It’s Indonesia and I shouldn’t complain
Posted December 1, 2008on:
This article was published by The Jakarta Post on January 10, 2009. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.
I was fortunate that I had the chance to live in the United States for more than 2 years. I had never thought I could spend my youth time in other people’s land. It was weird when I first set my feet on Washington, DC. Everything was so different.
I felt so lonely when the driver was taking me from the airport to my hotel. I didn’t see many people on the streets; the scene that I had always seen in Jakarta.
During my first 3 months I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive. I couldn’t stop thinking about the life I had left in Jakarta. I could remember all the laughter that I had always shared with friends and family. I knew I couldn’t enjoy that kind of life anymore in Washington, DC.
But then I found out something unique about life in America or at least in some parts of America. It was something I couldn’t find in my home. For the very first time I realized that walking on the sidewalk while enjoying the fresh weather was so enjoyable.
For the very first time I realized that reading a book on a clear sunny day was one of the greatest things in this life. It was so refreshing.
In America I stopped completely at any stop sign although no car was coming towards me. Somehow I felt proud that I could follow the law even nobody was watching.
I started to enjoy living in America.
Now that I’ve been in Jakarta for more than a week, in the place I always call home, I feel so lost. It’s hard to enjoy life in Jakarta when everyday I have to struggle so hard fighting against all those crazy motorcycles and cars on the streets.
Driving in Washington, DC was an effective relaxation for me. In Jakarta it’s a different story; it’s a war. This head seems to explode.
And it was a couple days ago when I first found out that going to Pondok Indah Mall 2 is no longer an exciting experience. I was surprised to know this fact since hanging out at a mall was something I used to love so much.
I get so mad and angry to see how people in Jakarta break the rules on the streets so easily as if those signs had been made as accessories. At first I thought to myself how barbaric these people were, but then a friend of mine reminded me that eventually I would be like them.
He suggested that I shouldn’t be so American and said, “You’re an Indonesian, act like one!”
He thought that I needed to relax a little bit and accept that Indonesia is Indonesia. “It’s just the way of life around here,” he explained.
My friend might be right. I shouldn’t complain and start acting like a real Indonesian. Maybe I just have to get myself used to crossing the red light when cops aren’t around; I used to do it anyway.
I want to fight but I guess it’s impossible. I guess I’m just going to follow my friend’s suggestion and accept that Indonesia will always be Indonesia.
From my deepest heart, I feel so sad. I feel like I want to be a different kind of Indonesian; the kind of Indonesian that I never became. It would be a dream come true if I could say to my friends how proud I am of becoming a good and civilized Indonesian.
It would be so wonderful if I could tell my friends how I have been driving like a civilized person following every traffic sign and respecting the pedestrians.
I bet it would be amazing if I could tell my friends how I have been participating in saving the environment; how I don’t throw trash anywhere like I used to.
But it’s not easy to be the kind of Indonesian I want to be in this city. It’s so hard for me to be a good Indonesian when people around me don’t think that being an Indonesian also means that you can dream big and different.
It’s so hard for me to be the kind of Indonesian that I want to be when people look at me so weird just because I want to follow the right procedures.
And it’s so hard for me to convince others how my willingness to do great changes has nothing to do with my “Americanity”. It’s just simply because I’ve seen how other nations can be so much better than us and I think we can be like them too.
I’m not happy to admit this, but it’s true: The whole condition doesn’t seem to support me and more likely I will become Indonesian as much as I used to be.
Picture taken from here.