Book Review # 3 – Just call me Kartini

Book Title: Panggil Aku Kartini

Writer: Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Genre: Biography and History

Year: 1962 (12th Printed in January 2018)

Published by: Lentera Dipantara

Pages: 291 pages


Panggil Aku Kartini Saja (Just Call Me Kartini) is one of a masterpiece which wrote by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Who does not know him? An Indonesian author of novels, essays, stories which was not only talking about the struggle of Indonesia until the independence, the Dutch and Japan colonialism but his writings talked everything about his life, his experiences in the prison and how bad our former Indonesian Government treated him back then.

He got imprisoned several times, he was caught up, he got censored, he got branded as a communist just because of his political criticisms on his writings, although he was very vocal as well against the colonialism, racism and corruption of the Government. But he never stops to write, he never stops to criticize what was wrong with the Government. The man was born on February 6, 1925, in Blora, Java was the toughest and the most intelligent human I ever knew.

Indonesia should be very proud to have him as a great writer as well as one of the witnesses in Indonesia’s history.

Among of his works, that I would like to explore more on this 3rd book review on my blog is a book which revealed who is Kartini and how she could live and ‘survived’ during the Dutch colonialism era.

We definitely saw movies and read all the books and biographies that talked about Kartini, the Indonesian national hero as well as a feminist woman who was fighting for gender equality and women’s rights in Indonesia. As one of a daughter of the Regent of Jepara, made her have had a chance to go to the school, unlike any other Indonesian women.

Kartini - Heroine Pramoedya Ananta Toer- traitor
Source: Pinterest

In this book, Pram, which often called by this nickname, tried to describe the history of Kartini, her family roots, the situation of the Dutch colonialism and the Javanese culture itself. Born as a half-native and half-aristocratic Javanese family with a strong intellectual tradition made her allowed by her family to attend school until she was 12 years old.

Her name was allegedly given by her biological mother, Ngasirah. According to the wayang (Indonesian puppet) tradition, a father only gave names to his sons and there is no name left for girls at that time. And this wayang stories could not be separated from the way of Javanese living and even often became a framework of thinking, moral and psychological patterns.

Furthermore, this book also explained how the Javanese traditional culture was shaped Kartini during her childhood, whereas she had through all customary ceremonies. And for Javanese people at that time, there were very important steps of life that cannot be allowed to pass without an official ceremony, such as; birth, maturity, marriage and death (pg. 53).

As she turned 6 years old, her father gave her privileges as embroidery lessons and occasional appearances in public for special events, she even went to Dutch School. The school such an eye opener for her about the Western culture which far different from hers.

“The girl who entered the school was the biggest betrayal of the Javanese customs and culture at that time.”

In particular, feudal girls and middle-class girls found It most difficult to leave their homes, where ordinary girls had to leave their homes to help their parents to work in a market and rice fields. But she always reminds all Indonesian girls that “We (as girls) have a right not to be stupid!” this quotes who always inspire Indonesian girls and women to prioritize their education above anything else.

Raden Ajeng Kartini, the pioneer for women's rights
Source: Pinterest

Kartini was always very excited to go to school and outside the house, but the discrimination against women did not stop there, Kartini was also received discriminatory treatment in her school which she received even from her teachers, such as the differentiation of her skin colour in her class. But at the age of 12 years, Kartini must enter pingitan (a period of seclusion), this pingitan started when a noblewoman started their menstruation and continued until a nobleman asked to marry her. She felt very down and sad as she cannot continue her school both in Batavia or even in the Netherlands. But she kept and continued to learn by herself. Her father was the only one that she can relay on almost about everything, she always respected him and her ancestors. Her father, Raden Mas (male nobility) Adipati Ario Sosroningrat was one of the 4 Regent in all of Java at that time who were educated in Europe.

The one and only thing she can do to keep herself productive was only by writing letters to her friend, Stella. She shared almost everything that she felt, more about her daily life. She also wrote a letter to Marie Ovink-Soer during her struggle to accept her seclusion, she was protesting the gender inequality in Javanese traditions such as women being forced to marry at a young age and denied from freedom to pursue an education. Hence, she got acquainted with Estell (Stella) Helena Zeehandelaar who eventually became her regular penpal.

She shared an overview to Stella how manners and politeness work in her family. For example, Kartini’s younger siblings cannot walk or run in front of her, except moving by using their knees position. If Kartini passed by her younger brothers and sisters were sitting in chairs, they have to come off the chair, sitting on the floor until their older sister walked away.

Kartini was always very close and had some Dutch friends ever since she was a kid. She was always eager and encourage herself to learn more about the European literature, especially to advance herself to understand more about the Western culture. Not merely because she wanted to be one of them, but she believed to be strong like a Westerner, she must hold what the European also controlled which among of them were science and knowledge. The Dutch language she learned, she used it as a tool to reach the European civilization. Kartini thought that Europe at that time was a reality, a strength, and a big potential that determines the history of mankind itself.

Besides learned the Dutch language, she and her two younger siblings, Kardinah and Rukmini, also learned French and Germany languages through several book writers, such as; Servas de Buijn, Moderne Maagden atau Perawan-perawan Modern wrote by Marcel Provost, a famous French romance author and drama about love and marital conflicts among the French bourgeoisie. Besides, a book about the women’s emancipation from Prevost’s book, Kartini also learned books that had never been abandoned in discussing the history of women’s emancipation, namely De Wapens Neergelegd (Die Wapen Nieder) or Sarungkan Senjata by Bertha von Suttner, a book about the struggle to win social peace in particular and a world peace in general.

Kartini was not only concern in the area of the gender equality for women but also problems of her society. Kartini felt and saw that the struggle for Indonesian women to obtain their freedom was very real.

Unfortunately, she had to cancel her scholarship to continue to study in the Netherlands, because her parents arranged her marriage to Joyodiningrat, the Regent of Rembang who already had three wives and 12 kids. She did that just because she was very respected with her father and also her husband fulfilled her promises to supported her desire to develop the woodcarving industry in Jepara and the school for native women in Rembang.

But all of her dreams came to an end, just because of her death due to complication after giving a birth to her only children, Raden Mas Soesalit. She died at a very young age of 25 years. Since then, all of her struggles to defend and promote a better education for all girls and women in Indonesia has started and she is well-known as a pioneer of women’s emancipation in Indonesia.

Another culture (which involve the customs, traditions and religion) that became the most basic and main problem of Indonesian women nowadays is where the oppression against the Indonesia women. For example, the matter of ‘forced marriage’ and the issue of polygamy which Kartini must undergo, which also comes from the Javanese traditional culture that had existed a long time before the Islam came in Indonesia. Polygamy is one of the links of women’s suffering, since long time ago until today. Kartini was one of the witnesses which the mixed practices have been carried out by her father and her own husband.

After her death, now every 21st of April, we all celebrate Kartini’s Day to commemorate her struggle to defend all Indonesian women who are still struggling to get a better education, to be more equal in front of the men.

In this book, Pramoedya has successfully brought us to Kartini’s world and felt her strong energy and strength which he brings to their loyal readers. He even very well explained all the historical background even before Kartini was born, feudalism experienced by Indonesian people, Kartini’s anxieties, Kartini’s letters and literary works which have completed with Kartini’s paintings, to Kartini’s mental condition and her love.

Journey to find the Köttbullar, Swedish Meatballs in Stockholm, Sweden

In 2015, I had a chance to go to Stockholm, Sweden, which for me, I never had a dream to go to such a beautiful city. I had a dream to Europe, but then I did not know much about this city and the country. What I really know about the country was… IKEA and their meatballs. Back to 2013, I really like to go to IKEA to bought some cool stuff for my home and my bedroom. But back then, the nearest IKEA that I could visit was only the one in Singapore. Since I was quite often visiting Singapore mostly for my work, so I went there maybe more than five times, either only for eating or bought some stuff.

I was so happy that my senior adviser in my office now, gave me the recommendation to join with one of the biggest Internet Forum which annually been held in Stockholm, Sweden. So, that time I was thinking maybe I should travel more to get to know the city, then I should have to go to the first and original IKEA once I am in Stockholm, Sweden. After long walked and get lost like for more than 2 hours just to find the IKEA shuttle bus in the city centre

And this what I’ve got…

Spent my first day in Stockholm with this delicious Swedish food

It was different taste with the one that I ate in Singapore last time, hahaha, of course! The meatballs were very tasteful with the Gräddsås (cream sauce), and I love their Lingonsylt (lingonberry jam), also the tasty Potatisimos (mashed potatoes)!

The tasty Köttbullar

The original meatballs usually used either pork or beef. My favourite, of course, the beef (since I don’t like pork, haha). The Swedish meatballs or köttbullar have been brought to Sweden by King Charles XII, after his exile in Istanbul in 1713. Meatballs and kebabs have long been a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and have been featured on 196 flavours numerous times. The Swedish word for meatball, köttbullar, first appeared in Swedish print a few decades later in Cajsa Warg’s 1754 cookbook. Anna Christina Warg, better known as Cajsa Warg, is one of the most famous cooks in Swedish history.

Then, they became popular in the United States after the immigration of Scandinavians to the northern Midwest States in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. During that period, more than 1.3 million Swedes migrated to the US.

Anyway, you should not have to go to IKEA only to eat the Köttbullar (like what I did before, lol) because, most of the restaurants in Stockholm or maybe in all over Sweden, also sell it! You even can also cook it by yourself, they also sell it as frozen food at the supermarket and you can find the Lingonsylt easily in IKEA!

This year I will have a chance to go to Stockholm again, and I will try to find another delicious köttbullar in one of the restaurants in there. Does anyone know where should I go? Please, leave your comment here! Tack!

*Tack, Swedish language means thank you!


Indonesian traditional snacks #1 – Kue Putu

Hello! Sorry, I’ve been busy this whole week with my full-time job, so I just have my time to write my blog post now. This time, I would like to introduce and to show you how much I really love this kind of Indonesian snack, as my first post about “Foodstruck“. In this section, I will talk more about my favourite food, snack, dessert, cafe, restaurant, or even junk food, which will make you tempted and droll enough only by seeing my pictures and read my explanation about the food.

So here we go!

Does anyone ever taste or knows about kue putu? 

My snack since I still in childhood!

Yup, that’s the kue putu!

Never underestimate the way Indonesian people steamed my favourite Indonesian snack all the times! I really love this kind of snack very much even since I am still 5 years old. And it will be more delicious to eat once it’s just steamed because you can taste the warm of the rice flour, coconut and the brown sugar which melted inside!

Oh, I really missed that taste!

Why it called kue putu and what does it means? Kue putu is a traditional cylindrical-shaped and green-colored steamed cake, which made of rice flour which sometimes they have two colours, like the green colour from the pandan leaf, filled with palm or brown sugar then usually they steamed it in the bamboo tube like you can see on the picture above and they served with grated coconut.

It’s quite surprising for me, that I just knew actually kue putu is not only sold in Indonesia, but it is also known and commonly found in another Southeast Asian countries, like in Malaysia and Philippines; as well as in the Netherlands which had colonial ties with Indonesia, as informed by one of my Dutch friend.

Trust me, I could eat many of kue putu instead of gorengan (Indonesian snack which goreng in Indonesia is fried). Of course, it because kue putu much healthier than gorengan!

Like 20 years ago, we can easily found kue putu were sold by someone who always pushed his cart and walked around our neighbourhood. But now, it’s extremely very rare to find the cart, moreover if you live in the capital city of Jakarta. Yes, you might still find it in some traditional markets and few street food stalls, but believe me… it is still very rare, hahaha.

I found this one in the picture when I visited Yogyakarta and stayed in Grand Aston Hotel. So, in front of the hotel, I found many street foods, which sometimes it will be a lil bit difficult to find it in Jakarta, one of them was the kue putu. So since I stayed there, I bought kue putu like for four times in a week.

And what I love the most about kue putu because they usually used natural sugar, rather than artificial sugar or sweetener. That is why it’s one of healthy Indonesian traditional snack! 😉

Pasar Beringharjo, Yogyakarta – Indonesia


Pasar Beringharjo or Beringharjo market is one of the famous traditional markets in Yogyakarta. Located in the Malioboro area and close to the Keraton. The front section has a wide range of inexpensive batik. There are also warungs (food stalls) which selling a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. There is also rempahrempah (spices) on the 1st floor. It’s open every day from 10 am to 4 pm. You need to bargain for the prices, and you will be surprised with the prices you will get! Happy shopping!