Thursday, 24 December 2009


Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bungklang Bungkling: GEJOR (SHAKING)

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

Gejor (Shaking)

“What is the different of ‘gejor’ (sexual shaking) and ‘linuh’ (earthquake)?” comes the question.

‘Gejor’ is something that referring to ‘hot’ things, says I Made Dakin Talenan (I Made Grime on the Chopping Board).

The others pretend not to listen and wait who will comment on what Made says.

“What do you mean by ‘hot’. Does it produce fire?” I Wayan Polo Bulbul (I Wayan Stupid Idiot) interrupts.

“Gejor’ refers to a sexual gesture when your body moves up and down, so it’s a sexy movement, pretty much different from earth movement when earthquake happens,” Made replies.

Now they all can understand what Made is talking about and they all laugh. They are all over 17 years old and of course they have experiences, with something like this as they have had ‘sexual’ experience, not just with their own wives, but probably also with prostitutes and their friends’ wives.

Wayan has never been with a prostitute nor his friend’s wife. That’s why he doesn’t follow the conversation. He just shakes his head and continues preparing spices.

They make turkey ‘lawar’ (Balinese meat salad). They usually do this when they have celebrations, such as a temple festival or a political event. They made pork ‘lawar’ when they had a temple festival at Dalem Temple a few days ago. They made ‘turkey’ ‘lawar’ when ‘KPK’ (Anti Corruption Watch) won against the police institution. They are planning to make beef ‘lawar’ if the minister of financial and the vice president step down.

“I don’t think our vice president will step down, unless Jakarta is overwhelmed by flood.”

When they prepare food for ceremony, there are only two things they talk about: gossip or talk about dirty things. When they gossip, they don’t say it loudly, but when they talk about dirty things they will say it loudly and laugh. So it is a bit strange today that they talk about earthquakes.

It is said that Bali is vulnerable to earthquakes. I’m a bit nervous. I’m worried about my assets,” says I Ketut Pakir Miskin (I Ketut the Poor and Needy).

They just laugh to hear what Ketut says. They know that Ketut just makes a dumb joke when he has nothing to say. What he has is just an old house with a cow stable next to it. But he has no cow at all. He had two before he sold them and put his money at the KKM (Karangasem Cooperative) which offered unbelievable interest. The cooperative went bankrupt last year. He never received his money back.

“You don’t need to be afraid of earthquakes: when you are poor, you should not be worried about anything. If you die because of earthquake, it might be good for you as you will reincarnate soon, and who knows in your next life you might become a famous artist, and have a better life,’ Made adds.

It is the rich and the high-ranking officials who are supposed to be worried. They must be afraid if their wealth (houses, cars, wives) will be destroyed by an earthquake.

“Why? They have collected their wealth for years by corrupting funds, and it can be gone in a second in a natural disaster. That’s why they are afraid of natural disasters.”

Now it’s Wayan’s turn to give comments.

“Don’t be afraid of natural disasters: You know how often we make offerings. We do karya agung (big religious ceremonies) everywhere in Bali, so I believe that Bali will survive from any natural disaster. Our gods and goddesses protect us,” says Wayan.

No matter where we live, whether in the mountain areas or by the beaches or lakes, we always do consecration ceremonies.

They all agree to what Wayan says. When they talk about yadnya (offering rites), nobody dare to disagree as they all want to show that they are religious people.

“Well, can you tell me how come we had bombings in Bali twice, floods everywhere, beach abrasion, our forests have finished, the weather is getting hotter and hotter, less and less rain,” says Ketut.

They pretend not to listen to Ketut’s comments. They don’t nod or shake their heads. They don’t dare to admit that the heavenly power is overwhelmed by human beings’ wrong-doings, or by natural disasters.

They don’t dare to admit that there is no relation between ‘yadnya’ and natural disasters at all. They don’t understand that no matter how often you do ‘yadnya’, if you destroy the forests, there will always be landslides.

Heavenly power will mean nothing unless the human beings do concrete actions.

So, although the Balinese keep doing ‘yadnya’, natural disasters can happen anytime.

Friday, 11 December 2009


Bungklang Bungkling: DOOMSDAY

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Kiamat’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 6th December 2009. Translated by Putu Semiada


Everybody seems nervous having heard about the doomsday 2012. And it will be in two years. The drinking club members hold a special meeting to discuss it, especially about arisan* and asset claims.

“It’s my turn to have the arisan by that time. What can I do? Doomsday doesn’t have to eliminate my right, does it? Because it won’t be fair,” says I Made Basang Bedag (I Wayan Bali Belly).

Wayan is a type of person who always fights for his right. But when it comes to ‘duty’, he will be ignorant. Actually when one of the members gets the arisan, he will get 20 bottles of palm toddy, instead of money.

“How come you are so na├»ve, just because of 20 bottles of palm toddy. We want to discuss an urgent issue, about the doomsday. I wonder who will inherit our habit of drinking palm toddy,” I Wayan Injun Punyah (I Wayan Crazy Drunker) interrupts.

The others just nod. They agree that it is an urgent issue. If they don’t care, then who else?

“We should make a special committee to discuss this and we should appoint a chairman. When we have come into an agreement, we should hold a ‘plenary meeting’,” adds Wayan.

Wayan speaks as if he is in the Legislative Assembly. It seems that Indonesians are quick learners. Meanwhile the members of Legislative Assembly are busy preparing a Questionnaire Special Committee. Questionnaire right is aimed at questioning the Vice President and Minister of Financial. The Legislative Assembly members think that they can fire them. If they succeed, another two important political positions will be available. And this will increase their bargaining position to the ruling elites. This should be done before 2012 so they can ‘take back’ what they have spent during their campaign.

Not only the drinking club members get confused of news on the doomsday, but the ground spirits also. Hence the ‘Bali Ground Spirits Association’ holds a meeting in relation to the doomsday.

“The ‘ground spirits’ in Bali of course enjoy natural disasters; either floods or earthquakes. But they don’t want doomsday happens,” says Kala Dini Kala Ditu (The Spirit Here and There), the chairman of the association.

Their members give applause to their chairman for what he says.

“The more natural disasters happen, the happier they are because every time a natural disaster happens, the Balinese will hold caru or tawur (offerings to appease ground spirits). Hence, if the doomsday really happens, who will ever appease them?

All the members of ground spirit association nod. They all agree on one thing: they have to prevent the doomsday. But how can they do this? The only way is by asking the Balinese to carry out a very very big tawur ceremony in Bali.

Some of their members go and meet important leaders. One of them meets a religious leader who often asks the local government to hold big religious ceremonies, another meets one of the local officials who often become a committee for religious ceremonies, another meets a young leader who act as if he is a reincarnation of a heavenly god. Hence everyone thinks that the world has gone crazy and a tawur that much much bigger than ever before must be held.

They might not aware that there has been a chaos in nirvana too, especially when the gods hear about the news on doomsday in 2012. It is God Siwa and Goddess Durga who get upset as doomsday is their business.

“Each of us has our own task. Brahma creates the world which now full of bad people, Wisnu look after them, and myself is to ‘finish’ bad people. So, who has dared to take over my task,” asks God Siwa while swinging his weapon (Trisula).

Every time He swings his Trisula, earthquakes happen everywhere. Once he swings it, big waves come, and even ice at north pool melts. At another time, he swings it three times, rain stops and no wind at all. That’s what we might call global warming. That’s what happens when God Siwa gets angry.

The other gods are scared. Everything can happen when God Siwa gets angry, even the doomsday.

“Which god dares to announce the doomsday? I will curse him,” say God Siwa angrily.

One by one the gods reports about the Mayan calendar which will out of date in 2012.

“Your Highness, they live in South America, so it’s not under jurisdiction of the gods in Bali. As their calendar out of date in 2012, many assume that the doomsday will happen in 2012. From my point of view, when a calendar out of date, we are supposed to make a new one,” says God Semara, who once was cursed by God Siwa to be dust.

Now it’s Goddess Durga who gets angry, she plans to come to South America and destroy the Mayan.

“It’s not really necessary, Your Highness, the Mayans have disappeared thousand years ago.

God Siwa and Goddess Durga can’t even say a word.

“The Mayan couldn’t even forecast their life, let alone forecast doomsday. Well, I need to take a rest now,” says God Siwa.

The nirvana returns to normal. But the world is still full of human beings holding tawurs, making special committees and getting drunk.


Arisan: regular social gathering whose members contribute to and take turns at winning an aggregate sum of money.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Published in NOW! Bali - January 2010

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

TRAVEL DIARIES: Madura, Bandung & Bali

Published in NOW! Jakarta - January 2010


Wednesday, 2 December 2009


by Johnni Wong featured in Weekender newspaper, KL (Sat, 21st November 2009).

Click image to enlarge

Bungklang Bungkling: ‘GUGU' (BELIEF)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Gugu’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 29th November 2009. Translated by Putu Semiada

‘Gugu' (Belief)

Any story I Made Layah Sing Metulang (I Made Powerful Words) tells you will remind you that being a teacher in Indonesia is not a happy thing.

During the New Order regime, teachers were not really allowed to teach certain subjects freely.

“We were not allowed to discuss about Soekarno, and we had to say good things about Soeharto instead. There was no place for discussion on PKI (Indonesian Communist Party), and all we had to say was that Indonesia was the best,” says Made.

During that era, teachers were not independent, nor creative, nor able to teach their student properly.

“Besides, being a teacher, one doesn’t get paid well. That’s why we never think of having any extra education to improve our qualification. We can’t even afford good meals.”

The drinking club members just nod. Many times they listen to Made’s complaints about teachers’ hard lives, they think.

As a teacher, all he can do is complain, everything is never right for him. However, it is strange that he remains a teacher. Ideally, if he is not happy being a teacher, he should quit. He should return the letter of assignment and become a farmer. But he doesn’t make this choice. It seems, no matter how small a teacher’s salary is, it is still much better than being a farmer.

“Because of very low salary, a lot of teachers seek side income,” Made adds.

The most easy side job for a teacher is giving extra lessons and being an agent of a book printing company. That’s the reason Made asks his students to join extra lessons for daily test, mid-term test and national final examination as well that he holds at his house. To get some fees, Made asks his students to buy new books every new school year. Made will give different way of treating to the student who doesn’t obey his request.

Since he gives extra lessons, he has earned more and more money. And his students get much better grade marks because Made gives them the answers in advance before the test. He does it because he makes good money from giving extra lessons.

However, Made keeps complaining about teachers’ salaries and hard life, and no proper rewards at all.

“Well now the government has given teachers incentive which amount similar to their main salaries. You are not poor anymore and you don’t need to do ‘moonlight’ but concentrate on teaching our students instead, says Ni Luh Makin Digosok Makin Sip (The More You Rub The More She loves it).

Made shakes his head.

No….no… It is not like what you think. In fact, it is getting more difficult. Today, we teachers should attend seminars here and there for ‘certification’ purpose in order to improve our rank. So I spend most of my time doing this; I don’t even have enough time for the school and my students. That’s why I keep giving extra lessons to my students so I still have time for them,” says Made.

They are all laughing. They know that it is all because of money Made doing that.

“You know, today our students are familiar with internet, so the teachers should have their own laptop and subscribe an internet provider to meet the students’ need. But it all costs money.

The point is that no matter how the situation is, according to Made’s point of view, teachers are still considered poor as they can not afford laptops, let alone cars.

So if we follow Made’s point of view, it is a raise that they seek, both as main income and side income.

Besides, if all teachers were like Made, It would mean that we don’t have good teachers.