Happy Birthday to my Sister in Seattle! She's doing remarkably well in her new role as a mother, and even she must have been surprised at herself, at how much she has come to cherish being a parent.
I never forget my sister's birthday because 16 years ago, on this day, I had chicken pox, for the first time in my life. It started a few days before, and my whole body was covered in pustules and calamine, I had high fever and I couldn't bathe, and all I wanted to do was lie down naked and sleep underneath the fan and tie up my hands so that I won't scratch.
You must agree, a day like that would have been a very bad time for a wedding reception.
But the guests were already invited, and I did marry someone the day before, so a lot of people stood to be dissapointed had I been absent. (Have you ever heard of a bride who would ponteng her own wedding?)There was to be an ice carving (a big thing in those days), a Tengku Mahkota, and M. Rajoli reciting doa. How can we possibly call it off?
So I put on my wedding dress, put on lots of make-up, went to Taman Tun to find someone who'd dare do my hair (I don't know how to do hair), covered my face with a veil, took several deep breaths and walked into the reception hall with the my tuxedo'ed Saiffuddin. In a pattern that was to be repeated later in my married life, I neglected to shower, I wore absolutely nothing underneath my gown, and had relied entirely on the Love of God to get me through. Tengku Mahkota, who sat next to me during dinner, asked if my chicken pox was contagious, and I smile and said yes. He slinked away and didn't talk to me for the rest of the evening. Fortunately, he let us keep his wedding gift, or else we wouldn't have had a TV.
We didn't have pictures, save for a few blurry ones in which I hammed it up for the camera and every one looked like they had a good time, and in which my sister Dalia totally outshined the bride in a tight green number. Afterwards Saiffuddin brought me to a clinic in SS2, and the doctor gave me herpes medicine which totally worked, and when we went home, my husband rubbed calamine all over my poor body, on what should have been our wedding night.
Every year, during our anniversary, my husband tells me he would marry me again, and that he promises to give me another wedding, but since he wants a beach setting where we'd have a ceremony on the edge of the lapping ocean at sunset, and we'd be in bikini and small thongs, I don't think it'll happen any time soon.
Twenty years would be a good milestone to celebrate with a big do, yes? With plastic surgery, I think I'd be able to manage the thongs.
Gosh, now I seem to be the Agony Aunt of Shopping :P I will try to answer your queries in time, but first let me respond to this one :
Wow mokcik! One of my colleagues got an original LV bag for RM200 only! But sadly she forgot the name of the mall coz she said there so many...Got any ideas which mall might have designer goods (apparently reject ones)?
alix | Homepage | 11.14.06 - 12:41 am |
Sadly, it is extremely difficult to get your hands on an LV reject because LVMH will burn defective items at the factory, and their factories are usually in Spain or France. You cannot buy an LV bag at bargain price either, because they are never, ever on sale. So, unless the bag in question was second hand or stolen, it is quite likely that your friend had bought a knock-off LV for about Rp 500,000 -- not a pretty price even for a good fake. However, if you love her, please don't tell her this. Just let her bask in her happiness, because nothing can duplicate the joy of buying a handbag. (Except the joy of buying shoes)
(Gentlemen, do not attempt to argue out the virtues of sex vs shopping. It will be futile)
The takeaway lesson is this : unless you can honestly say you bought your LV at Galeries Lafayette (and even that didn't stop one snooty airline passenger from accusing my sister's -- well, actually, my father's -- carryall as being less than genuine), people will know you're toting a fake. Best to just forget about the damn monograms, already.
Happily though, it is possible to buy genuine overruns or slightly faulty handbags in Bandung, which is about 2 hours from Jakarta. You can try The Summit, at the corner of Jalan Riau and Jalan Banda; or Rumah Mode in Jalan Setiabudi. Still, be very diligent when purchasing because some factory outlets tend to mix the knock-offs with the real thing. My sister Dolly, and I have found a few gems in Bandung and the bags have lived up to wear and scrutiny, so far. Even if you can't find a handbag, a visit to Bandung will not be a loss. It is the Indonesian mecca of bargain hunting, and deserves its own post later.
Another way to own a designer item on the cheap is to buy them pre-loved. However, these are usually sold in private homes and I'm working on an invitation. Will update bila berjaya.
If you don't mind buying counterfeit, though, you should visit ITC Mangga Dua, a huge, labyrinthine mall in North Jakarta. I have to warn you though, that shopping in Mangga Dua is not for the fainthearted. If you do go, despite the warning, try to arrive early as there is much to see, and shops typically close at 5 pm. Ask for the best replicas as the bags are graded by workmanship, and the top-of-the line fakes (haha, I know how ridiculous that sounds) are called Kawai Satu. (The next grades are called Kawai Dua, Kawai Tiga and so on). Some Kawai Satu handbags are so well-made, apparently, that even the trained eye cannot tell the difference.
The paradox of buying a fake handbag though, is this : no matter how genuine looking the bag is, you won't be able to carry it off unless you can actually afford to buy a real one. (Hence, Mangga Dua on a weekday morning is usually packed with trendy tai-tai's who ought to be spending money at Senayan City). So even when buying fake, stick to brands that people would believe you're able to save-up for, or those of which you can lie and say you or your sister bought at a sale in Macy's or Bloomingdale's (A1gner, Co@ch, T0d's or D0nn@ K@r@n are good bets) If you want to buy a really large fake Hermes Birkin, better get that rich boyfriend first.
But look, owning a look-at-me flashy handbag will not considerably improve your life, despite the initial rush. I have learnt my lesson, and now prefer to skip the whole fake designer bag thing altogether, and search for interesting no-name items, like a nice, sturdy wicker tote with gingham lining that you can wear with white capris and flat beribboned shoes; or you can pair with kitten heels and a pleated skirt. This is a look you can wear forever, thanks to the enduring memory of Audrey Hepburn. I have based my entire wardrobe on just a single, black and white film, and like Holly Golightly, am still waiting for that trinket contained within a small box of robin egg's blue. (Loud, loud Ahem! 16th November is tomorrow)
Still on the subject of fakes, I found that nothing can make you feel inadequate quite like a well-formed transvestite. I saw her by the roadside, when Saiffuddin and I were on our way home from South Jakarta, late last night. We live in Menteng, and the infamous Taman Lawang is on its fringes. As we were turning into Jalan Cimahi, from the notorious Jalan Laturharhari, there she was, brown and stately, and wearing a few flaps of cloth to just barely avoid total nudity. The moss green dress, if you can call it a dress, was just a band across her midriff, and two wide ribbons dropping lengthwise from the shoulders. It was a metaphor of an outfit : an intersection of materials for sexual convergence, an outfit for waiting at corners. You could see the length of her legs and the sides of her firm butt in that dress, and as our car went past, her skirt flapped in the wind.
She was Brazilian waxed. And she must have had a good surgeon.
Indonesian drag-queens, when the mix is right, can be graciously beautiful. There was one who looked exactly like our gorgeous colleague, Azizah, stationed at the traffic lights in Cempaka Mas. Clad in a pink lace kebaya, she'd go from car to car, singing while shaking a tambourine, hoping the motorists will toss her five hundred or a thousand rupiahs in return. There are other kinds, of course. Like the one who is obviously a Javanese man in a muumuu, with blonde hair and lipstick, smoking while waiting for customers in the dark of trees on Laturharhari. It is possible that by day, he drives a bajaj.
We have a friend who manages a group of female impersonators, and I have seen what they look like in the harsh sunlight. They are still jaw-droppingly good-looking. They have slim hips, narrow waists, endless legs and posteriors on which you can organise miniature ski-jumps for orang kenit. They have flawless skin and soft, shiny hair. Everything is re-constructed and cajoled into place, and made perfect. When I look at a lovely girl, I think : tak apa lah, kita pun pernah cantik. When I look at a lovely pondan I think : I have never looked that sexy; and I don't think I ever will.
I wish one of them really goodlooking mak nyahs would write a book and spill the beans on how they manage to look scorching all the time.
Men make the best looking women. It's true! Thank God some still prefer the genuine product, despite the extra pouch and handles.
i'm going to
your kind feedback is truly appreciated
Unfortunately, I haven't been doing a lot of shopping lately and can't really offer suggestions that is beyond run-of-the-mill. I am going to assume you want the cheap stuff, because no one in their right mind will ever ask me advice about buying say, Lalique crystal. So here goes :
Pusat Grosir Batik Cempaka Mas
ITC Mega Grosir Cempaka Mas
Lantai 3, Plaza Barat, Blok D
Most people buy batik in Tanah Abang, which you can also do (Kompleks Mega Grosir Tanah Abang), but I like this place because the batik here is of better quality and there is a wider range you can choose from. Prices are reasonable, but do shop around before you settle on something because the price for similar items might differ wildly from shop to shop. Always bargain for 40 percent less than the asking price. You may buy silk batik sets (kain dan selendang) for the ladies for Rp 120 thousand (about RM50) and buy the gentlemen short sleeved cotton batik shirts for Rp 50 thousand (about RM20). Some shops also sell home items, like table cloth and cushion covers.
If you have taken the trouble to go all the way to Cempaka Mas, I suggest you spend time to also browse around this huge, huge mall where you can buy telekung, sejadah, beaded shoes, fake handbags, bedlinens, cheap toys, a wedding dress, and the cheapest hangers in the whole of
And don't forget to make a small donation to the resident drag queens, whom you will undoubtedly meet at the traffic lights, on your way home.
Gedung Tedja Buana, Jl. Menteng Raya No.29,
Phone : (021) 390-5277/76
Fax : (021) 390-5278
(Call to find out the location of other outlets)
Bored housewives in
I like their batik porcelain -- traditional batik design printed on coffee cups, mugs and dessert plates, which might make an interesting buah tangan. However, I would buy their Street Children Care range, which feature mugs and dessert plates printed with paintings of children at play. Each purchase goes towards charity, and would help thousands of kids who currently work as pengamen (beggars and street musicians) in the city, to get some kind of education and daily nutrition.
Kedaung has several outlets throughout Jakarta, but I go to the one in Jalan Raden Saleh and this one in Menteng Raya. There is also a tiny Kedaung shop in Kemang that seems to be perpetually on sale.
ITC Kuningan / Mal Ambassador
Jalan Prof Dr Satrio (if by taxi say Jl Casablanca)
When spending money in Jakarta, it is best to visit only malls that has ITC or WTC or Mega Grosir in their names because this would almost guarantee a crazy shopping experience : a mindboggling array of small shops, accessible only through tiny corridors, cacophony, and a crowd of about a million people. (I'm not joking about the million). The most accessible of these are probably ITC Kuningan and Mal Ambassador, two buildings connected by walkway, where there are retailers selling almost any kind of everything except your parents. There are several stores here selling "pernak pernik" : arts and crafts, knick knacks and stuff, but I can't say where they are exactly.
I visit ITC Kuningan about once a week, because I do my grocery shopping at the Carrefour downstairs, but to be honest, I usually enter this place with blinders on because it is so evil and seductive. I swear as I walk past the tunics and the handbags and the shoes and the bracelets on sale, they whisper to the money in my purse. Like, come out, come out, where ever you are. So, sadly I cannot provide you with a definitive guide on where to go, all I can say is just go.
Jalan HR Rasuna Said
Pasar Festival is a small shopping complex and seems to cater mainly for university students who frequent the nearby gelanggang olahraga and swimming pool. There is only one level of shopping and the place is rarely crowded. There are about three or four retailers here selling homeware, like lamps, vases, wooden boxes and the like. There is one shop selling scented candles, aromatherapy oils and handpacked lulur, which may also make lovely gifts. On Friday evenings, at about 5.30 pm there is a free jazz performance at the Food Court, and you may also want to pop into a bookstore here which sells old magazines and second hand books.
Jl. Iskandarsyah II/2 Blok M,
Phone. 62-21-7260170 Fax. 62-21-7250582
If all efforts fail and you just can't find that something special, visit Pasaraya Grande, where you can find all the souvenirs of Indonesia under one roof. It is a tourist trap and the prices are fixed, so tak dapek nak menolong. They have good stuff though, and you may end up buying a very nice baju for yourself. Pasaraya has a website.
Tempat tempat yang sunat dikunjungi :
Uluwatu Handmade Balinese Lace
Metro, Pondok Indah Mall and Metro, Plaza Senayan
If money is no object, or you want to impress the groom's family, take a look at what's in store at Uluwatu. Their white cotton lace kebayas are a perennial, and I own three! I love them to bits, and you can wear them traditional with all sorts of kain batik, or you can wear them dressy with black pants and onyx jewellery, or you can pair them with blue jeans. The girls (okay, old girls) in my family wore these kebayas during my sister's wedding. Uluwatu also sells linens and other accessories. Check out their lingerie, too. Has mileage, proven. Uluwatu's website is here.
Jalan Kemang Timur
Jalan Kemang Timur is a long street that is filled with furniture stores, and some of these also sell suitable gifts. I can't guarantee you will find them all affordable, but you may be pleasantly surprised. If you're staying in Jakarta for more than three days, do make time for Jalan Kemang Timur. I'm certain at the end of the visit you'd be calculating freight costs.
Jalan Surabaya, Menteng
If you're going to be in Jalan Raden Saleh or Menteng Raya for the Kedaung shopping trip, swing by Jalan Surabaya on your way back to the hotel. Jalan Surabaya is located next to a really smelly longkang, but if you're a collector, you may find the stuff they sell rather fascinating. Not all of them are genuine antiques, so it is best to always look skeptical and ask for a lower price. There are crystal chandeliers, outdated survey equipment, brassware, musical equipments, old vinyls and all the stuff your grandparents used to own. My father swears by this place.
Stasiun Kereta Api Cikini
Jalan Cikini Raya, Menteng
My friend Iza and I are bakul-mad people and the kolong beneath Cikini Train Station is one of our most favourite places in the world. There are baskets and woven boxes and racks and trays of every imaginable kind. You may want to have a look, as some of the boxes make elegant hantaran cases to give the groom. Stasiun Cikini is within walking distance of Jalan Surabaya, but if you don't like traffic, dust and smelly longkangs, it is better to drive. (Or hop on an orange bajaj. Ask the bajaj man how much before getting on. Argue if he says more than Rp5,000)
Tempat tempat yang hukumnya diharuskan :
Plaza Senayan, Senayan City, Sudirman Place, Plaza Indonesia, Pondok Indah Mall, Cilandak Town Square. (the last two are in the far south, macet lagi)
Go here only for the possibility of bumping into Adjie Masaid or Darius or that cute Evan.
You know I'm depressed when I post three times in a day. To the tune of Teddy Bear's Picnic, here is Elliot from Open Season :
Once there was a magical elf who lived in a rainbow tree
He lived downstairs from a flatulent dwarf who constantly had to pee
One day the elf could take no more
So he went to bang on the rude dwarf's door
And what do you know, they suddenly both were marrrrried.
More dialogue here.
The Fates have conspired. She sees the fork in the road, and she knows from there on, it's a solitary journey. They must separate, for they're distinct creatures who burn the brightest on their own, but cursed to love the other.
Ha ha. I just got to know that the profit for some work that we have been doing for the past six months, just went up in smoke. Or to be exact, deposited into some shark's account. Who took the money out of our paycheck, himself. As a pay out. Makan suap, to call a spade a spade. And now the whole project is a terrible loss. Essentially, we worked our asses off, for fecking free.
This time, we should seriously consider action. Report. We don't need him to get the next job, in fact if he is still around for the next job, we might as well slit our own throats, right now. Save ourselves the trouble later on.
Was there a prior arrangement? We were not privy to it, and we've always stood our ground against corruption in any form -- money, favours, women. We have never played. We're poor, but we sleep soundly.
He is in an awfully big corporation. The biggest in the country. And he is small. Easily disposed.
It would be like flicking fleas off a water buffalo's back. One swish of the tail. You kan Taurus?
(Ketam dengan kalajengking boleh tolong gigit. Singa betina keluar memburu)
(By no means am I implying my friend is a water buffalo. He's a minotaur)