Google marked the start of Mudik, an annual migrant homecoming in Indonesia, with a new Doodle that appears on screens across the Southeast Asian archipelago. The illustration depicts urban migrants in buses, cars and atop motorbikes loaded up with goods as they make their way to the countryside to visit friends and family.
During Mudik each year, laborers in the country’s crowded cities return home en masse, clogging highways with millions of vehicles. The abrupt departure of so many domestic helpers and service sector employees leaves big cities such as the capital Jakarta looking like ghost towns. Downtown streets become emptied of traffic and many restaurants and stores shut their doors for want of staff.
“Mudik” comes from an Indonesian term that means to sail or travel upstream, and it came to refer to the yearly migration in the 1970s, as the country rapidly urbanized. The exodus most often occurs in the Muslim-majority country during the holy month of Ramadan, from several days to a week before Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr).