One of my most favourite things about Indonesia and the thing I miss the most when I leave are Indonesia’s strangers.
FACT: Indonesians are the kindest, most caring and giving people you will ever meet.
Strangers talk to me on the street or on the boats or in shops as though they’ve known me my whole life. I’m asked the most direct questions, that in my culture, only a close friend or family member would ask. I’ve had food and fruit shared with me on journeys by the person sitting beside me. Older women have seen me struggling in public with my baby and offered words of advice – I’ve even on one occasion had my daughter taken from my arms and cuddled and rocked in an attempt to soothe her crying. I’ve been given items of clothing and bags and sarongs when I’ve complimented the owner of them. I’ve even, on one occasion, had concerned Ibus (mother) hammering on an airport public toilet door when I’ve had a bout of Bali belly, with my daughter screaming in the cubicle baby seat, *knock knock knock* “Hallo, Ibu, Ibu, halloooo”
On the one hand, when in the situation of having my child rearing approach or my outfit questioned or being asked over and over again in Indonesian by “interfering” locals – where are you from, ohhh you can speak Indonesian, where do you live, where is your partner from, is it a boy, how long have you lived in Indonesia, are you breastfeeding are you Muslim etc etc – i find really annoying; when I go to other westernised countries, like Singapore for example, I really miss the kindness of strangers and I long for true and honest human contact. In fact, outside of Indonesia, I am the funny person talking and striking up conversations with strangers.
Indonesians have got the best social and conversational skills I have ever come across and I think it’s rubbing off on me, and it is certainly rubbing off on my daughter who seems to captivate and connect with every stranger we meet. I am truly blessed to live where I live and be a part of this beautiful culture of brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers. Indonesia has taught me that: WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY. That is the family of the human race.