For nearly three months, I have been sitting back, inspired by what is transpiring around me. It’s time for me to pull a little of that myself.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I was in training at Ratu Plaza. Ratu rests comfortably on Sudirman, so obviously I already know where it is. The thing was, could I ride there in rush-hour traffic for my 9:30 a.m. classes, and then home again at 5 p.m. Well now, yes I can. I did it quite easily all three days, and never once did it take me more than 25 minutes even in the worst clogged streets. The ojeks mostly rode around me, the drivers sometimes greeting me on their way past. Whenever I stopped for a red light, I pulled right into their midst–me and fifty ojeks, waiting. We would nod companionably. And whenever the ojeks would slide around the car traffic to better position themselves, I followed suit. It only made sense. If you are aggressive in this traffic, they respect and honour that by giving way kindly. No one wishes me harm. Rather, they cheer me on.
I wore my bright white (and red) Canada shirt all week to ensure my visibility. The maple leaf gave me street cred, too. Lots of people smiled and waved to me as I cycled past, just part of the roaring mass.
Tomorrow, I have another message I want to send this city, now that I know for a fact you can use a bicycle on these streets.
This afternoon, I went shopping. I bought a fat marker and went looking for some corrugated cardboard, something that’s pretty scarce. The Granmedia, where I now buy all my craft supplies, GAVE me a leftover box, free of charge. They handed it to me with an enormous smile, as pleased as if they’d just made $100 sale. “TerIMah KAsih!” I thrilled. “Sama, Sama!” they replied. (“Don’t mention it,” basically)
At home, I cut the box into a somewhat round shape, and then cut a hole where my bike wheel hub should rest. With my marker, I wrote the following words on both sides of the cardboard:
and then inserted my new sign into the spokes of my front wheel. I also zip-corded the same message to my backpack so people can read it while the wheels are moving.
What the heck does that mean, you say. I’m glad you asked. My manager, Noah, gave me the Bahasa translation for something I’ve been wanting to say to my adopted city for awhile now. It goes like this:
All of us can use a bicycle for transportation. I ride Jakarta!
Sargeant Klunder and I have a hot date tomorrow at 7 a.m. Gotta run! I need my beauty sleep.