Indonesia is a third world country with different cultural and social rules. One of the things I've been aware of in other Asian countries is the willingness of locals to come to the help of someone being robbed. In cases of misunderstanding between a taxi driver and a foreigner the taxi driver can often shout ‘help, I’m being robbed’ and expect a group to come to his aid.
At lunch today Sean and I met up with Jason and Mark who recounted incidents of misunderstanding or disagreement where some violence had occurred. Jason told of a scooter accident in which he was involved turning into a beating for him at the hands of various strangers. Mark told more than one story where he had struck a local in front of other locals and felt he was entirely justified. He did not become the target of a mob.
As always one’s demeanor, action, reaction will have a huge impact on others. Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. I hope I never let a situation get to the point where strangers want to beat me. Firmness doesn’t have to be aggressiveness.
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I know culturally in some developing parts of the world mistakes / accidents are not looked at any differently than deliberate acts. For example, a friend told me in Papua New Guinea that if you run someone over you either have to pay a large sum of money to the family / tribe or they’ll kill you. Maybe those attitudes are hard to let go of.