Contemplation on karma

I was going through a rough stormy journey last week. It was almost like a sudden and impromptu verdict passed to the accused without prior hearings. I was unprepared, or rather, deluded to be unprepared due to ignorance, and completely taken aback.

As the waves subsided, I started contemplating about the concept of karma. And thinking about my own karma. There were no anger and blame. Perhaps being in a helping position in the past have helped me tremendously to enter into the stage of acceptance almost instantly. However I am still bogged down by curiosity, and definitely still having a sense of helplessness that stems from the lack of insight on the past. What have I done in my past lives to be subjected to what I am going through now? The truth is most of us do not know. There are so much information symmetry (exploiting a public policy concept between principals and agents) between our current live and our previous lives, our present consciousness and our past consciousness. The…

Deep Work

Finally I was able to finish a book that I have been wanting to read but did not have the luxury to sit down for a prolonged period of time to finish it due to my field research in Indonesia. Now that it is over, I was finally able to check out this book from Singapore’s NLB in Bishan (for the wonderful collection in NLB I must say that I really LOVE the Singapore government’s commitment to build a knowledge-based economy and making books so accessible).
I have had a glimpse and sneak peek of this book from the TED talk that I watched online- delivered by its author Cal Newport – few weeks ago.
This book is a thicker and richer version of the TED talk. Though it did not have that instant ‘wow’ impact like some other books that I have read, many of the messages within resonate strongly.
I like the central thesis very much. It says that a deep life is a meaningful life and a life well lived.
Deep work – defined as the ability to focus on a cognitively demanding task with sustained and …


It is ludicrous that no one in life has ever faced rejection.
We all know that rejection is inevitable at any stage of our life – whether it is breaking up, not considered for a scholarship programme or university admission, not getting our dream job, not able to grab certain opportunities that lead to life changing path etc.
Rejection is so normal. But my rejection experience this time round – failure to get an academic paper through second round of reviewing process – is a wake-up call to construct a new normal to this dreadful but inevitable human experience.
It is rejection again for God knows how many times since I started to hop on the game of academic publishing. Yes, I am deeply and enormously aware that advancing in academia has always been an unfair game. As a junior researcher, you do all the hard work, suck up most of the crappy stuff, and do not necessarily get the most credit. And without guiding light, the trial and error process takes longer than one could imagine. At…

A letter to the younger me

Dear Me

You are such a blossoming young teenager full of hope and promise. You came to this world with a purpose in life, and you are set to fulfill that purpose with grace, courage and tenacity. Circumstances and conditions are right for you to thrive as a human being with the capacity to achieve ultimate realization, and though you were not born with a silver spoon, you are blessed enough to be born as a middle class kid with parents that place emphasis on education. As a child, your mother reads to you all the time, constantly feed you with the excitement of knowledge acquisition, and the curiosity of knowing the world. You grew up with Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. Their stories form a big part of an ideal fantasy world for a young passionate girl full of wonders and dreams.

At the tender age of 16, you start to question authority and challenge the status quo. You have lots of fun with new found soulmates in high school. You would keep in touch with them for the rest of your life. …

Musings from Indonesia: Teguh

Teguh is my host in Yogyakarta as I was spending the last couple of days here wrapping up my fieldwork in Central Java. I came across his profile from the airbnb page and was very struck by the interior design of his house. I was ignorant about everything else about him until I got here yesterday.

Turned out, it was one of the best airbnb experience ever. His place is located at a very secluded Javanese style village down south from Yogyakarta at the city fringe. Facing the widespread paddy fields in the countryside, it is a perfect place for one to immerse in solitude; ideal for personal retreat for anyone who just seeks temporary getaway from a harsh volatile reality.

However, as much as I am attracted to the thoughtful interior design of his place and the perfect location for some quiet me time, I am struck by his personal story - a story about firmness and tenacity - very much the resemblance of his name 'Teguh' (means firm in English).

He came from humble beginnings but …

Letting go- a not so easy concept to apply in practice

How many times have we told ourselves to let go, let go, and just let go? When noise arise in our environment, we remind ourselves to breathe and smile, and usually within a few seconds, we are able to redirect our attention to things that matter. This seems pretty easy. When minor anxiety arise occasionally, sometimes, it takes a while to process before we can let go. But still, we could eventually handle that with ease.

What appears difficult, is the inability to let go of something that really hits you hard at a particular moment. It causes immense stress. impedes clarity of our thoughts, and sweeps all the positive self-help immediate coping strategies under the carpet. These are things that have shaken your belief towards the fundamental trust and security that you could place on someone in life, or stinking garbage and junk that are thrown at you after having heavily invested in something physically, financially and emotionally. Break ups, divorces, demise of our loved ones are…

Self defense mechanisms for PhD survival...and potentially, survival of any kinds

Throughout the ups and downs of my PhD journey for the past three years I have gradually developed some self-defense mechanisms that could help me wade through the storms of failure and/or rejection, and potentially coping with any kinds of challenges in life. I name them the 3A self-defense mechanisms for now.

1) Avoid self-blame
It is easy for most people to drown into self-blame and be overly self-critical, especially during difficult times. It is always during those volatile moments that we start questioning the decision that we have made, doubting our intelligence to finish a seemingly challenging task, and worse still, putting down our inner self-worth. We often attribute all the wrongs and mistakes to our stupidity and miscalculation. Sure, we all have our moments of ignorance and stupidity, moments when we feel that if time travels, we want to turn things around. However, it is also during such moments that we grow and thrive rapidly. We may made stupid economic, financial, pe…