“Ibukota lebih kejam daripada ibu tiri” roughly translated to “The capital (mother city) is more vicious than a step mother” is a phrase used sometimes jokingly describe Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. To a certain extent, it’s true.
The big durian is not for the faint hearted, trust me. I learned that after being born and raised here for the last 26 years. Somebody attempted to abduct me when I was around 11, on my way home after school.
I’ve been through at least five pick-pocketing attempt, some guy might actually succeed, considering the fact that I lost my phone several months ago. I’ve been the subject of numerous con attempts, it’s amazing what stories people would make up in order to get some money from people on the streets.
Everyday you’ll witness at least one traffic accident, ranging from a simple dent caused by a motorbike who bumped you from behind to a bloody truck versus car collision causing pile ups. And not to mention the traffic jam caused by those incidents.
You see, Jakartans just love their drama, people would not hesitate to slow down or even stop their vehicle in order to watch a fight between uninsured drivers about who’s wrong in a crash. Or maybe to be part of spectators witnessing the bloody victim being evacuated from the wreck. Never mind the fact that they are selfishly blocking the road and that they can’t do a thing to help anyway.
Those are only traffic tales, the things you discuss with your friends when you got to the office or maybe at a cafe after work. When you’re stuck in traffic you might even decide to dial a number and start recalling about the crash to a friend.
Besides poor road management and Jakartans addiction to road-side drama, traffic jams are also caused by poor traffic ethics. Prepare to be part of a snaking traffic jam in the middle of the rain caused by motorcycle riders who decided to keep their selves dry by stopping under a tunnel, at the expense of other vehicles.
If you complain, they’ll just say “Easy for you to say, you’re sitting dry and comfortable in a car.” at that point I usually just keep my mouth shut. There’s no use pointing out to them that I drive without air conditioning and that half of my shirt is already drenched by rain coming from my half-opened window. My choices were getting drenched by the rain or to close the window and in a slightly suffocated state drive as my breath fogs up the glass from the inside.
Taking the public transportation is a fairy tale either, remember the pick pockets and con men I told you about? Yeah, they also operate on public transports, along with molesting freaks and other weirdos. But I’ll tell you all about them later, cause it’s time for me to get going before another traffic congestion starts, with all the demonstrations planned today.
Ah… demonstrations, it was once a democratic way to bring down a corrupt regime. Now it has become a way to bring down everybody’s mood. Who wouldn’t be upset to see that their trip to the office was obstructed by a group of clueless people carrying signs and giving speech. It’s not that I’m against free speech, I just prefer to hear them from people who actually know what they are talking about, not some group of paid slackers.