I am growing to love this city, Makassar, more and more every day. I would be lying if I said I don’t miss home though, because I do.Christmas has just passed and this holiday is very special to me, as it is all about friends and family. Christmas in England is so magical. A happy spirit surrounds the cities. It brings out the best in people, as they start to realize the good and bad in the world and become kind and stress free. But then it stops and once the 2 week Christmas period is over they go back to being work orientated and forgetting about what makes them happy.
This is what’s so special about people in Makassar; they carry that kind and cheerful spirit around all year through. People seem to forget in England that you shouldn’t just enjoy yourself once a year. Your life should be filled with joy and you shouldn’t let work get the best of you.
For this reason I believe that the people I have met in Makassar are much happier than people in England, or should I say Hull, which is the name of the city I come from. I have said before ‘I love my lifestyle in Makassar’ but how is it different to my social life in Hull? Firstly, the people in Makassar make time for their friends and family. They don’t let work get in the way of socializing and doing things that make them feel good. In Hull I always had to arrange a day and meeting place to see my friends, as we feel like we are too busy to do something spontaneous. Here in Makassar I spend my free time going to see friends on an impulse. Whether they are at work or home, or even in a cafe, just a quick call is needed to see where they are and I will go and meet them. Even if my friends are working I am still welcome to go see them and relax at their office while they continue to work. My friends here will even take a 15 minute break away from their work to go to the shop and buy drinks and food for their guests. Makassar is like one big family and they’re always welcoming to those who come and see them on the spur of the moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s late or early, if they’re at work or at home, they always have time for each other.
In Hull, it isn’t very common to turn up at your friends place unannounced. Usually you ring each other to arrange a date and put into your diary. It is also uncommon just to sit and do nothing with your friends, instead you would be sat at home watching TV. In Makassar I spend a lot of time just sitting with friends in front of their houses, talking, drinking tea and just chilling out, sometimes to the sound of a guitar playing. People seem to forget how to enjoy themselves without luxury items. In Hull if I was hanging out with my friends, we would be in a bar drinking a lot of the time, mainly to forget about our stressful working lives. Have people become too uptight in England? Are they too focused on work and money that they don’t know how to relax without using alcohol to help them? I realize that now I am here in Makassar, a city where the drinking culture is not very big, there are ways you can unwind without alcohol. A friend asked me recently ‘How do you stay out so late without drinking?’ Maybe it’s because in Makassar there are cafes open until 12 pm. They’re always full of people drinking coffee and tea, using the internet and just being in each other’s company. In England the majority of shops and cafes close at 6 pm and all you have left open are pubs and bars.
As I have said before, the kindness and generosity in Makassar always exceeds beyond my expectations. Everyone shares everything; food, drink, cigarette’s. It is a given that what is theirs is yours and you don’t need to ask. In Hull if you are in a cafe or a restaurant and you order food for yourself then it is unlikely you will share it with your friend. One of my friends back in England once said to me, when I asked to try a slice of her pizza, ‘Have you never had pizza before? If you wanted pizza why didn’t you order it instead of pinching mine?’ After living in South East Asia this shocked me.
However, this is just one side of Makassar. I also hear about children who spend a lot of their time sat on their computers or in front of the TV. Soon they may forget how to socialize because they are staring at a screen all day. Do you think children are spoilt with technology now? Then there is the noticeable gender difference in the way people socialize here. Most of my Indonesian friends I hang out with, after work, are males. Females have to be home at a certain time. Again, as I have mentioned before, this seems like parents are trapping their daughters because they think it’s unsafe for them. If anyone in England heard that you, a 20 year old girl, had to go home at 10 pm everyone would think you were insane. You are an adult, therefore, you should be able to make your own choices. It is like a female’s social life has to suffer because of the dangers that could be around. Or am I missing how dangerous Makassar can be at night? Nevertheless, socializing is all part of developing, gaining responsibility and creating who you are as a person.
The city of Makassar is unique. I see the people here meet their friends whenever they can, even if it’s only for 10 minutes to have something to eat together. This makes me realize that everyone always has time in their busy schedules to see each other. That 10 minutes every day, just to eat with your friends or family, makes a lot of difference. Then I see them sat on the streets all day long doing nothing. I used to think ‘That must be really boring.’ But then I see them talking and laughing with men and women as they pass by. They enjoy everyone’s company. Makassar has taught me that sometimes you can just look out the window, or from the side of the street, and watch the world go by and it is wonderful. People start to forget that there is a reason, a good reason, to sit still with our thoughts: It does honor to what we are thinking about. It does honor to ourselves.