Those of us who stayed in Jakarta during Idul Fitri have enjoyed clear skies, a distinct lack of air pollution, and a generally quiet time. With the lack of traffic, except to tourist hot spots, this is the best time of year to be here.
It is estimated that some 10 million residents have made the annual pilgrimage back to their home towns and villages in order to pay their respects to their families. Known as mudik, the only comparable migrations occur in China for their New Year and by the wildebeest (zebras and buffaloes) on the Serengeti plains of Africa.
Trains and planes are booked up months in advance, the buses less so, partly because far too many are known to be unroadworthy. This, of course, only leaves personal transport, cars, minibuses and motorcycles. And that’s where the problems begin.
The road is paved with good intentions, so Java’s infrastructure takes a beating, This year, at Indonesia’s own Brexit, the exit toll gate for Brebes, roadworks were incomplete and the exit fed directly into a market which had spilled into the road. Furthermore, there were other exits, and no rest areas to get fuel for vehlcles and bodies. At least 17 people died, exhausted from being stuck in the 23kms long tailback. Other drivers and passengers used the wait to eat … and to strew the waste wrappings wherever they’d been forced to stop.*
Image from Tempo
This compilation starts off positive with Vengopal Chari trying to sound like hundred year old motorcars he admired as a young man. Peter Blegvad had a fascination with cars a bit more recently, and so did Paul Roberts (aka Sniff). Presumably The Rumour (aka Brinsley Schwarz) had got tired from constant gigging up and down Britain’s motorways (jalan tol in Indonesia), much like Tom Robinson.
I could only find one song about traffic jams, and Dizu Plaatjies sings about those in South Africa’s townships. Lowell George (from Little Feat) gave grit to the Beatles song (and Indonesians their rubbish.)
Lee Dorsey really wanted a more modern car, so he could sit in relative comfort as he got caught in Boris Savoldelli’s traffic mayhem.
Finally, Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon, and Ivor Cutler offer advice, while Monty Python reverts to childhood.
01. Vengopal Chari – Different Kind Of Motor Car Noises
02. Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge – What A Car You Are
03. Sniff ‘n’ the Tears – Driver’s Seat
04. The Rumour – Emotional Traffic
05. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway
06. Dizu Plaatjies – Traffic Ijemile
07. Lowell Fulsom – Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?*
08. Lee Dorsey – My Old Car
09. Boris Savoldelli – Crosstown Traffic
10. Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon – Car Carrier Blues
11. Ivor Cutler – Get Off The Road
12. Monty Python – Traffic Lights