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Sketches and Regrets

Oky Kusprianto and I got married on the 25th of February 2017. He died on the 16th of June 2019 at the age of 42. Not a long life, and definitely not a long marriage for me.

He was an architect, quite famous in Bandung. In his short life, the number of designs he created was simply overwhelming. He was constantly sketching. One time we were caught in very bad traffic, and I asked him what he was thinking about. “I’m drawing in my mind,” he answered. That’s Oky for you.

During his funeral (it was a whole week-long process, one day I’ll write about it), his architecture friends gave me the idea to collect his designs in a book, as a tribute to his talent. They mentioned I would need the help of a fellow architect, curator, and writer: Setiadi Sopandi (commonly known as Cung).

Life has a weird sense of humor, doesn’t it? Because Cung and I hit it off and we got married in August 2020 (yes, a Covid wedding). The book? It happened, with the support of Realrich from OMAH Library.

Concept

The idea for the book evolved from an exhibition of Oky’s sketches and my writings, installed at Villa Gupondoro. The collection was curated by Cung, since the total amount of his work is still being collected even until now. Some of them were never built, some of them became spectacular icons in Bandung, for example, Babakan Siliwangi Forest Walk and Dusun Bambu Family Park. The title of both the exhibition and the book is Sketches and Regrets because throughout our relationship, there was one thing I regretted: that I did not experience his works more when he was alive.

But I do not wish to live my current and future life in this same constant regret. Now, I try to visit Oky’s creations regularly. I also try to visit Cung’s buildings. It’s fun. I enjoy getting insider info on how this pillar was not supposed to be there, or how the small interior details cost the client a leg and an arm.

Before publishing the book, Realrich said “I’m excited! OMAH Library has never yet published an architectural book from the perspective of the Mrs.” Don’t you just love that? I think it’s a real measure of Rich’s vision and open-mindedness for community.

Well OMAH, I’m still a Mrs. Architect now, so I hope I’ll continue to contribute a woman’s voice to your publications.

You can purchase the book here. If you happen to have read Sketches and Regrets, kindly drop an honest review on Goodreads.

With special thanks to translator Juhendy Setiawan and photographer Christian Nathanael.

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Did You Plant Those Trees?

The beginning of mulberries in Gupondoro.

It was Idul Fitri holidays, June 2017. This most festive of Indonesian holidays is celebrated after a month of fasting called Ramadhan. I was living with my husband Oky Kusprianto in a beautiful house he designed himself. He named it Gupondoro which means Home of Pigeons. Gupondoro was located in the middle of a village in Lembang, is a highland area to the west of Bandung city. Lembang is known for its forests, proximity to volcanoes, and cool weather.

Lembang is also a top tourist destination during holidays. With largely underdeveloped small mountain roads, this meant serious traffic jam. Of the horrific type where you are stuck for hours. Since neither Oky nor I wanted to get caught in tourist traffic, we planned to stay home for the week. Oky caught up on his designs while I practiced piano for an upcoming chamber music festival in New Hampshire, USA.

One particular day after an intense practice session, I gave myself a break by looking around our backyard.

“Huh!” I thought to myself. “There are berries in those trees!” I called to Oky, who was drawing as usual.

“Oky, did you plant those trees?”

“What trees?” He asked. I pointed impatiently at the blooming trees in our backyard.

“I didn’t plant any thing there… did YOU plant those trees?” He turned to me. I laughed.

“Are you serious? I‘m on the piano all the time. I have to take care of my hands and fingers.” I replied. As a professional pianist, I was always worrying about my hands because even the smallest cut or blister made it awkward to play. Of course later the joke was on me because I retired from performing and grew to love gardening.

Oky asked our housemate Ari, who lived on the bottom floor. Ari didn’t know about the trees either. This confirmed it to be quite a mysterious case indeed. After extensive research via our gardener, Oky discovered that the trees were planted by a village farmer who owed money to a local mafia. The berries from the trees were to be a form of payment.

This was an interesting predicament, because those trees were planted on our land.

“The fruit tastes really good. I sometimes take some and my wife makes it into jam,” our gardener whispered to us.

The situation kept getting weirder and weirder, albeit in a comical sort of way. I decided to go along with it.

“Can I try the jam?” I asked our gardener. He nodded.

“I’ll pick secretly before they notice and bring some jam here.”

“Ok. Thank you!” I said. “Make sure you don’t get caught…”

I tasted a spoon and fell in love. I knew it was worthy to be sold.

The next day his wife brought over some incredibly delicious mulberry jam. I tasted a spoon and fell in love. I knew it was worthy to be sold. Oky proceeded by settling off the farmer’s debt to the mafia. He also bought the grown trees so they formally belonged to us. We then asked our gardener to plant more mulberries in Gupondoro.

Since that time both Oky and the gardener’s wife have died, but I decided to continue with the trees and the jam. It was a way for me to keep feeling connected to him, while making some money on the side. Mulberries in Gupondoro bloom twice a year, and if you are in Bandung you will be lucky enough to taste it.

August 2020. Click here to visit Gupondoro in Lembang, Bandung (Indonesia).

Read more on my first impressions about Gupondoro in this post.

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Falling in Love with Gupondoro

The first time Oky brought me to this house was a couple months after we started dating. I had gotten the brief from his friends: he designed an amazing house-office for himself. But nothing could have prepared me for experiencing Gupon (as was the nickname for the house) for the first time. Coming from the side, it stood alone on the top of the hill. The entrance felt like a mysterious passageway in which one merged smoothly from nature and the outdoors into a cozy wooden cabin. I called it a treehouse for the longest of time. 

The stairs of the cabin revealed nothing of what the living room and loft was like. It was a clear night, and the glass walls allowed the sexy twinkles of city lights to seduce me. This was the second breathless moment, after that magical passageway. Later on there would be other moments in which Gupon stole my heart. As if it was a person you could get to know from various different angles. On that night though, I simply thought I could definitely live here. It just needed a piano…

Written for “Sketches and Regrets“, a permanent exhibition at Villa Gupondoro. The exhibition is accompanied with the book under the same title. To read more about the time I lived in Gupondoro before Oky died, visit this post: Did You Plant Those Trees.