Mistaken for an American?
A Canadian reader has emailed me to ask if the place safe these days for your average 'bule' foreigner who could easily be mistaken for an American
Now, as I wrote earlier
this month, I feel the word bule
is inherently racist. Still, being mistaken for an American could, I suppose, be marginally worse. Actually, some of my best friends etc. etc. ... (Hi Peg & Gene)
I would expect most Canadians to be used to being mistaken for their southern cousins, so, in terms of personal angst, that's something D.M will have to sort out for himself. As for living and working here, I rarely have problems. I do not live an expat lifestyle with a 'hardship allowance', subsidized schooling, an apartment or housing in a complex with a car, driver, other servants and swimming pool.
The majority of my colleagues are Indonesians who often have problems in dealing with my ideas yet, by and large, they listen and accept the notion of different approaches. This doesn't actually mean that they immediately accept our values and systems, but with a high degree of flexibility and an eye on the long-term goals, which are shared, I do feel that what I have to offer will eventually be accepted, on Indonesian terms.
My expat social circle is similar. Friends are settled here with Indonesian families; our children may, like Our Kid, attend what are called National Plus schools which have an international bias to their curricula, albeit at a lower cost than International Schools. We are happy here and, having a grasp, in my case minimal, of Bahasa Indonesia, have been assimilated into our communities.
Naturally, there are times when we wish to gather and exchange news and views. This may be in local bars
on a regular basis or for special gatherings, such as the DJ Testimonial Quiz
night last weekend. (The Carlisle United team were a valiant second and came out quids in with T-shirts and meal vouchers as bonuses to a very pleasant evening.)
Have a browse of the Living in Indonesia
site for a fuller flavour of life here. You'll also find links to the various embassies which offer travel advisories, which tend to be over-cautious
Is Jakarta (and most of the rest of the country) safe? Hey, yes. At long, long last, the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival
(JakJazz) returns. Last held before Suharto abdicated in '98, security concerns and the economic meltdown put paid to one of the greatest weekends in our social calendars. This year it is being held on the weekend of 4th to 6th March with proceeds going to the tsunami victims.
Amongst the Americans appearing are James Brown (Papa's Got A Brand New Zimmer Frame
), Earth, Wind & Fire, George Duke and Laura Fygi. Sure, they'll be staying in the Hilton which the venue, the Convention Centre, is part of, and overall security will be tight, but where in the world isn't it?
Don't bother answering that question - it isn't safe for Indonesians in Iraq at the moment. Two Metro TV journalists have been seized
. This is not the first time Indonesians have found themselves on the frontline there; last October two young women were abducted
, but were later released unharmed. Interestingly, it was Metro TV (which) aired footage from Al Jazeera showing the women wearing Muslim head scarves and staring expressionless into the camera.
It is possible that the journalists are being offered a scoop by their captors.
They certainly won't be mistaken for Americans.