Revelations

This week has been so hectic that my Saturday felt like a Sunday. Why? Well, I studied pretty much the whole day, and Saturdays aren’t meant for studying…Sundays are. I got a lot of stuff done though, so no regrets there.

As usual, this post is going to be rather stream-of-consciousness-ish. It’s very random. You have been warned.

Algorithms Team Contest

I can’t help but start by sharing my joy with you all. My Algorithms class has this intriguing Team Contest thingamajig where you’re put into teams of 4 or 5, and then they give you 22 problems, ranging from easy ones like “Prove why a set of n elements has 2^n subsets” to harder ones like “Find the median between two sorted lists in O(log n) time”. You then compete with other teams and present your solutions under a 3-minute limit. Every person has to present one problem, and each problem can only be presented once. The thing is, you don’t know which team gets to go first, so you don’t know which problem you’ll get to present, which leads to a high level of stress and anxiety during the days leading up to the team contest. Like, seriously, I’m not even joking. The problems themselves might not have been as challenging as the usual pair homework problems, but there’s a ton of them, and you don’t know which ones you’re going to present, so you end up practicing a bunch of them, just in case someone else has already presented the problem you were going to present. I would literally go to bed thinking about the Team Contest, and I’m not gonna lie…I even dreamt about the Team Contest the night before. I don’t remember much about the dream, but I remember sitting in front of the white board, presenting my solution to my fellow classmates as well as TAs and professor.

The Team Contest went really well though. My team earned 145 out of 150 points! I ended up presenting the 22nd problem, which was supposedly one of the harder problems. Thankfully, I had spent an hour and a half earlier that day, preparing specifically for that problem. So when it was my turn to present, I walked in front of the whiteboard, and said, “Hi everyone, my name is Indira. “ Under the suggestion of my friend Danielle, I then uttered, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m feeling 22.” The whole class erupted into laughter. Okay, maybe not erupt, but they did laugh. Don’t get the joke? I made a Taylor Swift reference. Like all the other CS classes at Brown, each class has a theme, and the theme for my Algorithms class is something along the lines of “Taylor Swift and her boyfriends”. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would’ve probably heard TSwizz’ Feel Like 22 song. I did problem 22 on the board, so I said I’m feeling 22. GET IT?!

Okay. The best part about the presentation was that, the solution to the problem I presented turned out to not be the solution the TAs and professor was expecting. They were pretty…astounded (?) by the solution, and it seems like they didn’t really believe that it worked, but they couldn’t find any glaring flaws, so they couldn’t say I was wrong either. After I presented my solution, there was a pretty awkward one minute silence, as the TAs and professors tried to pierce my solution even deeper. I ended up getting 30 points out of 30, though, which is great! As I walked back to my seat to sit down, people started laughing, and I started laughing too. It was a pretty fun night.

Being culturally aware and politically knowledgable

Living abroad changes you a lot. It exposes you to different people, different environments, different ways of thinking, and different lifestyles. I hear that people in general resist change, but I like this. I love learning about other cultures. In fact, I relish this. And you know what’s so cool about the world we live in? We are all so interconnected to each other, and it makes learning about other cultures much, much easier. And I love it.

For my current BPR project, I’m working on an animated update about the protests in Hong Kong. I’m pretty ashamed to say that I wasn’t fully aware of Hong Kong’s relationship with China, but I am now. I mean, I don’t know the complete ins and outs, but at least now I understand the reasoning behind the protests.

Not sure whether you’ve watched it yet, but recently, Reza Aslan, a prominent muslim figure as well as religious scholar, was called to CNN to engage in a debate in response to Bill Maher’s rant on Islam. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I suggest you do. It kind of makes me ashamed that, as a muslim myself, I’m not very knowledgeable on it, but at the same time, it inspires me to dig deeper and learn more about what Islam teaches, and what it means to be a muslim. Anyway, watch it. It’s good.

Hari Batik Nasional

INCH in Batiks!
INCH in Batiks!

This past Thursday, Indonesia celebrated Hari Batik Nasional, which translates to National Batik Day. Now, what is a batik, you might ask. It’s essentially a wax slash dyeing technique used to create wonderful traditional clothing in Indonesia, as well as other parts of the world. In 2009, UNESCO designated the Indonesian batik as a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, and ever since, we’ve commemorated this proud moment by wearing batiks every 2nd of October. In fact, in Indonesia, we also have “Batik Friday”, which, as the name suggests, urges people to wear batiks. Some schools actually have rules enforcing their students to wear batiks on Friday.

I think this is great. As an Indonesian, I’m very proud to be part of such a rich cultural heritage, and I hope to play a part in preserving it, and sharing it with the rest of the world. Sometimes I wonder how, the fourth largest country, third largest democracy in the world as well as most populous Muslim country, could be so unknown and foreign to others? I think of ‘tiny’ (in comparison to Indonesia) countries like Denmark and Switzerland where, despite their diminutive size, have so much influence in world politics. I want Indonesia to be respected in the eyes of other countries.

Indonesia scrapes direct election

Speaking of Indonesia, let’s talk about the proposed electoral reform. In case you’re unfamiliar with Indonesian politics (I have to admit I’m not the most knowledgeable on it either), here’s the thing: on Friday, 25th of September 2014, the outgoing parliament voted to scrap direct election for local officials, and thus, revert back to the electoral system under the rule of Suharto. It’s a setback in democracy, and people are going crazy about it. This is not good. We’re the third largest democracy in the world, but if we really are going to scrape direct elections, then what kind of a democracy are we? I’ve heard about SBY signing a new regulation in hopes of reverting this change, but it seems like more of a move to scavenge any pieces of support he has left. After the incident on 25th of September, the hashtag #ShameOnYouSBY and #ShamedByYouSBY were trending on Twitter, and I can understand why. Do you really expect to pull voting rights from 160 million voters in Indonesia without a fight?

Egyptian Pyramids

Panorama of the Pyramids of Giza Photo by Matt Wan
Panorama of the Pyramids of Giza
Photo by Matt Wan
Khafre's Pyramid and Sphinx in Giza Photo by Ian Robertson
Khafre’s Pyramid and Sphinx in Giza
Photo by Ian Robertson

Okay, I’m done with my ranting now. Let’s talk about the Great Pyramid of Giza and King Khufu and King Tut’s tomb and all that. I had my first midterm (first? Shouldn’t there only be one midterm? Nah, apparently not!) this Friday. I studied like crazy for it and my hands got super sore from writing so much. I better get a good grade for that. But anyway, my Egyptian Archaeology class makes me want to visit Egypt so much! I wanna go to Egypt and be in awe of Khufu’s Pyramid. I mean, look at this thing. It held the record for the tallest man-made structure for 3,800 years, and it was built so perfectly that the sides only varied by 4.5cm. I mean, whoa dude. This is definitely going on my bucket list.

Eid al-Adha

Last but not least, I wish everyone out there a meaningful, blessed and wonderful Eid. I will be praying Eid tomorrow at 9am, so I should probably head to sleep now. Also, for my Jewish friends, happy Yom Kippur!

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