you passed those tender age, there are less specific milestones – at least that I know of.

But for me, I can think of several things that I feel really important HITA’s achievement.

The first that came to my mind is when she got her first vaccination at school. Hita was very afraid of needle. When she was around four years old she got sick. The symptoms include high fever. Usually, it came as a result of throat inflammation. However at that time her throat was ok. So the doctor prescribe antibiotics. But, up to three days the fever remained. The doctor then order a blood test. This is quite common in Indonesia because of high fever is one of the symptoms of dengue fever. It was holiday at that day and medical labs were closed. We ended up taking her to a hospital. I was really scared cause i know that her pain tolerance is low. When the nurse laid her down in the bed she was really stressed. The nurse asked me to hold her thigh. This made her even more scared. When the nurse put the needle in she screamed and retracted her hand. The nurse scolded us and said that she needed to check whether the blood sample can be used or she need to repeat the process. We were so shocked and worried. The thought of having to repeat a very scary experience for Hita again…Thankfully, the sample can be used and in the end she was cured. But, the whole experience had a lasting effect on Hita. She became really afraid of anything to do with needle. In fact, she became very nervous around Doctor too.

Then, she need to have her fairy-tooth extraction. It was really frightening for her. She was really scared to see all the dentist’s tools. We tried to convince her that it is not as painful as the tools injection. Thankfully the dentist was really patience with her and she managed to extract her teeth in the end.

But still she got really afraid whenever she need to go to the dentist. So, imagine my

apprehension to hear that she and her friends will have vaccination in her school.

 I tried to explain to her that it was necessary to protect her from illness. Then, I told her that all of her friend will have to get the same treatment. Finally, I said that I got afraid with needle too, but I just close my eyes or look away when the doctor or nurse put the needle on. She listened to what I said carefully. But, I am still worried. The next day, I was planning to see her at school during the vaccination. But, there were stuffs I needed to take care of. Other moms told me that she managed to get her vaccination without any trouble.  When I asked her how she get her courage she told me that she listened to everything that I told her. I was very proud and happy 🙂

Vaksinasi Hita
Waiting for her turn


I am ready!

Then she has another dental appointment. This time she had cavity in one of her tooth and the dentist need to perform Root Canal treatment. It was a complicated process. The dentist explained that it would be easier to have injection, but considering that Hita was really afraid of needle then she will have another way. Still, she need to use dental drill. Hita was really afraid and started crying. We have to convinced her. In the end she managed to get through the whole treatment. I think she deserves a star for that 🙂

Hita di dokter gigiHita dokter gigi


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 🙂 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!