Our young colleague, Al, is brokenhearted. His girlfriend dumped him, saying he spent too much time at work. to add salt to the wound, she is now planning to marry the rebound-guy whom she met not long after she left Al.
Al is devastated. One secretary claimed she saw him crying near the water-cooler. Al denied it.
But not all is lost: His hardwork paid off and he just got himself promoted. But even that did not make Al feel better. So one day after the promotion announcement, Al said:
"You know, I've never taken a day off since I started working here. Not once.
So now I am planning to take 3 weeks off and travel."
Sure. Why not. No surprise there. But then:
"I am going to travel the Java island, going east, taking only public transport."
Now here's a thing you should now about Al. He is one of those who people call "winning the uterus lottery". He is born into a wealthy family, with no sibling, educated in private schools from elementary to high school, went to one of the most prestigious university in Indonesia, got his postgraduate degree abroad, and went back only to land himself on a nice cushy job with good pay. In short, life has been very kind to him. Al is one lucky son of a gun.
"Taking only public transport? What do you mean? You don't even take public transport to come to work!"
"I am going to do it. Just public transport. Buses. Going east. Visit the cities along the way. Once I reach Surabaya, I'll head home by train."
"How are you going to get around inside the city you visit?"
"Public transport. No renting a car, not even a cab. It has to be something that I ride with other fellow passengers."
"Have you ever done it before?"
"Have you gone backpacking before?"
"No way you're going to make it."
"Because it is not as romantic as it sounds. Dude, you can't even survive taking a bus in Jakarta for a week. And now you are going to do it for three weeks? In cities you have never visited before? For what? It's not because of losing your girlfriend, is it?"
"No! Of course not! Well..., yes. Partly. Because I think she is right."
"She said I am selfish. I only think of myself. And after some thought, I think she is right.
I have been selfish all my life.
All my life I have only worked on making myself comfortable. As long as I am comfortable, I am fine. Even when I do charity, I do it only to make myself feel better. To make myself look good. It's all me me me.
I've been lucky that my parents took me abroad a lot when I was growing up. I compare what this country has with what developed countries have, and I always think we are so bad at so many things. The corruptions, the horrible traffic, the terrible airport, the bad public transport, the trash, the list goes on.
It's hard to love a country when you only think badly of it.
And when I think of it, when I call something bad, it is because that something is not making me comfortable. It's all me, me, me.
Public transport? Not comfortable. Bad. Avoid it. Why suffer. I don't want to suffer.
I even avoided going to some cities in Java just because they have no nice hotel.
And the more I avoid it, the more I don't understand it, and the more I criticize it.
So now I am going to try the opposite. I am going to embrace it."
Yeah right. One rich boy taking a trip to find the love to his country.
That's just way too corny. Please. Somebody shut him up right now.
But then three weeks later later, Al is back.
He did it.
And he has some stories to tell.
And he'll write them here.
So watch this space.