Friday, 19 June 2009

Bungklang Bungkling: SALTY

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Pakeh’, featured in Bali Post, Sunday, 14th June 2009,
a column by I Wayan Juniartha
Translated by Putu Semiada


Salt is very important to our life.

No matter how smart a cook he is, no matter how complete he includes spices in the making process of lawar (Balinese traditional dish), if he forgets to put some salt, his work will be nothing and people will not give him a second chance to make lawar.

Without salt, lawar will not be tasty. Nobody will eat it. “Tasteless,” people will say.

When we talk about salt, it is not only a matter of food. In Bali, salt has also something to do with ‘mind’. When one is crazy, he is called ‘nyem’ (lit. ‘tasteless’: abnormal). When one is not normal, crazy, or always smiles even when there is no anything funny, then he is called ‘kuangan uyah’ (lit. ‘not enough salt’; crazy).

However, today no matter how crazy one is, it’s not a big problem. The problem is when one is called ‘nyem lalah’ (lit. ‘chilly pepper and ice: know nothing but pretending to be smart).

If someone is crazy, people will only make jokes, but when someone is ‘nyem lalah’, it will make problem and hurt other people. A person like this will always beats his chest as if he could do everything and is smart, even if he knows nothing. As a matter of fact his deeds/work is called ‘kuangan uyah’ (nothing). Today most of officials, House of Parliament members, fortune tellers, doctors, presidential candidates, journalists, and klian (head of hamlet), all are ‘not enough salt.’

Salt has something to do with science also. When an ignorant person is pretending to be smarter than others, he will be called ‘nasikin segara’ or ‘ngentungan uyah ke pasih’ (lit: throwing salt to the sea: useless).

It is similar to expression ‘ngajahin bebek ngelangi’ (lit: ‘teaching a duck how to swim’). No matter how hard and how long you teach it, it would never become an athlete nor compete in Olympic Games. (This expression means someone doing a useless job).

How important the salt is, can be also seen from religion point of view. It is said that Jesus Christ asked his followers to be good people and can give something good to the world (‘uyahne gumi’; lit: the salt of the world).

As the ‘salt’ (lit. here: woman) is very important in our life, it has created problem as well; people envy each other. Everyone is trying to get best ‘salt’. The problem is that each of them thinks that somebody’s ‘salt’ is better than his. Therefore they compete on how to get others’.

And the matter of ‘nyicipan uyah pisaga’ (lit: tasting one’s neighbour’s ‘salt’, i.e. having affair with one’s wife) has made many people ‘nervous’ (‘buka lindung uyahin’).

It is difficult indeed to deal with your ‘lindung’ (lit: cock), if you can’t stand of seeing ‘uyah’ (beautiful woman).