Graduating is a Good Time for Change

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Students are graduating. This is a month to realise new responsibilities and make new commitments.

A native Los Angelino friend, a talented illustrator, started biking after graduating from grade 9. He said he just feels natural to bike wherever he goes ever since. To him, the bike is like shoes to us (or like cars to some Jakartans, sadly). Whenever he takes public transports for long distance travels, he would take his bike along. He once biked from his place in lower West Hollywood, to my place on Woodrow Wilson drive, riding up Laurel Canyon avenue and along Mulholland drive. Mulholland drive is popular for sporting bikers during weekends, as it curves gently along the hill sides. But, Laurel Canyon is really not a gentle ride, it slopes up well from Sunset Boulevard. I know it is hard to imagine biking up and down Laurel Canyon. It is even harder to imagine such a person really exists in LA. Well, that is exactly the point I am making.

Research tells that graduating is a moment when many make important decision as to what kind of transport that they will get used to, into many years of their future life.

A son of another friend, a director of a foreign cutural institute, decided to go on a heroic zero-carbon journey to Europe, after graduating from grade 12 in Jakarta. He and his sister took on public and trading boats, busses, trucks and trains all the way through South-East Asia, Indian continent, Central Asia and Europe. Only from a country in Central Asia to Moskow did they have to take a flight. (corrected: they actually took train).

Graduating involves many factors that influence one’s important decisions at the time. One might change schools or colleges. One might also change neighbourhoods. Starting a new job is also a critical point when people change their neighbourhoods, sometime for reasons of prestige, too; or move to another bigger town. Along with those changes, one might decide on new means of daily transport, either as a consequence or as an end in itself.

I just bought a bicycle for Didier as his graduating (from grade 9) gift. He chose a bicycle rather than a wooden Magno radio that I actually had bought and kept secretly for two months. He intends to bike to school (B2S, “beetoos”), to his new high school starting in July. That would be a ride of about 15 minutes one way. I don’t expect anyone would dare to bully him. He is tall and his eyes clever. My wife was sceptical whether or not he would be consistent. But, hey, that is a risk worth being taken. We can always resell the bike (and the radio). I wish many of us, children and parents, would find that decision easy this season. In the mean time, have a rejuvenating holiday!

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