Travel: Finding Gratitude in Indonesia

MashaAllah God has willed you a long and healthy life. But because He loves you so much, he asked for you back yesterday. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayihi raji'un. Alhamdulillah I am so grateful to have seen you again in Indonesia last year and I am blessed that you gave me another perspective about life.  Al-fatihah for my great grandfather, who had always smiled and was still young at heart at the age of 96. May Allah grant you the highest level of jannah. Ameen.

My great grandfather changed my perspective because he lived a very simple and yet an abundant life. He lived at a village in Java, Indonesia with no running water, where they would obtain water from the mountains and had used a generator for electricity. Everything he ate was either grown or farmed. However, he was still so healthy and always happy. In fact he was so healthy that at age 90, I watched him climb a coconut tree where I was blown away because I could have never been able to do that. You can tell that he lived a happy life because of his old age as generally, happy people live much longer.

If you saw where he lived you might think that he was living in poverty, however, I beg to differ, he had lived a life of abundance because everything was enough and a blessing for him. This made me think about my needs and wants in life because it doesn't mean that the more you have, the happier and longer you will live or the more abundant your life is. And his life must have been abundant for him to have lived for that long. Thus, he had inspired me to live an abundant, simple, happy life with less material possessions and he had also inspired me to smile more often.

The last time I saw him was in Jakarta, Indonesia in December 2016, where I met the rest of my extended family. I met my uncle and cousin who were still younger than ten but they were the cutest and funniest kids ever. Looking after them and seeing the rest of my Indonesian family made me really grateful for my life. I remember having breakfast with them at the hotel we were staying and because it was a buffet, they were so happy and excited because they have never seen so much food in their lives. It's not that I felt sorry for them or anything like that, I was as happy and excited. However, I also felt really grateful that I was able to share meals with them in the first place and from then on, I never took family meals for granted because you just never know if you are able to do so again.

Nonetheless, Jakarta was an interesting place to visit. Despite what I heard from other people, it was a really clean city and I appreciate cleanliness because it makes any city much better to visit. However the traffic was horrible with all the motorbikes/ojeks that were like flies and cars/taxis and so you needed a driver for wherever you wanted to go because it is just impossible to drive by yourself. Like seriously impossible.

We didn't do much sight-seeing because we didn't want to go through the traffic but we did manage to go shopping. I was shocked. I had thought that the prices would be much cheaper than at Malaysia but it turns out that the prices to buy clothes in Indonesia are pretty much the same price for clothing in New Zealand. This was also true for the food as well, which was even more so shocking.

I was shocked to find out the prices for food and necessities were really high, especially because I know that people don't get paid very well in Indonesia like how we do in New Zealand. I also managed to talk to a girl who gave me a massage at one of the malls I visited and it was really interesting to hear about how living in Indonesia was like because it really isn't that easy. Another thing I was shocked about was that there was one area in Jakarta which had a river where one side of the river had these massive, flash mansions, and the other side had slums. The contrast of social class was surreal, so surreal that they just had to look across to the other side of the river to know which class they belong to and the inequality that exists. To me, it was just plain sad to see. It is never easy to move higher up in society and to get reminded of that every day would be horrible.

I hear all the time from family and friends how hard it is to live in New Zealand these days but really, we do have it so much better than most people around the world. Although New Zealand does have people living in poverty, at least we don't have slums anywhere in our beautiful country. Even in a 'romantic' place like Paris, the city is surrounded by slums. Once you see slums firsthand, then you really get to see what extreme poverty is like. So we, as New Zealanders should really be grateful.

I always talk about looking after our neighbours, and I will say it again. It's so important to help one another and make sure that our neighbours or family and friends have enough to eat. If we can't start by helping our own country or community, then how can we help people overseas? I'm not saying to stop giving charity to people starving overseas but it is just as important to help those closest to you.

Looking back, (like seven months back) Indonesia made me even more grateful about my life. It made me aware of how hard life really is and the staggering contrast of social classes. Seeing family again was truly a blessing and I hope to see them again if I ever go back to Indonesia in the future, InsyaAllah.