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Archive for August 2009

Buon compleanno, Professore!*)

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Prof B.Scrosati (pic is taken from dl/interface/spr/spr04/IF3-04-Pages18-21.pdf)

Do you use a mobile phone or a laptop? If yes, please check what kind of battery that you use. I believe most of them use lithium ion battery as a power supply. Then may be you are interested in one of the man behind this technology. He is one of my favorite professors during my master period.  He is Professor Bruno Scrosati. And this is my experience being one of his students in a very short period.  

I was one of the lucky guys who was accepted as a master student titled Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion. The master courses were taught by many professors from some universities in Europe who have close colaboration under European Research Network of Excellence known as ALISTORE. Prof. Scrosati is one of the professors (totally 6 profeessors from 6 universities in 4 european countries) who accepted my application.

As it is implied in its name, the master course is focused on the researches in the field of energy related materials, more specifically lithium ion battery, fuel cell, supercapacitor and sollar cell. However out of these three subjects, lithium ion battery even getting more portion than others. Thanks to this master program, I had opportunities to feel, to see, to experience, to breathe the culture of France, Italy and Poland. Of course, I could not forget the Spanish atmosphere that 3 Spanish professors brought to Poland to give us lectures in some issues.

I met Prof. Scrosati for the first time in the fall season 2005 at Toulouse. At that time there was a seminar on energy related issue or whatsoever that I didn’t remember exactly the name of the occasion. I was too shy to speak with him and to be honest, at that time I didn’t realize that he is one of the main man in the lithium (Li) ion battery research. Later on I knew that he has patent on this issue.  His patent was followed by the first comercialization of Li ion battery by Sony Corporation at early 90’s. As far as I remembered, it was him who started conversation

 Hey, I remember you from the application you sent for this master

I was so happy that he remembered me, the girl from the country which was more known for the tsunamies or bomb explossions.

Our second meeting took place at his office at Department of  Chemistry Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza” . It was 1st February 2006. We (I and 5 other students) just arrived at Termini Train Station after overnight journey from Marseille then we went directly to his office (it is about 20 minutes walking). We were really tired and no time to take a bath before meeting with him. While waiting until he came, we went to the university’s cafetaria for nice breakfast of cappucino and croissant.

I don’t remember what was exactly the meeting about. I just remembered that he took responsibility of the flat for 8 students in Rome. Yes, as accomodation in Rome was terribly expensive and difficult to find, we (8 non italian students) would stay  in 3 rooms apartment with one kitchen and one bathroom.  He tooks us to our new appartment which only 5 minutes walk to Vatican.

In the way to the appartment, he carried my biggest luggage. I thought he was sorry that I as a smallest student in the class carried so many things. Our first conversation at Rome was: “Are you from Malaysia?” I replied politely, “No professor, I am from Indonesia.”

I like him since first sight in Toulouse. He somehow fulfilled my imagination about father figure (My father died when I was almost 8 years old). I like him so much that I had no brave to start conversation with him. During the period I was in Rome (1st Feb to 31st May 2006), I just wanted to run away from him every time we met by accident because I didn’t know how to communicate with him.

I have feeling that he has some affection to me more than to other students.  He really liked to make fun about me, about Indonesia (in a positive and friendship atmosphere). Sometimes, he started the lecture by greeting me , “Susanna (in Italian style, ‘susana, my real name  with one ‘n’’ is pronounced with double ‘n’), Indonesia is sinking (remember, many tsunamies, earth quake in Indonesia).” Or in another time, he said “Susanna, you responsible for extinction of Sumatra tigers. As a response, usually I was only smile to his comments. When he said this to me, “Susana, your country is responsible for tropical deforestation”; I replied him, “Yes, professor but don’t forget that some of the wood goes to European market”. 🙂 Sorry for my answer professor! I know in any case deforestation is not a good thing, it destroys the natural balance.

air dan bensin 2

Caricature about fuel cell

He taught the  first and secondary lithium ion battery as well as  fuel cell. Usually, the lectures was 2 housr per day for several weeks before laboratory work, report and discussions. Thanks to Piotr, one of my class mates, all of us (the master students) have the recording of his lectures so that we can always hear his English-Italian voice anytime we want. It was really usefull to repeat the lectures by listening his lectures one more time using headphone connected to  our laptop before monthly examination (it was the typical situation at the end of the month in our apartment). 

 Besides is one of  his slide during the fuel cell lectures. He took it from somewhere else. I don’t remember well, but seems he took it from Italian newspaper. Free translation of this caricature is as follows : One day the machine will be run by water. And the water price will be much more expensive than the price of gasoline.  Well… water is one of the source to produce hidrogen as a fuel in the fuel cell.  I could say, the Rome period was one of the most enjoyable master period. Moreover, since I like writing so much, I got good mark on the report. Twice, my reports got the highest marks. 🙂

In Italy, to receive the scholarship, I had to have codice fiscale, Italian tax number. As I am Indonesian, I need Italian visa to apply for codice fiscale. And no..I had no Italian visa before entering this lovely country. I supposed that my one year French stay permit would be enough to live in Italy as a part of Schengen countries. At the end, after visiting 3 different tax offices in Rome, visiting a police office two times, getting 3 months Italian stay permit and some phone call from Prof. Scrosati, I managed to get codice fiscale. In this period, I felt that life was not fair for me. Why did I have so much problems with administrative stuffs meanwhile my other friends not? In this difficult time to get Italian visa in Rome, Prof. Scrosati made a joke, “Susanna, you will be deported then”. Hopelessly, I replied, “Well, I will be happy to come back to my country, professor”. Silently I said to my self, “Well, if Europe doesn’t like me, I will not insist myself to be accepted.”

I left Italy at 31st May 2006. At that time, everything seemed to be O.K. I got quite good marks in Rome. But I heard that Prof. Scrosati was disappointed that some students (including me) could not attend farewell pizza party at 1st June 2006 without prior notice. I am sorry professor!

Another problem came to the surface regarding the apartment for 8 students (except students from Rome) after we left Rome. He, as a favor to his students, gave some amount of money to the owner as deposit using his own money. The landlord claimed that the students made such a mess in the apartment and just took the deposit to repair the apartment without any room for discussion with the students.

I have no intention to make more detail or write down the discussion between the students about the problem because I think it is not necessary anymore. Now, when I recall that memory, I personally can only comments, “No matter what happened between the land lord and the students as tenants, no matter we did not agree with land lord’s claims, it was not in its place that Prof. Scrosati took responsibility of it.”

At that graduation dinner, Professor, you said this to me, “Susanna, it is over. Let’s move forward”. Yes, you said that to me….!!! But professor, I can not forget unspoken language in your eyes. In your eyes that night, professor, I saw how disappointed you were. How hurt you were. Your eyes spoke deeper than your speech. I am so sorry about what happened until now. Wish I could recall the time….

I don’t know what to do to repair the relationship  but allow me, to wish you Happy Birthday. Buon compleanno, Professore!  

Karlsruhe, 25 August 2009

*) On his birthday at 5th August 2009.



Written by darmadewi

August 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm

On Kahlil Gibran’s

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Let’s listen what K.G said. Silent and listen the voice of our heart.




On love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.


For me, love is an energy. It doesn’t necessary give me happiness. It is merely an energy that can drive me to get crazy. I felt really full when I am in love. Love is an enthusiasm. i call it also “light in the eyes”

One of my friend said that I am a sadomasochist, enjoying the pain of tlove. I said confidently no.. I am agree with Gibran’s : true love may lead me to the situation of being wounded by my own understanding of love. Thus, the best expression of  love that I ever gave to someone I love was letting him go because being together in this case will betray the meanig and purity of love itself. It was really painful experience.  When love is fought enough, nothing to be sorry even when it doesn’t last forever like in the movie. This love, in my case will last forever even though the expression is transformed by time; i put it in the corner of my heart.


yes… i will never tired to find the light in the eyes. I hope, I will find it soon. 🙂


On Joy and Sorrow

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?


I like this poem, full of contradiction.

For me…I choose to have fluctuation emotions rather than just flat emotion. At the end,  both choices may give the same average. But I respect the process, not only the final results.

Giving my soul chances to experience many emotions is important for me. many case it gives me many difficulties that in the moment of solitude, i make question to my self, why don’t I be a ‘normal’ people with normal decision? I need to do this so at the end I can sing “My way” with Frank Sinatra.  



(All poems are taken from )

Karlsruhe, 18 August 2009

Written by darmadewi

August 18, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Feelings

Tagged with , , ,

ANKARA, TURKEY : Peace at home, peace in the world

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A self shadow in the mirror at Anitkabir

Peace at home, peace in the world is one of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of the Republic of TURKEY.

Taking bus from Eskisehir to ANKARA was quite comfortable. In my way to ANKARA, I got another confirmation that this country is in the highest state of enthusiasm to develop the country. Hm… the quality of the highway is not as smooth as Cikampek (connecting Jakarta and my city, Bandung) highway in Indonesia, but it was obvious that they have willingness to be better and better. If I have a chance to make the same journey following the same route let say in next 5 years, I want to witness that the current-small trees in the right and left side of the highway will turn to be a small forest. If Istanbul was the capital of Ottoman empire, ANKARA is the current capital of TURKEY.


I arrived at ANKARA’s bus station called Sehirlerarasi Otobus Terminali (A.S.T.I) about mid day as it was scheduled. The information I remembered were that I could take metro to the city center and I should visit Atatürk mausoleum. Where was exactly the metro station? No idea. Where was exactly the mausoleum? No idea. I just knew for sure that I wanted to have good lunch in the good restaurant and I didn’t want to take my luggage with me for travelling around the city. Thus the first thing I did was looking for the locker and yes.. I found it after 10 minutes walking around the bus station.


A random man informed me that the city centre of Ankara is KIZILAY. I hoped that I could find a good restaurant there. I was really hungry. Anyway, I could not find the tourist information centre which usually can be easily found in European countries. But hey… let’s try the information pos there. The man on duty gave me a map with some description about touristic places. I was really happy to receive the used map. It means I save the paper, the forest. It seemed that some German tourist(s) lost/left/forgot their map. I don’t understand German very well, but I knew very well the place I would like to visit from the available pictures.


In big city in Europe, usually a map is quite enough to guide you to go to the place you want because usually it includes the detailed information of public transportation together with the shelter. The map I received was not so detailed. I had no idea how far the place I wanted to visit from the bus station. I had no feeling at all how big the city is. Metro station helped me to pretend that I knew where I would go. Full of confidence I bought the ticket to KIZILAY.



Ankara, the view from citadella

Based on the streets I chose, I concluded that KIZILAY is a normal and typical shopping centre area. Nothing special from my taste. After about 30 minutes walking around, finally I found a clean restaurant named EL-RUHA. Sometimes there is an advantage being woman travelling alone in the foreign country (well… not in all country). People are simply interested on you and they become friendly. I received a very nice wellcome from the people working there. So far it was the nicest restaurant in the sense of price, quantity and taste during my visit to Turkey. I paid about 4.5 € for the entrance and main menu, a can of cola and a glass of tea.  After eating, I decided it was the time to looked more carefully the map. I decided to go to the Atatürk mausoleum. Using body language, I understood  the waiter’s explanation of how to go there. Before leaving the restaurant with full of thank, I decided to take a piece of paper which is used to wrap the spoon and fork. I said to myself, who knows I need to write down some interesting things.


It became clear for me that ANKARA is more modern than ISTANBUL. I felt better in this city merely because this city  is quite familiar for me. The business (or political?) districts are similar with Jakarta, with the Golden Triangle Business District in Jakarta. There are some military offices in the streets I passed by. It gave me an impression that militer has strong influence in this country. Well…I don’t know the truth about it. It was just my impression. Nothing more.


After walking a while, I started to loose my confidence to reach the Atatürk mausoleum. I felt that I walked quite long, but so far I could not see the sign that I was in the right direction. Before becoming more panic, I decided to ask one officer in the military office. To my surprise, he came with me until the mausoleum. I considered my self as an innocent that he left his pos to accompany me. If I understood well his english, he works in the traffic deparment of police office.  Honestly, I felt uncomfortable when he asked my e-mail address. (udah ilfil duluan karena dia gak tahu apa itu kimia. :p)


The mausoleum is called Anitkabir. It is a combining complex of museum and mausoleum for memorating Atatürk.


In the middle is the mausoleum

The mausoleum is called Anitkabir. It is a combined complex of museum and mausoleum for memorating Atatürk. It consists of several parts called peace park, pole flag, mausoleum, ceremony square, tower of national pact, tower of revolution, tower of republic, tower of defense of rights, lion road, tower of liberty, tower of victory and so on.


Yes, Turkish are really proud of their  founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938). You can find lots of thing concerning this man  in the mausoleum : his books collection, his famous quote, his picture, his statue, his idealism. There  is  multimedia works to describe the independence war: a 3D statue and the sound as a background to bring the situation during the war as real as possible. It was not so surprising if he likek the languages, political and social books (you can find his book collection in turkish, german, french, english). To my surprise, he also wrote something besides those subjects. He wrote a book, if I am not wrong, about geometry! I was really sorry to my self that I didn’t take any note of it. Anyway, he built his country based on the spirit of  modern, democratic and secular. He believed in the developement based on science. There is a small cinema (both in english and turkish) dedicated to show  the life and idea of Atatürkto the visitor. I am quite impressed by this place.



A wall relief. I suppose that the man in the middle is Atatürk's personification

I have no doubt if he was a handsome guy. From his picture, let’s say that he was a kind of Sean Connery type of man: age makes him looked more sexy ( is debatable). I didn’t find any story about his personal life in the museum. And I forgot to ask this subject to my friends. By ‘accident’ I found some story of his personal life from wikipedia which makes me  smile: yes..this type of man sound familiar with me (twing!! I remember the charming one of my friend. Hahahaha…).


Zsa-Zsa Gabor, a Hungarian-Amerian actress and socialita wrote in her autobiography how a 5o year old statesman shared a romance with her at late 30’s. This is what she said (I got this sentence from wikipedia) :

He dazzled me with his sexual prowess and seduced me with his perversion. Atatürk was very wicked. He knew exactly how to please a young girl. On looking back, I think he probably knew how to please every woman, because he was a professional lover, a god and a king.

Ehm… no comment but then the personality of this man becomes more human in my eyes.  May I imagine my self in Zsa-Zsa’s place? :p


I spent about two hours in this complex. I was really not so happy that I took taxi to my next desired place: The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Turkish : Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi). At that time, I lost all my enthusiasm, my brave, my willingness to have an adventure in Ankara. I was too tired to find out which kind of public transportation to go there. If my feeling about the city was correct, then I knew that walking was not an option.



A room dedicated for sarcophagus. Museum of Anatolian Civilization

I was not so pleased as well when I found out that I needed to pay 10 €. No way out, I am exactly in front of the entrance pos. Rrrgh… Anyway, I should try to enjoy it, right? I didn’t know anything about Turkey’s civilization. I forgot my history lesson in school.  I could just say WOW! for the collections there. They range from before christ period (Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age etc) till Classical Period (Roman, Byzantine) and Ankara through the ages. There are collection of jewerlies, survival tools (from stone, bone, metal, clay etc), casting technology, statues, sarcophagus. It was interesting that for some collections, they didn’t give any protection on them. From the collections there, I confirmed that people in those time were quite detailed in making tool/jewerly/statue etc. Since I am not so patient to learn history, please just visit wikipedia to find out more about the collection of this museum.


I met Italian guy name Federico in this museum and we decided to discover Ankara in the remained time together. He was quite surprise when I said that yes… I heard the name of his city, Trieste. Simply because there is a synchrotron there and currently I work at synchroton. We decided to nearby archeological artifact, named Ankara citadel. He prefered to ask the directions to the people around than just concentrate on the map. Anyway, at least he was more well prepared than me in discovering TURKEY. At least, he had LONELY PLANET in his hand.


Citadel. Ancient city centre of ANKARA?

Ankara Citadel was built in the Galatians era, completed by Roman and restored by Byzantines and Seljuks. The region around was the oldest part of ANKARA. What I witnessed that day was the huge ane impressing wall. I imagined that it was built to protect the city. The Ankara view is magnificent from this citadell.


I insisted to Federico that we needed to stay in the citadell during  sunset for taking some pictures.  While waiting sunset, we got a wonderful view: children flied their kites. He liked this view very much since he has learnt how to make good kites for two years, something I could not understand. In my childhood, boys usually made their own kite without any problem, competing their kites in the sky and some of us just run after one of the kid lost their kites in the competition. He asked me,


If I were their mother, for sure I would be worried. They played kite on the top of the 1 m wall at about 9 pm.

Did it like what Khaled Hosseini describe in his book The Kite Runner? Are children now still playing the kites?”


“Yes… it was similar with the description in that book. No… unfortunatelly most children now are more interested in playstation than tradiotional games. However, sometimes we still have kite festival on the side of beach.”


Ah…those days!!Time went so fast…


We saw the small and previous version of disneyland (i don’t know the exact term  for this. In Indonesia we could call it Pasar Malam)from the top of the citadel and decided to go there using our intuition as our GPS. And yes… we made it!  (Federico : “well…this kind of carousel was common in Italy more than 30 years ago!”. Hm…I saw the same thing many times in France and Germany). After enjoying some children play like carousel, I said that I needed to go to the nearest metro station. It was 10 pm when we said good bye and thanked each other in front of the metro station. He would continue his adventure next day to the direction IZMIR and some other cities in TURKEY until Greek before taking vessel for 24 h to come back to Italy.

At about 00.00, my bus took me back to ISTANBUL and about 00.30 Bojan and his family sent me wishes via sms : Happy B’day!


Here are some pictures that I adore so much :




Dangerously beautiful!






Sunset I : the sun was full



Sunset II : a half sun



After the sunset


Full moon : time for wolfman took over the day!





Written by darmadewi

August 16, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Travels

Tagged with

Our days and MONEY

with 7 comments

Today, I go to internet cafe. There is a couple, husband and wife. It seems that they want to make an application letter for job but they are not so skilled with computer. They had the concept of the letter already.  At first, they try to do it by themself. 5 minutes later, they give up and ask me to type the letter. I am really glad to help them until the husband say this sentence to me, ‘Please help us. I will give you 5 €.’

His sentence make me think, is this the condition of the world we live today? Everything is about money? Is this the wolrd that we would like to prepare for the next generation?

I will refuse if someone say that I am over reacting of this thing. Face it! In our capitalism system, the only accepted and honorable value is MONEY. The main heart of capitalism,  competition at the end is about MONEY. That is exactly the reason behind 5€ that the couple offer me for small help. They learnt in their previous experiences that work can only be appreciated by money. 

That is what the economic system expect from us, the workers. Capitalism believes that thru the competition, significant improvement (=benefit) will be achieved as soon as possible. I think it is too naive if we hope that this competition spirit can be localized in  our office only. It will do influence our personal relation with other people in our daily life. I said to Romain, my friend that one of the biggest problem in our society nowadays is people stop to communicate each other. Why? Most people think that they have no enough time or… simply we don’t know how to communicate anymore. We need to make sure that we have job for tomorrow meanwhile the unemployment rate is never been O%. HOW? Be the best! I define “we” as most of the people, including me. Of course, there is always an exception.

The competition can hurt human’s heart much deeper beyond our awareness. Yesterday night, “F” said to “K” more or lest like this(they are both my friends), “Karen, you need to take care of your self. Don’t be so naive, so nice… You see what happened to me, they simply kicked me out. You knew it, right”. Five of us agree with this sentence. And this hurt,  follow our next step. We become less trusting on other people. We feel unsafe out there. Be careful, they can hurt me.

It is true that life is much more colorful and complicated than the above story.  So no… I don’t want to say let’s stop competition and so on and so on….It is a personal choice.  

Let’s just aware to the existence of our feelings: our fears, our happiness, our disappointment, our anger, our sadness, our unhappiness, our loneliness, our boreness.. .. Let’s talk about it and find out if our neighbor, our friend can help us. In the simplest way, just give your best smile to other people.  SOmehow I believe that once we clear of our own feeling, we will more aware not to hurt other people. Fear, is the most dangerous feeling unless we admit it and try to live with it in harmony.

I believe we say the sentence “You are welcome” or “sama-sama” in Indonesian language or “bitte” in German when someone say thank you to us. I said it automatically merely as a part of politness until few months ago when Puthut (my friend) thank me for a present I gave to him. I made quite an effort to find a present for his birthday. As Puthut lives in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, I asked Soraya to carry and give the present to Puthut.  “Luckily”, Soraya went home to Jogjakarta exactly around that day. This is my sms to Puthut , “Puthut, it is not you who should thank to me for the present. It is me who should thank to you because you allow me to give you a present. It makes me feel good.”

And this is my personal meaning of  “bitte” to the couple who said “Danke” for the typing I did: Thank you for letting me help you. Today, I feel my life, my existence is usefull. You are welcome….

Karlsruhe, 15th August 2009


Written by darmadewi

August 15, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,


with 6 comments


Istanbul, a view from Vatan, the tram stop


  Being geographically part of two continents, Asia and Europe, Turkey is a country that I want to visit since years. Besides this reason, I also curious what is the meaning of secularity in the country which more than 90% is moslem. Grown up in the country which the majority is moslem, I am really interested to see the differences.

 At the moment, I live in Germany where Turkish is the biggest immigrant. Most of them work in kebab (Turkish food) restaurant or Turkish shop. Shame on me that I don’t know how the assimilation between Turkish immigrants and local people works. I don’t understand German very well to find out this thing. Once, my previous land lord said to me “We, German, should thank to Turkish people. They (the Turkish immigrant) have helped us to build the country after the Second World War.” I don’t know if her opinion represents all German’s opinion. The fact is, I never met a Turkish-German who works as a scientist. There are lots of Turkish scientists in the research centre where I work, but so far I never have chance to meet Turkish-German. All Turkish scientists I know come from Turkey. Assimilation issue takes me personally. Having almost half Chinese-Indonesian blood, I know that assimilation is a long process. Accepting other people, other culture without prejudice or stigma requires more than just fair law, it needs open heart from all people involved.

 Finally I found quite cheap return ticket to Istanbul, previous capital of Ottoman emperor. I tried to contact some friends to come with me. Unfortunately we could not agree about the time. So I decided to go by myself. I designed my journey as a kind of adventure. I knew nothing about Turkey. I read nothing about Turkey before. I flew to Turkey by only having return ticket and two phone numbers of friends. No hotel reservation, no exact plan, no map, nothing….

 Day 0 : flew to Istanbul

I left my office at 30th July 2009 after lunch. Warm hugs from my three colleagues: Bojan, Edwin and Marcus gave me strength to conquer my anxiety. The truth was… I, my self was not so sure that I would be able to travel alone in Turkey.

 In my way to Frankfurt airport, I made some rules of journey:

  • Maximal budget (flight ticket is excluded): 300 EURO including hotel, transportation inside Turkey, food, souvenir, communication, train ticket from Karlsruhe – Frankfurt and vice versa.
  • The information about the place that I will visit in Turkey should come from the people in the street, except that previously Bojan asked me to visit Blue Mosque and Hagya Sophia. Asking people is the only accepted ‘tool’ to survive. Information from internet is prohibited.
  • Basic values: I want to believe that people basically are kind creatures. In case of troubles, I will just ask people I met to help. Communication can be done in many ways: verbal language, eye’s contact, body language, pictures. I said to my self, don’t be afraid that I don’t know any Turkish’s word. These basic values may give me lots of trouble, but it also opens possibility for great experiences to be happened. In any cases, I hope nothing. 
  • This journey is done to give chance to my soul to accept surprise, uncertainty of life in the small scale. It is training to my soul to accept something can be out of my control; to accept the differences in positive way, to let my fear exists merely to be solved.

And only Universe (with capital ‘U’, religious people will call it God) will know how this journey will be ended…

 Day 1, 2, 6 : Istanbul

I finished immigration process about 00.30 of 31st July 2009

First problem that I should solve was: where did I should sleep now? I was really tired at that time to wait in the airport until sun rise. I could not really sleep few days before I went to Turkey. Then I just called a hotel reservation office in the airport.

 Before entering the office, I said to my self, let’s try if ‘Indonesian way’ works also here. It means, price negotiation works in some cases. Firmly I said to the guy there that I need cheap hotel.

 “I have a room for you. It is 69 EUR”

“It is not possible. I have no money.”

“How much do you have?”

“My budget is 30 EUR (Well… youth hostel in Europe is about 20-30 EUR)”

“No way. The price is including taxi transfer to the hotel and breakfast. Ok, for you I will give discount: 55 EUR. Where are you from?”

“Indonesia. No, give me 40 EUR.”

“Not possible. What will you do then?”

“Well, I will just stay in airport until morning” (In fact, I really hoped to stay at least in the clean room to take some rest. I was not so sure about the idea of resting in the airport”

“45 EUR. How long you will stay?”

“Deal. Only one day.” (my budget didn’t allow me to stay more then one day in this hotel)


Well… Indonesian way works well in this case…

 As I was really tired, I didn’t care how the condition of the room was. For me, it was enough that it was clean and equipped with air conditioner. Woke up at 9.30, as quick as possible I went for breakfast (well…I couldn’t miss the ‘free’ meal, right?). To my surprise, the breakfast was on the top of the hotel so that I can enjoy Istanbul’s view. The view was quite impressing though.

 I believe in intuition. Since years I practice my self to distinguish the emotions of my heart: whether it is fear, happiness, hope, intuition. In many cases, what I call as intuition lead me to good judgments. My intuition let me know whether one thing is good or not. Many times I can guess correctly character of someone just by observing the gesture, the expressions, the way he/she talks, and the most important information comes from the eyes. As many people say, eyes never lie. In many cases, I can understand clearly the invisible reasons behind one’s decision/behavior. It doesn’t mean that I always respond things in the good way.  After all, I have my own ego, my own fear, my own insecurity.

 After taking my heavy breakfast, I looked around and decided to sit beside a middle-age man. I can not explain precisely why I decided so. I just knew that I would have such kind of a new experience. There was something in this man’s eyes. My intuition said that something wrong with this man and I needed to proof it! I started to eat calmly when he opened the conversation with typical question such as where I come from (he is Iranian), what my name is ( I forget his name), then the interesting part  began:

 “How long you will stay here?”

“Well, only today. This hotel is too expensive for me. I will look for a cheaper one”

“I am a gentleman. You can stay with me. I will cover your expense.”

“No, thank you”

“We can go to the beach together.I am a gentleman”

“No, thank you.”

 Yes, it was me who decided to sit beside him. I took full responsible of this new experience. But no..i didn’t responsible for his bad behavior.

 Suddenly, I saw my savior, a Philippine woman which later I knew that her name is Manda. Guessing that I am a Philippine, she waved her hand to me. I replied her and gently I left the Iranian without any word. From her information, I knew that I made a good deal regarding my room in this hotel. She paid 10 EUR more for comparable room. I am really sure that price negotiation is part of culture in Turkey.

 Later on I knew that Manda had bad experiences in Turkey just because she is a woman who travels alone. She asked me to be careful. Listening Manda’s experiences, I asked my self to be more careful, but not to be afraid. I believe fear may close the possibility of good things to be happened. In any case, I need to take risk by trusting someone that we don’t know. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is not.

 Manda offered a help for me. I could put my luggage in her room while I was looking for a cheaper hotel. In the case of problem, I know I can count on Asian(s) which usually give help to other Asians. There is a kind of invisible solidarity amongst Asian in the journey. In the simplest way, the solidarity can take form as a smile. I decided to trust Manda.

 It was about 11.30 when I went out of the hotel with hotel address in my hand. I was a bit confused with the situation. I didn’t know anything about this town. There were lots of people in the street. I realized that the hotel is located in the traditional market. Later on I knew that this hotel probably included in the Grand Bazaar, the name which is mentioned in the tourist information leaflet. I just walked without knowing where to go. The decision of turning left, turning right or go straight was completely depending on whether I felt conveniences to do so or not.

 I called my friend, Mehmet when I saw telephone shop. Mehmet was my previous neighbor in Karlsruhe for about 1 year. He introduced me to Turkish tea ( a very refreshing tea in my opinion). He now lives in Sakarya, a city nearby Istanbul, about 2 hours by bus. He said that he would come to Istanbul on Saturday. Great… at least I would be with someone. In front of this shop I saw a hotel Elena. I came in and asked for the price. It was 30 Turkish Lira (about 15 EUR) per night. I checked the room. It was just a bit worse than my previous hotel. But for 30 EUR difference, I would take this hotel. First good thing happens at my first day in Istanbul. 

 At the cash machine, I asked one man the direction to the Blue Mosque. He replied me in Turkish so I just followed the direction of his hand. Istanbul is very hot and the road was up and down since it locates in the hilly area. It was really tired to walk around, but I didn’t want to spend so much money for tram or metro. Anyway Mehmet, the owner of the hotel (Mehmet is common name in Turkey) told me that the hotel is quite in the city centre. For me, it is always better to buy a drink than spend money for tram’s ticket. It is healthier to take a walk and hopefully I will lose some kilos. J

 I forget the name of my lunch’s meal. It was mixing of potatoes, chicken, bean, tomato and cheese. It was O.K. Including a can of Coke, the meals cost me 11 Lira.  Hm… I didn’t want to spend so much money. L Next time I should find cheaper restaurant. With full stomach, I continued my walk.

 Somehow I had feeling that I took not so straight forward way to Blue Mosque. Well… without a map of the city that you never been, what you could expect, right? Then… let’s try to learn photography. With my NIKON 40, I just walked to the direction I wanted and took the pictures. I need to sharpen the sense of beauties. I learnt that Istanbul is a city for welding and shoes home made industry. I found lots of home made industry takes place in the basement of the building, a slightly below the road level.

 I like to take pictures of children’s expression. For me, their expression is always pure, without mask or make up. While taking pictures of two children I met, a man called me from the window.


Al, behind the wall.He helped me to figure out how to go to Eskisehir

“Hi…what kind of NIKON do you use?”

“D40. Well, I am not the experience one. I am still learning. Are you a good photographer?”

“Sometimes I took pictures in the wedding”

“Hm… may I take your picture?”

“Sure… May I invite you for a coffee?”

“Yes, why not?”

 Then I entered the building that later I was informed that it is an office. His name is Al and his colleague is Cűneyt. They are working in export-import business. Al said the he travels a lot in the Asian region but never been in Indonesia. He said that the majority of Turkish is moslem, but it is not so strict. He asked me how about Indonesia. I answered that between people, we are fine even though we have different religion. Cűneyt just came back from Dusseldorf to see das Fest there. He has a plan to take this festival to Istanbul.  When Cűneyt asked my age, I said to him… I am quite sure that I am older than him (and it is true), he just replied how could you look so young? Well… I am Asian who hates make up and keep the positive energy with me.

 I saw the picture of Ataturk in Al’s office. Al and Cűneyt said that Atatürk is their hero who brought Turkey to be the secular country. If you talk to any Turkish, you will inform your self soon that Turkish adores so much this man. At this point, I didn’t know why.

 I said to them that I would go to Eskisehir by bus or train on Saturday (August 1st) night or Sunday morning. They kindly made several call to find out the best way to go there. It turned out that the best way was Saturday night (at 23.30) by train. It was a cheapest solution, 18 Lira. It takes five and half hours from Istanbul to Eskisehir. Al drew a map for me how to go to the office for buying the ticket from his office. They said sorry that they could not accompany me to go to the train station because they were not in Istanbul on that Saturday. Well Al and Cűneyt…., you helped me a lot by what you did so far. I said good bye and good luck to both of them before continuing my walk.


They gave me a can of fruit juice, Cappy. Thanks!

 With my gesture, I said to some people in one shop close to Al’s office that I want to take their pictures. I promised them to send the pictures I took to them. Even though they don’t speak English, I think they understood what I said because then they gave me their address on the piece of used paper. Unfortunately by the time I write this story, I lost their address…. I am really sorry, my friends. I really hope that I could fulfill my promise but I don’t know how.

 In my way to the Blue Mosque, I found a play ground in the park. I took some pictures of some children and their mother. Using our own languages, they understood that my name is Susan from Indonesia and I wanted their address so that I can send the pictures I took. This time, I was smarter. I wrote the address in my book. Well…


"We need to trust other people so that we can communicate to each other"

 By ‘accident’ (I believe that nothing happens just by accident) I visited hero’s grave complex. Inside there is an office where the decision has been made during Ottoman’s emperor (or in the time of Atatürk? I am not so sure about it). I met a general manager of some company (I lost his business card) who explains me a little bit about the history of Turkish. I found some books in the bookshelves without any key. I asked him whether they don’t afraid that someone will steal the books (as it is the case in Indonesia). Without any intention, his answer gives me strength, “We need to trust on people so that we can communicate each other” Yes, you are right, but in human’s history, there were so many betrayals that stop people to trust each other. Anyway, thanks to remind me about it.

 After 3 hours of talking and chatting with people in between, finally I arrived at Blue Mosque. If Europe has a reason to proud of their old, huge and glorious churches, Turkey has a reason to proud of their mosques. If churches are almost everywhere in Europe (what I mean by Europe is European Union countries); mosques are everywhere in Istanbul. Blue Mosque was built in the 17th centuries by Sultan Ahmed I.

I was very tired by the time I arrived at Blue Mosque. I had no power to look inside. I just took some picture of it. In front of Blue Mosque, there is Santa Sophia, a former church before it turned to be a mosque during Ottoman emperor and nowadays it becomes a museum.

 There was some funny “conversation” between I and a grandfather. In short, he told me (with my own translation) :“How could you are from Indonesia, the moslem country, don’t know what I mean by stick?” With all my respect, the religion is nothing to do with the understanding of what you want from me. You speak in Turkish. How do I know what you want?

 Anyway, I met someone who insisted to accompany me to go to the place where I could buy the train ticket. Though I was not so comfortable with him (I felt that he was a bit too pushing his existence around me), I accepted his accompanying. He said he likes friendship. Oks..let’s find out what is the meaning of the friendship here. He (I forget his name) works in the jewelry shop which gave him holiday that Friday. He, again, insisted me to pay my dinner. He didn’t like the idea that I wanted to pay my own meal. When he tried to push further his plan to accompany me, I refused it. I said that I was tired. It was true in fact. I consider myself that I am open person, what he did somehow too much for me. His ‘unintentional’ touch of my shoulder was too much for me. I felt insecure which may be it was only my imagination.

 I took tram in my way back to my hotel. I found that the hotel is a 3 (or 2?) stop away from the Blue Mosque. Yes, it was clear, I took strange way from the hotel to this mosque that takes me 3 hours walking.

 This was my first conclusion of Istanbul: Istanbul was too crowded, too noisy for me. For people from Jakarta, just imagine that Glodok (the biggest electronic market in Indonesia) is everywhere in Jakarta. Wherever you go, you will find people at least in the radius of 1 meter. At this point, my heart said nothing whether I can trust the hospitality that Turkish people offered to me or not. Just imagine this: wherever you go, someone invites you for the tea (at some sense it includes pushing you to accept the invitation). Some owner of shops offered me a tea even though I didn’t buy anything from them. I asked myself whether they are kind just because I am a woman, open-heart and travel alone. Will I accept the same invitation if I am not alone, if I am not a woman? I don’t know.

 Night in my hotel, I asked my self, do I experience a kind of cultural shock in Istanbul? Turkish is European in surface, in the style, but not in the behavior I guess. Their welcome behavior is not so Europe. It is closer to Asian way of living. Where am I now? In Asia? In Europe? The majority of habitants are Moslem, but I can find easily Turkish who drinks beer in the bar which will quite difficult in my country. That night I thought I am crazy to make this journey. If I had enough money, for sure I would just buy another flight ticket to Frankfurt. Having no money kept me stay in Istanbul. I thank to some friends who being my object of complain about Istanbul thru some of my messages.

 Remembering the bad experiences of Manda, I felt really unsafe as a woman. I knew that I promised my self to be brave, not being trapped of my own fear. But..I still felt insecure. I tried to read Paolo Coelho’s book (“like the flowing rever”I took from Karlsruhe. I found a nice pray that keep me going thru my journey in Turkey. Here are the pray :

Lord, protect our doubts, because Doubts is a way of praying. It is Doubt that makes us grow because it forces us to look fearlessly at the many answers that exist to one question. And in order for this to be possible….

 Lord, protect our decisions, because making Decisions is a way of praying. Give us the courage, after our doubts, to be able to choose between one road and another. May our YES always be a YES, and our NO always be a NO. Once we have chosen our road, may we never look back nor allow our soul to be eaten away by remorse. And in order for this to be possible….

 Lord, protect our actions, because Action is a way of praying. May our daily bread be the result of the very best that we carry within us. May we, through work and Action, share a little of the love we receive. And in order for this to be possible….


Nice lamp from the souvenir shop. It is made of leather

 Lord, protect our dreams, because to Dream is a way of praying. Make sure that, regardless of our age or our circumstances, we are capable of keeping alight in our heart the sacred flame of hope and perseverance. And in order for this to be possible….

 Lord, give us enthusiasm, because Enthusiasm is a way of praying. It is what binds us to the Heavens and to Earth, to grown-ups and to children; it is what tells us that our desires are important and deserve our best efforts. It is Enthusiasm that reaffirms to us that everything is possible, as long as we are totally committed to what we are doing. And in order for this to be possible….

 Lord, protect us, because Life is the only way we have of making manifest Your miracle. May the earth continue to transform seeds into wheat, may we continue to transmute wheat into bread. And this is only possible if we have Love; therefore, do not leave us in solitude. Always give us Your company, and the company of men and women who have doubts, who act and dream and feel enthusiasm, and who live each day as if it were totally dedicated to Your glory. Amen.


After reading this pray, I tried to sleep. I put my luggage and one chair behind the door. I found that the key of the door was not so safe. However, I still could not sleep. My fear, my worry was stronger than my tired. Anyway, at leat i passed my first day….

 I took breakfast in my second day with Mehmet (the same name as my friend , the owner of the hotel and one of his employee. We shared (from one plate) borek, a typical Turkish breakfast. Unfortunately, it used different fork for each person. I am a kind of person who difficult to say no to any acceptable invitations. I still didn’t know if it is part of Turkish hospitality or not. Looking back to my past, there was a time that I shared food from the same plate with some friends in the time we had no enough money. So I said to my self, why not now? Well..let’s just hope that every one is healthy.

 My friend Mehmet arrived in my hotel in the lunch time. I said to him, just showed me another part of Istanbul which is not as crowded as here. I was enough with so many people around me. He asked me if I slept well last night. It seemed he saw the black circles around my eyes. We went to the beach and the region of Istanbul where he grew up. Again, I saw that Turkish culture has similarity with Asian’s: we like to be in the community, to talk each other.

Haydar Pasha, a train station in Istanbul

Drinking tea is one of turkish’s culture. If you found a coffee shop in Turkish, it is not necessary that you can order a cup of coffee. But tea…is always available. You can buy a glass of tea and stay there for hours (one cup of tea is averagely 1.5 Lira). So did us. We visited several coffee shop in the beach, in the hill to drink tea and talk. We discussed about the education system, about the secularity in Turkey, the culture or news of our old friends. Besides Poland ( I believe that this country works very hard to be accepted as one of the scientific centre in Europe), I am convinced by Mehmet’s explanation that Turkey also works hard to take back their honorable position as it was during Ottoman emperor. All of my highly educated Turkish friends work really hard, harder than most European people.

 I told him that in my opinion somehow Turkey’s men are too much demanding. I told him that it was quite difficult for me to say no to the almost ‘pushing way’ of tea invitation. He gave some excuse about it which for me it was not the reason at all (sorry, mehmetJ). He just said that just be careful to those kind of men.

I complaind about the ticket to Santa Sophia  (10 EURO) which is more expensive comparing other museum in Europe. I told him that in Berlin, I only paid 7.5 EURO as an entering ticket including guided tour. He simply replied that what I saw in Istabul is more than 400 years artifact and Turkish gouvernment needs money to take care this artifact. Then… I had nothing to say more. Silent….

We took kebab as our dinner. Afterward, he returned to Sarkaya by bus and I waited about 1.5 hours in the train station which would bring me to Eskisehir, the city where Yasemin, my friend I met in France, lives.

 I came back to Istanbul after my journey to Eskisehir and Ankara. In my last day, I found the nice place to be alone in Istanbul. I can read quietly behind the wall of historical topkapi palace. Once I thought that Istanbul is a city that wants to live in the past, when Ottoman emperor conquered Europe. I believe that this city receives lots of money from tourists, but why in the same time, many habitants suffer from clean water? I saw many women don’t have clean water in their house so that they should carry it from other place. This problem is so typical of developed countries (I have the same experience in Indonesia. The same poor sanitary environment can be found in Vietnam, Cambodia or India). The gap between poor and rich is so obvious in Istanbul (as also in Indonesia), which is less obvious in Europe.    

 After I felt having enough energy to continue my journey, I went to the city centre. I searched for the shop which sold the artistic lamp from the leather. I want a souvenir for my self. I got discount because I am an IndonesianJ. I put the lamps I bought in the shop. I didn’t want to carry them with me to Bosporus bridge which separate Asian and Europe continent. I promised that I would be back before the shop closed (the shop closes at 10 pm).   

I went to Bosphorus strait, hoping to get sunset (which was not the case. I was too early for sunset view).  A cute little African-Turkish girl sit beside me. It seemed she likes my strait hair. She touched my hair and kissed my shoulder. 🙂 We can not just refuse a friendship from children, right?


Written by darmadewi

August 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Travels

Tagged with , , ,