In 1990, Irish journalist Susan Jane-Beers noticed a herbal medicine clinic in the corner of a hair salon in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, her adopted home. A victim of age-related chronic knee pain that conventional pharmaceuticals couldn’t numb let alone heal, Jane-Beers decided to try jamu — traditional Indonesian medicine.
The results astounded her. After three days of taking only one third of the prescribed dose of herbal pills, the pain had vanished, making her wonder if she’d found “the magic bullet of all time.”
Canon 5D Mk II | Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM
This post from nearly 5 years ago has certainly received a lot of feedback – currently at 221 comments. And there were many more comments not approved or moderated for various reasons (and I’m very lenient). It appears the nature of relationships between Asian women and foreigners is a hot topic. Unfortunately, the discussion also seems to breed hate, blatant racism, extreme generalizations, and the other crap that comes with the telling of peoples’ personal history.
Each of these delicately composed comments comes streaming (and sometimes shouting) into my inbox, at times more frequently than bathroom breaks. I’m so often tempted to respond, to speak my own mind, and share my experiences having been with an amazing, loving, and caring Indonesian woman for so many years – experiences so very opposite from the majority of those sharp words expressed in the comments. But then again, whose mind am I going to change? If someone has had a horrible experience with love or has witnessed a partner using them only as a means to an end, who am I to say that they’re wrong to lash out?
Despite the fact that this blog is centered around photography, travel, culture, and my own life experiences as an expatriate living in Asia, I’ll continue to allow the comments to flow. I simply ask that before you contribute to the discussion, you ask yourself if you’d say the same thing if you were face-to-face with others, that you consider the flip side to your beliefs and statements, and that you strive to maintain some semblance of respect – especially in terms of religion. Don’t confuse the disparity of wealth and blatant naivety with a particular religion.
Having said that, perhaps it’s time for me to share my own perspectives on this matter from many years of personal experience.
A funny yet predictable observation: I’ve been too busy these past few months to utilize Twitter in the same way as I did last year, and noticed a few things:
- 90% of the people I used to converse with on a daily basis 12 months ago no longer communicate with me, nor I with them (nothing negative, just factual).
- I spend perhaps 70% less time on Twitter currently than I did last year – hmm, correlation perhaps?
- The statement “You get out what you put in” holds very true for Twitter it seems. I’ve been too busy to do much replying, RT, DM, and making new contacts since my move to Manila, and subsequently my number of followers has significantly leveled off (and is stuck right below 1000 whereas many people who had less followers than myself a year ago have blossomed into 4 digit stars)
- Most of the Indonesian contacts I have no longer chat with me since my move to Manila – BUT this ties in with the top two points – it’s no one’s fault (well, ok, it’s more mine), it’s just the nature of Twitter and human contact. It’s quite similar to The Sims when you think about it. A few weeks go by without any conversation and the heart above my head drops a point.
- Even my close friends and ex-coworkers who use Twitter no longer chat nearly as much – if your friendship began offline, and physical proximity changes, is online communication with them more likely to diminish than those friendships which began online?
So am I ‘over’ Twitter as media sources are beginning to state, “Has Twitter Peaked?” ? No! I still enjoy using Twitter and seeking out great contacts and valuable information. But my own use for it has evolved over time. Whereas it started as a one way communication tool for me in 2007, 2008 and the first half of 2009 was more about socializing and meeting up with people offline and engaging in great conversations. It has now morphed into more of tool of observation and perhaps less interaction. This may not be a bad thing. I was getting to the point where I knew more about what my contacts were doing, going, watching, eating, enjoying, than my own family (who still all refuse to use Twitter! – as my sister said, “It’s so egotistical – who cares what you had for dinner??!” – don’t blame her, she’s just bitter she’s not eating the Italian we had last night)
I still use Twitter nearly every day, and usually many times per day. But I’ve become more of a voyeur with my contacts – I’ve made lists in TweetDeck of my favorite people (which I’ve called, “Interestingness” ala Flickr), photography news, Manila, Jakarta, etc. I even have an “Indonesian” column to keep up with the awesome group of people that helped spur my interest in Twitter in the first place. After email, Tweetie on my iPhone is my 2nd most often used app (Facebook is the 3rd, Manifesto the 4th).
My new career, new country, and abundant travel time in 2009 (Bali twice, the move to Philippines, Boracay, Hong Kong, Banaue, and soon Singapore) has prompted this change (and a definite factor is the more expensive and spotty mobile internet in Manila compared to Jakarta).
Perhaps this is a time of change for Twitter as well. I wonder what 2010 will bring for me and my “tweeps”?
Some related posts:
Want more? Here’s the archive of all my Twitter related posts. Or of course, you can add me if you wish.
Novita’s wonderful sister, Nana, just arrived at 5:30am this morning from Jakarta. She’ll stay with us for three weeks, relaxing and hopefully exploring more of Manila and the Philippines. We have a vacation coming up for 9 days at the end of October; still undecided where we may go.
Not only did she bring Novita a cure for homesickness (herself) – she brought a ton of spices, sambal, and Indonesian food! In fact, she brought so much, she was charged $150 extra weight for the flight. Too bad they can’t adjust for the fact that she’s only 42kg while people like me are more than double that!
It’s now been a week since our arrival in Manila, Philippines. To cut to the chase; so far we love it.
Our new apartment is fantastic; a high rise right in the heart of Makati – the business/expat area; all very upscale and metropolitan. We spent seven years in our home in Jakarta, so apartment living is a new thing for us.
Our place is quite high in the sky and very spacious; 4 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths not including the maid’s quarters. We have floor to ceiling windows in nearly every room in the place – tons of great light with stunning views.
The transition to Manila has been about as smooth as possible. Our shipment arrived the day after we got here; no problems there whatsoever. My new workplace is phenomenal, with fabulous facilities and great co-workers. All in all, I feel very positive about this entire choice.
One can’t help but make direct comparisons to Indonesia after 7 years. More than once I’ve spoken Indonesian to Filipinos. The pollution seems slightly less, traffic a little less insane, prices for most things comparable, worse taxis, American food (for better or worse), and importantly, very friendly people – an aspect I loved about Indonesia.
E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. thinks Novita is Filipina, and even after she says she’s Indonesian, some proceed to speak Tagalog to her. I must say, the physical attributes of most Filipinos seems almost indistinguishable from Indonesians.
All in all, this has been a whirlwind of a week, but we’re absolutely thrilled to be here. I can’t wait to get out and explore both Manila and the rest of the Philippines.
After posing the question I received an abundance of helpful and interesting responses. The majority of which were centered around photography. A list of suggestions (in the order they were posted):
- Wedding photography
- Side business from passions
- iPhone app creation
- Publish a photo book
- Indonesian stock market
- Photography courses
- Online business
- Seek ways of saving instead of earning
These are great ideas, and many will fit together to formulate a more complete project. Note: iPhone app design would be awesome, and I’m not counting it out yet, but it’s simply not my strong-point. If we further refine these suggestions, we’ll be left with three broader concepts:
- Photography related
- Online business
- Stocks / investments
While finding ways to save money is a vital component to advancing your financial health, I see it on a similar plane as dieting without exercise. Both are required for more effective, long-lasting results.
- Photography related: It’s quite obvious that I have a strong passion for photography. While I realize I have such a tremendous amount to learn still, it’s something that I never tire of. This is critical in my mind. There are many routes this could take.
- Online business: I’m a tech guy. I know my way in and out of many applications and can navigate the web with ease. I enjoy digging into new social media, teaching myself new applications, and geeking out with podcasts and tutorials. I’m not an expert in any one area, but am proficient in many. I’ll digest this one more below.
- Stocks / investments: This ties in with savings – it’s often a necessary part of financial health to find some way to invest. I have traded stocks in the past and done quite well. I’ve also lost my ass playing the stock market. To be truly confident in stocks again, I think I’d require full energy devoted solely to the research and constant flow of information that is needed to succeed (and luck). However, I’m willing to seek out more assistance and perhaps take it slow (i.e. not go crazy with individual tech stocks). I am somewhat limited by living in Indonesia in terms of investments, but am curious what is possible.
To reiterate on my stronger points, I’m left with two areas of focus: photography and the internet. Let’s dissect these focus areas into the various options. Feel free to suggest more. I’m also going to add to these with my own ideas.
- Publish a photography book
- Stock photography
- Print sales
- Portrait photography
- Modeling agency
- Wedding / pre-wedding photography
- Photography courses / teaching
- Blogging for profit (not this blog): photography related, camera gear, tech, Indonesia, etc
- Online business: ?
John brought up an important point in the comments from the previous post: “ideas are abundant, anyone can come up with ideas to make money. execution and sales are the hard slogging part… it doesn’t really matter how good a photographer u are if you do not work hard at selling your work.”
This is where the fun begins – pushing photography to the next level without selling my soul. As I stir these ideas around my mind, feel free to contribute any more, offering advice or experiences you’ve had with any aspects of these points. Have you created such a business? Have you submitted work to stock agencies? Have you tried publishing a book? I (and others) would love to learn from your experiences.
To be continued…
Part 1 of this series is located here.