This is probably one of the moments one can feel grateful for working freelance from home. As long as they have a laptop and a decent, 24-hour wi-fi connection, all is good. No need to leave the room, unless it’s to do something else. Of course, once in a while, anyone needs to get out of that room – even during fasting month.

You may say that ‘iftar’ (the fast-breaking) in this city doesn’t seem like it used to be. You may complain that it has become too…impersonal and less spiritual, especially among the youths. Coming home even later from work, dinner with colleagues at a cafe next to the office. Hanging out at the malls with friends after class. Having ‘iftar’ with family at home only at the weekends…and that’s even rare these days. For some who are away from home, they fast-break alone.

You may say that we’re growing more and more emotionally-detached from each other despite this holy month. There are some cruel elements that just ruin the whole idea of this if we let them.

One of the elements is the heavy traffic.

It’s been common that in some companies (at least the local ones), the first week of Ramadan is treated differently than the rest of the month. How so? They send their staff home an hour early – like at 4 pm. The reason? The staff want to go home early so they can have their ‘iftar’ with their families, eat dinner, and then pray Tarawih together. Don’t get me wrong; I’d love that too myself if possible. I’m not making excuses here.

I guess I could say that I’m no longer that sentimental.Over the years, I’ve grown more realistic.

So, what’s with the traffic in Jakarta lately? What else is new? It’s always bad. (A lot of us might be telling you that it worsens by the day.)

Try to leave your office at four here, especially during the first week or so during Ramadan, and you have to use a transportation. (Public or else.) Unless you live really close from where you work (and next-door is the best!), good luck in getting home early…or on-time.

Well, I suppose fasting doesn’t really stop you from breaking ‘other rules’. (How naive of me.) You can see how many bikers run through the red lights or take the opposite lane instead of the right direction. Monopolising the pedestrians’ sidewalk? Why not? You (always think) you have the “privilege” for that. If the police asks you to pull over, just tell them that you’re in a hurry for an ‘iftar’ with your family at home…or with your old friends at a nearby mall. Chances are you get lucky and be away with it.

Well, most of the time, you do. A lot of bikers in Jakarta do that a lot. (Please, show me at least one who doesn’t!) Sorry for sounding so sarcastic and apathetic here, but I’m afraid it’s already become the common norm here. The local authority no longer cares unless a fight breaks out between the ignorant bikers and the pedestrians – with their violated civil rights. Worst of all, it’s the pedestrians who are often asked to be “more patient” and give the nasty bikers whatever they want. (Nope, I’m not joking here.)

All in all, nice going.

The last time I had to go through the heavy traffic at that time, my Gojek biker (whom I’d specifically ordered not to try to break any traffic rules, no matter how badly clogged the road was with vehicles) was exhausted. Many times we’d nearly collided against other motorists from side to side…and even from in front of us!

So, is it our fault that we’ve grown more practical regarding ‘iftar’ lately? Do you suppose that we’re growing more materialistic and less spiritual like you may have believed about us lately? Perhaps some of us are really like that, but who am I to start pointing my finger at? Perhaps some have an already obvious reason.

You may say stuff like: “That’s the idea of fasting, don’t you think? That’s part of the test. Patience in dealing with the heavy traffic and people in it.” If that is the case, then shall I say: “Isn’t that the same thing with ‘warung’ and other restaurants open during the day?”

Care to offer any solutions?



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