Category Archives: History

Fire Sale: Muslim Voters and the Chinese Bogeyman

Jakarta’s politics never ceased to amaze me. Just when I thought the religion card couldn’t have been used more coarsely, Instagram delivered a surprise earlier this week. And to think I actually logged into Instagram to avoid the highly-political Twitter. … Continue reading

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71 Years On: The Crossroads of Identity?

It started off years ago as Independence Day lunch with some diplomat friends; they’d just returned from State Palace for the ceremony, I’d just finished watching it on TV. Since they’d be in formalwear, I’d dress accordingly in variations of red-white … Continue reading

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A Small Window Into Stately Frames

The colorful state of Indonesia turns seventy-one this month. As countries go it’s not that old, yet thanks to the tragically poor teaching of history, the earlier decades are starting to fade. Many Indonesians don’t quite know their history and … Continue reading

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From ‘Kafir’ to ‘Komunis’: The Bogeyman Lives On

A long while ago I read somewhere that the more diverse a group, the stronger the bond must be created to hold them together as a group. Logical. In the case of The Prince and the Pauper, or Beauty and the Beast, it … Continue reading

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The Inglorious, Glossed-Over, Side of Love Sagas

“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships / and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?” When people talk about the Trojan War, a huge horse filled with enemies often isn’t the only topic on the table. Helen, the … Continue reading

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Kami vs Kita, in Fully Devilish Swing

Birthday? / Why, you want to send gifts? Religion? / You’re going to send me holiday basket, too? Marital status? / Gawd, are you asking me out?? It was a particularly harried day when I swung by an electronic store … Continue reading

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Sweet and Sour, Along the Old Spice Road

I can’t forget the day the International Finance professor, at my graduate business school in the US, used me and a Dutch classmate to illustrate how a particular decision in 17th century carried an everlasting effect to modern Indonesians and Americans. I knew … Continue reading

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16 Years Ago, Did Any of Us See This Coming?

If you read through Indonesian media this week you’ll find many references to how Indonesians eventually won our democracy these days sixteen years ago when Soeharto finally relinquished his 32-year iron grip following bloody protests, brutal attacks on Chinese descendants, … Continue reading

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Looking Back and Moving Forward, In Vintage We Trust

I can’t remember exactly when I started taking interest, perhaps during my teenage years in Manado when Mom began collecting vintage chinaware from the Dutch colonial time, but I realized it was the years overseas that nurtured my penchant for … Continue reading

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Beyond Lion Dances and Red Lanterns at Fancy Malls

I spent my formative years in a low-key neighborhood near where Central, West and South Jakarta meets. My public school’s classmates were the local Betawi kids, some of us ‘newcomers’, and a lone Chinese boy named Icong. Icong came from … Continue reading

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