Wimar Witoelar's happy moments, frustrations and nightmares

The Jakarta Post Magazine
27 April 2007

'My worst nightmare is being left alone'

It’s impossible to put Wimar Witoelar’s broad range of experiences and interests into a pat, all-accommodating description. Activist, academic, onetime presidential spokesman and business consultant, he also is a newspaper and magazine columnist and talk-show host. With his mop of curly hair and roly-poly figure (weight problems have been the bane of his life), the father of two also stands out from the crowd when vociferously cheering on his favorites on the tennis court. Despite difficulty getting around due to a nerve problem in his legs, Wimar, who will be 62 in July, is content with life today. Except, however, as he reveals here, when memories of the schoolyard bullies of his youth come back to haunt him.

My earliest memory is…
At four years old, sitting in school, drawing pictures and sending out for fried rice, because my mother ran a canteen.

My first crush was…
A girl named Carol in the second grade. She was Indonesian, light skinned and wore a light pink dress.

Craziest thing you have done?
I don’t really do crazy things, but I do get into crazy situations, like when my sarong fell off at a wedding, and when I accidentally walked into the ladies toilet and made them scream!

My favorite gadget is…
I’m trying to be smart … anything that is the latest.

I’m very bad at…
Dieting, and at accepting loneliness.

At school I was…
The fat guy, who always sticks out from the rest, so he has to learn to be on the defensive. I had to be a smart-ass and respond in a verbal way because I couldn’t fight or run.

My happiest moment was…
It’s now. It just dawned on me that time is limited, not just because of age, but accidents and diseases. I’m now in my car, with two beautiful women in the back, talking to a reporter from The Jakarta Post. I’m happy with that.

What are your best traits?
The ability to be happy. Liking people and having no particular aims in mind.

And worst?
I get too inquisitive, and I tend to dominate the conversation. My colleague just said that I try to be a Wikipedia; I feel like a know it all although people never say it to my face.

Your favorite journey?
Right now is a Groningen in the Netherlands, where one of my sons and his wife are studying. But it could be almost anywhere; I’ve never found a place I don’t like. I don’t go for the attractions; I just want to be there, to experience the mood of the place.

Biggest everyday frustration?
Seeing that my obesity has not improved, either in my weight or fat content. And trying to overcome the weakness in my legs. But it’s a small price to pay for the other things I have in life.

Worst nightmare?
Being left all alone, where everybody I know disappears. Faces from the past come back, teachers and bullies from school. So the good people are gone, and the bad ones return.

Who do you love?
My two sons.

What makes you laugh?
Basically that I can ride through life with such ease without much effort, and I get credit for it and people like me. I laugh at myself that this guy can be so lucky.

What makes you sad?
Remembering people who are not around me anymore, especially my late wife and mom.

What makes you bored?
I avoid those occasions now, but it used to be government meetings and speeches.

Favorite corners of your home?
My bedroom and work room.

What was the last good book you read?
A biography written about me called Hell Yeah! By Fira Basuki (laughs). You must read it. I also liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Hadden.

Best music?
Two pirated CDs of Haydn and Mozart. They were well done.

Any regrets?
No regrets (it was the title of his memoirs about being a presidential spokesman). Just maybe if I knew I could live like this earlier then I wouldn’t have gone through the pain and boredom of other things I did. But they say you have to go through that to be the person you are.

If I wasn’t me, I would like to be…
Me. That has changed since when I was younger. I really like me now.

What talent do you wish you had?
Playing the piano or singing opera. I love all music, but these two seem to be the supreme accomplishment.

What would you change about yourself?
Take off about 20 kg, to be assured of a long life.

How do you want to die?
Quietly without making a hassle and without making it difficult for people.

Your last meal?
Aha, that is the $ 64.000 question. I would choose the food with the most fat and cholesterol in the world, either goat or tripe satay.

Bruce Emond


Read more: Wimar on Indonesian students and his campaign for vice president (KABAR)

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  1. From wahyu on 28 April 2007 00:38:44 WIB
    Thanks GOD, You've made this good guy fat, since he's in his early school years. If not, may be we only know him as a retired boxing athlete, which one of his prizes was an empty cheque..... and we never learn democracy in the way. BTW, Bung WW, thanks for sharing your wonderful life. All the best.
  2. From angga on 28 April 2007 08:48:32 WIB
    that's the real of ww, always honest

    keep healthy we are need you...

    keep curly coz its make you looks very cool..

    keep the real ww ever after...
  3. From Willy on 29 April 2007 01:21:52 WIB
    Quote: ...No regrets (it was the title of his memoirs about being a presidential spokesman). Just maybe if I knew I could live like this earlier then I wouldn’t have gone through the pain and boredom of other things I did. But they say you have to go through that to be the person you are...

    Terima kasih banyak om WW, kata2 ini akan selalu saya ingat karena kata2 ini benar2 membangkitkan semangat saya yang berada di titik terendah dari seluruh hidup saya saat ini. Living a live of NO REGRETS!!
  4. From Marsha on 29 April 2007 05:21:05 WIB
    WW, I just love the answers you give :p why? Because they're so refreshing!
    Please keep up at being unpretentious and enjoy life... and hopefully shed those gas-guzzling pounds too ;D (no pun intended, but I wish we all can enjoy tripe stew and those cholesterol-pumping dishes when we wish to)
  5. From wimar on 29 April 2007 06:41:16 WIB
    thanks marsha. like you, i like to answer questions as they come. the interview was done by phone as people were waiting for me to get out of the car and join them for lunch. don't remember what i said but guess it looks all right, especially if you say so.
  6. From Trinie Loopeen on 29 April 2007 23:04:37 WIB
    I'd like to see you and talking about that "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Hadden.

    Almost all my friends at elementary n junior high are special like Cristopher :)
  7. From nike on 15 May 2007 14:36:08 WIB
    i LOVE Wimar :D
    Lagi baca buku 'a book about nothing' untuk kedua kalinya. Mungkin ketiga kalinya, karena sebelumnya suka banget baca artikel WW di Djakarta!
    Hidup WW
  8. From ina on 31 May 2007 16:12:15 WIB
    it's nice know more about WW
    for WW could you give me your email addres
    you are so inspiring although maybe yourn't my idol
    WW I often ask to NDC to ask you come to the show n be in front of the camera! but I never watch you in that show.
    thanx to be my inspiration!
    sorry my E so terrible! but I keep studiying till my E ok! he3x
    send me an email if you had free time! I know it's imposible coz you must be so busy all the time.
    by the way, yhank to be my inspiration, Wassalamu'alaikum.
  9. From Timothy I. Malachi on 15 August 2007 15:47:39 WIB
    Wah another interesting interview. Membuka sisi Oom yang lain lagi.
  10. From Bhakti Dharma on 31 October 2007 05:35:19 WIB
    By chance I got to know mr. Wimar via the Flickr Photo Site, actually introduced by his son Satya who put me on his contactlist. I am from Indonesia but moved to Holland when I was at high school and am here since then. I must confess a long time I was not following anymore actual things in Indonesia, so I was surprised to find out after a while that mr. Wimar is actually an active and well known Indonesian personality, writer of popular books, appearing often on TV etc. It was also only after a while I realized that he is Satya's dad.
    I want to thank mr. Wimar for the new inspiration I got to be interested again in things happening in Indonesia, and for refreshing my interest in Indonesian daily life. I hope to be inspired more from now on, not least by the nice Flickr photos from my new Indonesian friends. After all no matter how long I live in Holland, my Indonesian roots are always present in my life, and getting stronger again thanks to pak Wimar.

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