During my 30 years of being half Indonesian, I’ve learned a lot from my Indonesian family and all the Indonesian people I’ve met during my travels in Indonesia. Here’s my list of great things you can learn from Indonesian people:
I’m so bad at this, but it’s so important. Every time I’m in Indonesia the first couple of days I get so frustrated. Everything is soooo slow, and most of the time you are waiting and waiting and waiting. And then – after a few days – I realize, this is how life should be. Just take a deep breath and stop rushing. Take things slow, ‘stop and smell the roses’, and stop being so frustrated all the time. Because me being frustrated doesn’t make things getting faster and life is not getting better like this. So just blend in, do it like Indonesian people do it; it will come when it will come and enjoy the time before it comes.
2. Taking care of each other
Everybody is family, so you help each other out. Even the daughter of the wife of the brother of my grandmother (still following me?) is like a close friend. And when they need help, you help them no matter what. When I was young I was always so confused. My mom called everybody in Indonesia my aunt, my uncle and my cousins (at least that’s what I thought). I lost count how many direct relatives I have. Later I figured out not all are direct relatives. But that’s how you treat each other, like close family. So when I was younger travelling alone to Indonesia I often stayed at family, the first thing I always did was figuring out how we are connected. Nowadays I know it’s ok, even though I don’t know how we are connected. But it doesn’t matter, we are all one big family. You take care of each other no matter what.
With Indonesian people the focus is on giving and not thinking about getting. How great is that? They can be overwhelming; giving you lots of food, gifts, a place to stay, their time to help you with whatever etc. But this is just how they express their friendliness. I’m getting used to this more and more, and try to live more like this too. Because giving is so much better than getting. Am I right?
Everywhere in Indonesia you hear people laughing, from children to elderly people. I think it’s because they take things more lightly and it’s also a way to cope with all the bad and negative stuff. And it’s not a small haha it’s like WAHAHAHHAHAHHA! It makes me laugh and smile too, it’s so contagious. Laughing like that feels so great, we should do it more often.
5. There’s always a solution
Indonesian people don’t see problems, only solutions. You have to carry 50 packages of krupuk (shrimp chips) and you only have a motorbike? No problem. Just strap those packages on the motorbike. You don’t have a wall, well let’s just make a wall out of leaves. There are plenty of leaves, so no problem. I don’t know how they do it, but it works. Well, most of the time. And if it doesn’t work they just try again until it works. I’m happy I’ve learned a bit of this there’s-always-a-solution mindset from my Indonesian family.
I’ve learned a lot from my Indonesian family and I’m proud of it, but I’m also glad I have my sober Dutch side. It’s because of this mix I’ve started my company LARAS, connecting traditional Indonesian textiles with Dutch and Indonesian Fashion Designers. Read more about LARAS.
These learnings are based on my own experiences. If you have more things we all can learn from Indonesian people, feel free to add them in the comments below.