27 December 2007


A personal musing about life, my life to be precise, and the challenges of living abroad.

I have been living on and off in Indonesia for almost 15 years now. More on than off but still a relatively long time.

Home. I consider Indonesia to be home in the sense I have more roots here than in the land of my birth, Australia. My family lives in Australia but I have family in Indonesia too. So, Indonesia is where I consider to be home. People often ask me how often I go home. The answer is simple, I go home every single day. Or another classic is where are you from? The answer to this is simple too, I live in Bekasi (a satellite city of Jakarta). Yet, I will always be a foreigner no matter what.

I speak the language with the accent of a local, I am as familiar with culture and customs in Indonesia as some, possibly most, locals. But, I will never be local which is fair enough. That said it does get a little boring always being either the tourist or the expat because I am neither. I am definitely not a tourist and I am even more definitely not an expat.

I work for a local company on a local wage and without any of the perks enjoyed by expats. I rent a house at my own expense, I have no car and my company does not supply one or cover taxi costs, I do not even get return airfares at the end of each year of service. I am not doing it tough but I sometimes wish people could appreciate the fact that I am not here for the money.

If I was here for the money I would be even more twisted and bitter than I am now :) and would have surely moved back to my own country many years ago and to never return to these tropical shores.

Over time it is the little things that I notice more and more. People wanting to talk to me or say stuff to me just because I am not Indonesian. Security guards who completely ignore Indonesians but cannot help themselves when I go past...it is not stuff like 'good morning' or 'how are you?' but stuff like 'where are you going?, what for?, what do you want to do?, do you want to buy a watch?, or the age old classic "Hey Mister, money!"'...I am sure you get the picture. I am happy to be civil but most often I just want to be treated like everyone else. I guess I stick out so that is never going to happen, is it?

Speaking of the land in which I was born and raised...I miss certain things, obviously not enough to return on a permanent basis, but I miss them all the same. For example, the cold. I would love to just be able to go outside in one of my Nan's hand-knitted jumpers (a sweater to all you non-English speakers of English) or walk down the street without being noticed or relatively good and accessible public transport.

To be clear, this is not a whinge and it certainly is not a complaint, but rather a series of musings about how things work for me at the moment. But when it is all said and done, life goes on! And as Ned is alleged to have said, "such is life!".

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