Thursday, December 08, 2011

Lessons learned in and from Indonesia

The only time I don't mind being noticed, aka stared at, is when I'm whizzing by on an ojek. I have to consciously fight the urge to stick my arms out as we hit a traffic free stretch.

Good quality rain gear is worth is weight, but so is a mentality that it doesn't matter if you get wet. Sandals are the smarter shoe in the rain and people seem to getting wetter in direct proportion to how hard they are trying to stay dry.

I instinctively assume rain, foggy mornings and gray days will be cold.

Ojeks are still the best way to get around this city. Traffic flows like water, trying to stay in perpetual motion.  I'm still surprised there aren't more accidents than there are here.

Street animals will always break my heart and puppies always make me smile.

I hate zoos.  They depress me and make me feel helpless. 

Badly translated signs are still funny, even after being abroad for four years. Things like semen elephant fiber make me giggle.

No matter how many times I've heard it, when a student offers "cock" as an animal, or asks for a "rubber" and means eraser, I have to stifle a chuckle.

Upon entering my apartment, cicaks (little wall lizards) and cockroaches scurry in the same way and I jump, startled in the same way.

I really like bats.  I have become a big fan of anything that eats mosquitoes or other things that bite me, but I really think bats are cool especially at dusk, swooping out of the trees.

The more languages I learn the worse my typing gets.

People wearing uniforms may look official or proper but for the most part they hold no real power.

A tree branch is not a good warning marker for a pothole or broken down vehicle. Just like honking is not a good way to make something happen in traffic.

Sometime foreign words, or phonetically spelled words, are easy to understand but it still takes practice.  Is crem took me a bit to figure out.  Now I can easily tell what mekanik, otomotif, bisnis and sekolha teknik are.

Buses deserve names, of course.  Like "publik figur" the "love you full" and "itu dia?" - that guy?

I miss the seasons and the points of change between them.  I miss boots and scarves, sweatshirts and socks.

Just because a city is near the sea doesn't mean the beach is worth a damn.  I chose Pluit when I first moved here to work for EF because it was the closest to the coastline.  What a mistake!  It is foul-smelling and toxic.  You couldn't pay me enough to go in the water there.

Koreans are strange. Indonesians are strange. I am strange.  We are just all strange in our own weird way. . . . And some more than others.

I don't ever want to go to Korea. North OR South.

The more I travel, the more racist I get.  I know the reasons for the stereotypes and the presuppositions. I make them too, but I know why. 

I have a temperament better suited for Europe than Asia. I also didn't realize how much I liked things in Madrid.  It was far from perfect and there are lots of opportunities/advantages in Asia that don't exist in Spain but I'll happily go back there and not here, to live that is.

I can be more patient than I knew. An hour on a stopped bus? Two hours to go five miles? Twenty five minutes in a grocery check out line with two people ahead of me?  No sweat.

There is no limit to the number of people you fall in love with in your life.  I've met some amazing people here, first and foremost my girlfriends.  There have been a few men that have come and gone but the heart and mind have a limitless capacity.  I love them now and will take them with me when I go.

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