It is almost a week after my country’s independence day. I barely could remember it. No special meal, no ceremony, nothing. But incidentally, that day, Friday, August 17th, was the day I was exposed or reminded to so many stereotypes of Indonesians, from people of various nationalities.
It was the day my Singaporean friends marked me a daughter of capitalism. It was the day I dissapointed my Dutch friend with the fact that I am just an ordinary Asian girl..with her conservative way of thinking. It was the day I listened to BBC and heard reportage on Indonesia. And it was the day my Laotian friend replied my email, reminded me of certain stereotype I encountered in Laos.
What is Indonesia in the eyes of the world?
In the global media? Simple. Terrorism, huge but poor country, corrupt government, human right issues, invading East Timor. Not so flattering.
Sometimes, Indonesia is called exotic, probably due to the beauty of Bali and Tracy Trinita who made it to the world’s top model…you may perceive this as a positive remark. But most of the time, I found it irritating. We are normal people you know, not endangered species!
In Singapore, where I’ve been for three years, apart from those stereotypes, Indonesians are rich. Thanks to the corrupt government officials and bankers and conglomerates who ran to Singapore and reside in luxurious condos around orchard. Also contributing to such view, numerous of “Rich Indon” (the way the called us) who come to Singapore for weekend shopping, stuffing their hands with Louis Vuitton, Channel, Gucci, Prada and Dunhill.
Of course there are some who view Indonesians as maids, conservative muslims and so on. But such view isn’t very much supported in my area of life: university, shopping malls and church.
In Laos and other Indochina countries, Indonesians are Muslims. And this stereotype had made me starve the whole day in Thailand as my Laotian interpreter thought that I couldn’t eat pork while he couldn’t find any dish without pork there. Decided that asking would be such an offence, he kept quiet and pretending that he wasn’t hungry. FYI, Laos doesn’t have extensive halal food choice. Everything is with pork. So they have (pardon the unappetizing rows of dishes here) omelette with pork, rice with roast pork, noodle with pig legs, stir fried vegetables with pork, pork fried rice….
In the Netherland, Indonesians are infamous for being party animal..and animal in bed…*those who feel responsible for such misleading thought, please stand up* I heard this from my a quarter French-a quarter Dutch-a quarter Chinese-a quarter Vietnamese friend who is born and bred in Amsterdam. He said Indonesian and half Indonesians are the coolest there, they love party and having fun, they quit school because it’s too boring for them. It was shocking for me, never knew my race is cool somewhere there in Europe…
I didn’t believe it. But I remembered another Indon friend in Amsterdam. Initially a shy and nice guy, he turned to be the Amsterdam’s hottest guy once he reached there. His sexual encounters are fantastic adventure stories for me. I kept wondering how come he became such an interesting figure for those chic blokes.
I haven’t been living long enough in other places in the world thus, this post isn’t extensive enough. But I am open to people’s contribution on this, especially Indonesians expatriates. Hopefully next year, we could have more in-depth analysis.