25.

Suffice it to say I’ve wholeheartedly experienced a mere fragment of the ‘eat, pray, love’ ideology and my ickle soul (which turned 25 today) is at an unprecedented ease.

I went for friday prayers today (jumuah) at a local masjid suggested by my driver. The beauty of faith, specifically Islam for myself, is a comforting sense of familiarity which my heart and soul recognize regardless of language barriers or where in the world I might be. Uttering that initial greeting of peace, ‘salaam’, to someone in Paris or Bali results in that same cheeky grin so as to say ‘hey, you’re one of us!’, prompted by the obvious ‘where are you from?!’.

Driver dearest prompted to explain where the masjid entrance was and offered to walk me in lol but I was like nah, I got this fam, these are my people! Belonging to this international family who is bound together by something so finicky and controversial such as faith and feeling so at home amidst it all is actually quite amazing. I kept my eyes peeled for a hijab and after sharing a few smiles and silent hand gesturing, was directed to the women’s section of the masjid.

A sermon was given in a different language, but when it came time for prayers, there could have been someone present from every single country in this beautiful world and we all would have been in sync. The flow of words and prayers releasing from my mouth and heart so naturally as did the repetitive movements my limbs have executed countless times made me ever so aware of what I was experiencing in that very moment. And then it began to rain. As I stood side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with jilbab-clad Indonesian women visibly shorter than myself, listening to the melodic recitation of the Imam alongside the pitter-patter of young children running across the cool tiled floor, and perspiring with the humidity created by the heavy downpour to my right, I began to tear up. My eyes welled out of pure joy and bliss in being able to live in that precise moment, the essence of which no camera, regardless of how HD it might be, would ever be able to capture; no menu able to satisfy the yearning of my heart and soul.

As I left the masjid, my eye caught someone who was also blatantly not Indonesian. “Do you speak English?!” I asked. He did. yay me! I proceeded to ask where I could find halal food and was directed across the street. Bless his heart for waiting outside the shop for me as I returned from telling driver dearest where I was headed. He helped me order and as a result I ended up having a lovely lunch with a total stranger, on my birthday, in a different country, and it was so outside of my comfort zone that it gave me warm fuzzy good-soul feels x

My special day is nearly over on my side of the world. Today wasn’t about chocolate cake or how long my eyelashes would be or receiving tangible gifts to ring in being another year older and (hopefully) wiser. It was about so much more and I wouldn’t have had it any other way x

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