From Zero to Frankfurt: The Translating Process of Ground Zero

The journey began when a mother is lying on a hospital bed, dying. The son who has been years living overseas finally returns. Realizing not much time left, the son sits beside her, reads his diary about faraway lands he saw. About their ancestral land of China, about the Himalayas, about the Pakistani desert and the warzone of Afghanistan. Along with his stories, the mother starts to recount her stories that have been buried for long. About her childhood, her love, her awaiting, her struggle, her God, her life and death. Two journeys set in two dimensions of time and place intertwine, and eventually converge. In the final days, the mother and son share a journey of life together. This is the story of my travel-narrative memoir, Titik Nol: Makna Sebuah Perjalanan (lit. Point Zero: The Essence of a Journey), published in Indonesian language by Gramedia Pustaka Utama in 2013. It received quite warm welcome from Indonesian readers. Some months after the launching, Gramedia asked whether [read more]

October 12, 2015 // 0 Comments

The Jakarta Post (2010): A thrill ride to Afghanistan A thrill ride to Afghanistan Indah Setiawati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Feature | Sun, June 27 2010, 10:30 AM Several years ago, a man dreamed of traveling to Afghanistan to see what was behind the dust — the seemingly endless war, the grenades, the refugees, the Taliban. In his dream, he saw two gigantic statues of Buddha located in Bamiyan valley and was mesmerized by a soft, deep whisper from a girl with beautiful eyes, who stared at him from behind a blue burqa. In 2003, Indonesian Agustinus Wibowo made his dream come true and backpacked from Beijing to Afghanistan with only US$300. After his journey, he wrote Selimut Debu (Blanket of Dust) which gives his insights on daily life in the war-ravaged country. The author views Indonesia from the perspective of the Afghans as he unveils the beauties, miseries and ironies of a country where warfare is reported daily on televisions and in the newspapers. His [read more]

June 27, 2010 // 0 Comments

Toktogul – An Old Friend from Toktogul

The school children of Toktogul Her name is Manapova Satkynbu, but everybody in Toktogul knows her as Satina or, more properly, Satina Eje (‘eje’ in Kyrgyz means elder sister). She is 53 years old and she is one of the village’s most famous teachers. I met Satina in my previous visit to Toktogul in 2004 in a very accidental encounter. Satina then invited me to stay in her house, where she stayed together with her only son, Maksat. I spent nice days in the quiet village with the family and two American volunteers, Rosa Bowman and Jason. This time, after two years and a half passed, I come again as a visiting friend. I arrived in Toktogul after a grueling journey from Osh, in four different public transports. The drunk woman of Toktogul Life in Toktogul has not change too much. I was lost though, as I completely don’t know any direction here. Today is Sunday and the village is completely deserted. Frustration of life can be observed from Kyrgyz’s most common scene: a drunken [read more]

November 13, 2006 // 0 Comments