I was having this discussion the other night with a pal at another dear friend’s very well documented farewell from Jakarta (see also the Jakarta Post, Jakarta Globe, Jawa Pos and Kompas for further coverage on the bule in the fountain).
When I first arrived, I was having conversations with the taxi drivers every day, talking with people all the time, yadda yadda.
Now I just jump in the cab, and cab drivers don’t even ask me if I am married yet. It’s a rare occasion when they propose to me now, usually only when I’m traveling out of town. Even at restaurants or cafes, I don’t get as much “kenapa sendiri?” (why are you alone?) as I used to.
Am I wearing the look of a jaded expat already? I’m not jaded at all really, and am loving the city and country even more all the time, but I must come across that way. And how do the taxi drivers know? Is it my pronunciation of bahasa Indonesia? Is it the fact I don’t look completely baffled by the city around me (even though, deep inside, it will always be completely baffling)? Is it because I look harried? Chatting on my cellphone, rifling through a book, asking to be taken a certain way? Is it because I don’t grip the seat and look fearful when we are driving in a non-existant traffic lane or on the footpath? Is it because I don’t scramble looking for the non-existant seatbelt when I get in?
How can people tell that you aren’t a tourist or business traveler anymore? That you are a bona fide expat? They must know, or they would still be giving me recommendations to go to Monas.
Or have I closed them off? Have I gotten tangled up in the everyday again, the “where’s my iPod”, “which road is faster”, the working life of a city person?