The longest hour of my life- with Marilyn Monroe and 3 chickens

By Anna Antoni, KF11, Indonesia

I was never as scared in my life as yesterday. I hesitated to write this blog entry, because I don’t want to give the impression that Kiva sends fellows into a dangerous environment. But we all chose to move to developing countries for at least 3 months – security simply has a different meaning in industrialized northern countries…

Yesterday evening I was driving home on my motorbike (just to make things clear from the beginning- using public transport isn’t much different…). I got used to Indonesian streets and I got used to the way people drive on them. But yesterday I had to take the longest 15km of my life. I will not describe the setting in detail, but what kept me going without freaking out was to think about this blog entry and to chant: 3 chickens, 3 chickens, 3…*

How does security look like in industrialized northern countries?

Rules. Lots of rules. No driving without helmet and seat belt, no smoking in public places, no- fill in whatever you can think of…Oh how much the tourists here enjoy smoking wherever they can and driving around like crazy…

I remembered a quote from Marilyn Monroe when I was driving off the street because a truck was using my lane, horning and blinding me.  “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere”.

Experiencing and loving how Indonesians are- happy, funny, open hearted, frank, curious, polite- it brings me to a point where I connect the generally more unsatisfied and definitely colder character of many people in industrialized northern countries to a high degree of regulations, rules and bureaucracy. Are rules and all that security focused thinking taking away too much from enjoying our lives? (see Gross National Happiness Index)

Living in Austria and looking at international media I see that fear is constantly present. So you have a bunch of insurances and if you can’t afford them, you have a bunch of things to worry about. Where do such thoughts lead me to…?

I don’t come to a solution but I hope that microfinance is a step towards a higher income for big parts of this world. I hope that with a higher income comes more education and expectations, with that come more claims for governments to improve infrastructure, to bring some never executed laws to life and to increase freedom.

And I hope it will lead to a degree of security that raises life expectancy but in the same time keeps a quality of life that makes you feel free and content. Free and content how I see most Indonesians, even if they sit in a public bus filled with smoke, driving like only an ambulance with a dying person should. Not worried and unsatisfied like I know too many people in industrialized northern countries, sitting in a neat air con subway…

* 1 ½ months ago in the Philippines I participated in a ceremony where chickens were sacrificed- by Catholics- and the safety of my journey was included in their prayer. It helped. At least yesterday…

About the author

Anna Antoni