Funny things… so many funny and slightly scary things.


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There are a million things I have been meaning to blog about but just haven't got around to.  But I don't really feel like doing anything today really… it's very hot and I think I got dehydrated yesterday… so I am trying to catch up on the blog.

So, the other night I was catching a taxi back from a mall.

The taxi driver asked me if I spoke Indonesian.

"Saya tidak bisa bahasa Indonesia," (I don't speak Indonesian) I said back.

That didn't deter the cabbie from trying to converse with me in Indonesian.  Most of what he said I just shrugged my shoulders to because I couldn't understand.  I understood when I asked me where I was from.

"Saya orang Australia," I said back.

He kept prattling on.  I understood something else he said… he asked if I was a mother, if I had children.

"Saya tidak ibu… tidak anak-anak" (I'm not a mother, no children) I said back.

I knew that the next question he asked was whether I had a husband.  It's the Indonesian cab driver standard question.

I just acted like I didn't understand.  I technically don't know the word for husband anyway.  I just knew that's what would come after the children question.

So the cab driver then lets go of the wheel (to be honest, that doesn't even freak me out any more, but the next bit did), makes a circle with his thumb and index finger on one hand then puts the index finger of the other hand in the circle, back and forth, clearly miming the act of sexual intercourse like a 13-year-old boy might do in the back of maths class.

I was so taken aback, but thankfully I could see my location out the window right at that moment.

"Sudirman Park, ya?"

"ok miss"

He then gave a big belly laugh.  I just looked out the window until we arrived.  Need to learn more Indonesian so I can say that it's inappropriate to ask that sort of question or do that thing with your hands!

Tally of how many cab drivers have asked me about my marital status in the past three weeks… six.  It could have been more, I can only tell when they ask me in English or perform graphic hand gestures.

It's quite tiring continually explaining why you aren't married, why you are going out on your own… but the feminist within me will simply not lie and say I am married, even though it would be easier, because I don't believe I should have to.

But things are probably a lot worse elsewhere, it's no Saudi Arabia here or anything.  It's just a bit irritating having to constantly justify your life choices.

I guess it's how perhaps Muslim women in Australia might feel, always being asked why they choose to wear the veil.  Or how gay and lesbian people may feel in some places.  It's just very difficult trying to explain why you are the way you are, when there are so many factors at play.  And it's rather confronting when you have to keep explaining something that you feel is perfectly normal and not an issue at all.  It shakes you out of your comfort zone and reminds you of just how different people's values can be.

5 Responses to " Funny things… so many funny and slightly scary things. "

  1. Ross says:

    haha love it Ash! My fav part:
    ‘Tally of how many cab drivers have asked me about my marital status in the past three weeks… six.’

  2. Lisa says:

    Hey Ashlee, I like this entry. I’m quoting you in my tumblelog, I hope it’s okay 😉

  3. Ashlee says:

    Of course it’s ok Lisa!
    Are the London cabbies as happy to intrude in to people’s personal lives Ross? I never had any money to catch cabs when I was there, it was the tube, the night bus or my feet that got me around!
    I’ve actually been asked by a few Sydney cabbies before, just not as many thankfully!

  4. Novia says:

    You know you can report the driver, don’t you?
    Whenever I go out with my bule friends and people are staring and talking behind our back or in front of us, I wonder if I will draw that kind of attention overseas.

  5. jaka says:

    My suggestions:
    1. If you get that sign again just say, “Pak, jangan kurang ajar, ya. Saya orang baik-baik”.
    2. Be picky with taxis. Choose the good ones. Blue Bird will be my first priority.
    3. Learn Indonesian. It is easy.
    Good luck!