Life of Pi: A Journey of Choosing Faith

"Life of Pi" is one of those inspirational and emotive piece of work. Along with the story; the staggering visualization of the sea, cinematography that just makes every second worth to see, the beautiful sounds that immerse the ocean. It really is a must-watch movie of 2012.

"Religions has many rooms"
Piscine Molitor Patel, is an Indian boy raised in a zoo as a Hindu. His early childhood was known for being called as 'pissing', which sounds like his name. Piscine stunned everybody by writing the correct long digits of Pi, π. in his school. He had a new identity since then-- he is Pi.

Although Pi excelled in school, he was never satisfied with knowledge he had received-- he always looked for more, yet he was split between his father, a highly-disciplined modern Indian businessman who rather believed something from the Western world, meanwhile his caring botanist-mother, choosed to follow the Hindu custom and tradition. He eventually knew that there are many interpretations of God, Universe and Fate.

Tales of Hindu gods and goddesses accompanied little Pi to sleep. One of the tales was the little Khrisna's mother witnessing the whole universe inside Khrisna's mouth. As Pi became older, a priest in a church told Pi that people can understand, love and follow Jesus because He is human, a son, who sacrificed himself for the love of other human. He started to pray as a Catholic before supper. Not so long after he learned about Jesus, he enjoyed the serenity when shalat after he heard the prayers from a mosque.

His father, Santosh, was a different man that young Pi. Santosh did not want his son to believe in so many things, because Santosh believed that believing in everything is the same as not believing in nothing. He especially prohibited or condemned unconventional ideas, for instance, a tiger that is nice to human (the general idea is that it's difficult for a tiger to be so). He wanted his son to face a harsh reality once, instead of viewing it from other perspectives.

"In the end, the whole life is becomes an act of letting go..."
Pi lost his family during their sail to search for better future in Canada. He went out to the dock to see the storm but under him was already water drowning his family. "Tsimtsum" cargo ship wrecked in the middle of a night full of thunder and gigantic waves, near Mariana trench. Pi survived by jumping onto a lifeboat, somehow he, together with some animals from the zoo brought to the cargo, was fated to leave the ship. A zebra and a hyena, survived the walls of waves that shook their seasickness away with horror together with Pi. Pi could not do anything else aside from seeing the ship approaching the darkness. Unknowingly, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger became the fourth and the fifth passenger on the helpless lifeboat, joining Pi's Ark mourning the loss and the tragedy. Pi was stuck in between the dark clouds and the sea depth.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry"
After all, it was only Pi, a Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker, and few supply that were left after the carnivores ate the herbivores. He just lost his family and almost died a couple of times. Above all, he was scared to look at the horizon. To make things worse, Richard Parker was still a hungry vicious tiger. Pi had to kill living things in one way or another to make them co-exist-- so Richard won't eventually eat Pi, and so Pi had 'reason' to live.

"It was a tooth..."
The lifeboat bumped into an uncharted island full of meerkats and eatable vegetation. They nourished themselves during the day. Later at night, he found out that the whole island became carnivorous when the tide came-- the algae released acid and dissolved living things. Pi and Richard Parker immediately left the island and continued the sea journey to fight for chances to live in better place. 

"Which story do you prefer?"
"The one with animals..."
"So it goes the same with God"
In the end, Pi survived the danger of the ocean when he reached a shore, where he was rescued by the locals, whom perhaps are Mexican. Only Pi seemed to be glad, meanwhile Richard Parker just walked away from him and disappeared in the mangrove forests. Heartbroken, Pi was still carried away from the lifeboat to the hospital.
Two Japanese insurance officer came to the hospital and interviewed Pi about sinking of Tsimtsum. Pi didn't recall the cause of the sinking, so he explained the whole thing-- about how he tried to survive, instead. The men didn't believe and asked Pi whether he can give more logical answer-- the story without the animals. The men found the other version of the story to be more dreadful. There were killings between human involved. When asked about which story was preferred, the men answered nothing-- which led to a report that summed Pi's story with the animals.

The conclusion to the story got me thinking that the story was perhaps about Pi's finding of his current religion. He was faced with many perspectives and he ended up choosing one particular belief.

If Pi didn't have a faith; something to protect, something to live by, he would not survive. 

"Mr. Patel's is an astounding story, courage and endurance unparalleled in the history of ship-wrecks. Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger."

Journey to the Finale

"The Cool World Stomp"

"Bang, Bang"

"Breathing Below Surface"

"Eli, Eli"

"Adagio for Strings"

"The Nutcracker Suite"


"When You're Good to Mama"


The Glee Project 2


Two short days in Bandung

Summer Camp 2012

Day 1: Probably was one of those relieving days; I survived five hours of night flight and dozens of uncomfortable sleeping positions, without going to the restroom, which means I literally sat for five freaking hours. It felt horrible, but I'm still standing *yeah yeah yeah*

It didn't surprise me to see how clean and smooth everything was in Xiamen, I barely noticed that I'm actually in southeastern part of China, which is far away from China's two greatest cities; Bejing and Shanghai-- totally a different place from what I used to imagine. I felt like I was in Singapore for quite sometime, but a Singapore without its sophisticated MRT system, without literally thousands of people flooding the pavement and there were more spaces (I don't expect you to feel this way). But what I love about the city, is there were always plants on the roadside, almost every inch of it. They didn't just simply plant it there, but they designed the arrangements of each plant and trust me, you're gonna think that you're somewhere in a park. In addition to that, you'll see concrete buildings being drowned by the greens (it's easy to be green, Kermit!).... Then, we had another hour of scanning the city while going to the school, which is in Quanzhou. I would say that the journey was almost like going to Bogor from Jakarta-- with absolutely no traffic.

Quanzhou's Southern Shaolin Martial Arts School, is one of the prestigious martial arts academy in China. I looked it up online and I found it really awesome and really interesting (How couldn't a martial arts school be interesting, it's not like regular schools after all). I stayed in a six floors newly-built dorm; by new, I mean really really new. But it was nice and clean, just as what you expect from something new nonetheless. But there was one thing that I didn't sign up for: getting a room on the sixth floor, number 606, on the end of the hallway.

Well, there were many students living in the dorm, including the other study tour participants from other places (FYI, there were so many dorms), so 'we were not the only one'.....I felt comfortable because all of us lived their daily lives rather than living a five-star life when they were far from their parents and be the independent one every single minute. It put me right on their position as a someone going on 17 although I came to there with no pressure as a student.

Btw, I loved the canteen more than my school's, I would only have to line up and take whatever I want......

We weren't supposed to be there that day but since we got earlier-day plane tickets, so we had few extra days to be spent so I really looked forward to all the activites. I spent most of my time sleeping and realizing that,

I'm one of those people who just can't live without internet...

Day 2: My first actual wushu class was just like what I expected-- I would be struggling, struggling and pushed over my limit (except for the fact that the teacher is a female, and doesn't like she's been trained in martial arts-- a good looking and perfect fit body rather. Whoa, that's scary).

There were seven of some basic position/attitude in wushu that we were taught today; those include different fingers stroke, different legs position that turned out to bethe least wanted body stretcher. It'd be cool if I could do attempt some manuvers, but I couldn't even do the basic ones, which were really hard. They were pretty much some of the hardest things to do. Well, there are sure many to be remembered, but I had to thank the teacher for giving us additional information; after we finish doing sports, don't just sit and straighten our legs, but also use your palmed hands to sort of massage the muscles so they won't be painful since most of us prolly were not used to do such activity (And it does work if you do it properly!)

The next class that we had was art class. It reminded me of kindergarten, but thankfully I didn't end up being like a kindergarten. When the teacher taught us how to make a fish and making its scales, I was so glad that I had an idea and I could make it happen. (I was never that way lol something different always came out)

Day 3: Today, was all trips and fun. Although the weather wasn't nice at all and we only got to visit two museums, I was so happy that the museums were really great.

First, we visited Jinshow Cultural Folk Museum, that showcases China's tangible varieties culture like pottery, paintings, sculpture and many more. What I like about the museum that it was very clean, modern, everything was buyable (if you are a rich man), yet has the enjoyable Chinese old-fashioned atmosphere, which I frankly thought it could've been creepy instead of interesting.
Then we were taken to the Quanzhou or Mintaiyuan Museum, not far from Jinshow. The museum showcases the history, culture, beliefs, geographical facts and most importantly, the Fujian-Taiwan kinship, within on big landmark-esque building *pic*.

 I love museums that bring the visitors on a journey rather than the visitors having to spend time to find a journey itself. Quanzhou Museum was that museum that I love-- similar to Singapore Discovery Center or Museum Bank Indonesia that I've visited, it is designed that so we would only have to walk, follow the arrow to exit, and putting all display and infos on the left, middle and right side of us. So we wouldn't go back. But that's not the only reason why I love the museum--  I saw so many things related to my grandparents' culture, which still occurs in my family, and I felt so overwhelmed and excited to explore more about my culture.

Before we visited the museums, we were marched to the big yard for the opening ceremony. As I said before, the weather wasn't nice at all. I need to add that the weather hadn't been nice since morning. The rain disturbed the crowd. However, there were lines of elementary students who were rained, without wearing any raincoats, umbrellas, not even paper. I was sitting covering my head with my hoodie when I saw them just sitting there doing nothing and the teachers only wiped their faces, probably nicely asking / wanting them to be patient. Please note that they did NOTHING-- not even covering their head and whatsoever in any ways from rain. I was like 'wow, that's discipline and commitment combined'.

Apparently they were the students that we saw practicing their martial arts moves under the hot sun a day before. Well, hardwork and sweat were paid off-- they were so discpline at such young age, I wish I could see more and more people like that, and I do also wish that I could be like them all the time. But things didn't turn out to be good for the dancers and the wushu athletes-- it wasn't just that their performance were delayed, they didn't get to perform. I felt so bad for them. I wish we didn't go somewhere on the afternoon so we could still see them.

Day 4: We went to Ancient City of Chongwu that has so many statues built. It was more of a very huge park, rather than an ancient city because I barely knew one ancient thing there. But despite that, I happened to see the traditional dance performance that started at 10am. With the ocean as the background, and nice weather with wind blowing, they performed everything beautifully.

By the time we went back to school, we had mandarin class (which was, frankly speaking, kind of boring although I tried my best to pay attention). But then we had a history class which was so interesting and I loved it. The teacher lectured about the history of huaqiao (people of China's native who moved abroad). Well, I am in fact an indirect descendant of huaqiao-- my grandparents from my father's side used to live in Putian, in Fujian province. So that's why it was interesting.

Day 5: Chinese painting and caligraphy really are difficult. You need a very mastered hand to be able to do any of those two of China's everlasting culture. I guess it took really long time to for somebody to be able to make everything looks really smooth and easy effortlessly.

One thing I learned: I would need an additional ten years to be able to do that.

Day 6: We had our first music class here and it made me miss choir, the members, the teachers and the feelings after I got partitures. Those were good times (those good times were also filled with me wondering how my schoollife will gonna be without music and art class. It's all gonna be sciences......Duh!). And I did have a good time in the class. We had a song called "Du Tang Shi".

I expected to have either guzheng, erhu or any Chinese traditional instruments on the table....I want to try that so badly, I can't hardly wait. Anyway, I can only hope that I will get to try that someday.

Day 7: I'm too tired to write something about today. But I would like to share what I've progressed in calligraphy and chinese painting

Day 8: I finally got to be in this big city again-- this time, we stopped by in some places, and one of them was really a special one. Of all universities that I know in China, I felt Xiamen University was the standout. I don't know exactly why, but the university left a really great impression on me, whether the particular indescribable impression came before or after I visited the university. 
However, I could describe what I loved there;
- It's huge-- we have to ride a bicycle to get from one place to another. 
- It's all green-- no young trees, you can only see big old trees. Although the weather was hot, there was still breeze and shadowed pavement.
- It is one of the universities that have provide nearly almost all majors/courses. No wonder why there were more than a hundred thousand of students there.
- All buildings are totally different from each other. It made me wish that I could take more than three majors there. It's gonna be exciting if the pressure won't be too damn hard to take -_-
- They said; "If you want to study, study in Beijing University. If you want to spend some romantic time with your lover, enjoy it in Xiamen University"

We also visited Jimei; a huge cluster of schools ranging from kindergarten, to top universities and colleges. This photo below, is one of the biology school in Jimei.

Aside from Jimei and Xiamen, which are the top two places for teenagers to visit while in Fujian, Gulangyu island, is another tourist attraction. It wasn't a typical island habituated by old yet traditional people, living in a traditional Chinese house, but the island has rather a western style. There was even a church there, as well as piano school and its museum! How surprising was that. I was so amused by the variety of the people, the structures and I had great time walking the small streets. The only problem was the island was always be crowded, so no wonder why no one stopped for a second and took a photo of his/herself. Neither do I. These are some that I took (thank goodness I didn't use the DSLR ones since it would take time). 

Since we were in Xiamen, we didn't forget to walk around, look around, then shop, on Zhongshan Rd. the popular shopping street in Xiamen. It got brands, top brands, cute stuff, delicate snacks, nothing was copied here.  

Welcome back to my life, again. Who-used-to-be-one-of-my-favorite-singers
Day 9: Regardless of my gender, I Danced. With. Bright green-colored fan. With glitter. On the back row. Wow. The dance was for girls but I didn't know why somehow the boys had to do that also. But it was really fun, I always enjoyed art classes.

Dance class would probably on the bottom part of the to-do-list. Not that I hate dancing, but boys don't usually dance non-hip hop or breakdance. In fact I was disappointed that we only got one session. Yea I enjoy seeing people popping, locking, krumping, funk, but not as much as I see people dancing traditional dance. I am a fan of a contemporary, theatrical and Broadway dance, so I really know that each movement in a traditional dance worth nothing less that its culture, beauty and grade. 

Day 10

Day 11: We sat down in the bus for more than six hours travelling back and from visiting Tulou. Tulou means earth buildings. It is a traditional house that is mainly found in the green hill or mountanious area. As a part of UNESCO's world's cultural heritage list, Tulou isn't just a traditional house. It is a unique house, shaped either round or rectangular, built from ___. The inner part of the structure, adjacent with the shape of the structure, there are rooms and other facilities. The building is huge enough to be filled with families. They're sort of an apartment.

Day 12 & 13: My first and only China's geography class was very interesting, it did sort of arranging everything that I've once read, heard or known about the land of China in order and adding several more useful information to it. For example, I heard that China is a multi-tribal country a well just like my country but the teacher showed that they also had different beautiful traditional costumes and culture during her presentation which left me wondering why hadn't I been curious about that.

Then I also had another history class, which was interesting as well. I never got to sort things about dynasties in China like which dynasty ruled first, then which was after then whatsoever or the remarkable stories from each dynasty like Hua Mulan and the Three Kingdoms.

These two days seemed to be a little less exhausting until we were told that we're supposed to rehearse our presentation as participants from Jakarta and Bogor during the closing ceremony on the next few days. After having a rather quick discussion, all of us ended up with this following sequence;

1. Tari Yapong by Regina Pacis Bogor
2. Tari Dindin Badinding by Regina Pacis Bogor
3. Poem reading and a song from St. Laurensia school
4. Poem reading and a song from BTIP Mandarin
5. Poem reading and a song from Regina Pacis Bogor
6. Performance from the teacher chaperones
7. All participants from Jakarta and Bogor performing "Du Tang Shi"
8. Followed by wushu performance.

Day 14: Today was going to be one of those days that will be more than just being unforgettable-- a meaningful one rather, aside from getting a seat on the bottom part of the boat, which was so uncomfortable in every way for half an hour. My dad talked about visiting Mazu island, and I was finally there. The place is like the origin of my family's tradition-- I couldn't describe how blessed I was. I prayed there as what my parents and grandma requested and what my family's tradition would ask. Apparently, before we, as a group, eventually arrived at the temples and the statue of Mazu goddess, we had to climbed nearly 300 hundred stairs up. Halfway up, we went down for lunch, then we went back climbing up again. Exhausted? Absolutely. But as soon as I arrived at the first temple, and prayed there for a while, I got so hyped because I know that going up again, even though the sun strikes and I was so exhausted, this is what my grandma and dad , it would be worth it. 

Day 15: The closing ceremony was a success! We got great reviews as well as praises and we got commented on being so together and lively. We did take pictures with the teachers and little wushu artists. It was so relieving that we wouldn't have anymore classes, just few day-offs and I got to procrastinate things. 

Day 16 & 17: We did have a day spent together for shopping but unfortunately, that night was the last night we could spend together as a whole. I had so many bags from different stores, for my parents, brother, grandma and others at home. I got really nervous just walking with so many things on my hand. I was like; "hey, no stares, I love to buy stuff, but not an obsessed shop-a-holic" all the time.

I didn't spend our last night together sitting around together because I simply hate goodbyes. Some of us were going to leave this place soon and some of them were really nice-- I really had great time even just by talking to them. Also, I am easily comforted with people who are nice, because I can always feel secure. And I had to say goodbyes to so many things that changed my life, I just didn't want to admit that there gonna be things that are missing, again-- like those people that I knew during the camp. I could only wave my hands, wish them better and happier days ahead and I wish I could tell them how thankful I was and many more. Then after they left, I realized that the fact that I will always remember them, surpassed all the mixed feelings I had. I didn't dare to accompany them to the bus because I was sobbing in my bathroom. That's so shameful!

The last two days: Meanwhile big part of the group had left the place already, we still got to visit some places. We visited a shaolin monk, enjoyed the street local snack at night in a famous 'student's road' and shopped for the very last time. It was also the last time that we had with our wushu teacher, Lin laoshi. She was really kind, and tough at the same time. She also helped me out a couple of times looking for stuff for my family. I noticed her wiping out her tears when we were about to go inside the airport. My chaperone said that the teachers and all the other people involved in this camp, were really happy and proud of all participants from Indonesia. They said we were really fun, so engaging, discipline and respectful all the time. 

Time flew really past. The last thing I knew was a packed luggage and a clean bedroom. Again, for the last time, (in this year, probably), I struggled bringing my luggage down for five floors. Then I had a walk touring around the school for the last time. I didn't cry. I DIDN'T cry. Yes I didn't. I was just so happy. I'm gonna miss the place so badly.