Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Bungklang Bungkling: MAKE UP (payas)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Payas’ a column by I Wayan Juniartha,
as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 25th October 2009.
Translated by Putu Semiada


Our In Bali there is an old saying which says: ‘payuk pringpung misi berem’ which literally means: ugly face, but kind hearted. When a Balinese is described with this old saying, it means that the person is humble, does not like show off, and he has got brain.

But nowadays, Balinese do not want to be called ‘payuk prungpung’ (ugly). That’s why they always try to improve their physical appearance and their make up.

“If you look ugly, nobody will look at you. And if they don’t, nobody will know if you are kind-hearted. It will useless, tough, says I Made Metrosexual.

Made works as ‘tukang ojek’ (motor bike rider), but he acts as if he is a celebrity. He often goes to beauty salon. He does facial for his face, cream-bath for his hair, etc. He even gives special treatment to his beard and moustache.

“Today, the most important thing is ‘payuk geles’ (your look), no matter how bad character is. For girls, the most important is how you look beautiful, tight breasts, even though you have no brain. It’s not a problem.”

Now people only look at your skin, your make up. If your skin looks shiny, your make up striking, people will consider you as successful person or respected person.

That’s probably when a village community council (banjar) want the other banjars pay attention to them, they must make sure that their community hall or kul-kul tower looks fancy. Sometimes they have to demolish the building first and make a new one or do renovation against their kul-kul tower.

They think that when they have a fancy meeting hall (bale banjar), huge kul-kul tower, their people will be amazed, they will be considered successful, and the council thinks that their people are much more modern than others whose meeting halls are old and dirty.

Everybody feels they are on the top if they do so. No matter that after the opening ceremony or pemlaspasan ceremony, many of the community has got headache of how they will pay the instalment in the bank. It doesn’t matter if you already have had a new fancy meeting hall, but your people are still poor and not able to send their children to school. The meeting hall has marble floor but ironically, the community eat bad rice.

“The most important is that people everywhere are talking about our new meeting hall. They will be amazed how can our banjar members collect such amount of money to make a new meeting hall? It doesn’t matter if they borrow money from the bank. It’s not important,” says Made.

That’s why also, when we have a big ceremony, the ladies are busy talking about new kebaya and jewelleries. The look is the most important thing.

When you are wearing French kebaya, real gold jewelleries, you think you are very close to the God.

As a matter of fact, if you are wearing very expensive kebaya, you will feel more beautiful and has higher social status than others. But you must know that expensive kebaya doesn’t guarantee you are free of negative behaviours (jealousy, low self-esteem, and ‘sad ripu’ (six bad characters in one’s self)).

The same thing happens to the men. They all try to wear white and yellow traditional dress. Formerly, only pemangku temple priest wore white and yellow. But now even the young boys do. They think that they are already holy men just by using white and yellow dress.

Ironically, we can see young boys wearing white and yellow and riding their motor bikes crazily on the streets.

Ironically also, in the village meeting hall, we can see men in white and yellow traditional dress do cockfighting and other types of gambling.

So, if you care only on the look, make up, or body, you will often find that one’s behaviour doesn’t match his or her look.

Formerly, our ancestors had an expression ‘jele goba, jele ati’ (refer to ‘an ugly people who has bad behaviour’), but now we have ‘melah goba, jele hati’ (good look but bad behaviour).

Monday, 26 October 2009


Photos by Ida Bagus Gede Surya Manuaba

The Tropical Paradise of Made Wijaya - German TV Production

Bungklang Bungkling: FAKE HEALER

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 18th August 2009. Translated by Putu Semiada

Fake Healer

Usually after a big ceremony, many Balinese get sick. Just one week after Galungan, many of the drinking club looks very tired. Some have problem with their stomachs, some with their backs, and some have headache.

When they get sick, especially a couple days before a ceremony, they will say that their sickness due to leak (black magic).

“Dadong (grandma) Senggol touched me when we were at the temple. Dadong is known as a black magic woman. She is a very powerful magic woman, and she is in black magic business too. Having touch by her, I vomited and had diarrhoea. She was mad at me because I didn’t give attention to her flirting,” says I Made Basang Bedag (I Made Big Bully).

If you hear Made talking for the first time you might get sick of his talking. He looks very ugly but thinks as if he is a good looking man. He is very fat.

“So did I. She touch me at the outer temple courtyard. The following day, I had pain in my hand, says I Nyoman Bungut Aungan (I Nyoman Big Mouth).

“I have different story. Once Ni Luh Genyol, the suckling pig seller, stared at me at the outer temple courtyard. Then at nigh I couldn’t sleep. I had pain at my waist. I know that I often don’t pay after I eat there. I don’t think it is the reason she sent black magic to me.

Everybody laugh having heard what Made, Nyoman, and Wayan were saying. They think that Americans have talked about travelling to Mars while we Balinese still talking about leak.

“I know that black exists, but your cases are nothing to do with black magic. I don’t understand you keep blaming black magic, says I Pekak Pocol Ongol-Ongol (I Pekak Nod-off).

Two days before Galungan Holiday until one day after, Made had eaten lots of lawar (Balinese mix vegetable with meat). He also ate satay, steam pork, crackers, peanuts and he drank beer as well. That’s why he had problem with his stomach.

Nyoman, on the other hand had been busy gambling until one day after Galungan. He had 12 roosters. All of them had been sent to ‘semi-legal’ cockfighting arena (‘semi legal because it breaks the laws but allowed by the village council because the cockfighting committee paid donation to the village through ‘pecalang’ (the village vigilantes who has a job as parking attendants as well) at the outer temple courtyard. In the morning Nyoman did cockfighting, so does he in the afternoon and other type of gambling during the night. He is a real gambler actually. But is too old now. And he has rheumatic.

From Penampahan Galungan (one day before Galungan day) until Pahing Galungan (one day after Galungan) Wayan had been sitting when he did his activities. In the morning he made ‘lawar’, he sat in the warung during the day, and all nights he played Chinese cards. That’s why he has problem with his waist now.

“No way. No way that cockfighting and playing Chinese cards make you suffer pain in your waist. Instead, it makes you happy all the time. I think I am sure my sickness is because of leak. I am going to a powerful healer to ask for a something that can protect me me from leak,” Wayan argues.

Everybody laughs.

“You should go see a doctor. If you go to a healer when you have problem with your health, well you do useless thing,” Pekak gives opinion.

You know, there are many fake healers now in Bali….They become healer just for money. You should be careful with this kind of healer.

“There are more of our brothers become healers (balian) because it is much easier for them to be a healer than to be a doctor. If you want to be a doctor you must go to university and study there for eight years. But if you want to be a balian, what you need is a bit of talent to act as if you were in trance sometimes, you should have thick moustache, long beard and some other pretending behaviour,” says Pekak.

To be a doctor is difficult. If you give the patient wrong medicine, they might send you to jail, but if you were a balian and you give the patient wrong treatment, they won’t blame you, because they believe you are under the god guidance.

Balians will never suffer loss. If the patient is not getting well, he will make an excuse that the balian who makes the patient sick, is much more powerful than him. That’s why bigger ‘caru’ ceremony and more powerful ‘penyengker’ (magical borderline) along the patient’s house wall) is needed. If the patient dies, he will say that’s the God’s will. If the patient can get well, the family of the patient will keep bringing ‘pejati’ (present) to the balian house for his service.

From selling offering, a fake balian can make good fortune. He can even earn more money if he has a warung selling coffee and arak (palm wine) because he can ask the patients or their family to bring him a cup of coffee or arak that they can buy from his warung. He will be very rich soon.

And if the balian also runs a supermarket which protected by magical power that makes people like shopping there, he will be rich much faster. You know the cheapest ‘penyengker’ (black magic thing that can protect you from bad influences or make your own business runs good) is Rp. 2 millions. It has no guarantee. You can not bring it with you when you go to bathroom otherwise you have to buy a new one because it will loose its power.

If Made, Nyoman, and Wayan decide to go the healer, they might get well soon, but they will regret when they find out their money will be finished.

So nowadays for Balinese, it’s better to deal with leak than have no money.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Bungklang Bungkling: FOREST

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha,
as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 11th
October 2009. Translated by Putu Semiada


There are no longer any spooky places in Bali because the forests have been diminished, lakes have been spoiled, as well as the mountains.

“Before nobody dared to cut trees in the forest. They were already afraid just when they tried to enter the forest,” says I Made Nyali Cenik (I Made Coward)

When they entered the forest during the day, a Sang Mong tiger might wait for them, ready to eat them. If they entered the forest during the night, the God Banaspati Raja might have cursed them.

“Now, if you enter the forest during the day, a truck full of wood load might hit you, but if you enter the forest during the night, a security who guard a villa where a western guy lives, may warn you,” says I Nyoman Polo Mbuh (I Nyoman Big Talk but No Brain).

But now you will find that the God Banaspatiraja and the Sang Mong tiger no longer exist.

“Now if there is a tiger seen in the forest during the day, it will be killed and its fangs will be used for magic thing, its skin will be used for souvenir and its sex organ is for tonic,” says I Nyoman.

On the other hand if God Banaspatiraja shows up, people will come with their handycams to filming Him. The film will be sold to the tourists who really enjoy things like that.

Whatever you can sell just sell, that’s the new slogan of the Balinese,” replies I Made.

In Bali, the rich people are respected very much like gods. The ‘spooky’ thing now is only money. It’s money that makes people ‘surrender’. They are not afraid of the Sang Mong tiger or God Banaspatiraja because both of them have no money. That’s why the Balinese dare to sell everything they have (including forest).

“If you don’t have money at all, you will feel ‘afraid’. You don’t dare to go to warung or cafĂ©. You will be even afraid of your wife,” says I Made.

If I have to make a choice between seeing leak a (black magic woman) during Kajang Kliwon day (special day for ground spirits) and having no money at all, I will prefer to seeing leak. If you have money, you can even buy a leak.

If you are not afraid of leaks, the Sang Mong tiger or God Banaspatiraja, you will not beafraid of government regulations either.

“Who do you think signs the regulations? They are human beings as well. If you can buy the mother leak, ‘sell’ Banaspatiraja, dealing with humans is nothing,” says I Made, laughing.

Consequently, mountains are getting spoiled, forests have gone, and the lake has less and less water.

Ironically, Balinese are getting cleverer in talking about Tri Hita Kirana, Tri Mandala, Tumpek Bubuh and other old religious teaching, but the fact is that their environment is getting damage, rubbish everywhere, forest becomes villas, lakes changed to hotels.

It’s much easier talking than doing.

“Didn’t they know if you keep spoiling the mother nature, in return you will get natural disaster,” says I Made.

“You should never be afraid of natural disaster as long as you have money? If you have a lot of money, you can have a big ‘mecaru’ (appeasement rite for negative influences), pekelem, tawur and aci-aci, says I Nyoman.

When everything has been sold, then you bribe the gods.

“Don’t they know that the forests have gone, the lake is dry, and there is less and less water,” says I Made.

There will be no problem if there is no water as long as you have money. Just buy yourself Aqua as much as you want, or you can drink bottled tea everyday as much as you want.”

If you like selling things you will of course have lots of money. If you have money you can buy anything you want. But how much you get profit from selling things and how much you spent is something you need to rethink.

It looks like that the Balinese have suffered a big loss, and that they are going to be bankrupt.

If the forest is finished, the broker will die soon.

Monday, 19 October 2009

TRAVEL DIARIES (October 2009): Bandung - Bali - India

Published in Now! Jakarta, October 2009

Monday, 12 October 2009


Carla Bruni Sang, Bruno played on the monitor, Bebek made Martinis: New hotel manager James Erwin held down the bar like a true Batak.