Calgary-Canmore-Banff: Into the Wilderness

Summer Break Journal #2
On the road, 19 May 2016

Longhorn Sheep just chilling out! Taken with Fujifilm X-T10

“Guys, I want a photo in the middle of the road on the rockies, its been one of my dream since we were in Halifax.” Suddenly I open the conversation in our road trip car, Scott’s hip-hop music has been occupied his car the whole ride and I started to enjoy his kind of music.

“Do you have $10 Canadian with you, Dini?”

“Why is that?”

“Look at the photo in that money, we will pass that view in a second. You can have the photo in that street, its one of the Rockies landmark. With the train rail, the beautiful lake and Rockies surrounding.”

View at $10 Canadian Dollar money. Taken with Fujifilm X-T10

And not only that I am getting the photo in the middle of the Rockies road, we got a bonus by witnessing longhorn sheep enjoying the sunny afternoon in front of the lake. There are main wild animals in the Rockies that people might encounter if we were lucky: longhorn sheep, moose, caribou, deer, back bear, grizzly bear, mountain goat.

One of beautiful stop between Canmore and Banff
Our new friend just showing up. Taken with Fujifilm X-T10

I witness one of it in our second day of the road trip.

Canadian Rockies are the place where human, wild animals, and nature can live together. I am feeling back to the past centuries. Welcome to the wilderness culture..

Mountain goats showing up at the hill in Banff
Panorama view between Canmore and Banff
Lake Minewanka, Banff National Park
Into the wilderness with our car.. 
Another pose on the road! 


Tentang Berlari

Hari ini pertama kalinya aku berlari dengan Nike+ Running Club (NRC) Boston bersama beberapa kawan di Boston yang memang suka lari. Akhirnya bertemu dengan Coach Ally yang sebelumnya ketemu dan ngobrol tidak sengaja di Instagram. Kami berlari dari jam 6.34 PM hingga sekitar satu jam kemudian dan karena di jam pulang kantor, kita jadi perhatian banyak orang yang kita lewati. “Runners is in da house!!!” teriak salah seorang fans Celtics di depan TD Garden yang sangat penuh fans Celtics karena sedang ada game.

Rute 6 miles sore ini

Rute 6 miles dimulai dari Nike store di Newburry Street lalu stretching di taman dekat Newburry dan mulai berlari menembus Boston Public Garden – Boston Common – melewati beberapa area Freedom Trail hingga akhirnya menuju daerah TD Garden dan Bunker Hill – kemudian kembali melewati Charles River, Beacon Street dan akhirnya sampai juga di Nike store.

Stretching before the run. Photo by Andrea

Ada sesuatu di dalam berlari yang membuatku sangat bahagia ketika melakukannya. Ketika berlari dengan lebih banyak orang, sejauh ini membuatku lebih bahagia. Berlari dengan musik, membuatku lebih bahagia lagi. Berhenti di tengah berlari dan diam sejenak melakukan meditasi 5-10 menit di tengah pepohonan Chesnut Hill Reservoir atau Dock Charles River, membuat damai itu terasa semakin ada.

Tidak bisa aku jelaskan dengan baik apa sesuatu yang membuatku bahagia, seperti apa yang aku pelajari dari kelas Zen Meditation pagi ini, tentang berlari, tidak bisa kamu jelaskan dengan orang lain. Tentang berlari, harus kamu rasakan sendiri lalu kamu akan mengerti apa itu.

Semoga aku tidak akan pernah kehilangan perasaan sesuatu tentang berlari ini. Merasa bahagia dengan hanya berlari, dimanapun kaki ini akan berpijak.

Some of running buddies tonight inside Nike Store as the start & finish. Taken by Lucy

Allowing Questions

Today is my last Zen Meditation class with Mark Houghton. In my opinion, the last 2 class (last week and today) is the best class. Last week, we were partnering with one of our friend and we have to take turn being the guide & person who close the eyes. I start to close my eyes and my guide will walk me to wherever he/she want to go, I cannot open my eyes. Just following and feel it. So my guide bring me across the street from our gym where the zen meditation located and walk to Amory Park. I can smell the freshness of the nature, dogs barking, people chatting, laughing and walking. Maybe they feel that we are so weird. Why there is one people closing the eye and the other guiding it. Or maybe they feel that one of us blind and one of us guiding. We don’t care what other think about us, we just enjoying the moment, being in the present.

I dip my feet into Charles River water with the glowing sunset around!

Today, we are doing the regular practice starting at noon (12.00) to do breathing continue with relaxation (and Mark read the story about life wisdom) then sitting meditation. After that, we do the activity in a group as usual. But this time, we do it together with the whole class. Mark ask us several question that we need to answer and instead of explaining the answer, we found out that its more important to attain it – experience it – and feel it together so that we are all to be in the same page and in the same feeling. I also learn this from the Cambridge Zen Center where they have Dharma Talk and when someone ask complicated questions, the Zen master just hit the floor with the one hand, “Katzz!” and we are all in the same room can feel and being in the same moment together. Mark did this practice today. He also bring cup of tea and ask question, “Is it a cup of tea or what?” and how do we answer that? We found out that to answer that is simply attain the cup of tea, drink it and feel it. That is the practice about zen and “before thinking”. Allowing our mind to attain the experience instead of trying to explain it with thinking or understanding.

In the end of the class, Mark give his last sentence, and to me, this is really true:

Naturally, as a human being, we tend to life narrower. As we grow older, we push out things that we do not like and narrow our life to only things that we like. If you ask an old man 70, 80, 90 years old.. their life become narrower. It does not matter what practice or religion that you have, whether you are christian – practicing yoga – practicing meditation – muslim – and other, but you have to hold into something that can help you to pull out things that make you overwhelmed and narrow it down.

So, it also not about answering the questions you have but allowing that questions to come into your mind and attain it, experience it.

The take out from my Zen meditation class this Spring semester is short:
I want to live simpler. Narrower. As I grow older.

Capture by Andrea (Fujifilm X-T10), Sunset talk at Charles River



Mahmoud & His “Backbay Fens Garden”

Today I join Michaela, a friend from Boston University (BU) who are doing reporting on “The Fens” or “Backbay Fens Garden”. She will do a photo reporting to support her friend article for campus magazine. Then, we turn this session into our first photo hunting session! Mick (her nickname) is using her Canon 70D and I am using my Fujifilm X-T10. I ask my friend Arlin (Indonesian studied at Berklee) who use Sony Alpha 7 II and Ann (classmate from Taiwan) who use her Canon EOS M3.





Its funny our BU campus is close to this Fens but I never come down and explore it. The Fens is part of “The Emerald Necklace” which is the green belt around Boston consist of Backbay Fens, Jamaica Ponds, The riverway, Olmsted Park,  Arnold Arboretum, Franklin Park, Parkways. You can find more about this cool program here:

Starting in 1878, Olmsted’s challenge in the Back Bay was to restore a stagnant saltwater marsh that flooded and threatened public health. Combining landscape architecture with sanitary engineering, Olmsted’s efforts transformed a foul-smelling tidal creek and swamp into a scenic pool within wooded banks; gaining interest from the meandering course of the water. Olmsted renamed the area the Back Bay Fens.

In 1910, the damming of the Charles River turned the Fens into a freshwater marsh. Over time, noted landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff added new features such as ball fields and the Kelleher Rose Garden employing the more formal landscape style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Within the Fens, The Shattuck Visitor Center, originally designed by H. H. Richardson as a pump station to control water flow in the Back Bay Fens, now serves as the headquarters of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. You will also find the oldest remaining wartime “Victory Garden” planted by citizens in 1941 during World War II to provide much needed fruits and vegetables. Today it is a well-loved community garden. The World War II, Vietnam and Korean War Memorial, behind the Kelleher Rose Garden, is a favorite picnic site for area residents while the playground at Mother’s Rest attracts children from the neighborhood and beyond.






It turns out to be a very great photo hunting and walk to the Fens Gardens with the warm and lovely weather from 4-6pm. I love the changing of the season from winter to spring where we can witness flowers blooming, smell of the crisp of the wood chip along the side road, slowly the leafs are coming out with the different colors, and the day getting longer as the sunset will go down around 7.30 pm. Walking around The Fens give me a very simple happiness to spoiled my eyes with the beautiful flowers, plantations, rabbit around – my ears with the sound of the birds singing above us – my nose with the fresh smell from the garden – and my skin with the warm sun.

Then four of us wandering around taking photographs around the gardens. Good to know that four of us not a selfie kind of person, so we are busy capturing the nature around us, not ourself and the scenery lol.




“Assalamau’alaikum!” suddenly a man with his hat call me and with the his hand waving ask me to come to his garden. No, he did not sell anything in the garden, none of the people here sell things. I answer his greeting but still continue taking photo of cute rabbit in front of me. Mick is coming to see him and greet him.

“Dini, come here!” Mick ask me to come with her as this man started to say another greeting in Arabic

“Hey, nice garden. How long you work here?” I come to see him

“Well, I did not work here.  This is my garden.”


That was my first encounter with Mahmoud. He come from Egypt and been in Boston quite sometime. He used to teach Rowing at BU Boathouse along the Charles River 7 years ago and he is so welcoming. We spend the next 15 – 20 minutes talk with him and he bring us come in to his garden, very cute one and ask us to come again when the flowers already all blooming.

“Come here again because now it still not all blooming and I don’t have my soda or snack with me.” Mahmoud said with his smiling face, inviting us to hanging out in his garden again later.

“Yeah, I would love too! Im gonna be here in the summer. I will definitely come back and bring chips so we can enjoy the beautiful garden.” I said to him and the other girls are also agreeing to do the same. Before we left, Mahmoud said that he is a photographer as well (after notice that we are doing photo hunting here) and he want to have our photo in front of his garden and as a turn, we want to have his portrait photo in front of his garden 🙂

Mahmoud and his garden. Isn’t that cool how you can see Prudential Tower from here, its like this Fens Garden being the green belt for the Boston modern buildings

I love how people can be so nice to you even though you just met. Stranger that suddenly become your friend. Not everyone in Boston is like Mahmoud but I still feel like Boston has a lot of people that is so friendly and welcoming like him. Today, there is a spark in my heart, I am in love with this city when it gets warmer like this and there are a lot of people going out to appreciate the sun, and the nature is just starting showing its beauty again. This is my first Spring in Boston and I have a feeling that I am gonna love it and miss it 🙂

Mick – Me – Ann – Arlin in front of his garden. Photography by Mahmoud with Fuji X-T10
On our way from The Fens to “Neighborhoods Crepery” at Fenway, strolling around the blooming neighborhood.

Gradschool Life #3: 7 Months, 1.5 Semester, 8 Courses, Infinity Experiences


Today marking my exactly 7 months living in Boston since I arrived in 27 August 2015. Time flies really fast maybe faster than the speed of light if we really feel it. This month is halfway of Spring semester, the second semester in my gradschool life. My feeling about the school experience not much different than last semester; I enjoy it a lot. However, I feel that my course last semester is more challenging (in a way bring more interesting discussion & perspective) than this semester.

This semester, I decided to take 4 courses:

  1. Eco-Tourism by Prof. Samuel Mendlinger
  2. Services: Quality, Delivery, and Productivity by Prof. Robert Billington
  3. Planning and Operating New Venture by Prof. Steve Leybourne
  4. E-Commerce by Prof. Kip Becker

After half way to go, my most favorite class is the Eco-Tourism with Prof. Mendlinger, the Head of our Economic Development & Tourism Management Department. I always admire his way of teaching and his knowledge of everything about “tourism & its economic development” all over the world. The way he teach is very intriguing and always left us with more questions than answers. We discover a lot of case studies around the world in this semester course on Eco-Tourism from Annapurna conservation area in Nepal, wildlife conservation in Africa, Curry County, Fort Edmonton Park, Greek Archipelagos, Balearic Islands, Cyprus & Malta, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Safari Tourism, Australia, Font & Mihalic, South Africa & Kenya, etc.

Even though we use the textbook of David Weaver’s Ecotourism, a lot of time he also mention that his perspective on developing Ecotourism somewhat different with Weaver and he leave us with an open discussion on which perspective we agree on. Prof. Mendlinger view is more into the Realist or responsible tourism where putting economic development of the local as the first priority on top of the nature as this has been always been a dilemmatic option. He believe that it is based on the appreciation of nature and sustainable economic development which can make money and create wealth and jobs for local people while still seeking to protect the local environment and respect the local people. Weaver point of view is more into Ideologues or alternative tourism where the first priority or concern is to preserve the nature on top of the local population development.

In the end, our final project is developing an Ecotourism site somewhere in the world which follow the protocol and the tool that we learn during the whole course.

So many times, even since last semester, Prof. Mendlinger always mention that we did not learn hospitality in this major. We learn about tourism and economic development. That is two different thing. Our goal is to develop an asset in places that is already there or create a new alternative to bring the development of the people and their place through tourism, sometime they also call this “the making of place”.

Therefore we have three clients in study this area: Tourist (create an experience not just service as in classical mass tourism), Local population (create jobs and economic development), and Future (preserving the environment and place).


The “Services” class with Prof. Billington make us learn about how important service as the competitive advantages in the business and we discover from many case study around the world about good and bad services in business. Discussion in class vary from sharing our own service experience, discover innovative companies with excellent customer experience, differences in culture every country in terms of services and doing business, and also talk about the failure of some companies in service recovery.

“Planning & Operating New Venture” with Prof. Steve is for me like a continuity from Innovation class that I had last semester. We learn more detail here about developing new venture, pitch the business idea to investor, securing funding, managing team, and other. In the end, we have to present our team business project proposal with the thorough business plan.

“E-Commerce” with Kip Becker complete the above courses as it is teach us about how to develop an e-commerce business, learning from the good and the bad, presenting our own project and various case study in a group work. The discussion in the class are also interesting as we have various International background students with their own country’s leading e-commerce business.

This semester,  I also started to work with Prof. Barry Unger as his Graduate Research Assistant in the area of Innovation process.


During this 1.5 semester, I discover that:
I love writing a paper more than doing in-class exam
I enjoy classes with more people brave to speak up their mind
I am still a procrastinator, always
We have more International than Americans in the classroom
Building a good relationship & discussion with your Professor is always great

and last but not least,
Its not the courses, classroom, getting assignment perfect, or the grade… but its the experience outside the classroom, the relationship you build with your classmate & professor, the network you invest, the process of learning, the new perspective you gain, the living experience as an International student in the city that did not speak your language or living your culture,

…..all those things beyond the classroom, beyond the wall, that will make your gradschool journey outside your country become more valuable and interesting. That is more expensive than the school tuition. If we can take the most out of it, I am sure this will be a life-changing experience that not only will change your perspective become more open minded but also leaving a footprint in yourself that you will remember in your whole life.


Being Minority Make You More Respect


How does it feels to be a minority?

I never really feel it until I am living by myself here in the US – surviving graduate school and living in the US. In Indonesia, I always part of majority society. Being a muslim, wearing Hijab, born and raise in Java island, getting into public college, working in Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) after graduate from college. Very typical majority Indonesian in a country where 90% of the population are muslim even though we are not a muslim country who applied Sharia law as a national law.

One way to also feel being a minority is when you travel to a place which have none of your people. You are the only people standing in the room in your race, background, and religion – for example. But if you travel, maybe you do not really feel it because you can just move to the next destination which bring more comfort to you, which you can see more common food and culture like what you have at home.

Lately, I feel not comfortable hearing some issue where the minority society have to be controlled by the majority people. The best example to put it is a lot of rejection on LGBT community in Indonesia that become the hot topic lately. The question that always come in my mind is that, “Do they ever feel to be that LGBT people, being pressured by the society? Do they ever hang out with them and try to understand what their feeling? Do they ever consider that we are all the same human being?”. I feel that a lot of judgement and hatred create by the majority instead of minority society. Just because they have a lot more people who agree on A idea, does not mean they can killed the B idea and not respect them at all.


Being majority is somehow dangerous. You have a lot of support from the other and your action sometime caused just because by what the other did. Not truly from what you feel or you wanna do. You can also can easily made judgement and supported by your majority people. Your behavior driven by what the majority do.

Being majority is tricky. Your opinion can be heard easily in the public but sometime its bias to understand exactly if the opinion right or wrong. Because sometime what most of the society think its right – it become right. Even though its actually wrong.

Being majority is being in a comfort zone. And some people do not wanna get out from the comfort zone. Ever. Just because they are afraid to face the uncomforted feeling of minority.

But, have you ever wanna try and feel being a minority? 

Being a minority teach you a lot to see the other people perspective that you will never see it if you are in the majority pool. That feeling when you finally said to yourself, “Oh, this is how the feeling of being a minority”, or in my case, I become more understand how harder it is to be a non-muslim in Indonesia, for example.

Being a minority is not comfortable but that is where you learn the most. When you get out from your comfort zone and grow yourself. Understand yourself better. Not driven by your majority people.

Being a minority is a gift that you have to be blessed. Because with that, it increase your empathy to the other as you feel how hard it is to be different with the majority. Thus, it will eventually lead you to have more respect to the other and not easily being judgmental to people.

What does it means to be minority?

It means you will always have an interesting perspective to see the world differently and trust me, you will be more open minded if you can see it this way.

So, to every minority in the world, lets not feel sad and bad. We are all should embrace the differences and change the way the majority think to be less judgmental, not easily assuming, and we can create the world the same place for everyone. No major or minor. It just different. It just all the same human being. It just beautiful.

And do not get me wrong, I put my respect even higher to every “majority” society who can act like the “minority”.  I encounter with some of these beautiful people in my life (even though not a lot of them) and I have my full respect to all of them 🙂

I found this interesting poster as a part of campaign from Wellesley College Muslim Society (Al Muslimat) with the hashtag #UnderstandingIslamMonth2016