Saturday, November 1, 2014

Renon Jam

Nearby my house in Renon, there is an intersection of two 2-lane streets, both of them often heavily travelled. When the hour of heaviest traffic arrives, lines of cars naturally form on each street, in both directions. So far, this is in line with predictable circumstances and, though unpleasant, not an insurmountable problem. Ah, but this is Bali, and these are Indonesian drivers, and there are no acknowledged nor enforced traffic conventions. And this is where the problem starts -- for, you see, those driving, or rather mis-driving the motorbikes decide that they don’t want to wait in line to get to the intersection, so they move forward and line up on either side of the cars. The motorbikes behind these motorbikes do the same, and so on, until you have motorbikes filling both lanes of traffic, as well as the sidewalks. Now, where is the oncoming traffic to go? There is no more street, you see. It is now a one-way street. At the same time, of course, the oncoming drivers have made the same decision, such that their street is now also a one-way street. You have arrived at a collision of two one-way streets. And from there on, it’s sheer chaos. And the strangest thing of all is this: everyone is smiling! Now, I admit that when I first came here to Bali, I found this sort of pandemonium mildly funny -- the way stupid things are always somehow mildly funny. But when stupidity becomes habitual, it’s no longer funny. It’s just … well, stupid.

No comments: