Tuesday January 29, 2013
The show must go on
BY KARIM RASLAN
Caught in the deluge in Jakarta with a documentary to shoot in KK, one simply cannot let his crew down.
IT’S a Thursday morning. It’s 3am (just under two weeks ago), to be exact, and you’re asleep in your house in Jakarta just as the heavens unleash a spectacular downpour.
In normal circumstances you’d have remained entirely ignorant of the deluge, had it not been for an unfortunate leak in your bedroom – perhaps caused by a dislodged roof tile. Well, needless to say, you don’t remain asleep when water starts dripping on you.
So within seconds, albeit bleary-eyed, you are up and about. Rousing the household staff, you all set to work, assessing the extent of the damage only to discover that there must have been a lot of dislodged tiles up there on the roof because there’s a fairly dramatic waterfall cascading over the dining table, with other more discreet, if equally worrisome, leaks elsewhere in the house.
So far so good; or shall we say “bad”?
Except this time there’s an added complication: you have to be in Kota Kinabalu to film the next stage of your documentary Ceritalah Malaysia by Friday morning.
In fact you have to be on the road to Keningau, deep in the interior, by 7am.
Hmmm... You can’t cancel or postpone this venture. The three-man crew and your own assistant will be waiting for you.
And you’ve got a ticket on the direct AirAsia flight from Jakarta to KK that leaves in the evening.
As dawn arrives and the rain continues with equal force (it never actually stops), you really start to worry.
You check your Twitter feed. It’s full of eyebrow-raising images of the flooding in supermarkets, peoples’ homes, street corners and office blocks.
Uh-oh. Maybe you’ll be stuck in Jakarta?
There’s even talk, unconfirmed, that the crucial Sedyatmo Toll to the Soekarno-Hatta Airport is impassable.
You double-check social media but the postings are inconclusive. All you can read is “macet total (or totally jammed)”. Your driver calls. His house is flooded. He’ll be late.
Besides, the rain is so heavy right now, there’s no way he’d be able to make it to the house even on his motorbike.
Finally, at around 9.30am, the rain eases. The driver arrives, drenched. You have a pow-wow.
He’s always extra-cautious and advises an early departure for the airport – like now. Now? Well, he says, the highway could be totally blocked by midday.
Just then, the rain starts up once again. There is a strong gust of wind. You nod in agreement.
You know you can’t let the film crew down (you’re a “the show must go on” kinda guy).
Twenty minutes later, washed and packed, you’re in the car (a Toyota Innova) and heading to Soekarno-Hatta.
The journey is surreal. Much of Jalan Sudirman, the city’s main artery, is deserted. Given that you’re driving along first thing in the morning on a working day, the sight is highly unusual.
As you turn onto Jalan Gatot Suwondo, the highway leading out of the city, you see that the road in front of you is empty whereas there is a terrible jam entering the city.
You feel sorry for the commuters. However, today your agenda is different: you’ve got to leave town: “The show must go on!”
Your driver’s instincts are correct. The cars are all heading for Downtown Jakarta whereas the roadways exiting the city are quiet. However, we still have to negotiate our way through flooded sections where the traffic slows to a snail’s pace.
Meanwhile, you thank your lucky stars you’re not driving some fancy, low-slung sedan. The Innova ploughs through the floodwaters effortlessly.
On the main section approaching the airport, a policeman mistakenly directs you towards a heavily-flooded section. From experience you know this section is close to the sea. It’s also known to be below sea-level.
The traffic slows as we drive through what’s become a swirling chocolate brown, sediment-heavy river.
You think to yourself, it would be just your luck to be stranded just outside the airport, a mere 10 minutes or so from the terminals.
Thankfully, the waters only reach up to your car door and you’re able to drive through quickly and you finally arrive at Soekarno-Hatta, joining the other slightly befuddled passengers – most of whom clearly can’t believe their luck at escaping the flooding.
Seeing that you’ve arrived at the airport some 12 hours before your flight, you decide to hop onto an earlier departure for Kuala Lumpur and change planes for Kota Kinabalu in KLIA.
So that ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how you escaped the floods and made it to KK ... all so that the show can go on.