Friday, 31 July 2015

Mix It Up a Notch: Beige Pants

These days these are the only pair of pants that will fit me, I'm afraid. When I went back home in 2012, I took these pants from my sister's wardrobe and she didn't seem to mind. Moreover, ever since I brought it back with me to Germany, she never has any interest in wearing it - probably from even before that. The colour is obviously easy to pair with anything, especially in my closet, since it's more muted than the rest of my stuff. The comfort level is also something to praise; it stretches with the fat that I gained and lost so it's very convenient. Even though it's been in my closet for quite a while now, I haven't worn it much on the blog. For now, it stays in my closet for convenience than anything else, to be honest. So far, though, I'm very, very proud of myself for matching these pants with varying different items. Hopefully, I will get more motivated to match it with various other things in the future.

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Firu & Visya LINE Stickers is Now Available!

What? Two updates two days in a row? That doesn't happen on this blog. But breaking news! This just can't wait a day (or a week, for that matter) longer. Remember the little project I've been working on for months? Remember the surprise I was supposed to give you guys on my 5th anniversary with Firu? Well, it's finally here! Firu & Visya LINE Sticker set is finally available on LINE Creators Market! You can click here to purchase it or search up 'alivegurl' in the Sticker Shop on your LINE app. I would like to thank everyone who's supported me all these months and given me feedbacks. Without you, this would still be a dream. Also, you who purchase, thank you SO MUCH! If everything goes well, there will be more of these. Thank you for your attention and hope to hear your feedbacks! Please send me a pic or two of you guys using the sticker in a conversation, I'd really love to see it!

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

#alivegurlmudik: Of All the Fallen and Risen Heroes

In Indonesia, Surabaya is known as the Town of Heroes (Kota Pahlawan), seeing as it is the birthplace of the first rebellion uprising, namely when dr. Soetomo founded his educational organisation, Boedi Oetomo. Traveling around this place, it is quite impossible not to stumble upon hero-themed monuments as well as museums. On our second day in Surabaya, my sister and I - along with our cousin - visited Taman Makam Pahlawan (The Heroes’ Cemetery). Well, one of many, I believe. This one is located in Kusuma Bangsa, which is nearby to a Chinese mosque we wanted to visit as well. The cemetery was actually closed on the weekends and civilians aren’t allowed to enter - only family of the buried heroes are allowed to visit - but we somehow managed to pull some (unintentional) strings and got in for some quick photos. It wasn’t illegal, I promise.

The next destination was located not 500 metres from the cemetery, namely Cheng Hoo Mosque. It is a Chinese mosque, built to honour a muslim Chinese lieutenant named Cheng Hoo who came to Southeast Asia to spread the faith of Islam. It was built in 2001 under the organisation of the muslim Chinese community in Indonesia. My sister wanted to see it so bad and actually planned to pray there while we could. But we came far too early for the Asr (afternoon) prayer so we just took some photos and bailed. The mosque was very unique as it has a basketball court as well as an acupuncture centre. It was smaller than I expected but it was definitely refreshing to see a mosque in a Chinese style. If in Europe I often went church-touring, isn't it so much nicer to go mosque-touring in Islamic countries?

... laced top + Kmart purse + necklace (Sis's) // thrifted hat // hand-me-down pants // DF Fashion shoes // outfit photos by Akita

The last place we visited that day was the Town Hall, which is where Surabaya’s modern hero Ibu Risma, the mayor, works from Monday to Friday. At first we weren’t sure if we could enter the grounds, let alone the building on that day. It was a Saturday so I suppose we wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. When we arrived there, we met a rickshaw puller who had to take a couple Japanese students on a tour all over town all day. While the students were busy taking pictures of flowers - which is all they seemed to care about -, we went into the building and took a look around. We had a fun photoshoot, where we rearranged some of the furnitures. I love the marble floor and the colonial furniture from mahogany. I hope Bu Risma didn’t notice what we did nor be too shocked if she did. Our hero-themed tour is just beginning, so watch this space!

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Monday, 27 July 2015

My Thoughts on Hijab and Islam

DISCLAIMER: This post contains my view on religions, especially Islam - which is my own. If this is a sensitive topic for you or you feel uncomfortable reading about it, please feel free to skip this article. This is fully and wholly written based on my own opinion without the intention of forcing it on anyone. Constructive criticism - when told politely and with respect - is always welcome. However, flaming and disrespect are not. Please tread with caution.

Lately, more than ever, I start to notice more and more people wearing hijab. They might not, of course; the number could be pretty much stable. But, much like baby fever, once you're hit, you see your subject of obsession everywhere. You could say I am hit with hijab fever. They're actually quite similar, in which being in such a fever doesn't guarantee you taking action upon your obsession immediately. Why? Because they both require a great amount of commitment. Unlike babies, however, which you may or may not be able to conceive no matter how hard you try, hijab fevers are easier to satisfy. Throw a scarf on your head and you're pretty much done. Another difference between the two, though, is people don't really judge you for having babies - it's a universal "you do you, I do me" situation - whereas some people might react badly toward your hijab, even though you wearing it has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

For months now my interest in hijab has grown and I have expressed them to my friends; some of them have worn it for as long as I've known them, some for years and some for only several weeks. Interestingly, they all have very different views toward hijab and what they entail. Some claim to have received enlightenment and, thus, cover up. Some do it because they made a promise to God. While others are quite lighthearted about it: they wear it because they don't see why not. Getting to know their opinions on the matter gives me an insight of what wearing hijab is all about. I respect them for wearing it, of course, as long as they know that it is entirely their own choice - although also a command from The Almighty - but I cannot help but to see hijab as this huge thing, instead of a piece of fabric you put around your head to cover your hair and neck.

Growing up, I never really had anyone to look up to who wear hijab: most of the female members of my family are quite uncovered. They dress up like proper women, though, never having worn anything too revealing - still on the appropriate and polite side. Hijab to me felt like something older women wore, for whatever reason, and nothing so huge as I think now. The world was different then. Religions meant nothing else than something you believe in whose rituals you are ready to abide to. There were no wars between faiths, nor were there playing God within them. People used to say prayers their own way and nobody was none the wiser for telling them otherwise. It was a different time.

How did we get to a world where having a religion - any kind of religions - is such a shameful thing? How did talking about our beliefs lead to flames and discomfort? Don't tell me that's the way the world's always been! Because I knew a time when that wasn't the case at all. So people whisper their prayers instead of screaming them out loud, they burn their incense in the darkness instead of in the daylight and they say the word 'God' nobody believes in instead of 'Allah' or 'Jesus' or anyone else they actually do. Some even eventually walk away, decide to stop believing in The Almighty. Everyone blames the wrongs of the world in religions. But religions can't be wrong, can it?  It's just a belief. It's the action, the people, the culprits who are wrong. And, believe me, people who attack others in the name of God are the ones who sin the worst. Ask them about their so-called religion, they won't know what to say. They will pretend to cite the words of God to you, but they don't know what they mean. They will set their guns on you, instead of indulging in your questions. They're not fighting for God; The Almighty doesn't need no damn army. They're fighting for their own ego. Always.

Another thing that seems odd to me: If The Almighty creates the universe and everything in it, how did the world divide between science - which sets out to uncover the secrets of the world - and religion - which sets out to uncover the secrets of God? Shouldn't they actually unite? But, throughout history, we know how stunted the development of science has been due to religious institutes. Let's call Galileo into account. Despite his evidences, the Church refused to believe that everything will land on earth the same time, despite the mass. Or Da Vinci, and how the Church cursed him for trying to learn human anatomy. Imagine how far we would've been now, had those obstacles not happened! I'm sure it's not only in Christendom, of course. In early twentieth century, ulemas in Iran forbade the study of foreign languages as well as human bodies in medical schools. Another religion versus science situation. Which begs the question: why is that? Countless surahs and hadiths have cited that God encourages us - even make it our duty - to learn as much as we possibly can about the world, the earth and the universe that He's created. Some scientists even found Allah during his journey to understand His creations.

Nevertheless, something called scientology was founded and the distance between science and religion seems to grow. Aside from that, it really doesn't help that most religious leaders seem to not have been highly educated in other sciences. So none of them ever question why God forbids certain things and command others, even though The Almighty himself encourages us to do so.

That, in turn, leads to shaming and pointing fingers. People aren't allowed to dissect the meaning of Allah's words their own ways anymore, even though they will still stick to the truth once they find it. People who claim to be the most devout of us curse us for making mistakes, despite our eagerness to learn and grow as a person, as a human being. They point out our flaws and shortcomings, as if we don't already know, as if we don't need process to be better. Allah never once mentions in his Qur'an that we should be perfect in the snap of a finger. He always, always says that we should try, that we should ask for His guidance, not His approval. He knows we are flawed and that's why we should believe in Him. There was this phenomenon called jilboobs in our country, which became quite a scandal some time ago - I don't know if it's also the case in other Islamic nations. While these women might have been wrong to flaunt their 'curves,' it does not justify the finger-pointing other people do toward them. Wearing hijab is a process, it takes time for you to learn about what you can and cannot do. You don't criticise these women, especially when you do not wear - or have to wear - hijab yourself; you guide them with love, you pray for their growth and you praise them for their drive to be better. Nobody can really count someone's imaan, no one but God and His angels. So why don't we all stop playing God, judging others and claiming righteousness? We've all made mistakes, it does not bode well with Allah and each other, when we don't acknowledge our own sins.

This incessant need to judge others, to let them know - harshly - that they're wrong, to force them to change according to your own time; it tears us apart as a civilisation. Even Allah has cited in Surah Al-Kafirun (109: 6), "For you is your religion, and for me is my religion." Forcing your belief and your version of 'the truth' on others will only drive them away, farther from enlightenment and The Almighty's will. Also the reason why some women choose not to wear hijab yet, if ever. They know the moment that put that scarf on permanently, there is a stamp on their head that says they are now the "face of Islam." Allah never says they are, of course, it's people who think so. And, whether they like it or not, every little thing they do seem to be under microscope, observed intensively. Ironically, this is done mostly by their own brothers and sisters of the same belief. Funny, isn't it, how a piece of scarf on your head can be so overwhelming and heavy?

These days I ask this question to myself: "Why don't I try wearing hijab right now?" I had to think long and hard upon it, especially with so many of my friends doing so now. If you remember, three years ago, I wrote this post where I shared my plans after marriage. Though I start to wonder if I could follow through with it, I definitely will still fulfil it as best I can since I've promised Allah - and myself. But, if I have to start right now, I don't think I can. The first reason being my relationship with Firu. It may seem shallow, but I believe our relationship has brought me so many good things and positive outlook on life. I don't want to give that up, I don't want to give up the relationship I have with his family. Romantic relationships - or "pacaran" as we call it - is just a status, of course, but it's the judgment from other people that I cannot bear. Aside from that, I want to get fully ready with my wardrobe before I plunge. Now I'm starting to invest more on Muslimah clothing items, sadly there are very few ethical ones that I can find. And I'd still like to abide to that principle of mine. What's the point of wearing hijab and devoting yourself to Allah, if you do so by hurting people and nature, right? So until then, I'll try to build up my closet and grow as a person until Firu proposes.

P.S: As always, if you've read this far, you're my hero!

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Saturday, 25 July 2015

#alivegurlmudik: For Old Times' Sake

Hi, everyone! How’ve you been doing? I hope you are well, if not great. Sorry I’ve been AWOL for so long. But these past couple weeks have been incredible for us. It was great, getting together with the family, as well as exploring our parents’ hometown. My sister and I took advantage of our time in Surabaya to see more of the town we grew to love yet knew nothing about. It was high time that changed. First place we hit up was Kota Lama (the Old Town), which is located on the north of the city. It houses all the oldest buildings in town. In comparison to Semarang’s Kota Lama, this place was a disappointment. It was pretty run-down and uncared for. There were some great alleyways we took advantage of, though, since they consisted of tons of old houses with vintage windows and antique doors.

Urban Outfitters hat // thrifted denim jacket // N.y.L.a. top // May & June skirt // H&M socks (old) // DF Fashion shoes // Kmart purse (Sis's) // photos by Akita

To be honest, it was probably a huge downer because we didn’t really know where to look - unlike our time in Semarang, where we had locals who could tell us what’s what - because the moment we got in a taxi and drove away, we saw all these other amazing buildings that we were too tired to explore on foot. Oh well, maybe a sight for another time. The neighbourhood that we did manage to check out, though, consists of many small factories, like a syrup factory. When we were taking photos, a car stopped by and gave us a thumbs up for taking advantage of the location. The driver asked us where we were from and if we came there for the syrup. If I wasn’t intrigued before, I surely was then. But we didn’t go home with the syrup, mind you. We had other agendas that day - none of which is blogger-esque, so I’m not even going to go into that. Stay tuned for the next (exciting) part!

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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Guest Post: Jen of JennifHsieh

Hi! My name is Jen and you can normally find me on JennifHsieh, writing about absolute nonsense, what I wore that day, and what I ate that day. Oh, and I like to travel. While Bivi is on holiday, I'm jumping in and sharing some of my top travel destinations with you guys over the last few years (and a few tips and recommendations here and there). I can never seem to stay put in the craziness of New York City and, either for work or pleasure, I take every chance I get to hop in a car or board a plane and see somewhere new.

Iceland (Blog Post Here)
One of my most recent trips brought me to the enchanting land of Iceland. The entire country was breathtaking from start to finish but in the end it was all about the waterfalls. There was absolutely no shortage of them. My absolute favorite one of them all was Goðafoss waterfall, pictured above. Despite the decent number of tourists, the water was loud enough to drown them all out and create a peaceful, serene environment....most ideal for pondering life's greatest questions.

Check out more of my Icelandic adventures here.

Istanbul, Turkey (Blog Post Here)

While Jeremy taught abroad for a year, I was able to make the trek to meet him in Istanbul and also check out the city of Malatya, his home for those ten months. I was blown away by the architectural wonders of the city and it was definitely a change of pace adjusting for the more conservative dress code. You can take a look at the rest of our Istanbul adventures here as well.

Moab, Utah (Blog Post Here)
I haven't spent a lot of time out on the west coast except for exceptions here and there and flashbacks moments from my childhood. Luckily for me, I was sent to the Sundance Film Festival in Utah for work and I was able to make the trek out west again. While most of the trip was spent in Park City, we ended up stranded for an extra two days due to the raging snow storm back in New York City; so, we decided to make the best of it and road tripped down to Moab. There was something incredibly unbelievable about driving through those giant mountains and unreal rock formations.

Montreal, Canada (Blog Post Here)
One of my favorite road trips was one that I took with Jeremy up to Montreal. It's such an beautiful place to spend a couple of days and it's definitely one of the most livable cities I've ever visited. The best part of Montreal was how bike-friendly it was. One afternoon we ended up biking all along one of the many rivers toward the Parc René-Lévesque, a quaint little sculpture park at the end of the path. Definitely making another trip back up there soon.

Seattle (Blog Post Here
The Pacific Northwest keeps stealing my heart over and over and over again. About two years ago, Jeremy and I spent the winter holiday visiting Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver. All of them pretty much won a permanent place in my heart but nothing beats Seattle. From the incredible seafood (my belly was full of shrimp cocktail) to the quiet coffee shop mornings, I could absolutely see myself settling down here and embracing the rainy days. See more of our Seattle adventures here

What are some of the favorite places you've been?

Check out Jen's blog to read more about her adventures and everyday life!

Friday, 17 July 2015

The Love and War of Firu & Visya

Today is an especially special day for Firu and myself. Not only do we get to celebrate Eidul Fitri, like most Muslims in this world do, but we also get to revel in the fact that we've been together for 5 years! FIVE. FRIGGIN'. YEARS. Such a milestone. I've never had feelings for someone longer than that, much less someone who also cares for me. It's almost unbelievable how different my life would have been if five years ago I didn't decide to take a leap of faith and trust Firu to go through our future together. From here on out it's uncharted territory - because I've never cared romantically for someone longer than this - but also familiar grounds - because it'll still be Firu - and I hope nothing more than to learn from one another as we've been doing for so long. Hopefully, it doesn't have to be our 6th anniversary before we see each other again.

To be honest, today we wanted to announce an exciting news in commemoration of our anniversary. But, apparently, some things came up and it just has to be postponed. Too bad, it would have been a great way to make up for us not being able to see each other once again - as per the "tradition" for the past couple years, I guess. I cannot guarantee when I will actually be able to announce it but I will definitely keep you posted here and/or on my social media. To soothe your curiosity a bit, I'll let you know: the illustration above is the hint. But, until it can be published, I'm afraid that's all you've got. On that note, I hope you're all having a tremendous Eid (or Friday) and wondrous weekend!

P.S: You can also add my Line@ account (ID: @RFU2789U) for updates

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