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#002: "But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home..."
Without all your love!
Welcome back to Mading Cahyati, a free and slow newsletter by Cahyati Press. Last Thursday, we opened our physical store for the first time, and were pleasantly surprised by how many of you showed up to our Books & Breakfast gathering—thank you, thank you, thank you!
In this episode, you will find pictures from our opening day taken by friends of the Press, with an accompanying text by our co-conspirator Avi.
Before we start, a huge shoutout to the fellow tenants of our compound who’ve been keeping our neighborhood alive! Next door, we have Simon (@get_the_gat_get_the_gat) on one side and Denny’s record store @segitigasamasisirecords on the other; and then Gonzo Gallery/ PNNY’s office and Kicik Kitchen (@kicik.kitchen) across from us; there’s Andrea and Sarah’s super chic @shop.dirt showroom, and right across from them is Rama’s thrift store @gongvintage. @fiet.culture is a must-visit if you’re into cycling, and we have a number of stores selling traditional Bali souvenirs, too. Make sure to check them out while you’re in the area!
Last but not least, we would also like to wish you a very merry Christmas. Hug your loved ones for us, and we’ll see you in the new year.
23 Dec 2022
I read somewhere that starting your writing by describing the weather is the fastest way to bore your readers. But today was the opening day of our bookstore, and it’s been pouring since the night before. I can’t not talk about the weather.
Since it's tiny inside, the initial plan was to serve the food outdoors under the canopy, where guests could casually circulate and enjoy the morning sun. But it just wouldn’t stop raining! Kat had been stuck in a car for 40 minutes, trying to find as many ponchos as she and Angus could get their hands on. Meanwhile, tasked to handle the food, I arrived 15 minutes late at the venue (for my own party!). At this point, the weather wasn’t a mere description; it had become a major plot twist.
Chris, a stranger at the time, arrived just a few minutes after Zahira and I did. Being the first to come, and perhaps seeing us frantically set up the table, he rolled up his sleeves and helped us arrange the cutlery and paper plates. “Semoga nggak kapok, ya, dateng on time,” Zahira teased him.
Though the sun wasn’t exactly shining, the rain had eased off by 11 AM. Our anxiety gradually wore off with each familiar face that showed up, and finally, we were happy to be among family and friends.
Around this time last year, like many Jakartans in Bali, I, too, considered moving back now that the city was embracing a “new normal”. Bali was a dream for any tourist for sure, but I’d grown tired of moving from one guesthouse to another—living in a state of constant temporariness. I had also missed my community (my nerdy friends! Fillmore Coffee! POST Bookshop!) and was longing for a purpose.
It was through my friend Boe that I heard about this tiny kiosk in Seminyak. After several meetings with my would-be neighbors, who were all nice and welcoming, I figured I could give this a shot—the space, the settling for a life in Bali. So I took the place, all 13 m² of it, without the faintest idea on what to do next. Whenever friends express enthusiasm for my so-called experiment, I always say, “Don’t get too excited; ask me again in a year.”
This vague “printing and publishing” idea only began materializing when Kat said yes to being a co-owner. We’d worked on various creative projects in the past, so this collaboration felt like a natural progression of our eight-year friendship. We decided to go with the name “Cahyati” to honor the memory of our late grandmothers, Neneng Cahyati and Tience Saptinah, and all the Cirebonese women who came before them.
A year, countless long-distance phone calls, and one intercontinental flight later, Kat and I still can’t believe we actually own a bookstore. It really took a village. Gek Sri (or Princess of Ubud, as we like to tease her) was one of my first new friends in Bali; she and her friend Cempaka worked on our interior, not knowing it would be the smallest and yet longest project their studio had ever finished. Another friend of Gek Sri’s, Widi, did the landscaping (D-1!) and turned our exterior into the leafy space you see today, while Krisna reworked our storefront graphics so they could be printed and installed in time.
And we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help from our friends Zahira and Aidil (your tips are *chef’s kiss*); Rara (the best patron ever) and Christabelle (who is editing this piece as we speak); Maesy and Teddy from POST Bookshop (for literally everything else). Last but not least my dear mother, who woke up at 5 AM to cook nasi kuning and all the side dishes and assembled the coolest DIY tumpeng in history.
In other words, we are thankful for our community and hopeful that this tiny space will flourish. We can’t wait to make new friends, gush about our favorite books, and create meaningful memories together!
This line in the novel I’m reading goes, “When does a person actually choose anything? [...] Once every so often—at the very most—I think someone actually chooses something. Otherwise, we’re following something.”
While running a bookstore has been at the back of my mind for some time, Cahyati Press wasn’t something I chose. I was just following something that day. I’m happy it has led to this. ✧a✦
Mading Cahyati is a newsletter by Cahyati Press, a book-selling and -making experiment based in Bali, Indonesia. This newsletter is free, for everyone to read because we believe in information equality.
Since we are not making a profit from selling and making books, our founders maintain their full-time jobs to keep themselves and the Press afloat: Syarafina Vidyadhana (she/her) is a language specialist in Indonesia’s development sector, and Katyusha Methanisa (she/her) is a graduate working in an architecture company based on Yuggera and Turrbal Country in Meanjin (so-called Brisbane). We curate books during lunch breaks, work on manuscripts on the weekends, and take days off from our day job to think of ways to improve our processes in Cahyati Press. Our store is kept by Syarafina Vidyadhana and Zahira Humaira and is open by appointment only.
As a not-for-profit organization, any money we make from selling books and merchandise and the entirety of your donations will go back into the Press. This includes covering the store’s rent and utility bills, compensating our collaborators, and printing and making books. It goes without saying that your support is vital to our sustainability. If you wish to contribute to Cahyati Press—no amount is too small—you can send your donation to our Bank Jago account (109517297767 under Syarafina Vidyadhana), or through TransferWise (email@example.com). Or you can always buy our merchandise!
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