Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Starvation (Busung (Lapar)) 

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Busung Lapar’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 27th June 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Starvation (Busung (Lapar))

Balinese often get very upset when talking about the Javanese. They think that Javanese have caused many troubles for them; many Javanese make livings in Bali without giving any contribution to maintain Balinese tradition.

“The Balinese spend billions of Rupiahs buying young coconut leaves (busung) and most of the busung vendors are Javanese,” says I Made Ajeg Bali Mara Dibi (I Made Just Joined on Sustainable Bali).

Everyone laughs. They know that when I Made talks like that, the discussion will be controversial. It is understandable because they follow different political point of views. Some follow liberal-capitalism, some neo-socialism, some fundamentalism and the rest are nationalists. Apart from this, most of them are what we call nasi gratis pedofils (join political group for free meals and sex).

“You are right, . Why have we Balinese always been exploited. You know most jobs in Bali now are taken by the Javanese; even offering vendors now are Javanese. Who can guarantee they understand about porosan (the small part of the offering), or about sacred and profane.” I Putu Lalapan No Lawar Ya (I Putu Javanese Dish No Balinese Dish Yes) agrees.

Do you think that all Balinese understand about porosan or banten, by the way?

Who can guarantee that all the Balinese offering (canang)-makers understand about holy and unholy?

“We might say that when there are more and more canang vendors, it seems that the Balinese less and less understand, or decline to make canang,” I Wayan Fanatik Sing Munafik (I Wayan Fanatic But Not Hypocrite) interrupts.

“What is really your problem, Tu? You know, nobody protests when a Balinese buys a load of offerings at a priest’s house (geria). But why do you protest when one buys canang from a Javanese vendor?” asks I Wayan.

“Because the Javanese selling canang are not Hindus,” I Putu replies angrily.

Everybody stays calm. They are afraid of discussing on this further as this is a sensitive issue; it has come to ‘SARA’ issue (religion, race and origin).

“If you think so, it means that the non-Hindus are not allowed to produce Hindu accessories and so vice versa,” replies I Wayan.

“Consequently, the Balinese carvers will go bankrupt as they are not allowed to produce Buddha and Jesus Christ statues. And Balinese workers are not allowed to work in church building development, either.”

“If you worry about the billions of Rupiahs we Balinese spend on busung from Java, have you ever bothered about the billions the Javanese and other domestic tourists spend in Bali?” asks I Wayan.

“If you are really concerned, it’s better for you to find the answer why the Balinese spends billions of Rupiahs for canang. It has nothing to do with Javanese or others.”

Everyone nods. I Wayan is right. It has nothing to do with the Javanese or canang or busung. It is just a matter of ‘envy’ to others and being wasteful of your own money.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Timor escapade - Tenau Beach: back to basics, and beautiful backs.

The Timorese are amongst the happiest people on the planet and devilishly good looking to boot! Kupang’s Tenau Beach is spotted with colourful fishing vessels and fishermen. This father and sons trio are fish sellers by the road and fishermen too.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Around The Wolrd in 80 Gardens with Monty Don.

BBC Birmingham, 2008

Bungklang Bungkling: Digital Pornography (Jaruh Digital)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Jaruh Digital’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday 20th June 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Digital Pornography (Jaruh Digital)

Since the Ariel, Luna and Cut Tari porn video case occurred more and more members of the Palm Toddy Association are buying mobile phones with video player facility.

They can of course watch porn using their PCs or laptops, but they think that it is more exciting to watch on their mobile phones. The reason is: they can watch wherever they are.

“In old times, Balinese ‘peeped’ at a couple making love through the ‘holes’ of woven bamboo walls or ventilation. In other words, they saw something from ‘small holes’ or ‘difficult positions’; but these days we see ‘those things’ via mobile phones which have small screens…but still with similar sensation,” says I Made Mata Minus Buang Plus (I Made Myopic But Have Big Lust).

He was the first club member to get the Ariel-Luna video. Since then he often goes to the cyber café to download the latest porn videos. He only comes to the warung to tell his friends what he finds.

“I heard that there are still 32 videos of Ariel, each with different women, some with artists, housewives, married artists, prostitutes, his own girlfriend and even his friends’ wives. Some even with homos,…..isn’t that cool, man,” says I Made excitedly.

His friends just laugh at him as everyone already has a mobile phone with video player feature and everyone has seen the Ariel Luna Maya and Ariel Cut Tari video.

“From Balinese traditional point of view, Ariel must own a ‘Pis Rejuna’ (magic Chinese coin with an image semi-divine, romantic hero Arjuna) and ‘Pis Jaran’ (magic Chinese coin with an image of a horse). That’s probably why he can sleep with many women. According to Freud, Ariel suffers a sexual disorder because he loves recording while doing sexual activities.”

Traditional analysis seems to ignore one thing: Ariel is a good-looking guy, very famous and rich. These days when you have those favours you don’t need ‘Pis Rejuna’ and you can take any woman you want easily, let alone the ones at red light cafes.

On the other hand, modern analysis ignores one thing: the basic instinct of a man to show off his ‘achievement’ ― how many women he has slept with. When young Balinese boys hang around together, the most popular question among them is: “Be Bakat?” (Did you sleep with her?) or “Ba kuda maan cewek?” (How many girls have you slept with”?).

In old times there was no handycam, so Sang Arjuna (Romeo) could not record his ‘achievement’ at having been successful sleeping with seven angels — from a virgin one up till an experienced one. Instead, everything was recorded in an inscription called Arjuna Wiwaha. If he had had a handycam, he would have brought one everywhere he went. The point is that men enjoy recording about how many women they have been able to sleep with.

“I’m sure this kind of thing can ruin the morality of our younger generation,” says I Wayan Musang Berbulu Onta (I Wayan Cheap Talk).

It seems that I Wayan’s talk is Moralitas Super Mie (cheap talk about morality). He may think that after this scandal, many students will have ‘free sex’ and many girl-students will get pregnant and ruin their life. They think that all students are like that.

Also, having seen how Cut Tari moans and groans in the video, he thinks that this nation has no good morale and will be disintegrated.

“It is corruption and fundamentalism that makes our nation disintegrate, not porn videos. Also it is our disorganized education system that makes many smart students have no chance to better education, not porn videos. replies I Made.

“People who talk loudly about this issue are usually the ones who really enjoy watching the video and the ones who condemn Ariel are probably the ones who want to be like him.”

They might not realize that ‘porn’ is human nature, which has existed since the existence of the human kind itself and it always will.

“Porn is like daily needs: You will always need it as long as you live.”

Formerly students read porn books by Anny Arrow, and then the students from the following generations watched porn video on Betamax and laserdisc of western porn stars, followed by VCD of Japanese and Chinese porn stars. And now they can watch porn video of local artists on mobile phones and computers. So porn is a lifetime thing, it is just the media that makes it different.

“So, closing the warung internet (cyber cafes) or checking the students’ mobiles is something useless. The important thing is how to give proper information to the students so that they have good self-control and that they understand about condom use and the danger of HIV/AIDS, and not to ruin others’ life and theirs instead,” says I Made.

Everyone claps. It is the first time for them to see someone gives a ‘speech’ seriously about pornography. They imagine jokingly if I Made appointed as important official he might use ‘pornography’ as one of his programs.

“The most important thing is how to make students understand that there are a lot of more important things than just ‘pornography’ in this life. It is just a very small part in our life.”

This means that the police, ministers and president don’t need to waste their time just for this ‘porn’ issue.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: SUDAMALA (HOLINESS)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Sudamala’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday 13th June 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Sudamala (Holiness)

Two days ago, I Gedé Ahli Filsafat Sing Dadi Tungkas (I Gede Philosopher – Never Argue With Him) was very happy. His eldest son, I Wayan Bagus Demen Roti Kukus (I Wayan Good Looking Who Likes Muffin), has a new baby. And it is I Gedé’s first grandson.

“The Bali Art Festival has just started and its theme is Sudamala. That’s why I’m thinking of naming him I Wayan Sudamala or Bagus Sadewa,” says I Gedé confidently.

I Gedé has always named his family members with good names, which usually in accordance with the parents’ desire. If the born child is a beautiful white-skin girl, she will be named Pudak Sategal, Pudak Wangi, Cempaka Sari, Gitasanti, etc. If the child is a boy, he will be named Prabastra, Pralingga, Garbadatu, etc.

“This is my own grandson, I will name him I Sudamala or Bagus Sadewa. If she had been a girl, I would have named her Sudasih,” says I Gedé to his wife Luh Ayu Polos Pang Pada Payu (Beautiful Woman Good For Everybody). As always Luh Ayu does not argue her husband. She knows that it’s useless to argue him. She knows whatever she says, he will never listen. He always has a straight answer to defend himself.

She thinks that rather than arguing her husband, it would be better for her to be quiet and ‘seal her ears off’ and just do other things, like prepare offerings instead. That’s how she deal with her husband who claims himself a famous philosopher.

Just this morning, I Gedé went to the hospital to visit his grandson and ready with a name. Less than an hour, he returned home. But he doesn’t seem to be happy and strong like when he left home. Instead, his face is red and he walks slowly. His wife is very surprised to see her husband like that. But she is afraid to ask him what happens because he might get angry.

She tries to have a quick look to her husband. She finds her husband sitting silently in the north pavilion. His tears are almost coming out.

Luh Ayu, come to me, and make me some coffee please,” he says to his wife with quivering voice. His wife feels sad too.

When the coffee is ready, Luh Ayu slowly walks approaching her husband and sit beside him.

“How useless we are as parents. We have looked after I Wayan since he was a baby until he is grown up, married and has children,” says I Gedé. He stops talking for a moment, and wipes off his tears.

“I have prepared a name for my grandchild, hoping that he will be a good person and make our family proud of him, like Sadewa in wayang (shadow puppet) story, always try to do good things. I told my son long time ago that I wanted to name my grandchild Sadewa or Sudamala. How dare our daughter in laws reject the name I have prepared. How am I supposed to be a father in laws?” I Gedé said sadly.

Luh Ayu thins that it is time for her to talk.

“They both might have already prepared a name for their son. Don’t be too sad. By the way, what they name their son that they reject the name from you?”

I Gedé shakes his head. He can’t believe what they name their son.

“What do they name their son, Bli?

Maliana Putra,” says I Gedé.

“The name already has something with ‘mala’, Bli…why don’t they add Sudamala?

I Gedé stands up and leaves without saying anything. He might be too upset.

I Wayan doesn’t want to name his son Sudamala as it is a name of a ‘red light’ café which provides girls for sex,” says I Gedé angrily and bangs the door.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Cremation of A.A. Putu Suratmi, the mother of A.A. Ngurah Eka Putra (Wijaya Words loyalista),Wednesday, 9th june 2010, at Pedungan, South Denpasar.

Photos by MW





Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: POCOL (WORTHLESS)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Pocol’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday 6th June 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada.


I Made Kumis Jempé (I Made Bold Moustache, is just back from a temple vigilante’s meeting and he is wet). With his dagger and walkie-talky still with him, he enters the palm toddy warung.

Everyone in the warung is surprised. They think it’s a raid on alcoholic drinks. They note that pecalang (Balinese traditional vigilante) have side jobs other than being responsible for traditional security: they watch parking, guard the cock-fighting, block the roads during a ceremony and even watch terrorist.

“Take it easy! No raid at all: I come here as a customer. I’m not here in my ceremony capacity as enforcement officer who often does irrelevant jobs nor ‘raids’ for ‘financial purposes” he says.

Just as he sits he grabs three ‘brengkes’ (steamed pork wrapped with banana leaf) and a glass of palm toddy.

“We (Balinese) are silly people. We often do worthless things,” I Made starts his comments.

Everyone listens to I Made very seriously. It is said that when we talk to a pecalang with wild moustache carrying a dagger we should listen seriously. If we don’t, he might ‘go into trance’ and point his kris upward.

I Made says that he is disappointed in Obama. Many parties aie very busy dealing with security issues as Obama plans to visit Bali. The police, army and civilian defence units are ordered to be prepared.

“It takes a lot more security forces compared to what we do for our own president. Its even more complicated than preparing security for the gods of Besakih when they ‘tedun’ (come down to the earth to visit their followers during a festival at the temple).”

There are countless military ships around Bali, not to mention military spacecrafts.

“They might be suspicious that someone may hit Obama’s head when he comes to Bali, or a terrorist may shoot him.”

As a matter of fact, how is someone able to hit his head in spite of strict security provided for him, because to be able to see his face is not possible. When he comes, 5 kilometre distance will be cleared from wherever his position is. In addition, how can a terrorist possibly approach him when even a bakso (meatball) vendor can’t pass by. Our army will not be allowed by his bodyguards to guard him. His bodyguards wear sunglasses day and night like blind masseurs.

“We are so busy to deal with guarding President Obama, waiting for lots of dollars, and so busy promoting Balinese tourism image, that we have forgetted our main responsibilities.”

Bali still has to deal with problems such as rabies, dengue, traffic jams (as more tourists are coming), riotous ‘pilkadal’ (local elections), and death among Balinese due to rice wine mixed with methanol.

“They think that when President Obama comes to Bali, visits Uluwatu and plays with the monkeys at the Monkey Forest, all problems will disappear,” says Made angrily.

Many Balinese officials think that Obama’s visit indicates that the USA’s appreciaties Bali.

‘How might they think the USA appreciates Bali when Obama cancels his visit twice?

Everyone nods. This situation indicates that inlander (native) mentality as described by the Dutch in the old times is still very strong: we call the tourists “Tuan” or “Mister”. When westerners speak, we listen very carefully and think all that they say is correct. Also, when westerners compliment Bali, we are very very happy.

It would be very different if it’s our own people. Everyone will directly blame whatever our own people do or say. If necessary, we will kill them with poison or make black magic.

“It’s not really a good mentality. It’s like when you hurt yourself and let the tourists enjoy watching you, and it’s the travel agents that get benefit from the situation. It’s like you do the job but other people get the benefit.”

Friday, 4 June 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Kerauhan (Trance)

Kerauhan (Trance)

A rumour in the village says that ten families have changed their caste to Anak Agung (ksatria caste).

“I heard that during a temple festival in their family temple, some of them went into trance. They maintain that their ancestors told them that they originally came from royal family,” says I Made Jaba Ulian Sudra (I Made Lower Caste).

Everyone laughs. When talking about niskala…..it always starts with koné (they maintain.…).

The thing is that after ‘changing’ their caste, they act as if they were Anak Agung. They used to sit in the lower level, but now they always try to sit on the higher level or the north pavilion of someone’s house when they attend an occasion or a ceremony there. It was not a problem for them (the men) when villagers call them ‘Pak’ (Mr.), but now they get upset. They want people call to them ‘Ratu’ which makes them smile.

But it is on issue of ‘tanah ayahan’ (village’s property) that makes the villagers angry. Since they changed their status these families have ignored their village duties: they don’t pay their banjar admission fee and they claim that the land where the meeting hall (bale banjar) and the market are located belongs to them.

“It belonged to our ancestors,” they claim.

Consequently, the villagers must pay the rental cost, otherwise they will bring the case to the court.

“This is really a trance (kerauhan) with financial motive: they claim to have received utterances from the gods but actually it is money they really want,” says I Nyoman Meled Kepangor (I Nyoman Trance Very Often).

According to I Nyoman, ‘trance’ can be divided into the following:

“The common one, called ‘buta kala’ trance. When one is in trance what comes from his mouth is some requests for chicken, rice wine and palm toddy. When those things have been provided, everything will be fine.”

Whenever a butha kala (ground spirit) asks for human sacrifice, we should ignore. This kind of butha kala doesn’t know about human rights indeed. Or it might be a ‘work’ of a silly shaman who just wants to ‘scare’ his customers for business motives.

“The second type is called ‘political’ trance. Usually only community leaders who want to be popular or ‘get supports’ from the God Samodaya do this kind of ‘trance’.

There is a community leader who seems very powerful as he is considered to possess magical power from God Siwa, Goddess Durga and other gods as well. It is said that all gods ‘agree’ that he will be the most outstanding leader in Bali. The question is since when do the gods took over Mama Lauren’s job as fortune teller?

The third type of trance is the one with economy motive. With this kind of trance, the gods are supposed to deal with distribution of property ownership, conflicts due to inheritance, and even bank loan.

“He who is in trance has a strong position before the gods.”

There is also what we call ‘psychological trance’ that is old people who are supposed to experience this kind of trance, especially the ones whose children do not really care for them. In Bali, it is common that parents do not get good attention from their children when they get very old. Ironically, when they die, their children will make huge cremation ceremonies for them and make huge towers which sometimes cost millions of Rupiahs.

“Usually during a temple festival in a house, the grandpa or grandma will be in trance and the ‘gods’ will blame the children for having ignored their parents.”

Everyone nods.

“What does the real trance look like?” asks I Made.

“You know, when the gods would like to ‘speak’ to human beings, they can do it themselves without having to ‘borrow’ human bodies as ‘medium’, because human lies.”

Everyone agrees.

Travel Diaries: Malang, East Java

Published in Now! Jakarta, July 2010