Silence is gold

As I grow older, the most challenging thing I find is being silent. Refraining from voicing one’s opinion. It’s a slippery slope. When one’s not careful, his dignity may go away with the careless or offensive opinion that he publicly expresses.

Eat, Bay, Love.

I moved to California ten months ago when my husband was offered a position in Google. Living far away from home and family might sound daunting, but fortunately, I was rather trained in that. Or so I thought.

I come from Solo, a small town in Indonesia who recently came to spotlight since the mayor rose to become the newly-elect president of Indonesia. Right after high school, I moved to Singapore for my undergraduate study and spent one third of my life there. Still, Singapore is very much closer to Indonesia in terms of culture and proximity. It’s just a two-hour journey by plane from Solo, while California is totally at the other side of the earth. And one thing I miss the most besides family: The Food.

When I was back home, good foods are so abundant, even if I don’t feel like cooking. The streets are literally lined up with rows and rows of food peddlers which offer a great variety of dishes and all you have to do is choose. If you come from Asia, I am sure you could relate and might take a journey down the memory lane of your own too.

A localized street food area in Solo called “Galabo”

You can get as lazy as you want and still you won’t be starving. Even if you can’t come to the food, the food will come to you. It’s normal to see food peddlers biking their wagons around the blocks like this.

Most big to middle-sized towns in Indonesia have very vibrant night life. But no, you won’t really find bars and discotheques there. Instead, you can fulfill any craving you have, even when it’s past your bed time. In fact, some of these food peddlers only start their first order at 2.00 A.M. These food peddlers sell the best gudeg in town. Gudeg is a dish made of young jackfruit which is braised in coconut milk and spices and cooked over low heat for hours, which makes is so fragrant. Although they only start to serve their customer during the wee hours, people have started queuing an hour before the opening time because the food are so popular that they’re gonna be sold out before rooster crows at dawn.

So you see… All my life, I have been having easy access to Indonesian food. It wasn’t even difficult to find when I was in Singapore, which makes moving to Bay Area a big change. There’s no more lazy days around: If I want it, I gotta cook it. I’ve got no choice but to rely on nobody but me. Thanks to the Asian stores who are scattered with things I thought I only could find back home, now I can recreate the magical dinner spread that I could only had in my dreams. Most Asian stores like 99 Ranch, Lion supermarket, and smaller asian grocery stores are so easy to find in Bay Area. They even have some aisles dedicated to ingredients and packed foods that originated from several countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Not only that, the Indonesians living in Bay Area taught me a lot of things about cooking. They are generally great in terms of cooking, perhaps because like me, they wanted to still have a taste of home but they’ve got nobody to buy it from. Hence they learned to cook everything by themselves, and they become masters at it.
In fact, I recently learn how to cook gudeg which I find it quite an achievement since I thought it was impossibly hard to make. Talk about the power of having to do everything on your own! My friends even persuaded me to make it especially for a fundraising for the landslide victims back in Indonesia. Had I not moved to California, this couldn’t have happened.
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P.S. There are some Indonesian restaurants in Bay Area that you might want to give a chance on one of your weekend eat-outs. Here is some listings that I found in Yelp and I think you should definitely five the five-star ones a try. I have only been to Padi Restaurant but I can tell you their food is great.
http://www.yelp.com/list/indonesian-food-in-bay-area-san-francisco-2

Cabe Oh Cabe

Salah satu hal yang bikin saya excited ketika grocery shopping di sini adalah ketika nemuin bermacam-macam jenis cabe. Kalau di Indonesia adanya cabe hijau saja, di sini cabe hijau pun banyak variannya. Ada jalapeno, serrano, anaheim, dll. Kalau di indo cuman tau cabe merah, di sini jadi tau cabe fresno, hungaro, habanero, etc. Dan tingkat kepedasannya pun beragam. Dari yang nggak pedas sama sekali sampai bisa dicemilin gitu aja, sampai yang puedes banget. Alhamdulillahnya sudah terlatih dengan cabe rawit merah (kalau orang Singapur bilang chilli padi) yang pedes banget, jadi nggak kaget kalo makan yang pedas pun.

Kelebihan lain dengan adanya banyak varian itu adalah kita jadi punya kontrol lebih terhadap spending. Misalnya mau bikin balado, tapi cabe fresno harganya sedang naik, tinggal pilih cabai tipe lain. Kebetulan di pasar dekat rumah cabe hungaro sedang murah. Harganya sekitar Rp 25 ribu rupiah saja per kilonya.

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99 sen per pound, atau sekitar Rp25rb/kg

Setelah ditilik, tingkat kepedasan cabe hungaro dengan fresno ternyata sama. Saya juga baru tau cabe itu ada ratingnya, namanya Scoville scale. Setiap cabe diberi nilai dalam satuan Scoville Heat Unit (SHU).

Anyway, ketika ngobrol2 sama mertua, katanya cabe sedang mahal, sekitar Rp 100 ribu sekilo. Wah sedih juga, apalagi untuk orang minang yang sering masak balado atau orang yang nggak bisa hidup tanpa sambel terasi😄
Tadinya saya pikir pindah ke Amerika bakalan susah menemukan bahan untuk memasak makanan tanah air. Alhamdulillah ternyata pilihannya justru lebih banyak, sehingga kita bisa terus menikmati hidangan dalam negeri dengan tetap berhemat tentunya.

Kisah Perjalanan Sebuah Pempek

Ketika saya masih kuliah dan belum bisa masak, rasanya bisa menikmati hidangan nusantara ketika jauh dari tanah air itu sebuah keistimewaan sendiri. Selain karena jarang keberadaannya, makanan tersebut juga biasanya menguras kantong mahasiswa saya yang memang sudah tipis, karena berarti saya harus membelinya dari rumah makan Indonesia yang harganya lebih mahal. Alternatif lebih terjangkau tentulah dengan membuat sendiri. Tapi untuk mahasiswa yang tidak punya skill dan peralatan memasak yang memadai tentulah hal ini jadi mustahil.

Setelah bekerja lalu menikah, perlahan-lahan saya mulai mengumpulkan peralatan memasak dan bumbu-bumbu tradisional. Saya pun mulai mengenal beberapa ibu-ibu yang lebih berpengalaman di sekitar saya. Saya betul-betul terkagum-kagum dengan keahlian masak mereka. Jangankan cuma oseng-oseng, mereka jago sekali membuat masakan yang nggak semua orang bisa seperti sate padang, pempek, pastel, bakso, bolen, molen dll. Kenapa saya bilang wah? Saya ingat waktu kecil itu untuk mendapatkan makanan semacam ini, ibu-ibu di keluarga saya biasanya pesan dari orang, bukan dengan membuat sendiri. Entah apa saya yang memang berada dalam lingkungan yang kurang eksplorasi masak atau bagaimana. Tapi yang jelas, saya ingat betul bahwa hanya dengan bisa memasak hal-hal ini saja sudah standing ovation banget lah. Makanya saya kagum sama ibu-ibu rantau yang skillnya nggak habis-habis. Kalau di indonesia pengen batagor, bakso, sate, pempek, serabi; kita tinggal naik motor dan beli di penjualnya. Tetapi di rantau ini manalah ada abang-abang yang dorong gerobak siomay keliling. Makanya hampir setiap ibu yang saya temui pasti (garis bawahi ya) bisa membuatnya.

Sedikit demi sedikit saya belajar dari mereka — ibu-ibu dharmawanita kantor suami saya di Singapura dulu sampai ibu-ibu Indonesia yang ada di Amerika sekarang. Saya ingat sekali perjalanan belajar pempek saya 5 tahun yang lalu sampai baru-baru ini saya belajar bahan dan teknik pembuatannya dari ibu-ibu di California. Dari yang dulunya sekeras sandal jepit dan hanya berbentuk bulat-bulat, sampai akhirnya saya tahu membuat adonan yang lebih lembut dan kekenyalannya pas, gurih, dan bentuknya beragam. Berkat kursus kilat teknik pempek dari seorang ibu di sinilah saya berhasil membuat pempek kapal selam. Rasanya alhamdulillah sesuatu banget, seperti yang tadinya cuma bisa 2+2=4 lalu sekarang sudah menguasai trigonometri. Alhamdulillah keringat ini pun terbayar dengan suami saya yang doyan makan dan nagih terus minta pempek.

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PeeR selanjutnya adalah bikin bakso sendiri. Sudah sering saya makan bakso super enak buatan ibu-ibu California yang kualitasnya sama seperti bakso terkenal di Solo. Saya jadi nggak sabar untuk mencoba. Super excited!

Kisah Di Tengah Rintik Hujan

Musim gugur sudah mulai. Sebentar lagi akan datang musim dingin. Cuaca jadi dingin-dingin empuk. Nikmat sekali sore-sore sambil selimutan dan minum coklat sementara di luar rintik-rintik hujan mulai turun.

Alhamdulillah hari ini merasa beruntung banget dapat beberapa teman baik di sini. Kami tadi praktek membuat pempek di rumah seorang kawan. Subhanallah, cuaca yg dingin pun jadi terhangatkan oleh silaturahim dan canda tawa. Umar pun jadi dapat kesempatan untuk main dengan teman-teman sebayanya. Saking asyiknya masak dan makan malam bersama, sampai-sampai tidak terasa sudah pukul 9 malam. Di perjalanan menuju rumah saya baru teringat belum mengembalikan buku library yang sudah lewat deadline. Akhirnya saya putuskan untuk sekalian mampir ke library Sunnyvale. Untungnya ada bookdrop di luar library, sehingga masih bisa mengembalikan buku walaupun sudah jauh lewat opening hoursnya.

Perpustakaannya kebetulan terletak di tengah-tengah komplek perkantoran dan townhall. Jadi kalau malam sepinya minta ampun. Alhamdulillah naik mobil, jadi tidak takut-takut amat. Parkirannya yang luas pun lengang, makanya saya tidak segan parkir di tempat disabled, karena paling dekat tempat bookdrop.

Saya pun cepat-cepat jalan menuju bookdrop. Agak serem juga karena sudah lewat jam 9 dan super sepi serta gelap. Kepala clingak clinguk kesana kemari, memastikan kalau aman-aman saja. Saya kaget karena di bench di depan pintu masuk library ada orang homeless yg sedang duduk meringkuk di sana, di tengah dinginnya udara sisa-sisa hujan. Astaghfirullah, kasihan sekali dia. Semua barangnya dijejerkan di atas bangku sambil ditutupi kain semacam terpal, sementara dia duduk dengan kepalanya ditelungkupkan ke pangkuannya, sambil tangannya meringkuk kedinginan. Suhu di luar mungkin mencapai 12°. Ini baru awal musim gugur, bagaimana nanti kalau musim dingin?

Saya percepat jalan saya. Setengah kasian setengah takut, sambil mikir kira-kira suara saya kedengeran nggak ya sampe ke kantor polisi terdekat kalau ada apa-apa😀

Dalam hati saya bersyukur. Alhamdulillah kami masih bisa menyewa tempat tinggal untuk berteduh dari panas dan dingin. Masih punya tempat tidur untuk beristirahat. Masih punya heater dan selimut ketika dingin. Masih mampu beli makanan agar kenyang dan hot chocolate untuk menghangatkan badan. Masih punya keluarga yang utuh untuk menghangatkan hati.
Fabi’ayyi alaa’i rabbikumaa tukadzibaan.

Sometimes you just can’t help it

I’ve got two kids and this is how my house looks like. Well I theoretically have only one, but I still need to pick up after my husband too. Good thing is he always loads the dishwasher every night now, which I’m awfully grateful for😀

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I’m not a neat freak, but whoever finds their house in this state must have had a little dose of headache. The thing is, it gets like this not once nor twice in a day, but more often than that. So I find myself just sit and stare at this chaos helplessly, otherwise my tush will not get its rest since I’m constantly bending over to pick up something on the floor.

Thankfully, much to my consolation, it’s kinda the same for my friends who have little kids. I’ve been to their houses and things are sometimes worse, since they have more kids, which means more toys. If not for their diligence and a tight discipline to stick to their cleaning routines, I believe their house might explode at some point.

Book Summary: The Power of Habit

Part One: The Habits of Individuals

Chapter 1 & 2 (The Habit Loop and The Craving Brain) have been covered in previous blogpost.
https://gitaarimanda.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/the-keystone-habit-and-how-it-can-transform-your-life/ 

Chapter 3: The Golden Rule of Habit Change

  • How to change a habit:
    Keep the cue → Provide the same rewards → Insert a NEW routine
  • Once people believe in something, that skill started spilling over to other parts of their lives, until they started believing they could change.

 

Part Two: The Habit of Societies

Chapter 4: When Willpower Becomes Automatic

  • Willpower is like our muscle. We must train them so that they become stronger.
  • Willpower has its own inflection point. We must know it very well and plan in details on how to overcome it
  • The way willpower becomes a habit:
    By choosing a certain behaviour ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.
  • Happens mostly in the workplace:
    When people don’t have control over a routine or when it is forced on them, their willpower muscles get tired much faster. By giving people a sense of agency, that they are in control, that they have a genuine decision-making authority, their willpower and self-discipline get stronger. 

Chapter 5: The Power of A Crisis

  • Crisis should be seized as an opportunity of habit change.
  • In an organisation, sometimes crisis (or the sense of crisis happening) is needed to give people jolt and persuade them to shift from an ineffective status quo. 

Chapter 6: How Target Knows What You Want Before You Do

  • By dressing something new in old clothes, and making the unfamiliar seem familiar is one way to make something into a habit.
  • For example:
    • People disguised animal gut into familiar meal item such as meatloaf to make people used to eat them.
    • Sandwiching a new song in between highly sticky songs to make it more familiar to listener, and hence sticky.
    • Camouflaging diaper coupons to pregnant women among things which seem unrelated (hence seem like the product of random selection) so that it won’t creep them out.

Part Three: The Habits of Societies

Chapter 8: How Movements Happen

  • Many of the people Granovetter studied had learned about new job opportunities through weak ties, rather than from close friends. Our weak-tie acquaintances are often as influential—if not more—than our close friends.
    As Granovetter wrote, “Individuals with few weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends.
  • The habits of peer pressure have something in common. They often spread through weak ties. And they gain their authority through communal expectations. If one ignores the social obligations of his community, he risks losing his social standing.
  • On a playground, peer pressure is dangerous. In adult life, it’s how business gets done and communities self-organize.