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Friday, December 9, 2016

Foreign Language Proficiency

Just got a call from the woman in the Immigration department who's handling the extention of our Indonesian residence visas. Almost no foreigner I have met deals directly with the Immigration department. They wisely get an agent and communicate in English or Dutch or whatever and usually it all goes smoothly. But I like to try to do everything I can with locals in Indonesian. As a result it alls takes more time and is more complicated.


Last time we waited for seven months wondering what the heck was going on. It cost over $500 each and we did entertain doubts. Seven months she had our passports and we had no proof that we had visas and she and I had hundreds of comminications, mainly texting, and she almost always said it would be ready in a day or two and don't worry. She says that was the first time and this time it's just an extention for another year and it will be quick and easy. Someone listening to our phone conversation would be so impressed with my Indonesian. They'd say, "Oh my gosh you're fluent!" If they understood what I was saying though, they would say, "Why don't you get an agent?" So here's my end of the conversation in English.

Hello.

pause

Oh - good evening. How are you?

pause

Fine thank you.

long pause

I'm sorry but I didn't understand all of that though I got a bunch of words like photos and telephone. Do you want us to get new photos?

pause

Oh good. So we don't need to get new photos?

pause

Wait. Excuse me. Could you repeat that slower?

pause

Yes I understood some of it. I want to make something clear here. Is there anything we need to do?

pause

Good. So you don't want anything from Katrinka or me?

pause

You're just calling to say everything is okay because I asked you to keep in touch so we don't worry. Right?

pause

Good. So all we have to do is wait?

pause

Good. So we'll just wait and you'll call. Right?

pause

Good. How long do you think it will take? A week more?

pause

Yes I sort of understood. We'll wait and you'll call. Good. Thanks for communicating.

pause

Yes I will say hi to her and please say hi to your kids for me.

pause

Thank you.

pause

See you later.