Nearing the end of his term, an Indonesian diplomat working for Indonesian Embassy in Moscow, M. Aji Surya, published his fifth book bearing the title “Segenggam Cinta dari Moskwa” (A Handful of Love from Moscow) under Kompas publisher. As a matter of fact, he is continuously being awed by every unique change that takes place in this ex-communist country. He is now writing his sixth book.
Aji’s fifth book contains a collection of his writings that were published on a special column in one of the renowned Indonesian electronic media, Rakyat Merdeka Online (RMOL) with a title of “From Moscow With Love”. Aji Surya shares the RMOL special column with other writers like Dahlan Iskan (Manufacturing Hope), Adhie M. Massardie (Tebas) and Dr. Rizal Ramli (Sang Penerobos).
In the 248 page book, Aji told all the stories he has seen, heard, observed as well as experienced. The stories range from cultural issues, social transformations, to political as well as humanity issues. All of these are written and packaged as a light and easy reading for anyone.
According to Aji, Russia, which is his third country, is a glamour country filled with colors that are rare in other countries. Even with his previous four books, stories about the Red Bear country are endless to be told. Given more time to live in Russia, it would impossible for him to uncover all of these colors.
“All of this is because Russia is an enormous country that likes to zigzag from time to time. Falling and rising with no sign of stopping heading towards maturity whose shape and color is yet to be described,” he said.
One memorable story told in the book is a touching one about Indonesians in Russia who were casted away from their time. They were living through difficult and dilemmatic time. If they were to come back to Indonesia, there would be no job awaiting them. If they were to stay in Russia, life would be extremely hard, especially when their age was more than 70 years old. They were indeed former students sent by Indonesian government in the end of the 1950’s to 1960’s but then prevented to go home due to that time’s political situation.
Russia is colored with a million of uniqueness, such as security guards who know no compromise, vodka that can be a friend and at the same time a killer, congregation phenomenon in front of a religious leader, search for philosophical orientation, growing capitalism and still many others. Unique to this book, the readers will be left with a valuable lesson at the end of every piece of writing and not merely an empty story.
According to the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Moh Mahfud MD—who wrote the book’s prolog—the main message of this book is the writer’s call for all of us to learn about and see Russia in a new way, in a different way than before (the 1990’s). The interesting thing is that the book serves facts and true stories written in a flowing, nimble and enjoyable style, so it is far from being monotone. “In addition, readers will also understand the tasks of a diplomat just like what the writer takes as his profession,” he said.
Meanwhile, Indonesian Ambassador to Russia and Belarus, Djauhari Oratmangun, positively welcomed the said book. He compared reading the book with watching a live football match on TV. It is like watching Messi “The Flea” herding the ball, messing around with the opponent’s defense, breaking into the goal and scoring a goal at last.
“The uniqueness of this book is the writer’s wit in observing, recording, noting as well as choosing his dictions which were compiled in such a way they are enjoyable, easy to process, mess with the readers’ defense regarding the stigma of Russia and end with a goal, which is an understanding about Russia,” he stated.
“A Handful of Love from Moscow” is available in various large bookstores in Jakarta and other big cities since May. In some of these bookstores, the book is among the top seller. M. Aji Surya started his duty in 2008 and will end his term this September. His previous works include Vodka, Cinta dan Bunga (Vodka, Love and Flower), Moscow, Petersburg, Vladivostok, Seruling Diplomat (Diplomat’s Flute), and Panduan Hemat Keliling Rusia (Guidebook for Budget Travelling around Russia). He, however, refrains from disclosing the theme for his sixth book.