Sunday, March 04, 2007

Jakarta Traffic

The other evening I went out for a run. My route primarily consists of two residential neighborhoods which are quite nice to run in. But to get from one neighborhood to the other, a few busy streets need navigating. It was late afternoon on a Friday and the streets were full up with rush hour traffic. I was half way into my run when I came to the first crossing. I stood on the curb for only a brief moment before I turned towards traffic, lifted my arm as one would do when parting waters, evoking a higher power, or acknowledging a crowd of devoted followers and stepped directly into the line of cars barreling down on me. I strutted across the street, arm held high, staring each car down, exuding absolute confidence as I stepped defiantly into each of the three lanes of oncoming traffic. When I made it to the other side and began running again, I thought to myself, what in the hell did I just do? It was then I realized that I had unconsciously used for the first time, one of the superpowers that all residence of Jakarta eventually get which enable them to survive life in this city - the ability to stop moving vehicles by simply holding one's arm aloft and stepping boldly into the line of traffic. Perhaps it was simply a matter of time before the two required pieces came together - as both the arm motion and bravado are essential - attempting a crossing using one without the other is courting disaster. And I think when you leave Jakarta the superpowers stay behind - so don't raise your arm and step boldly into the path of an oncoming New York cabby.