The US President, Barack Obama, who formerly lived and studied in Indonesia during his childhood, showed off his Indonesian (Bahasa) during an informal session with the staff at the State Department. A State Department staffer named Charles Silver, knowing the President once lived in Indonesia, shouted out, “Selamat siang Bapak!” (Good afternoon Sir!) in the local language. The two then chatted briefly about Menteng, the neighborhood Obama once lived in. Silver later acknowledged and told the press that Obama spoke a “very good” Bahasa Indonesia.
Menteng is known as the rich neighborhood in central Jakarta for bureaucrats, diplomats (including the US embassy staffers) and the wealthy. Supported by easy access to service centers and nearby to the central business district, Menteng is one of the most expensive areas for residential real estates and luxurious houses. However, Obama didn’t live in Menteng, but in Menteng Dalam (Below Menteng), the neighborhood where low-and-middle-income people live.
Charles Silver: Selamat siang Bapak! (Good Afternoon Sir!)
Barack Obama: Ah terima kasih! (Oh thank you!) Apa kabar? (How are you?)
Charles Silver: Baik-baik saja. (I’m fine.)
Barack Obama: Are you…?
Watch the rest of the conversation!