Worldly Things and Happiness
Osh is by far the best city Ive been in Kyrgyzstan. Compared to Bishkek, people here smiles more. They are friendlier. Osh city feels more like Kashgar compared to Bishkek. The people, the food, everything. Bishkek looks more a city inside Russia compared to Osh. There was a major riot in 2010, a big fight between ethic Kyrgyz and Uzbek, hundreds of people died from it but now the life here isn’t so tense anymore. I see Kyrgyz and Uzbek are smiling to each other, greeting each other, shaking each other’s hands, living in harmony. I feel safer here too. I ended up staying 5 days here, taking a rest from cycling and continue to perform my fasting in the month of Ramadhan while Im not moving. I made some friends in the restaurant that I usually go but language is always a barrier. In this case, google translate seems like a very genius invention.
It feels like Im living in an oven here at daytime so I spent most of my time under the shade. On one fine evening I climbed Mt Sulayman, very close to the city to see the whole view of Osh from the peak. It is only a few easy steps on stairs to get to the top, a very small mountain. It was already dark when I got up there so I got to see the night view of the city and the beginning of the highway M41, which snakes all the way to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan through the Pamir mountains. On top of the mountain, there is a small room for prayer and they said Prophet Muhammad used to pray here during Isra’ Mi’raj. Now the peak of this mountain is filled with young local couples and some tourists.
After a good rest in Osh, I then got back on my bicycle seat to continue my journey towards the north, to get to my final destination in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. It was an easy ride towards Jalal-Abad, mostly on flat roads without much climbing but the traffic was quite heavy, especially with trucks. The road is quite small and it was scary sometimes when trucks passed by me so near. I rode slowly again, not because of the headwind and big climbs, but the friendliness of the people. Kids were chasing me, shouting happily, adults were smiling and waving at me as I passed them. It was very hot here at this time of the year and it feels very hot as early as 9am. I stopped at a small shop at the roadside to get some cold drinks not so far from Jalal-Abad and to take a short 15 minutes rest. But I ended up staying there much longer since a few of them speak good English and we talked about so many things. They then invited me to take a break from the hot weather and swim in their pool. They don’t run guesthouse here but they offered me a room for the night. I wasn’t in a rush so I accepted happily. One of them, Nuraim and her mother cook very good plov for me. When her dad came home from work in Osh in the evening, they drove me to the nearby field where they planted some wheat and apricot. It was a very beautiful evening.
Talking to them, I realized that they are living a very good life here. They don’t live with debts like most of us who are living in the city. Nuraim’s dad, work in Osh for a few years after he completed his study in Moscow, didn’t earn much but managed to buy a house here in the countryside instead, since getting a house in a city is expensive. Then slowly he opened a small shop at their house selling groceries and expanding at a very slow rate from there. They’re very careful on their spendings. I then began questioning myself, many people from the countryside are moving to cities in search for a better life. But most of the time, I see that people living peacefully and happily are here in the countryside, not in a crowded city. I sensed happiness buried deep inside their heart, covered by their inexpensive simple clothes, by watching their movements, from the words that come out from their mouth, from their eyes and from the smiles that are carved on their beautiful faces. Its like diamond in the rough. The secret inside the “batin” (interior, unseen) will always show itself and can be seen at the surface in the “zahir” (exterior). Every unseen thing in the heart will manifest itself and can be seen on the exterior of a human, from their movement, facial expression and their words.
Talking about money, I don’t 100% agree when they say money can’t buy happiness. Try to live in poverty and see if we can lead a happy life. Most of the time, especially living inside the system of the world today, you need money to get things and to do things that can make you happy. You can’t directly buy happiness with money, but we definitely need money. The key is moderate and being grateful on what we have. If we want too much, much more than we need, that’s when greed starts coming into our heart and we will always struggle to fulfill our greed because human greed is infinite. The worldly things can never fulfill our human greed. Material possession is never the key to happiness. The more we posses, the more we afraid to lose it. None of these worldly materials are permanent. Everything is temporary, we are just borrowing it for a while, we are just owning it for a certain amount of time, even our own human body. We buy a luxury car today, it will start to age the moment it got out from the showroom. Slowly, the parts will become old and need to be replaced after a certain amount of time.
Moderate is the best. I learned this by living my life from the seat of my bicycle, on the road. If I have no money at all inside my pocket, I will feel worried, on how to get food and where to sleep in town. If I carry 2000 USD inside my wallet, I will feel worried that someone might try to steal this money from me. And I will always be careful whenever I walk in crowded public places such as bus stations or bazaar, and I hate that feeling. But if I don’t carry much, but enough for me to pay for my accommodation and food, then it’s perfect. It has been years Ive been living on the road, homeless, depending at the materials that I posses only that I carried on my bicycle, which is not much. I realized material possession is never the key to happiness, but freedom is! Being able to breath the fresh air is. Being able to see the beauty of sunrise and sunset is. Being able to smile when you are alone, to think about the good things, forget the bad things and able to forgive every bad things that happened in the past when you close your eyes right before you go to sleep is. Being able to feel contented is. And being able to say alhamdulillah, terima kasih, thank you, gracias, spasiba, xie xie or rahmat is….