A Good Girl

Day 2 of the writing every day challenge. Will I make it ’till the end? 🧐

I know we now have quite a low bar for things to be considered good, as well as bad. However, I honestly think that when it comes to self-improvement or self-appreciation, there’s no such thing as a “low bar” for something to be considered “good”.

In my case, being a “good girl” lately is simple: withholding the urge to jajan.

What is jajan? Well, this Indonesian word holds such a unique position, in my opinion. When I was younger, jajan simply means the act of buying and eating snacks (aka a verb), as well as the noun for snacks. It was definitely not a meal, which was why my parents’ generation actually yelled at me and my friends if we jajan too much. We would have: 1) wasted money because there were snacks at home and no one I knew were that wealthy to be able to afford a lot of jajan; and 2) been told there were food at home!

As I grow older, I learn that jajan can have a metaphorical meaning that is considered derogatory. The first time I learned about this, my mind almost blew up! How can there be something derogatory come out of jajan? Surely there are negative impacts of diabetes and cholesterol and a lot of environmental issues in regards to a lot of snacks’ packaging – but other than those? There are more? Unthinkable!

The meaning of jajan in the context of an adult goes as far as prostitution. So, when an adult say “I would like to jajan *wink wink*”, other adults will immediately translate it as “I would like a prostitute”.

How the idea of prostitution considered to be derogatory is for another discussion. Please do not yell at me about this.

As much as the metaphorical meaning of jajan is intended to be in conversations amongst adults, I learned it during my adolescence. Interestingly, now that I’m an adult, the meaning of jajan has shifted again. Granted, the current meaning of jajan is not prompted by the human development. I would argue that the current meaning of jajan is due to the evolvement of how we see and buy food, as well as how food is presented to us.

I argue that the transformation of jajan is due to the blooming presence of restaurants across the country (as well as the world) and the advancement of food delivery.

Right now, jajan means buying and eating food and beverages. This includes buying and eating snacks and proper meals, as well as buying and drinking coffee. Basically, jajan now means eating out and/or ordering in.

Personally, I’m not sure yet how I feel about this current meaning of jajan. I can’t fathom the idea of jajan nasi padang (buying and eating rice accompanied by food from Padang/West Sumatra/Minangkabau tribe in Indonesia, such as beef rendang or chicken curry). However, in the true spirit of a hypocritical human, I 100% understand when someone told me they just jajan nasi goreng (buy and eat fried rice) – although I might not use that very same sentence myself.

Anyway, now that we’ve covered what jajan is – in which I hope my explanation is clear enough – I would like to go back to the initial premise: being a good girl means withholding jajan.

It might sound shallow, but I really see it that way, for myself, lately. There are always so much food in my house that they, more often than not, would spark my mom’s desire to scold everyone but herself. Maybe this can be another topic of discussion: the unique relationship that my family has with food.

Eating food that is available at home, especially when they are leftovers, lately feels like an accomplishment. For me, it feels like finishing a job. I see myself or my family buying food and only eating some parts of it, which resulted in the food being stored in the fridge, as an act of initiating a commitment. So when the food from the fridge is finished, it feels like fulfilling that commitment.

You might think this is silly, but there were times when I stayed home and did not jajan at all and I thought, “wow! I’m being a good girl today! I should get a reward!” It was this silly little thing but it feels like a win for the day.

I am aware of how privileged I sound like. Who the fuck gets a reward for eating food? Those who win eating competitions, maybe, but no one else. However, I can argue that, if we go to the philosophical (haha) side of it, the winning feeling I have for stopping myself to jajan when there is actual food at home means that I defeat my greed. That is always a good thing, right?

That is my reflection for today. Not sure what will come out of it, but hopefully something.

Thoughts on My Friends by Hisham Matar

I am learning a lot!

For one, I finally learned that the narrator’s name is Khaled. Yesterday, I only learned the name of the narrator’s friend, which was Hosam, as well as the names of famous people, such as Mohammed Mustafa Ramadan and Salem El-Lozi.

Apart from names, I’m also learning a lot about Libya. The country was once colonised by Italy? WTF?!

I’m very happy that I get to experience yet another chilling scene in this book, which was the description of Mohammed Mustafa Ramadan assassination at Regent’s Park Mosque. Goddamn Hisham Matar can write! I was so immersed in the book but at the same time it’s not overwhelming me – an overall amazing experience thus far.

This is where I feel like it’s apt to end Day 2. Here’s to Day 3 and more!







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