Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sa Pa

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After a 10 hours ride on the sleeper bus – a signature travelling style of Vietnam – I was finally at Sa Pa. The town of Sa Pa is a district in the northwestern province of Lao Cai, Vietnam and was indeed the awaited part of my journey of Southern China and Northern Vietnam.

Sa Pa is all about the warmth of people living in the cold weather, the minuscule human in the midst of nature’s vastness.

The town is awfully romantic and raw. It was filled with old buildings and local culture. Downtown area was landmarked with the old Sa Pa Church, only a few steps away from the town square. At the square, traditional Hmong tribes came in to the town from their nearby villages to conduct the morning market every day. Even when it drizzled with rain, they proceed their trade activity; selling crops, spices, and fresh roses. A traditional love market where boys and girls socialize in the pursue of love, took place every Saturday night.

Every morning, dew kissed the hotel’s window seal and mists fell on the top of Fan Si Pan. Even stormy days came with stories in their roar, about the war of the old warriors and the power of nature.

The yellow terrace rice fields that covered its valley gave sign of harvest season. In a month or two, winter would come. The soil would again be bare and vulnerable to the weather. Nature is taking its course. – Rassi Narika

Images were also taken by Dika Satya and Arif W. Brago. Thank you! xo, Rs.


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In Love with Textile and Travel

Her real name is Emyra Bianda Amangku, but friends call her Myra. She was born in May, the second child of three from a multi-cultural parents. Her father was Indonesian from the region of Serang and her mother was Indonesian-Dutch from the region of Menado and Ambon. Growing up, she has always been fond of adventure stories and making crafts, such as creating raffia wigs and dresses. It was a childhood trait that later on became a life long passion in travel and art.

Her eternally poised and calm demeanor conceals a profound and radical mind. She is exceptionally perceptive and bases many of her decisions on intuition. As part of the founding team of Tulisan, she has mastered virtually every aspect of our business including, design, production, logistic, creative writing, textile, and illustration. Hardly any of these areas are related to her degree in psychology which she earned from Atmajaya University.

Her eyes will never disagree with you, even when her opinion differs greatly from yours. Only one tiny area on her face tenses up when she ventures outside of her comfort zone. Myra and I understand each other so well that we hardly have to speak in full sentences. When we discuss new ideas we are like two kids playing tangram on our moleskins. We laugh out loud when we think about how incomplete and incomprehensible we must sound to others.

Though she never studied fine art or graphic design, Myra has a raw interest in art and culture. She loves independent films, such as “The Royal Tenenbaums” and the animated works of Studio Ghibli in Japan. She also enjoys music festivals and occasionally she daydreams about living the life of a nomad. Myra’s eyes become tearful when she’s snapped out of her reverie and back into her bustling reality.

The unique inner workings of her mind are always reflected in her choice of color. Her very first illustrations for Tulisan have a strong contrasting color palette: black, white, blue, yellow, and purple. This juxtaposition implies both firmness and certainty and was very much influenced by her recent trip to Kyoto, Japan, where she purchased a series of books on textile designs from Scandinavia.

Every day Myra dresses as if she were about to go on a long voyage. You will regularly find her wearing comfortable sneakers, vintage-style dresses, vibrant cardigans, and often a colorful scarf.

Since starting with Tulisan in 2010, Myra has truly taken a colorful rollercoaster ride. Working at Tulisan can occasionally be daunting. I once asked her what motivated her to maintain such a steadfast dedication to her job. She told me that at Tulisan she’s found people who share her same spirit and outlook on life. Heading the artistic department of our atelier, Myra believes that everything in life can be self-realized with determination and steely resolve.

Tripple kisses, Melissa Sunjaya

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Liquid Sunshine

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It is the changing of the season and the weather have gone progressively colder. This is the time of the year when I feel most prone to flu and mood swings. If I could, I would have had captured the sunlight and kept it in a jar to warm me up when the days are blue. But I got something just as good;

Liquid Sunshine

Ingredients (serving 7 glasses)

  • 60 oz water
  • 5 turmeric root
  • 2 ginger root
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lemongrass stem
  • 1 teaspoon Himalaya Rock Crystal (also known as pink salt)
  • Palm Sugar/ Honey to taste (optional)


  1. Peel turmeric and ginger root cleanly.
  2. Proceed to slice them thinly along with the lemongrass stem. Set aside.
  3. Boil water and pour it into the herbs.
  4. Squeeze lemon and add pink salt into the mixture.

The mixture would hold up for a week if you put in the refrigerator. So it was perfect for me, I only need to set aside an hour every weekend to make it.

The recipe was a family secret from Didi, Melissa’s mom. She knew how I sometime struggle to keep my body fit against the indecisive weather.  After consulting with my homeopath, she said that the Himalayan Rock Salt keeps its crystal form which helps to preserve the minerals that are important for our body. The usual table salt had gone through numerous processing so it lose most of its mineral.

It was a mighty mixture indeed. Turmeric is the natural anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and stress-relieving ingredients; while ginger is known as the nature’ medicine for nausea, migraine, sore-throat, and flu. To top it off, a recent scientific research found that lemongrass is also beneficial for cancer prevention. I think this would help me a lot through these stormy days.

Liquid Sunshine for everyone!

– xox, Shalimma Robbiaswaty


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A Day at The Rehearsal of Admiral Kasarung

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Namarina Youth Dance will be presenting Tulisan’s illustrated edition “The Secret Garden of Admiral Kasarung” in a gala performance on 15-16 November, art directed by Maya Tamara. It is a fusion of contemporary dance and classical ballet choreographed by Sussi Anddri and Dinar Karina, using a compilation of world acoustic beat and classical music.

Selected from a strict audition process, these dancers have been training and rehearsing for many hours to express their body as art. They flex and contort their spine to imitate nature, with muscles that are not used commonly in our daily habit. They push their body to the maximum limit until they transform their movements to illustrate different emotions, sensing a new enigma as they introduced the magical world of Admiral Kasarung.

A group flirtatious swan moved playfully to the quirky xylophone stream. They elegantly wiggle and with a coquette debonair, lightening the stage.

In the beat of tifa drums, the tigers lured in. Dancers moved in exotic leaps and crawled as their eyes sharply set to trap their preys.

A pack of dancers hunched and jumped wildly entering the scene and formed a community of monkeys. They climbed and jumped to each other’s back, patting their fellow primate’s shoulder while looking for fleas.

The beauty of Celosia cristata was brought to live through intricate graceful moves. While the secretive nature of the Amanita muscaria mushroom was depicted with utter delicate movement – capturing its shyness in the midst of the dense jungle.

Namarina Youth Dance was initiated from Maya Tamara’s dream to set ballet as part of Indonesian art culture and aspiresto be the finest semi-professional dance establishment in Indonesia.

Leaving Namarina Studio, I was mesmerized and losing words. The rehearsal filled me with gasps of awe and I can hardly wait for the performance day to come. – Rassi Narika

For ticket information:

Namarina Pusat

Jl. Halimun No. 43, Jakarta 12980

+62-21- 829 4777, 829 4778

Namarina Kebayoran

Jl. Gandaria Tengah III No.9

+61-21-739 8557

Gedung Kesenian Jakarta

Jl. Gedung Kesenian No.1

Jakarta Pusat 10710

+62-21 380 8283, 344 1892

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The Path Less Traveled

When I met Melissa for the first time in December 2011 she told me, “The only prison we have is our own mind. Everything we do should be based on intuition, such that our hearts are set free and we can be our true selves.” Although at the time I had many lucrative prospects from other companies, I immediately took the job she offered as the Chief Financial Officer of Tulisan. Her company is unique in many ways, and it was clear to me that Melissa’s vision was complex, encompassing more than simply limited edition prints and artwork.

We have since shared many lengthy discussions and have on several occasions burned the midnight oil entangled in fruitful arguments or bearing out new ideas. For the first time in my career, I am now surrounded by co-workers who are genuinely open to my rebellious nature and unconventional analytical views. Tulisan has grown for the same reasons that I have too, because it values intuition and is ever mindful of its enduring legacy.

Everything that happened with Tulisan has always started from Melissa’s spontaneous sketches which often incorporate “happy accidents.” Four months ago, there was a crucial production hiccup when we inadvertently printed hundreds of canvases with the wrong dimensions. But it was this “error” that gave birth to the design of a new product, our Hobo Tote.  This bag which has become a beloved item in the shop was inspired by nomadic travelers who believe in the spontaneous flow of the universe.

It seems mistakes are just opportunities hidden in unexpected circumstance.  I’m delighted to work someplace that shares this outlook too.

Warm regards, Fadly CAP

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Presenting Collector’s Edition: Victor Totes

Tulisan proudly presents the premiere of “By MS with Love” tote collection on 22 October 2012, inspired by “Les Papillons de Victor” storybook. This signed and numbered Limited Edition of 100 is part of our Collector’s Edition series and will be available in six different color ways, exclusively at our boutique in Darmawangsa Square.

Meet Melissa Sunjaya, the artist behind these collectible pieces, on this launch date. She will be available for a book signing between 12.00 PM – 02.00 PM. Each tote that she designed reflects a unique scene from the story of Victor and his butterflies.

Every tote is manually silk-screened and individually made with artisanal craftsmanship using our finest trim components. It comes with a matching pouch, a special dust bag and a certificate of authenticity.

“Look carefully inside yourself, you will discover
hidden butterflies sleeping in every corner of your heart”

The original version of this delightful story was written by a French writer, Virginie Kasse, who now lives in Paris.

Due to high request of these limited edition pieces, please let us know if you would like to pre-book this collection. Email us at or contact at + 62 21 727 80235 / +62 815 1051 7424.

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Victor’s Journey in Paris

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La librairie Pages après Pages met à l’honneur la littérature jeunesse avec “Les papillons de Victor” de Virginie Kasse et Melissa Sunjaya.

Pages apres Pages honors youth literature with “Les papillons de Victor” from Virginie Kasse and Melissa Sunjaya.

Ce livre pour enfant est né en Indonésie grâce à la rencontre de Virginie Kasse et de l’illustrateur Melissa Sunjaya.

This children book was born in Indonesia following the encounter of author Virginie Kasse with illustrator Melissa Sunjaya.

“Les papillons de Victor” finit naturellement son voyage au coeur de Paris pour le plaisir des jeunes lecteurs parisiens.

“Les papillons de Victor” completed its journey in the heart of Paris for the pleasure of the young parisians readers. xo, Vanessa.

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Weekend Reading: Catfish and Mandala

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It seems that as memoirists, we are not historians, not even of our own lives. That is the job of biographers. Memoirs are our love letters and our letters of apologies, both. They hold our few gems, the noteworthy lessons of our journeys.  -Andrew X. Pham

I write for a living and as such have had the privilege of meeting, mingling, interviewing, and having genuinely soulful discussions with many talented and inspiring writers; but there is only one who after reading his book, I felt compelled to write a note of gratitude to.  That writer is Andrew X. Pham and the book is Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam.

The book is a deeply personal memoir of Pham’s year long solo journey on a bicycle, through the Pacific Rim and to his ancestral home of Vietnam.  On his road trip he grapples with his own identity and history.  Not only is it a bold and honest read, but Pham’s style of writing is both searingly beautiful and poignantly engaging.  He drifts from past to present, just as we tend to do when reflecting on experience, and relays his most impactful childhood memories alongside engrossing tales of his present circumstance.

It’s the kind of book that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.  In fact it wasn’t until a year after I read it that I realized it was perhaps the best book I’d ever read.  It was then that I sought out the writer to personally write a note of thanks.  I discovered that there were many, many others like me who had written virtually the exact same thing—a note to express how moving we found his memoir to be.

As it turns out, after the book was published there was discord within his family, and he posted this on his webpage:

“If I knew then what I knew now, I probably would have never written Catfish and Mandala. It brought my parents considerable pain and created a silence between us that lasted four years.

Burdened with the guilt of their hurt and shame, I roamed the country. I decided that I would never write about family or Vietnam again.

I turned my back on academic work, publishing opportunities, and a movie script contract. I refused to promote this book, hoping that it would simply fade away.

Over time, letters from readers have alleviated my sense of guilt somewhat and made me feel that, perhaps, all those years of sacrifices and hard work have not been entirely in vain and that, perhaps, my words have helped some people.”

His words were indeed profoundly constructive and thankfully he has gone on to publish several other works, each as wonderful as his first.  But it is Catfish and Mandala that remains embedded in my heart and mind.  I highly recommend you pick it up and let it take you on a voyage of your own. – Melany Zwartjes

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A True Grit

The first time I heard about Maya Tamara – the principal/ artistic director of Namarina Dance Academy  – was from Didi, Melissa’s mother. She loved our Les Papillons de Victor aprons so much that she asked Didi if it was possible to combine two aprons and make it into a dress. I thought, “Wow, that is one awesome lady.” When I finally met her last Sunday, in between the rehearsal of “The Secret Garden of Admiral Kasarung in Modern Ballet”, my presumption was confirmed. I prepared myself for an inspiring session with her.

“I have been dancing since I was five, so ballet was deeply rooted in my body. I realized that this is where my heart is, my life-calling.”

Ms. Maya indeed captivated me. I remember watching her at the corner of the ballet studio during the rehearsal and immediately felt her strong passion to ballet. As a student at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, Maya explored Ballroom Dance to European Folk before finding that her heart was bound to fall in love to ballet. This strong love fulfilled her childhood dreams to travel around the world – something that she thought was only possible if she was to become a stewardess. “I have never thought that I could eventually do it by becoming a ballet teacher, so now I am even happier.”

Her inspirations come from various sourced: classical musics (Vivaldi is her personal favorite), dancers like Margot Fonteyn and Mikhail Barishnikov, to the details and colors of the clothes she wears.  “I never wear dark colors, because it would make me feel miserable. So I wear colorful clothes to make my day brighter. That is also how ballet fits in my world, it makes my life sparkles.”

At the end of the day, there I was sitting in the backseat of a taxi, contemplating on how I have been feeling disconnected with my own body in the past few years due to a certain condition. I used to dance as a young kid and and I remember how good it makes me feel. After the talk with Ms. Maya, I know that it is not too late to rekindle that love. It is time to reconnect and re-explore my own body. I am signing up for a class next week.- xox, Shalimma Robbiaswaty

 “The Secret Garden of Admiral Kasarung in Modern Ballet” is a Namarina Youth Dance 7th Season Performance that adapts Tulisan’s illustrated edition with the same title. The performance is scheduled for November 15-16 at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. Follow their tweets @_Namarina for more updates.

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Harboring to Hanoi

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There is something about Hanoi that mesmerized me. The city is moderately small if you compare it with Jakarta. The skyscraper buildings are countable and it does not have the big malls that Jakarta is very familiar with. Its road is rumbled with traffic and ruled by motorcycle drivers. Yet, this seemingly chaotic scene, took my heart away.

The people of Hanoi owns the city thoroughly. They take part to ensure that every inch of the city is alive as the people in it lives. Their mornings are filled with exercises – centralized at Hoàn Kiếm Lake yet also spread in numerous parks that filled the area. School starts with the view of children holding hands to their parents as they crossed the street.

I loved how the flower sellers rode their bicycles with their peasant hat and old bicycles to bring the freshest flowers to the houses. And I absolutely enjoyed my afternoon drinking coffee at the street side with the locals which led throughout the night with a glass of Bia Hơi.

Their humble civilization had travelled impressively from the era of Văn Miếuthe country’s first higher education system derived in the Chinese dynasty period. I think that their history of educational rooted into the wisdom and virtue that the people of Hanoi shared.

The beauty of the city is visible in every corner as the buildings embody the energy of its people. And with that, Hanoi continues to whisper story in a silent roar. – Rassi Narika.

Some images are private collections of Arif W. Brago. Thank you, Brago!

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A Tale of The Promenade

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My toes embraces the promenade and I feel the sun kisses my skin.

I run against the wind and hear the story of the ocean whispered in my ear.
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A Peace Treaty

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Sisters, it seems, spend their time together either giggling and sharing secrets or quarelling like cats and dogs.  My little girls are no different: one minute they are best friends, then in the blink of an eye they turn into bitter rivals.

After one such nerve-racking squabble, I sat down with them to call a truce and create a lasting Peace Treaty.  Together we vowed to:

  1. Be kind to each other.  We will not use our hands, or words, to hurt each other.
  2. Be orderly. We will only eat when seated nicely at the table. Food tastes better when you take  time to appreciate it.
  3. Be clean.  We will keep our living spaces neat and tidy.
  4. Be gentle.  We will not scream at each other. We may hear a person yelling, but no one truly listens when words are yelled instead of spoken.
  5. Be happy (and share your joy with others).  We won’t be jealous and possesive of our belongings, instead we will happily take turns playing with them.

Once we had worked out the finer points of our Peace Treaty, we each signed it.  It’s been two weeks since my girls committed themselves to maintaining harmony at home, and so far their time together has been more relaxed and enjoyable for us all.

As it turns out there might be a reason why the word treat is in treaty, as nothing is better than hearing your children laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

Triple kisses, Melissa Sunjaya.

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A View of Pepe from Bus 174

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At the International Documentary Film Festival held by Erasmus Huis – Jakarta, Myra and I encountered a documentary movie that reminded us to the story of Pepe.

Bus 174 is a 150 minutes documentary that tells the story of the day when Sandro Rosa do Nascimento held hostage the Rio de Janeiro’s bus passengers in June 2000. He was 22 at the time and had lived almost all his life on the street. Sandro ran away from home to avoid anything that reminded him to the incident of her mother death. He started living on the street and became the outcast of the city.

Sandro found his sanctuary in the terrace of Candelaria Church and was unfortunate to witness the Candelaria Massacre, when a bunch of police officer shot homeless children on the night of July 1993. This incident ignited a silent rage in him.

“Many nameless children with mysterious stories came to this dark corner. After a while, some would leave where destiny took them next. A few suffered tragic ends.”- (Pepe and The Flying Balloon)

There was one scene in the movie that really struck me. It captured how people’s eyes were avoiding the presence of the children on the street whenever they approached. The scene looked familiar to me, I had avoided those eyes too.

It is impossible for me to fully comprehend the layered situation of the lives of the children on the street. However, this movie reminded me why the Pepe Doll Project is personally important for me. The project had only helped a small portion of the issue and still have a long way to go. But that small portion had done a huge favor in my life. It helped me to start filling the gap in the society, one deed at a time. – Rassi Narika.

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