Palembang: The worst fears about traffic in Indonesia are coming true but there is unmistakable warmth all around as the city welcomes participants of the 18th Asian Games, beginning here and in Palembang, Saturday. The volunteers here have a soft corner for the Indians as they belong to Shah Rukh’s (Khan) country.
While the Indonesian capital Jakarta is notorious for its traffic jams (it made President Joko Widodo walk two kilometres last October); Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province, is not far behind. The eight kilometres drive from city centre to main venue Jakabaring Sport City can take close to an hour.
“Sometimes it could be even more. You never know about traffic in Palembang. It is not as bad as Jakarta but it is bad enough,” said one of the many affable volunteers.
And it did take an hour when one set off to recce the Jakabaring Sport City from a city hotel. The busy roads, accommodating more bikes than cars reminds one of the traffic troubles back in India.
However, the shortcomings in infrastructure are easily forgotten when the locals greet with an infectious smile. The volunteers, a mixture of young boys and girls, deployed at the airport, major city hotels and competition venue go out of their way to help.
Language is an issue but not a barrier as they are still able to express their love for Indian actors Shah Rukh and Amitabh Bachchan. SRK though has a much bigger following than his celebrated senior.
“We don’t understand the language but we love Shah Rukh,” said a bunch of volunteers, who even make the Games’ visitors feel like celebrities.