About Living Abroad (Again)
So, even though I promised to keep my blog updated, it seems like hard to keep it like that, since I'm just too addicted to other activity (e.g. Dota). But anyway, I just stumbled upon this one great blog post from my Facebook timeline, reminding me of one of my post months ago (well, one and a half year ago). You can see the post here. This time's post is similar, but this one was made by fellow Indonesian who (maybe) done his study. I took it from here and decided to repost it and highlight some point that I (somehow) extremely agree with. So, Enjoy!
How an Indonesian Diaspora Feels Like when Going “Home” for Holiday
By : Rahardhi Pradhana
Jakarta – You unbuckle your seatbelt, even when the pilot tells you not to unless the plane has completely stopped moving. (can't agree more, screw those rules)
“Dear passengers, welcome to Soekarno Hatta International Airport. The time in Jakarta is…” You know the lines by heart, you’ve heard it so many times before. You mindlessly turn your cell phone on before you reached the Arrival Hall. You think of changing the SIM card to the Indonesian one (well before I leave the country, I asked my mother to always refill my number but it seems like mom don't do that again, so, probably I lost my number already T.T) you keep, but you’re not sure if it is still usable, you have been gone for so long. So you take your overhead baggage and leave the plane, hoping Mom and Dad make it on time and not trapped in traffic.
You step outside and voila, it’s not the tunnel. It’s the rickety metal stairs because the tunnels are usually fully occupied by the other planes. Crap, you mutter, I thought I’m taking the world best economy class airline? I might as well fly budget next time. Tough luck. You stand and wait for the bus while Jakarta sweltering weather heats up the tarmac like the world’s biggest frying pan.
Mom and Dad see you just a moment before you see them. They wave, and you awkwardly try to wave back while dragging your luggage with one hand and holding your handcarry, passport and that weird Customs paper with the other. Then you finally meet. Hugs and kisses around. Mom asks, how are you. You blurt out when you answer, as if you have forgotten how to speak to your own parents. Of course you haven’t. It’s just now that you’re home, you have to translate every single word to Bahasa, and it takes surprisingly a significant amount of cognitive effort. Dad offers to carry your luggage. When his hand touches yours, it scares you how wrinkly and frail it feels.
You get wifi at home. That Facebook status update of going home? 8 likes. The Instagram of passport and ticket you made at Heathrow/Changi/Narita? 18 likes. Better.
Few texts pop out, asking for “Meetup?” Sure, you shoot out few replies and arrange a Whatsapp group for the meetup. Meanwhile, you gorge on whatever local delicacies you have missed while abroad. Nasi Padang. Kwetiau Sapi. Iga Bakar. Sate Kambing. (culinaries! damn how I missed all of those cheap and tasty food they have there T.T But I secretly have an anxiety that my stomach is already sterile and can't receive any Indonesian food since... you know, the hygiene.. ) Only the street food and family restaurants though for this feeding frenzy. Save the fancy cafes and five star restaurants for the meetups with friends, as they make prettier Instagram pictures.
Then you immerse yourself on the realities of living in Indonesia’s big cities. You get to drive (exciting!) and complain about traffic jams and the motorcyclists (not so much) (well I was one of the amongst those jerk motorcyclists who love to cut people's way and so HAHAHA). Alternatively, you take the shabby public transport as an ‘experience’ to be shared as conversation topics during your cute meetups.
For millions of unlucky Indonesians, these realities are hardships that they have to endure daily. For you and your fellow diaspora, these are removed, ephemeral ‘experiences’ that you will get over and talk and laugh about once you’re back abroad. (INDEED :)) )
You are above it all, an outside observer, and a purveyor of everything shitty and backward about the country. At the end of these conversations, you add a closing note, a coda of your conversation about going back to contribute, to develop this country. Of course nobody sitting with you at this fancy, exorbitantly priced cafe seriously think of going back permanently at the moment. You look outside the window. The vehicles are creeping forward at a glacial pace. There is no end in sight. Even Sisyphus gets to control how fast he is going.
It’s raining in Jakarta. Medan. Bandung. Semarang. Surabaya.
You’re thinking of your cozy, empty bed in Singapore. Beppu. Hong Kong. Melbourne. London.
You try to keep updated with latest news of families and friends you left behind (yep, my grandpa passed away, one of my close relative getting divorced, my another relative just married, my friends getting graduated, and so). Cousin A got married, Cousin B divorced. Somebody got a tattoo, some others launched a successful business. New babies are born. The ailing elders passed. Life goes on and events happen in your absence. God knows how much you try to keep track while being abroad, but you always feel some things are left out. In exchange of these stories, you try sharing your own experiences abroad that you think are interesting or relevant. When you do so, they just nod approvingly, completely out of touch with whatever you have gone through (THIS particular part, is the reason why I share this article. It just... Sad? Unease? Unpleasant?). When conversations end, and silence falls, you think about people who don’t keep in touch, until you realize probably the only one who hasn’t been keeping in touch is you.
Local TV is complete shit. It’s just celebrity worship and bad news all day long. This amuses you and no one else at home.
Days pass and soon you have to go back abroad. You prepare : pack your bags, buy personal needs that are way cheaper in Indonesia or only available here, eat the local foods that you have not had the chance to try during these few precious days.
You check and double check your passport and ticket. All along the last few days, you are fraught with a mix of feelings. There is a sense of dread that the holiday ending and challenges baying on the horizon. There is sadness of having to leave again, and again, not too sure when exactly you will be coming back. But there is also relief, on going back to the routine abroad, where you place your hopes and dreams on.
So you bid your farewell to the loved ones, and make promises of calling and being back for the next holiday. Just like how it begins, you end up in a plane, going somewhere, taking off into the sun. It’s just that each time you complete this circle, this ritual, the whole set of motions, you are less and less sure where home truly is.
So yeah, I pretty much can relate the article, he just summarized the unsaid words and feelings of mine to his post. But it doesn't mean that I don't like going and living abroad. Studying abroad is a really life changing experience which I encourage everyone (especially Indonesian youths) to do this at least once in his/her lifetime. It will open your mind, open your network, open yourself (just like they always say about living abroad, and I find it true).
Broaden yourself, spread your wing, open your eyes, fill your heart with wisdom, go abroad :D