It is certainly not easy for me at times to live in Jakarta. When people look at me they see the young female bule and probably think that I have no idea about Indonesia's culture and politics. But once I open my mouth they don't seem to be able to close theirs.
People here are so shocked when they find out that I can understand and speak the language that it is annoying when you are in the middle of telling them something, while they are still in shock hearing me speak bahasa gaul. Someone asked me once where my family is and I would start with "bokap gw ....". I can't just continue as they are obviously not listening anymore but rather go: "ya ampun, kok bahasa indonesia lo bagus bangat sih!" I don't want to come across as arrogant or anything like that, but I have heard that so many times now that it is getting on my nerves. It might be weird at the start when you meet me, but will you people please get over it.
I personally believe that any bule in Indonesia who is living here for more than a year should be able and willing to speak some Indonesian. We are in someone else’s country, so we should respect that and learn their language. The majority of bules don't even make an effort, and it has become a norm. It really bothers me that the majority of expatriates think that it is not worth while to appreciate the Indonesian culture.
From a business perspective, I think it is crucial.
I have met a lot of bule businessmen in Jakarta and Balikpapan who get a great salary simply because they are Caucasian. I start chatting with them and they just go on and on bitching about the locals. I find this straight out offensive and I can’t believe they have the audacity to even say such things when they should be in actual fact thankful for getting paid so much money compared to their Indonesian counterpart.
Maybe this sounds all a bit aggressive from my side, but I have witnessed this so many times, that I think it is time to share my observations and thoughts with you on this topic.
(I have lived in Jakarta now for 5 years and have to thank anak2 IKJ for teaching me while nongkrong at TIM for a couple of years. That's where i learned my bahasa gaul. The Indonesian language has become a part of me and I’m proud of it!)