I think that I will never be anything other than astounded by the friendliness of people here in Indonesia. I'm walking on the beach this morning and pass a group of teenage males hobnobbing at the side of the path. In America, if my own 55 years of experience is any measure, these boys will say nothing at all, nor even acknowledge an adult passing by. Here I am met by big smiles all around. "Hi, Mister! Hello, Sir!" How very odd, and at the same time how very pleasant this is.
Again, in the evening, I am headed down to Sanur. I pause on the road to let a large truck pass. There are four men riding atop the cab of the truck. (Not in the cab, atop the cab--which is not something one will see in America either). Again, four toothy smiles, a waving of hands, a chorus of greetings. I suspect that in America this would seem way too "gay" for grown men. But how wonderful it is to see it!
You cannot pass the people here, on a walkway, on the beach, in a grocery store, wherever, without being acknowledged--and there is something self-affirming in this alone, isn't there? Not only do I exist, but my existence seems to be a pleasant thing, judging by the simple warmth of the smiles.