Friday, June 06, 2014

Colonialist Behaviour

In the last several months I've seen two kind of behaviors that were displayed by both Indonesians and Foreigners which remind me of colonial era. It is really frustrating dealing with such behavior in the 21st century and being displayed by people who are younger than 40 years old. Seriously!

Exhibit one:
A European had to give lectures in one of the cities out of Java. The said lecturer speaks Bahasa Indonesia and has been travelling and working in Indonesia extensively. Upon arrival in Soekarno Hatta airport he had to wait for this person from the inviting institute to pick him up to travel to the destination. The lecturer had tried to refuse being picked up at the airport as he knows how to travel (especially in Indonesia) and it wasn't cost effective, but the inviting institute refused his suggestion based on: Foreign invitees must be picked at the airport up. Which airport? Not local airport, but Soekarno Hatta airport! So, someone was sent to travel several hours by plane to pick him up and travel back with him to the destination. 

I can understand if you have to pick someone up at your local airport, but I scratched my head hearing this story. If you go to Europe, I bet no one will pick you up at Schiphol during transiting if your destination is Pisa.  Just because they are bule doesn't mean you have to move heaven and earth for them while throwing petals of flowers in front of them. 

Exhibit two:
I think foreigners working in Indonesia can be divided into those who like or even love Indonesia, and those who just happen to work here who might not be the brightest person in their home country (OK, I'm exaggerating here,but  it's not far off. Let's face it, Shell won't send their number one person to Indonesia, they keep him/her in HQ). They all complain about Indonesians and their weird way. It's normal. You compare things you find in the host country to yours or your previous host countries. I did that too when I'm abroad. 

However,  I've met those who put down Indonesians, while they don't exhibit any capabilities themselves, in such way that reminds me of an old colonialist was telling the inlander off. For example, I reminded them about copyright, and the reply that I got was, "Uh, Indonesian doesn't care about it" and ignoring my request. Well, I do and clearly you don't, so don't drag 'Indonesians' into it. It is worse when the person doing this is not even working permanently but act like the boss. 

There are also the ones who thinks that you will do your utmost to please them because Indonesians are nice and helpful according to travel guides, which of course doesn't give you the right to abuse their hospitality.

I have more example how foreigners act toward Indonesians, but some are not really transferable in my writing, as it is more about their subtle gestures while doing it. I think these kind of people were accustomed to the treatment of Indonesians who behave like the ones in my first exhibit and thinking that everyone will submit to their every whim.  

Normally I don't see people as foreigner or Indonesian as I believe we are all equal, but lately I've been dealing with jerks in both sides, I wonder time and time again why do I feel like dealing with colonialists and their subjects in what supposed to be a free country.