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.”