• The big day is here! I arrived early in the venue to do our last rehearsal. Shortly after that, we changed into our costumes. Our costume consists of a long-sleeved white turtleneck, underneath two pieces of satin that served both as a kemben to cover our chest and the other as a skirt. Those two satin fabrics are literally a square piece of cloth, and a longer, rectangular one with thin strips attached on every end. It was pretty simple, but I thought it looked great.

    Uthe who was responsible for our costumes incessantly complains on how the tailor failed to fulfill her request. Firstly, the kemben wasn’t supposed to be square. Thankfully there was ample material to wrap around our chest when folded triangularly. Furthermore, the skirt was supposed to be wider on the bottom –not rectangular. There is something about Uthe’s animated voice when she explained how she struggled to guide the tailor into making a simple piece of garment. I like her a lot.

    Those simple costumes translated into complexity when we tried to actually wear them on our body. We had to do a lot of knotting and sticking in plenty of safety pins around our waist and chest. For a moment, we tried to copy how Irene folded her skirt into a figure of a blooming flower. I never managed to do mine. Moreover, we had to continuously tighten and insert extra pins on them because these satins kept on falling off after every rehearsal round. Mine was especially loose since I was thinnest of the bunch; not counting the most underdeveloped teenager among girls that are seven years older than me.

    Five of us dancers were supposed to represent five continents that were participating in the conference. Each of us wore a different color of satin to represent each continent.

    I was blue: Europe
    Maya was yellow: Asia
    Cio was black: Africa
    Irene was green: Australia
    and Uthe was Red: America

    Hair and make-up was next. We each wore a copper headpiece inserted through our tightly buned hair. Make-ups were applied shortly after that. Since I have no experience in cosmetics, I had to rely on Dinna, who was now serving as our make-up artist. Brushes and fingers smothered my face. My last touch of lipstick was even applied just twenty seconds before our entry. I really have to learn to do this all by myself someday.

    The backstage moment was intense. I would be jumping up and down if it wasn’t for the annoying costume. We took a quick picture before entering the stage. A mental note inside my head said: Don’t squint. Don’t squint. You will be staring at this photo in nostalgia for weeks.

    It was not exactly the perfect timing of me to dance, honestly. I was having my PMS, hence my stomach was aching and my energy levels dropped. “Just smile…” I tried suggesting myself, “and try to look as energetic as possible.”

    The familiar music starts. and we began dancing.

    I wasn’t wearing my glasses for the performance. Therefore, I can’t see anything past Maya next to me: moving gracefully in yellow. Luckily I managed to catch a glimpse of Nancy sitting in the front row. It absolutely helped my ‘just smile’ strategy to know that she’s there. Moreover, the fact that I couldn’t see the whole audience clearly made me smile even wider.

    A huge round of applause ended our performance that morning. Praised continued to shower us throughout the day from everyone. I was so pleased that our hard work was paid off.


    After the dance, I went to have a chat with Professor Nezar Al-Sayyed, the key-note speaker of the conference. He told me how much he enjoyed the welcoming dance. He also stated that he personally admired Cio, the only veiled girl among our dance group.

    “Not all cultures allow veiled girls to dance” he asserted. “I’m glad Indonesia is one of them…”

    I was quite speechless then. There was no norm that forbids anybody to dance in my country, but I guess it was a completely different custom in the middle east. Nonetheless, that is why an international conference is so amazing. I can learn to appreciate other cultures, and to embrace my own even more.

    Then, Arte-Polis 3 International Conference was officially open. Professor Eku Wand from Germany was bestowed with the honor of being the first presenter.

    Personally, I don’t understand most of the materials presented in this conference. It was an architecture-college level, at least; and I’m still making my way through high school. However, I still admired how creative some people are in presenting their material. Professor Eku Wand was definitely the most unique. He maximized his audience interaction by handing out laser pointers, glow sticks, and whistles so they can participate as much as possible. He was really good. I have to say most presenters are too worried about the content of their material that they forgot to maintain their dialogue with the audience. Frankly, I can say that I enjoyed Professor Wand’s presentation although I can only understand bits and parts of his material.


    I stayed in the venue long enough to watch the screening of the movie Cin(T)a. It’s one of the reasons why I agreed to volunteer in this conference in the first place. It’s a phenomenal movie, and it’s rarely screened in public cinemas due to its controversial topic.

    People were having their breaks outside the main hall when the film was scheduled to screen. Thus, I was hauled to be a sudden MC to announce that the movie screening will start soon. It was harder than I thought. I had to persuade chatty, busy, 300 people outside to come inside the main hall. My announcement passed their ears with perfect indifference.

    Neither my friends nor I could wait any longer. We were personally dragging people to come inside when I heard a group of girls behind me gossiping.

    “ Hey, did you hear that MC? She said the movie screening will be showing soon. The way she pronounced the movie was wrong, you know. The title is not ‘cinta’; its ‘Cin - T- aa”


    After I managed to gather enough people inside the main hall, my uncle invited the director of the film to talk a little bit about the movie. She was a former student of his named Sammaria Simanjuntak. The movie was Indie, which means it was made independently with a lot of help from friends around them; without the help of any notorious production houses. The movie received an award of the ‘Most Wanted Indonesian Movie’ in Jakarta International Film Festival and the ‘Best Scenario’ in from Piala Citra.

    The title of the movie itself is fascinating. ‘Cinta’ means ‘love’ in Indonesian. But the way they divided the words made it’s meaning even deeper.

    Cin is for ‘Cina’: The male main character of the movie. He is a poor Chinese college freshman who is in love with his senior, Annisa.

    The ‘A’ in the end is for Annisa: a Muslim celebrity with such a humble background. She is in love with her junior, Cina.

    The curious (T) in the middle is for Tuhan: God.

    The movie is too beautiful for me to summarize. Instead, let me quote the synopsis from the movie’s official website http://www.godisadirector.com/
    Cina and Annisa love God
    and God loves them both
    But Cina and Annisa cannot love each other
    because they call God by different names

    It is absolutely one of the most amazing movies I’ve seen in a long time. It breaks all the stereotypes that most Indonesians keeps in captivity, and questions the very fundamental values that we are thought to live in. I was honored to have the chance to watch the movie, since it isn’t publically screened most of the time. I really had a good time.

    Maya drove me home that night after having dinner together at Kiosk. She only lived a few blocks away from where I stay, hence she’s been taking me home for the past few days. I really wish I could stay longer, but my uncle warned her about my curfew: I can’t go home past midnight. Being my uncle’s little Cinderella, we’ve decided that I should go home in a reckless stagger and mumble drowsily. My breath will smell like beer and my hair like cigarettes. The joke could only play in our head –he was never home yet when we arrived.