Time flows unevenly. It’s pace depends on one’s place, locale, and also on oneself. Buddhist teaching says that time can be observed in its most subtle, tiny vibration from within your own body. Your state, your soul, strongly effects how time flows through you.

It was thoughts like this, about time, place, love, and the meaning of life, that dominated my summer in Jakarta. The two months felt like far longer, because I was forced to, by my situation, to delve deep inside myself, to discover things that both scared me, and excited me. I felt time, there, more acutely than I have in many, many years.

In today’s world, experiences have to be categorized, stamped, and put into soundbites for general consumption. At least, that’s how I’ve felt since returning to New York, and back to school, being asked over and over again, “How was your summer?”

But how can I explain? It’s been barely a month. How are you supposed to understand an experience in that short of a time? It begged the larger question – how was I supposed to understand Indonesia, or even Jakarta, in just two months?

All I can say is what I felt and saw through my own senses, during that two month period which will never exist again. Indonesia was intensely personal, and I was but a visitor, on the edges, getting a small, but sweet taste of a complex, developing country. I was there, observing, but the city, and life, was going on despite my presence. Had I not been there, Jakarta would still have gone on, and the city wouldn’t have noticed. It was a one-way path – the city and country making a deep, intractable impression on me, but me leaving little impression on Jakarta.

Traveling, and life, is incredible subjective. Your experiences are tied to the time, and place, you went, with a giant helping of luck and chance. Yet, within these deeply personal experiences, are stories, anecdotes, tales, that can enrich others. A soundbite answer to a question won’t tell you about my experience in Indonesia. But perhaps this blog will. Perhaps my writings can show you how my experiences shaped my self, and through that, show you the power of traveling and the interconnectedness of humanity.

That, at least is my hope. Or, more accurately, my dream. The dream of any writer.

Understand Asia


Nithin Coca's free bi-weekly round-ups & in-depth analysis of undercovered news, events and trends changing Asia.




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