Sunday, October 28, 2012

Less is More : Travelling, Jogjakarta and Life

It has almost been a year since i wrote anything for this blog. It was also around the time i made one of the biggest decisions in my life : I ditched my bachelor degree-supported accounting job for a chance to teach English to kids and teenagers. Between juggling my new found challenges in teaching and writing music for Vague and performing with Jirapah, i simply didn't have enough time to inspire myself to write.

Teaching and playing music was complementing each other nicely and i was pretty content with my life. However, In a matter of months slowly but surely teaching had become nothing but a job and playing music was simply a routine. It was clear to me that I simply needed to get away from everything. June/July school break was approaching and before long, I found myself getting train tickets to Jogjakarta. It was spur-of-the-moment kinda thing and it also turned out to be one of the holidays i've had. 

The train trip was quite fascinating in a boring-kinda way. I was in the business class, which basically means no air conditioner. The heat in the afternoon combined with the amount of hawkers going up and down the aisle, from car to car selling anything and everything from food to toothbrush everytime the train would pass through a stop was enough to shatter any romantic fantasies i had about gazing at green rice fields and farms through the window, with a paper and a pen on my hand moving automatically taken in inspirations. Instead, i found myself falling asleep constantly in awkward positions only to be awaken by the shouts of said hawkers.  

It's not all bad, however. I managed to do one thing i haven't been able to do ever since i came back to Jakarta three years ago : having a decent, normal conversation with a total stranger in regards to the possibility of sharing nothing in common whatsoever. On my trip to Jogja, sitting next to me was a Muslim woman who was making the trip to visit her ill mother in the hospital. She told me this incredible story of a woman in her family who had a sex change and how 'he' would go to a wedding wearing traditional Javanese-style cap and how it freaked out 'his' religious families. On my return trip, my companion was a man in his late-20's traveling with his cousin's family on a  holiday. I somehow ended up having to explain to him about punk, independent music scenes, straight edge and everything in between. Fortunately, he was a good sport and he was always polite about it. 

But let's get back to the main topic : Jogjakarta was all it's cracked up to be. I don't know which part of my stay I should share that wouldn't make me sound like I work for their tourism department. It's a beautiful city with just enough art/music events to keep you excited and yet it doesn't suffocate you by having 823782387283 gigs on the same night. Jogjakarta is full of knowledge-hungry college kids and intellectually stimulating museums but every corner of the city also screams out Indonesian culture and tradition. Jogja is smart but humble.  It's a city that evolves with time and yet never loses it's identity.  

I was lucky enough to come to the city at the right time. It was the start of holiday season so there were quite a few music shows to keep me entertained. During my 6 days of stay, i witnessed events ranging from a studio hardcore/punk show at Antrax, indie rock show at second floor of a pool hall, weird pop-punk show at a university auditorium, an open-air rave party with a DJ booth right on a newly built bridge right in the middle of the city on Sunday night (you heard that right), a MIDI-based karaoke black metal band playing in a night club. My mind was blown.

One thing that struck me the most was how some of these bands had never made their way into my radar. They were really good and i had no clue they even existed. According to a few local  journalists and net label owners that i talked to Jogjakarta simply didn't receive the same amount of coverage by "big" media and publications as Jakarta and Bandung. This explains the close-knit nature and comradeship spirit that i felt as i was attending said music gigs. Although of course i could easily over-romantized the whole thing as i was only there for a few days. 

In the end, it was a perfect get away holiday. I ate amazing food and met a few old friends and made some new ones. Bike riding around Jogja with a piece of map in my hand was definitely my favorite part. It was the most liberating feeling i had felt in years. And being there by myself made me think a lot of what kind of a person i was and what i actually wanted from life. Sometimes I wish Jakarta had the modesty, simplicity and sincerity that Jogja had.


  1. Hey, I enjoy every word of your writing. somehow it makes me feel content and guilty in the same time haha.

    keep on writing, yudhis.

    1. Hey Magenta, thank you so much for the kind words.

      Would you explain to me why it makes you feel content and guilty? I assume you live in Jogjakarta?

    2. nope, domisili jakarta yang hobinya bolak-balik jogja kalo lagi mumet haha. mungkin bisa dibilang jogja itu "rumah" kedua saya haha.

      waduh, ceritanya bakal panjang dhis hahaha. jangan-jangan malah bisa jadi satu postingan blog sendiri.

      eh, you give me an idea!

    3. haha gwe penasaran nih. Gwe siap mendengarkan. Ato elo bikin post baru di blog aja, gwe tungguin :p

      Eh iya, do we know each other in real life?

    4. haha, i will let you know then.

      nope, gw baru tau lo pas kemaren nonton di @america dan ternyata beberapa temen gw ada yg temen lo juga. what a small world, eh?

    5. sipp. Ohh you saw vague? hahahah.

      Yes, it's a small world indeed. Ditunggu ya ceritanya huhu.

    6. done.

      oh iya, panggil aja gw amel :)

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