I’m a friend of travelling. Usually I don’t really mind the 15 – 17 hours of flying home every once a while. I like sitting in a plane with a thousands of plans, what I would do back home with my family. In normal cases, this duration of travel is not a burden.
Indonesia is not really a stone’s throw away from Germany. In the modern time with all the possibilities of communication one doesn’t really realize, what the long distances mean. Apart from my brother, who also lives in Germany with his wife, my other whole family is still in Indonesia, mainly scattered on the island of Java.
About 20 years ago, our father was on a military duty in Bosnia as I was still living in Indonesia. At that time the distance meant a lot. There were weeks or sometimes months, where we couldn’t have any contact with him. Faxed letters seemed to be a luxury good compared to postal letters. My brother and I used to send him written letters and self made handworks. Phone calls were seldom due to the extremely high rate and I used to have many many happy tears whenever we had the chance to hear his voice in the phone line. And that was probably once every 1 – 2 months. At that time Europe was the other world for me. The distance was unimaginably enormous and I felt so diminutive.
Now.. after about 13 years living in Europe, the communication technology has advanced miraculously. Somehow I have taken all the easy, fast communication so much for granted. The approximate 11 000 km-distance between me and primarily my parents seem normally oblivious to me. We do phone calls, video calls, write whatsapp messages whenever we have time almost in daily basis. We have come to believe, that we are merely a stone’s throw away. The thoughts of having emergency cases, when we probably should be right away by each other’s side are usually relieved by this belief: with the power of internet (and a credit card) I could just spring to the airport, get into the flight and be at home in Indonesia after approximately 20 hours of travel.
I must say, that this belief I’ve been holding on to, has been blown away..twice this year. And my steady daily life was rocked even harder 3 days ago, on Friday, the 30th of September 2016, as my dearest grandmother passed away, as unexpectedly as ever. I heard the heart-throbbing news at 6 a.m. from my brother. Being numb for a while, I couldn’t exactly cry. Instead I went directly into the internet and tried to find out how to get home as fast as possible.
As I processed the news I realized that it was a normal working day. My upcoming days were packed with a rather tight working schedule.. I wasn’t even sure how I could manage to cancel or delay any of my set meetings. Additionally, having searched the internet for a possible direct flight, I found out how inconvenient the flight hours and how extremely expensive the flights from Nuremberg were. I realized then, that it would be impossible to be home on time to attend the funeral of my grandmother.
This time reality set and I had to take the bitter pill in. Some things are not to be compensated even with the advance of technology. These 11 000 km of distance is obviously still there and not to be ignored. Being a person living far away from home, along with my obligations and limitations, it is automatically entitled to me, that I will miss some major and critical events in my homeland.. And somehow I just have to learn to live with that.
Rest in peace our dearest Andung. Our prayers are with you.