Shopping while crammed

On Google, I love searching for differences between countries and regions within a country. Obviously, I have to be careful possibly stereotyping. But, in some articles, I found something interesting about a supposed major difference between the US Midwest and New York city: their supermarkets.

Due to the availability of spaces, Midwestern supermarkets are ridiculously spacious and New York ones are ridiculously crammed. The former have ridiculously wide aisles and offer a ridiculously wide range of products. The latter have limited products to offer and, not only the aisles are much smaller, some of the products are placed on the floor.

I cannot confirm the validity of the claims as I have never been to either place. But, one thing for sure, I don’t find Midwestern supermarkets appealing in any ways, especially after seeing the (supposed) photos.

I do love my space spacious, where I can move easily and any news items won’t immediately cram the space. But, I also believe in necessity. I don’t see why we need aisles which can we can drive cars through. It is shamelessly wasteful.

The abundance of options can be burdensome and futile, depending on the situations.

If l have tried most of the options and I like most of them, the abundance will lead to indecisiveness on my part, making me wasting precious time. I certainly cannot buy every item I like because of health and financial reasons. Yes, even citizens of third world countries can experience first world problems.

If I haven’t tried most of the options, I will play safe by picking the ones I have tried before and I actually like. On some occasions, I will try picking the cheaper options and see if they are as good as the pricier ones; most of the time, they aren’t and that compels me to stay playing safe in the future.

But, I do have a weird reason to not prefer overtly-spacious shops: they don’t have the homely feel.

No, I didn’t grow up literally living in a crammed shop. It just happened that I grew up buying my favourite treats in such establishments. Even the local supermarket chain in my Indonesian hometown of Batam still retain its crammed branches, despite already building newer and more spacious ones.

Regardless of inconvenient they can be to navigate, there is something oddly nice about crammed shops. While they don’t give me any fuzzy feelings, their vanishing would certainly leave a void in my life. They have become a part of my cultural identity.

Obviously, Indonesia and my hometown specifically do have spacious supermarkets, loads of them. But, none of the ones I have been to leave lots of empty spaces. They always make sure extra floor space is utilised. Most of the time, they simply add more stuffs to sell. In some cases, they also put promotional stands.

That’s why I associate unused extra space as a waste of space.

Oh, and crammed shops -the ones I visit regularly, specifically- are not a problem during this pandemic. I was initially concerned about entering one as physical distancing would be impossible. But, I was wrong.

The thing about them is most were never that crowded in the first place, which means pandemic changes little or nothing at all. Fear of the virus may also discourage people from visiting anywhere crammed. Not to mention that establishments in Indonesia -the ones I have been to, at least- always limit the number of people entering their premises. Mom and pop shops which do not sell food end up embracing full counter service.

If I didn’t grow with those crammed shops, my opinion of them would definitely be less stellar. But, I wonder if my opinion of those Midwestern-style supermarkets would be any different.






Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on Patreon.

Harry Potter, my national identity (and also politics and morality)

Note: I took an online course on EdX -HarvardX to be specific- called Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You (yes, that’s the full name). To sum it up, it is a basic and relatively accessible introduction to the world of museology. It teaches us how to appreciate the tangible objects in front of us beyond their physical appearances. This blog post is my final project.

Note ends.

My chosen object is a copy of the Indonesian translation of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, first edition.

The cover design

Obviously, that was the first thing I noticed. When I first saw the covers of the Indonesian editions, I naively thought how impressive it was for my fellow countrymen to create such beautiful works. The visual magical realist style successfully evoke the atmosphere of a magical reality. I was disappointed to realise they were the works of Mary Grandpré, an American.

I don’t know why Gramedia -the publisher- chose to re-utilise the American covers. I don’t believe cost was a problem considering Gramedia was already a big company by that time. It is much more believable to say it has something to do with xenophilia.

Collectively, we love looking down on ourselves. We are more trustful of the expertise of foreigners than we are of our fellow countrymen, even when there is no reason to be so. Even after the resurging popularity of batik in the recent years, we still think our historically and heterogenously rich heritage is inferior compared to the foreign ones.

Unfortunately, I still cannot find papers that back my argument. I can only provide anecdotes. But, I can ask you these questions:

When was the last time you see Indonesians promoting their country as aggressively as the Koreans? When was the last time you and fellow non-Indonesians around you were smitten by Indonesia’s soft power? When was the last time you see Indonesians being genuinely proud of their heritages and not begging for validations from foreigners?

For the first two questions, I am sure the most likely answer is ‘never’. For the last question, the answer is very apparent when one watches lots of Youtube videos; every time a foreign Youtube channel makes an Indonesian-themed video, a hoard of Indonesians would come seemingly out of nowhere and swamp the comment section.

In 2017, there was a development, though. The Indonesian editions are now published with illustrations made by an Indonesian by the name of Nicholas F. Chandrawienata.

Stole it. Can’t remember the source.

Frankly, I am not a fan. I think his illustrations are not atmospheric enough and are too aesthetically similar to manga, making them appear more Japanese than Indonesian. But, compared to many Harry Potter cover designs, his works easily stand out.

Usually, Harry Potter covers utilise a wide range of deep, vivid colours and depict the individual story’s major characters and/or events. Instead of following the same path, he chose to depict the head of a creature which is prominently featured in the individual story (e.g. a dragon or a phoenix), surrounded by all of the characters and, to a lesser extent, narratively significant objects; his chosen colour schemes are also more muted and less colourful.

As much as I am not a big fan of the new covers, I have to commend the designer for creating such distinguishable works.

The (mis)translation

Content wise, the first thing I noticed was the poor translation.

I don’t know why the translator did not translate the places’ English names. Privet Drive can simply be translated as Jalan Privet (we don’t have a large variety for the word ‘road’). The Burrows can simply be Burrows, considering Malay/Indonesian does not have definite articles. St Mungo’s, the name of the magical hospital, can simply be St Mungo, as it is weird to use third person possessive in names. Grimmauld Place can be Kediaman Grimmauld or Rumah Grimmauld. Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley can be translated as Gang/Lorong Diagon and Gang/Lorong Knockturn, respectively.

Admittedly, I am making a big deal out of this. We Indonesians don’t always fully translate names of foreign places. We still refer to New York and The Hague as New York and Den Haag, respectively. I will let this slide, albeit grudgingly.

If you haven’t noticed, some of the names are puns. Grimmauld Place is Grim Old Place, Diagon Alley is Diagonally and Knocturn Alley is Nocturnally. I personally think it would be exhilarating if the Indonesian translator created her own puns, just like what her Brazilian counterpart did (Goldstein 2004). But, acknowledging the difficulty of such endeavour, I am content with direct translation.

I don’t know why the translator still kept the English Mr and Mrs titles, even though they can be easily translated into Indonesian. While apparate and disapparate are words created by J.K. Rowling, we certainly have words for appear and disappear; we could have easily repurposed them to describe the acts of apparating and disapparating.

This is indicative of our cultural cringe. We will purposefully use foreign words to convey certain meanings in order to sound ‘cool’, ‘educated’ or ‘modern’, even though there are available Indonesian words. Even I am guilty of such sin when conversing.

I also hate how stilted the dialogues are. It seems almost every character speaks in an almost formal manner. I notice it is not that unusual for some native English speakers to speak with standard or semi-standard English in their daily lives. But, that’s not the case with Indonesians.

Indonesian language is one of two currently-used standard variants of Malay and no Indonesians speak it in our daily lives. We only use it in writings or in scripted speeches. Even Indonesian language teachers use colloquial speeches when verbally teaching their students.

This happens because Indonesia is a highly-multilingual country where many still have attachments to their ancestral tongues; in such situation, a lingua franca is definitely needed to ease the intercommunication (Martin-Anatias 2017).

If the Indonesian translation uses colloquial dialects for the dialogues, I can guarantee the resulting storytelling would be much more dynamic. But, this adds a complication to the translating process: which colloquial dialects should we use?

There are countless of them here. Some Indonesians use regional languages in their everyday lives and some use other Malay dialects, which may or may not be considered as ‘improper’ Indonesian (Martin-Anatias 2017). If we use other Malay dialects, we should consider the factors of how much the speakers are influenced by the latest slangs. We should also consider whom we are speaking to; Indonesian is one of the languages in which the age and status of the speakers affect the choice of words.

But, again, I will let this defect slide. Unfortunately, many Indonesian films and TV shows also love using stitled dialogues that nobody use in their everyday lives.

One defect I will never tolerate is mistranslation.

Most of the time, the words are properly translated. But, there are occasions when they are incorrectly translated and stick out like sore thumbs. But, I believe the mistranslation of the word dream is the worst of them all.

In Indonesian, there are two words for dream: mimpi and impian. The former has multiple meanings: the dream we experience during sleep and an idiom for aspiration and daydreaming. The latter only means aspiration, desire or the likes; it has no other meanings.

But, for some reasons, the translator translated sleep dream as impian.

I don’t know how the translator bungled it up. No, she was not a foreigner who still had a relatively poor grasp of the language. She was an Indonesian!

Mistranslation is already bad enough. But, poor grasp of one’s native tongue’s basic vocabulary is even worse!

Its loaded content

While it was not the first book I read, Order of Phoenix was the first one that I read from start to finish. My twelve-year-old self was shocked; naively, I expected a fantastical world which I could escape from reality to.

Well, the depicted world is indeed escapist and fantastical. But, it also depicts inept and corrupt political establishment, political interference in the academia, propagandistic media and a PTSD-stricken titular character. Combine them with death and prejudice being recurring themes of the series, with the villains – Voldemort and the Death Eaters – who are often compared to the Nazis due to their violent obsession with being ‘pure-blooded’.

The plot of this novel is often compared to specific moments in history, in which the authorities either dismiss or partake in the worrying rise of sectarian populism; it can be argued one of the moments is happening right now in the United States (Calo 2018).

As an Indonesian, I can relate to the situation with the rise of Islamic extremism in Indonesia. While I still don’t know any Indonesians who are comparable to the villains, the increasing presence of Muslim extremists is worrying and personally, it does feel like the government does little or nothing to curb their influences.

I have read quite a few articles about this. But, disappointingly, none of them mention this: we should have seen the phenomena coming.

In the Harry Potter universe, pure blood supremacy is depicted as an age-old inclination among many witches and wizards. In the real world, people like Trump supporters and Muslim extremists have existed for many years, decades even; being under-the-radar is not the same being non-existent. We don’t have the privilege to be surprised by their rise to power.

The character Dolores Umbridge is even more interesting. Unlike Voldemort -whose acts are thankfully not mundane for most of us-, she is just too close to home. She is seen as a representation of sadistic power abusers we may encounter in our daily lives; even Rowling herself said her inspiration for the character was a real person she knew (Rowling 2015).

If that is not intense enough, we experience the story through the perspective of our PTSD-stricken teenage hero. To describe the reading experience as an emotional rollercoaster is an understatement. It took me many years to truly appreciate it.

I am not one of the people who take the ‘Harry-Potter-makes-you-a-better-person’ study for granted. Considering nothing lives in a vacuum, it does not make any sense to solely credit or blame one thing for our moral standards.

Some fans -me included- also notice a few things in the series which maybe considered “problematic” or “poorly-aged”. Combine that with accusations of queerbaiting and transphobia directed at the author. The more you know, the harder it is to not see Harry Potter as a wellspring of hypocrisy.

But, the series does have socially-relevant mature topics as recurring themes.Whether we like to admit it or not, Rowling’s highly escapist works successfully compel her young readers to take more heed about the reality they live in.

In this instalment specifically -in which the topics are more brazenly depicted-, she compels them to try putting themselves on someone else’s shoes, to imagine how it feels to suffer from PTSD and to deal with corrupt political establishment.


Regardless of how (un)impressed you are with it, you cannot deny that Harry Potter’s thematics is influential among the readers. Many do take the commentaries to their hearts, hence the backlashes against the author’s statements regarding trans people.

I am indeed sceptical about works of art and entertainment influencing our morality. But, with the right approaches, they can encourage us to contemplate about our own moral stances; whether we change our minds or not, it depends on us.

When I chose this novel as my object, I only expected to analyse the thematics, the cover’s visual aesthetic and the quality of translation; I genuinely did not expect to ponder about my national identity.

It took the publisher a long time to hire an Indonesian illustrator. The translator refused to translate the honorifics and place names into Indonesian; she also refused to translate the dialogues into vernacular Indonesian. It is inevitable that I will be reminded of how prevalent cultural cringe is among my fellow countrymen.

Calo, A 2018, ”Harry Potter’ and its frightening political parallels: ‘how we are living through the Order of Phoenix”, < we-re-living-through-the-order-of-the-148698d4>

Goldstein, S 2004, ‘Translating Harry Potter, Part I: The Language of Magic’, <;

Martin-Anatias, N 2017, ‘Who speaks Indonesian, ‘the envy of the multilingual world”, <>

Rowling, J 2015, ‘Dolores Umbridge’, < umbridge>






Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on Patreon.

Actually growing up multicultural

I have encountered so many westerners who either brag or complain about how their western countries are the world’s diversity hotspots, with MAGA Americans being the loudest.

I always counter them with the data which clearly indicates otherwise. In fact, because I have too much time on my hands, I wrote an entire blog about it.

Months laters and I still encounter those people to this day, making the same predictable talking points. The more I encounter them, the more I disappointed in myself, though.

Almost all of them act like they know how it feels to live a multicultural life. I am disappointed in myself because I have been noticing that for a while… and yet, I haven’t written about it.

Overall, it does not make any sense. How experienced you are with other cultures is not determined by their mere presence around you; it is determined by your interactions (or the lack thereof) with the people. You can live in one of the most diverse places on earth and still trapped inside a cultural bubble. For your information: New York City is (not was) infamous for its segregated schools.

In fact, not only they are too proud of themselves, they tried to discredit me as a bubble dweller who know nothing about the outside world.

Yeah, about that…

My Indonesian hometown Batam has not one but five dominant ethnic groups (due to it being a planned city) and, while being predominantly-Muslim, churches and Buddhist temples are easy to find; it is also very close to Singapore and Malaysia, making it one of Indonesia’s gateways to the outside world. I have lived in two cities in the Jakarta metro area, which many Indonesians migrate to and also one of the country’s gateways to the world. I also lived in Melbourne for about a year.

I, an indigenous Indonesian Muslim, attended a middle school where the student body was predominantly Chinese-Indonesian -whose religious affiliation was Buddhist (and possibly also Taoist and Confucian)- and many of the teachers were Filipinos, with one American and one Aussie. My high school also reflected my city’s demographics: visible Christian and Buddhist minorities and multiple dominant ethnic groups. I briefly attended an Indonesian university which attracted students from all over the country. I graduated from an Australian university with an international student body.

Apart from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia, I have also visited other foreign countries like Thailand, New Zealand, China (Hong Kong included), Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Palestina, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Czechia, Austria, Hungary and Switzerland.

On Facebook, my social circle consists mostly of foreigners and there are lots of times when I get myself reprimanded for resorting to cultural stereotypes.

How is that for a bubble dweller?

After realising how culturally-rich my upbringing was and interacting with so many misguidedly proud westerners, I learn two lessons about what it means to be a multicultural individual.

Lesson one: being multicultural is not about simply enjoy cuisines and arts from other cultures. It is actually interacting with the people we divisively refer to as the “others”.

And I am not talking about professional situations; I am talking about ones where we interact because we sincerely enjoy each other’s presence. While intimacy is not required, informality certainly is. Those are the occasions when we can get to truly know the “others” beyond the labels.

I am not saying enjoyment of other cultures’ cuisines and arts is bad; in fact, we should always encourage ourselves to broaden our tastes. But, they are surface-level aspects of cultures; if we are too focused on the surface and disregard the more abstract things beneath, we may end up making caricatures out of the people. Weeaboos are a great example of how NOT to appreciate other cultures. Admittedly, stop stereotyping people after doing it your entire life is easier said than done.

I am also not saying interaction alone helps. If we only care about affirming our preconceived beliefs or having token minorities in our lives, no amount of interactions will ever enlighten you. But still, if you want to understand your fellow human beings, wouldn’t it make sense to… you know… actually interact with them?

Lesson two: being multicultural is not about tolerance, it is about resilience. It is less about accepting and liking the trivial differences (emphasise on the word trivial) and more about how well you are in dealing with them.

Someone may annoy you for being too polite or rude. But, instead of wasting your time whining, you should move on with your live and accept that none of your fellow human beings will be 100% likeable to you.

I have to say reactionary monolingual Anglophones score really low in the resilience department. For someone who love to call people snowflakes, they sure can’t handle the mere sounds of any other languages. Even Indonesians who are very racist against Chinese people are not that triggered by the mere sound of Chinese languages (as far as I am concerned); mind you, Indonesia used to banned any public of anything perceived as Chinese!

Humanising your fellow human beings and skilfully traversing trivial human differences. In my personal views, you need both in order to truly experience multiculturalism.




Oh, and about the people I argued with…

Some did end up acknowledging that diversity does exist outside the western world and more prominently so. But, it was not an admission of error on their part.

After the acknowledgement, they proceeded to talk about how politically unstable those diverse African countries are, proving diversity is bad for unity.

Now, did you see what just happened there? In case you didn’t notice, there were goalposts moving and gaslighting happening.

They acted as if they already acknowledged the diversity of non-western countries from the very beginning, even though their refusal to do so was the reason why we argued in the first place.

They acted as if we were arguing the merit of diversity, even though we argued about its existence outside the western world.

And they also acted as if I defended diversity as an inherently beneficial thing, even though I never made the argument. Not even once.

I know some people are against this behaviour. But, I can’t help myself: my opponents clearly lost.

Well, they already lost when they made a claim proven false by data. They lost for the second time when they started moving the goalposts and attempting to gaslight me.

And one person lost for the third time when he said my refusal to vindicate his make-believe was a sign of autism.






Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on Patreon.

Diajarin ngomong yang “benar”, malah ngambek

Setiap kali ada Youtuber yang mengajari penonton mereka cara berbicara bahasa Inggris dengan “benar” (perhatikan tanda kutipnya), pasti saja ada orang-orang yang marah.

Kenapa mereka marah? Mereka bilang logat tidak hanya ada satu. Jadi, menurut mereka, terserah kita mau ngomong kayak gimana.

Memang betul setiap bahasa memiliki berbagai macam logat. Memang betul juga bahwa di ilmu kajian bahasa, tidak ada yang namanya logat “benar” atau “salah”.

Tetapi, saya punya pertanyaan: mengapa anda belajar bahasa?

Jawabannya antara anda memang pencinta bahasa… atau anda ingin berkomunikasi dengan lebih banyak orang. Jika komunikasi adalah keinginan anda, jangan asal ngomong!

Adanya berbagai macam logat bukanlah alasan. Sebanyak-banyaknya mereka, tidak semuanya dianggap baku. Setiap negara ada yang namanya logat baku dan kegunaannya adalah mempermudah komunikasi antar warga negara; percuma adanya bahasa penyatu jika tidak ada logat penyatu.

Negara-negara berbahasa Inggris sadar bahwa bahasa yang mereka gunakan juga digunakan di negara-negara lain; mereka sadar bahwa logat baku mereka harus bisa dimengerti oleh warga asing. Itulah sebabnya kenapa logat-logat baku mereka cenderung mudah dimengerti orang luar, walaupun logat-logatnya terdengar jauh berbeda.

Lah, lu memangnya siapa? Kok bisa-bisanya bilang lu berhak ngomong sesuka hati dan harap semua orang ngerti?

Bayangkan jika ada orang bule mengucapkan Rupiah seperti Rupayah dan mengucapkan huruf C sebagai K…. dan mereka marah jika dikoreksi. Gak hanya lu gak akan ngerti, lu juga jadi gemes sampe ingin nabok mereka satu persatu.

Jujur saja, kita-kita yang bahasa Inggrisnya tergolong jauh lebih bagus juga ingin nonjok lu pade.

Shane Dawson’s downfall: I should have seen it

No, I am not talking about his content from long ago and his inappropriate interactions with minors. I actually started watching him when he started making those conspiracy videos.

While I think content creators must be held accountable for their creations, I also believe they can grow and distant themselves from their past. Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie has proven that to us.

No, I am thinking about Shane’s associates.

I have no problem with his fiancé Ryland, Morgan, Garrett, Drew and Andrew as I don’t find them problematic (at least, not that I am aware of). But, Blaire White, Jeffree Star, Breland Kent and Trisha Paytas? They are problematic as fuck.

Not gonna lie, I have a soft spot for his interactions with Jeffree and Trisha. Every time he appears on screen with either one, I cannot help but admiring the chemistry.

And that’s the problem.

A person’s willingness to be associated with said individuals is already a problem in itself. But, the fact that he/she gets along with them on a personal level shows they have some things in common; they may bond because they are all problematic… which is definitely the case with Shane Dawson. Basically, the evidence was right there in front of me and I did not take it seriously.

But, even if Shane is a wholesome person, his social circle is still a problem. Whether we admit it or not, we are influenced by whom we interact with. The more wholesome friends we have, the more likely we go to the straight paths.

And the same thing can be said if we have the complete opposite ones.

What I am saying is, even if I am not aware of his past content and inappropriate behaviours, I still should have seen it coming.






Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on Patreon.

No, turning former churches into mosques does not benefit the Muslim world, you pseudo-spiritual swines

Predominantly-Muslim countries like Turkey already have not only an abundance of mosques, but also an abundance of prayer rooms. Why do we need more of them? Why do you act like we are deprived of our religious needs within our own territories?

Besides, if you genuinely believe in Allah’s omnipresence, you don’t need a mosque to communicate with Him; you can pray fucking everywhere. And you know what? Muslims who live in places where they are an extremely tiny minority have done just that! You are just a teeny whiny swine!

No, don’t act like this is not a big deal. Erdogan turns a museum -which is a place of learning and therefore, benefits fucking everyone– into a place of worship -which benefits only one fucking religious group! He sends a message to the world that it is acceptable for Muslims to disrespect non-Muslims.

I should also remind you that Hagia Sophia started as a church and Erdogan is also planning to turn another museum which is also formerly a church into a mosque. Not only he encourages his fellow Muslims to be selfish, he also trivialise the plight of many prosecuted Christian minorities all over the world, many of whom don’t have fucking churches of their own! He gives every Christian in the world the middle finger.

If you don’t have a problem with that, it is either you are bigoted yourself or you are unable to see bigotry right in front of you. And yes, being complicit to bigotry is as bad as committing it.

No, don’t act like you don’t want vengeance against Christians. If you don’t, why do you have to remind everyone that anti-Muslim prosecutions, especially ones committed by Christians, exist? Why do you think it is appropriate to respond with ‘two wrongs make a right’?

No, your virtue signalling does not work on me. If you really care about the plight of Muslim minorities, why the fucking hell are you excited about a predominantly-Muslim country having a new mosque? You cannot claim to care about the poor and then get a boner when the rich get tax cuts!


Your unique country isn’t

For non-Americans, it can be a bit weird how Americans identify themselves with their home states when introducing themselves. It does not matter if they interact with foreigners, who may not have heard of the more ‘obscure’ states.

In a Youtube comment section (forget which one), a commenter pointed out that weirdness. Then, among the repliers, there had to be that one annoying person.

He/she could have said this was just an American quirk or had something to do with strong sense of regionalism.

Nope. For him/her, it proves America is literally the only diverse country on earth.

Others, me included, were quick to point out the US of fucking A is NOT the only one. There are countries like Canada, Australia and Brazil where the indigenous populations are brutally sidelined by Europeans of various nationalities and also ones like China, South Africa, Malaysia, India, China and Indonesia. Yet, when introducing themselves to foreigners, people of those countries always refer to their countries instead of their home provinces, states or what have you.

After me and others kept pestering him/her, she/he relented. But then, she/he proceeded to claim that the cultural differences are more pronounced in the US than they are in other countries.

Again, not true. In Indonesia alone, you can easily see how different the ethnic groups are just by looking at their traditional attires or by eating their dishes; I don’t remember what other commenters said about this. He/she did relent for the second time.

But then, she/he claimed that unlike the other countries, USA consists of people who don’t share the same roots.

He/she was right to say the people in those countries share the same roots. The majority of Chinese mainlanders are Hans, most languages in India are either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian, the majority of people in South Africa are of Bantu roots and most Indonesians are of Austronesian roots.

But then, the majority of Americans are descended of Europeans who mostly spoke Indo-European languages. Besides, nowadays, most of them are monolingual Anglophones; their surnames are the only remnants of their non-Anglo heritage, assuming they haven’t been Anglicised.

To make this more frustrating, that person was not the first person I encountered who exaggerated America’s uniqueness, particularly regarding diversity. It shows how ignorance about the world can mislead us into embracing exceptionalism.

I have also encountered people who make this argument about the west as a whole. They use this argument not because they believe in exceptionalism, but because they hate how the west is the only place where multiculturalism is supposedly ‘enforced’…

… Which is, of course, bullshit. Not only diversity exists elsewhere, there are African and Asian countries significantly more diverse than the European ones.

According to Alesina et al and Fearon’s ethnic and cultural diversity indexes, African, Asian and Latin American countries -especially the African ones- easily outrank the west. In fact, the indigenous populations of many non-western countries are already diverse without immigrants.

Iran’s biggest ethnic group forms 50-60% of the population. Afghanistan’s two biggest ethnic ones comprise 40-50% and 25% of the population. Indonesia’s? 40% and 18%. Kenya’s biggest is 17%. Papua New Guinea’s population is almost nine million and it has over eight hundred indigenous languages. Vanuatu? Three hundred thousand people, over a hundred and ten languages.

And we haven’t talked about religions, yet… which in this case, I have to refer to Singapore: biggest religion 33%, second biggest 18%. Unusual, even for many diverse countries.

Those countries are effortlessly multicultural without boasting how multicultural they are. Heck, some even never utter the word.

My point is multiculturalism is not an exclusively western thing. The more you know about the world, the more stupid it is to believe otherwise.

Oh, and if you want to insist on your country’s uniqueness and/or victim status, make sure to mention things that do not happen fucking elsewhere!



Forgot to mention this: diversity also applies to non-white indigenous people of western countries.

In the US, there are five hundred and seventy four federally recognised tribes. In Australia, four hundred. In Brazil, at least two thousand, not accounting undiscovered ones. Mind you, those are the numbers AFTER they have experienced centuries of genocide by the Europeans.

Can you imagine if the genocides never happened? The Americas and Australasia would be even more diverse than they are now. They would easily rival Africa and Asia.

And the world slurps… Indonesian noodles

That one bloody brand

As an Indonesian, I am very much aware of how ‘invisible’ my country is. But, it took me some time to be fully conscious of our instant noodles’ global appeal.

When I say instant noodles, I mean Indomie. Not only it is sold in many countries, many Youtubers have made many videos about it and they include Josh Carrott and Ollie Kendal, who seem ecstatic every time they eat Indomie Goreng.

Obviously, if you are used to with how under-the-radar your country is, foreigners liking anything from your country feels weird. With the Indomie hype specifically, I am weirded out… and annoyed.

Don’t get me wrong: Indomie is indeed tasty. But, for God’s sake, other brands exist! Sarimi, Supermi (both share the same parent company with Indomie), ABC, Gaga and Mie Sedap, the last is arguably Indomie’s strongest rival. Their products can be just as tasty, if not more.

While Indonesia did used to have even greater variety of instant noodles, it is still not an excuse to divert our attention to a single brand.

If I were a more dilligent fan of food Youtubers, I would have definitely send them Indonesian instant noodles of various brands. If the Youtubers have made Indomie videos before, I would exclude the brand from my packages and force them to acknowledge other brands as well.

A genuine source of national pride

In another blog post, I mentioned how Indonesia’s lack of international culinary success can be blamed on our lack of pride. This may also explain Indomie’s success.

Obviously, I have to credit the company’s marketing team. But, I also think our sincere pride contributes to the brand’s popularity. The sincerity makes the hype sounds more convincing. Unless our target audiences are gullible, believing in our own words is crucial.

We do import foreign brands. Nissin, Nongshim, Ichiban and even the (in)famous Samyang. In fact, the global popularity of Samyang’s fire noodles compels Indonesian manufacturers to create their own versions.

Considering how Indonesian cuisines are way hotter than the Korean one, it is odd that Koreans made super spicy flavours before we did. Somehow, for many years, we weren’t interested in having our mouths and digestive tracts burned by instant noodles.

But, despite the popularity of Korean brands, we still prefer our own. Apart from the significantly higher prices of the imported products, we also think ours are more flavourful.

And I rarely agree with my fellow countrymen on anything.

‘Weird’ taste buds 

In the year 2000, my eight-year-old self was excited. There was a new kid in town: Mie & Me!

It offered flavours that were considered ‘unusual’ at that time: pizza, burger and spaghetti; can’t remember if there were other flavours. I don’t know if it was the first brand to do so. But, it did make me realise instant noodle flavours should not be limited to what we consider ‘normal’.

Not long after Mie & Me was launched, I remember Indomie launching Chatz, which also offered ‘weird’ flavours like chicken lemon and BBQ sausage… literally the only ones I remember (and the latter tasted like shit). Basically, Mie & Me almost started a new trend.

Yes, almost.

In my memories, I didn’t know anyone other than myself who ate those ‘weird’ products. It seems they were not that popular. Unsurprisingly, they were short-lived, much to my dismay.

A handful of people do still remember the brands. But, they are so obscure, it is hard to find their visual evidences online. With Chatz, I only found just one photo. With Mie & Me, no photos at all!

I don’t know why they were commercial failures. I assume it has something to do with us seeing instant noodles as proper meals… and associating pizza, burger and spaghetti flavours with children’s snacks.

But then, it just an assumption.

‘Traditional’ taste buds

Traditional dishes flavours are not exactly innovative; brands have been selling soto flavour since forever. But, I don’t know they didn’t think of having more varieties from early on.

Nowadays, major brands do produce those flavours with Indomie being the most prolific among them (unsurprisingly). Interestingly, I notice they were first released around the same time as the rise of Batik’s popularity among the masses.

I don’t think Indonesia has experienced a renaissance akin to the Hawaiian one. But, there has been a slow rise of interests in traditional cultures among us. Apart from the aforementioned Batik’s popularity, eating traditional Indonesian dishes is now considered cool once again.

And Indomie aggressively follows the trend. In fact, thanks to this, I would have never heard of a dish called Mie Celor. To this day, I have to yet to try the real thing.

Going glocal

Indomie has (or had, don’t bother to check) Taste of Asia flavours: Singaporean laksa, Korean bulgogi and Thai Tom Yum. Mie Sedap has at least two spicy ‘Korean-style’ flavours. Gaga has jalapeno flavour.

I cannot be certain if they can impress foreigners or not (probably not). But, the variety of flavours being offered is intriguing: it reminds me of the glocal (global and local) nature of Indonesia’s instant noodles lovers.

Unlike with our heritages, we don’t love our instant noodles simply for the sake of loving anything Indonesian. As mentioned before, we are wholeheartedly proud of them. Our pride compels us to promote the noodles to foreigners, consequently taking us out of our cultural bubbles.

But, at the same time, we are not snobby about it… not to my knowledge, at least. There is no shame in enjoying the foreign ones.

Usually, we are either too xenophobic or too xenophiliac. But, in this case, appreciation of both local and foreign things is well-balanced.


What’s dignity?

According to my dictionary, it means self-respect and the quality of worthy of respect. Any other dictionaries I looked into said similar things. Basically, it is how much we are respected by others and by our own selves.

The problem is we are too focused on how others see ourselves.

Some of us think we should listen to others’ so-called criticism NOT for the sake of self-improvement, but for the sake of caving in to peer pressures, for the sake of mindless conformity.

Let me give you an example (and yes, it will be dragging):

Let’s just say there is a young man in front of you who is unemployed, physically unfit and afraid to do any thrill-seeking activities. You constantly criticise him for not having a job and for not being physically active. You also love mocking him for being a scaredy cat.

The question is, why do you do that?

Ideally, you pester him to take a job and exercise because you care about him. You don’t want him to end up having little or no saving, having a snow as white resume and having extremely poor health. You pester him for good reasons.

You mock his fearfulness because you are annoyed by his macho guy-wannabe attitude and you use this opportunity to put that giant pussy in his place.

But, with some of you, that’s not the case, isn’t it?

You pester him to take a job NOT because you care about his future, but because you are offended.

You are one of those retards who believe the meaning of life is to work and/or to uphold neoliberal capitalism and that young man offends you because he unknowingly gives your retarded belief(s) the finger.

You fat-shame him because you don’t like seeing fat people. Who cares about his health? You think you are entitled to see so-called ‘beautiful’ people all the time, to have more people to masturbate to.

And regardless if he is a macho guy-wannabe or not, you would still mock him for being a scaredy cat. Maybe you are offended that he does not fulfil an arbitrary gender role. Maybe you are a retarded bully who takes pleasure in humiliating others. Maybe you are both.

My point is (if you can endure my ramblings) we should be careful in how we let others defining our ‘dignities’.

If they keep bothering you because they genuinely care about you or they are concerned your behaviours may negatively affect others, then you (unfortunately) have to listen to them. If they keep bothering you simply because you are different, then you should give them dildos so they can fuck themselves.

Obviously, differentiating the two is easier said than done. So, the only way to deal with such situation is to ask yourselves these questions:

If I follow their words, who would get the benefits: me or other people? When it benefits them, do I contribute something to my society’s welfare… or do I only pander to the sentiments of self-centred and obnoxious cunts? Would I have an easier time achieving my goals.. or  would I have an even harder time because of it?

How about my emotional health? Would I be just fine… or would I end up miserable because I care too much about other people’s feelings and care too little about mine?

Just be careful when others try to change you for the sake of giving you ‘dignities’.

An actually great defence of monarchism

Well, not ‘great’. Just more convincing.

I have my share of documentaries about royal families. Unsurprisingly, most of them are about the British one; to a lesser extent, I also have watched ones about the Japanese and Swedish ones.

When I watched the documentaries about the Swedish one, I was surprised by the presentation. Instead of classical music or any music that represent Swedish heritage, they utilise pop music. Instead of framing the monarchs as untouchable members of the elite, they are framed as if they would blend really well among the commoners.

I asked a Scandinavian friend of mine and he confirmed Scandinavians prefer their monarchs ‘relatable’.

For a long time, I was confused: how did Sweden, Denmark and Norway manage to cling to both monarchism and Jante Law? Now, I know why.

It is the complete opposite with documentaries about British and Japanese royal families.

Besides the more abundant use of classical music soundtracks, they also lavishly display the wealth, the lineage and the celebrity status of the monarchs… and they are seen as good things! The documentaries insinuate the monarchs are worthy of our admiration because they are blue-blooded wealthy celebrities, because we are (supposedly) inherently underneath them!

Don’t get me wrong: I am still not a big fan of ‘relatable’ monarchs. Even if their relatability is genuine and unfiltered (I doubt it is), it still does not erase the fact that they get their arbitrarily-existing jobs because their ancestors who lived centuries ago were politically powerful. The borderline cultish veneration is still there.

But surely, if you argue monarchs are needed because they are symbols of their people, wouldn’t it make sense to depict them as ‘relatable’? If that’s the case, there is a higher chance I would be a monarchist myself. I don’t see how anyone can symbolically represent others if they are seen as inherently above them.

Well, I do see it. People who are comfortable with the existence of wealth and lineage-based strata would be just fine with feet of the powerful (the right kind, obviously) rested on their heads. For them, it makes perfect sense to feel presented by over-privileged and definitely not relatable individuals.






Donate to this deadbeat, preachy blogger on