Monday, 15 November 2010

Obama, the Euphoria

Actually I was a bit skeptic about Obama's plan to visit Indonesia. After the prior cancellations, I wouldn't be too surprised if he cancel it again this time. The Mount Merapi volcanic ashes and the hot cloud could also be a good reason to cancel it. I had news about the preparation in the University of Indonesia (UI) from my Facebook wall. A friend who works in the University of Indonesia posted her comments about the preparation. Yet, I smiled and asked her to be prepared for the cancellation. We were also asked her to take Obama's picture if he did visit the university. It turned out that she was not invited to the event.

I didn't get any invitation myself, but I was too busy to care about being invited or not. I was still preparing the speech for the Open University about the future of citizen journalism. I'm usually not able to attend events on weekdays as I'm more into my household commitments. Yet, the most important thing is perhaps the skeptical thought about the realization of his visit to this archipelago. It was not only one cancellation, but also another cancellation in June. Will he really come this November? With the earthquake in Wasior, the tsunami in Mentawai, and the volcano eruption in Central Java? Another reason to cancel his trip is the demonstration of protest against his coming. In my logical thinking I decided that he would cancel it again, but deep in my heart I hope he will come. A friend in need is a friend indeed, his coming here will show the world that the eruption isn't that dangerous for traveling. Indonesia has got more than 17,000 islands to visit. Tourism is one source of income for small traders in Indonesia. Without visitors they won't have income. Jogjakarta's biggest lost after the eruption would be the decline of visitors. Borobudur is now covered with ashes, as one printed newspaper said that Merapi made those statues wept.

It seems that some of my fellow bloggers were lucky enough to get the invitation to attend the open speech in the University of Indonesia. One of them is Ndoro Kakung, the pen name from Wicaksono, a senior professional journalist who share it in his blog, Pecas Ndahe. They were even luckier as they have the front seats which was really unusual for the Indonesians. They sat in front of other well known senior citizens such as the former President Habibie.

Another blogger was in Singapore when he knew that he was invited to the speech. He needed to call the embassy to make sure that he should pay his ticket cancellation fee to fly back to Indonesia for a good reason. Yes, doubt about another cancellation was really thick. Even in the United States my friend was also doubtful about the possibility of Obama's visit, especially when he was facing a hard time in his own country...he's got a downfall popularity and lost his voters. Luckily, this time he moved ahead with his plan.

I was surprised that he really came. I couldn't watch the television as I was taking my kids to their language course. Most of Indonesians were glued in front of their television to see his arrival, but I kept myself informed through my facebook. For some people, including my husband, his arrival meant a bad traffic jam. They were stranded as the streets were blocked for security. For some others, who were lucky enough to have the empty streets opened for them, they thanked Obama as they had never had the chance to feel Jakarta without traffic jam (except in Lebaran/Eid holidays).

It was embarassing that we weren't ready to receive the Austrian President while we knew that we're going to have two important visitors that afternoon.

I've missed one big news as I was preparing the presentation for the Open University National Seminar on citizen journalism. I came to it when I listened to a young girl, clad in her veil, who mentioned it in the seminar. It is about one of the minister who claimed that he wasn't going to shake hand with the first lady, Michelle Obama. I have friends who wouldn't shake hands with women, but they will show it clearly and it wouldn't need a clever girl to understand that they won't shake hands. We do have our beautiful culture of presenting both hands clapped in front of our chest, far away from the other person. It could be the sign to honor your guest without the need of touching, and I think others will understand this sign...even if they aren't familiar with this culture. That minister was perhaps in the euphoria of meeting an important person, and was carried in. Why blaming someone else? It just made him a fool in the eyes of the big crowds...from the cyber space into the real world. Even a friend from Europe asked me through FB chatting about this fast the news traveled in this cyber space!

Obama didn't have the chance to visit his old school, neither did he manage to have a reunion with his old classmates and teachers (who, according to TIME, will receive him with unreserved welcome). But he did give an inspiring speech, reminding Indonesians of how rich we are, and how important the unity in diversity for us. Do we really need a charismatic Obama to tell us that? To awaken our nationality? I don't need to be in the crowd with the euphoria of his visit to recognize our golden key to success. But I thanked Obama to help reminding Indonesian people about the foundation of the building of this Republic, the foundation that was helped built by our national heroes.

Picture: thanks to Yoris who gave me the permission to use this picture in my blog.

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