Putih Abu-abu

what-were-you-like-in-high-school

They say that high school is the best time of your life. I don’t know if that’s the universal truth or something people gladly conclude after watching every 80’s high school movies made by John Hughes, but it certainly wasn’t THE best time for me. Mine fell somewhat in-between. However mundane my life was, I decided to make a themed post today about my life in high school.

First of all, some introduction. I decide to name this post ‘Putih Abu-abu’ (White and Gray) not to address Gandalf, but to acknowledge the nationwide-used school uniforms in my country. In Indonesia, almost all schools have to have at least one day of national school uniform besides the school’s own uniforms. In high school, we used white top and gray skirt/long pants. Since white and gray are the nationwide school uniform color, there are a lot of Indonesian songs and movies with “putih abu-abu” phrase, usually songs and movies about high schoolers.

I went to a regular Catholic high school in Jakarta. I stayed in that school for 12 years because they had the elementary and junior high in one roof and my grandparents had always thought it was THE best Catholic school in my area, so they decided to keep me there until I graduated. Therefore, I stayed in the same environment for 12 years of my life, and most of my friends were Catholic, Chinese-Indonesian, and/or rich kids.

Life in a high school for rich kids was pretty hard for me. Actually, I could act like one because I came from an upper-middle-class family, but I wasn’t taught to act like a spoiled child. Therefore, it was a bit hard for me to engage with the new trend. The peer pressure was very high, especially in terms of new clothes, new stationeries, and new gadgets. I remember my classmates who could switch phones to new ones every three months and them who stayed with monophonic, monochrome phones until they graduated.

When I was in high school, I was a student who didn’t really care about my surroundings. My favorite subjects were English, History, and Civics. In fact, I was so good in Civics because I originally wanted to go to law school, my Civics teacher appointed me to join the school team for a school competition which was aired on the national TV channel. That was where I met one of my best friends, and we remain best friends until now (Love you, Rey!). However, I wasn’t that smart either. I remember I nearly didn’t pass 9th grade because of my low scores in Math. After that shock, my grandma assigned me to extra Math lessons for twice a week with an on-call teacher, I called her Miss Hastin. In 10th grade, a friend named Sophie joined me for the extra Math lessons and we continued the lessons until we finished high school.

I was also known as the girl with an entrepreneurial mind because I gained my pocket money by offering English translations and downloading MP3 songs to my customers (all hail Napster!). They just had to give me a list of 10 songs to download, and I would download it for them and put them in a USB drive. I charged around 20.000 to 30.000 rupiahs (1.1.5 euros) for my service, depending on how many songs they wanted me to download. For English translations, I charged them around 100.000 to 150.000 rupiahs (around 10 euros) because hey, translating Indonesian to English was harder than downloading songs, you know?!

When it came to bullying, I must say that I couldn’t manage to escape from the hole of bullies. Fortunately, I wasn’t the one who experienced direct bullying. Yes, there were some mean girls and boys who mocked me discreetly for not being in-tune with the new trends. I remember in 11th grade, I was in one class with a group of girls who formed a clique and who thought they were so popular, while actually a lot of kids were laughing at them. They called themselves ‘The Umbrella Gang’ because they were never seen without their umbrella during our ‘live-in’ program (a week-long program where we stayed in remote villages and lived with the villagers). Unfortunately, they sat not too far from me in class and I could hear them sometimes talking shit about me. There were also boys from football and basketball team who thought they owned everything and became so popular because they were good in sports, good-looking (well… some of them), and came from rich families. Some of them were nice to me, but most of them weren’t.

In high school, I also got my first boyfriend! It happened in my senior year. He sat behind me in class, and we became good friends, talked a lot, texted a lot, and sparks just flew! We dated for a year and 1 month. Unfortunately, we broke up after two months of being in college. It wasn’t a good break-up because he suddenly broke it off without giving any explanations to me. Therefore, it was a hard break-up for me because I had no closure. It took me two years to finally got over him. I never get back in touch with him after that event, but I still remain good friends with his sister.

Bottom line, I wasn’t the brightest, prettiest, or the richest kid in high school. However, high school really shaped most of my view upon things, some of them which I still believe in until now. My love for history grew in high school, making me confident to enroll to History major in college, changing my mind from Law School. So did my love for writing. In 10th grade, I wrote a short novel in a notebook, mostly during break time or my free time at home. That short novel was really popular in my class and my classmates often borrow the book to see whether I had added new chapters in the notebook. In high school, I started to be more open-minded and dared to criticize important matters such as religion, politics, humanities, and love among people.

Actually, I have a lot of stories about my high school life, but I will save them for my future posts. What was your high school life look like? Comment in the comment box below or use it as a writing prompt for your next blog post! If you do so, please let me know by linking this post on your blog 🙂

It’s the Most Stressful Time of the Year!

December is the gift-giving month, many people say. For many reasons, this is true because December is the month of Christmas and Hanukkah (and Pakjesavond and Sinterklaasdag in the Netherlands), therefore giving a really thick holiday feeling around the world. No matter where you live, whether you live in the Southern or Northern Hemisphere, whether you celebrate White Christmas or Christmas by the beach, December is always correlated with giving gifts to friends and loved ones.

But… what happens if you’re not that type of people who knows how to get THAT perfect gift? Worry not, for I have always considered myself as one! However, even though I think of myself as a bad gift-giver, my friends always tell me the contrary. Therefore, I decide to help you with this post, to fight the gift-giving blues!

THE ESSENTIALS OF BUYING GIFTS

There are two types of people in this world: people who buy beautiful gifts, and people who buy functional gifts. I categorize myself to the second box. I believe that a gift should complement to the daily lifestyle of the receiver, not just something you can look at. The reason why I like to buy functional gifts is because each person has their own taste. Of course, you can cross this one out if you’ve known the person for such a long time you get the idea of their likes and dislikes, but that’s a special case.

Here are the essentials of buying that perfect gift:

  1. The gift should be functional,
  2. The gift should express what you know best about the receiver, and
  3. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive.

Another thing that you should take account of when you’re going gift-shopping is how well you know the receiver. What are their hobbies? What do they look like? Have you ever noticed a certain thing they want to have but they haven’t bought it? Have you ever noticed something about them that’s already worn out but they keep on wearing it? Those little things are nice things to observe when going gift-hunting.

For example, two weeks ago I just bought a box of three travel-sized body butter as a gift for my best friend. Last weekend, I bought a tea infuser and a small box of loose tea for my boyfriend and a snack and dip sauce holder for his parents. I bought the body butter because I always see my best friend bringing one small tin of body butter or hand cream in her bag, I know my boyfriend loves to drink tea, and I once went to his parents’ house for dinner where his stepdad made an awesome French fries. See the pattern here? I bought the gifts based on observations about people I bought them for.

So, you have a mother-in-law who loves gardening? Buy her a cute pot for her next plant. A best friend who loves writing? Buy her/him a notebook filled with writing prompts to engage their creativity. A father who loves gadgets? If you’re tight on the budget like me, you can buy gadget accessories for his gadgets such as a phone case that matches his favorite color, a VR-viewer, or a wireless compact speaker. A girlfriend who’s into cosmetics? You don’t have to buy her the entire make-up regimen, a make-up bag will do! A boyfriend whose wallet has worn out? Buy him a new one!

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Image taken from The Messy Mum

WHERE TO BUY? (In the Netherlands)

This is another issue to tackle. Where to buy the gifts? The first one is you can always go online because nowadays almost every store has their own online shop. Therefore, you don’t have to waste your time or energy for gift-shopping, all you need is an internet connection, and you’re good to go. Plus, your gifts will be shipped directly to your doorstep. How convenient, right!

However, if you prefer allocating a special time for gift-shopping, there’s a new store in Den Haag called TK Maxx. They have another branch in Rotterdam also. TK Maxx is a UK-based store that has branches in Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and in the whole UK and Ireland area. Here, you can find a lot of inspiration for your gifts with a really low price. They also have a section filled with gift boxes with prices as low as 5 euros. I love going here for gift-shopping, and I also spread the word to my friends during this holiday season.

Another store that catches my eyes for gift-shopping is Sostrene Grene. This is a minimalist store from Denmark. In the Netherlands, they have two stores: one in Den Haag and one in Amsterdam. You can buy cute minimalistic things here with really cheap price and they sell great wrapping papers and gift bags.

There’s also something people often overlook for gifts: handmade stuffs! You can scour the web for easy DIY things such as DIY exfoliating scrubs, face masks, or bath bombs. Then you can personalize your gifts to whoever you make it from, and I’m sure these kind of gifts are one of a kind because it’s cheap and it comes from the heart.

GENERIC GIFTS 101

This is something that we all must endure. Sometimes, offices or schools hold a Christmas party and Secret Santa tradition, where we have to swap our gifts to people we don’t know. Therefore, you need to know something about unisex gifts.

I always take the most taken road when it comes to unisex gifts: pick gender-neutral colors and things. The most common gifts you can buy for this type of situation are:

  1. Candles (pick a gender-neutral scent such as pine forest, sandalwood, vanilla, or cedarwood)
  2. Kitchen appliances
  3. Home appliances such as key holder and throw pillows
  4. A bag of loose tea with relaxing flavor and scent
  5. Handy daily planner/notes for the following year
  6. DIY body treatment products

Don’t worry! Gift-shopping can be an entirely wonderful experience if you know what to buy and who to buy it for. I hope you will be enlightened about what gifts to buy after reading this article!

Elections 2016: Feeling Like a Deja Vu

It was 2014.

I remember how I felt every time I turned on my computer and logged in to Facebook or any other social media sites.

I felt shame, disgust, and a high dose of uncomfortable. I felt like I wanted to delete all my presence in social media because I could not handle it anymore.

Why, if you may ask?

Presidential Election 2014, that’s why.

I remember that it was the battleground for two most influential people in the country. One of them was a former general with very controversial work experience. The other was your former Average Joe, the ‘people person’, a businessman turned to a mayor and governor of the capital city of the country before finally running for president. The first guy was someone who believed in discipline and military power, while the other believed in democracy and working together to achieve a good cause.

Suddenly, my timeline became a battleground among my friends. All of them defending their allegiance and their choice by spreading articles (both legit and hoax news) about both presidential candidates. Open debates happened in comment boxes. Relationships were broken, family feud took place, hate speech happened everywhere. I felt so sick up to the point where I did not want to talk about the election at all. The talk of politics somehow spurred a funny feeling inside my stomach that made me unable to form any sentences to express my opinion or even my stance.

(I ended up voting for guy number two, but that’s not because I supported him, I just wanted him to be president just because I wanted his vice governor to be the governor of Jakarta.)

Fast forward to 2016, funnily… a similar thing happened. But it’s not in my beloved country Indonesia, it happened in the Land of the Free.

I must admit it was a pretty tough election for my American friends. It was not a “bad vs good” election as what I expected. And it was *that* hard for Americans up to the point where they didn’t want to vote for either of them and decided to vote for third parties.

How can I see this? Because I saw something that I only saw during Indonesian elections, happened in the USA: people begging other people to vote. Fellow Americans encouraged others to vote by saying things like “If you don’t vote, you won’t have any rights to comment should our country go wrong”. Those words were the exact words that kept buzzing in every election in Indonesia. I was pretty shocked to see such thing happened there because it was my first time hearing Americans encouraging each other to use their voting rights and not being ignorant. As if people were being lazy to vote, maybe they were Bernie supporters who were disappointed for not having him in the presidential race, or they just thought that no one is better between those two top contenders.

This shapes a marketing phenomenon I haven’t seen before in the USA: Companies (mostly restaurants and coffee houses) giving discounts to people if they showed the “I Voted” sticker. This happened too in Indonesia, starting from 2012 governor election, and followed with the 2014 presidential election. I remember going to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf with my friends after the presidential election just to redeem 50% discount on my coffee by showing the barista the sign that I had voted (in Indonesia, we had to dip our little finger in an ink bottle as a sign we had voted). I read some articles on the internet about this phenomenon and it struck me as odd because this was so similar from my experience. People reluctant to vote, and so companies took over by having “After Election” promotion as a trigger for people to vote.

That’s why I said I felt a certain amount of deja vu for this year’s US Election. Well, now that they have their new president, I just hope that he wouldn’t do everything he promised in his campaigns. USA can do better than this. What about you guys? What do you think about the result of the US Elections?

(If you think I missed an information or if I wrote something wrong, please kindly correct it on the comment box. I must admit my knowledge of American political history has gotten a bit rusty after graduating from college. Thank you!)

Online Dating, is it bad?

So, consider this as a part two of my last post where I talked a lot about the letter from the 2014 Crystal to 2015 Crystal. It was a post in Bahasa Indonesia, but if you’d like to read it, you can access it through this link.

In the letter, the old Crystal gave wise words about relationship with fellow humans. Old Crystal said that I should not lower my standard on everything, including men. I was being so idealist by thinking that my ideal men would be the one who could talk, laugh, cry, and cringe together with me. Little did I know that relationships need shit ton of efforts, and to let people show their true colors to you is a hard thing to do. And people who laugh, cry, and cringe together with you sometimes are not the people with the same agenda in mind as yours.

I admit that by two years, I have changed, mostly in everything. My priorities, my preferences, my stances on several issues… they have changed. So does my views on relationships. I must say that I am not as idealistic as I was two years ago. Nowadays, I try to meet more people, the ones that don’t come from my social circle, through online dating. Bold move for me, since I have never done such thing.

One of my best friends in Indonesia showed her concern about me going out on online dates. She said that she felt like I was meeting up with people who did not deserve my time and that they had a huge effect on my self-esteem. I didn’t really want to argue with her because I’m not the kind of person who likes confrontation, but when she expressed her concerns to me, I kinda felt a bit… upset? I just felt upset because I felt like I was being judged for going to online dating and that I was just saying yes to every guy that wished to meet me for dates. After she voiced her concern, shit ton of “maybes” happening in my head, comparing the dating culture from where I was raised to where I am living right now. Including the thought that maybe she didn’t believe in my ability on staying true to myself in the world of online dating.

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I think that’s normal for me, but apparently, some of my best friends don’t share the same page as I do. Maybe because in Indonesia, the culture of meeting with strangers through online dating app is considered dangerous, no matter how long you’ve talked with them online or no matter how many mutual interests you have with them. Maybe, in Indonesia, online dating is seen as a way for people to go to the easy way of dating, or people instantly think that when you’re on an online dating app, it means you’re in it for a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

Meanwhile, it’s a totally different thing here. Yes, the core value of online dating is to establish a relationship, but it is not THE direct way of a relationship. You can join online dating to seek for companionship or like-minded people, or the worst, one-night stands and friends with benefits (I don’t play this card, though). And there are a lot of good people in the online dating world as well as good people you see on the street. It’s not like all online dating users are people desperate for love or sex, there are also a group of people who likes to search for mutual interests before choosing to see more of each other or just leave it at that. That’s the reasons why I use online dating, apart from the reason that I feel the need to brush up my conversational skill on meeting with strangers because I am an introvert and I *do* need the challenge to put myself out there in the real world. I am already content by myself and I don’t need a man to tell me I’m beautiful, interesting, smart, or attractive because I already know I am comprised of those adjectives. Well, if they finally complimented me, let’s just consider it as a plus point.

Moral of the story: There are a lot of good people who decide to go to online dating apps, and it’s not a bad thing to have a profile in one or some of them. Don’t make us feel bad for signing up for a service, we do have a lot of reasons to make one.

The True Definition of “Girl Squad”

A few years ago, one of my favorite singers launched her album called ‘1989’. Yes, it was Taylor Swift. Along with her fresh music in her new album, she also coined a new movement which soon became one of the most used hashtags on the digital world, #GirlSquad. It was a term to describe the selection of Taylor’s best friends, usually comprised of beautiful models and celebrities, and the term became famous after she launched her music video for a song called ‘Bad Blood’. From the music video and several Girl Squad appearances afterwards, it could be concluded that Taylor was trying to send the message to her fans that Girl Squad was the term for a group of girls who stick to one another, especially if one of the girls in the group was in a bad relationship with another girl from outside the group.

I used to think that it was the ultimate definition of a Girl Squad. But then I realized, the whole concept of ‘good vs bad’ could also be applied to bad girls cliques, such as the girl squad of Regina George in a movie called ‘Mean Girls’. I began to make my own definition of Girl Squad.

Girl Squad in my dictionary means: “girls who respect other girls’ choices”.

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See? It sounds very simple. But the truth is that respecting other people’s choice is a very hard thing to do. Like it or not, realize it or not, we live in a society who likes to judge others. Hell, even we are not far from judging each other. Remember when we were teenagers and we made fun of that nerdy girl who didn’t like to wear the clothes that were trending? Remember when we were in high school and we talked about the group of girls who thought they were cool behind their backs? Here’s the 411: Society is all about judging, and no matter how we say that we are not judgmental, there’s a part of us who judge others if their choice doesn’t fit ours.

As a female young adult, living in the 21st century is hard. 21st century is the information era, the era where you can have anything you want to know on your fingertips. 21sr century is the century when relationships are hard, thanks to countless of dating apps. 21st century is the age when you have your own say in deciding what you want to be, where you want to stay, and what kind of life you want to live in. 21st century is the time when you decide your own definition of success.

Do you think that success means having a lot of academic titles behind your name? Then so be it. Study everything you want to learn about, make education as your best investment in life.

Oh, you think that you consider yourself to be successful if you manage to find the one, get married, and build a happy little family? Go ahead, nothing stops you from staying in love and maintaining a relationship with someone you love.

Or… you think that success means getting all the moolah by working hard and believe that you will reap what you sow? That’s also perfect. Money makes the world goes round, and thank goodness you understand that concept perfectly.

However… the situation I see among girls these days is different. Girls (or young women) tend to think that their version of success is the best one and they want the other girls, who may or may not share their concept of success, to follow their path. I see countless of literate girls with two or three academic titles in front or behind their full names, making fun of other girls whose main priority after college is getting married and raising kids by saying things like “We have plenty of options nowadays and you decide to be a housewife?”. On the other hand, there are also a lot of new moms giving snarky remarks to girls who put their education first by saying “A woman is whole/complete when they have given birth to a new generation”.

Women are complete just the way we are. We are not complete just by the numbers of academic titles we have obtained. We are not complete just because we have given birth to cute babies. We are not complete just because we become the CEO of a new, rising start-up.

We are complete by who we are, ever since we were born.

Girls, it’s time to support each others’ life choices. Honestly, I’m so tired of seeing girl hate, I’m tired of listening stories or afternoon chat of a young woman silently making fun of her childhood or high school friend who decided to marry in young age. I’m tired of politely nodding to those stories, simply because I don’t want to ruin my relationship with these people. It’s time for young women to start respecting other women’s life choices, and start realizing that the word ‘success’ is not defined by only one path. Every woman are entitled to their own definition of success, and when a girl is being successful with what she’s doing, it’s time for other girls to be happy for her, not talking about her behind her back.

Why I Don’t Play Pokemon Go

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Okay. For the past few days, everybody keeps talking about the new hype: Pokemon Go. For those of you who have been living under a rock, Pokemon Go is a new GPS-related game by Niantic to catch Pokemon in real life. Yes, they will use your GPS to track Pokemons all around your neighborhood, and will use your phone camera to view a Pokemon nearby. Looks pretty neat and high tech, right? Some people actually love it because it brings the childhood memories, others just want to be in the trend.

On one side, I sense a good thing about this game. People start to actually go out to parks and places they never imagined before just to catch Pokemons and be like Ash. However, I refrain myself from playing this game. These are the reasons.

1. Pokemon is not something I like in my childhood

I remember I was 8 when Pokemon trading cards took over my school. Boys in my class would spend their recess time gathering around someone’s desk and they would play Pokemon trading cards for 15 to 20 minutes. School began banning students to bring Pokemon cards. Trades happened everywhere. Kids around my age began distinguishing ‘real Pokemon cards’ to ‘fake Pokemon cards’ (come on, I used to live in Indonesia, the country where real stuffs and fake shit went hand in hand). There were even some issues around Jakarta that said Pokemon was a tool from Satan to lure kids to do bad deeds (which I cannot find the true source of the gossip until now).

However, I was never in the trend for Pokemon. I watched the movie, but I didn’t find it suitable for my taste. I never joined any trading card matches at school. I don’t know… I was just thinking that I didn’t like Pokemon.

Now I’m 25 years old and most of my friends around my age are feeling like they are reminiscing their childhood with Pokemon Go. It wasn’t really something I liked when I was a kid, so why should I join Pokemon hunting?

2. It’s just too mainstream…

Here’s a very bad trait of mine (sometimes I think of it as a strength, though). With more people start to play Pokemon Go, everything becomes too overrated. My best friend always screenshots his Pokemon catch of the day and posts them on Path (a social media popular among Indonesians). Some friends also like to screenshot their game and post the map to said social media.

I have never wanted to map myself in mainstream society. So whenever I find something I like, I would dive deeper into it, but when other people start liking it and it becomes super overrated, I leave the trend. I never want to like and to play Pokemon Go in the first place, so why should I join the massive hype which I’m sure will only last for a few months?

3. It messes around with your online presence

Okay, let’s talk geeky stuff. We’re talking about a very big deal here: DATA SECURITY. (Cue Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ theme)

When you download and start playing Pokemon Go, I’m pretty sure that you will be redirected to a page which state that the said company (or the app) has permission to see your e-mail address or any kind of social media account that you’re using. That’s the problem. So far, I haven’t seen news that says Pokemon Go (or the company who made it) will keep your data confidential. What happens if they have a massive data bank of their players and decide to sell it to other companies or (even worse) surveillance companies around the world?

I just don’t feel safe playing a game where I have to trade my online presence with fun, except if they have made a written official statement that they guarantee the confidentiality of their players’ online identity.

Identity theft is real, people!

4. It’s gonna fade in a few months

Remember Flappy Bird? That game took the world by storm a year or two years ago. And the hype just lasted for a few months, before the creator of the game finally decided to delete the game from app stores in smartphones.

I bet this is just going to be a sudden hype then it will fade.

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5. I have other more important things to hunt than a virtual Pokemon!

That one speaks for itself. I just doesn’t feel it’s healthy for myself to feel accomplished just by catching a rare Pokemon. It’s virtual, people! It’s not gonna show up by your door step in real life! So instead of wasting your phone battery and your data plan to hunt for something virtual, why not go hunting other things such as job hunting, boyfriend/girlfriend hunting, or real animals hunting?


Those are my top 5 reasons why I don’t play Pokemon Go. I make this list not because I hate this game genre, I just need to give my reasons that not all people play Pokemon Go. Do you or do you not play it? What are your reasons?

Connecting To The Past, Nieuwe Keizersgracht Style

Soekarno, the first president of Indonesia, once proclaimed an abbreviation that is hold very dear to Indonesians until present day: Jas Merah. It was the abbreviation of “jangan sekali-kali meninggalkan sejarah”, in English can be translated as “Never, even at once, leave history behind”. It was one of the most famous jargon of the then-president, who ended his presidency in 1965, after an earth-shattering coup in the country.

Referring from Soekarno’s words, the present world has a lot of ways to preserve history and not to leave history behind. In Indonesian language, the word “history” is translated to “sejarah”. The word “sejarah” can be traced to Arab word “syajaratun”, a word that means “tree”. To sum up, history is like a tree. Through history, people in the present can trace back their roots to the past in order to know themselves.

The inhabitants of Nieuwe Keizersgracht in Amsterdam is the perfect example of people who connect to the past. Nieuwe Keizersgracht is a small canal near Hermitage Amsterdam museum and is located on the Weesperbuurt and Plantage area. The location is very close to Natura Artis Magistra (Amsterdam Zoo) and Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. Before the World War 2, this area was used as the Jewish Quarter in the city. Around the area, we can find several Jews-related museums such as Joods Historisch Museum, Portuguese Synagogue, and Jewish Cultural Quarter (Hollandsche Schouwburg).

As I was strolling through Amsterdam on a sunny day, I passed a small bridge with a small history on the area. I was a bit intrigued by the bridge because turned out, next to the bridge, lied a small remembrance of what happened during World War 2 around this very street.

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The site is now called ‘Schaduwkade’ or Shadow Wall. It was described that this street used to be the house of Jews and they were taken away during the Germany occupation in the city. To commemorate the Jews from Nieuwe Keizersgracht who were taken away and murdered in several extermination camps in Europe, the present inhabitants of the street decided to make this memorial place. They tried to find who lived in their houses during Germany occupation around that time, and placed their names and their death place on the left side of the bridge.

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The names of people living in Nieuwe Keizersgracht 2, as well as their date of birth and the death camp where they were sent to.
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The house of Nieuwe Keizersgracht 2. The names are written on the left side of the canal, directly facing the houses on the other side of the canal, so we can see what kind of houses they used to live in.

For a few minutes, I felt a feeling so hard to describe. It was very touching, on what the current people in Nieuwe Keizersgracht were doing to commemorate the historical event and to research the families who used to stay in their house. I think it was an act of empathy and an effort to show the world of something awful that used to happen in the past. I could not help thinking about their efforts on tracing the families who used to live in their house now, and it must be hard for them to gather data and which concentration camps they were sent to. Maybe common people can’t understand this, but as a historian, I can relate to them. I can’t help not to think about what they felt when they were gathering the data. Maybe they felt a pang in their hearts for knowing that they were living in a historical house, not for good things that used to happen there, but for a very awful thing.

The people of Nieuwe Keizersgracht and their effort on building Schaduwkade is one of the proof that history and humanity still exist in the world, and this is just a small thing of what a community can do to preserve their district. I hope their stories can inspire us to do the same where ever we are living now.

Valentine’s Day: A Hallmark Holiday?

It was February 14th. The day that was considered as sacred for most couples in the world. The day where you could do anything in the name of love, be it proposing your SO, or simply telling your crush that you liked them and you wanted to ask them out.

VALENTINE’S DAY.

I am not anti-Valentine’s Day. I like the cheesiness. There was always something unique about that day. Last year I celebrated Valentine’s Day with my friend by going to Den Haag. When I arrived at the train station, there were some people busy giving away free roses. My friend also said that in some places people gathered to offer free hugs and give away free condoms (say yes to safe sex!). Those were considered as unique things for me, because I come from a country that loves to talk about Valentine’s Day as “the day to do immoral things in the name of love”.

Since Valentine’s Day is filled by cheesiness, I think of it more as a Hallmark holiday. It’s the day when most young adult women were filled by the hope of having romantic comedy-like treatment from their boyfriends. Meh, I was not a romantic, and am not, so I did not really expect to have a luxurious and romantic Valentine’s day with Mr. C. In fact, here’s what we did on Valentine’s Day: he pissed me off for showing up 2 hours late, ate at McDonalds for dinner, and watched ‘Deadpool’ afterwards.

I did not feel upset at all for not having a glamorous and romantic Valentine’s Day like what my girlfriends shared on their social media pages. Sure, who was I to judge? Probably they thought of those extravagant things as an act of love. For me, I felt happy enough because I spent Valentine’s Day with the person I truly cared about. I felt heard because of the sincere things he did such as remembering my favorite McDonalds menu and that I wanted to see ‘Deadpool’.

How was your Valentine’s day? Do you celebrate it? If you do, how did you celebrate it with your friends and loved ones? If you don’t, why you decide not to celebrate it? Hit me up in the comments below!

P.S.: The next day, my favorite cafe sold Valentine’s day chocolates and cakes for 50% off. Say yes to cheap cakes and chocolates! #foodsbeforeboyfriend