The absolute most patronizing question to ever be posed of someone in any language across every culture is the: *tilts head* “Are you sure?”
On the trip back to my village from visiting a few volunteers in the city, I transferred from an elf to a bus in Kawali, a city about a thirty minutes’ drive from my village. As I stood in the normal area outside the alun-alun waiting for my bus to Panawangan multiple people saw the lone bule and took the opportunity to ask questions — something I am extremely used to and actually enjoy. It makes the time pass faster, makes me look more as if I belong because I’m speaking the native language to a local (therefore making me safer), and it is good practice for my Bahasa Indonesia skills.
My wait took over half an hour, which is not unusual considering it was evening time, and I spoke to at least half a dozen different people who were curious as to what I was doing and where I was going (Indonesians have a very different sense of privacy from westerners). All of my conversation partners got bored pretty fast, as they usually do, when I explained the completely understandable reason I was there: I’m an English teacher in Cinyasag, I’m heading home from a trip to Ciamis.
Wow! Bules, they’re just like us!
However, just as the sun was fully disappearing and I was beginning to worry about how much longer I would have to wait, a man came up to me and started speaking to me in English. Interesting. When I explained to him just like to everyone else that I’m an English teacher in Cinyasag he cut me off abruptly with the ever comforting: *tilts head* “Are you sure? I think you’re confused.”
Here we go.
All I want is to tell him to push off, but I look at him and respond in Sundanese (my secondary language for which I am not fluent at all) “Yes, I’m sure. I live with my family in Cinyasag, I’m an English teacher at the SMA.”
Needless to say he was shocked, when the bus arrived a few minutes later, the crossing guard in the area whom I had spoken to earlier, helped me onto the bus, gave me the thumbs up and said “Good, Guru!”