THE STATUE, THE FLOWER AND THE CAT OWNER

“uhm… hello…?
…umm… excuse me. yah. no i’m not dead. i’m still here. just not really here. but i’m here. is this um… keyboard still working?
…yah it is. okay.”

image

nine of cups - paulina tarot

Maybe the first dream is THE STATUE.
It is a bronze statue in front of a church in an unnamed city. i can’t really see the church that stands a few hundred meters behind the statue, but somehow I know.
Then, suddenly the statue turns alive and comes approaching me. It is a woman. And I am told that she is The Magdalene.

Now the second dream must be THE FLOWER. I am sitting at a cafe facing a girl friend, then what apparently to be a full-bloomed sunflower in a crystal (or glass) vase starts moving and turning and creates some invisible spiral of aura around it. And I stick my stretched palms onto the table, my eyes fixed on the turning flower in the vase, I feel my lips smile and my eyes sparkle so much they hurt, and I hear myself say: “It’s Magdalene!”

The third one, which I call THE CAT OWNER, happens in a strange house. I see a dead woman seated on a rocking chair up on the 1st floor. She doesn’t try to be sweet or look pretty when she decides to get up and float down the stairs and stops in front of me. I am not horrified, because somehow I can sense that she can’t help posing her zombie-like stare at me (for she’s actually…well, dead) even if she tried harder not to. Anyway. She sees a bright aura right behind me, a warm, bright light bigger than me, and she tells me: “She (The Magdalene) has a cat.”

entangled

we’re entangled
created as one
and with a blow of the wind, separated by time
oceans and lands
cultures and music gods

we’re a single soul
in two different places
in reality we’re still one

it’s not a surprise then that we pull each other closer
and when one of us is pulled away into the darkness
the other will simply disappear

Ta Thei Tat – Learn Kathak Dance in Jakarta

Ta Thei Tat – Kathak Dance Class in Jakarta

What is Kathak Dance?

Pt. Birju Maharaj & Saswati Sen

This style from northern India has gained immense popularity today. It is known for its sparkling footwork, fast whirling movements and subtle abhinaya or mimetic dance. It almost never fails to capture the audience and this ability is probably because of its long history in the courts of emperors and kings.

 

Kathak is all refinement, whether it is in
your hastakas, your body, your mind or in your total being.

Nahid Siddiqui

Who’s the dancer?

Aila El-Edroos started learning Kathak dance at Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre, Jakarta, in the late 2002 under the guidance of Ms. Nandini Sinha. ICCR then granted her privilege to learn more of the dance style at Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, from where she learned under the guidance of Guru Shri Krishan Mohan Mishra for three amazing years.

Aila El-Edroos

New Delhi’s authentic art ambiance also brought her to take up an advance course of Kathak dance from the living legend himself, Pandit Birju Maharaj. She couldn’t have been luckier to be able to work with celebrated Kathak dance choreographers and perform on many great Indian stages.

After finishing the three-year diploma courses, Aila went back to Jakarta to continue pursuing her dream: to spread the unique, immortal style of story-telling and to interpret human experiences through Kathak to people in the city.

Dancing kathak is a realisation . Dancers
should treat kathak as an invocation.
Pt. Birju Maharaj

A Tree that Talked

Orange Tree: by Jessika

They just pretend to die. All of them. The truth is, and it is supposed to be a secret, they don’t die. We all will never die. They just make up the horrifying story about death so we all can be good to each other because sometimes we have to be threatened to be good to other people, animals and earth. Strange. If only we all could be nice to each other without any reason, they wouldn’t have to lie to us about people dying and going to heaven or things like that. Eventually, each and every one of us will have to hide in a place nobody knows, just like my grandfather, to continue living our immortal lives while laughing behind people whom we leave behind, believing that we’re dead and rotten five feet under.

“That’s cruel! You let us all suffer here thinking that we’ve lost people we love, while actually you are there playing chess and watching football!!!”

My grandfather tried to give me a clue about this. Of course he couldn’t tell me the truth. They are not allowed to tell us here because it would ruin the whole plan. He just came into my dream once. We were playing hide and seek and he said:

“Aliyah, don’t tell anyone I’m hiding here.” He said, then continued hiding and I saw him chatting and giggling inaudibly with the tree he was hiding behind. I couldn’t see which part of the tree resembled a mouth and produced language that my grandfather understood.

I woke up the next morning and told my mother that my grandfather was alive and hiding in a place where a tree could talk. She told me to shut up, finish my breakfast and brought up the sensitive subject.

“I called Sabrina just now.”

“Why did you call my friend? Don’t you have your own?” I know she did that to investigate me. My grandfather used to like my sense of humor which my mother never found funny. It was even rather rude and insulting for her.

“You didn’t go to the French class with her yesterday because she wasn’t feeling well.” She crossed her arms on the table and gave me that stare. The intention was not to find out what was going on with me, it was to show me that she found out my lie and made her score more points ahead of me.

“Unless I feel that it is important, I’d rather go to Carmen to learn some new steps.” How could I be so rude to my mother? It wasn’t because of the fake afterlife secret my grandfather told me, because I had set a distance between me and my mother long before that.

How many times have you heard your parents say that you should make your own bed? Maybe it is important for them, but what does it do to you? I make my own bed, because I hate messy room. It makes me dizzy. So, I see the point of doing that. I see the point of seeing Carmen because I love dancing and she is a good dancer and coming to her class makes me feel good. I don’t see the point of learning French. I don’t like French guys and Flamenco is from Spain.

“Why can’t I just learn Spanish?”

“You don’t need to understand anything Carmen says. You just have to follow her steps.”

“Hahaha. I like that one!” I meant, that was witty, right? I knew that my mother was actually a fun person if she hadn’t been too preoccupied with her work and never-ending effort to suppress her depression after my father left us three years ago. We were not good friends since then. Deep down I always blamed her for letting my father go. I blamed her because I knew that she blamed me.

“Give you mother a break, Aliyah. She’s tired and you’re not making the relationship between you too any better. I wouldn’t let that happen to my relationship with my mother.” Sabrina started with her words of wisdom while slurping her hot chicken soup. It looked so delicious but I didn’t eat from an ill person’s bowl or spoon even if the person was my good friend.

“I’m sorry but I’m not taking advice from someone who can’t keep a secret.” I wasn’t usually upset with anything, but I’m on the edge of screaming off my mother’s face and running away to where my grandfather hid because she wouldn’t leave me alone and I had had enough. I grabbed my tote bag and Sabrina grabbed it back to her bed.

“Because I don’t want you to lie to your mother to be able to do things you want. There’s a more civilized way to achieve a goal, girl. And you know so well what it is.”

I lifted my eyebrows.

“And I’m not talking about running away.” She was quick.

Why should I run away anyway? There was a huge orange tree on our backyard which you could see from the kitchen window. My father made a swing on one of the strongest branches and I would play there and they would watch me from the window. I never came near the tree or the swing again. But, suddenly I remembered about the dream and I thought perhaps, just perhaps, my grandfather was hiding behind THAT tree.

It must be amazing to have a tree that talks. Could it be those leaves rub against each other and make some English-sounding voices? God forbids French! Unless it could teach me better than my teacher. Or, it could be the cracks on the wood that produced the sound. But, then I thought that it wasn’t mouth that made someone talk. And it wasn’t ear that made someone hear. My hypothesis came down to two. The tree spoke to my grandfather with telepathy. The tree had a heart that connected to his heart so they could feel each other. It then occurred to me that there was number three: a tree didn’t talk.

“Of course it does!”

My eyes popped out. I said, alright. I don’t mean to offend you, but if you just stood there and didn’t say anything how would I have known?

That was my first encounter with the talking tree. I tried to convince myself that this was real. If I had been 3 years old, then this could be my imaginary friend. But I was 13, and I knew what was real and what was not. My mind arose and slipped in a word ‘schizophrenic’ with a big question mark ‘?’ but it slipped away so fast.

The Orange Tree had a soothing voice. It sounded almost like my grandfather but younger. I thanked it for letting me swing on its branch when I was small. Too bad it didn’t want to tell me where my grandfather hid. But, I knew it was him who sent it to me.

I spent more time behind the tree where no one could see. My mother would call me for dinner, and when I wasn’t hungry, I climbed up the tree instead and hid there. It was a bliss to have a long chat with the tree. It was so wise and funny. It understood all languages in the world and it promised to help me with my French.

“You would astonish your mother!”

But, I didn’t care about astonishing anybody. I wanted to be good at French because I wanted to be like the tree. To understand many things.

The tree didn’t talk so much when the time came for me to complain about my mother. I told it that she hated me because she and my father started to have big fights all the time after I had been born. He blamed her for delivering a dyslexic baby. Vice versa. They blamed each other for everytime I couldn’t write the word ‘breakfast’, read a children’s book, solve simple math.

“And your grandfather taught you everything.”

Sometimes I wished both of my parents go and my grandfather stay.

And, suddenly the wind blew and the tree branch swayed and smacked me down hard on the ground. I let out a good scream one second after I heard a bone was broken. I couldn’t see anything not because it was dark outside at 2 o’clock in the morning, but because my head hit a tree root and I almost fainted. I felt my mother’s hands carry me inside and the wind leveraged the tree’s words.

“I won’t let you near my branches before you…”

The tree was angry with me (or was it grandfather?) and as a result I had a cast on my left leg. Not only could I climb it up, I couldn’t come to Carmen’s class either. The good thing was, my mother had to take a week off from her office to stay with me at home. She gave me a bigger space to speak and therefore I had a bigger space to listen as well. As I said before, she was actually a fun person when she was not too preoccupied with her work and personal problem. She never thought I would ask her to teach me French. And of course she yapped more than she taught. But, the tree told me to do something to win it back. My mother wasn’t perfect. Neither was I. I told her I was sorry. And for the first time since my father left, I forgave my mother.

medea’s beauty secret

I’ve been to too many fashion weeks, red carpets, in the midst of so many celebrities and socialites and fashionistas, more than I could count with all of my friends’ fingers. and i do have many friends. and they would lend me their fingers to help me count. but that’s not the point.

The point is, at those glamorous events, people look their best (or at least try to). They have hair more fabulous than normal people on the street.  Their bodies shimmer and their high heels are aggressive and killing. Their faces… Like Gods and Goddesses. Which means, flawless.

So much efforts have been put in order to present oneself in that divine state. I do the same thing myself. And, being around the circle for too long (and enjoying it), I forgot what it felt like to be beautiful without all of those life  supports. I even forgot what it felt like to appreciate natural beauty.

Until I met Medea. She was  an art & entertainment magazine journalist who called me last week to ask for a half an hour out of my life for an interview. I told her, we could meet on saturday afternoon  in my place, 30 minutes before my hair stylist and makeup artist came.

It was saturday and she came. And I was mesmerized by her appearance. I could tell that she tried hard to look good that day to impress a big star as me. But, what she might have done was something that many celebrities would do before running to a store or a gym. Obviously she didn’t have her own stylist. And, that’s the point.

She was interviewing me while I was scrutinizing her makeup and clothes. and her accessories. I’m sure she just put on moisturizer and compact powder to her honey-colored face. I could see soft eyeliners and mascara accentuated her big dark brown eyes. And that wine colored blush-on. And fresh lip gloss.

For the first time in, I don’t know… twenty light years? I saw a beauty that didn’t threaten me. In that green kenzo-like dress and green pump shoes, Medea was even more relieved to see me without makeup (yet). Even so, she dropped her jaw for a good 1 minute and later explained why she did that.

“Wow… You look great. Like this, like this. I love your movies. I’m like, your fan. Thank God I come here as a journalist, otherwise I would be very annoying to you right now. Hahaha..” She laughed nervously. But, I liked her honesty. So, I gave her a hug and set my bitchiness level lower.

She put her tote bag aside and took out her recorder and a notebook and a pencil (just in case, I guess). Her hair was just naturally beautiful. Long and silky and she brushed it just like that. No hair stylist touch. Pretty. Without much effort. And, I must say she reminded me of myself thirty years ago. When parties were less. And I worried more about boyfriends than skin pores.

At the end of our interview, she asked me about the beauty secret I would apply that night for the movie premiere. Half of the things I said slipped off her mind just like that, and she didn’t even pretend to be familiar with the brands. “Whoa, when was the last time you did your make up like I do?”

Great minds think alike.

But that night, Kenny and Rudolph worked hard to do my hair and makeup. Paparazzis wouldn’t agree to girls like Medea or even to  my wildest dream. But, it was really good to remember, there is another form of beauty to admire, the natural beauty. When she is running and laughing and not worrying about what would come out on the tabloids the next day.

Prospect Theory

bungeejumpingPeople who visit this blog don’t expect to read about Prospect Theory, but I was stuck in traffic jam for 3.5 hours on my way back home from office yesterday, so you’ll never know.

I’m not suddenly having a penchant (thanks to bonbon for introducing me to this word which i find myself more confident writing than pronouncing) for economy or trading, but this theory that was developed by two psychologists named Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in 1979, brought psychology further deep into economic analysis. Now you’re beginning to understand why I find this interesting? Thanks :)

It all began with this experiment in which Kahneman & Tversky asked the participants these questions (which bonbon asked me):

1. which one would you choose: A. 100% possibility to win US$ 3,000 or B. 80% possibility to win US$ 4,000 yet 20% possibility to win nothing

so, for the above positive case, I chose A. I could just pocket the three grands and whistle my way back home or to the christian louboutin shop.

Then, he went on with the second question. similar, yet a bit depressing since it offered the opposite case. the negative. the losing. no expensive shoes.

2. which on would you choose: A. 100% possibility to lose US$ 3,000 or B. 80% possibility to lose US$ 4,000 yet 20% possibility not to lose any dollar

aha! suddenly i became optimistic and philosophical and chose B cos “you got to take risk in life!” and “you got to be optimistic in life!!!”

Then, Bonbon said politely that I got all the answers wrong……….. But, quickly added that he and many other people made the same decisions.

I asked these questions to my friends and the results show that human behavior doesn’t show significant change since 1979, and of course much much much before that. In the positive case, 80% people chose the safe US$ 3,000, while in the negative case, 92% people chose the gambling scenario. Well, my result is not exactly 80% and 92%, it’s actually 85% and 90%.

“We have an irrational tendency to be less willing to gamble with profits than with losses..”
Tvede (1999)

Now, why?

People tend to play safe in gaining, and gamble in NOT losing. In 80% possibility to lose, fat chance we will lose anyway, but it feels good to cling on to the 20% of hope, and later on we can just blame it on the bad luck or destiny or karma…

If we’re so certain of the 20% hope of not losing, why don’t we choose 80% of winning more anyway? 80 is a lot bigger hope than 20. instead we’re afraid of the puny threat of 20% possibility of not getting anything. so, we play safe by taking the US$ 3,000 away with us to the louboutin shop.

Why do I want to be in the comfort zone when it comes to gaining something? Why do I will to gamble when it comes to not losing?

Not only this behavior makes us lose money, or at least not getting the maximum amount we could possibly get, it makes us look like a bunch of mediocre in the game of life.

You can wake up in the morning thinking of how to survive another day, wasting your energy walking on earth trying not to lose. Or you can wake up in the morning thinking you deserve a better deal out of life, utilizing your energy walking on earth trying to win.