After a few months of living here in Asia, a weird thing started to happen. The new started to become normal. I wouldn’t say familiar or comfortable, but normal. It’s become normal to get around by a motorbike, and to plan shopping trips around what the motorbike could hold. It’s normal to order my dinner from a street cart on the side of the road. A normal dessert is fried bananas, with chocolate sprinkles and shredded cheese. I normally think of my day in 4 parts [pagi, siang, sore, malam] which coincides with how time is told here. I no longer plan my hairstyle by my outfit, but by my helmet. It’s normal for me to be misunderstood. It’s normal to drop off my dirty clothes and 3 days later pick them up, washed and ironed. Who needs a watch anymore when the temples & TVs announce regular calls to prayer at the same time every day? Just because Google Maps tells me something is 5 miles away, I know it’ll take me a half hour to get there. Thanks a lot, traffic. It’s normal for me to be the only American in a room. It’s normal for me to be the only non-Asian in a room. I never wear my shoes inside anymore, and I don’t even think about flushing toilet paper again. I live the pre-paid life, from my house electricity to my cell phone calls & data and even our home internet, all prepaid at the corner convenience store. Stray dogs, stray cats, chickens, and rats are daily sighting in my neighborhood. I know that if I drive by the beach before 9am, I can see the fisherman bringing in their fresh tunas, marlins and swordfish. It’s normal that if I can’t get to a gas station, that the lady that does my laundry on the corner can fill up my motorbike with gasoline from a vodka bottle. I’m a pro at buying my fruits and vegetables at a local market, and having to bargain the price.
The sights, the smells, the architecture, the traffic, the people, the color, and the life…it’s no longer weird and unknown. But normal and just where I live. I love that this is my new normal.
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