It’s been about a month and a half since I began driving in Jakarta. Navigating the busy roads thronged with motorcyclists operating on a totally different set of Highway Code and ethics and the sometimes lane-challenged motorists, not to mention non-official public buses that decide where and when to stop, has been quite the experience.
What looked like a daunting task before I ended up behind the wheels turned out to be not as scary as everyone imagined. The first few times I drove I felt a tremendous Zen-ness after the nervousness had worn off. It’s all about concentrating on the breath and flowing along with the traffic, being relaxed yet at the same time alert about the chaos around you, ready to react when necessary. Really! Very similar to practicing Tai Chi actually.
Driving myself around, albeit mostly to only nearby and familiar places so far, I feel strangely empowered and I wear the badge of “Foreign Lady Driver of a Manual Car” proudly. The only draw-back is when I find myself caught in the infamous Jakartan macet and having to manipulate the gear n clutch more times than I fancy. When that happens, fortunately on rare occasions, my cricking knees remind me that I am not as young as I feel.
Driving, getting near hits by motorcyclists, being stuck in traffic, zipping along the bike-free toll roads, getting lost in one-car wide 2-way streets and having to make a three-point turn, venturing into a cemetery, asking helpful locals for directions in Behasa Indonesia, assisted by the numerous security guards and parking attendants to park whether one needs it or not and making illegal u-turns.
How can one not cherish these priceless moments?