Sunday SidewalkI saw the man pushing against the closed doors giving occasional rather loud shouts. Nutter, I thought, and at least he's not shouting at me, and soon it'll be dark and he can go and get run over or something useful, and then I saw the white stick.
I'm not sure why I went across. I don't often help people. But there seemed something irredeemably helpless, so clearly saying 'lost' about the spectacle, especially the occasional shouts, and so I dodged the traffic and went across to at least ask him where did he want to be.
He was a good bit away and the next 25 minutes were an education in how truly bloody this city can be. I can only suppose this hit me anew because I was seeing it through, what I hope it's not crass to describe as, his eyes.
His hand went to my elbow and we walked together through an urban assault course. As his stick tapped, I mentioned what was coming up. Just ahead there's a completely pointless ramp thing, I would say, and it's covered in greasy broken cement. Here's a stray metal sign. Ah! Lots of wet sandbags! Ten potholes to your left, something to your right deposited recently by a large and obviously seriously ill dog, and we should be able to get on to the pavement here but there are four miles of railings so we'll need to balance our way along the kerb and hope that bus doesn't ... Jesus that was close.
I'm sorry, but I didn't pen the above. To my initial surprise, but then I haven't been back in 17 years, the above observation
is of London, my hometown. Resident pedestrians of Jakarta may recognise the street scene though not the person.
You.will rarely see a blind person here nowadays. Even the once familiar clink clink of the metal staff toted by our local masseur has been stilled; he has been housed by a social welfare foundation, probably for his protection from the madness of the streets
and pavements (sidewalks
And that is a great shame. Streets should belong to ALL the people. As it is, they belong to no-one because they are not accessible to all. There is no pleasure in being out there.
Look at this wonderful pavement art and ask yourself where in Jakarta or the town you're most familiar with could Julian Beever
produce more masterpieces. And lucky you if you can think of an ideal space.
With my eyesight, nearly everything I see is an optical illusion
. However, if you've ever wondered about the Physics of Superheroes (and who hasn't?), you might like to join the Berkeley Groks
who had a radio programme
on this very subject.