Sublime to ridiculous
I was working in Bogor
this morning, a beautiful one unspoilt by haze. The surrounding mountains and farmland scenery offered a frame of mind which is a rarity in Jakarta or, indeed, any stress-laden city.
At one point we all paused to gaze in awe at the splendid site of a butterfly resting on a supporting pillar. Its wingspan was fully 26 centimetres. Unfortunately we didn't have a camera between us, not even of the cell phone variety, so you'll have to make do with this somewhat duller specimen.
Work done, we sped along the 50km stretch of jalan tol
(toll road) to Jakarta, me marvelling at the lane discipline, or, rather, lack of it.
And then we stopped. The exit road to UKI (Universitas Kristian Indonesia
) was jammed solid. It took us nigh on half an hour to navigate this short stretch, wondering if the students were revolting. Today is the first day of the long-overdue fuel price hike
as the government has removed the subsidy
If, as SBY says, the increased income to the government will be re-allocated to the poor through free education and help for small to medium sized businesses, then Jakartass supports this policy. In tandem with this, corruption eradication and increased taxation of the rich are also high priorities.
Getting this message across is where the difficulty lies. The downfall of Suharto was largely initiated by massive protests against a proposed hike in fuel prices. SBY is the first president since then to make this difficult decision and there have been many street demonstrations throughout the country recently.
So, we figured, this was the cause of holdup. When we eventually got to the junction and found our right turn blocked by a line of traffic policemen
who told us that there were burning cars ahead we assumed the worst.
My driver knows all the jalan tikus
(rat runs) and we eventually found ourselves looking down on UKI from the road above. And what did we see? Nothing! No students and a virtually traffic-free road. Our detour had been a whimsical power play by a bunch of cops who had put into operation a back up plan.
It had taken as long to navigate the 3 kilometres from the jalan tol
to my house as it had taken to get from Bogor to the traffic jam.