‘Halo Mister.. how are you.. Mister.. Ojek?..Mister, darimana..?’
Westerners who live in Indonesia got already used to these words. It seems local are not that used to foreigners. I live 500 meters from my workplace, and the same bunch of people every single morning greets me and tries to catch my attention.
The keyword to describe us is bule. Often, as I’m walking people warn each other about my presence screaming this word. A bule never goes unobserved, unless in the very central business districts of Jakarta. It’s like being a VIP. We don’t discriminate people by nationality, but here they really treat us differently. Prejudices say that we have an huge amount of money and we are definitively willing to waste it on that fake Gucci bag. They get surprised every time I take a normal public transportation instead of a taxi.
It’s difficult to explain it to those who never left Europe, but I assure it’s not the same as visiting Germany. Here I sometimes feel like a zoo animal or a famous actor =D I’ll give you some examples: these are only few of the many people who asked me to take a picture with them.
Being used to travelling, it’s difficult to get into their shoes. Only a tiny fraction of world population can afford tourism, and many Indonesians will never have the opportunity to travel abroad. That’s maybe why they are so curious, apart from those that want to sell us something. Also, it’s great for them to be able to speak fluent english, so the less shy of them will always try to say a few words.
Another thing that can happen is you run over girls looking for a rich bule to marry. I didn’t have much contact with them, but some try this in order to fastly improve their socio-economic status. Children, on the other hand, are very funny. They come close, but when we’re hissing at them or trying to take a photo they run away.
The average indonesian is, in my opinion, much less self assured than the average european. Sometimes, we even feel they worship bules, as they are so humble and kind. Historically, this doesn’t make that much sense, given the over three century dominance from The Netherlands, but that’s what I can observe. For sure, we spolied europeans can learn how to be humble and helpful from them. In some occasions too shy, maybe, they hardly express their feelings. But here, everybody is so kind and gentle, and never get angry or fight with each other. I will surely miss it when I’ll be back :)