Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cooking With Love : Celebrated the life of Bunda Inong

The meaning of life is that it ends.
Franz Kafka.

Irza Ahsan Pramana might remember his 5th birthday cake. A two-tier red and white icing beautifully assembled in a feet square cake, seemed generous for his entire friends who attended party bash at apartment in Singapore. Right in the middle of the cake was picture of Lightning McQueen –a cartoon character from Cars movie with irking and smiley wide eyes.

Nobody would realised that the Cars theme birthday cake was the last creation of Anna Siti Herdiyanti known as Bunda Inong (Bunda is a love name for Mum). The day after those kids party, Bunda had asthma attack. She was in coma at intensive care, never regained consciousness then died peacefully with husband Haris and two beloved hearts : Zidan and Syifa.

Like wave of gulf, everyone knew her in shock. Everyone in her virtual life and real life. She has been pioneered in Dapur Bunda (Bunda’s Kitchen) a mailing list for baker who want to share tips and tricks how to produce such wonderful handmade like Pavlov cake. In addition she also put diary of her pastry adventure at a blog along with her poem and pictures.

New chapter of Internet
Bunda Inong became a beacon in the mist of unfriendly virtual world in the late 90’s. On that era, Internet and technology was like in the hand of masculine domain. World wide web (www) was seen as an invisible evil, full of dirty pictures, pornography and flirty chatting. Woman especially stay home moms left in the corner, terrified or even don’t want to touch computer keypad. They scared that evil will insert into their precious heritance: their kids. They want to protect family by not having close encounters with virtual life. It was naughty act and even treat as a sin itself. How could you put yourself into the world full of sexual predators, pervert who hungry with elicited shameful images?

Consequently most of this woman ended up in computer illiterate, did not know how to access to get better positive information. They were starved with it. They were try to find answer of household stuff -things that always seen undervalue by their partner. The main problem was where to find a safe source of information, friendly and acceptable by standard moral.

Then Bunda Inong arrived with her lovely personality. Full of energy, always helpful to give words about recipes, flour and butter. She opened up cooking classes at her hometown Bandung along with members of Dapur Bunda. To extend audience she even moderate forum such as Blogfam (Blogger Family) and writing at Indonesian Muslim Blogger Community. Both have thousands of members to share better information on the first hand. With her extensive works, she always put reminder herself that “my children are the best customer ever”. She gained respect and admiration from common woman who in the same position, try to balance between family and work.

Arguably Bunda Inong changed Indonesia woman to be more accentuate with Internet. When Blog just about take off in the mid 2000’s, her foodie blog became a daily consumption for reader. Even before RSS Feed or fancy CSS Wordpress code. Not even social networking have been put in map into higher level as it now with Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Bebo or Multiply. She opened eyes of woman that there is safe virtual sanctuary. A place that you can share ideas, thought, literature, or even family photos safely with having control of the contents of what you’ve writing for.

The life should be to celebrate
Bunda might have a short life. But to determined a good life is by filling it with useful one. She proved it by her influence that touched many women in Indonesia who read her words. She had two wonderful kids, a husband; many chronicle friends and blogs that still exist until now. Her figure alive immortal with highly awaiting book : Cooking With Love contains recipes and stories behind the kitchen. You’ve probably found that Bunda had funny, playful and smart side. She said that cooking not always with usual ingredients. It’s needs something that makes your food more delicious. Those secret ingredients called Cinta (or Love).

Her message was clear. That life can be wonderful if you embraces and rendering love. You will do everything so passionate. Cooking, writing, teaching, working, studying and any kind activities that you’d thought would ruin your normal day. Love can be the source of energy, the soul of meaningful life. The energizer battery that keep feed your bulb to en light the dark night.

The book came in full colour, rich with photos from her original blog or taken by friends who tried out her recipes. Compiled by team from We R Mommies and Dapur Bunda, this book will guarantee to give you insight of Bunda Inong sanctuary. Her life should be celebrate and rejoice by mothers, as inspiration for their current and future family.

With foreword from Bondan Winarno –a well known culinary expert himself, this book will fulled her ever dream. Bunda will always been remembered with her warmest heart, dignify women and stand with her precious cinta. Zidan and Syifa.

Book : Cooking With Love –Kumpulan Resep Favorite & kisah-kisah Bunda Inong
Compiled & rewrite : WeRMommies & Dapur Bunda
Format : Art paper, full colour, 106 pages
Language : Bahasa Indonesia
Product Dimension : 21 x 21 cm
Publisher : Hikmah Publishing House (August 2008)

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Drop Test Lens : Nikon 18-200mm

Test I at 2006
It happened after we climbed Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia on 2nd March 2006. After long trek down in rain and soggy soil we ended up stay at Summit Lodge –small bungalow for 4 near the Park entrance. We bought the lens in Singapore barely 2 weeks before trip to matched with Nikon D200. We thought that would be great for taking wildlife photos at Uncle Tan Jungle Camp at Sungai Kinabatangan, Borneo.

The camera and lens put together on the hall’s table about 2.5ft high. We had good nap that evening and woke up about nearly sunset. Mr. C walked in the living room probably still in state of deprives, knocked the shoulder on the camera and with the big bang both camera and lens ended up on the solid wooden floor.

I was stunned, couldn’t say a thing. New lens, new camera just on the beginning of trip. Mr. C even angrier with himself rather towards me.

It obvious that the lens was broken. Quickly Mr. C checked inside and said that we lost it completely. I even could hear the cracking lens when we weighted. We cannot take picture albeit looking the objects. The glass lens were shattered (inside) that we could recognized from sound.

We delivered the lens to Nikon Office in Singapore. We still have receipts from shop where we bought the lens (Cathay Photo in Peninsula Mall). Technician in Nikon said they would try to fixed the lens. On that time (2006) Nikon 18-200mm just came out to the market, so any slight problems were under scrutiny from Nikon. About 4 weeks or more we came back to pick the lens. Instead they gave us the brand new lens to replace broken one. Big relieve. Big sigh.

Test II at 2008

It happened on Saturday 23rd August 2008 at our home in Sunnyvale, US. I'm in middle using Nikon D300 borrowed from friend to try out this weekend. Packed light backpack I was off down stair into garage. Right on the end of last step, one of my shoulder straps was come off with light ‘click’ followed by bang on the tile floor. It was not a big bang but only shy loud. I picked the camera with shivered knees. It wasn’t mine. Oh God please please please.

I checked the camera. Still intact perfectly, no scratches or any obvious marks. But then I folded into the lens. It was dent, slightly bended right on front. I could see sort of small wire came off from the filter. I lifted up, weighted it to hear any glass crackling. The sound just make me sunk. It was glass-shuttered sound. I decided to leave it until Mr. C inspected it.

Solution :
Mr. C managed to open the lens cap. He used screw driver to release the tension that created the bend on the cap. We could see that the glass sound came from Hoya UV Filter rather than from the lens itself. Mr. C cleaned all glass bits on the filter using Air Duster (pressurized).

After cleaned the glass dust, we got to cut the filter frame to let further examination to the lens. Using small steel cutter then split the Hoya into two pieces. Before that he closed the lens glass with paper stick on the paper seal to protect the glass's lens. Mr. C closely examined the lens, did few shots. He said should be ok. I was more than relieved. Better lost US$70 than US$700.

Other Drop Test from Ken Rockwell, his experience in Yosemite and other 18-200mm users.

Note : Both pictures taken from 2008 drop. I did test again for taking picture at Santana Row. It will take days even weeks to realize long term damage.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Memilih Buku Panduan Backpacker

Benarkah Lonely Planet (LP) adalah buku panduan yang paling oke? ah enggak juga. Sapa bilang LP hanya salah satu sumber saja. Banyak kok Guide Books yang lebih dalam dan comprehensive dilihat dari kebutuhan saya yang mixed antara Adventurer dan Backpacker.

Saingan terdekat LP adalah Rough Guide (RG) yang formatnya mirip tapi tak sama. Lebih menekankan pada outdoor ketimbang jalan2 kota. Informasi tentang penyedia jasa adventure operator paling banyak disana. Sedang penginapan dan makan lebih ke low end ketimbang LP yang terkadang membuat pemilik penginapan jadi cenderung over hype. Beberapa tahun ini ada Guidebooks baru yang mencari market backpacker yakni Let's Go. Lumayan sih dibandingkan dengan LP atau RG walaupun masih bersifat ngikut saja. Footprint juga terbitan UK yang formatnya mirip-mirip Rough Guide. Banyak informasi tentang outdoor disana. Hanya sayang mungkin kurang update jadi sedikit tertinggal dari kawannya ini.

Cicerone dan Trailblazer juga mencoba mencari pasar backpacker tapi lebih spesifik. Keduanya ini mengambil jalan yang beda. Cicerone lebih ke arah adventure di Eropa dengan topik-topik yang menantang misalnya jalur panjat via ferrata di Dolomites Itali. Sedangkan Trailblazer kebanyakan adalah trekking terutama di tempat2 yang populer seperti Annapurna dan Peru. Satu hal yang sangat saya suka soal Trailblazer adalah edisi Overland-nya. Dari Silkroad (Jalansutra) hingga adventure dengan sepedamotor dan kereta api. Edisi Trans Siberia-nya ngga kalah dengan LP. Menariknya kebanyakan peta yang ada di buku Cicerone dan Trailblazer adalah ilustrasi tangan alias manual. Ah mengingatkan romantisme travelling era pioneer dulu.

Pemain lama seperti Fodors dan Frommers juga pantas dilirik. Hanya saja keduanya ini lebih menekankan ke traveller yang udah dewasa (mature). Bahasanya juga terkadang terlalu bertele-tele, kurang langsung dan tidak beropini. Banyak bumbunya deh. Mungkin karena berusaha menjual tempat jadi rasanya kurang berpihak ke calon pejalan. Buku Guide yang baik adalah memberikan opini yang imbang, yakni pembaca diberikan informasi menarik tapi juga diingatkan untuk tidak terlalu ekpektasi berlebihan. Beda dengan InFlight Magazine yang cenderung ringkas dan tematik, menjual destinasi berdasarkan rute pesawatnya.

Baru-baru ini saya buka buku Guide terbitan Moon. Seperti Frommer dan Fodors, Moon lebih menekankan pada daerah Amerika dan Amerika Latin. Gayanya sedikit beda tapi hampir sama yakni lebih ke traveller dewasa. Juga topik-topiknya lebih mengarah ke vacation-type ketimbang adventures. Pas banget kalau cuma rileks, nyante saja menikmati hidup. Bahkan ada panduan untuk tinggal di luar negeri jika terkadung cinta dengan tempat yang kita singgahi.

Ada Guidebooks yang merupakan kepanjangan tangan dari jasa peta yang mereka punya. Misalnya : Michelin dan Insight. Keduanya udah dikenal dalam urusan peta. Michelin memberikan detail peta plus fasilitas sekitarnya termasuk restaurant dan penginapan. Bahkan karena ini Michelin jadi terkenal sebagai parameter bintang untuk layanan resto.

Begitu banyaknya ragam Buku Panduan ini lantas yang mana yang dipilih? itu tergantung pada selera, kebiasaan, dan kebutuhan informasi. Saya sendiri membaca buku jika hendak melakukan perjalanan panjang, terutama mengetahui latar belakang sejarah, politik dan pergerakan sosial negara tertentu. Jadi ngga cuma mau kemana, dengan apa, nginep dimana. Buku Panduan yang baik akan menjawab pertanyaan seperti kenapa orang inggris selalu menanyakan cuaca atau bahasa tarzan yang tepat di jalan.

Susahnya adalah ngga semua buku tadi tersedia di Indonesia. Ruang edarnya enggak nyampe ataupun terbatas plus harganya juga gila2an. Nah berikut adalah tips yang mungkin bisa dipakai jika pengen beli buku panduan bekas tapi masih bagus.

  1. Bertemanlah dengan backpacker asing, sapa tau dapet lungsuran he he he...
  2. Coba pergi ke tempat yang populer buat turis di Indonesia (Jl Jaksa, Kuta, Sosrowijayan). Terkadang losmen atau cafe memajang buku-buku bekas mereka. Why? buat menutup hidup terkadang backpacker asing menjual murah apa aja yang mereka punya, termasuk buku ini.
  3. Belanja buku di Singapura, Kuala Lumpur atau India. Harga buku lumayan jauh dengan Indonesia dan lebih variatif. Catatan : tidak semua lebih murah loh, please cek kembali harga persatuan.
  4. Belanja buku seken di Amazon Market Place. Caranya adalah lihat buku yang dicari, lantas klik bagian yang "used" dengan harga yang lebih rendah. Daftar penjual akan terlihat dan pilih mana yang bisa mengirim secara worldwide.
  5. Saya tidak menyarankan ebay karena beberapa hal. Salah satunya karena untuk buku, ebay kurang terpercaya dan menurunnya kualitas pelayanan.
  6. Buat yang tinggal di luar negeri, rajin-rajin mencari toko loakan. Sapa tau nemu harta karun. Ada juga event garage-sale atau library sale adalah kesempatan emas mencari buku murah.

Ada beberapa hal yang musti diperhatikan soal guide book yakni :

  • Tiap buku punya kelebihan dan kekurangan terutama berkaitan dengan tema/negara tertentu. LP itu sangat dikenal dengan rute backpacker era 70-80an tapi belakangan mengalami set-back hingga akhirnya dijual pada BBC pada Oktober 2007.
  • Lihat tahun penerbitan atau edisinya. Guidebooks yang baik adalah mengikuti dinamika perkembangan seperti politik dan keuangan (inflasi, mata uang dst). LP dan RG secara konstan merevisi buku sebelumnya. LP bahkan mencanangkan tiap 4 tahun sekali pada tempat2 yang populer.
  • Good information doesn't mean accurate one. Bandingkan aja buku satu dengan yang lain apakah informasi itu bagus dengan presentasi yang baik. Buku yang nampak indah mempesona belum tentu akurat isinya. Sedangkan buku dengan tampilan seadanya mungkin lebih kita butuhkan. Simak isi daripada sampul (dan photo).
  • Believe your own instinct. Buku adalah jendela dunia. Iyah tapi seterusnya terserah anda. Terkadang buku hanya memberikan gambaran kasar dan kita membiarkan detail2 di lapangan. Nilai adventure dan discovery jadi lebih kerasa kan?
  • Waspada over-hype. Ini biasanya menjangkiti pemilik restaurant atau penginapan yang tempatnya dimasukkan di LP. Kliatan dari caranya memasarkan dengan : "ditampilkan dalam Lonely Planet edisi Indonesia 2005" Kiat menjual ini bisa saja membuat kita tertarik atau sebaliknya. Saya sendiri cenderung tidak menuruti LP kalau urusan makan dan akomodasi. Lihat di lapangan aja langsung.
  • Everyone got their own opinion. Pada dasarnya buku panduan berisi opini si penulis. Ada buku yang dibuat dengan sistem kolaborasi yang mungkin membuat opini itu jadi blur. Karena itu membaca buku panduan harus dengan hati dan mata terbuka. It can be right, it can be wrong.

Bacaan berikutnya :
Lonely Planet and Globalization by Carl Parkes
Pengakuan salah satu penulis Lonely Planet yang menjadi skandal
Lonely Planet Answers a Writer's Claims at NY Times

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Jakarta Post Weekender : Are you a good blogger?

I've been honored that this blog listed as one of good blogs based from the article Words from Afar in Jakarta Post Weekender August 2008. Thanks to Yiyit in Australia with her piece to investigate alternative media to connect our roots. The article digging into blogs as a media to communicate with family and friends while you're living abroad.

You've probably could not see Cerita Ambar in online version, instead it appeared as sidebar column. Actually those column has more intriguing notes which one of them is :

What makes a good blogger.

According to people interviewed for this article a good blogger :
  • consistently produces good quality articles -using good grammar and research or analysis, if necessary
  • is able to keep a cool head -a blogger should be wary of overreacting to criticisms
  • has the courtesy to leave authored (not anonymous) comments on blogs that she/he; and respond on comments that have been left on his/her blog, although is not compulsory
  • understand the consensus within a given community or network. The more one blogs in a specific community, the more one understand the unwritten, unendorsed rules of the game being played.

Speaking about unwritten rules? agreed, that you've need skill to read behind the words.

Other contributors links :
Eliza at Fooddiary
Himawan at Brokenpipes
Keluarga Nugraha at ResepNugraha
Koenil at Mymusings
Muhammad Ali at Muhammadali
Merlyna at Merlyna
Santi at Trilingual
Tosa Nugraha at guabukanmonyet

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Working Holiday Australia Visa untuk backpacker muda Indonesia

Akhir2 ini saya dikontak beberapa mahasiswa yang ngebet backpacking. Entah ke Asia atau negara lainnya. Kabar bahagia nih buat yang mencoba peruntungan di Aussie. Pihak imigrasi Australia dengan Indonesia sedang mengupayakan visa kunjungan yang bisa dipakai untuk bekerja (working hoilday visa untuk usia dibawah 30 tahun masa 12-24 bulan). Sementara ini pihak Indonesia baru membatasi orang Australia bekerja di sektor turism dan mengajar bahasa Inggris. Sedang Australia membatasi pada sektor2 skill tertentu (lihat di link assesment dibawah).

Dikutip dari Australian Visa Bureu :

6 August 2008
Indonesia secures working holiday visa with Australia

Australia will begin a working holiday visa scheme with Indonesia
which will allow people to holiday and work in either destination.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the two countries have an
agreement which is similar to others already held by Australia.

Senator Chris Evans, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship,
told the newspaper: "This will facilitate the capacity of young
people from each country to work and holiday in each other's
countries." He added that the scheme will allow young people from
both countries to learn about the other's culture.

Australians visiting Indonesia will be restricted to jobs in tourism,
teaching English or working in a hospital. However, those visiting
Australia on the visa will be allowed to work in several sectors.
Before this arrangement residents were only allowed into the
countries on tourist visas, which meant they could not legally work.
Indonesia and Australia have also entered into a new computer project
which will increase security across the countries' borders.

Australia needs skilled workers: Anyone applying for an Australian
visa should begin by completing the Australian Visa Bureau's online
Australian visa application to see if they meet the Australian visa

Links :
Visa Working Holiday Australia http://tinyurl.com/5szd82
Assessment Aplikasi Visa Australia http://tinyurl.com/6kx2wa
Persyaratan Visa Australia http://tinyurl.com/38r28b

Sumber lain :
Jakarta Post : New Agreement to let RI students work in Australia on tourist visa
Antara : Indonesia, Autralia complete border security alert computer project

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