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10 years of typical observations

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  • 10 years of typical observations

    Im a bule and have been coming to Indonesia for about 10 years now! What a richly diverse, relatively beautiful country.

    I have compiled a few things observed during my years in Indonesia, manners and behaviors I had to get used to and some that I still struggle with.
    I am not saying that other countries/cultures don't have their own weird manners. This list is short and could go on for ages but I felt like "curhat" a little,
    venting, or simply sharing.

    One must be patient, flexible, observant and sensible with differences encountered in different countries.

    -Waiting in line

    Most Indonesians do not have the capacity to grasp the concept of lining up, waiting in line. This varies depending on location. Overall im pleasantly surprised when this does not occur.
    I must plan ahead who is where in the store and position myself in a way where people can't pass in front of me once im ready to pay.
    Otherwise I can never really be able to arrive at the cashier.
    Happens all of the time. Last week I was about to pay for my food at a restaurant when this lady shuffles herself literally between the front of my body
    and the counter to buy something.

    The same hopeless phenomenon can happen at petrol stations with motorbikes, which is unbelievable, watching guys actually trying cutting others off and not succeeding.


    When you try to get your ticket checked by the one staff and board a plane, the mass of people around you attempts squeezing through and ahead all at once,
    as if they're going to miss the plane. When the plane has landed and we're about to disembark, everyone is desperately trying to get out all at once, cramming against each other like sheep.



    -Indiscretions, nosiness.

    In any public transportation I may try to look at my phone to read a text, and whoever is sitting next to me will lean over to read too.
    Hopefully im in a good mood!
    People ask how much money I make in my country. I tell them in my country we don't openly talk about salary to strangers so that they can sit around
    with the whole neighborhood and spill out how ''rich'' the bule nextdoor is.

    -Money in small villages

    If I hire someone for a task, the other guys will be jealous and their attitude becomes cold suddenly. What am I supposed to do? Hire everyone?
    Genuine friendship can be pretty limited, often dependent on the money flowing from you to them. Hopefully not, right?
    If you hire someone for a job, you pay them however you feel fit. Once the job is done, there is no more salary. It is done. You are not working anymore,
    you cannot be paid for not working. We can be decent to each other still. You did something for me, I did for you. i appreciate you, thank you.
    Talk to you later, good old neighbor.

    When you point out how an Indonesian is obviously wrong about something, or you find out and tell them about the lies that they abused you with,
    they are the ones getting angry at you. This is particularly worrisome as the once seemingly very nice individual becomes this volatile, potentially backstabbing person.
    Trust is gone out the window forever.

    -Mindless pollution and waste

    How much garbage is thrown out of moving vehicle windows every day across this nation? How many thousand tons of garbage are thrown on the beaches every sunday?
    99.9% of indonesians do this without a hint of consciousness, without fail. Seen from 10 years of first hand experience.

    Highlights: a beautiful young lady casually crossing the street from her house with a huge garbage bag, tossing it staight into the ocean,
    walking back and going about her daily household activities and light-hearted gossip and laughter. We're talking household garbage, from grandma's plasters to the sister's tampons to the baby's diapers, into the living organism that is the ocean.

    At a bus stop, a young man was in the middle of his hot pop mie when he decided he'd had enough. He simply stretched out of the window and let it fall and
    collapse in a splashing mess across the ground, plastic fork, unused straws and all. Life goes on, right?
    A mother patiently holds a plastic bag for her daughter to vomit in while in the moving bus. Her motherly love is something to admire. But at another bus stop,
    she drops the 2 bags full of fresh vomit right out of the door after stepping out, where people then have to walk around it, seemingly unfazed.
    No looking for garbage cans or a better place to drop it off.

    People using their backyard beaches and rivers as garbage dumps, diapers and all.

    On a bright note, I appreciate Indonesian's natural sense of community, light-hearted humour, friendliness, helpfullness.
    I also understand that plastic is a problem, and if all packages were biodegradable which was a reality before, it wouldn't matter as much

  • #2
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Can't say that mine are all that different.

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    • #3
      Mine to

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