Tuesday, December 01, 2009
  I'm Not Crazy About Crowds

I believe compassion is something that humans unlearn, so it’s more natural to have it than not.
Utin commenting on a Rima Fauzi post

It's true that, being just short of two metres, I stand out in a crowd. However, you'll be lucky to spot me because in general I don't enjoy being in one. I've been in my share, that's true, but through choice and design.

During my teens, I would regularly and willingly join as many as 66,000 Charlton Athletic fans for the many pleasures and occasional disappointments 'our' team gave us. Rare are the disturbances witnessed at other grounds, such as at matches between Indonesian teams, and.Charlton remains a family, a community club, albeit with much smaller attendances.

I've been to many concerts too, mainly in London, but also in the USA and here in Jakarta. I've never been because I wanted to say, for example, "look at me, I'm at a Stones concert". (They were somewhere distant and I could barely see them; they certainly couldn't see me.) I go because I want to experience the emotional highs with fellow afficionado that recorded music doesn't always give. (I was at Pat Metheny's first gig in London in 1981/2 and his only gig to date here in Jakarta in '95. This was, sadly, sparcely attended.)

Although opportunities for gig and match going are somewhat limited now, I remain a member of those families. Thanks to online groups in which we share memories and comment on our shared (mis)fortunes, I remain one of an 'in-crowd', albeit a semi-virtual reality.

Living in Jakarta there are many occasions when friends and acquaintances invite me to be part of theirs. Sorry, but I'm an unwilling part of the madding crowd.

As a child, I was taught that it's polite to hold doors open and to stand back to allow others, especially the elderly and those with young children or expectant, to exit or enter. Do that here and rare are the acknowledgements, let alone thanks.

But it's not common courtesy that I'm after, but common sense.

One of my earliest memories here is of escorting the pregnant girlfriend of a colleague to the beach town of Pelabuhan Ratu for a weekend away from it all. We arrived at the Cililitan bus terminal and prepared to descend the stairs of the double-decker bus - this dates me - but couldn't thanks to the onrush of hoodlums. Finding the hand of one of them in my pocket, I was quite prepared to be chivalrous so I brusquely pushed him back down the stairs.

Since then I have remonstrated with insensitive souls who jump queues, who drive their motorcycles along busy sidewalks, and who attempt to board buses, ships, trains and elevators as I, and many others, attempt to disembark. It's not the pickpockets that I'm worried about, so much as the risk to life and limb. It's as if Indonesians are unable to recognise that each of us is entitled to a bit of personal space and the freedom to move freely within it.

Crowds can be controlled but too often they are not.

February 9th 2008

As hundreds of music fans tried to force their way out of a concert in Bandung by Indonesian 'melodic death metal band' Beside, ten young people were trampled or crushed to death.

September 17th 2008
In Pasuruan, a small town in East Java, at least 21 people were killed in a stampede for a Lebaran handout (zakat) that amounted to Rp.20,000 (c.$2).

January/February 2009
Ponari, a third grader of an elementary school in Kedungsari, a small village in East Java, reportedly healed villagers suffering from fevers and other ailments by making them drink water into which a miraculous stone was put. Three people died in the stampedes to his house.

Crowd crazes are not unique to Indonesia, but whereas poverty, a lack of education and limited infrastructure could be considered as root causes here, elsewhere it is often pure greed

For example, last year, on 28th November, a temporary security guard was crushed to death by a crowd of 2,000 people surging in to a discount sale in a branch of Walmart's in Long Island, USA. It was not an unusual occurence.

There is a disturbing pattern arising in the use of marketing gimmicks - specifically crowd crazing in which a company "hypes" a product. This often results in serious injury and death.

It's only fair to say that the public isn't trained in the art of waiting, of giving way to others. An obvious example is that it seems so much easier to employ an agent in government offices, such as immigration, because you know that if you wait your turn and follow due process, you may never get served.

Queuing is not de rigeur here, except in a few places such as supermarkets, banks and customer service departments, and even then tempers can become frayed. Try using your bank's facilities at lunchtime and you'll probably find that their staff are not available because, the security guard may tell you, it's lunchtime.

There's little point in queuing at bus stops either, because buses stop seemingly willy-nilly in an attempt to let the fittest of the waiting hordes board.

To quote Alta Planning, "improving pedestrian safety and comfort should be a goal for any forward-thinking community", yet we see little evidence of fundamental foresight from City Hall. Jakarta is not designed but, amoeba-like, it spreads its tentacles wherever it will. Buildings, such as malls, are allowed to sprout without regard to traffic flow, be it vehicular or pedestrian.

We all have to walk somewhere, even if it's just from the car to the curb, and that's where the problems are. No-one in City Hall seems to have a copy of John Fruin's classic 1971 study Pedestrian Planning And Design. An interesting chapter entitled The Perception of Personal Space has such illuminating sections as Pedestrian Spacing and Conflicts and The Body Buffer Zone.

We hear tell of 30% of next year's City budget being devoted to transport systems, but few details have emerged of how we will benefit.

If our 'tulers' deny us knowledge of how we should behave in public, then anarchy will continue to reign. There are, seemingly, no rules to waive.

The above was an article submitted but rejected for a reason or two by the Jakarta Globe. I should have updated it before posting it here to include the dozens trampled in the rush for 'free meat' last Friday, Hari Raya Idul Adha (the Muslim day of sacrifice/mass slaughter of innocent cows and goats), at Jakarta's main mosque and in Surabaya.


8:30 am
Alien Thoughts from Home

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Interactive World Time

Indonesian Dictionary

Indonesian Acronyms

Indonesian Slang

Learn Indonesian

Currency Converter

Email Me

The WeatherPixie

5 Day Forecast

Get Firefox!

  • West Sumatra Earthquake Aid Agencies
  • Sidoarjo Mud Volcano
  • Reports on Crashes and Sinkings

  • Living in Indonesia
  • Tempo
  • Bugils News
  • Jakarta Post
  • Jakarta Globe
  • Down To Earth
  • Loads of Advice
  • Inside Indonesia
  • Green Indonesia
  • Hobson's Choice
  • Gunung Bagging - New - clamber volcanoes
  • Indonesian Music
  • Indahnesia Online
  • Maps of Indonesia
  • Indonesia For Kids - blog
  • Green Group Links
  • Faces of Indonesia - blog
  • Photos of Indonesia
  • Indonesian Publications
  • International Crisis Group
  • Indonesian Engaged Travel - blog
  • Outside The Indonesian Box - blog
  • Indonesian Corruption Watch
  • News and Events Aggregators
  • Indonesia's Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Living in Jakarta
  • Culture Shock - Jakarta - 'my' book
  • Bataviase - loads of info in Indonesian
  • Rujak.org - for a sustainable Jakarta
  • Jakarta Kid - stories of street kids
  • Jakarta Events - as it says in the title
  • Map of Jakarta
  • Jakarta Nite Out
  • Jakarta Nite Out - for Francophiles
  • Jakarta 100 Bars - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Java Kini - upmarket magazine
  • Jakarta Urban Blog- as it says in the title
  • Jakarta Green Map
  • Jakarta Daily Photo - as it says in the title
  • Jakarta? Been there!
  • Protecting Jakarta Bay
  • Nightlife - for single guys - check the forums
  • Jakarta Restaurant Reviews - as it says in the title

  • Living in Bali
  • Hector - at Bali Times
  • Bali Spirit
  • Bali Expat Forum
  • Nusa Lembongan News
  • I've Been To Bali Too Blog - defunct but still good stuff

  • Education Matters
  • Education 21
  • Performing Monkeys
  • Yayasan Goodwill International

  • Pre-Independence History
  • 1941-1942
  • A Family Tale

  • Del Boy - my multi-talented co-author
  • Hotel Rimbo - a mate
  • Ethos Travel - Son No.1
  • Indo Fair Traders
  • Organic Vanilla
  • Merdeka Coffee
  • Pekerti Nusantara

  • Indonesian Blogs in English
  • Top Blogs
  • Merdeka - aggregator
  • Elyani - good stuff
  • Therry - good stuff
  • Om'Bak - group thoughts
  • Yosef Ardi - business gossip
  • Treespotter - his serious blog
  • Milk Tea Girl - poems and stuff
  • Bitching Babe - another slice
  • Café Salemba - ekonomi +
  • Enda Nasution - The Guv'nor
  • Aroeng Binang - a neighbour
  • Harry Nizam H. - legal practitioner
  • Ethereal Shards - youthful ponderings
  • Muli's Commune - defunct but good links
  • Isman H. Suryaman - not a 'Fool'
  • Rasyad A. Parinduri - ekonomi
  • Tasa Nugraza Barley - returned from the USA
  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
  • Bleu - in Malaysia
  • Anita - in Scotland
  • Maya - in Antibes
  • The Writer - in Denmark
  • Spew-It-All - in Australia
  • Jennie Bev - in SF
  • Rima Fauzi - in Belgium
  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

  • London Blogs
  • Diamond Geezer
  • London Daily Nature Photo
  • London Bloggers Tube Map

  • Other Fave Blogs
  • Aangirfan - who is s/he?
  • Ad Busters - ecological economic sense
  • Samizdata.net
  • Strange Games
  • The J-Walk Blog
  • Environmental Graffiti

  • Charlton
  • Doctor Kish
  • Inspector Sands
  • Forever Charlton
  • Official Charlton site
  • Addickted to Blogs
  • Ex-Charlton forward in Belize

  • I'm an Aging Hippie
  • Man
  • XTC
  • World Changing
  • MoonJune Records
  • Canterbury Sounds

  • My Youth
  • Blackheath
  • Charlton Lido
  • Charlton House
  • Woolwich Ferry
  • Greenwich Park
  • Severndroog Castle
  • Overlapping Memories
  • More Overlapping Memories
  • Map of My Stomping Ground

  • Put Your Feet Up
  • Biscuit of the week
  • 50's British TV Nostalgia
  • Hello Children, Everywhere

  • Enter your Email

    Subscribe with Bloglines

    Locations of visitors to this page


    eXTReMe Tracker

    Listed on BlogShares

    Personal Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • May 1998
  • March 2004
  • April 2004
  • May 2004
  • June 2004
  • July 2004
  • August 2004
  • September 2004
  • October 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • December 2013
  • Creative Commons Licence