Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Bungklang Bungkling: ULED

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, 'ULED' a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 13 Sept 2009.
Translated by Putu Semiada


Many people think that worms are not needed in our lives. In fact, they are.

There is a crowd in the warung. A bowl of worms is put on the table. Everybody was trying to see them.

“They are silkworms. They will become silk. That’s why silk is very expensive,” says I Madé Organik Fanatik.

I Madé is a pioneer of organic agriculture system. He would like to develop silkworm business. But he has been having difficulties in trying to obtain a loan. The village bank (LPD) has no funds as they use their funds to build a fancy meeting hall. Even the village cooperative has no funds as well. They saved their money at KKM (Developing Karangasem Cooperative) which was banned by the authority some months ago.

How about borrowing from relatives? It sounds difficult too, as the ceremony season is coming―ngaben (cremation), nyekah (purification ceremony), Galungan and Kuningan holidays as well. So, never try to borrow money during these days, as even asking for a strand of coconut leaf to your neighbour will be also difficult. Therefore, borrowing money will be even more difficult. The bank will be happier to give you loan for consumer goods (buy new mobile phone, motor bike, car, or house), but not really easy when you borrow money to start your own business.

So his last hope might be the local drinking club members. He thinks that they are established, from an economic point of view.

“They come to the warung to drink palm toddy almost every day and, they laugh, chat, gossip; only financially independent people can do things like that,” he says in his heart.

At the warung he talks a lot about silkworm cultivation. But nobody really listens, only Ni Luh Makin digosok Makin Sip (Ni Luh Rub-her-more She-loves-it) does.

“I think it’s really a good business. I will be able to afford new silk kebaya every six months, I don’t need to buy in credit here and there. I will be a primadona among the PKK (Association of Housewives in the village) because I always wear a new kebaya,” she says.

All the local drinking club members are trying to leave when I Made says that there are only silkworms in the bowl.

Oh my God, I thought they were ancruk (the worms found in sugar fibre palm trunk). I was imagining spicy boiled ancruk and I thought it would be good with palm toddy. It must be very delicious,” says I Ketut Mata Kakul (I Ketut Snail’s Eyes).

The others do not seem interested in listening to I Madé’s explanation. Nobody is interested in silkworm cultivation.

“You know, I have two wives, and I have to take care them all the time. I have to support them financially and make sure they are happy, so I have no time left to do this business. Being able to wake in the morning peacefully is enough for me,” says I Nyoman Kaung Kaing Kaing (I Nyoman Noisy Stud Pig).

“I have a traumatic experience with cultivation like this; I tried to cultivate orange before. It failed because of pests. I also once tried vanilla and coffee, but the price in the market was not good. The last time I tried to be a legislative member, I spent too much money but I failed and got nothing,” I Kadek Broker Suara and Dukungan Desa (I Kadek Vote Broker and Village Supporter) interrupts.

Finally the only honest reason comes from one of them:

Says I Wayan Praktis Pragmatis (I Wayan Short Mind), “When the result is not proven yet, I don’t think I will try this business. I mean, one day when I see you become rich, you can afford new car, have big house with marble floor, just from cultivating silkworms, then I will follow you,”

Based on his point of view, we know that the Balinese are not brave to try new things, let alone when they have to use their own money. They are willing to try new businesses only when somebody offers them working capital. Even so, it doesn’t guarantee that they will do the business seriously.

Only when they have seen the result of a business profitable, then they will all follow and run the same one. When a warung has many customers, the others will follow to make a warung as well. The problem is when there are too many warungs, they have to ‘share the cake’ and everybody gets a very small slice.

Consequently, as you can see, they are many telephone card counters, gas stations, mini markets, cafés, healers in Bali. They think that these kinds of businesses are profitable, so they just follow.

Everybody leaves before I Madé finish his ‘lecture’. Nobody pays their bills. It’s I Madé who has to pay for them. Poor I Madé: That’s what happens when you give a ‘lecture’ to dumb people.