Why Hello Mister?
The cry “Hello Mister” is regularly heard by all white-skinned people as they travel around Indonesia. It’s important to remember that Indonesian people often use the third person when they are speaking, and formal forms of address are common.
For example, I could say in English: I am going to the market, and in Indonesian: Dan is going to the market. They mean the same. Saya ke pasar or Dan ke pasar.
With that in mind, Hello Mister is simply a form of address. When you get to know people better, they will stop calling you Mister, and you will become Om, and Bapak or Mas, the same as them.
Generally speaking “Hello Mister” is not meant to be rude, it’s simply a form of address. To lots of visitors, used to going about anonymously in their own country, it can be a reminder that you stick out like a sore thumb, or seem like a wind-up attempt from kids.
Also, people in Europe are not used to being hailed in the street, and so it seems very up front and can be irritating to visitors. If I had to offer advice to Indonesians it would be that travelers often feel uncomfortable when they are shouted at, and my advice to travelers would be to try to accept the fact that you are genuinely unusual, interesting and special, so try to enjoy it!
So to give the obvious answer to Why Hello Mister? It’s probably the one piece of English that every Indonesian person knows and it’s easy to remember for both Indonesian and English speakers.
I’m a guy who was blown by the winds of fate into Indonesia. I have a long a varied career and education history in the UK, and I write this blog from a background in travel, leisure, financial services, data analysis and sport. What that means is that I have opinions on many topics, and you are welcome to agree or disagree with them as you please, but I hope you enjoy reading about my life and experiences in this remarkable country.
You can check out my Instagram page