THE ONLY WORDS you need to know are terus, berhenti and putar balik. Continue, stop, and turn around,” said my expat colleagues between snickers and high fives. “You know, for the taxi drivers.”
I could have lived in the expat bubble by eating in restaurants, hiring an English-speaking maid and hanging out with ‘my’ kind, but I wanted to be able to eat at roadside stalls and order without pointing. I wanted to have conversations with taxi drivers beyond “continue, stop, turn around.” I wanted to understand the jokes my Indonesian colleagues forwarded to each other, and I wanted to be able to speak to a certain cute girl in customer service.