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).