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A Trip To The Pasar

“Anyone want to go to the pasar with me?” I occasionally ask the kids.

Their answer? No whoops of joy, no hollers of “yes, Mom, please!” Just moans, groans, and fists beating the floor.

I get it. The pasar, or open market, is not the most enjoyable place to visit. It stinks, there are puddles of betel nut spit and fish market runoff to avoid, and we attract unwanted attention. So many reasons why the kids, or their mom, might refuse to visit the pasar and wistfully pine for the pristine aisles of an American grocery store.

But I’ve found, for me, I need to go. Frequently. I could probably get what I need at a number of stores in town, but some things can only be found at the pasar. And I’m not just talking about potatoes and papayas.

Indonesian Pasar
Indonesian Pasar
Prone to feel sorry for myself, or get worked up over silly little things, I need the perspective that visiting the pasar brings. I watch little Papuan women with their net bags hanging from their heads, sitting on the ground, bunches of greens and stacks of sweet potatoes before them. They call out to me, and I wonder about them, how early they had to get up to be here, how many kids they left behind at home, how much money they will make in a day. Our hands briefly touch as we exchange money and I wonder at their roughness, the hard work these hands have seen, and my own problems start to diminish.

I glance at my shopping list that includes onions, tomatoes, and garlic, and think how I need to scribble down contentment, gratitude, and compassion––the things I hope to come away with as well.

Yeah, I’ll go home with mucky sandals and an aura of eau de rotten garbage about me, but with sacks full of fresh veggies and a readjusted outlook on life, I’m not about to give up going to the pasar.


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