Still Struggling

Again, sorry about the long wait. It’s been a long time since my last post, and not too many exciting things have happened. Except for the fact that I am constantly meeting amazing people. So far, I’ve met young, unmarried doctors who switch working on oil rigs and hospitals every month, writers of inspirational books, poets with crazy hair and outrageous generosity, mothers of autistic children who are famous only for their dedication to making their children’s lives easier, and young women who will one day change the face of Indonesia by teaching others

It seems that I have been taught more than I have been teaching. I’m seeing so many examples of what could have been my life and what I could have been given but wasn’t. I’ve said that I don’t know how many times, but it’s as true and as prevalent as ever.

I think of the laziness I’ve seen in Americaand how it’s almost always coupled with wealth or a high standard of living. It is so easy to be comfortable and ignorant when you have everything you need and desire within arm’s reach. There’s no reason for change, perhaps, not even a fear that, in seconds, you could lose it all.

There are children in my village whose middle school education depends on whether or not their families can pay $100 for it (maybe even less). Middle school education. There are adults in my village who only attended elementary school because their families could not support the next stage of their education. There are people here who, shockingly, do not have food to eat or do not have money to buy food and so live off what they can find in the forests of the mountain. Luckily, it’s covered with fruit trees, rice and vegetable fields. However, I’m not sure about the harvesting regulations so I’m not sure if they steal or if they have rights to it. I hope that it doesn’t matter.

I’ve lived in Indonesia for over four months and for the most part, it has become biasa (usual).

I’m used to the hole-in-the-ground toilets, dumping ice cold water on my body every morning, eating the same stewed leaves, tofu, and fried tempe with rice every day for almost every meal, and attributing all changes in my body, better or worse (and darlin’, there have been both), to said diet. I’m still not used to the terror that walking on the road brings. I really am terrified of the traffic. But I find myself falling more and more in love with the chaos and attitude of the people here…which are so relaxed in response to the chaotic atmospheres, but yet, so aware as well.

I can’t explain it, but I know I wish I was more like these people, who have so little and yet are blessed with such rich souls.

The shell-shocked feeling of displacement and disorientation only comes when I try to analyze my surroundings. It’s something I do a lot and have done my entire life (its lead me to some interesting places and put me in some interesting situations).

It usually happens when I venture out to the main city to watch a movie or walk around the mall. Walking into cleanly tiled floors and seeing the escalators, expensive coffee shops, busy arcades and sparkling jewelry stores (not to mention the fashionably dressed elite that prowl the stores)…I need only to look down at the ruin of my sandals (and, ahem, toenails) to remind myself I just came from a village that is surrounded by rice fields and covered in palm trees. In a lot of ways I feel like an imposter when I go to the mall, like I’m in another world that I’m not supposed to be in, and if I’m caught, they’ll take me back to the mountain.

The interesting thing about this specific mall-I should say the thing that drives me absolutely crazy about this mall, is its location. If you ride the many escalators to the top floor, you’ll find a crowded, cramped cafeteria with a small outdoor terrace/balcony. Now, maybe it’s there because of the amazing view that can be seen from it, but the truth is the only thing you can see is the dilapidated state of the many houses that surround the mall, a square of concrete in which barefoot kids play soccer, and maybe you’ll get the feeling that this sparkly, modern, metallic leviathan of a building is a little out of place…and so is the 5 star hotel that was built into the mall  While you’re enjoying a meal that is almost as expensive as the ones you might eat in the states, right under you people are eating meatballs out of plastic bags. In another mall, not 10 minutes away, there are beggars that sit outside the entrance of the mall with their hands outstretched and their eyes clouded by cataracts.

I don’t mean to constantly rant about this…it just bothers me so much that in the same place there are gigantic, money eating houses, there are slums of houses just made of brick and bamboo, obscenely cube shaped and filthy. It bothers me that I very rarely see any middle class. Most people I see are either wealthy or poor.

I wonder if they see each other or if they blame each other (the rich and the poor). What does the man in the Armani suit and Tag Huer watch think of the man with broken shoes and disintegrating clothes?

It bothers me that I don’t see charities or soup kitchens. It bothers me that there are just so many people inIndonesiathat it’s easy to see why people often shoo away the beggar. There are just so many of them.

Every time I think too much on this my thoughts become jumbled and confused, to the point that I just want to give up and go to bed.

It’s hard for me to accept all of this and I don’t understand the people who just don’t think about the thousands of hungry, homeless, and sick people. It’s easier to ignore than to face it.

In other news, I’m going home in about 7 weeks. I honestly cannot wait to see everyone, but I’m shocked at how quickly the time has passed.

Probably because I update once every two months!!!

Sorry!! I’ll be better!


Sampai Jumpa. Semoga semua yang baik.


4 thoughts on “Still Struggling

  1. “It bothers me that there are just so many people in Indonesia that it’s easy to see why people often shoo away the beggar.”

    This is interesting, because my reaction is actually the opposite. One of the things that continues to surprise me is how often people give money to beggars here.

    • Really? that amazes me. I never see people giving money to the poor in Semarang. I think it may just be how different each regency is. Some of Indonesia’s richest people live in Semarang,and I rarely see any charity.

  2. YAY AN UPDATE! It’s so great to hear how much your experience over there is shaping you, mashaAllah. Relish these final months! I want to hear more about the people you’ve met over there. Can’t wait til you’re back with us 🙂

  3. We’ve been back in the U.S. for just over two weeks now, and some things are still so strange. For example, I’m overwhelmed each time I step into a large grocery store – the sheer volume of options and wastes is, surprisingly, incredible.

    Good luck with the rest of your time in Indonesia!

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