i have to stop and remind myself that i’ve already spent a month in indonesia. thus far, it has been unquantifiable joy and discovery that has characterized my time here. each day is another gift, each encounter is greater than the last, and it’s a glaring realization that in just a bit i’ll have to leave just as soon as i’ve arrived.
the great ease which i’ve found myself becoming comfortable can be contributed to the lavish hospitality shown by every person i’ve met. but beyond that, it’s the simplicity and ease which people guide their lives by here. no one is too busy to stop and ask about your weekend, no one is too bothered to tell their favorite travel spots, and certainly no one is unwilling to take you to their hidden lunch haven.
i would compare it to the scheduled leisure of european living, but even that lifestyle is not akin to the indonesian way. it seems everyone here is still on village time, that perhaps since the sun is up it is time to arrive at the office, since the shadows are short you ought to be at lunch, and that now since the sun is disappearing one must head home.
further, it is a universally good nature which characterizes people here. while it’s not unusual to see an off-color argument anywhere else in the world, i don’t think i’ve ever heard anyone so much as raise their voice here.
people look at their lives with astonishing foresight. i’ll never forget the dewy-eyed virtue that my colleague spoke of when describing plans for her wedding and home she is building with her future husband, a conversation which i will hold in my memories long after i leave this country.
most of all, i think it is the genuine relationships people seek here. though i’ve only shared a few lunches and the odd cab ride with most of my colleagues i could tell you their entire backgrounds, motivations for their professional career, and probably an anecdote or two about their family. people don’t have limitations for what can be shared or discussed, and any topic you choose is exactly what they’d like to chat about with equal fervor and interest.
it is one couple in particular that has captivated me. at our welcome dinner they sat alone initially, sharing dinner and each other’s company. as soon as someone passed though, they invited them to sit down and engaged them in effortless banter. when the rounds of speakers talked, no one laughed harder and more sincerely than these two, and when the tone turned serious, they murmured and nodded just as hard as they laughed. later in the night an old friend of theirs introduced me and told me the story of the first night he had met them. as though it was yesterday the story of a new year’s eve in bali, bathed in moonlight and big band music came to life. though the couple is approaching their 80s now, he spoke of their undying chemistry and gifted dancing ability. when they looked at each other again, 50 years later, i too, was dancing with them that night.