02 December 2009

The Other Side of Jakarta

I was on my way to Senayan City when I suddenly realized that I once planned to take some photos of the "bedeng" (meaning "slump" in English if I'm not mistaken) behind "Rusun Benhil". So I took a U turn and park my car in the parking area inside the "rusun" (FYI, the term "rusun" is equal to HDB in Singapore).

What was planned to be a short 10 minutes photo hunting turned out to be more than half an hour with most of the time spent chatting with the locals in that area instead of taking photos. They turned out to be quite friendly despite the public opinion that such area is a home for thiefs, street mobs, and jobless people.

They lived in semi permanent houses along side the railway actively used to transport commuters from satelite cities around Jakarta. The train passed by for almost every 5 minutes when I was there, but that is not always the case. It's hard to tell when the next train will pass by due to unreliable schedule of PJKA, a State Owned Company that deals with the railway transportation in Indonesia.

Some of them just moved in and rent the house for around Rp 200,000 - Rp 500,000 per month depends on the size and electricity availability. Local fight among the inhabitants is an ordinary scene in this area, and so does borrowing buckets and sharing food among neighbors. None the less, a 16 years old boy was killed in this area a week ago over a teritory dispute among local street gangs.

Looking at this scene makes you wonder will any of them enjoy the fruit of GDP increase or lower inflation. Although Indonesia is one of very few countries in the world that still experienced positive GDP growth in 2009, such "success" means little for these people for their lives haven't changed much since years ago.

30 November 2009

Capitalist or Borjuis???

On Saturday last week, a friend of mine sent me a message through BlackBerry Messenger. What started as a one liner message developed into a discussion regarding the "lifestyle" in a restaurant that he visited in Plaza Indonesia. He described it in such a way that I could imagine it clearly in my mind the "crowd" in that particular resto (or lounge, or bar, or whatever... I still can't tell the different). Go to any resto or lounge in Senayan City, Grand Indonesia, or Plaza Indonesia and you will definetely have an idea on what kind of "crowd" my friend was talking about.

I remember one sentence from my friend that made me thinking, "It sure is nice to spend your money around, bloody capitalist!". That last word bothered me the most. It got me thinking, are those people described by my friend are really capitalists? Personally, I don't think so...

My personal idea of a capitalist is someone like Warren Buffet, George Soros, and Bill Gates. Let's have a look at Warren Buffet. Is he rich? No question about it! But, contrary to what people might think, Warren lives a very simple life. He drives his own car, which is a Lincoln (not a Porsche, Ferrari, or Humvee, just a Lincoln) and he doesn't use credit card. He always have his breakfast at home and prefer the local restaurant near his house. Is he a capitalist? I think he fits all the criterias of a capitalist, concerning his wealth and business activities. I would say, and this is merely a personal assumption, that Warren lives a totally different life with the crowd mentioned by my good friend.

A capitalist would look for opportunities and he/she would value the value of money so much because he/she knows how hard it is to earn it. A capitalist doesn't need expensive clothes or branded bags to actualize himself, he/she would be comfortable with his bank account and stock price. A capitalist would not judge other people by his/her looks/appearance, but by his/her bank account and wealth portfolio.

After thinking about that, I said to my friend, are you sure they're capitalists? Because, I don't really think they match (my) personal criterias of a capitalist. I would say they are more inline with the definition of a Borjuis. So, in the end, I said to my friend... No, I don't think they're capitalists. I think they're merely Borjuis.

I, personally, prefer to be a Capitalist.

20 October 2009

Be Grateful for Your Job

Ok, the title of this column is a bit standard. I mean, yes, of course most of us would say thank you (to who is irrelavant) for the job that we have now. It's something that's "politically correct" to do simply because you know that the general truth is, it's hard to get a job.

But what I experienced last weekend was something of a wake up call. I am grateful for the job that I have now (explaining why is something that I'll write in a different posting), but I too, like most of the people I know, are gratefull in a practical level. Meaning that, perhaps they, and myself included, are simply being thankful because that's the general custom.

It all began when I joined the recruitment people in my office and assist them in handling the Job Expo that was held in Balai Kartini by JobsDB. As in many other Job Expo, the venue was swarmed with people looking a better chance in their lives. Some of them, or maybe most of them, are fresh graduates looking for a chance to start living the real life. It's quite easy to segregate between the newbies and the ones with the experiences. Of course, one leads into another, I started to take the privilege in "judging" the people that came to the booth. Then, a man came to the booth. From the look of his face, I would say he is in his 40s perhaps. He asked the standard question of what vacancies are available. I answered the question by simply showing the brochure that we have prepared and asked him to read it by himself. He took a few minutes reading the brochure carefully, then he came to me again and said that he wanted to apply for Operation Officer vacancy. I replied with a standard answer basically saying that this is a position for entry level and we're aiming for fresh graduates than people with experience. He insisted and he said he wanted to give it a try. "There's no harm in trying right?" he said to me. I heard that kind of question more than enough starting from the time we opened the booth, but it's his face that got me stunned.

Through his face I could feel that he was desperate and flame of hope flickered at his eyes. He needed a job. He would sacrificed all his experience just to get a new job. Why would he do that? I probably would never know, and I don't want to guess. I was afraid that the story behind his hope and despair is one that I don't want to listen, one that could be powerful enough for me to weep secretly. I took the barcode from his hand and asked my colleague to register his name for Operation Officer vacancy. Then I gave it back to him and smiled. I wish I could do more than just a smile. I wish I could tell him that things will eventually become better, but I couldn't because I knew that was not always the case. This is the real world, not a fairy tale. Here, stories don't always have a happy ending. I just hoped that a smile and a simple registration could make him feel a bit better. At the end of the day, that man might never even got a call from my office, and that's just his faith. During Saturday and Sunday, I encountered even more people like that old man.

Later that night I went to see my closest friends. It's something that has become a tradition for years now, and it started to feel like a regular poker night. A friend brought along his friend, a career consultant or something like that. These days, it seems that there's always a spesific branch of consultancy for any of your personal problem, what a business. He told us about your job is not your career and you have to follow your passion in choosing a job. Things that are familiar in my ears. He used all the available jargons in the "career consultancy" dictionary to convince us that finding a job is irrelevant and what's important is to follow your passion then you can find your career.

My mind promptly recalled my meeting with that old man. Probably, that old man doesn't even have the understanding of what his passion trully is. And maybe, he was not even looking for passion. To him, work with your passion, is nothing more than a jargon. This friend of my friend suddenly said: "Hell, you have to live on top of your wings. Work in business where your passion would be regarded.". That would be the ideal condition in a "ceteris paribus" condition. Unfortunately, life is not very ideal these days... Some of us are lucky to find a job that suits our passion. Some of us know where our passion lies, but haven't got the chance to grasp it. Some of us have the "financial security" to pursuit our passion regardless the fact that maybe not much of money is earned through that "passion". Some of us, and quite many I'm sure, just don't have the luxury of financial security to pursuit our passion (if there's any) because simply, and practically, passion doesn't always pays the bill.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not playing the sarcastic role here (though the different of being sarcastic and realistic can be as thin as a toilet paper). What I'm simply saying is that, though it's good to hear those motivation on career and stuffs, please also be aware that the world is not idealistic and no matter how good it sounds, at the end of the day, you'll end up with a series of considerations that are sometimes contradictive to your passion and idealism. That's where you have to choose with all the constraints that you have. Another thing is that, when you're climbing up the ladder of career, don't forget to look down (not in a negative sense) sometimes and see how people are striving to climb the same ladder with different weight on their shoulders.

I don't really know the story of that old man that I met. Whether the Company will even call him for interview or not is something that is out of my circle of influence. I can only hope, and pray, that he'll find a good job and hopefully, in line with his passion. I'm grateful to God that I've been given a job that, at least until now, suits my passion. I reccomend you who is reading this article now to do the same... Be grateful...

07 April 2009

4.00 AM and still in the office...

Don't be fooled with the title. It's not that I went to the office at 4 AM, it's more like I'm still in the office at 4.00 AM (yes, since the day before). Now, after shocked by the fact that I spent more than 20 hours in the office, the next question that came through your mind is "what the hell are you doing???" (who says mind reading is difficult??). Well, one of the responsibility of my new job is to make sure that the annual report of the company is finished on time, printed on time, and delivered to us on time. It's a compliance thing for a publicly listed company. But still, why must until 4.00 AM? Well, here's the thing... The printing company that we chose to work on the Annual Report is located in Singapore and this company is a living prove that not all Singaporeans are professionals! The revision that I made and the draft that they prepared has been going back and forth for I don't know how many times (lost count of it). Told them to do this, and they didn't do it. Told them to do that, and they got it the wrong way. The whole blog will never be enough for me to tell you about all their incompetent conducts.

But here I am now, 4.15 AM at my desk, in front of the monitor, and waiting. I've lost all the energy for anger (used to have the urge to unleash a shooting rampage in their office in Singapore) and finally accepted the situation. My Boss, who is a good man, left the office quite early yesterday (yes, yesterday at 6.00 PM) for an urgent meeting. But he sent me messages through YM, saying that thousands of people will be reading this report and mistakes are not acceptable by these investors. "It's part of the job, and we just have to do it." he said, and though it sound cruel, he was basically telling the truth. I couldn't reply to him and say "Don't worry there will be no mistake!". All I said was "Yes Sir, I'll double check the whole documents again.". I couldn't promise him, knowing that checking word by word, numbers after numbers, and page after page is not my best expertise. I've never been good in details, but now I'm in a situation where I have no other choice. I can't say no, not because I don't have the rights to do so, but because I can't utilize my disability anymore for excuses.

I can't keep on hiding behind my confession of not being good with details. It would be like saying to your boss "sorry, I can't do it because this is just not what I do best.". I've done that in the past, being "honest" about my disability and hopefully people will just understand it because they don't want to take the risk of letting someone, like me, that "honestly confess" to handle the job with possibility of messing it all. Disability is not an excuse... disability is a challenge. It's not something that is suppose to hold you back, it's something you need to break away from. From the way I see it, in an extreme way perhaps, disability is very potential to be your comfort zone. What I'm doing now, until 4 AM is trying to break away my disability in details and emotion. I'm not doing this just for the deadline, it's about breaking away from my comfort zone!

In the end, I didn't tell my boss not to worry and everything will be fine. All I said to him is I'll do my best. By the end of the day, that is all I can do, do it my best..

And still waiting for the final draft of teh Annual Report of course...