I have been living in Indonesia for most of my life, I was born, nurtured, grown up in a place that I recognized as a home. There are countless problems and reasons to hate living in the country, but I learned to live with it. I learned to embrace the imperfections the nation possesses.
Four years ago, I was given a chance to study in Malaysia on a scholarship by CIMB Foundation. That was my first overseas exposure. I was not surprised to see that Malaysia is doing pretty much better than Indonesia, in a lot of aspects. For example, better public transportation, train system, considerably faster escalator, faster pedestrians, and of course, widely-available and reasonably fast internet connection. I enjoyed it, I was glad for not having to live with all the “helter-skelter” that occur on daily basis in some of Indonesia’s major cities. Back in 2010, riding economic-class train in Indonesia during rush hour was awful.
But then I realized that I took it for granted. Now that I have to re-adapt myself to Indonesia, I found myself more of a grouch. I complained about how the pedestrian moves in slow-mo, I fuss about how the escalator is moving at unacceptable speed and the fact that people do not give space for the escalator-walker at the right side, and how Indonesian abuse their car/motorcycle horn (they just honk at everything they see, at any occasion). And please do not let me start on the internet connection.
Events after events, there is a slow-building realization that (in some aspects) Indonesia is not at par with Malaysia, let alone Singapore for that matter. It is not an act of pessimism, Indonesia is still doing pretty good despite its countless problems and never-ending drama of the elite politicians. Being outside the country for years, I have gained a bird-eye view of the nation. Apple to apple comparison now is, arguably, more objective.
There are some adjustments I need to make, re-adapting to a known environment might be more challenging compared to adapting to a whole new place. Most importantly, there are some improvements and betterment I need to witness and create in Indonesia. It is, after all, the responsibility of the conscious minds to shape the surroundings.