Watching Street Food Asia Made Me Ask: Are We Happy Enough?

An old fast food seller, featured in Netflix's Street Food Asia, changed my life and perception of happiness - a life without consumerism and expectations.

“I feel only happiness. Life is wonderful.”

You must be thinking these words must have come from a billionaires who had found the fountain of youth and beauty? Well, you are wrong. These words came from the mouth of a very old woman bent with age, who has lost most of her teeth, but not her smile and zest for life.

I had been binge-watching Netflix the other day, and I came across the series called Street Food Asia. I have always loved series like these and even before Netflix I had found my self mesmerized with the likes of Anthony Bourdain, David Rocco and Jamie Oliver to name a few.

Coming back to my recent series, there was an episode where they covered a place in Indonesia. The episode featured a woman selling an Indonesian delicacy named Jajan Pasar.

The first glimpse of the woman was that of a fragile woman walking through the door with a child like chuckle into her humble kitchen. She was bent with age, she was visibly very old, but her smile carried the freshness and vivacity of a newborn child.

This is her story

The episode showed that she got up every day at 12.30 am to cook the food she would need to sell the next day. Her husband and her daughter helped her with the chores. At 5.30 am, her daughter dropped her at her spot in the market where she sat selling her Jajan Pasar, till the last one of them was sold off.

There was more to her story of how she learnt to make the delicacy from her mother as a young girl; how she met her husband and, after three children and so many grandchildren later, how they were still in love with each other. Her story ended with her opinion on life.

I was thinking she would speak of hardships, having to work so hard at this age as she is the sole breadwinner of the family. Yes, you read it right. This woman bent with age is the breadwinner of the family, as it’s her food that sells like hot cakes in the market.

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I was thinking she would talk of how she had just worked all her life, of how there’s no way of retiring, or of how difficult it is to wake up post midnight and start work just after dawn.

But she said nothing of the sort. All she said was, “All I feel is happiness, life is wonderful.

And here we are surrounded by people who are bothered by everything. People get bothered if their neighbour bought a Rolls-Royce. I wondered if we are actually conditioned into believing that happiness is at the next destination- a better car, grand vacations, etc.

If you look at it, most people live to impress, and this makes them slaves to other people’s opinions.

This woman selling Jajan Pasar at a spot in the market, it’s just a spot okay, she does not even have a shop. This woman was free from exactly this-other people’s opinion. She lived her life, did what was needed.

Had a roof over her head, had good health for her age, and was surrounded by family, and she was happy. She was happy-go-lucky and didn’t care that she did not even know her birth year.

When asked, she said, “I don’t know, but it must have been a long time ago.”

I wondered what is in this woman that she has found this peace of mind, this happiness, this heaven-may-care attitude. Is she like this because she does not care about what she looks like, what’s her age, or how much her neighbours are earning?

Is she happy because she has seen through the trick of consumerism culture that bombards us with ‘happiness at the next destination’ to get a profit out of our purchases? A vacation, the best food to have, the must-have car, gadgets, appliances, fad, trends etc.?

This woman was free

Free from expectations and people’s opinion. This free spirit is what led to her to this fulfilling statement and a state of unending happiness.

Looking at her, I wondered, what it must be like to have that level of freedom. Freedom from things I don’t need, freedom from expectations, freedom from people’s opinion. Freedom from being a slave to thoughts that judge and scare. It must feel like being a child again.

Well, I can only imagine.

Image source: Still from trailer of Street Food Asia, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Priyanka Kotoky

A Social Media Content Writer by profession. A writer by heart. A genuine foodie. Simple by nature. Love to read, create paintings and cook. Have impossible dreams. At the moment, engaged in making those dreams read more...

89 Posts | 156,159 Views

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