Sayur Assam

So maybe I was not telling the whole truth on why I am OOO (Out of Order) today.

Last Saturday, a colleague brought me to the market. I love markets despite being a little bit chaotic. It reminded me so much of the ones we have in the Philippines. The problem was the heat. It was like I was punched in the face. It was a sweltering 32 degrees Celsius there in the city.

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I lived in a tropical country all my life but since I migrated to one of the hills in North Sumatra, it doesn’t feel so tropical at all. We have 18-24 degrees Celsius everyday, sometimes lower.

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So I think that one set me back. And then I had to attend a travel fair which could have survived the light of day without me. I have to remember not to attend such things again unless I need to buy a trip for a cheaper price.

And then I went to Cemara, the biggest Buddhist temple in Medan. It has become a local attraction. People of all kinds are there. The rows of street kitchen and restaurants probably also added to the appeal.

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So dinner time and we decided to have our feast there. The colleague has been dying to let me try Sayur Assam since she learned that I like sour taste. She caught me picking green mangoes from the tree in the city office one time and that sealed it. Anything that is sour, Leslee will like.

I was curious what this Sayur Assam is. Sayur means vegetable and Assam means sour in Indonesia. From the picture I saw it looks like the Filipino version of Sinigang. If it is, I won’t have a problem with it.

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I checked the ingredients: shrimp, beans, cabbage, eggplant, tamarind, fish stock, turmeric, almond, shallots, garlic and dried shrimp paste. Sounds like Sinigang to me except for the shrimp paste.

The dish came. A soupy dish. I tried it. The sour taste is overpowering. Then there is the sweet taste. But the killer was the shrimp paste. I almost puked. It was horrible.

When asked if I like it, I said it is interesting.

Liar!

I finished one whole bowl without breathing but promised to the self that I will not touch that dish ever again in this lifetime.

Until now, I can still taste it on my tongue. It has that lingering effect which makes me cringe my nose.

I hope I learned my lesson. Just say no.

But the problem with me is I always find it hard to say no. Haaaayyyy.

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The Tree Feller

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I am demolished in my bed. I don’t want to get up. I am actually feeling a little bit better than yesterday but I don’t want to take the risk (Read:I just want to be lazy today.)

I knew something was wrong when I woke up yesterday morning. The whole body was in pain. I was silently cursing that lady who massaged me the night before. The expat colleague has been raving about this spa next to the hotel in the city where I always stay when I go down from the hills. He said the price is cheap and the service is good. He got that all wrong.

One, I think the price was exorbitantly high. I paid Rp200,000 for a 2 hour massage. Ok, so maybe that is not so expensive. But I was trying to compare it with the massage I had in a 4-star hotel recently which only costed me Rp70,000. But yeah, that’s an hour. Ok never mind. I just want a massage that time and I will pay whatever it costs. But it has to be good.

Two, the service is horrible.

So the masseuse led me to the room. They have this stainless palanggana to wash my feet. So cheap, I was rolling my eyes as I was telling this to the self. Anyway, I was busy BBMing so I just let the matter go.My BB is alive again! But that’s another story.

Then I was led to a room where 4 massage beds separated by curtains are. And I can hear people talking. What the heck?! So much for a relaxing massage. The masseuse started rattling and my Baby Bahasa Indonesia cannot keep up. I have to say hold on, saya tidak orang Indonesia (I am not Indonesian.) And that made her blabber more wanting to find out where I am from. After 3 failed attempts, she has been repeating three countries again and again like those are the only countries in this world with this kind of face, I gave in and said I am Filipino.

Then the massage started. OMG. The lady must be a tree feller in her past life. Her hands were so strong and tough. Grazing them to my body was torture. But the Asian in me did not speak up. When asked if I was ok, I just gave a grunt hoping she’ll get it. She didn’t. And that’s 2 hours of wincing. Ok, maybe one and a half hours as she tends to go out from the room from time to time for I don’t know reason. I felt like I am being cheated for my hours but it gave me respite from her ax hands.

What I hate the most about people in the service industry is when they blatantly ask for a tip. This one is that kind. I have barely recovered from my self-inflicted punishment and was fumbling down the stairs in a heady state when she said, “Miss, tips.”

I could have been mean right there and then but I did not (which I regret). I fished through my pocket and gave her more than necessary. I just promised the self I will never be back in that spa ever again.

So, long story, when I woke up the following day (that was yesterday), the expected happened. The whole body was aching and the worst part is I have to pack and check out from the hotel. I have to go up to the hills that morning and endure that 4-hour semi-bumpy ride.

I knew something was wrong when I was having breakfast in the hotel resto and the food makes me want to puke. I eat those food all the time. But that time, I only had a few spoonfuls. I thought it will go away when the body realizes it is awake. It didn’t.

The driver picked me up and the pain just worsened with that uphill climb. I was dragging myself to my room when I arrived in the hills.

So yes, I am still in my bed. Today is supposed to be a workday for me. I have tons of things to do. But what the heck. I am going to laze around eating my bubur ayam (porridge) until the sun goes up again tomorrow.

The story of my life.

When Sales is Male and Marketing is Female

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I found myself this morning having coffee with the GM of one of the big airlines here in Indonesia (as if it is the most normal Saturday morning event in my world).

I have to scramble out of bed when I read the SMS from my boss. “Leslee, let me know if you understand this…” and he continued with a Bahasa Indonesia message which he left me to figure out on my own. He has so much confidence in my baby Indonesian that he should feel lucky everytime I get what he means without cheating and using Google translate.

So anyway, I found myself driving to one cafe to have a morning chit chat with this person I barely know save for his name and what he does for a living.

The GM and his son decided to drop by the area where I live because the son wants to take some nature shots he wish to use as an entry to a photo competition hosted by the airline.

As we sip our coffee and start some small talk while the son wanders around to take his shots, the conversation ventured into arts and technology, the subjects all his children are into now.

The GM said he supports whatever his sons are doing for the moment but expects them to be more focused in a few years time. And he said that whatever his sons decide to do in the future, they must all learn marketing.

So I carried the conversation along until he shared to me a theory he coined which he is not so sure if is really very original. I was game for it anyway.

He said Sales and Marketing are two very different things.

I have to listen clearly as this is coming from a man wisened by experience and age.

He has always viewed Sales as a male and Marketing as a female.

Sales is aggressive, is doing the rounds for prey, is ready with techniques to lure and get what it wants, is always ready for the kill.

Marketing is like a female, it just stays put but is always prettifying itself, coming up with ways to lure predators, is a beautiful trap.

From a person who did not take a single business or management course in my entire life, what he said somehow makes sense.

He continued, “Some people are made for sales. Some people are made for marketing. I cannot do sales but I know I can do marketing.”

And we continued on and on. So much for a lazy Saturday morning talk. I was just prepared to talk about the weather, really.

Well, I guess that starts my very first lesson in Sales and Marketing. My other boss wants me to trail him every week to the city as he does his consultancy on the subject. I really don’t know what will be my purpose there but these are free lessons for life so I am very much in.

I am at a loss on how to call what I do for a living now. I sip coffee with people I don’t know, I play golf even when I don’t know a single thing about the game, I have to learn fishing, the list of weird things I do is endless.

But I love this job. Seriously. Now I wonder what I have to do tomorrow. I remember the other boss mentioning that I should list down nice spots to take wedding photos.

What a life.

Blackberry, Brazilian, Bucket List, Beautiful Memories

Rewind to two weeks ago.

I got a Ping in my BBM.

It was 7 AM. I was sprawled in bed covered in the usual white duvet that is a standard in most hotels. It was a day off. I was meaning to sleep in because hello, it is a day off so I was firing expletives in my head for that person who pinged me at such an hour.

I checked the phone.

Fernanda: Are you awake?
Me: Barely. Only one eye is open.
Fernanda: Wake up! Go online in Skype.

Silence.

I think I fell asleep for a good few seconds.

Fernanda: Where are you?! My students want to talk to you!
Me: Bekle! (It means wait in Turkish.)
Me: I am still in bed crazy woman! (Some people don’t know the concept of time difference. Omaygad!)

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And that was it. I went online and saw gawking sixteenish to eighteenish Brazilian students who look older than the 30 year-old, barely awake, clad in my pajamas me asking questions like why do Asians love to eat rice and is it really true that I am 30 because honestly I look like 12. Ok, I made that up. I don’t remember anymore what we talked about. As I said, I was barely awake.

I don’t even know why I agreed to talk to them with my unwashed face, unkempt hair, and barely functioning neurons. Maybe that was it. The brain was still booting. Oh, one thing I remember though, they wanted to see how my pajamas look like or if I am really wearing pajamas. These Brazilians.

Anyway…

I miss Fernanda.

It has been almost two years since we were physically together. The last time I saw her was when my Turkish host family hosted a farewell dinner for me in their home. She came over together with other dear international and Turkish friends to bid me goodbye as I pack and fly back to the Philippines the following day.

There were no tears that night. I think. But we know that it could possibly be the last time we will see each other in this lifetime. What are the chances of meeting again? We live in the opposite sides of the world. I am from the Philippines. She is from Brazil. A few days after I left Turkey it was time also for her to go. We will be crafting our real lives back home and will be busy to make sense of the years that we are blessed with.

Today, as I lie again in my bed covered with the white duvet, I came across this blog on Bucket List. Inspired to make mine too, though I know I have done it several times in the past but have lost the paper where I wrote my stuff, I grabbed my red journal and started scribbling.

I divided it into two groups, Bucket List for 2013 and the Ultimate Bucket List. My concept and titles were not really original. I just copied it from the blog. And I found myself writing in the Ultimate List, Meet up with Fernanda again.

We know we always lament that we want to see each other. Being the Latina that she is, she is so sappy and melodramatic every time we talk about it. It sounds gayish to a point.

Photo courtesy of Ercan Kurt, a good friend we met in Turkey. I stole this pic from his Instagram.  Friends who lived with me in this city knows exactly where this shot was taken.
Photo courtesy of Ercan Kurt, a good friend we met in Turkey. I stole this pic from his Instagram. Friends who lived with me in this city knows exactly where this shot was taken.

But I guess that’s how it really is. I guess we represent one beautiful part of each other’s lives. And it is with having each other, reminiscing all those good things again and again, that we keep those memories alive. Those memories that we are clinging to and we hope will never escape us ever in this life.

So yeah, that’s one of the ultimate things I hope to strike out from my list before the time expires. Good luck to us.

I Write to Hear Myself

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I am sitting here having my late breakfast, drinking my cold coffee, staring from time to time at the greens outside, getting lost in my thoughts, picking up my Kindle and browsing through books I have read, then jotting random stuff in my journal.

I haven’t written in a long time. Could it have been because I was too busy? It has been more than a month since my last post. Or is it because I just don’t know what to write?

There are actually a lot of things in my head that I want to write. Living in Indonesia and experiencing a lot of new things are enough to keep my fingers pounding. But I haven’t gone around to doing that much, though.

Could it be pure laziness? With too many activities in the day, I forget to slow down, process and unload? Or could it be something else?

Whatever it is one thing is for sure, I write to hear myself.

It is when I stop, contemplate, internalize, and string letters that I hear the inner voice inside. It is with inking words that I understand more what I am going through.

It has been a month since I wrote. It has been a month since I heard the self.

And the self is in a rampage now going on and on. I have missed a lot, it seems.