One major thing that needs to be said about Indonesians is that they are proud. No matter how small the salary, no matter how tough their circumstances, they all smile and seem happy.
No matter how poor the staff was or could have been they dressed nice and were always very hygienic. They all have such great pride in being Indonesian and I loved this. They are not as gung-ho as Americans and their pride comes from within regardless of how the governments treat them. Their pride is not worn on the outside with banners, guns and trash-talking.
Often, I get asked as to why I love life in Indonesia versus Canada for example. The answer is simple. The people here seem more genuine, they appear to be happy even though many have very little. Yes, nowadays most people’s heads are buried in their phones and devices. But when you see a group of Indonesian men smoking, just chatting and laughing it all makes sense. Another big question asked of me is…
“How is it, living in a Muslim country?”
The simple answer is, I do not know what you mean. Because it seamlessly falls into daily life and goes unnoticed. Once you learn the time of prayers and acknowledge the location of a Musollah, it gets worked into daily life.
“Ok, we will get to it after the prayers…” Is a common answer.
Personally, I never had a problem with any Muslim person whatsoever. If they had a problem with me, I was never aware of it. Many years ago, I had a driver named Bagyo. Bagyo was a very nice family man with a bit of a gambling problem. What are drivers to do when I enter a meeting and stay for 4-5 hours? Some smoke, gamble and pray. Maybe not in that order. Now gambling is illegal and goes against religion as well. But it happens and it happened to Bagyo.
One time he asked for his salary in advance and told us why. When we confronted him, he promised us he would stop. When we asked him one day about his prayers and such, he said he prayed when he could because he felt that he was given a job by “God or Allah” to provide for his family and that came first.
That was his perspective and while other Muslims are very strict, they will not even enter a restaurant that has pork on the menu… it is their choice. The one big surprise I had about the Muslim women and the women wearing a hijab or a burka was they are people too.
That sounds terrible and does not mean I didn’t think of them as people before. What I mean is that I assumed them to be quiet, religious and timid. But I was very wrong. Under the head covers, they were just the same as any other woman.
This may come as a shock and to some, it was not a shock, it made me understand that the hijab didn’t prevent them from being fun, funny and dare I say “normal” Once more I put my foot in my mouth, but these were things I didn’t know. These were things I was never aware of even though I worked with so many different races and so many people of different religions in Canada. This is why it is so important to keep an open mind and to be accepting of others.
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