2. The toilet psychology
(Note: this is part 2 of 'the journey' series. To read from the beginning, click here.)
One bad thing I did not realize until too late about taking this trip was that it will involve using public toilet. A lot.
I have been fortunate all my life. My parents are well-off and they protected me really well. They made sure my world is a comfortable world. That's both good and bad. Good because it allowed me to become who I am today (and I can't complain about that), and bad because now I am caught unprepared to live with this one little detail: The world of dirty stinky public toilet.
Some of you may find this ridiculous. Well, I am sorry. Obviously I have been living in a bubble all my life. A bubble where toilets somehow always magically clean itself before I enter.
So the first time I stepped into a public toilet, I thought I have just died and went to hell. In fact, if God is to punish me for all my sins, He would not burn me to eternity. Somehow, that seems less scary. Instead He'd probably send me to a dirty smelly slimy public toilet, with someone outside banging and yelling at the door, telling me to do it quicker. Now that's hell.
So why am I telling you this unpleasant experience?
It's because while sitting there, I realized something.
You see, when you go in, you may not stand the smell and the sight of it. It's dirty. It's stinky. It's disgusting.
But after a while, after you just can't hold your breath anymore, you start to accept it, and guess what: slowly but surely it is not that stinky anymore. Everything is fine. It's all ok.
Now I understand why our city is dirty and why our river is full of trash. Because somehow, after a while we just accepted it. We got used to it. Everything is fine. It's all ok.
And there is more:
Once you leave the stinky toilet for a while, your sense of smell recovers and the next time you come back to one, you realize (again) how stinky it is and you have to start the whole reconditioning process again.
And now I understand why some people (yes, me included) who just returned from a travel abroad, suddenly turned into a complainer, saying how bad things are in comparison to the country they visited.
(A short stop at Singapore's airport with its indoor garden, children playground and internet access, and suddenly Jakarta airport with its liquor ads and dirty bathroom looked incredibly ridiculous. One experience of taking the always-on-time shinkansen and suddenly taking a train at home is like going back to the stone age.)
Now wait, this does not mean I am comparing our country to a toilet.
What I am trying to say is once you are used to certain things, your point of view changes.
And when you step out of it, you hit the reset button and gain back the perspective that you once had.
But even this has a limit. Because after 3 weeks of going in and out of public toilets, I got so good at it that it does not bother me anymore. Not one bit. I am so proud.
And that made me think:
Maybe this is why it's so difficult to fight corruption in this country.
We've been stuck in the corruption toilet for way too long.
We know it's stinky, we know it's dirty. But hey, that's how we do our 'business' all this time and we're used to it.
Everything is fine. It's all ok.