Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why I decided to spend my Christmas holidays in Islamic States

I just had my adrenaline-fix from the adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia but I am finding myself in Jakarta (Indonesia) and will be in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru (Malaysia) for the next two weeks. 

 I am not boasting and I am not travelling for travel's sake. So why I am doing it on a holiday which is supposed to be a family event? 

"A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry"

Christmas holidays should be spent with the family, tradition say. It is not just about shopping for material gifts but really spending quality time with our family. 

What and who is family?  People close to me by now know I got other concepts of 'family".  Close friends knew why. 

Family is not just your mother, father, sisters and your immediate family. Family is where you find kindred souls who support you and know you well despite the bad things thrown at you. Family is the people who love you unconditionally. 

My immediate women-led family. 
I don't question my immediate family's love for me, but there are things they cannot just comprehend. Like the idea of continuing further education, the idea of travelling and the "expenses" one incur. Why not invest it to somewhere else or with something tangible? They could not understand why I am in an NGO and not "settle for a more stable government work." I already invested in something tangible and travelling is an investment too. It makes you more confident and see things in different perspectives. And besides I spend my own money for my travels. This is always a subject I don't want to talk about when I go home but always crop up in the conversations. I got tired of explaining. 

Also when holidays come, the questions though well-meaning is also tactless. "So when are you getting married?" or "Why are you still single?".  Imagine yourself being asked these every year. These questions  are not necessarily from my immediate family. Nonetheless this always make me cringe. 

I grow up independently and I owe my fearlessness to try new things with my maternal grandmother. She wanted me to be open-minded. I took that courage with me and explored areas beyond our little town. I know if she is alive now, she will understand. She will have tampo  but she will understand and will support me.  She was our peacekeeper. The sad thing is, the small piece of land she left is now a subject of a family feud. I have been taking care of the tax payments and keep some documents so that made me a stakeholder. Not that I am interested to sell the land in the future. I hold on to it as it is a memory of my grandparents. And there is where I spent my childhood. 

As the "single and mature" one, some members of the family wanted me to solve the feud and make plans to "develop" the said land. Developing the land takes time and money! And I am not  investing my hard-earned money to it as there are a lot of interested parties. I know how land feud can be very bloody, literally and figuratively. I have enough headache already. 

At this point, I don't want to act mature and solve the problems of their own doing. I wanted to have  a stress-free holiday. So when I asked my soul sister Nur Hasanah in Jakarta if the offer to stay with her in Jakarta is still open and she said a big YES, I checked for flights and booked it without any second thoughts. I met Nur through our 3-week fellowship in Wageningen and our sisterhood was strengthened by our common love for travelling and getting out of the norm. She also introduced me to Counchsurfing and she already visited me in Davao last year. Her post was prophetic telling me that the next jumpshot picture we should have will be in her turf.

From Wageningen, Netherlands to Davao City (Davao del Sur) and Dahican, Mati City (Davao Oriental), the crazy Asian partners in crime (Nur Hasanah and I) are reunited and jumping around!! Last posted in my FB account in August 2013. 

Then by big chance, another friend I met through the Courchsurfing  site will be in Jakarta and he invited me to spend the other half of my holiday break in Malaysia. I was  supposed to host him in Davao but he was not able to obtain a visa in time.  I got another Couchsurifng gal, Azra Ain to host me in Kuala Lumpur. 

Things are falling according to its place. And before my passport expires, I want to maximise it as the renewal process will surely take long. I promise to help out my sister settle That land problem in January. I will take a rest as I will be taking new refresher classes for my MA class. And career-wise, there are exciting things coming. 

I want to experience this Christian holiday in a predominantly Islamic country. Get lost and find myself. I want to make a sense of the feeling how to become a minority in this long Christian holiday and see how they do it in other parts of Asia.  I wanted to be uprooted in my comfort zone. Besides, is this not the best way to start the ASEAN 2015 Economic Integration work? I'd like to think I am an ambassador of goodwill. haha! 

I will try to keep up with my odd-ventures here (though blog posts with the previous trips still unfinished).

Cheers for a great year ahead of us! Merry blessed CHRISTmas! Do not forget the real reason for this season. And let's create more stories together. :)



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