Sunday, 12 July 2020

Tracing Back (Puzzle 12)

It was a pride for Nora Suryanti to be working as a civil servant. She was grateful that her mom believed the words of Amma Saga. She was not the only person in her family who serves the country directly under the civil institution. Her younger brother also served in Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia (AURI).

On June 1971, she had to end her service as a civil servant. She got the letter certified that she was already 56 years old and she needed to enter her pension period.

Probably that was the reason why I did not know her as a civil servant. My family moved to Jakarta in 1974. So, it was three years after her retirement.

I knew her as a freelance translator, a tour guide, and a contributor for newspapers. She had a very good relationship with Indonesian artists, especially painters and sculptors. It seemed that she wrote a lot about art and cultures.

One of our pride as her family is her contribution to the production of the first IMAX film produced in Indonesia. She helped E.N. Sudharnono, the wife of former vice President Sudharmono, to enrich the content of the film.

The development of Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) was started in 1975. In  April 1984 the IMAX theatre in TMII was officially inaugurated by Tien Soeharto, the First Lady of Indonesia at that time.

I remembered how we were proud to come to see Oma Waringin's work, the IMAX film Indonesia Indah 1 and Indonesia Indah 2. She was even seen in one of the films. Very small as it was filmed from the air. It was not yet the time of the drone. So, we can imagine how difficult it was to make films at mountainous Indonesia.

So, she was around the age of seventy when she helped in the production of that film. Amazingly, she was also going to the site location of the filming.

Almost every time I had foreign guests, I would bring them to see the IMAX film. The films were beautiful, but most importantly...Oma had her contribution to those films. Unfortunately, when I visited the IMAX theatre in 2019, the films were no longer on screen. The management from the Theatre said that the film is too old, they were afraid that it might get ruined. So sad, as the quality of those films were really good. They showed the beauty of the cultures and the richness of Indonesian nature.

She was so proud of being a part of the Indonesian civil servant. I found a picture where she wore the uniform of the civil servant. Korpri or Korps Pegawai Republik Indonesia was officially formed in 29th November 1971. So, it was definitely after her retirement that she used the uniform.She was so proud of her work as the part of the Indonesian government. It is sad that I lost almost all her treasured photos and documents.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Tracing Back (Puzzle 11)

The script ended on the date of the transfer of sovereignty. Actually, her journey with the Republic of Indonesia started there. Unfortunately, I did not know how she was transferred, and what were her tasks as the civil servant of the Republic of Indonesia.

I am going to trace back her journey. Yet, I will be more personalized as that was the most familiar part that I can share.

Oma Waringin

What I remembered the most about Oma Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) was post stamps! I remembered I visited her house in Jalan Waringin no 23. It was quite a big house, but mostly all the furniture was made of rattan. She always had bread and butter on her table. My brothers and I usually nicknamed her as Oma Waringin. Yet, my cousins nicknamed her as Oma Belanda. She spoke Dutch fluently! She had a lot of foreign guests, and of course, she received a lot of letters from abroad. That was why she was one source for our stamp collections.

Actually, my grandfather and my grandmother from my father's side also speak Dutch. My grandmother was the little sister of Soh Lian Tjie. As Soh Lian Tjie did not get married, and she was one of the closest relatives lived in Jakarta, we became quite close. Before my family moved to Jakarta, we visited her when we were on vacation in Jakarta. Then, when we moved to Jakarta, she was the representation of our grandparents who lived in Makassar.

Every time we were going to visit her, my father would say, "OK, we are going to visit Oma in Jalan Waringin." That is how her nickname Oma Waringin glued into our minds. Of course, we never dared to call her by that nickname in front of her. 

Although my grandpa and grandma spoke Dutch, they used it only to speak between them. They used Makassarese or Bahasa Indonesia when they spoke to others, even to my dad. So, my parents spoke Makassarese at home, and we did learn the language as our mother tongue. When my parents moved to Jakarta they also brought four assistants from Makassar. They became our nannies and keeper. No wonder, even my youngest brother, who was barely four months old when we moved to Jakarta, could speak Makassarese.

My cousins who spent their very young age in Makassar saw Oma Nora Suryanti as a unique person who used the Dutch language and had a lot of "londo" friends. They did not know who Oma Waringin was, but when I explained, they would sigh, "Oh, Oma Belanda..." So, we had our own way of calling her!

One day, Oma moved out of her big house. She moved to a small, a bit hidden, pavilion in front of her house. It seemed that she made some agreement with the person who moved into her house. Actually, I did not really remember the time. Jalan Waringin itself did not retain its name, it is now known as Jalan Yusuf Adiwinata. It seemed that its previous name in Batavia era was Wilhelmina Laan.

I knew her as a tour guide and a writer contributor to some English newspapers. That was all that we knew. I knew she had some photographs of the late President Soekarno and also the late President Soeharto and Madame Tien Soeharto. I thought was from her time working as a civil servant in the Ministry of Information. I had the opportunity to peek on those pictures when I was in turn with my brother to visit her and to help her get dressed, combed her hair during her difficult health condition.

She celebrated her 80th birthday with us. She was still full of enthusiasm and interest in the topic of art and culture. Yet, when her health became worse, her youngest sister who was a doctor took her back to Makassar. It seemed that she missed her friends in Jakarta. Makassar was already a strange city for her. She felt bored, and soon she lost her well known good memory. She passed away in 1995, just a year after her 80th birthday!

Unfortunately, I did not know where all her books, her photo albums, and other valuable documents ended up. That was very unlucky as she had a rich collection of books. I remembered that my first serious reading about Soekarno started from her book collection.

Luckily, I was once asked to come to her house ( I thought she was already passed away at that time). Her youngest sister was moving her things out. Between the things dumped together with trashes, I found a plastic bag with some files, photos, and some old cards. I took it as it was going to be thrown away. I put that plastic bag in my attic for years...almost forgotten!

Then, there was a day when someone asked my aunt (from my mother's side) to introduce her to the relative of Soh Lian Tjie. She said that there was a scholar who studied in France who would like to know more about Oma. I did not have much left from Oma. Actually, that plastic bag with its content was the only thing that I have. Yet, before she went back to Makassar, Oma handed a copy of her (supposed to be) autobiography and a copy of her traced family tree; from her grandfather lined down to my generation.

I met Yerry Wirawan. He is also from Makassar. He told me that he was studying history and Oma Soh Lian Tjie was the part of the history that he learned. "Wow...," I was a bit hesitant. I did not really know she was that famous. When Yerry said that I could meet Ibu Claudine Salmon, I was really honoured. Honestly, I knew her late husband's work better. I loved history and since 1999 I volunteered at the National Museum of Indonesia through the Indonesian Heritage Society (IHS). So, I knew Denis Lombard through his work " Carrefour Javanaise". I was also studying the French language at the Centre Culturel Francais de Jakarta (CCF). The couples' names should be mentioned somewhere between the CCF or the IHS. Carrefour Javanaise is actually available in the IHS library in Plaza Senayan Office Building.

I was not really keen on tracing my Chinese background. Yet, it is like destiny that I should be able to accept my root before I could work on this project for my late grandma (yes, she was also a grandma for me).

After more than a decade, I finally searched for that plastic bag and opened it. I think when a person desires something, God will grant it, even though it will be on His own time, His own way! Oma had prepared her autobiography. It had never been published. Her youngest sister was already passed away. An aunt whom I asked about Oma's private belonging, like letters or diaries, said, "I think they burnt all those albums and private things!"

I think it is all God's work! Imagine, the content of that plastic bag, which was considered as trash was actually the original work of the autobiography, some original identity paper, and one small book published by the ministry of information. Probably, the plastic bag that was considered as not important actually held important papers.

Birth Certificate in Dutch

I believe that my grandmother from my mother's side probably did not have any birth certificate. This birth certificate was not a birth certificate like the one we know now. There is a part "Heden den een en twintigsten December negentienhonderd en drie en dertig..." and also a part that said, "verklaard dat Soh Lian Tjie, Scholier wonende te Batavia..." So, it seems that this certificate is actually a certificate of acknowledgement of birth which was made in December 1933 when she was already a student in Batavia. So, she was nineteen years old when she made that birth certificate.

I don't know why she ended her autobiography on the 27th of December 1949. Yes, that was the day of the transfer of sovereignty that fully acknowledge the Republic of Indonesia as a free and independent country. That was the start of a short period of Republik Indonesia Serikat. A republic consisted of smaller states that ended on the 17th of August 1950. 

I found some other important papers. This letter seemed to be a rewritten copy of a letter dated 1st of November 1960 which stated that Soh Lian Tjie had chosen Indonesia as her citizenship. She was a civil servant who worked for Departemen Penerangan Republik Indonesia (the Ministry of Information) so she let go of her chance to take the citizenship of Republik Rakjat Tiongkok. I do not know why on the head of the letter the date written was 20 Djuli 1967. There were seven years of differences between the date on the top and the date underneath! 

On the 5th of August 1967 she applied for her Indonesian name. I just realized that her Indonesian name should be Nora Surijanti. Yet, as long as I knew her, she always signed and wrote Nora Suryanti for her name.

It would be nice to know her story as the civil servant of the Republic of Indonesia. Yet, the chances to ask her the story was long gone! We knew that the communist movement of G-30-S PKI made Indonesia black and blue. Lots of people were suspected as a communist. So, having a statement that someone is not related to the G-30-S PKI was really important. That statement letter, signed on the 25th of August 1970, also revealed that she was one of Staff Ahli Direktorat Penlugri Departemen Penerangan at the age of 56 years old.

I hope that tracing back her journey of life will help others in their studies. Yet, most probably, it was also a legacy from Oma Waringin.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 10

One Country, One Nation, One Language

The Republic of Indonesia demanded One Country, One Nation, One Language. Conferences were held, one after the other; the Malino Conference, the Linggarjati, and at long last... the Round Table Conference in the Hague, which ended with the transfer of sovereignty to the Republic of Indonesia in 1949!

At long last, President Soekarno was able to move to Jakarta and occupied the former Palace of the Governor of the Dutch East Indies!

It was a day never to be forgotten! Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX went to the Kemayoran Airport to greet President Soekarno. The President, Madame Fatmawati - the first lady, and their entourage, were arriving on the first plane of Garuda Indonesian Airways.

I felt most fortunate to be in the Merdeka Palace on that memorable and historic day! I was able to stand face to face with important persons like Sjahrir and Moch Yamin. Those two names were the names that I most remembered from that day. Sjahrir was so young, buoyant, and full of energy. Moch Yamin, the dynamic writer, who came with his original idea to change several names into Bahasa Indonesia; Samudera Indonesia for the Indian Ocean, Nusa Tenggara for the Lesser Sunda Islands, Kalimantan for Indonesian Borneo, etc.

I was greatly indebted to Mr Parada Harahap, the mentor of the Indonesian journalists at that time. I happened to be staying with his family in Jakarta. He was the one who took me to Merdeka Palace on the 27th of December 1949.

I looked back to the tired but happy face of Mr Yamin. He was seated in a comfortable upholstered armchair. The happy faces were seen all around, full of expectations with the first President of Indonesia taking possession of age-old Palace!

Ten of thousands of people filled the Merdeka Square (formerly Koningsplein - the King's square). A billow of cries, "Merdeka...Merdeka!" sounded again and again when the President's car was sighted. The number plate for the President of Indonesia is 1!

I tried to get a glimpse of the First Citizen of the Republic of Indonesia. But, alas, there were so many important guests! I did not have the chance!

Soon, President Soekarno and Madame Fatmawti were in line to receive the sincere well wishes from the thousands of guests! I, too, was in the long...long queue. When it was my turn, I could hardly bring out, "Selamat Bapak Presiden", "Selamat Ibu!" The crystal clear words "Terima kasih banyak," were still ringing in my ears. Both the President and the first lady looked brilliantly happy!

It was the greatest moment of my life.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 9

Mr Muljono managed to get the car of the secretary-general of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Harjoto, to visit the Borobudur. It was really gratifying. Everybody was so nice and pleasing! The road was not so bad. I had expected the situation to be worse. The people did not look famished. There was no prosperity, but to me, everything seemed normal. The meals at the hotel were adequate and nice. There was some trouble with the light, but it did not bother us too much.

Two nice Javanese girls helped me and I promised them to take them to the cinema, They were very nice. They had gone through terrible times. Though they looked healthy enough, they had not known an abundance of food. Yet, I was sure that better days would soon be there for them, and for all of us!

When we went back to Semarang, Mr Muljono came with us in the truck. I would continue from Semarang to Surabaya by train, while Mr Inkiriwang would look after the exhibits.

In Surabaja, I was welcomed by officials of the Ministry of Information of East Java. I came to stay at Hotel Orange. At that time, accommodation was still difficult and no hotels had an attached bathroom and toilet. I was too innocent to leave my room unlocked while taking a bath. I had some valuables stolen.

I met an old friend from Makassar. She was employed by the KPM, the Royal Packet Navigation Company - a Dutch shipping company. She was a Dutch nurse who was once stationed in Makassar. Now, she was married and lived in Surabaya. She came to see me and wanted to take me to Malang. But I had my exhibition to put up. There was no technical aid that I could expect so I had to supervise everything myself.

The opening of the exhibition was a tremendous success! The editor in chief of the Soerabaja Post wrote a full-page article about it.

I met a young Dutchman who was married to a Chinese girl. He told me that he and some of his friends were employed by various Dutch Firms after their demobilization from the Army. Those firms were also newly re-operated. Those young men were very much surprised to meet some Chinese girls who were able to speak the Indonesian traditional languages (Javanese, Madurese, Sundanese) and Bahasa Indonesia. Those girls were even earning huge salaries. They met, they fall in love, and got married! However, some marriages did not last very long!
Well, war-brides had its advantages but also disadvantages.

After an absence of two months, I arrived in Makassar by boat. I was very grateful that this great mission had been successful, but it did not end at that!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 8

On the roads for exhibitions

I stayed at the Bellevue, Bogor, next to the building where I had to set up my exhibition. A young Indonesian came and offered his help. When he heard that I was to go on to Bandung, he asked whether he could go with me. When I agreed, he was really thankful to have found a job. Soon, he was able to work with the sticks to put up all the photographs. Even though Bogor was very quiet at that time, but there was no lack of interest!

After Bogor, we went to Bandung by bus. The exhibition was held in the office of the Regent of Bandung at the alun-alun.

On the last day of my stay, something terrible happened! My things were all packed and sent to the station for Semarang. My new assistant wanted to join me in Semarang too. Yet, I had no idea how it would work there. I would have a Mr Inkiriwang of the Ministry of Information from the State of Central Java to be my assistant in Semarang. I could only give him something extra, but I had to leave him behind.

Hardly had I reached the Savoy Homann Hotel when I saw people running into all directions. There were shots. The Angkatan Perang Ratu Adil (APRA) under the notorious Captain Westerling started some actions. Luckily, it was soon under control. I went out for a stroll in front of the hotel to see what was really happened. Then, some people warned me that there was a curfew. I could only hasten back to the hotel. How lucky that I was able to leave Bandung early the following day! Once again on the train, this time the destination was Semarang.

The only reasonable hotel at Semarang was Hotel du Pavilion. It had big rooms and was favourably situated. In the afternoon Mr Inkiriwang came to see me. We went to the station to check on my exhibits. They had not yet arrived. They should be installed in the Pendopo for the exhibition as soon as they arrived.

A cousin of mine saw me on the street that evening. She came with her husband and children to the hotel on the chance that I might be staying there. I was very happy to see them again. Years ago, before the war, together with her younger sister and relatives, she visited my family in Makassar. My father was already passed away. At that time, they were going to Toraja Highland and invited me to join them. I was really eager to join their journey as I had never been there. Yet, I had my school.

It was a great pleasure to meet my relatives after so many years of not meeting them. She asked me to go to Tegal for a day journey. My grandfather came from Tegal. I would love to see that town and my other relatives. So, I arranged with Mr Inkiriwang that I should take the Sunday off. That nice man was willing to take over my duty for that one day.

I enjoyed the trip wholeheartedly. To see Tegal again where I had so many relatives. But, there were many changes! My aunt had passed away. The cousins who used to spend their holidays with me when I was studying in Jakarta had also moved to Semarang. My eldest cousin had married and had one daughter. Her younger sister had passed away.

I was so grateful that my dear mother had pushed my poor father to send me to study in Jakarta. Despite our impoverished state, she made sure that I was able to get a good education in Jakarta. Now, being independent with an interesting job, I could only thank her with great gratitude in my heart. Amma Saga, the seer, had revealed a great secret to my Mother and I. And my mother had believed her!

After Semarang, I was going to Yogyakarta, the famous capital of the Republic of Indonesia. My heart was beating fast! How would it be? Mr Inkiriwang accompanied me, but from the Ministry of Information, I had a Mr Muljono to render me the necessary assistance in Yogya. He was very kind and helpful. We got rooms in the Hotel Merdeka. Nice spacious rooms at the very beginning of the Malioboro!

A strange feeling came as I realized that this was the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. But, everything was the same as before. Only some new houses seemed to be added. Hotel Merdeka, what else? The new parliament building and the Statue of General Soedirman were new. The Governor's residence was now the Gedung Agung. Yet, in spite of the few artificial changes, I had no awkward feeling.

"It is Indonesia! Only this part is entirely free and sovereign under the Indonesian leadership. The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. The time will soon come when the whole archipelago will be under the Indonesian leadership. The handful of Dutch people who tried to influence the so-called Federal States of East Indonesia, East Java, Central Java, East Sumatera, will soon have to leave this country," I convinced myself.

I admired the officials! Living under very difficult circumstances they still seemed to be cheerful and full of hope. They were fortunate to be in this area when the revolution broke out and the republic was proclaimed. They automatically joined the Republic! Those who were outside the island did not have that opportunity and thus were obliged to join forces with the Dutch, even though they had never had the desire to work for them. We had only our own country and people in mind. Each of us worked separately for the respective part of Indonesia that we happened to be in at the time. If we had in our minds that lofty ideal of being united, each part would fit in the whole pattern.

Once again, I had no mind at all for political analysis. I just followed my own feelings, simple and intuitive. I had no basic training to participate in political discussions. I can say, however, that I did not feel like an alien during the week that I was in Yogyakarta. Mr Assaad had shown himself to be a man of great understanding and wisdom. He honoured our exhibition with his presence!

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 7

Became a Civil Servant

The day came when the State of East Indonesia was proclaimed with Tjokorda Gde Raka Soekowati from Bali as the President. Mr Nadjamoeddin Daeng Malewa became the first Prime Minister. Ida Anak Agung Gde Agung was the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Pantouw was appointed as Minister of Information, while Dr S.J. Warrouw was the Minister of Health. I forgot the other chosen names.

I wanted to have a job. The Ministry of Information greatly attracted me. One day, I called on the Minister of Information whose wife had worked with me under Dr Warrouw. I stated my intention, and he told me to report at his office as soon as possible!

The next morning I reported to the office, and was accepted immediately! I became a civil servant! It was around twenty years after Amma Saga had stated her prophecy!

Soon I had familiarised myself with the job. It was something new. We had to build up. Yes, in cooperation with the Dutch. But, this way we were able to prevent impoverishment at least in this part of Archipelago.

People began to pay attention to their daily life again. Schools were opened again. Even, a University level for economics was started with Prof Dr Hanrath as the lecturer! (ed: Hasanuddin University was started as a part of Faculty of Economics from the University of Indonesia. Yet, the opening as a full university was launched on June 1956.)

As a simple woman who knew nothing about politics, I only saw the gradual progress coming over East Indonesia. People got properly dressed. Trade was started. In short, everyday life went on smoothly. Even students from Java came to study at our College of Economics.

Then, we considered organizing an exhibition of "East Indonesia Reconstruct" with blown-up photographs and all kinds of handicrafts. I was to travel with all the exhibits, ten or twelve huge boxes, by boat. We wrote a letter to the Minister of Information in Jakarta to render me the necessary assistance.

The Republic of Indonesia at that time was still based in Jogjakarta. President Soekarno and other leaders were kept under house arrest by the Dutch in Prapat, North Sumatera. So, Mr Assaat was the acting President.

Jakarta was like a beehive. At the former People's Council (Volksraad), a joint committee of the Republic and the Federal State of Indonesia (Dutch sponsored) was working for the acceptable solution. The representative of the State of East Indonesia, Andi Patoppoi, had his office there.

I got enough help to put up my exhibition. Tough quite inexperienced, I ordered invitation cards and sent them to many organizations, including to the Committee of Good Offices for Indonesia. The three members of this committee were chosen by different parties. Australia was chosen by the Republic of Indonesia, Belgium was chosen by the Dutch, and the USA was chosen by both Indonesia and the Netherland.  The representatives were Mr Cochran (USA), Mr Critchley (Australia), and Mr Harremans (Belgium).

Mr Cochran honoured me with a visit though he had not the slightest idea of what he had come to see. Many people came. After a week, I packed everything. I should move to Bogor.

A young man from Bogor, the son of the wealthy family of the well known Tan Ek Goan bakery, came to my help. He was studying Economics in Makassar. Everything was loaded into his pick up, and we left for Bogor.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 6

Became an official interpreter

Suddenly I found myself an official of the Court of Justice under Mr Emanuels who was from Suriname. He was a very clever judge. Yet, in the case of the Courts-Martial against the Japanese Prisoner of Wars he acted as a prosecutor. He had especially asked me to be his secretary. It was a tough job but really suited my interest. He praised me that my intelligence was above the average of a Dutch woman! Mr Emanuel's wife was actually a Dutch woman. She was rather weak, but she was very nice to us.

Then, came the first Courts-Martial. A Japanese policeman. A young and very quiet man. He was to be prosecuted.

A few days earlier the Chief Judge summoned me to inform me that I had been appointed official interpreter for the session. I protested as I had no official certificate for the Japanese language. Yet, there was nobody else! This Courts-Martial had to be held. I just had to accept it!

"But, please, dress more richly! You are neatly dressed but too modestly for a court-martial," said the Chief Judge. I blushed! What did this man think of me? The war had just ended and I had no money for a new silk dress!

I went to the biggest shop open at that time and selected some white crepe georgette scattered here and there with brown circles. I thought that would be proper enough for the occasion. I cut a simple dress out of it and sewed it my self...all by hand! I was glad that the Chief Judge nodded at me in approval when we entered the hall of the Court.

For me, the dress was not that important. I had been praying all the time that this session might have a successful ending. It became so interesting that I was surprised by the fact that I had encountered no great difficulty in translating the whole session. But I had been tense for the whole time!

The sentence for that young man, Nakamura, was to be shot by a squad. Yet, during the night, he committed suicide by cutting his wrist with a paper clip!

Fortunately, two legal Japanese interpreters were sent to Makassar for the Prisoner of Wars (P.O.W.) But, Captain van der Hyde still asked me to assist him. So we rode to the P.O.W. camp and each of the interpreters had five Japanese to interrogate. The Captain's assistant said to me, "Your Japanese is more up to date. We don't know those new words for nurse, police, etc." Of course, I learnt Japanese from these people very recently! Alas, after the war, since there was no need for me to use Japanese, I gradually forgot it.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 5

The return of the Dutch

The commanding officer of the Netherlands Indies Central Administration (NICA) acted more or less as the governor of the new re-occupied territory. I came to work in the legal division as a translator. Colonel Klein was my direct boss. I had to translate the letters from Dutch into English. I was often asked to accompany guests to the interior.

I came to know an undergraduate student from Jakarta who came to Makassar to observe the current situation. He was later known as Prof Dr Kalim. Once I had to accompany him to Maros or Pangkadjene. I did not remember the place so well. Kalim was to attend a meeting between Colonel Klein and the local authorities about an election. We arrived earlier than predicted, so we had time to visit a home industry where the well known "lipa sa'be" (silk sarong) were woven. He bought several sarongs and asked me to send it to Jakarta by post. Afterwards, he sent me a letter to say that one sarong was missing. At that time, such case was not a rarity, and to complain about it was an impossibility.

Not long after this trip, I was informed that I had been put at the disposal of the Australian battalion which has its office in the former residence across the street. I was surrounded by Aussies. Captain Ray was the leader of the legal section. He asked me to interrogate a Japanese Prisoner of War. I also had to translate Japanese documents into English which was not always so easy. After all, I had not had a normal course in Japanese though I had picked up quite a bit of it.

However, there was one boy, Alister, who was born and educated in Japan as his father had his business there. He often helped me. Then, there was Len Opie who was the Adjutant of Captain Ray. These Aussies were so young, still in their teens, I suppose. Len was also very helpful. In the beginning, it was hard to follow their Australian "slang". Len explained to me that he could speak English correctly, but his friends would frown at him. So, he was obliged to speak as they did!

When talking to me, Len was very careful. I got a liking to those young Aussies. They had been away from home for a couple of years. When Christmas came, I invited them for a simple Christmas dinner. Luckily, one of my relatives who was a clever cook was in town. She made sharks' fin soup and some other dishes from the available ingredients at that time. I wrapped some picture frames, a letter opener, Balinese statuettes, etc. as my Christmas presents. There was nothing available at that time. No shops were open. Only the local market opened for daily meals.

A simple Christmas indeed, but enjoyable! The first since the end of the terrible war! In spite of the absence of wine, those young boys were really grateful. It was not very much of a Christmas party but at least there was peace and gratitude in our hearts!

I could sense their eagerness to be home again. However, they still need to spend some more time in Indonesia. They had to replace the Dutch who had not enough troops yet to occupy the area.

Len often came to see me. One Sunday morning I provided him with a bicycle, and we cycled to Sungguminasa which was about 11 km south of Makassar. It was very pleasant to cycle along the deserted roads. It gave us a feeling of peace.

I knew a peasant's family living in this village. He welcomed us in his typical Makasaresse house of bamboo on stilts, surrounded by rice fields. He was very pleased to see us and offered us some tea. When it started to get raining, we excused ourselves. Len put on his army raincoat and gave me his jacket. We took leave of those friendly people. By then, Len had the idea of how an ordinary family lived in South Celebes.

Soon the Aussies left us. The situation became more and more normal.

(Note: real names were not checked as it was not easy to find the sources of bibliography)

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 4

We got up. Walked back to the hospital. Wounded people had been brought in. The nasty smell of blood attacked our noses. There was no time to waste. Dr Warouw started sewing up the wounded. I drew threads through needles and handed them to him.

“Is this war?” This question came up and whirling in my mind. It came over and over. “These people are innocent. They earn their bread in a hard and honest way. And they became the first victims!”
I could not stand the cigarette smoke for days. Scenting it made me sick.

From that day on, the allied plane did not leave us alone. They came again and again...They flew mostly at night, at a full moon.

In my room, my Red Cross uniform was always at hand. As soon as the sirens whistled, I put my Red Cross blouse and trousers almost automatically. Then I grabbed my bicycle and cycled to Stella Maris hospital. The hospital was situated on the beach road. No wonder it was an excellent landmark for the allied planes.

On some occasion, the alarm sounded while I was still on my way. I usually called on the Saelans, a respected Indonesian family whose house was near the hospital. I knew they were awake and I was always sure of a welcome.

Standing at the entrance of the Hospital. My eyes looked at the moonlit sea, the Bay of Macassar. I could not help crying silently. God’s creation was so beautiful, so peaceful... Why should it ruined by the horrible disturbance caused by the Tenno Heika. A war against the world in order to be the Master of the whole Asia!

When the all-clear alarm had sounded, I slowly cycled back home intensely enjoying the beautiful moonlight and the empty streets.

One night, however, the aerial attack was more than terrible! Incendiary bombs were scattered over several places. The hospital got about twenty such bombs! I saw some were still burning. So, I ran to throw sand over them. Where were the others? I was alone! Even the patients had fled. 

The available amount of sand was all used up. I ran into the garden. With my bare hands, I grabbed as much sand as I could. When the greater part of the burning firebombs had been extinguished, a Japanese from our Health Department turned up, “ Soh-san,” he exclaimed in great surprise, “Are you alone? Where are the others?”  I answered with tiredness in my voice, “I don’t know.”
Gradually the staff came back. They all fled and hid in the big ditches!

Our Japanese colleagues saw to it that the "due homage" was paid to my "heroic" action by inserting a full description in the local newspaper of the ravage this nocturnal aerial attack had made, especially to the Hospital Stella Maris, and my part in saving it from more than ten burning bombs single-handedly!

The aerial attack came more often. Full hits were stated at various places in towns. A distant relative of mine had left the town with his family. He gave me permission to live in his house. One day, while I was still at the office, the house was hit by a bomb. My furniture went missing, probably was taken by the gardener who took advantage of the situation. What could I do? Who would help me? I locked the doors and windows and moved to stay with friends at the edge of town.

More and more news of defeated came in. We were sure that the Japanese Army was losing now, although we did not really know about the Japanese unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945.

On August 17th, 1945, Soekarno and Hatta proclaimed the independence of the Republic of Indonesia. We knew that there would be numerous difficulties. The Dutch would try their best to save their former colony, the Dutch East Indies. The United States was not in favour of this idea. It wanted colonialism to die with the war! The British, however, was also determined to save as many of their colonies as possible. I have no political sense. 

All of the sudden, the Dutch was back in Makassar and in other islands like the Lesser Sunda Islands including Bali, the Moluccas, and even the New Guinea!

Friday, 17 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 3

One evening, we got the order to leave a little lamp burning outside our camp. The enemy was approaching. A large Red Cross Flag was spread in an open field. There was a striking and frightening silence. We went to bed with anxiety.

We got up early in the morning only to find out some Japanese soldiers in our camp. Our commander, Dr. Tinbergen de Moulin was tied to a tree and beaten. We, the civil nurses and other staff of the Camp had to stand nearby and watched this inhumane scene. So, this was part of the war!

In the course of the day, together with other nurses, I was driven to a shed. We had to sit down on the ground. Just sat down. We should do nothing! How tedious! It made us very...very tired!

The Japanese soldiers who had to guard the Camp sometimes approached us. Invariably they asked us, “Minahasa ka? Indonesia ka?” It seemed that the Minahassan people were in favour with them.

The whole day long we just sat there, without food or drink. Only when the sun was about to set down that we were allowed to return to the hospital. I was unexpectedly appointed to prepare food in our kitchen. Of course, I refused to go alone, so four other ladies were allowed to assist me. I could barely hold my tears when I entered the kitchen. Our once so neatly arranged kitchen was at sixes and sevens! Margarine containers were opened, the tins of sweetened fruits were thrown everywhere. I cried in my heart, “Those barbarians!” They did not know these products and were afraid that they contained poison. My heart was still crying for our precious yet wasted food.

Some drivers followed us. They offered their services as cooks. We gratefully accepted their kind offer and we went back to the hospital. I do not know what happened further as none of us saw any food that evening.

We went to bed fully dressed. Several times we were startled as some flashlight was centred on our faces. Some haggard-looking Japanese soldiers wanted to see us even in our sleep. Fortunately, no incident occurred.

The following day, we asked permission to cook in the hospital kitchen. We got rice and salted fish for breakfast. I went to collect the fish heads, then picked some chillies and wild spinach that grow in abundance outside the hospital. I made a kind of vegetable soup flavoured with the fish heads. The surgeon in charge of the hospital thanked me for my initiative. They all need fresh vegetables.

After a week, all patients and the nurses were transported to Makassar. We, the civil nurses, were to assist in the army hospital in Makassar. It turned out that wounded soldiers, sailors and pilots of the Allied Forces had been brought in. This was my very first contact with war casualties. I pitied those young men and tried to be as helpful as possible.

Yet, the war did not end so soon. We, the civilian nurses, were dismissed. The European ladies were taken to Malino, a mountain resort serving as an internment camp. I was free, but I did not know what to do. My school was closed and I had nowhere to live. A teacher offered to put me up for the time being.

Soon the Japanese set up a sort of civil administration under the supervision of Japanese high officials. Celebes came under the Kaigun, the Navy. The Minseibu was the civil administrative office, headed by a Minseibucho. The whole convent of Roman Catholic nuns was occupied by Minseibu. Next to the Japanese officials, there was also a staff of Indonesians. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with Dr. J.S. Warouw, a highly gifted man from Manado. Under his capable guidance we did our work.

It is certainly very wrong to call us “collaborators”. Yes, seemingly we collaborated. But, in reality, we were doing our best to help our own people. Our salary was nothing, but sometimes we could obtain a whole “picul” of rice which we were able to distribute among various friends. Soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sugar were scarce, but kind-hearted Japanese friends gave us some every now and then.

It was not long before I had mastered the Japanese language sufficiently to teach my other colleagues. In this way, the Japanese did not treat us so haughtily anymore. Whenever we had the chance we used the Japanese language.

At first, life went on as usual, though after dark there was no social activity at all. Lamps were dimmed. We, women, had to be very careful as many Japanese servicemen roamed the deserted street and tried to enter some houses. Every now and then, on hearing the siren alarmed, we had to hide in the shelters.

I had to translate all the health regulations from Dutch into English. It was very instructive for me. I got more practice in first aid. From the faces of the Japanese soldiers, we guessed that the course of the war was not very favourable for them.

One fine day, around 11 a.m. when all activities in the city were in full swing, especially in the harbour, four allied bombers flew over Makassar. The sirens whistled instantly, followed by a heavy voice of explosion. Within minutes, we were ordered to go to the spot that had been hit in the harbour district. We saw the wounded and attended their wounds as best as we could. All of a sudden the planes returned and we fled to seek shelter.

The harbour district was bordered by the Chinese Quarter.  There were no gardens at all. Some two or three-story houses packed closely, leaving us no hiding space. Luckily, we found an empty open front verandah. Dr Warouw, two other colleagues and I laid down on our stomachs. I saw an elderly woman sheltered not far from us. Her whole body trembled while she was crying out loud her pray in a hysterical voice.

This time the planes dropped no bombs.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Nora Suryanti (Soh Lian Tjie) puzzle 2

In this post, I am going to share the second puzzle. The whole article was written from the script of her autobiography which was never published. So, the second puzzle of Soh Lian Tjie's life is presented in her own words.

The rumours of World War II and a Pacific War forced me to make another decision to go back to my mother, brothers and sisters. The Shiong Tih Hui (Men’s association) was willing to accept me as a teacher for their elementary school. Then life became a treadmill for me.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

What is a Citizen Reporter?

It has been a while (actually years...hehehe...) that I did not write in this blog. I wrote in Retty's Life Journey for some time. Yet, the spirit to write was a bit low. There are too many voices in the digital world these days. Sometimes we could not tell which one is the real story, which one is fake...or even made to confuse people.

Being a citizen reporter was actually fun and rewarding. Rewarding? Yes...rewarding! I am not actually talking about the reward I got to visit Seoul from OhmyNews International (which is of course still very much appreciated). I am talking about the reward of having my thoughts written online. Joined the euphoria of blogging was nice, but being the citizen reporter prompted me to write varieties of blog posts in several online medias.

I was frustrated with the closure of that buried all my writings with the site. OhmyNews International (OMNI) was also closing its door for the international site. Fortunately the old articles are still archived. This is the link to my writings in the late OMNI.

As a citizen reporter I tried to write for the other websites, not only in my own blog. That is why I also wrote for Kompasiana and Indonesiana. Yet, writing for others while working full time is not as easy as I thought. The more activities I had in the real world, the less I wrote. During the era of wikimu and OMNI, there was a feeling of an obligation to write. Writing to Wikimu was usually after a prompt of comments or personal message from friends. Writing to OhMyNews was more into sharing the news from Indonesia to the global world.

Indonesian audience is mostly the auditory audience. It was the reason why legends were alive from storytellers, but we could not find a lot of written evidence.

One of the new type of citizen reportage is the vlog in Youtube. I think it consumes more dedication as one is willing to go anywhere talking to the camera. One Korean vlogger is very famous in Indonesia these days. I find his vlog attractive. His name is Jang Hansol. The most attractive part of his vlog is his Javanese accent. A Korean with a real Javenese accent (medok pol hehehe...). His youtube channel Korea Roemit attracted a lot of Indonesian viewers.

Hansol is a very good storyteller. He is also creative in finding a topic to interest his (vlog) subscribers and viewers. Yet, I think the most interesting thing that attract people to his channel is his personal story. How he lived in Malang, how he likes Indonesian food, etc.

Like Pepih Nugraha, founder of Kompasiana, once said, "The most important thing for a citizen reporter is to write the things that they like." At that time some people were demanding citizen reporter to present more news than opinion, more news than personal story. Yet, being personal is the way to differentiate a blogger to a professional journalist. And now youtube is more attractive for the young generation. I think this is a new way of citizen reporting. Yet, writing is my style, and I will keep writing.

Why I come back to write in this blog? May be because this blog is my citizen reporter's blog. Retty's Life Journey is not really my citizen reporter's blog.

What prompt me to write today? It's been a long time.... I was buried under my works. Yesterday, as I was working on another part-time job, I came across Jo March in a  retold story of Little Women. I loved reading Little Women and the other two books in Louisa May Alcott's trilogy.

I was also asked by a university student to write a pre-event article of their musical drama performance, Sanskerta 2019 "Arjuna: Sebuah Kisah Perjuangan Mengungkap Makna." I think I never wrote any pre-event article. As a blogger I wrote things that I'd like to write. As a citizen reporter I reported the things that I have seen. A pre-event with only a piece of press release is not my call. But, it revived my citizen reporter spirit... So, I will be watching the show tonight and will try my best to write one or two articles (Thanks God I still have my annual leave).

Another thing that revived my blogging spirit is a Facebook post (actually posted some time ago, yet I was still very occupied with works). It is a new chunk of Nora Suryanti's story. I got that story shortly in Oma Nora's Ama Saga. I think I should write the second part of the puzzle.The first part was written here. So, here I am....hopefully ready to venture into the next puzzle.

Monday, 14 July 2014

We are stronger than fear, oppression and violence

In the middle of the hectic and confusing Indonesian Presidential Election, I think the sentence "We are stronger than fear, oppression and violence" is applicable also for the voters. Then, thinking about those children in Gaza, I also think that the sentence is also applicable for all the children in the area of War.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Singhasari's reunion in the cyber world

On Friday, 23rd May 2014, the website Singosari ( was officially launched in Museum Nasional, Jakarta. It will be the reunion place for all the cultural heritage which came from the era of Singhasari.

It was in the seminar session of Kekunaan Singhasari that Jos Taekema officially introduced and launched the website that contain the information on Singhasari and its cultural heritage. One of the greatest art products from that era is the Prajnaparamita statue. Some people considered the statue as the representation of Ken Dedes. Ken Arok, who founded the Singhasari Kingdom, married Ken Dedes as he believed that she would be the mother of the Kings of Java.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year 2014...

OMG, I published less than ten postings a year for three consecutive years. These last three years I was not really productive in writing for my own blogs. I've been working full time since June 2012, but it was clear that I was not really active in blogging here since 2011. My other blog "Journey to His Words" was getting more attention than this one. May be I should listen to my fellow blogger, Imelda, who published her writings in Twilight Express. She advised me to collect all my posts in one blog.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Education for All

One of the very basic human right is, actually, the freedom to pursue a better life. A way to have a better life can be paved through education. The education helps people to have a better knowledge and skill to improve their living standard. Indonesia is trying to give education for all youngsters through the program of "Wajib Belajar."  Wajib Belajar means that students should study, without the burden of school fees. Last year, the government tried to implement the program to the Senior High School as well. The program is only applicable "with difficulties" in the public school, not touching the private schools. And, how about those street children, or children who came from a very low income family, who cannot even afford to buy uniforms and shoes to go school? They also have the right to pursue a better life through a better education, don't they?

Some private institutions tried to help these children. Through the Indonesian Heritage Society I encountered the activity "Les enfants de la rue". There is also "Sekolah Darurat Kartini" by the Twins Rossy and Ryan. We also acknowledge Gerakan Nasional Orang Tua Asuh (GNOTA). Yet, in GNOTA it is more in financial support for students through supporting parents. Last year I happened to visit a school named Sanggar Anak Akar. They call it an autonomous school. It was started in 1994 to offer education for the street children, but then it was developed into a larger urban community. In the year 2000 it became an independent nonprofit organization separated from the main foundation, and in 2009 it became an autonomous school. Their schooling program is a bit different from the formal school, it was designed to help the children attain their right to get an education. The target focus of the students is now youngsters aged between 12 to 16 years old.

Last year, I came with students and teachers from a private school where I am working now. The economic background of the students in my school is off course much...much better than of those children in Sanggar Anak Akar. Yet, we manage to learn something from them too. At that time, they taught our students to play percussion using used materials like an empty plastic bottle, an empty can, etc. Through interaction between students, we learned how they were also eager to learn by themselves, and how they manage to be creative and productive through the limited facilities.

The internet is actually helping people to gain more knowledge without a big expense. But, that is only applicable for those who have the access into the internet. If, we do not have an adequate connection, there will be another problem but at least we can open our views and enriching our knowledge. That is also the way of self development that those children from the Sanggar Anak Akar is trying to do. This year, we can have the access into their website. I see that they are preparing a blog, hopefully for those children to explore more into their own writing talents, or showing out their works through blogging. The most important thing, the existence of the website means that they have a connection into the internet.

Earlier this year we heard that the land used for the school is needed for urban development. The school needs to move. Hopefully, they are able to cope with their problems and can continue to develop the children who come to their school. When they have got the chance to get their right to an education, we can think of a better generation to build the nation, and it could probably also mean to build a better world.

Photos: Retty
Video: Andreas

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.