White Men

Dec 31st, 2007, in Opinion, Society, by

White Men in Indonesia: A Guide By Achmad.

Achmad Sudarsono

White Men in Indonesia: A Guide By Achmad

Bule (white expat) wipes the slobbering beer-froth from his jowls, as he stumbles, drunk, onto the pre-dawn dark of the bar-district in Jakarta, Jl. Felatehan, Blok M.

Thirty Bir Bintangs before, Bule had started the night wondering how it had come to this. Now, through the beer-fuelled haze, Bule, a miner in his 50s, could only feel a vague sense of gratitude he still had a place in the world.

He tramples the feet of a rag-clad six-year old child. He collides with a 60-year old beggar squatting amidst the rats.

The bar girls loved him. He was a regular, so drunk and careless he was never capable of using the services he paid for. Snoring his way into a perpetual daily hangover, he never noticed when they ripped off a few hundred thousand extra, distributed to the children of Blok M, some of them his own progeny.

Bule here is fictional. But his story could be that of 90 percent of Bules in Indonesia. Bule Gembel, Bule Kere, Bule Miskin, we Indonesians have many names for them.

In this article, I, Achmad Sudarsono, Ukuele player, poet, dangdut singer, will bust the stereotypes about Bules and Tell It Like It Is. Here is a typology of Bules in Indonesia.

Lifers and Long-Timers

These are the kind of names you'd see on the roll of honour, a wooden shield at "D Bar" in Jl. Felatehan carrying the inscription, "They've Done Their Time", either 10 or 20 years. Like flotsam and jetsam at sea, the scum at the bottom of the pond, they've somehow arrived on our shores. By day, the work in a variety of jobs. They're usually over 50 years old, ageless in their decreptitude.

Haunts: JakChat, Jl. Felatehan.
Dwells: Jl. Jaksa, Kos, random houses in Tangerang or Bekasih.
Sayings: * Vomit * c'mere, darlin' * vomit *, * vomit *, the problem with these Indons is they don't know how to work.

Do-Gooders

20-something NGO workers and journalists. Indonesia's been good to them. It offers a steady stream of natural disasters, crises, and problems (mostly created by the Bule himself), to justify their existences. The exchange rate means they can live the country-club lifestyle they pretend to despise, or at least did on campuses doing their arts degrees that they found out were useless in the real world.

They share with foreign journalists the mentality of a parasite. Poverty, refugees, and general human misery are viagra for their careers. They stay in a country just long enough to whip up a set of prejudices before leaving to the next troublespot.

Haunts: Jl. Jaksa, FaceBar.
Dwells: Taman Rasuna, Apartemen Casablanca, Kos, rented houses in Menteng or Kemang (on the taxpayer's dime), Aceh, anywhere there's marketable human misery.
Sayings: Whining about corruption whilst bitching about the "lazy" Indonesian office staff.

English Teachers and Backpackers

The less said about this motley crew, the better. Scandinavian backpackers are probably the world's most annoying people. That naive, let-them-wear-burkenstocks attitude, the idiotic belief everyone else is nice and likes them; give a shotgun. (That's the men, the women can call Achmad for some special lovin'). What the guys need is a few nights wearing crotchless leather chaps in a maximum-security prison. That'd teach them about reality.

The English teachers do nothing but talk about drugs and swap notes with the lifers about bar girls.

Haunts: Jl. Jaksa, Bali, a nation-wide chain of cockroach-infested Losmen that cost less than Rp.20,000 a night.
Dwells: As Above.
Sayings: Generally competitive bidding wars with other backpackers about who got the best deal on the cockroach infected mattress.

The Truth

Friend, such is Achmad's small contribution to The Truth. Deep down all of you, including the English teachers, know I speak The Truth.

I toast you all for 2008 with my Teh Poci here in the hills of West Java, looking out at the sunset. My quaint rustic brothers and sisters from the village are returning from another day of toil.

If they knew about Bule (in the first paragraph), they'd wonder how anyone could spend so much money on making themselves sick and not give the money to them. I simply sigh and twang a haunting tune on my Ukuele.


100 Comments on “White Men”

  1. avatar iamisaid says:

    LMAOROTF !

    Achmad,

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    and I see you have not wandered off in the hills and lost yourself.

  2. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Nowadays, English teachers are not just shelves stackers back home, but supermarket trolley collecters.

  3. avatar tomaculum says:

    Achmad,
    you are the next Prophet … 🙂
    You’re right, white men drinking Bir Bintang are beneath contempt, so I toast to you with my Baron de Chirel Reserva, Rioja DOC 2001 for Rp. 700 000,00 per bottle: Happy New Year 2008, hope to read more of your intelligent, satirical contributions. 🙂

  4. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    @ Iamisaid, Anak: thanks for your support.

    @ Tom: exactly — what’s wrong with Teh Poci ? But friend, I leave satire to my colleague Borat, who I hear is retiring.

    Merdeka to all, Friend.

  5. avatar TheWrathOfGrapes says:

    My quaint rustic brothers and sisters from the village are returning from another day of toil.

    Rustic brothers and sisters??? I have seen rustic villages. I have seen quaint villages. But quaint and rustic people???

    I like your queer and rusty use of the Engrish (sic) language.

    Achmad, your English is getting rusty…

    Here’s wishing a Hippy Nude Ear.

  6. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Ass. Mas Sudarsono,

    I once again thank you for your frank and honest opinion about Bules. Many Bules on transit in our land still exhibit neo-colonial mentalism, an egotistic disease in the brain passed down from their treacherous forefathers who had plundered the wealth of Indonesia, and Asia.

    As Javanese are considered to be the more ingenious, more intellect and most honest of our Indonesian brothers, the Blunt Truth which no Bules would want to know had to be told. Sometimes we need a little collaboration from our local Chinese brothers.

    Here is an example:

    tomaculum Says:

    December 28th, 2007 at 10:49 pm
    Aluang wrote:

    “Pedophilia exists in every society but it is more prevalent in Bules societies. ”

    How old are you Aluang? in which society do you live in Indonesia? What kind of newspapers do you read? Are you blind or deaf?

    toma run to the rescue of his Bule master.

    Aluang Anak Bayang Says:

    December 28th, 2007 at 11:29 pm
    Calm down, I am just your average honest Brown man reporting from within our communities; and speaking and writing from the hearts of other fellow observers. You may not like what you hear but I am not writing to please anyone. …

    Brown man was just being frank.

    tomaculum Says:

    December 29th, 2007 at 12:02 am
    Aluang, now I (maybe) understand you. But “¦ in the reality many Indonesian (not Asian) think the way you wrote.

    tomaculum being one of the more intelligent forum contributor finally come clean admitting that what this Brown man said had been the gospel truth, much to the dismay of his Bule master. Probably out of PC-ism or inferior complexity (whichever) still left some dirty laundries in the basket.

    Hopefully this year, let us all get the cats out of the basket.

    Happy New Year!

    Salam.

  7. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    @ Wrath. Indeed yes, I posted that in a hurry before playing a command ukuele performace at Istana Merdeka for the Hippy Nude Ear.

    @ Anak. Good one, you really hit the hammer on the head.

  8. avatar tomaculum says:

    Aluang,
    toma run to the rescue of his Bule master.
    I wonder that after over 60 years you Indonesian do not learn to look at the mirror, still have so much inferiority complex and can’t manage it to learn to be your own master (and still see in your subconsciousness the white men as your one and essential master 🙂 ).
    And: the sentence above shows your incompetency to discuss based on facts.
    Happy new year to you too Aluang!

  9. avatar Chris says:

    Dear Achmad and Patung,

    I thought the purpose of websites like Indonesia Matters is to improve understanding of Indonesia, its history, culture and people.

    I can take a joke, but Achmad’s opinions are more insulting rants than fact-based opinion pieces.

    In the last few weeks, he has been:
    – racist: e.g. above and http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1524/insult-comeback/)
    – sexist: e.g. http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1496/pick-up-girls/
    – xenophobic: e.g. above and http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1438/mojopahit/, amongst others

    Patung, could you please show a bit of editorial control and stop publishing Achmad’s offensive pieces? They ruin what is otherwise a thoughtful and helpful website.

  10. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Dear Self-Righteous Dude,

    As Chevy Chase once said, “We mock what we don’t understand.”

    Friend, my writings are a no-holds-barred journey into The Truth. Sometimes the Truth hurts. As one of the early publishers of the Times said, “news is something that offends someone, somewhere. Everything else is advertising.”

    Perhaps as a White Man the last post stings. Perhaps it’s time to open your eyes. Every revolution starts with pamphleteers and polemicists, Friend. Join the revolution – or stand back !

    Viva !

  11. avatar Chris says:

    I thought the policy on IM was:

    Play the ball not the man.
    Don’t attack people who write or comment on this site, attack the ideas of the person. And of course don’t threaten anyone, call anyone bad names, etc.

    Why is it ok for Achmad and not for anybody else?

  12. avatar Cukurungan says:

    Why is it ok for Achmad and not for anybody else?

    Grievance is an indication of impotent and complaint is the last arsenal for the looser

  13. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Dear Self-Righteous Dude,

    Where have I insulted anyone ? All I did was call 90% percent of Bules in Indonesia, Blue Kere and Bule Gembel, implying they were alcoholics and regulars with street hookers, adding that NGO workers and foreign journalists were parasites.

    Yes, it’s true I called, Steve-at-the-Pub, a sub-evolved australopithecus, and “moron of unparalelled proportions,” but the art of the insult, I think, likes in defaming people rather than just calling them names. It’s easy to shrug off an insult, but if, for example, you imply that someone’s illiterate or a thief, they seem to get much angrier.

    As for you, Cukurungan, “grievance is an indication of impotent,” and “complaint is the last arsenal for the looser.”

    How bout these cases of grievance and looser:

    Common Sense,
    by Thomas Paine

    United States Declaration of Independence

    I have a dream
    , by Martin Luther King.

    Not to mention, “I Accuse,” by our very own Soekarno.

  14. avatar Cukurungan says:

    Achmad Sudarsono Said:

    How bout these cases of grievance and looser:

    Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
    United States Declaration of Independence

    I have a dream, by Martin Luther King

    Me :

    Friend I am not a sunshine intellectual who has enough times to read those kind of books but I am a legend who always be able to reveal the truth wherever the white man hiding it.

  15. avatar Janma says:

    As Chevy Chase once said, “We mock what we don’t understand.”

    Is that right Achmad!? So that would be what feeds your fervour to write your pieces mocking everyone different (or the same maybe?) as you? Cause you don’t understand them?
    you want to know why the bule rapes and pillages your country?
    Ask why a dog licks his balls.
    you want to know why the pribumi government rapes and pillages their own country?
    Same reason.

    Janma.
    *who went to a ‘Bules Behaving Badly’ get together only last night and had a blast!*

  16. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Janma Janma, soothen thy anger, douse thy grief. Open thy eyes.

    Bules raped and plundered our country, and our government did just the same. This ain’t no way to defend English Teachers.

    Listen to what tomaculum had said,

    ‘I wonder that after over 60 years you Indonesian do not learn to look at the mirror, still have so much inferiority complex and can’t manage it to learn to be your own master (and still see in your subconsciousness the white men as your one and essential master ).

    Anyway, Happy New Year!

  17. avatar Janma says:

    douse thy grief

    yeah…. that’s what I did last night…. LOL

  18. avatar tomaculum says:

    Yeah, Janma, I did it too last night …. again …. with my Baron de Chirel Reserva, Rioja DOC 2001 for Rp. 700 000,00 per bottle … 🙂

  19. avatar perseus says:

    Happy New Year to you Achmad!

    You speak some truth. A little exaggerated perhaps but there is some truth in your spleen. I am a 42 year old Bule and I recently frequented the seedy den of iniquity that is the Jalan Pelatahan. I only drank 3 Bintang before switching to Coke much to the distain of my waitress. Aie only Coke! Respect was restored when I picked up a dazzling Javanese beauty half my age who wanted a Long Island Tea and er some rent assistance.

    Well, Achmad, you know the rest of the story. It goes something like you on a bridge wearing board shorts plunking your ukelele with your Arabian scented moustache looking for White Sugar in the Plaza Indonesia or similar.

    And you Indos do need to learn how to work 🙂 I have never seen such insanely overstaffed shops in my life as I have in Indonesia! And you need to do something about the corruption, rent-seeking parasitism, rip-off mentality and general inefficiency that plagues your beautiful country without losing your wonderful, happy, sunny dispositions.

    I think you need to get over the Bule raped your country crap. Hello you kicked the Dutch out in 1949 did you not? If your GDP is way worse than Malaysia’s and Korea’s blame yourselves not us Bule…

    I trust you don’t find my comments excessively hard but you claim to be a man who speaks the hard truth. Truth is a two way street my friend…

  20. avatar David says:

    Righteous Dude, Achmad’s posts do represent a strain of opinion in Indonesia, personally I find them entertaining. Maybe just don’t read his stuff if it bothers you, or write a well-reasoned, unanswerable rebuttal.

  21. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Perseus,

    Halo Friend. Achmad always welcomes debate, as long as it is in line with Pancasila.

    And you Indos do need to learn how to work 🙂 I have never seen such insanely overstaffed shops in my life as I have in Indonesia! And you need to do something about the corruption, rent-seeking parasitism, rip-off mentality and general inefficiency that plagues your beautiful country without losing your wonderful, happy, sunny dispositions.

    Care to elaborate ? It could make for some funny responses.

  22. avatar perseus says:

    Righteous Dude, Achmad’s posts do represent a strain of opinion in Indonesia, personally I find them sort of entertaining. Maybe just don’t read his stuff if it bothers you, or write a well-reasoned, unanswerable rebuttal.

    Gee. I thought I did just that :-). I found Achmad’s posts both lyrical and hysterical especially the one with the perfumed mustache and the ukelele. Whatever works for you, my friend…

    Care to elaborate ? It could make for some funny responses.

    Regarding work – or to be more precise regarding labour productivity, there are a lot more shopgirls per linear metre of shop counter in Indonesian shops than there are in Australia, England and most places in the Western world I have experienced. Then again, labour costs are very low in Indonesia. However, I don’t believe Indonesia rates highly in terms of labour productivity in global terms. It is I gather practically impossible to sack someone in Indonesia so no wonder staff get slack.

    Corruption in Indonesia is notorious though I personally have not experienced any. I have a friend who runs a business on Bali and he does get sick of his staff stealing and local officials seeking “fees” for various things which seem to be selectively enforced and can be made to “go away” for an unreceipted cash payment. The tax officials in particular have to be bought off all the time. One hears stories about policemen paying their boss so they can work a certain intersection, fine the passers by and dispense with court proceedings for a little cash unreceipted payment and so on. One hears stories about the police and the army owning all the brothels which are supposed to be illegal but which are as common as muck. One hears stories about people buying their jobs which means they have to take bribes to recoup their “investment”. Indonesia scores pretty badly on the Corruption Perception Index. I read this on the Universitas Indonesia web site.

    Corruption is pretty close to non-existent in Australia. I have never had to bribe an official for any reason in my life. Though there are some reports about developers bribing local authorities to permit certain developments. I would not claim Australia is without corruption but it is not a routine part of business life as it seems to be in Indonesia.

    As for the rip offs and rent seeking, I staggered out of My Bar one night and was quoted 50,000 for the cab fare back to the hotel by one taxi driver. This for a ride that cost 15,000 on the way down! Now I used to be a taxi driver, I know what the job is like and the traffic in Jakarta is pretty awful but… asking for triple is a bit rich… and it was a crappy unairconditioned taxi not a Silver Bird. I stepped out and caught another taxi.

    Next night, I went to Top Gun and used their Dial a BlueBird Service. BlueBird are generally honest and use the meter so there are no stupid arguments about the fare from a rip off merchant. Anyhow, I get into the taxi which literally has pulled up, I have got in and some parasite is leaning in the window wanting 2000 for “parking”. Gee, a pick up is not a park mate but anyway, I was not going to argue about 2k. The parasites on the street have to get their little bit of rent for what I do not know. Standing around and lowering the tone of the place? Crap like this is not tolerated in Australia. People have real jobs.

    As for inefficiency, well try standing in the Visa on Arrival queue at Jakarta Airport. Bring a copy of War and Peace to read while you are there… It took me an hour to get my VoA and another twenty minutes to get through passport control. Back in Sydney, I was in line for less than five minutes but I don’t need a visa so it is not a fair comparison and it was pretty quiet. (New Year’s Day)

    But for all the demerits of Indonesia and they are many, it is still a beautiful country with beautiful people – when you find the honest ones! And the food is lovely.

    I would not suggest Australia is without demerits. The condition of our indigenous people (Aborigines) is a national disgrace and we emit way too much carbon and practice too much unsustainable agriculture. I mention this so you don’t think I am here just to beat up on Indonesia. I am a genuine seeker of truth and understanding. I hope you respect that.

    One last shot. Not too sure about the pancasila. I think Indonesia needs more science, more world’s best economic practice and less of the home-grown ideology! However, you don’t want to lose all the good stuff you have. The happiness and the relaxed attitudes and the strong family values. Then again maybe happiness is not compatible with the Protestant Work Ethic… Hmmm…

  23. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Perseus,

    Many thanks for that. Fair enough !

  24. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Friend perseus,

    Corruption is pretty close to non-existent in Australia. …

    Pretty non-existent on the lower level.

    Upper level – The Victorian Police Force. It was a huge embarrasment, isn’t it?

  25. avatar Mas Marko says:

    What a terrible shame it is that your contacts with “my people” have been limited to such boors (walaupun bangsa bule tidak saya milik, saya bergabung sesuai dengan Kartu Tanda Bule yang masih berlaku).

    But of course, your experience is hardly unusual: whenever I am a guest in your country, people always look at me as if they are expecting the worst possible behavior, the behavior of a typical drunken albino expat. In my culture, it is the responsibility of a guest not to overly tax her host’s hospitality. Of course, this only exists on an ideal plane, one where people treat one another with consideration and respect; and while I sometimes believe that such a plane exists, at times it requires an immense act of faith to refresh this belief. Namun menurut pendapat saya tak ada pilihan lain.

    Hormat saya,

    Marko

  26. avatar perseus says:

    Friend Aluang,

    As I said, Australia is not corruption free but there is much less than there is in Indonesia. Also we have strong institutions that expose it and put the wrong doers in gaol. I sincerely believe Indonesia needs to set up strong anti-corruption institutions and staff them with good people.

    I don’t live in Victoria so I don’t know much about it. But there has been some corruption and some trigger happy police this is true. As I understand it this relates to drug trafficking and protection for illegal brothels. (Prostitution is legal in Victoria but there are still many illegal brothels operating – a legal brother has to be registered and all the girls registered and pay tax.). However, this is a kind of corruption that related to a few people not one that affects the everyday running of business. And even this is brought to light and the offenders disgraced and punished even though they are as high up as a Victorian Deputy Commissioner of Police.

  27. avatar abul says:

    good discussion perseus, this is what we need more in indonesiamatters site 🙂

  28. avatar ade wanto says:

    Hello guys,

    I quote this:

    Hopefully this year, let us all get the cats out of the basket.

    Happy New Year!

    Salam.

  29. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Perseus,

    We (I mean Australian Bules :-)) went through their own share of growing pains as well.

    Let’s leave the Rum Rebellion aside. Let’s flashback to 1890s Melbourne. Collusion between media magnates, bankers and property owners. Currency crisis, depression…Krismon.

    But c’mon, what’s the point in a “gotcha” game of comparing Australia’s institutions to Indonesia ??

  30. avatar iamisaid says:

    Achmad – please read Aside “Hoakiau, Pramoedya Ananta Toer”.

    You could be of assistance.

    Thanks

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