Pleasant, is not a word one would use to describe Jakarta‘s traffic. Horrid is more like it. The roads are not exactly wide, there are way too many private vehicles and not enough public transportation to alleviate the traffic. To makes matters worse, there are literally tens of thousands of motorcyclist crowding the streets at every hour of everyday. Not exactly something that would entice anyone to drive and join in the throngs. So I don’t. I was quite content to use taxis and drivers to get me from point A to point B. Until I have children.
Actually I didn’t immediately start driving as soon as I have kids, (for a history of my driving read here) I started driving after we move house and Babeh got a new city car for us. We moved a bit further back to the suburbs, in fact our house is right on the city border between Jakarta and Cirendeu; just cross the bridge and I’m in another province altogether. As such, Babeh thinks it is high time we got another car just to complete the white picket fence type family with 3 cats instead of dogs.
I was still quite reluctant since we have a driver, but the longer distance between our house and Babeh’s office plus his busier schedule, force me to drive myself and the kids around. Since we just love the traffic, we manage to carve our kids lives as close to home as possible so all their schools and extra curricular are still within the 10-15 minutes driving from home. But there is this one place that’s about 45 minutes away. Now, the furthest I drive was to our local mall, about 20-30 minutes away. This place is a little bit beyond the mall. On this particular day, Babeh needs the car and it is silly to use taxi when there’s a perfectly good city car sitting on the driveway. So I packed the kids, say a little prayer, and off we go.
To say I was nervous was understatement. White knuckles gripping the steering wheel tight. Then something happened. I passed the mall, wait for the light to turns green, and turns to the adjoining street leaving the Pondok Indah area, entering Radio Dalam. As I was driving the somewhat long stretch of road something clicks. There’s really nothing to driving, just a matter of confidence and familiarity and I was pretty familiar with the area. I spend over half of my live living in South Jakarta in particular the Blok-M – Lebak Bulus area, so it’s not like I’m venturing into a brave new world. It’s an old world I pass everyday just now with me behind the wheels.
Just like that, my fear of driving dissipates. I can not let my fear of Jakarta’s traffic rule over me. My children need me. I need to be able to step up when needed. My parents did not raise me to be a dependent person, they raise me to be independent. Driving is one way to prove it. Interesting how I need my children to points that out to me, around 9 years after I moved back home to Jakarta. It’s amazing how proud my kids can get when I pick them from school myself.
But as they say, better late than never 🙂 Although the furthest I got so far is to my work place – still within South Jakarta – it is good enough for now. So thank you kids, for trusting and believing that your mommy can! Love you lots!!!