A Lil Economics Never Hurt Nobody
First off, I’d like to thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouraging words after my previous post Strawberry Jelly, No More Grape, and to the individual who offered to ship me some grape jelly…you the real MVP shawty. However, shoutout to the homie A-A-Ron for actually getting me that purple stuff on my birthday. One skip, one hop, a $10 upgrade to first class, and a few celebrity pregnancies later; boom, young Baba is in Bali, Indonesia.
Prior to my arrival to Bali, I’ve spent the last two weeks enjoying the graciousness of Kuala Lumpur (KL) through its local culture, fusion of ethnic cuisine, and the benevolence of its indigenous and transplant people alike. Lowkey want to make this concrete-meets-jungle paradise home. Alas, I must persevere and continue my path forward on this year long journey to see the world. But what makes KL great? Plenty of positives to point out, but for the sake of sticking to thematic composition, I will focus only on one.
Land of the Free, Where Everything Cost
$38.00 is what it takes for me to eat comfortably in KL for an entire week. Sprinkle a little splurge here and there and you might be looking at $40 max. This includes three to four hefty meals a day, all from dine-in or take away (takeout in American) restaurants. Meanwhile the uber I took from Manhattan to JFK in order to come to Asia charged me $65. Where they do that at??
It is cheaper for me to eat every meal in a restaurant rather than to buy and cook my own groceries. I made that mistake the first week and decided never again.
The food is great by the way. I mean I’m eating Indian, Chinese, Malay all day everyday for the low low. I only have one caveat. The sweet tea in KL is diabetes. No doubt. For real. I’m from the South, Memphis,TN at that. The sweet tea in KL is as if they are serving you sugar water with or without the option to actually taste the tea. If you ask for tea with no sugar, then maybe, MAYBE you’ll get something reminiscent of the sweet tea served at Chick Fil’ A, scraped from the bottom of the canister where all the sugar marinates. But I digress. The point is that yes South East Asia suffers from poverty, unemployment, homelessness and the like. But so does the United States and other Western countries. All I’m saying is, don’t purport yourself to be a country where social mobility and affordability is encouraged, yet when you see a brother is struggling, you still charging me $6.99 for a hot pocket (Kanye Shrugs and side eyes to you Miami Beach and NYC).
Can I Preach? Seizing Opportunities
KL has further opened my eyes in many of ways. We all live in a globally connected economy yes, but the extent and swiftness to which countries are affecting one another hastens. From my travels thus far, I see this phenomenon as an opportunity (suffer with me for just a moment and then you can read on to the more humorous anecdotal material that I have prepared below). If you were to view your opportunities in life as a multiplier of sorts, your ability to do what you love and want becomes almost limitless. Furthermore, the more you move to or even visit places beyond your comfort zone, the more you give yourself a chance to augment various opportunities available to you. Opportunities are not created. They exist and gravitate towards people who choose to put themselves out there as a magnet in this world full of experiences.
When I say multiplier, that is to say that each opportunity that you capture, creates more and better opportunities than the last. Think of it as nodes and paths. The nodes being the opportunities and the paths being the series of events that lead you to said opportunity. Every time you seize a new node, it branches off not as just one path to another opportunity but to several. I won’t bore you with the details of how I believe this concept applies to my life (if you want to pick my brain drop me a line here). All I will say is that when the big man upstairs (no matter which floor you believe him/her to live on) pours down blessings, it is up to you to recognize them, appreciate them, and use them as stepping stones in your life. KL has definitely elevated my perspective in such a way.
Baba Moments: I’m Trynna Blow a Check (But Not Really)
So among the remotes we have a theory known as ‘Level 3 Fun’. Level 1 fun is the normal fun that you expect to have. Playing with your dog, drinking OJ, napping. Level 2 fun is the fun that is unexpected but nonetheless pleasant. Partying with Diddy and Jim Jones, dope pics in infinity pools, shopping at Costco. Cool. Got that out the way. Now, Level 3 fun is the worst experience for which you are completely ill prepared.
I don’t know exactly how this happened to me so we won’t dwell on the prerequisite details. All I know is that somehow I ended up withdrawing 25 Indonesian bills, each of which had “50,000” printed on them in bold font.To do the math, that’s 1,250,000 Rp (rupiah’s). I don’t care what country, what the value of your currency is, or any other excuse, those kind of numbers will make the heart skip of any Memphis born and raised brother like myself. I was only trying to take out $30 worth of cash. In my mind, all I could think was “Baba…you done f***ed up.”
So I’m stressing, went to like 5 western unions, called my bank at least 10 times and at this point, have run up my international minutes for sure. I can’t even call my pops or my momma for that age old Naija wisdom because it’s like 3:00am in the states. On top of that, I don’t think y’all really understand what it is like roaming the streets of a foreign developing country, with stacks on you, and asking complete strangers the equivalent of “Do you know where I can find a bank that does international deposits? I seem to have too much money on me.” “Grade A asshole right here,” is what they must have thought. The phrase “first world problems” has never resonated with me more.
Now if you have ever been injured (a broken arm, fractured foot, sprained ankle, etc.) then you know that the natural human tendency is to shun the bad and embrace the good. All this is to say that I panicked, broke down, and rebuilt all before actually checking the exchange rate and doing the math myself. I would let you guys in on the conversion and exchange rates so that you know it actually wasn’t that bad, but a little economics never hurt…yea you get the point.