Friday, April 24, 2015


Here I am in my 2nd week on the site. We are currently on standby waiting for the next rig operation so I have quite a relax time chatting over dinner with a Mud Supervisor and an Engineer that deals with Water Based Mud Treatment Plant. Yeah, I know…with my college background and all that’s what I should be doing right now, no? Thank you, sub-conscious mind!!

This Mud Supervisor is a 60 year old Italian and the other guy is a 30 something South African. We started the chat with the “usual conversation starter”: Safari in South Africa, how to get there, food, condition, etc. Of course you can’t talk about South Africa without talking about Mr. Mandela, right? So we talked about him for some time; how inspirational he was, what people in his country call him (Mudiba? Mudaba? I couldn’t remember. But I do remember that it actually means an old tree of wisdom, or the grandfather to all people), things like that. And then this Engineer said that their new president is nothing sort of Mandela. He started to complain about how bad he has been as a President, and when he said that this President has 7 wives, we were all stopped eating and said “Get out of here!”

The Engineer said that this is the truth. In fact, he told us a story about how this president just took 20 million USD from the tax payer’s money to build his own ranch with a private helipad and a bomb bunker.
Now this was when the mud supervisor said, “Of course he needs a bunker. He’s got SEVEN WIVES, for heaven’s sake! I got only one wife, and I already think about having a panic room for myself. Those fortresses and bunkers are not to protect him from his people or terrorist, it’s his wives he is running away from. I am telling you that.” 

We all laughed about it, then these guys started to talk about how having one wife is actually bad enough. You know, because woman likes to talk a lot, they shop a lot, they worry too much, all that sort of stuff. I laughed with them simply because I can see some part of me in those women they talked about. Don’t worry, I counter attack them as well when they are having too much fun. Hail to the ladies!!

The thing is, men joke about their women all the time. At first, it really bothers me. I felt like they have no respect whatsoever. I mean, why do you even want to marry if then after you got married you just complain about her all the time, right? That’s just ridiculous and disrespectful. So I talk about it with Mr. Hubby. His response was actually quite a shocker. 

“You know, honey, these guys work hard being far away from home and such to provide for their family. Sometimes they miss their wives so much and they need to speak out. The only way of doing it without looking emotionally weird is just to joke about it. Do you know when we joke about our wives, we are actually bragging about her? For instance when I told my friends that I need approval from my finance minister for all my expenses, I kind of feel proud that I have a wife who can take care of my money and I feel safe about it. And besides, don’t say that you don’t joke about us when you are hanging out with your girls.”

Well, come to think of it now, we do joke about our men when we hang out with each other. So Okay, this one is a draw. But even until today, I still have some doubt about Mr. Hubby’s reply. I mean, he could have just said that to woo me, right? Although, I have to admit, it worked that time. :P

Tonight's conversation, though, turned into something extraordinary for me when the engineer said,
“But really I am so lucky to have my wife. She is so down to earth and grounded. The center of my house. She is my diamond.” 

I saw him saying that ever so sincerely and I started to think that, hey, my hubby may be right. May be he was telling the truth and not just saying what he said that time to calm me down. I am so happy for the engineer’s wife for having scored a good man that truly loves her. In times when men and women can easily cheat on each other like now, hearing a man saying something like this about his wife is actually felt like a cool breeze of hope to me. I feel that the world is not so bad after all. That we can all still aim for that happily ever after, in sickness and in health, in poor or wealth, till death do us part kind of marriage. But ofcourse, being a man as he is, he just have to end the conversation by saying,

"She never asked for anything from me, except for handbags. That's a war I can not win :)"

Monday, February 16, 2015

ONE DAY, ...

In our living room. I was reading review on the latest model of hair dryer.
Beb, this new hair dryer brand sounds interesting. It says that it can dry the hair twice as fast with lower heat so that it doesn’t do as much dammage to the hair. Sounds cool right?
Naaah, it’s just advertorial campaign beb. Don’t trust them. Drying your hair is just a matter of mass transfer.
Exactly. Since it’s about mass transfer, then the same initial steady state condition will give different result if the external factor like heat or wind speed introduced to it is varried, right? So the advertorial language is actually valid and based on scientific fact.
errr….honey, look! A flying elephant!! (and then he runs away with littleM)

In a train from Sfax to Tunis. I was looking at the scenery of olive garden in the window.
Isn’t it nice, the scenery?
Yeah. Those olive farmers are quite amazing. Niat banget gitu nanem pohon zaitunnya miring-miring gitu barisannya.
(long silence, looking at me with astonishment) sayang, look again more carefully. Those olive trees are actually planted on straight lines to one another, but since you are looking at it side ways, it seems like those olive trees are planted in a diagonal line. (laughing)
(looking back to the lines of olive trees) errghh…heheh… (looking at littleM) look, baby, we are in the train!! Chooo-chooo….

Those are actual conversations occuring in our daily life during our short 4 years of marriage. I am lucky to have found such a smart man who is comfortable in his own skin. I love the fact that we can have those silly conversations and laugh while also having a more deep and meaningful conversations as well. And the fun thing about being with him is that we have our own internal jokes that when we see something or hear a key word that relates to the joke, we just look into each other and we will burst in to tears laughing. So thank you, Masnya, for being an awesome partner in crime, in parenting, and in life. May we have more conversations to come, be it silly or smart. Happy anniversary, sayang. Love you!

Niembi Field, 16 February 2015

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tunisia: A Retrospect

As my I was counting down my days in Tunisia, I couldn't help but to feel a little nostalgic and think of all the things that has happened during my stay. Three years has passed without us noticing. Time sure flies when you are reminiscing the olden days, but I do assure you that there are moments that seems to last an entire eternity and I would do anything to get out of it quickly.

From the moment I decided to go, I knew life wan't going to be easy. My training will be delayed, and adapting in a country 16 hours flight away from home which language I don't speak is intimidating. But at least, we are together. So I was pleasantly surprised of how easily we settled in the first time we arrived. People are friendly (sometimes too friendly it makes me uncomfortable :p) and helpful, we had fun (people in Manzel Chaker staff house. You know who you are), and despite some mishaps that I have told you, I really enjoyed my time here. I think Mr. Hubby's positively cheerful persona has helped the adaptation as well. He taught me how to be patient and found a funny side in every situation.

And then, we got pregnant! Boy oh boy how things changed. I have to be out of the field, so we decided that it would be good for me if I accept an office assignment in Tunis. Mr. Hubby stays in Sfax though, so the first two trimester of the pregnancy was spent as us being a week end couple. It was not easy, but I learnt how to make "TAHU", and dealing with first trimester inconvenience.

I still thought that giving birth in Tunisia is not an option, though. Simply because neither me nor Mr. Hubby speaks a very fluent French or Arabic and if God forbid there is any medical complication with the delivery process, I want to be able to fully understand what is going on in order to take the right decision. So I went back to Indonesia at the end of my 7th month, and we started our real long distance relationship. It was really nice to be surrounded by your family during the last stages pregnancy and when the baby was born, but I sure miss him and he missed us for sure. There was time when I told him that littleM was laughing for the first time and he told me how sad he was because he missed her milestones. It broke my heart to hear him saying that. Now I know how it's like to have a long distance marriage. It was not nice.

When I decided to go to Tunisia, I new my career will be delayed. Little did I now that I was really going to push a "PAUSE" button during my stay here. Having littleM has made me re-scale my priorities. People who knows me for a long time knows that I am a sharp tongued feminist who simply refuse to stop working and stay at home as a house wife. But when littleM came along, I realized I wanted to do the best thing for her that I can afford. For me, that means an exclusive 6 months breastfeeding and taking care of her myself. So I took an extra 6 months off from my already 6 months maternity leave. 1 year off work. Fun, eh?

The 6 months of post maternity leave period is when I become a stay at home mom, with only Mr. Hubby as a bread winner. This arrogant girl has to push down her ego when there are something financial that she needs, I learnt to really taking care of littleM alone when he is out to the field, now I can relate to other oilfield wives. I learnt to be mom and dad, how to pay the bills here, how to still look hot with no makeup and baby puke on my shirt (at least according to Mr. Hubby I am :D), how to live with no English speaking neighbors, how to deal with loneliness, I learnt to toughen up.

As the post maternity leave period is coming to and end, we have to get an addition to the family member: A nounou, babysitter. Enter: Mme Samia. A lady who has been working with the blues expat for quite sometime. I remember the first time I left the house for work, littleM was crying, and I remember myself crying in the car. Good thing that Mr. Hubby was there to comfort me. He was my pillar of stone. And so the era of working mom started for me: pumping milk supply in the office, preparing for littleM's meal for the day, cooking dinner after work, all that drill. Now I know how it's like to be a working mom. And I am so thankful that Mme Samia is not only capable of taking care of littleM when I was at work, littleM also loves her. So I know I made the right decision.

Looking back, Tunisia has shown me so many things I didn't know I was capable of doing. It put us as a family in so many different scenarios available, we can relate to those families now. Week-end family? Check. Long Distance Marriage? Check. House wife living in small town and no English speaking - let alone Bahasa Indonesia speaking neighbors? Check. Working Mom? Check. I don't know if we are going to face any of those situations if we decided not to stay here.

We learnt how to appreciate the small pleasures we can get in this small town. Making our own picnic in the back yard on summer time, the small ice cream parlor we go to every week end, the sinfully delicious millefeuile cake from our favorite pastry shop, or even the times when the three of us just goofing around in bed Sunday mornings. We created our little heaven, our little haven.

On cooking skill, I wouldn't know how to cook artichoke, fennel, or chard if I don't come here. I never knew how to properly cook a couscous before I come here, or that extracting the seeds of a pomegranate can be a therapeutic thing (bashing the fruit half with a wooden spoon until all the seeds come out is good to release unspoken anger :p). I will leave Tunisia remembering the deliciously sweet and juicy fruits it produces (the best watermelon, pomegranate, melon, and oranges I have ever had), brik, hout mellah with charmoula, zgougou, tajine, couscous, and I am sure Mr. Hubby will always remember the awesome grilled lamb he had in the desert. We will sure miss them.

Life in Tunisia is not always easy. But if anything, it has made us stronger as a couple. We learnt to support each other, talk, and most importantly listen to each other - even when we are apart. We learnt how it feels like to be separated from each other, and how it will affect us. We know now, more than before, what loneliness can do to people. To a relationship. To a family. And I hope that God always protects our little family from any of that harm.

So yes, from professional point of view it may seems like I am delayed, stuck even. But with all the things that we have been through, I feel like I have made a lot of achievements as a person, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother. I have grown a lot. It was a time well spent.

So thank you, Tunisia, for the hospitality, friendship, quirky attitudes, the beautiful pictures, and all the experiences we gained. We arrive as a couple of two, and leave as a family of three. We are opening a new chapter now, down in West Africa. Helo, Gabon!! :)