To my dear expatriate friends in Indonesia,
I am writing this to let you know what I have been feeling for so long. You see, I love hanging out with you. I love making friends with many people. To me, cultural differences are lessons to learn. I may never understand everything, but at least I am trying to accept and tolerate some things – as long as I still find them harmless.
I know you only mean well. I know you are just joking. I can understand your frustration in this matter. You feel like most of my people are too laid-back that they tend to take time for granted. They seem to not appreciate other people’s time, because they tend to show up late a lot. It has become a common bad habit that sometimes, they do not feel the need to apologise at all.
I dislike that either. In fact, I always feel bad when I do that, mostly unintentionally. As much as I can, I am working on to be more punctual – or early when possible.
However, you should not have been that rude when I showed up late for dinner by joking: “That’s alright. You’re allowed to be late. You’re Indonesian.”
What was that all about? Whether you intended that as a joke or a sarcasm, I found that an insult.
Then another event took place. This time, I tried to show up on time and thankfully I managed. But why did you have to look so shocked? You also made this comment:
“You’re not a normal Indonesian.”
Excuse me? What was that supposed to mean? Perhaps once again, it was either a joke or a compliment…or even both. Still, that came out wrong. When I hear something like that, I feel like being excluded from my own people. I am also sad that you find it hard to believe that there are still indeed punctual Indonesians.
When I turned up early at another event with you, I got called ‘an anomaly’. Perhaps you had meant it as a joke or a compliment. Still, I felt sad and alienated.
No, I do not want to feel superior towards my Indonesian peers for being more punctual than they are. This is not just to prove that not all Indonesians are tardy.
This is about me wanting to be better. I would like to keep this good habit, in hopes that others will feel inspired and start doing the same.
So please, do not discourage me.