Traffic and Toilets - Jakarta June 30th 2013
The middle weekend of my Jakarta shows has been picked to peak by packing my normal shows in with the Grand Opening of my host’s new giant Mall at Berkasi. I have been picked to be their opening act, 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.
This is fine and kinda exciting, except for the fact that it’s on COMPLETELY the other side of 30 MILLION people, and there’s no Metro system here. No Metro = Matcheet (Indonesian for “Traffic”).
It’s bad. I mean REALLY bad. The kind of country where you regularly have to abandon plans because you may well be stuck in a jam for 6 hours +. The situation has gotten so poor, our driver AVOIDS the toll road because it’s too jammed up. The day that Jakarta gets an Underground system, will be the beginning of a new age of prosperity for this city.
Traffic is one example of the kind of cultural differences that change from country to country, and the kind of thing I love to identify. The whole way they approach vehicles is different here… people pull out when you’re going at speed, and you just move out the way. Crossing the street is different too, as it is in many countries. I remember when I performed in Japan, people don’t cross the street unless it’s a) at a crossing and b) the pedestrian light is green…even if it’s 2 in the morning and there wasn’t a car in sight. Why? It was explained to me that it’s standard behaviour here no matter what time of day, to make sure that children don’t get set a bad example of taking risks on crossing the street. Makes sense actually.
They don’t do that here. You have to have faith (in the lord?) and follow everyone else!
Another cultural difference is the gents loos. The urinals are side by side as they are in most other countries, but the people get so close to them, they practically climb into the things! Assumedly Westerners stand back a bit just to keep some distance from the potentially urine splattered porcelain, but literally they’re almost inside! Apparently to make sure no one sees your todger. And the weirdest thing is, I realise as I’m taking a leak, that I’m the unusual one here.
Which probably explains why the person peeing next to me is staring at my willy.
I love the note in the toilet too - a sign carefully printed in Bahasa and English asks “Please check you’re belonging before you leave”
Anyway, back to my crazy weekend. So I’ve got up early and clambered aboard our mini tour coach with the 12 crew. Dancers, MC’s stage hands, my liason, sound and light engineers chat to each other as we begin the drive across the city. I’m still on 5 hours sleep a night and so take the chance to zone out.
The journey takes around 3 hours, and we’re late by the time we drive into the area. A big poster with me at the top of the bill get’s my heart pumping and my excitement grows. We step off the coach and I’m immediately greeted by the managers and politely shown to the stage. A quick look sees that the entrance to the stage is unlikely to fit “Barbara” through the door (Barbara is my 8foot inflatable ball that I begin my show in), and I immediately set to work to make sure. After a lot of twisting and turning, we figure out we can just about do it if I roll in on it’s side. I’m sharing the stage with another show that’s here for longer – The Transformer’s show – a kind of meet and greet/stage show with giant robots.
We’re late for the show now, and as we have to get back across Jakarta for my 5pm and 7pm shows, everyone helps set up all my equipment. Before I know it, my show starts and I’m on stage. It goes well, and the large crowd flock to the bubbles.
Gig done, we pack up and are ready to go, it’s 2.45, leaving us only an hour and a half to get back. But, the organisers have managed to arrange us a police escort for the return journey so we are accompanied by two very large motorcycle cops on serious motorbikes who weave from side to side and direct the cars to make space for us to slip through, much to the delight of all the crew!
I have to admit this is the highlight of my weekend and I can’t resist sticking on the Blues Brothers classic “Peter Gunn theme” on the coach stereo.
It compliments the view!
We’re back by 4pm