A Country Of Extremes Part II : The Ugly

A Country Of Extremes Part II : The Ugly

DISCLAIMER: this article is based on personal experiences and things in it are biased because of the country of origin of the person. Therefore it is absolutely not the truth. It is more like a perspective on a living experience in another country that is very different from the country of origin of the person writing this.

 

Let me tell you. The difference between visiting Indonesia as a tourist and living there is huge. It’s a different world. People that have been here for tourism must have felt the warmth of the people when they smile to foreigners. Friendly and always willing to help. That is kind of true but there are several reasons behind their behavior. And being here for seven months makes me understand that more…

The primary reason is the Asian minority complex. Indonesians feel inferior to white people, a lot. I often ask them why and they never give a clear answer, simply because there is no clear answer. Asians strive for whiter skin, non-flat noses and basically, everything the media shows them about white people. You must have noticed the whitening creams in the supermarkets. Asians are idolizing white people and I don’t consider that something good. Because of that, they are also chasing the American dream. Everyone wants to be rich, regardless of how to get to it. A fancy house and a car to show off to other people equal success…Sounds familiar?

I think the media plays a huge role in this. Most people know white people from TV or commercials. They might have never seen one in real life (especially not in this village). If people see a “bule” (white person) the staring begins. Sometimes so long that you better call it an “eye-fight” 🙂 and then the photobombing begins. Imagine me entering this village…I know. I’m still not comfortable with it and where I come from staring or taking photos publicly is rude. You can even get beaten up for it if you are messing with the wrong people. Here, I do feel stared at but I don’t feel idolized and that is a good thing. It is already very hard for me to integrate and hopefully as my language skills improve, I am more able to integrate as a local…

Generally, I have the feeling Indonesians don’t think much about the things they do. They are more of the following kind… That makes it extremely difficult to explain and make them understand certain things. Either true facts or personal beliefs.
A good example is waste management. As the second largest plastic polluter in the world, most people here recognize the problem (it is very, very, very obvious). But they just continue throwing or burning their garbage on the street or choose to use plastic in every single product. I cannot understand that. Why does a beverage need 2 straws when you can just drink from the glass? When I order drinks I always have to mention two things. No straw, no sugar! They even put extra sugar in fresh fruit juices. Or did you think fruit juice is naturally sweet like that?…

When reading this, it might all sound a bit exaggerated and oversensitive and even I have that feeling when I reread what I wrote. But my eyes are absorbing the current situation while my mind is thinking how this mess will look in ten, twenty or even thirty years from now…
I can guarantee you it is a scary thought, unless some kind of miracle will happen. But I don’t believe in miracles anyway…

Here are 2 anecdotes related to what I tried to explain above:

A story where 15 exclusive handbags were made out of the skin of Sumatran python snakes by a Western company. They advertised those 15 exclusive bags through social media with Victoria Beckham being there “angler”. 14 out of 15 bags were sold immediately bought by Asian people. Singaporean, Indonesian and Chinese. Just because they saw Victoria Beckham parading with it and they wanted to be the same…

 

A very recent example: five young girls took the metro in Jakarta for the first time ever. While being in the metro they started to clean up the garbage in it. They got noticed by the staff and the photo went viral. Imagine such a thing in Belgium. I don’t think it will go viral if a few young kids start cleaning up a metro or a bus. But it is exactly because those children are doing something that is different and no one expects, that this gets noticed. And maybe that’s how Indonesia can slowly change towards a better country…

 

On a slightly different note, April 2019 is the month of the presidential election, and things might get nasty. There are 2 choices. Either the current president Joko Widodo or the opposition Prabowo Subianto. When you read the first paragraph in Wikipedia you already know things will get ugly when Prabowo will be elected. Jokowi has ruled this country well, trying to eliminate corruption in the past 4 years. Since Indonesia has probably been corrupt from the day it got independent, it was and still is a very hard task for Jokowi. The governments and public services are tangled in a web of corruption involving big industries like tobacco and mining companies, to only name a few. It is extremely difficult to get out of that because many of these agreements were made in the past, where corruption was the default.
And Prabowo reminds me of Trump, someone who will invest greatly in the army and talks very aggressively to the public and his followers. If Indonesia follows the world “trend” Prabowo will certainly be elected. And I am genuinely afraid that will happen. The downfall of Indonesia, and there you have my reference to Hitler also…

If you know any Indonesian people, brainwash them and tell them to vote Jokowi!

 

Next time: food, food, food…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “A Country Of Extremes Part II : The Ugly

  1. Dag Janick, ik begrijp wat je voelt; ik ben ook op dat punt geweest. Er is nochtans een simpele manier om de aandacht van je af te leiden en dat is een kindje kopen… 🙂

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