Saturday, May 9, 2009

it's not jakarta without...the traffic

It's taken me a little while to actually ingest the Jakarta traffic (literally and figuratively) and figure out how to adequately describe it. i'm trying to recall what movie it is, when there are people driving and they get surrounded and overwhelmed by a swarm of loud motorbikes and freak out and swerve off the road? that's basically it, now just add buses, 3 wheeled scooter taxi things, trucks and a million other cars and multiply by 11 million people.
these scooter mobs are NUTS.
sometimes, there's a lady in a miniskirt, sitting sideways on the back, no helmet, maybe holding a baby or doing her makeup and not even hand around the driver as they meander and swerve and beeeeeep in between everything i don't know how i haven't seen someone get decapitated yet. i refuse to sit in the front seat anymore because i get too stressed out, like eeeeeeee! i'll bring my knees to my face when a truck bumper is within inches of the rearview mirror or my taxi driver runs a red light with 50 other cars in front of a dark mass of mopeds speeding towards us and you can't even differentiate them. i wonder if they do it on purpose to see my reaction.

then there are the buses, which are on the inside of 4 lanes (if you can call them that) of traffic, which are supposed to be some special busway HOV thing, but that's not really enforced and so there are mopeds and other stuff sneaking in there are the time so it defeats its purpose. when people get sick of being on a not moving bus they just hop out and frogger between everyone with a death wish. sometimes bus ticket guy will get out and wave people along with his wad of money, like yeah, that's helping 8 random lanes of cars smoosh into 2.
i've thought about walking but there are barely any sidewalks and you can just feeeeel the pollution. and i don't know how i would cross the street. until now i've glued myself to a local but still it's a terrifying experience. you just RUN.
on the quieter streets you have the bike people. this is outside the office. the sleeping guys on the sidewalks are scooter taxis, or Ojeks. some of them are like, 10 years old.

i love the bike people. they move pretty fast and i haven't been able to catch them with my camera yet. they all have homemade contraptions out of bicycles, either a big attachment to the back, something straddling the seat or a front thingie. there's the most common: mie goreng guy with a full indonesian kitchen with burners and woks, soup guy with two perfectly weighted pots on either side of the seat, and today i saw sewing machine guy, with a counter top and antique black and gold singer sewing machine on his handlebars that was somehow powered by the pedals (there's a special stand that mobilizes the bike, so no, you don't sew and ride, duh). i think he rides up to you and tailors your clothes while you wear a sarong or something. there was water bottle guy - you couldn't even see his head it was just a bunch of empty water cooler bottles. and best of all, goldfish guy: with a two-tiered rack with rows of colorful goldfish in plastic bags, pretty topheavy. now that's ballsy.

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