Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Kota’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday 11th April 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada
All the regencies in Bali have been trying to promote their traditional culture to make their capital towns ‘cultural centres’. The reason is: Bali is known for its rich culture. Each Regency always wants to be the best.
“Klungkung wants to be a cultural town, what’s more Gianyar.
Denpasar has two candidates for mayor positions: Both love talking about Denpasar as a ‘cultural centre,” says I Made Cureng Cecel.
As it is raining heavily―make television programs have technical problems―everyone looks for suitable topics to discuss. Made proposes a topic about Julia Perez. He wonders why no Balinese woman artist proposes themself to be a candidate for mayor, like Julia Perez in Pacitan regency in East Java.
“Why don’t the Balinese try to ask Julia Peres to be mayor candidate in Bali? If not, Sarah Azhari is fine. Don’t you get bored having male candidates with their moustaches, feudal behaviour and love affairs. If a beautiful woman became our leader, it might sound better, let alone if she loves men,” says Made.
Everyone agrees with his comments; but it seems that Julia Perez is not a good topic for discussion. Everyone seems ‘exhausted’ having discussed it. They all fantasize how it would feel they want having leaders like Julia Perez and Sarah Azhari. Some even think to be bra vendors.
Made changes the topic from Julia Peres to ‘cultural town’ issues, but no one is really interested. They think that cultural issues are the business of intellectuals, scholars and cultural experts’.
“I am just a drop-out of from elementary school: How can I talk about a cultural town. I just think that we can call Klungkung as ‘Srombotan (a kind of vegetable) town’, Gianyar can be ‘Suckling Pig town’ and Denpasar can be ‘Pecel Lele (catfish dish) and Cap Cai town’” says I Wayan Pul Sinogé.
“The thing is that everyone in Bali now wants to look modern. Nobody wants to use terms such as ‘Kota Petani’ (Farmer Town), ‘Kota Nelayan’ (Fisherman Town) or ‘Kota Kuli’ (Labour Town). As tourism sector is the leader and ‘culture’ is easy to ‘sell’, so everyone tries to promote their local culture.
Therefore if we find a town in Bali calling itself as ‘cultural town’, it can be understood that they want to promote their traditional dances and other traditional arts to attract tourists and get some local income.
“Nobody really wants to cleanness anti corruption attitude, anti bribing, or public services improvement promote,” says Wayan.
They all just laugh: bit It is not because they understand what Made and Wayan talk about; they are more interested in listening about srombotan, be guling (suckling pig), pecel lele (fried catfish) and cap cay.
When it rains heavenly, the best thing one can do is gossip about hot topics, like talking about Julia Perez, or eating something hot like pecel lele.