The Hardest Ramadan So Far

My Eid dress

I have another Ramadan in Germany this year (2013). This time Ramadan starts on early July and ends in early August. And yes, it is during summer time where the day is so long. The fasting time is around 19 hours daily!

I have to do my early eating (sahur) at around 03.00 AM and break my fasting at around 10.00 PM. The first adaptation that I have to do is: my working hour. Fortunately, I have flexible working hours. I have targets to deliver. So as long as the targets are achieved on time, nothing matters.

My adapted working hours start at 01.00 PM to 08.00 PM. With this schedule, I can have enough sleep after my sahur and go home right on time for preparing my breakfast.

The hardest thing in my fasting this year, it’s not the long hour. It is the heat that makes it hard. In the dry climate of Germany, the sweat is easily evaporated and we get dehydrated. This is the condition that I want to avoid. So I have to wear long sleeve shirt and pants to keep my body temperature. Of course it looks weird, during hot summer day, I opt to wear long clothes!

Another difficult situation, or perhaps my biggest temptation is seeing people eating ice cream in a hot summer day. For me, this is really hard. The colors of ice cream and the coldness effect are very tempting. But of course I have to be strong. The stronger the temptation, the more proud I become in overcoming it.

Although it seems hard to do fasting during summer, it takes less than a week to get use to it. And I feel surprised that in general I don’t have any significant problem in doing it. I even enjoy it especially during weekends, there is always invitations for breakfast. Or in weekdays, me and my friends use to go to Islamic Centre to have breakfast. And all of these are for free! So I could eat good foods for free for almost the whole month. Who doesn’t want that??!!!

The Eid
Some of the foods.
After having a month of Ramadan, it’s time for celebration. In Bremen, there is an Indonesian Islamic group that has a praying place (musholla). The celebration for Indonesian community is centered there. And again I am so surprised to find that there are lots of foods!!! It seems that every housewives bring their homemade meals. They are a lot!!!

Empek-empek, my favorite dish.

I think this is the first time that I miss leaving the month of Ramadan. The closeness and solidarity among Indonesians and Muslims have made this Ramadan so special to me. I really enjoy it. Eid Mubarak everyone!

Celebrating Eid with Indonesian community.

Postal Administration

This time, I don’t understand the administration of postal service. Here’s the story… I order a concert ticket via Internet. And the ticket will be delivered by post. I have done it before. I will get a notification from post office, that I should take the ticket at post office by showing my ID. So, nobody else can take the ticket but me.

This time when I got the notification, I am in a very busy period. I have a lot of work and I always come home above 6PM. Even in Saturday, I have another commitments. So during the working hours of the post office, I am always busy. I thought, I would take the ticket later on when I am not busy anymore. Beside, the concert is still in August. I don’t have to be hurry.

But then in two weeks, I receive an email from the concert organizer. They say that due to the fact that I haven’t pick up the ticket, they withdraw the ticket. What?!!! Where’s this rule come from???!!!

So I send email to the organizer that I was busy and couldn’t pick up the ticket. However, at that time I am ready to go traveling for 2 weeks in the next 2 days. I am afraid that if they send me again while I am away, they will withdraw again and that might cost me some money. So I tell them my situation. If they are not sure that the ticket will be ready tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, it is better that they send me again after 2 weeks.

Two notifications from the post office

Apparently they have good service. They response to my email quickly and send the ticket again within a day. So in the next day I could get my notification from the post office.

As planned, I got the notification in the next day. Afraid that the ticket will be withdrawn again, I rush to the post office to take it. But then, unbelievably, the post officer says that the ticket has not arrived. According to him, if I got the notification today, it means I could pick it up in the next day. Whaaaattt???!!! There is no such thing written on the notification. And to me, it just doesn’t make sense: why you tell somebody to pick something in a day when actually that something is not there yet… Weird!!!

So I go home that day and I come back to pick it up in the next day. This time it works. Finally I can get my ticket. But it’s just weird administration process…

Blaas of Glory

La Strada is back! La Strada is a street artists festival where there are tons of free performances. It’s a yearly event in Bremen but normally it’s around August – September. This time it’s in June!

I am so excited with it and in the past years I had uploaded some of the performances in my YouTube channel. However this year, during the La Strada, I have too many commitments. From German class in Saturday morning to party invitations, I don’t have a chance to enjoy La Strada like before.

But even in the limited time available, I still try to see La Strada. I checked the program online and my eyes stumble on a performer called Blaas of Glory. It said that Blaas of Glory is a marching band from the Netherlands that plays heavy metal songs. What?!!! It’s so me… I have to see these guys.

When I checked the schedule, the only time that I have to see their performance is on Sunday noon. So I drag myself to see their show although I have lack of sleep from the last night’s party. I bring my camera to record their performance.

When I arrived, they are still rehearsing in their tent. So I have a chance to get a good position. There is a stage and I thought they will perform there, so I stand in front of the stage. But then when they come up, they marched with “Final Countdown” song and they don’t go to the stage! Instead, they perform on staircases in front of a building! But then I take advantage of the stage, I climb the stage and stand on there. I get a good view and can record their performance.

As I assumed, their performance is hilarious. They wear wigs and spandex, just like 80s hair metal band. Too bad most of the audiences are either old people or children, so they don’t understand the 80s culture. The audiences’ response is not that much although they clap a lot. I enjoy their performance, but I guess they can go crazier if the audiences cheer more. But overall it’s ok. Blaas of Glory becomes my new favorite performer.

Blaas of Glory performs 6 songs: Final Countdown as the opening and closing songs, I love Rock N’ Roll, Jump, Fat Bottomed Girl, and Sweet Child O’ Mine. I want to sing along loud but I am a bit unconfident because other audiences are quiet in general. I don’t want to draw so much attention in this kind of crowd. I sing along but not as loud as if I am in a real rock concert. Nonetheless, I think I have drawn attention from the band. The lead singer points at me when they play “Fat Bottomed Girl”. Nice!

After finishing the performance, the band doesn’t rush back to their tent. They spend time for collecting money, taking pictures with audiences, and talking to audiences. Of course I also approach them to take picture. I manage to take picture with one of the drummers and the lead vocalist. I even talk for a while with the lead vocalist about our countries of origin.

Surely, Blaas of Glory is in my favorite list now.

My "New" Bike

Like other places in western European countries, bicycle is a common transportation (see: Bicycle). So it is a natural that I also want to ride a bike in Germany.

Even before I came back to Germany, I rode a bike in Berau, East Kalimantan. I rode a bike although most people ride motorbikes and the weather thousand times hotter than in Germany. My bike in Berau was a new one and it costs around 100. It is pretty expensive for Indonesian standard, but surely it has good quality. A decent bike could costs around €30 - €50.

But in Germany, a €100 bike is just a low quality one. I was really shocked to find out that good quality new bikes cost from €300. My Indonesian bike costs around €600 here!!! Oh God, I miss my Indonesian bike… Maybe I should just have brought it here.

The rational option is having second hand bike, and this is how most of people here have. Second hand bikes cost from €30, and can be found in flea markets or from the Internet. So I kept looking for a bike for quite a while until my friend gave me a broken used bike. Actually I don’t know what to do with a broken bike, but then my friend said that he could fix it. So I took the bike.

However, months have been passed and my friend hadn’t fixed the bike. His main reason was that during winter, it is not fun to go biking. Now finally spring is coming, so I asked for his promise to fix it. And after weeks of arguing and nonmatching schedule, finally he was willing to fix it under one condition: I must join in fixing it. So I agree.

Now I am having a bike. Compare to my “old” bike, of course it is very far different. My “new” bike is like different puzzle being glued together. Cables from broken computers are mixed with new tire and fasten with cable ties. It looks like I am going to a children carnival.

Getting Interviewed

On February 28th 2013, Deutsche Welle (DW) TV interviewed me. Although this TV station is German but it has Indonesian version, like a franchise. I never have been interviewed by a TV, so this is a new experience for me. Funnily, when I was doing my Masters study, the Greenpeace Germany magazine interviewed me. So it is like an improvement for me, going to higher level of interview.
The Deutsche Welle TV interviewed me.
The DW TV contacted me from December 2012 to do an interview, but the schedule kept changing until it finally reached on February. However, a night before the interview, I got a sore throat and had a fever (see: Getting Sick in Germany). I was in a very bad condition the whole day before finally I consumed paracetamol half an hour before the interview. So basically I was on drugs during the interview.

The DW TV has a program called “Inovator” in which it features news in science and technology. Within this program, there is a segment of a profile of a researcher. When the DW TV crews came to my institution, they interviewed researchers from South and Southeast Asia.

Me, from behind a camera.
Anyway, back to my interview, I was asked about my research, the challenges, the reasons of choosing Germany as a place of study, and what I like about Germany or Bremen in particular.  Since the interview is for a TV show, it needs some visuals. However, my daily activities are far from visually interesting. I only sit in front of my computer the whole day, reading and writing. To make my interview visually interesting, I had to shoot some “generic” scenes. I had to pretend that I am observing an aquarium (really, why would I do that?), to stand on some points along a corridor (I love this scene), and pretend that I am discussing about marine species in front of the marine species display (luckily my friend is willing to be a co-star).

After two months, my interview is broadcast. It is in form of web article ( and feature video called Inovator episode 57 ( My interview appears in minute of 04.40 to 07.16. The feature is broadcast on some TV channels in Indonesia.

I also received some pictures from the interview. What makes me surprised is that I look so enthusiastic! That must have come from the drugs…

This is how I look under the influence of Paracetamol.

Getting Sick in Germany

Of course this is not a suggestion. I just want to share my horrible story and hope that you (the readers) wouldn’t have to experience it at all. And of course, I didn’t intentionally get sick just to have an experience. In fact, I always careful with my health. I control my meals, I exercise, I don’t stay late during weekdays; those kind of stuffs. So when I got sick, I felt like I was being punished for something that I never did.

It started with a sore throat. One Wednesday night, I felt that my throat was swollen and I had fever too. Unfortunately I had to go to work in the next day because I had an appointment already. So I thought: “Let’s finished it and skip work on Friday”.

But it wasn’t that easy. My appointment was at 4 PM and I felt horrible in waiting it. I brought some herbal/ traditional remedies for sore throat but of course they couldn’t work immediately. I knew that I need to rest.

My traditional remedies that I brought to office.

So there I was, trying to read some scientific articles in pain while waiting for the appointment time. My body was weak and aching. I felt so horrible and uncomfortable. This condition stayed until lunch time when I met my friend and told about it. He then volunteered to buy a paracetamol from nearby pharmacy. I took it just 30 minutes before my appointment. It was very timely. In the end my appointment went well and I could go home right away.

After staying at home for 3 days, my fever had gone. I still had running nose and cough, but I guessed it would go away in a week. I was wrong! Even in almost 2 weeks, my running nose and cough still existed. Even worst, I felt like all my bones were aching. At this point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to a doctor.

I thought I was having a serious illness. But according to the doctor, it was just a normal cold! Hmmm, I guess we have different standard of normal. For me it’s not normal to have a cold for more than a week! This German virus is so fierce!

I got a medicine for taking out all the slime in my nose and throat. This is the only medicine that the doctor gave me, and it lasted for a week. So within a week, I kept taking out slime from my nose and throat. And surprisingly, after a week, my slime was completely gone! Wooow, these Germans really calculate for everything!

The only medicine I got from the doctor.

Finally I am free from a cold. It took me 3 weeks to get rid of it! Now I have to be even more careful of my health. I guess I have to adjust my tropical standard to the cold standard. The illnesses are different, and the treatments for illnesses are also different. But I think the prevention of illnesses remains the same: eating healthy meals, exercising, and having enough rest.