Brace yourself when, being white, you stumble upon a school trip of teenage, Muslim girls crossing your way in Bali. You’re just about to loose half an hour of your life on taking selfies with every single three or four of them. Just because you’re white—not even a particularly uncommon sight around.
We encountered one of those groups on our sunset stroll along the sandy Kuta beach. The usual pack of teenagers, like anywhere in the world, making noise, all excited, probably visiting here from another Indonesian island. The moment we came closer, we got surrounded by the first bunch who saw us, smiling from ear to ear, asking for a joint photo. Sure, why not?
I wasn’t too surprised. I heard stories of this happening, told by friends coming back from Southeast Asia and from India. Had also my own experience years ago, visiting a Western Digital factory in Kuala Lumpur. The workforce there were mostly Indonesian women and they also acted excitedly friendly seeing me being shown around the floors.
Back to our beach stroll, the first group was merely the welcoming committee. We wouldn’t walk five meters further before getting asked again, for the same favor. And again, and again. We were facing spending no less than half an hour there, posing for photographs. As much as we were happy to be friendly and agreeable, we had other plans for the evening, so we turned a sharp left, away from shore, and walked a good distance around the rest of them to make sure we were not feasible targets anymore. They turned to some other, well-built, unsuspecting white guy emerging from the sea.
I’d love to have more insight into what’s driving those kids, and some grown-ups, to make photographs with random strangers, just because they’re white. Even if they’re coming from a place, where seeing a Caucasian is uncommon, there must be also a cultural factor at play. It’s not like kids in Poland become this excited about dark-skinned people, even though they’re a much less common sight than whites are in Asia.