Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visiting David

After the full on exhibition in Frankfurt and a day trip to Paris, I get to visit my German friend David in Stuttgart. We were planning to go for a roadtrip... well... there isn’t really much planning involved and the result is rather chaotic....

I met David in Canberra, Australia. He was a friend of a friend and we got to know each other at a church camp. At the time, I had devised a game of mismatch Bible characters for an ice breaker game. So a person with a ‘Samson’ name tag has to find ‘Delilah’, ‘Mary’ has to find ‘Joseph’, etc.... I had to sign people as they come in and my name tag was ‘whale’ (I had to find my partner Jonah, and yes I know that the fish who swallowed Jonah isn’t exactly a whale). David walked in and said, “Thats a nice name you call yourself.”

David was an exchange linguistic student in Australia at the time. After he finished the exchange program, his rent was expiring and he stayed in me and my housemates flat for a couple of months. David is a bit of a hippie. One Christmas, we were the only 2 people left in Canberra. We celebrate Christmas at the back of his house doing a good ol Ausie BBQ with a bit of metal barrel, bits of coal and gum leaves and wired tray for the sausages to sit on… with hippie-ish music playing in the background.

It was hard for his friends to imagine that he has parents or live in a normal house. We’d like to think of him and his girlfriend living in a forest, inside a semi- perfect, cube-shaped house with triangular roof. His house would be on a tree, filled with old rusty furniture that he got from random garage sales in the closest village. The ladder up to the house would be a single firm knotted rope and his friends would be a variety of wild animals. He would write books on the trials of his life, his travels and a collection of mysteries and contemplations of a living God on an old type-writer. His other activities would be reading, teaching his animal and other hippie friends to speak Pidgin and search rhubarb plants for food.

But as I arrived at the front of his house, I soon discovered that David lives in a normal German house, with normal parents, eats normal German food and brothers who are almost exactly like him.

The Color Issue

Last month in February I was very fortunate to be involved at the Frankfurt Fair in Germany. An ‘invites only’ yearly exhibition displaying many housewares from manufacturers or trading companies targeting retailers as their customers. It was very exciting for me since it was my first time there. The place is HUGE! I was there for 5 days and I swear, there are SO many cool things that I didn’t get a chance to see. They have up to 10 buildings which are loaded from top to bottom.

So, starting next month in April, I will be working in a tableware trading company and printing company, which is why I get the chance to see this amazing exhibition. It is also a must for me to wonder around the exhibition and see what large company exists and what’s the world up to in terms of trends, designs and fashion. No doubt I’m inspired by many things. I love the European taste of nature and how they apply it in their houseware designs. I love to see products from all over the world, their uniqueness and their passion to make beautiful things available to many people.

As the exhibition is loaded with stuff... everyone are SO conscious about those horrible people who loves to copy other peoples products. You’d assume the usual things, no camera, no videos, no drawing obvious sketches in front of some stall... that’s totally cool with me. I'm very capable of being inspired and create things on my own. So, what I’m totally not cool with is when they’d assume you’re going to copy (or do other evil things depends on how far their imagination goes) because of the color of your skin.

At first, I’d walk around as if I’m at a flea market. I’d stop and look, ask questions, get friendly... then soon enough, I figured that as soon as you stop in front of their stand, someone would immediately ask for a namecard. They'd asks me questions like; are you a buyer or a seller, why are you looking at my things and also minute details about your company. Soon enough, I learn to not stop while looking at things, and later on I learned that they are more conscious when an Asian is looking because it’s a known fact that the Chinese are famous for copying stuff.

But, even though I’m Chinese looking, I’m an Indonesian. I live 9 years of my life in Australia and I can’t bloody speak the language. But do people care? No, they look at the color of your skin, they assume you’re evil and they’re automatically rude to you.

A really bad experience was when I picked up a brochure (on spices and salad dressings by the way, it has nothing to do with what my company are selling) and some German lady just snatched away from me and basically told me to get out while the rest of her customers gets pampered in tasting her products. Like, hello?! Does your brochure contain secret recipes that would kill Asians? Which era are you living in anyway? The rest of the world are in the year of 2009! Aren’t you educated enough to realize by now that men are equal regardless what they look like?! Yes... I was very angry... but I just walked out.

Later on, I ventured off to the jewelry hall. I’m not sure what it is, but people there are much friendlier. I met an English jeweler who approached me with a friendly smile while I was nervously looking around. I met some Hong Kong pearl trader who helped me in learning more about pearls and semi precious stones. I met a German and Canadian couple who does a lot of traveling to collect materials for their jewelry. I also met a very nice man from Afghanistan who sells semi precious stones. We had a great chat and I expressed to him about the discrimination that I’m experiencing at the exhibition. It turns out that he felt pretty much the same as an Afgan.

This is the first time I really experience racism for myself. I’ve seen it a lot on American tv, and I always thought that it was a past issue, but sadly it isn’t. What are these people having issues with, Really? I find it hard to believe that its just simply a color thing. And what are we currently doing to stop these issues?

Growing Bulbs

Since I was a kid, there's only one talent that I have and that is creativity. As I grew up, I find that this talent can come in many different mediums, and thats where I get a bit confused. I'm 23 years old and I envy people who are my age, or younger than me who have already made strong roots on what they are doing. On the other hand, I can't seem to focus myself on one thing. I will jump from one thing to other, look back, and realized that I should have strained myself into temptations that distracts me from what I should be focusing on. I'm not sure if this is a curse or blessing.

It's been more than a year since I graduated from the Australian National University on jazz vocals. I have been taught by the greats and love writing music immensely. I'm still a proud alumni of the university, but had barely sang or written a note ever since I left. While I was in uni, I wrote a song called Tulip Tree. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a Tulip Tree, so to me, tulip tree is a song about miracle and about excelling in a slow pace.

Miracle can come in many ways... but to me, if something happened that I thought it wouldn't, I would consider that as a miracle... and as someone who doesn't really expect much in situations, miracle happens quite a bit. It often happens when I create things. Like, if things come out better than I expected, or got my song gets played on a local radio, I would be like, "Wow... how did that happen?" kindda thing.

Now, I'm still a little bulb who is slowly peeking out little leaves onto the early morning sunshine. The circumstances that I'm in right now asks me for a new start. I'm leaving my current office desk job and move to a designing part time job to discover the things that I could've create if I hadn't been sitting in an office all day. So, I hope I'd be able to see more miracles happening soon...