Saturday, October 07, 2017

Ghostbastard! - The Aftermath

[Continued from Part 1]

"But if I get too close
Will the magic fade?
Would I turn you off or away?
If I pull you in
Now would I push you out
Of something here you care about?
Well I'm at a loss for what to do
But I'm drawn to you
...
I love you
I'm sorry"

The Avett Brothers - 
"I Wish I Was"

More than a week have passed since that incidents. Following Kuebler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, the first few hours were a turmoil of denial and anger for me. I didn’t know what hurt me more: the fact that I lost someone I considered as a good friend ... or the sense of betrayal by being left in the dark. Then the stage of bargaining began. I started sending WA messages, emails, message via Messengers, short texts, phone calls ... all left unanswered. Even a visit to his apartment didn’t work. He evaded me by leaving early. Or so the helper said.

Depression came next. I walked like a zombie ... doing things absent-mindedly. I smiled, but everybody said it was a tired one. Once I withdrew some money in the afternoon, only to realize that I’ve done the same thing in the morning!! For the whole day my playlist was full of songs like “StillHurting”, "Come Back to Me", and ... of course “Too Good at Goodbyes”.

But I’m a survivor. And I’ll always be.

So after a while I learned to make peace with it. I found consolation reading articles about why males suddenly disappear. I learned the hard way that I've been ghosted and realized that he wasn't the only - nor the first -  "ghost-bastards" doing it. In fact I was amongst the lucky ones; I was ghosted by a mere friend - special he might've been. Most women in the articles weren't so lucky; they were ghosted by their boyfriend. Many of the them were ghosted after having sex with those bastards ;-) 

Through reading I learned there was a pool of possibility why he ghosted me. Some were not that nice; multi-dating, having a second thought, and being simply an irresponsible jerk who's planned to manipulate an innocent all along. Others are quite heart-warming, just like that Avett Brothers' song: he was just confused and needed time to sort things out, he had fallen but saw no future, he felt inadequate for anything and would rather ghost me first than being ghosted, ... 


In short there was always a possibility that the ghosting is his own defense mechanism to prevent him for getting too close to me. He didn't push me away, he created restrain for himself. Wasn't that why he didn't cut all the possible communication with that crazy lunatic woman? The woman who creepily drew his face and uploaded in the internet, as well as following all his friends in IG?

After a while I returned to my old self; recalling that I was trained as a psychologist. With clinical psychology as my major. Delving the memories of our discussions and meetings I realized that he showed a classic ISFP personality. "The Adventurer". That is what makes him an aMAZIEng artist, as well as explaining his moodiness and here-and-now tendency.


With such a personality, my INTJ personality would've surely felt like a cage for him. Suffocating. The Bhirdcage who is caged by the bird ... isn't that ironic?  


One thing for sure: ghosting is not a gentleman's move and any ghost-bastard doesn't worth my time. Nor my curiousity. Besides ... there is no guarantee I'd get the answer I've been expecting. Even if his reason was amongst those heart-warming one, he would've easily chosen something to turn the table just to save his ego and pride.

So finally I'm letting him go. Fading away from my life. I'll wrap the memories and keep it in the corner of my heart. Because we can never de-specialize someone; no matter how far we've moved on, we'd always look back towards that someone with fondness.

***
EPILOG: 

Most probably our paths will never cross again. But a tiny hope still floats that they might. And I'll be ready when he returns. I will not welcome him with Panbers' "Terlambat Sudah" ( = It's Too Late), neither will I quote Justin Bieber's "Friends". 

Thanks to The Avett Brothers (again), I've learned how to let go with No Hard Feeling

For the time being I prefer to return to an old song, from the collaboration of another two great storytellers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice



"I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain
To see for certain
What I thought I knew"

"Any Dream Will Do", from "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat"


*
The Muse and I

To Shankar Addi Mehra
whose presence and abrupt leaving inspired me to write again.

And to Dwi Retno Agustini, aka Calista Putri, aka Daffodilslover
who I believe will pass this story to him.

Disclaimer: photo is necessary to avoid accusation that I don't know this filmmaker/storyteller and mentioning his name here as a kind of seeking attention behavior ;-)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Ghostbastard!

This is just an illustrative picture
PROLOG:

I woke up at 5am with a smile on my face. Last night I just successfully did something that I hope would support him further. My friends didn’t nickname me “Mother Hen” for nothing, as it always made me feel good to help and take care of other entity. Human or else.

My hand reached out to the table next to my bed. My morning routine: checking all the social media I had. I noticed 4 notifications on Facebook and 7 on Instagram. I smiled and clicked the IG. Did he like my posting? I posted a picture of us last night – with our unplanned iconic thematic t-shirt theme.

His name was not on the list of those liking the picture. I then moved to the next posting. The one from the day before. There were 2 new likes. But something was weird: his name was missing from this posting! What made him dislike mine?

I visited his IG account. Weird! The “Follow” button was blue! How could that be? I’ve been following him for more than a month. Did he discard me by mistake?
I clicked the “Follow” button. It didn’t work.

That was when I knew that I have been ghosted by someone I called friend.

***

It all started several full moons ago. After lunch I lazily checked all my social media before returning to work. I got a notification in my Messenger; someone I didn't know has requested to send me a message. He was asking about the cover picture on my Facebook account because he intended to make a movie there. I chuckled reading his bio in Facebook: "Filmmaker. Storyteller". "Yeah, right!" I said, "and I'm a Khaleesi and Mother of Dragon". Still I politely answered that it was taken in Keraton Kasunanan - the palace where King of Java resided. I didn't think he'd get permission filming there, but ... I encouraged him to try filing the request.

The chat didn't end there, as he kept engaging me in a conversation. Well ... I wasn't usually friendly to someone, especially a virtual someone, but ... after digging the internet I somehow believed he was honest. A further discussion with him revealed how well-educated he was. And well-groomed. He spent most of his life abroad; born and raised in several African countries before enrolling to a university in the USA. A son of two highly educated parents, he knew a lot about culture, sufism, and poetry. 

It didn't take long for us to connect. Almost every night we discussed over the Messenger. He introduced me to the beauty of qawwali, the great poet Amir Khusro, and (in a way) the sufism I thought has been extinct. I always imagined Delhi as a super hot place, a Copacabana in Asia – but through him I learned it had snow in winter.

***

"Give us any chance we'll take it
Read us any rule we'll break it
We're gonna make our dreams come true
Doin' it our way"

- Laverne and Shirley opening song

Not so long ago he came to Jakarta to lead a workshop. That was when we finally met in person. Although he was as polite and gentleman as I imagined him to be, I began to realize how far apart our worlds were. His was the world of creativity; borderless imagination with many rules in grey area. The world of "Laverne and Shirley". So different than my world - which was full of data and analysis. A world where you have to see left, right, up, down, and repeat before making a statement, as everything comes out of mouth, or out of your action, should be reliable and justifiable.

What was cardinal sin in my world was the daily routine in his. And vice versa.

We began arguing about things. About how he let a 9-year-old girl skipped 2-day of school to be in his workshop. About what he'd better do with a woman who creepily drew his face and uploaded it to the internet, like a crazy lunatic groupie. About how he casually changed his arrangement and abandoned a dinner I've planned the whole week in the process. 

In my world plan was the key; in his plan was closer to burden. In my world such crazy lunatic should raise our alarm, in his it was another walk in the park - "Just block her and get back to my business, darling," he said, "I cannot control things not in my hand."

But we managed to overcome every disagreement and returned to being friend. Because being friend means having bottomless understanding. “Friends don’t get angry to each other,” that was what he said. Perhaps he was right.

Or so I thought.

***

The day before that incident everything looked fine. We had a nice lunch following a visit to a traditional market. Like me, he always wanted to immerse in the real life of the society. It reminded me of my dad, who once said, "Whenever you travel into a new territory, there are two things you should do, Mbak. First, getting around in their typical transportation. Second, immersing yourself in the place they shop their groceries"

During lunch we laughed upon me noticing how ‘thematic’ our t-shirts were: his bore the foreword from Ho Chi Minh’s “The Prison Diary”, while mine bore the faces of those injusticely prisoned – Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the former governor of DKI Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. 

This serendipity fitted another joke of us: he used to call me Birdie for my inability to stop chirping in a loud voice, while I called him “Bhirdcage” – as his name is an addional H away from the Indonesian word for “birdcage”. Prison, birdcage, prisoners, bird ... in a way he was always the place, while I was always the subject inside.

Nothing prepared me for the what to come inevitably. We bid our farewell that night in a nice and friendly manner. I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

***
[To be Continued to Part 2]

Disclaimer: 

The illustrative picture in this posting was taken from the real account of Shankar Addi Mehra, the filmmaker of "Ramad", who has been a constant supporter and encouraged me to write this fiction in his own way. Thank you, Shank!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 Europe Trip: My Survival Kit

Sebelum berbagi tentang pengalaman gw nge-bolang di Eropa, gw mau berbagi dulu tentang apa2 saja yang membantu kenyamanan perjalanan gw. Semacam survival kit jalan ke tempat baru sendirian di musim yang asing ;-)

Kit #1: EuRail Pass


Jadi ... setelah visa di tangan, tiket pesawat saja saja tidak cukup! Ada satu lagi yang harus disiapkan, yaitu transportasi antar kota antar negara.

Jauh2 hari adek gw yang sudah beberapa kali tugas ke Eropa (dan sukses bikin gw iri level mahadewa) sudah berpesan untuk beli EuRail Pass di Indonesia sebelum berangkat. Harus kudu, karena tiket terusan kereta yang diperuntukkan bagi non-penghuni Eropa ini tidak dijual di Eropa. Kalau di Eropa ya jualnya Interrail, tiket kereta terusan untuk penghuni daratan Eropa. Kalau kita gak punya EuRail Pass, terus gimana? Yaaa... bisa sih beli tiket satuan. Tapi berarti nggak fleksibel, karena tiket itu hanya berlaku untuk tanggal dan waktu tertentu. Tiket satuan juga nggak ekonomis kalau kita berencana YOLO, karena bisa jadi jatuhnya lebih mahal. Plus, jadinya mesti antri lama ganti tiket kalau terjadi hal-hal yang tidak diinginkan; misalnya jika kereta yang kita naiki harus berhenti di tengah jalan karena ada yang bunuh diri. Seperti yang gw alami 2x pada hari yang sama 30 Januari 2017 - di Hengelo (Belanda) dan Osnabrück (Jerman)!!

EuRail Pass ini menjadi lebih terasa nikmatnya kalau kita mengunjungi Jerman dan Austria dalam lawatan kita. Delapan dari 13 hari perjalanan gw di Eropa gratis ongkos kereta karena DB (perusahaan kereta Jerman) dan ÖBB (perusahaan kereta Austria) menerima pass ini sebagai tiket. Gw tinggal tulis saja tujuan kita, dan cari tempat duduk di kereta.

Tentu, kita tetap harus keluar duit untuk transportasi non-kereta dalam kota seperti metro. Di Amsterdam gw masih harus beli kartu pass yang berlaku untuk bus dan metro. Pun harus bayar tiket bus dari Linz ke Mauthausen, atau tiket metro untuk putar2 Prague. Tapi kalau di Kõln dan Berlin, pass ini bisa dipakai naik S-Bahn. Jadi praktis gak keluar duit lagi.

Untuk pembelian EuRail Pass di Indonesia bisa dengan menghubungi situs EuroByTrain ini. Saran gw sih bikin jadwal dulu mau kemana saja dan kapan, baru konsultasi dengan mereka mana pass yang paling efektif. Soalnya pass ini bisa dipilih berdasarkan berapa negara yang dikunjungi serta berapa hari traveling. Kalau hanya mengunjungi maksimal 4 negara dan/atau hanya akan melakukan perjalanan di hari tertentu, nggak perlu ambil yang Global Pass. Harganya bisa beda Euro 100 - 200 per pass yang dipilih. Dan ... ohya, kalau mau bulan madu, ada paket menarik. Soalnya kalau 2 orang atau lebih bepergian kemana-mana selalu berdua, pass-nya lebih murah :-)

Kit #2: Rail Planner App


Buat bikin jadwal kereta api, saran gw adalah unduh aplikasi Rail Planner. Ini aplikasi resmi EuRail; gratis, bisa diakses offline, dan komplit jadwalnya. Jadi kita bisa atur sendiri mau ambil kereta mana, jam berapa, berapa kali berhenti ganti kereta, dan jam berapa. Atur sendiri petualanganmu!

Aplikasi ini juga membantu banget karena mencantumkan informasi2 penting buat kita sebagai "orang baru" di negeri tersebut. Mulai dari keuntungan yang didapat di tiap negara (termasuk hotel2 dimana kita bisa dapat diskon, rekanan hotel/bus/ferry dll) sampai info2 layanan perjalanan (seperti dimana bisa titip koper di loker stasiun, bagaimana caranya ke airport terdekat, serta fasilitas2 seputar stasiun)

Karena bisa diakses offline, gw selalu buka aplikasi ini dimana saja. Tapi tetap harus hati2 yaaa ... kalau mengakses aplikasi ini di publik. Pengalaman buruk gw: setelah mengakses aplikasi ini di Burger King Praha Hlavni Nadrazi (stasiun pusat Praha) yang super ramai, iPhone gw dicopet orang... hehehe ....

Kit #3: AO Hostels/Hotels


Bagi orang bergaji rupiah kayak gw, membayar segala macam biaya dengan Euro itu bisa jadi besar pasak daripada tiang. Apalagi biaya hidup di negeri2 ini mahal. Kalau harus bayar hotel .... deuuuh ... nombok dah! Even dari Agoda pun gw sudah cemas lihat harganya. Mehong, bo!

Pada awalnya adek gw (sekali lagi: yang sudah beberapa kali tugas ke Eropa dan bikin gw iri mampus :-)) menyarankan Couchsurfing. Beda tipis lah dengan airbnb. Tapi... dasar gw ini introvert kronis, gw kok merasa agak gimanaaaa gitu ya ... kalau nginep di rumah orang. Takut nggak bisa basa-basi.

Naaah... sebagai pemegang EuRail pass, kita berhak mendapatkan diskon kalau menginap di AO Hostel/Hotel. Ini akomodasi pilihan gw di kota2 yang gw kunjungi. Selain harga kamarnya bersahabat, kita dapat diskon, dan ... hostel/hotel mereka selalu within walking distance dari stasiun kereta. Yang sangat membantu banget juga: selain peta, mereka juga memberikan panduan jalan kaki (lengkap dengan jarak-jaraknya) di situs. Gw selalu screenshot keterangan ini untuk panduan jalan kaki ... maklum kemampuan spasial gw di bawah rata2 ... hehehe ...

Sebagai jaringan hotel, quality control AO Hostel/Hotel sangat terjaga. Ketiga hotel yang gw tinggali - AO Berlin Hbf, AO Prague Metro Strizkov, dan AO Köln Hbf - total hanya berbeda luas kamar saja. Seprai, bantal, toilettries, dan sarapannya sama persis! Padahal tidak semua hotel itu dibangun sendiri oleh AO. AO Köln Hbf, misalnya, adalah sebuah hotel lokal bernama Hotel Madison yang bekerja sama dengan AO. Mungkin karena AO ini dibangun dengan konsistensi a la Jerman ya ... hehehe .... jadinya sangat rapi dan terstruktur.

Di AO Hostels/Hotels ini kita bisa memilih menyewa tempat tidur saja di semacam asrama (dormitory) atau kamar privat seperti hotel. Ada baiknya siapkan uang tunai untuk membayar, karena jika membayar dengan kartu kredit akan ada surcharge hampir 3 euro.

Kit #4: "Stimulating Blood Circulation" Stocking


Ini adalah "keajaiban terindah" yang gw temukan di hari pertama gw di Eropa :-) Gara2nya mata kaki gw bengkak seturun dari pesawat, dan saat diajak jalan putar2 Amsterdam (well... literally jalan! Pakai kaki!) kaki gw sempat kram 2x.  Mungkin paduan antara duduk 16 jam di pesawat (dimana 10 jam di antaranya adalah direct flight yang bikin kaki gw kejang :-)), dinginnya winter yang baru gw alami, serta physical shock si kaki yang disuruh jalan penyebabnya.

Setelah meninggalkan gw di kedai kopi dekat pasar kembang, teman gw yang baik hati - Neng Imeza Saraswaty - membelikan gw stocking ini di HEMA. Katanya dia pun selalu pakai stocking ini kalau harus jalan jauh atau banyak berdiri, karena stocking ini melancarkan peredaran darah di kaki.

Tadinya gw pesimis. Stocking setipis ini ... melancarkan peredaran darah? Bagaimana caranya? Tetapi gw pakai di hari berikutnya dan ... voila! Meskipun gw jalan dan berdiri sepanjang hari, tapi kaki gw gak capek apalagi bengkak! AMAZING!

Manfaat stocking ini paling terasa ketika gw mengunjungi KZ Mauthausen Memorial Site di Austria. Untuk sampai ke bekas kamp konsentrasi itu gw harus mendaki sekitar 2km dari perhentian bus. Takjubnya ... kaki gw sama sekali nggak kram ataupun bengkak! Padahal biasanya kalau lelah seperti itu gw bakal kram parah :-)

Kit #5: Deutsch als Fremdsprache


Menguasai bahasa Inggris tidaklah cukup untuk berpetualang di Eropa :-) Mampu berkomunikasi dengan bahasa Jerman sangatlah penting. Kita harus ingat bahwa Jerman itu segede gaban di uni-Eropa. Kalau putar-putar naik kereta, hampir pasti akan melewati Jerman. Naaah ... jarang orang Jerman yang bisa (atau mau) berbahasa Inggris, bahkan di tempat yang kaitannya dengan layanan publik sekalipun!

Selain itu ada negara2 yang (salah satu) bahasa utamanya adalah Jerman; seperti Austria (meski tidak semua kosakatanya sama persis) atau Belgia dan Swiss yang berbahasa Jerman serta Prancis. Selain itu negeri2 yang dulunya masuk Eropa Timur seperti Republik Czech, Slovakia, dan Hungaria juga cukup fasih berbahasa Jerman. Selain karena berbatasan dengan Jerman (Timur) dan/atau Austria, beberapa mungkin dulunya memang bagian dari Kekaisaran Austria.

Trust me ... speaking French might help, but Deutsch als Fremdsprache ( = German as a foreign language) is more handy! :-)

Pengalaman gw membuktikan :-) Saat kereta gw harus ganti jalur di Osnabrück, Jerman, karena ada yang bunuh diri ... gw harus mengurus tiket gw dalam bahasa Jerman. Demikian pula ketika melaporkan koper gw yang terbawa orang di Berlin dan mengambilnya di Wolfsburg - kota kecil 1 jam perjalan dari Berlin.

Di Berlin gw beruntung karena bertemu Julian Schick, mas-mas Jerman yang ramah dan bahasa Inggrisnya bagus banget! Tanpa bantuannya, gw nggak tahu bagaimana harus melaporkan koper gw yang hilang ke ibu2 Jerman di ReiseZentrum yang menolak - entah gak bisa atau nggak mau - berbicara dalam bahasa Inggris. It's been 20+ years since I got my ZDaF and my German is super rusty I'll make the Germans cry to hear them :-))

Keberuntungan gw bertemu Mas Julian ini makin terasa ketika keesokan harinya gw harus menebus koper gw SENDIRIAN di Wolfsburg. Another ibu2 Jerman di Lost and Found langsung menjerit "Kein Englisch! Deutsch, bitte!" ketika gw buka mulut dalam bahasa Inggris. Terpaksalah gw menjelaskan kesulitan gw dalam bahasa Jerman yang sudah karatan dan sama sekali tidak taat azas ... hehehe ... Hanya keajaiban yang membuat gw bisa mendapatkan koper gw lagi dalam 15 menit.

Saran gw; belilah kamus percakapan standard bahasa Jerman jika berencana ke Eropa. Itu akan membantu :-)

The Missing Kit: Travel Light


Satu2nya survival kit yang luput dalam perjalanan ini adalah: koper kecil! Koper gw terlalu besar untuk perjalanan ini ... dan ... setelah dipikir2 koper besar inilah yang menjadi sumber kesulitan gw.

Hotel2 kecil di Eropa (setidaknya Belanda dan Jerman) kadang berupa bangunan tua tanpa lift. Tangganya sempit dan curam. Seperti ITC Hotel yang gw tinggali di Amsterdam. Karena memesan kamar satu ranjang, gw mendapatkan ruangang di ... attic! Ruangannya sih cakep banget; rapi, dengan kontur atap di atas tempat tidur yang to die for! Tapi ... bayangkan menyeret koper segede gaban melewati tangga sempit dan curam naik/turun 4 lantai! :-)) Waktu naik sih nggak masalah, karena ada Neng Imeza yang bantu ngangkat koper. Tapi turunnya ..... terpaksa gw kosongkan koper itu biar bisa diseret turun, untuk kemudian membawa barang gw satu per satu untuk ditata ulang di lobby :-)

Koper segede gaban ini juga yang menjadi awal tragedi koper yang tertukar dalam perjalanan ke Berlin. Karena ukurannya, gw gak bisa mengangkat koper ini ke tempat koper di atas tempat duduk. Terpaksa koper gw tinggalkan di bagage dekat pintu keluar dan ... you know what happens when you fail to keep an eye to that luggage!

Koper ini juga yang bikin gw kehilangan konsentrasi di badai salju, sehingga iPhone gw raib. Bayangkan dilema mendorong koper 12.5kg untuk jarak 700m di salju setebal 10+ cm! Buah simalakama banget... didorong ibu mati, diangkat bapak mati :-)

Saran gw: cukupkanlah barang dalam koper ukuran maksimum 7kg! Koper yang bisa diangkat masuk ke tempat koper di atas kursi kereta. Kalau barang nggak cukup gimana? Bawa tas jinjing yang bisa diselipkan ke gagang koper. Jadi bisa digeret bareng koper dengan satu tangan, tapi juga cukup fleksibel untuk ditaruh di tempat yang mudah diawasi. Dan ... kalau terpaksa ... bisa dicangklong sambil tangan yang satu mengangkat koper kecil. Trust me ... travel pseudo-light like this is much better than bringing 1 big luggage :-)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 Europe Trip: Y.O.L.O

Bermula dari informasi November lalu bahwa cuti tahunan gw masih tersisa 18 hari dan harus habis sebelum Maret 2017. Di saat bersamaan, muncul wacana workshop untuk sebuah klien multinasional di London pada kisaran akhir Januari 2017. So ... my darling husband memberikan sebuah ide yang fenomenal: why don't you go to Europe? Pakai uang yang kita kumpulkan untuk antisipasi jika harus mengirim Naima ke universitas swasta, sebelum kita harus mengumpulkan uang lagi untuk biaya sekolah Nara. You deserve it!

Maka berbekal restu itu, mulailah gw mengurus visa Schengen untuk pribadi, karena visa UK nggak akan berlaku di Eropa daratan.

Saat keputusan itu diambil, semua tampaknya mudah dan menyenangkan! Akhirnya one of my lifetime dreams akan terpenuhi, menginjak Eropa daratan, akan terpenuhi! Plus ke London pula! Tapi ... over the month, ternyata kenyataan bukanlah all unicorns and rainbows :-) Perjalanan panjang berliku dimulai bahkan sebelum tiket di tangan ...

Awal Desember 2016 gw mulai menghubungi satu2nya agen tour yang gw kenal dan pernah menguruskan visa team kantor gw ke Australia tahun 2009. Tidak ada jawaban atas email gw. Ketika gw tanyakan via mantan Research Assistant gw, jawabannya, "Nanti dijawab, sekarang sedang sibuk." Naaah... gw kan gak bisa di-PHP-in, jadi dalam 2 hari pindah haluan. Kali ini minta tolong Mbak Suzan Bayik, ratunya perhotelan Indonesia.

Mbak Suzan merekomendasikan teman lamanya yang baik dan ramah serta siap membantu. Tapi setelah paspor dan segala kelengkapan administrasi diserahkan, muncul satu masalah: Mbak teman lama yang ramah ini ternyata metodenya konservatif banget. Triknya kurang jago untuk manuver mengamankan tiket pesawat sekaligus pesanan hotel. Jadi gw diminta memesan hotel sendiri, dan mengurus book dan rebook hingga visa keluar. Lah ... kalau harus ngurus sendiri, ya ngapain gw pakai jasa tour & travel toh?

Terpaksa ganti haluan lagi. Kali ini - masih atas rekomendasi Mbak Suzan - gw mengurus dengan bantuan Kaha Tour. Baru deh di tangan Mas Andrieka Dika dari Kaha, gw mendapatkan servis yang gw mau. Mas Dika sangat profesional dan cekatan dalam mengurus segala keperluan. By December 14, seluruh kelengkapan sudah masuk ke tangan Mas Dika. Konon prosesnya paling lama 21 hari dan gw diminta menunggu jadwal biometrik dari Kedubes Belanda.

Ohya... kenapa Kedubes Belanda? Sebenarnya visa Schengen ini bisa diurus ke negara Eropa mana pun. Tapi berdasarkan bebeberapa informasi, kemudahannya tidak sama. Belanda, sebagai mantan penguasa Indonesia, tergolong yang cukup lenient dalam memberikan visa pada kita. Kalau visanya Belanda, maka pesawatnya harus mendarat pertama kali di Belanda, which is quite OK karena - another blessing in disguise - gw sangat ingin mengunjungi Anne Frank Huis di Amsterdam!

Akhir Desember 2016 gw mendapat kabar bahwa biometrik gw dijadwalkan tanggal 10 Januari 2017. Bukan di Kedubes Belanda, tetapi di VFS Global Office, di Kuningan City. Rupanya sekarang kebanyakan negara satu pintu pengurusan visanya, yaitu di VFS Global.

Naah... di sinilah kenyataan menunjukkan betapa sulit dan terjalnya perjalanan mendapatkan ijin masuk Eropa ini!

Gw beranggapan setelah biometrik prosesnya 2 - 3 hari kelar. Karena pengalaman teman gw mengurus visa Prancis demikian. Pun pengalaman gw terakhir urus visa Australia tahun 2009. Ternyataaaaa .... untuk kedutaan Belanda katanya 7 hari.

OK. Gw panik tapi mencoba sabar. Antisipasi kelar tanggal 17 Januari. Berarti gw baru bisa issued tiket, beli Euro, dan booking hotel setelah itu. Masih 10 hari ... OK-lah. Everything is under control.

Tapiii.... gw jadi benar2 panik ketika sampai tanggal 18 visa belum keluar juga dan belum ada kejelasan kapan keluar! Alamaaaaak.... kan urusan masih panjang: harus confirmed tiket pesawat, confirmed bookingan hotel, beli tiket EuroRail Pass untuk perjalanan kereta antar-kota antar-negara, confirmed ke teman2 yang mau diajak ketemuan, beli Euro ....

Tetapi dengan kegigihan Mas Dika, akhirnya visa itu berhasil keluar di hari berikutnya. And with that visa my story begins ....