Posted in Book, Review

[Buku] After Orchard

My first review in two years. My last, Istoria da Paz, was done in July 2009, and now is already 2011.
My first in 2011, and this may be my most personal review yet—if you can call this a ‘review’.

Nyari buku ini ga gampang loh! Sudah sekian toko Gramedia di sekian mall di Jakarta yg kutandangi hanya demi mencari buku berjudul After Orchard ini tapi hasilnya nihil. I found her Cruise on You novel, but not this book. Aku pikir toh genre dan penulisnya sama, tapi kok ndak ada? Aku juga emoh nanya abang-embak penjaganya karena jawaban yg kudapet bakalan klasik banget.

Nyari di bagian novel, ga ada. Di bagian blog-blog yg dibukukan, ga ada. Di bagian humor (bisa dibilang ini sejenis buku humor satir), bah. Udah nyari di komputer, katanya stoknya ada ratusan, tapi mana? Sebiji juga ga ketemu! Akhirnya adikku yg udah sewot ngedenger aku nyerocos melulu kembali menyambangi komputer yg kosong, mengetik nama buku yg dimaksud, dan bilang, “Liat dong jenisnya apa,” sambil nunjuk ke layar komputer kanan bawah yg bertuliskan “REFERENSI” dengan huruf kapital semua.

Walah~~ Mana ada yg nyangka sih buku beginian bakal ditempatkan di jajaran referensi??? Di mana pula itu bagian yg namanya referensi??? *nyengir malu*

Aku akui, satu-satunya hal yg membuat aku tertarik membeli buku ini adalah karena penulisnya Margie—dan karena tema tulisannya tentang Singapura (well, that was the second reason then xp). Bukannya gue temennya Margie, dan bukannya dia penulis menghebohkan sekelas JK Rowling atau Stephanie Meyer (walaupun bukan berarti Margie bukan penulis yg ga berkelas loh. Don’t get me wrong) makanya gue mengincar buku ini dari toko buku ke toko buku. Gue bahkan ga tahu kalau sekarang dia jadi penulis—atau bahkan bahwa buku ini adalah buku ketiganya, bukan pertama seperti yg kuduga sebelumnya.

Aku denger dari mamiku kalau dia menerbitkan buku After Orchard yg didengarnya lewat Radio Sonora, and the name sounded familiar to her. Di radio itu juga dibahas tentang ‘kontroversi’ buku ini, sampai si penyiar menanyakan apakah Margie ga takut dituntut Negeri Singa, yg dijawab (kurang lebih), “Engga lah, kan yg ditulis bukan hanya yg jeleknya, tapi juga yg bagusnya.”

She just wants to share her experiences living and studying in Singapore, and since she no longer lives there i don’t think she should worry about the possibility of being sued or whatever. She is now in Indonesia, where freedom of press is allowed (though idk if it’s protected or guaranteed by law). Ga tau juga sih ya apa Singapur berhak marah karena sekian sistem negaranya dijelek-jelekin di sini, tapi tentunya banyak pula sisi positif yg dikuak dan dikupas secara gamblang, yg diharapkan (oleh siapa saja yg normal sih seharusnya, me included) dapat sedikiiit aja ditiru oleh Indonesia. Misalnya “mengadopsi kemampuan menciptakan tatanan yang jelas, tidak berbelit-belit dan bisa diikuti” yg ancer-ancernya mungkin dapat mempermudah hidup (PNS Oportunis, hal. 75-6).

Back to the topic, my mom’s small talk about her book inevitable flashed me back to the me four-five years back (around Oct-Nov 2006) when i was searching for universities in Singapore and visited NTU as one of my dream options. I met her only twice, when i came to NTU’s school event in which her booth was about raising awareness for HIV/AIDS (the token from then was still in my drawer), and when she showed me around NTU.

She was friendly, carefree, supple and all. She didn’t show if i was a burden to her that day. She greeted many people as we walked pass by them. She looked bright, cheerful and happy and sure was creative. I’d never imagine if this petite girl with short haircut and a backpack thought differently.

“Dalamnya lautan bisa diukur, dalamnya hati manusia siapa tahu,” demikian kata pepatah yg nampaknya bisa menggambarkan dengan jelas persepsiku tentang Margie. I agree to many things in her writings, but also disagree to other things.

Let’s start.

Lovely cover. Nice font (size and style). Fresh and informative. Those were my first impressions of the book. I read the first few pages of the book on Google Book. Despite some copyrighted contents, i was fascinated by her introduction. I enjoyed my limited reading and thought the foundation was firm it would shape into a great read. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the case.

Chapter 1 starts off well. It is about her campus life. The sub-chapters are well-written and serve as an eye-opener for many, especially those considering NTU as their chosen university. She throws witty remarks and her unfortunate experiences read as absurd yet humorous.

Chapter 2 excavates Singapore’s system and its flaws (in her eyes). She introduces various local terms and dialects; reminded me on how stiff and inflexible the ‘rules’ are, but also how efficient they can be: “There are a lot of things we don’t agree with, but for their seriousness and speed in development, there’re a few things we should learn for our countries” (For Immediate Response, hal. 80); and makes us gape on how indifferent the people appear to be. Yes, it is frustrating when tenants don’t know their own neighborhood, when asking doesn’t help much. Prinsip “malu bertanya sesat di jalan” hanya berlaku di negeri sendiri rupanya.

Shortly after Chapter 3, my interest loosened as the momentum dissipates. Chapter 4? Mmmm… Only “Ujan Batu di Negeri Orang” raised my tension up a little bit by realizing that the living costs in Singapore is comparable to those in Indonesia. Singapore is more advanced and developed and everything than Indonesia, but that doesn’t make it less pricey to survive in Indonesia. I have no idea if she has such a great memory since it was a long chat! It also proves how quick-thinking and clever she is, ‘membela’ Indo sebegitu bersemangat dan berapi-apinya.

The tension is built up too early and isn’t maintained long enough so that the book goes downhill in the middle. After all the nitty gritty stories, witty retorts, and love-hate relationship with Singapore she takes a sudden turn toward endlessly “bashing Singapore”. Uncensored. She throws everything in front of her, writing down every single opinion she has, unfairly stereotyping. Her definition of Singapore is based exclusively on her experiences. She starts using complicated sentences and wording choices which, regardless how grammatically correct they might be, are difficult to apprehend and follow. By the time i came to the real end, i was already exhausted. It was an anticlimax of an anticlimax.

It’s a pity she included overwhelming subjective thoughts and opinions into what should have become a great reference and experience-sharing book. Those kinda kill the initial purpose of this book, thus (imo) its classification into “Reference” is misleading.

There is no such thing as perfect society or perfect person, yes? Yes, i know. But her poor judgment of the ‘perfect’ Singapore can easily apply to everything we deal in life. Nothing can be taken for granted. Not a place; not a person; not a first impression; and definitely not a three-day-two-night visiting experience.

I’d never reckon that we could have similar views of life in Singapore. Terlepas dari apakah ada drama fiktif yg dibumbuinya ke dalam buku semi-autobiografi-semi-curhat ini, Margie was indeed telling the truth. I still believe she had fun in Singapore although she didn’t acknowledge it here. Akan menarik jika ia mem-follow-up buku After Orchard dengan buku yg berisi pengalamannya bersekolah dan bekerja di Indonesia. Membeberkan kebobrokkan sistem yg ada atau hal remeh temeh lainnya macam J-walking atau nyerobot ga antri. Sekadar perbandingan, gitu. Beranikah?

_
Rating: 3/5
By Margareta Astaman
Penerbit: Kompas, 2010
Genre: “Reference”, Memoar

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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