One of the workers on the diving boat was getting ready to have lunch. He smiled and invited me to join. His invitation was so sincere, that I couldn’t resist it. His eyes communicating nothing but friendship, that of a brother to his own. I opened up his newspaper-wrapped lunch packet. The smell of basmati and spices added to the spectacular view of the coast of Nusa Penida, a small island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. I took one bite of his yellow rice and his buddy walked over and offered me another packet.
As I was unraveling his royal feast, wrapped in a common newspaper, I noticed that he was sitting at the back of the boat, with a smile, looking out into the clear blue ocean.
That’s when I realized that he has just offered me his lunch!
Then it hit me. I was in Asia. Where roots of hospitality has run in the hearts and veins of people for thousands of years. The experience made me realize that I cannot enjoy their land and its fruits without respecting their way of life and their sincere smiles.
Wealth in this part of the world is stored in the hearts and souls of the people. People’s hearts are made of gold there. They don’t have fancy cars and luxury suites. They eat their rice with bear fingers and don’t think twice about offering their meal to a total stranger.
The reality, today, is dominated by a materialistic ideology, enforced by imperialistic attitudes. In this system, these kind-hearted islanders can only be great hosts to tourists that work in the “developed world”.
A taxi driver in Asia cannot goto the west and afford to take a taxi to see the Eiffel Tower. But a taxi driver in the West can come to Asia and afford the luxuries only the wealthy in the East can afford. Even though they both do the same job, one is able to experience luxury, while the other has to deal with bargaining tourists all day to make a living.
Let’s not forget to look at the whole picture when discussing ideas. Equality is not only about gender, race or religion. Development is not only the measure of external possessions, but also the development of the mind and the heart.
Indonesians have hearts of gold. As I walk these streets, I see wealthy individuals that have no gold to show but smiles to offer.