Stopping by Indonesia’s capital city for a few days some time ago, I didn’t have the time to do any typical tourist activities – nor am I generally inclined to do any such anyway. Along the uncounted sweaty kilometers I got to cover through various of the city’s districts, either walking or riding ojeks, though, I got the chance to observe several of the many curious stuff occurring in this city.
Jakarta is a huge city. More than 10 million people do their lives in its immense complex of ostentatious quarters and vestigial slums, monstrous skyscrapers and exiguous shanties, grandiose avenues and malodorous alleys. Two are the main features of this city: crowding and noise. One may get quite frustrated being stuck for long hours in its unending traffic-jams, until the point when that vexatious earworm will keep residing and replaying the cacophony of the piercing horns in his brain throughout the whole night. Or putting his life in constant jeopardy attempting to cross the busy streets, maneuvering and running in front of the hasty cars and the furious motorbikes, in a similar fashion to some 80′ video game.
In spite of all this chaos, however, quite admirably, the people of this city have managed to maintain their brain-composure and joyfulness intact, and I daresay this is by far the most good-humored capital city I have ever happened to be at. Nobody seems to ever be angry, but they rather forbear the city life inconveniences stoically. No matter where I’d befind myself at, I would continuously have people greeting me cheerfully and approaching me politely so to exchange with me a few words. I would quite often also run into groups of schoolchildren scurrying with their mobiles on hand towards me shouting “selfie mister, selfie!”. Another nice thing was the great numbers of street artists I would frequently encounter in the various neighborhoods, who would let their fine creativity to be expressed, thus impressed in the temper of the passing by spectators. Even the policemen and soldiers, who are omnipresent in the city as (‘as’ might be superfluous) in a militaristic state, have usually a smile to spare and are in readiness to contribute their assistance eagerly and frankly motivated whenever they’re asked. A very interesting thing also is, how this general pacifism of the city is ingeniously manifested by the main mosque and the Christian cathedral of the city, built right by the side of each other.
Another curious thing I got to witness is how these people have devised some peculiar ways to manage their traffic affairs. Quite commonly, for example, they park their cars in two rows, whereat one row will come vertically to the fringe of the road and the second horizontally double-parked in front of the first with the handbrakes loose, so that when the owner of a car in the first row want to drive out, is free to push the ones of the first row back and front, thus opening up place to come out. Many, and quite useful, are also the volunteering traffic-regulators. These will usually be pauper unemployed people, who instead of gathering at the junctions and the pavements merely begging the charity of their co-citizens – as in many cities commonly happens – they rather choose to still gather there but assist to regulate the traffic instead, accepting the aid many drivers shall readily offer to them rewarding their assistance.
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