Anyone who has done any international trip must have had this ultimate travel document, right? Well, true… However, I think I am probably one of the few who got this even long before having any specific plan whatsoever of going overseas.
Back in the 1990s I was a teenager who daydreamed about going to faraway land. This was originally thanks to my late Dad (may he rest in peace) who was a geography teacher. He introduced me to the thing called… map! At home we got any kind of geographical maps you can think of: our hometown, Cianjur; our island, Java; our country, Indonesia; our continent, Asia; and of course, world map; from the size of your palm to the size of your door. Sometimes he brought home a globe, a map shaped like a ball, just to show us things like time zones, international dateline, world climate, etc. I was truly amazed by how tiny my lovely hometown is compared to the world. And for some reasons, out of his five children, I was the only one who got completely stunned by this idea. I was like, I got to be there one day, be in the other parts of the world.
As time went by I guess this became my only passion, of course back then I didn’t realize it. This made me want to be a diplomat. So, since younger age, I projected myself to become one. One of the efforts I made was learning foreign languages, first was English as the international language and later on Russian as the major I chose in university.
Long story short, things didn’t go as planned after university graduation in 1998. For those who don’t know, between 1997-1998 my home country Indonesia was hit hard by Asian monetary crisis followed by a political unrest. Reality bit, I had to survive, so I took any job to make ends meet. Then, the idea of being a diplomat just vanished. My only hope to see the rest of the world was being a traveller which I had to put in the closet because I turned myself into a workaholic, a career oriented lady, with only 12 day leave each year. I had enough money but no time and interest to travel anywhere anymore.
Then came along the moment when I felt like enough is enough, work exhausted me. So in 2007 I left that demanding job in Bandung and found the very less one somehow in Jakarta. My brain now was able to be in normal pace, so I was like, “I’ll get myself a passport!”
I went to the Immigration Office to get my passport done. When I was filling in the forms, an older Chinese Indonesian man standing next to me said:
“Oh young lady, you were born in the year of Tiger, you must love visiting faraway lands…”
And I was like: “Pardon…?”
He said: “I’m sorry, I accidentally took a glimpse at your papers and I noticed that you were born in the year of Tiger, just like many people who come to me for the passport were. By the way, my name is B, I work for a travel agent, that’s how I got people coming to me.”
I said: “Oh, I see… That’s quite interesting, Sir. I don’t know about that though, this is my first passport and I don’t even have any plan to travel overseas.”
Mr. B: “Ah, don’t worry, you will! Remember, tiger is a natural wanderer, so are you. Sooner or later..”
My reply: “Well, sounds good to me… Nice talking to you, Sir…”
Little did I know that later in life, I did get the chance to go overseas for the first time, on my own (like tiger, the natural solitaire wanderer), in less than a year after this peculiar encounter at the Immigration Office.
And…fast forward to 2014, here I am looking at my second passport with the first one attached in the back. Both of them are “decorated” with dozens of immigration stamps and stickers from some countries in 6 different continents. Not too bad for someone who didn’t have any overseas trip plan in the first place.
The next time I apply for the new passport, I’ll remember what he said to me: “Remember, tiger is a natural wanderer, so are you. Sooner or later.”
So, what’s your passport story?