Saturday, 28 September 2013

Looking for My Personal Legend

I'm trying to read the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho with a more reflective thought. It is interesting for me to highlight the sentence, " To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation, and, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping to achieve it."

The journey of the Andalusian shepherd boy was not an easy journey. He worked hard, got money, lost the money, had to start over again, before he realized that his treasured was buried in the place of his starting point. Yet, the journey to make his dream come true was the essence of his life. Through the journey he met his love. Through the alchemist he learnt to let go of his desire and his belongings.

I have never had a recurring dream.  Or, maybe I was too busy to realize that I have the ability to dream... Now, I'm trying to get to know my personal legend. What is my personal legend?

Looking at the way how the story of Soh Lian Tjie (Nora Suryanti) came out,  made me realize that the universe will help to make it true, even after the person had completed her task in the world. Oma Nora was really eager in writing her autobiography, but never had the chance to finish and to publish it. How I came into the scene, or how Yerry or Ibu Claudine came into the interest of studying her life is a mystery.

I do not know how the story will end, but it is astonishing to see how it works. I do not really work on it. It seems that it is the universe who works on it.

Having no husband nor children, made Oma Nora a part of only the extended family. Sometimes she was really close, some other times she seemed so distant. That was probably the reason why nobody dared to claim for her belongings. It was her youngest sister who kept all her private belongings. But, when her sister also passed away (and she was not really close to me) I lost track of all Oma Nora's private pictures or letters.

As I posted the piece of information that I have as the puzzle 1 (and hopefully will also posted the puzzle 2), I will let the universe do the rest of the work through the existence of the internet. I will see what is going to happen, while I -myself- will look for my own Personal Legend.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) - puzzle 1

I wrote this short biography of Soh Lian Tjie for Claudine Salmon in 2010. It was not yet finished. I felt that I do need to do a proper research before completing it. It was forgotten until recently Yerry, a researcher who did the research on Soh Lian Tjie under the guidance of Claudine Salmon, e-mailed me asking my permission to use it. He also thinks that it would be good to have it online to help future researchers who are interested in doing a research on Soh Lian Tjie.

This short -unfinished- biography was written using the data from an unpublished autobiography. I was actually lack of data since I only have a very limited data from our family. Due to this lack of data, I am now using the title puzzle 1. I do hope that friends who knew her, or researchers who are doing research on her can help adding puzzle 2, 3, and so on...until we can get a full frame of her works. I prefer to use her new name Nora Suryanti as her name because she always use that name after she changed her Chinese name, and I am more familar with that name.

Soh Lian Tjie, Nora Suryanti (b. 1914 in Makassar, d. 1995 in Makassar, South Sulawesi)
Civil servant, freelance journalist, freelance translator, tour guide.

She was born in Makassar, then the capital city of the Residency of South Celebes and Dependencies. She was the eldest of sixteen children of Soh Heen Liong (the name derived from Souw Heen Liong, changed to ease his trading communication with Singapore) and The Siok Kie Nio. Her father, Soh Heen Liong, was the second generation of the family Souw in Indonesia. Her grandfather, Souw Thwan Sioe, arrived in Tegal, Central Java with his two brothers Souw Thwan Soen, and Souw Thwan Gie. 

Soh Heen Liong then moved to Makassar, South Sulawesi, to build his trading business. He was also active in social life, he introduced her daughter to the Indonesian operas performed in the Chinese Community’s Clubhouse, Lok Siang Sia. Since her childhood she followed her father to the clubhouse and became familiar with the performance of Miss Dja, Miss Ribut, and Dardanella. Perhaps it was how Soh Lian Tjie was always interested in art and cultures.

Soh Lian Tjie attended HCS (Hollands Chinese School), the elementary school for Chinese children. Then, she continued her school in MULO (now VMBO in the Netherland, read the history Both schools were in Makassar. There were few girls who lasted to finish MULO at that time, but Lian Tjie passed it with rather good marks. She wanted to go for a further study to Batavia, now Jakarta, but her father was doubtful. Luckily her mother supported her and insisted that she could go with her brothers.

While waiting for his brothers to passed their examination, she became involved in founding the Chinese women organization Nu Tse Lien Ho Hwee.

In Batavia, she went into AMSB, the middle school which prepared students for higher education. She was bright in languages but found mathematics and chemist too difficult for her. So she moved into a training college for teachers at the St. Ursula convent. Here, she joined the girl guides, and was chosen as leaders of girl guides who went to a leader course in Salatiga, Central Java. Due to financial reason, she moved into HCK (Hollands Chinese Kweekschool) at Meester Cornelis (now Jatinegara), a Dutch Chinese Training College for teachers.

Finishing her school, she moved back to Makassar and became a teacher. She came back to Batavia to have a course for teachers of English. She financed herself by working as a matron of a Chinese Girl boarding house. Her passion in writing which she began by writing for the school monthly when she was in the middle school, was then developed into articles for Keng Po and Sin Po.

The World War II forced her to move back to Makassar and came back to teaching in an elementary school (HCS). She continued being active in the girls guide activities. Through this activity she became familiar with the interpreter job.

In 1941, while the political situation was heated, she was appointed to sit on a committee to organize the evacuation of the Chinese community if the need arose. The organization was not working as planned because the majority of Chinese people refused to go to the evacuation place. Mostly prefer to go to their family in the countryside. While her mother, sisters and brothers went to Bantaeng (120 km from the city Makassar), Soh Lian Tjie stayed in Makassar and joined the Red Cross. The Japanese troops landed in Pare-pare (150 km from Makassar) and she was caught by the Japanese and had to help the army hospital. After the Japanese left, the Indonesian Republic announced its independence, yet the Dutch was also returning. She became a translator in the legal division of Netherlands Indies Central Administration. 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Un rendezvous: Raden Saleh

I used the French title un rendezvous even though the exhibition is actually provided by JERIN (Jerman dan Indonesia; German and Indonesia) because it was like a date provided by fate. And, the only word that came to my mind is "un rendezvous".

Three years ago I was really interested in joining the Bicentennial Conference on Raden Saleh, but the expense was too expensive for me as I did not put my priority in my personal interest. Actually, I was so interested in joining the Conference because I had read about the Keris Kyai Naga Siloeman from an exhibition booklet wrote by Werner Kraus, the curator of the exhibition. I had also read about Raden Saleh's masterpiece "The Arrest of Pangeran Diponegoro", and how it was presented in a different point of view from "The Submission of Prince Diponegoro" from Nicolaas Pieneman. May be I was also interested in Pangeran Diponegoro because I came from Makassar.

So, it was the Prince who called me to meet Raden Saleh. It's interesting to know that meeting the Prince then led me to Raden Saleh, and the latter introduced me to his teacher, Antoine Payen.

Having lost my first chance to know more about Raden Saleh, made me jump for joy when Goethe asked the volunteer guides from the Indonesian Heritage Society to help guiding in the "Pameran Monografis Raden Saleh" in Galeri National last June 2012.

This exhibition was really enriching me. Mr. Xavier Agustin from Goethe Institute said that we can actually write books from the experiences gained through the exhibition. It's so true...(unfortunately I started to work full time since July 2012, so this draft of my blog post was not updated. I was busy with my other activities).

For me, it was really an awesome meeting with the maestro. Through his paintings, and through Werner Kraus, the curator of the exhibition, I came to uncover the story of the great painter.

It was coincidental (or maybe also by fate?), he was also the part of the Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (The Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences), an organization which is now the National Museum of Jakarta. I am one of the Friends of the Museum through the Indonesian Heritage Society. It is amazing to see that his drawings he made when he was 11 years old was for the Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences. So, he took my interest even more... He helped me to encounter Payen, who was probably the one who took him into his path in joining the Royal Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences. 

I also met Karsten Weber, the architect who helped designing the interior design of the exhibition. He assured me that his designing part is an important factor in making a successful exhibition. I should nevertheless agree with him as the pictures uploaded in the social media lured more visitors to visit the exhibition. I saw the long queue up during the weekends of the exhibition (I wrote about it for Unfortunately some new regulation from Facebook prevented the picture to be shown there) . The number of visitors that reached almost 3400 visitors are amazing for the short duration of the exhibition (June 3 to June 17, 2012). 

Thirty years ago, for my final project in the architecture department I took Museum as my project. My real intention was actually to design a science center, still a planned project for TMII at that time. Yet, my lecturer tested me by accepting my second proposal, "an Art Museum", a subject that made me explore more into the visual comfort aspects in designing. Unfortunately, after my graduation, I never had the chance to work for an architectural firm that works on a museum project. I had the chance to work for a construction company specialized in exhibition, but this is the first time I saw that a gallery exhibition was prepared in such a special preparation. 

Irina Vogelsang who assisted Karsten Weber in the preparation of the exhibition also amazed me when I saw her interacting with the children participants of the puppet workshop for children ( I also wrote about the workshop for wikimu here).

My writing was stopped there as a draft. I know that I'd like to write more about that moment, that was my reason of not publishing it. Yet, it waited in my drafting box for more than a year. My activity as a full time worker made me neglect my own writing. Actually it was a magical moment of a meeting with the great painter, c'etait vraiment un rendezvous avec Raden Saleh.

I'm back!

I did not realize that I was not writing for this blog for more than a year. I was still busy writing for other blogs or websites and neglecting my own bridge blog.

There were a lot of possibilities why I did not write. First, I was busy working full time. Since July 2012 I started to work full time in a national plus school. Second, the sudden lost of my friend - Celly - made me wonder how short our time in this world, and how uncertain the schedule of its ending to us. May be that was the reason why I kept writing for my reflective spiritual blog "Journey to His Words" rather than writing for this blog. Third, it was not easy to become just a blogger after knowing a lot of reporting theories. I would prefer to write a good and informative blog post rather than just writing out all the stuffs in my mind. Then, the most important thing, was probably because I have a lack of readers' comments. I can still write more reasons for not writing, but that's not really important. It is more important to say that I would like to commit in writing again.

An email to join the Blog Action Day 2013 reminded me of how long I neglected my own bridge blog. I intended to make this blog as a bridge from Indonesia to other countries. I remember joining the Blog Action Day 2009 for the Climate Change, and I wrote about poverty in the citizen journalism website in 2008.

Time is really flying fast. Blog Action Day 2013 is prompting me to write about Human Rights. We do have a lot of problems in Indonesia related to the Human Rights. I do hope I can keep writing, and keep being a bridge of information.