Bule living in middle class neighbourhood experience

Methblinkz

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Nov 14, 2019
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Bule living in middle class neighbourhood experience​


Here is one experience that I would have never got if I was still in an apartment. During the Ahok election in 2017 they put a polling station in our garage. A guy from the army slept on the floor next to the ballot box the night before. On election day there was this whole system of queuing and punching paper, dipping ink etc. in different parts of our front garden. When it came to the count, the voting papers were opened one by one and scores chalked up on a board, and as Anies inched ahead, certain members of the crowd who had come to watch the count started to cheer whenever he got a vote. The others, who wanted Ahok to win, were I guess too embarrassed to cheer when he won a vote since it was clear many of the neighbours regarded it as an "Islam vs the rest" election. It was all good-natured but by the end, having seen the character of some of the neighbours I decided our garage would not be used for this purpose any more, and we refused the request to do it for the Jokowi 2019 election. I did find the whole thing fascinating though, and a bit of a window into life in the country.
I can relate at least a bit to it. It didn't happen in our garage but our front yard, where we lived before. It was just the local election, but still an interesting thing to watch.😁
 

Dharma Police

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These days it’s not a bad idea to live in an outwardly modest home. While Jakarta seems to be safer than the past, house burglary and robbery are still common.
And dress modestly. My wife's aunt's house got burglarized a couple of months ago. I can't say it's because she tends to dress flashy, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that she caught the attention of a thief wearing expensive dresses, jewelry and handbags.
 

Nimbus

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And dress modestly. My wife's aunt's house got burglarized a couple of months ago. I can't say it's because she tends to dress flashy, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that she caught the attention of a thief wearing expensive dresses, jewelry and handbags.
If she wears lots of blings, she could have been followed home by a criminal. We know that many robbers post lookouts around banks to watch for people withdrawing large amounts of cash.
 

Pak Asam Manis

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In my own experience having lived in houses in a few different areas of Medan, which I think could best be described as "on the bubble" between "lingkungan orang miskin" and "lingkungan kelas menengah ke bawah" ("in the 'hood" and "extremely modest but respectable enough"):

It can be a very fine line between being perceived by neighbors as standoffish, rude and "sombong" (arrogant) - simply because you shy away from social interaction and send clear enough signals that you are uncomfortable with the same (because you are holding on to your Western sense of "privacy rights" etc and naturally seek your own comfort zone), and on the other foot being perceived as "friendly and open", because you make an effort to be so, and then feeling like you are being somewhat taken advantage of, socially or otherways. We tend to expect people to read our "signals" as if directly reading our minds, and when dealing with a very different culture with its own customs and norms it doesn't work like that at all. We can't expect them to understand what is going on in our heads (beyond our ability to explain it to them in words they can understand) or let alone why we think the way we do about social matters and interactions ("aneh" = "strange").

Of course there are many variables, notably the individual personality / character of the bule. Some are naturally outgoing, others more guarded and defensive (that's me). For the former the cultural transition is easier and for the latter it's harder.

As mentioned above by HappyMan, language acquisition helps a lot to bridge the gap. For most of us this will likely come slowly and very gradually. Language is a big key to understanding the culture - it gives many insights into the Indonesian frame of mind (generalization).

Having an Indonesian spouse / friend who can translate and explain on both ends helps a lot. Even with this advantage, I struggled pretty mightily with such "social issues" during several years time. Funny that although I have not lived in Indonesia in the past five years, I still feel that my understanding of the Indonesian way of thinking and its culture (broadly speaking, generalization again) have grown in those years just by having time to "process" and let things sink in mentally and emotionally. At least I hope that is true and will serve me well when the wife and I eventually retire there. It just takes time and some effort is also required. Indonesians may seem "nosy" to us and we may seem "sombong" to them, but they are also typically patient and easily forgiving. Best for us to emulate those last two qualities.
 

Pilgrimrunner

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Sep 14, 2016
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If I move to Indonesia, I would live in a middle class neighbourhood that looks like in the pictures below.

I spent one month in this neighbourhood when I visited Indonesia to meet my girlfriend there. It’s a calm and quiet neighbourhood with little traffic and the streets were only busy during the evening when people got home from work.

I had no problems there and the people on the street were nice to me. I also did not feel observed by them, only a little bit but I think thats normal because I’m foreigner. Overall I felt very comfortable there and this is one of the reasons why I consider moving there.

But my thought is how will it be if I rent a house there and really live there?
I read here often that Indonesian people tend to be very curious and interested in privat affairs.

Maybe some of you have been through this experience and can tell a little bit.

What to expect as a westerner and what are going to be the challenges?
I live with my (Indo) wife and 2 kids in a "middle class" area of Pamulang, TangSel. We live on a complex which is pretty quiet and peaceful. I have little interaction with the other neighbours but do chat occasionally when we meet when I'm running or jj with the kids.
The neighbours are polite and respectful but will ask direct questions sometimes which I have no problems with and surprisingly many of the neighbours speak good English. I used to get lots of blatant staring, finger pointing and "bule" shouting originally, mostly by the kids and again I'm ok with that but nowadays, that hardly happens at all.
I've been there 3.5 years now and have seen many improvements in and around the Pamulang area wrt roads, shops, cafes and restaurants so I'm much happier these days : )
 

Dharma Police

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I live with my (Indo) wife and 2 kids in a "middle class" area of Pamulang, TangSel. We live on a complex which is pretty quiet and peaceful. I have little interaction with the other neighbours but do chat occasionally when we meet when I'm running or jj with the kids.
The neighbours are polite and respectful but will ask direct questions sometimes which I have no problems with and surprisingly many of the neighbours speak good English. I used to get lots of blatant staring, finger pointing and "bule" shouting originally, mostly by the kids and again I'm ok with that but nowadays, that hardly happens at all.
I've been there 3.5 years now and have seen many improvements in and around the Pamulang area wrt roads, shops, cafes and restaurants so I'm much happier these days : )
The first time I visited Indonesia was back in 1993, and had to get used to people staring at me. This was in Jakarta, but I was more of a novelty in Central Java. At one point we were on a road trip to Yogya and stopped to eat nasi gudeg at a small town restaurant. A crowd gathered just to stare at me. I'm guessing with the advent of the internet and now smartphones we're no longer such a rare sight.

I kind of miss it. Not gonna lie, it felt pretty good to have pretty girls smiling and waving at me :eyebrows:
 

Tex Avery

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Nov 18, 2020
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I would suggest an apartment in Kunnigan or Kemang or some other apartment in Jakarta but then you deal with douchey rich locals who push and shove without saying 'permisi' or excuse me.

Or you deal with sugar baby / trust fund types that try and look down on you because they can't get a good read on you.

There's no real privacy unless you stay home all day.

During the pandemic I also had weird interactions with locals in the elevator or common areas bc my mask wasn't cutting off my circulation enough. There was a bit of an altercation each time.

Definitely not as friendly as I was led to believe. So much for middle class.
 

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