A World Without Strangers.
I was at the usual carwash this afternoon and I sometimes had the usual formal chit-chat with the woman who owns the carwash there.
We know each other because I’ve taken my car several times there, but we don’t know each other’s names or anything like that. She always sits behind the counter, doing nothing – just watching her staff washing the customers’ cars.
Today, though, the conversation became unexpectedly deeper when I thought. She was saying that she needed to exercise because she was putting on some weight, and I suggested walking. She said it wouldn’t look right for her to go for walks because of how people would perceive her.
Now, that sounds odd, I thought.
So I asked her to explain what she meant by that.
Apparently she is descended from a generation of priests and she has been trying to delay her ‘calling’ as one of them for as long as she can try, but it seems that now it has become a matter of life and death – if she keeps on delaying her faith, she will soon meet her maker. So she has started to maintain a certain image as being a priest it will not allow her to be like the commoners – including doing something simple like going for a walk. She even said she would probably buy one of those treadmills so she could exercise at home.
A part of me thought “This woman is all hokum” but the more we talked, the more she surprised me. She looked like an average woman – wearing loose fitting clothes, messy bun and no make up, and if you met her on the street you wouldn’t think much of her – but she is probably the wisest and most educated Balinese woman I have ever talked to in a long time.
Her husband happens to work at the same hotel where I work and she said her husband would soon replace her to take care of the carwash business because she had to focus on being a priest, and being a priest requires her to be more patient and kind; she is no longer allowed to be angry or be negative, even if it’s just for five minutes because it will give her a headache. Ever since she started responding to her ‘calling’ as a priest, there have been several people who feel threatened by her and spreading bad rumours about her.
I told her that sometimes I deal with the same thing at work, and it pisses me off so much that I can’t help but feeling angry even when I think about it.
Her response was, “We Hindus believe in Tatvamasi. You are me, and I am you. If you say something hurtful to me, it’s because you’re hurting inside, and if I can understand that, then I will no longer feel hurt about what you say. If you are me, and I am you, saying hurtful things to me is like hurting myself. So we must also be careful of what we say to others.”
“Whevener you feel angry, you have to take a deep breath and learn to let it go. People will say bad things anyway. But remember – they are you, and you are them. If you can understand this, you will find peace.”
“Nowadays we are living in the Kaliyuga era. The era where people lose their morals and the good are being mocked and ridiculed, whereas the bad are being worshipped and admired. There are a lot of people who will test your patience, but you must be able to control your anger, otherwise you will lose your mind. However, those who are evil will get their karma very quickly. Let God and Karma do all the work. You don’t need to do anything.”
“I am more afraid when people are praising me. Because it means I will have more enemies – more people who feel threatened. But if they mock and ridicule you, it means you are not seen as a threat. You can continue to do great things without worrying about others feeling jealous or threatened.”
“If you are a good person, just keep being good and just keep doing good things. You reap what you sow.”
We talked some more about politics – and she continued to surprise me of how well she knew of it – most women her age wouldn’t care of such things. We mourn about the future of Bali and how it will probably end up like Jakarta.
Our conversation ended when my car was all prettified. After I paid, gave some tip for the guy who did my car, I bid my farewell and drove off.
Then I realise – I still don’t know her name. But strangely though, I feel ten times lighter and content. Perhaps she is what she says she is.
Ignorance is Bliss
I moved here with a purpose and such naiveté that I would learn new things. Little did I know that these “things” would involve dealing with disrespectful employees who are so used to harassing people they no longer think it is wrong to do so.
These “things” would also involve being disliked by people because they have been in their comfort zone for too long in a company that never reprimands them for their mistakes, and they see me as the person who will disrupt all of it. Which I do, unfortunately.
Perhaps it’s my luck that I land a job in a company that has been hibernating in its cocoon for so long they no longer know that the world is vastly changed out there. What I do realise is that it is much more challenging dealing with people who are way past their prime and productive age. They’re just there to wait to retire.
I give out the impression like I don’t give a shit about the hatred, the dislikes, the bullies – you know, the usual combo that toxic employees posses.
But today I would like to say that I would really, really like it if I didn’t have to go back there.
Today, I would really, really wish that there is a better place out there.
Today, I would admit that I am not as strong as I am any other days.
Perhaps it’s just a phase that everyone goes through – but for now, I would just like to say I am done, and I don’t care anymore.
It’s harsh but it’s true.
The education system in this country has taught us all to do things as told.
Not to do things because we are passionate about it; or because we want to know how and why things work.
We are never taught to think, to solve problems, to question, to wonder, to challenge and to argue what is already there.
There is too much time spent copying down and memorising useless facts off the textbooks – and no time given to learn how to arrange a proper sentence when debating your opinions in front of others. Which is why we tend to babble and spout ridiculous nonsense when faced with confrontations.
And we all know we hate and so very much avoid confrontations at all cost. Talking behind people’s backs is way much better than confronting or dealing with it. Hiding your grudge and spreading it around is so much better than solving it with the person we hold grudge to.
This habit, in turn, makes us cowards. Two-faced. Yes men.
This is what the education system has taught us – to be cowards, two-faced, hypocrites, stupid, passive-aggresive, placid and timid.
And people wonder why I don’t want to have children.
The Truth is…
I hide my feelings really well in front of people.
There are days when I cry inside with a smile plastered all over my face.
Yes, like I said before – I hide my feelings really well.
Lately I’ve been going through life like it’s on autopilot – get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, work, lunch, socialize, work, go home, try to sleep, fail trying to sleep, cry for a bit, take some melatonin pills, try to sleep, fall asleep and the cycle starts all over again.
But then there are moments when I feel … content.
Usually in the evenings when I walk from the office to the parking lot – the sunsets here are breathtakingly beautiful.
I love the silhouettes of the coconut trees against the purple vermilion sky. The faint rindik music playing from a distant place. The sounds of crickets slowly coming out now that the day is turning.
It’s the moment when all sounds make perfect harmony that it’s peacefully quiet.
But that moment is only beautiful for a short while until the sun disappears into the darkness.
And it’s kind of how I feel now.
This island, this life – only beautiful for a short while until I remember you.
The truth is, living in a paradise means absolutely nothing without you.
Living the Life.
It has just come across my mind that I am now finally living the life I have wished for so many times to happen.
I remember the crazy days when I would get stuck in traffic that never seemed to move, surrounded by cars, buses, container trucks – the iron monstrosity. And then I thought to myself, “Someday – someday I’d get the f*ck out of here.”
In my previous – somewhat seemed distant life – I’d wake up at six in the morning – or half past five on Fridays – to get ready for work which starts at 8. I’d rush to shower, dry my hair, put on some skincare and by half past six or quarter to seven, I’d be out of the house to beat the traffic.
If I could get to work around quarter to eight, that’s out of pure luck.
There are days when you just couldn’t predict the traffic – I’ve had my share of being stuck in traffic for three hours, five hours, even six. I’ve experienced leaving home at 6:30 am and finally arriving at work at twelve noon. I’ve experienced leaving work at five pm and arriving home at ten.
So now you know – the traffic is undoubtedly, incredibly insane.
As for the job itself – I’m sure you’ve read how I felt about it from my previous posts. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job and my passion is there, but it has lost its meaning ever since I found out more students were cheating. I just couldn’t bear to be a part of that whole system anymore. If I had more authority and chance to fix the whole training system, I’d definitely start by character development. But this wasn’t needed on my part. I was beating myself too hard trying to achieve something that wasn’t even asked of me, even though I knew it was crucial. That and the fact that I didn’t get any appreciation for all the extra miles I was willing to give.
Until himself told me about a job opening in Bali – the island where we’ve been planning to settle in – at a resort in Nusa Dua. The job is in line to what I did before. At first I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it, but we’re both always in the habit of “if you want to do something, plan it right and do it right and no matter what the outcome is, you know you’ve tried your best.”
I am not sure whether it was meant to be or whatever you call it. But it’s funny how things happen, isn’t it? When I sent my application, I went on a third and long overdue honeymoon with himself to Bali. I even informed the person whom I sent my application to that I would be in Bali if he wanted to meet. There were no phone calls or emails from him whatsoever so I assumed I didn’t get it. I continued enjoying my holiday with peace – until I absentmindedly check my email on our last evening as we were lazying about the beach lounge at The Legian. The human resource director sent me an email saying he had problem calling me and that he wanted to meet. I decided to call his office – it was six in the evening but thankfully he was still there – and we ended up talking for quite a while. He eventually said that because we didn’t get the chance to meet I would be interviewed at the head office in Jakarta instead.
At exactly a week after, I did get an interview at the head office in Jakarta. I turned up very, very early – the appointment was at two in the afternoon and I got there at eleven in the morning. Hey – with the traffic in Jakarta, would anyone want to risk it?
The interview went alright; I had a man from Human Resource and the Vice President interviewing me – I was well over-prepared for it but I got the feeling the vice president was not impressed with me. I even told himself on my way home in the taxi that I didn’t think I’d get it. I wasn’t overly disappointed or anything – just exhausted and somewhat relieved. The anxiety of being interviewed for the position was taking up all my energy for the past two weeks since I came back from Bali.
Then a week later, an email from the human resource director in Bali came in to congratulate me.
So here I am now – working in a resort in a position that will allow me to learn more, as well as giving me more freedom to realize my passion – teaching, training, and improving people’s lives.
I no longer deal with traffic - something I’m hugely grateful of! I get up at seven in the morning, walk – yes, walk! – leisurely to work and get to see the beach everyday if I want to. My skin is getting tanned already, but I don’t mind at all. There are shops nearby selling affordable bottles of wines, good food – cheap, expensive, everything is here – and fragrant smells of incense everywhere I go.
Everything is here – except himself.
So, mother universe, not that I’m ungrateful or anything but I’ve a new wish – I wish for himself to be with me. Sooner, not later, preferably. Please? Thank you.
You will never see the uglier side of the people around you until you start doing better than they do.
What they don’t see is that things don’t just happen.
You don’t just sit around and wait for miracles to appear. You actually get up and do something. And you fail. Many, many times. But yet you keep trying. Many, many times.
They don’t see the struggles, the anxiety, the sacrifices you have made to come this far. They don’t see the endless conversations you’ve had with your spouses when deciding whether this big step is worth it.
And most importantly, they don’t see that this is what we want.
It gets even uglier when these same people start feeling insecure and make reckless decisions to “upgrade their lives”. Not because they want to change, but because they want to prove it to you that they can also make improvements on their lives – regardless of the reason it is done.
Yes, some people are so ugly. And sadly, they are everywhere.