I was doing my usual mindless scrolling on Twitter when I saw KLa Project’s tweet about their song “Yogyakarta”.
KLa Project is one of the seniors in Indonesia music industry. Their songs and albums holding legendary status among Indonesians.
One of their songs is “Yogyakarta”. Yogyakarta is a special district/area in Indonesia, and Indonesians usually associate Yogyakarta with “memories”; from fond memories to bittersweet ones. Apart from being a district, Yogyakarta is actually a city too, and the city is the topic of the song. Yogyakarta is special in many senses. It still upholds the traditions while the city keeps moving through urban development here and there. In its own ways, Yogyakarta holds mythical feelings of fleeting moments.
For Indonesiamatticians, this song is memorable. We sang this song one morning, one of those days during the company’s latest Grand Meetup in Florida, back in 2019. There were only a handful of us at that time in Automattic. There were only five Indonesians, me included, in Automattic. We are a tight-knit group, thick as thieves. We promised to sing this song again when we meet on the next Grand Meetup — then, you know, pandemic and all that. Now, whenever one of us mentioned this song, it always replied with groans and some frustrated text, “DANGIT WHEN THIS PANDEMIC GONNA END.”
We were jetlagged, it was 5.30 AM in the morning, none of us had our coffee or tea yet, some even haven’t slept since the night before, I woke up with barrage of messages on the Telegram group “OI! WAKE UP! WE ARE HAVING JAM SESSION!” and one of us, Eric, struck a chord followed by impromptu singing by Hafiz. Akeda and Ezra followed with guitar and bass.
For 4 minutes, “Yogyakarta” was heard in Florida, United States, sang by a bunch of sleep-deprived Indonesians. For 4 minutes, it became a memory.
It’s your usual midnight blog post; when you got yourself stay awake in the middle of the night and social media is too weird (and too angry) for you to check.
I suddenly remember the times when I went to Florida, USA, for Automattic’s Grand Meetup back in 2019.
For me personally, it was one of the highlights.
We have strawberries here in Malaysia — we even have some locally grown.
The local ones are nice, but to have the good quality ones — I called it Driscoll’s quality — is really hard and expensive. 250 grams (one medium pack) of Driscoll strawberries cost you 50 MYR (11 USD-ish). I rarely buy them, and when I did, I always hide it from my kids. The strawberries look like the ones you see on TV and magazines. Plump, round, and really sweet.
During GM 2019, we stayed in Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista — and I found out they have a minimarket inside the hotel (shoutout to fellow Automatticians for showing me around when I arrived at the hotel.)
I passed some shelves, looking for cup noodles, when my eyes saw the fridge area. There they were, stacked neatly, boxes and boxes of strawberries. Plump, round, and sweet strawberries.
I checked the price.
In Malaysian Ringgit, it would be 8 MYR.
It took every fibre on my being to not put out my arm up front and push all the boxes into my shopping basket.
I got two boxes, and I think I skipped on my way to my room, feeling happy.
Also, much to my delight, I noticed strawberries are part of daily breakfast menu during the GM. I always made sure I took some strawberries on my plate before I got myself pancakes or toasts with jam.
TIL Strawberries are not berries
… eggplants, tomatoes and avocados are botanically classified as berries. And the popular strawberry is not a berry at all.
And when you finally finally meet the awesome people.
When folks found out last week’s GM was my first GM, they usually ask, “so how is it so far? The GM?”
“Overwhelmed — in both nuances.
Before, it was only you, your laptop, and an external monitor. Next thing you know, on the GM, humans. Humans everywhere.”
And getting starstruck repeatedly.
Here’s the thing about working with folks you have been looking up to since your trial days: You got busy wondering what to tell them when you finally meet them. You wondered how to approach them (“hey, I’m Retno! Thank you for always helping me on Slack channels!”) You were so sure, so optimistic, that you could meet them, shake their hands, or do some fist-bumps, and go “hey yeah, you are awesome” no problem.
Some of Indonesiamatticians and Malaysiamatticians traveled together from Malaysia to United States with layover in Amsterdam. This was my first major long-haul flight and sure enough, I got disoriented once we touched down in AMS.
Once we able to agree on what day is today when we arrived in Amsterdam (Monday. “You sure today is not Sunday?” “It’s Monday.” “IT’S TUESDAY— wait.” “Monday.”), we checked in on YotelAIR transit hotel.
It was pretty nice; at least we got place to straighten our legs and brushed our teeth. I decided to stroll around and visited Rijksmuseum in the airport. Unfortunately, though, the museum closed for maintenance.
I was bummed; I decided to venture a bit more and did one thing I’m pretty good at: Eating.
Funny thing about Dutch culinary, it feels like home. 3.5 centuries of colonialization by the Dutch on Indonesia’s soil guaranteed to embed some influences from the Dutch to Indonesia — Poffertjes itself is no stranger on Indonesians. Have a visit to Bandung, West Java (Indonesia), and you will be able to taste the same poffertjes.
From Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, it took 12 hour 40 minutes. We had 9 hours of layover in Amsterdam. Then 10 hours 13 minutes from Amsterdam to Orlando.
The last 4 hours on the plane were basically me holding every inch of fibre in my body to not to go to the cockpit cabin and ask “are we there yet are we there yet are we there yet” ad inifinitum ad nauseaum.
“We! Are! Above! Atlanta! Can! We! Just! Go! Down! To! Orlando! Faster!” — me to my sleep-deprived colleague.
We arrived in the evening on our hotel, and sure enough, the cold blast of air conditioner greeted us when we stepped in from Orlando’ warm humid evening air.
Kennedy Space Center
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a dream of becoming an astronaut. The start of the dream was a cap with NASA logo on it. She never knew where the cap came from — and it got lost when she moved house — but from young age, she always wanted to go to space.
That is, until she realized she never been that smart, considering her Physics and Mathematics grades tend to make her re-do most of the lessons again and again.
Anyway, the dream is still there.
And nope, I don’t think you can see from the picture that I jumped and skipped hops when I entered the gate of Kennedy Space Center.
And I might or might not trying to acquire lunar rock by using illegal means AHEM.
The Grand Meetup
I didn’t took many pictures during the GM; I hope it’s okay with you folks. There are moments where I took pictures but I decided to, “naaaah… Not this one,” so… Yeah.
This is one of the highlights, though.
Years before, well, more than a decade ago, I learned web design and web development from my peers. We were self-sufficient back then; not many resources available as much as we have now, but we had — and still have — opinion leaders, thinkers, and folks with voices and platforms to voice up their concerns, opinions, and thoughts.
I don’t know where to begin, honestly. He voiced up and shared his thoughts on building a better web. He spearheaded web standards that we all know and use now. He’s the brain behind Markdown, for eff sake.
When Matt shared the news that THE Jeffrey Zeldman joining Automattic, I screamed in front of my laptop. Hafiz pinged me with, “YOOOOOOOOOOO!” And for 5 minutes, I guess I hyperventilated.
Fast forward to the GM; it was dinner time. I took a plate filled with beans, chili, and salad no problem, then walked to my assigned table. Only one seat left. I pulled my chair and ready to sit when a man next to my chair looked up, took a quick glance on my name tag, and smiled. “Hi! I’m Zeldman!”
Error 404: Brain Not Found
I gaped like a goldfish, fumbled my words between “nice to meet you” and “how are you” and “I WOULD WALK TO HELL, SLAP LUCIFER ON HIS FACE, AND RUN BACK WHILE BEING CHASED BY CERBERUS FOR YOU” and nearly dropped my dinner and handphone in the process.
Here’s the thing about awesome folks, okay? Here’s the thing:
They listen to you. They listen to you as if you are the only one matter in this whole world. We chatted, and I’m dead sure I struggled as I try to find words and build coherent sentences (NINDYA, CAN YOU ENGLISH?) but these folks, these awesome folks of Automattic, they listen to you, they asked you questions, and they shared their thoughts and opinions with certain elegance and class.
That also happened with Matt Mullenweg as I approached him, terrified to my wit’s ends, to ask for a wefie.
And that goes beyond with other Automatticians. So many, so many, awesome folks around. I always thought Grand Meetup would be one week of formalities and packed schedules.
Yes, it was packed, but we have endless fun.
And these folks, these folks are my Gibraltar rocks.
Indonesiamatticians; woke up at 5 AM and decided to jam it out on Jamming Room — yelled, “OI! WHAT SONG DO YOU WANT?” As I entered the room, just woke up, at 6 AM.
Ivan, my buddy during my first months in Automattic — and still a person I go to with weird pings; from Support sessions to Slovakia’s haunted castles.
Then it’s time to go home
Good news, though: Rijksmuseum at Schiphol opens after several days of maintenance.