• Bali 6
  • Bali11
  • Bali 7
  • Bali13

The Need to Drive   


Let's say for sake of argument that you live and work in Indonesia, legally of course with a KITAS from the ministry of manpower, one day while standing outside your office waiting for your driver and car, it hits you, why do I pay a driver to sit around most of the say doing nothing. Could I, should I, why can't I drive myself and regain my independence which I once prized so much.

With that thought the first step has been taken, the first step to you getting into the drivers seat that is.

The second step, reality sets in. Paper is power, or to be closer photocopies of your passport and KITAS are power. With a fist full of documents of you head to a place that used to strike fear into this writers very colon. 'Dan Mogot'. The name says it all, try whispering it into the ears of your lover. A slap is almost guaranteed to ensue. Dan Mogot is the center for driving licenses in Jakarta.

As you are herded through the turnstile into a crowded hanger you senses struggle to understand everything that is being thrown in your direction. The first bead of sweat appears on your brow, which signals an avalanche of pores giving up in unison.

The flow of human bodies take you to a door and queue, the word queue should be used loosely, imagine that Miss Universe has opened a kissing booth on the other side of that very door and for good measure it turns out she is the last woman alive. It has become your quest in life to get through that door. The throng of bodies eaks forward unil at last. No, not Miss Universe, an eye exam.

As you sit on the plastic chair that is more suited to a kindergarten you stare at a distant board and begin your recital. It may as well be a one man show on Broadway, the audience is watching for success or failure. At this juncture you realize that the adventure has begun even before you see a car. The comical situation takes over and a smile breaks on your face.

The realization is strong and clear that the Indonesian alphabet is pronounced very differently than the way you say it as howls and gasps rip through the audience turning the room into the Colosseum in Rome. You, the clown being chased by the lions on the arena floor.

Your skills have failed you, yet within that moment your ability to laugh at yourself and relish the act have brought a smile to the lady with the felt tip pen. With one tired repetitive sweep of her green colored examiners tool you have been recognized as a person with impeccable sight.

Proudly clutching your new certificate there are several more stops to make. Papers are ripped, stapled, shuffled, puzzled over, signed and stapled again. Money is paid, receipts are given, this whole system has a method even though it looks and feels like madness.

'Finished' a voice squeaks from behind an opening that you have to arch at a 90 degree angle to see through. 'Finished' you squeak back almost as though you have lost the ability to speak. 'Photo' squeaks the faceless voice. 'Photo' you squeak back while wondering what has happened to your voice. Off you wonder with a dazed look upon your face. The next thing you know is your name is called, you are plonked down on a little seat. Your thumb print is taken by technology that was stolen from a 70's Russian spy movie, then you scrawl your signature, look into the camera and flash.

Some may say that it is only a picture, some will say that what lead up to that picture has indeed stolen your soul. Yet this writer maintains that that snap shot in time has captured hope, joy, humility and pure adventure in your eyes and every line on your perplexed faced.

Five minutes later you will receive your one year Indonesian driving license, SIM. Yes you have to do the whole thing again next year, but treasure it and perhaps if you ever feel the need to whisper 'Dan Mogot' into your partner's ear you might find the same hope, joy, humility and pure adventure on your face, not a slap.