Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Yeh’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 17th October 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada
I Made Mabuk Lagi (I Made Always Get Drunk) has his own opinion why the palm toddy has been selling well recently.
“I don’t think it is because the quality of the palm toddy is getting better nor because it tastes better nor because it is getting cheaper either, nor because of more and more teenagers getting frustrated and becoming alcohol addicted.”
“The frustrated teenagers do not go to palm toddy warungs, instead they go to ‘red light’ cafes. They don’t drink palm toddy, they drink beer. They drink beer at cafes and do heavy-petting with the waitresses, who usually come from Jember and Banyuwangi.”
“The reason why palm toddy is selling well recently is that bottled water is getting more and more expensive,” says I Made.
Everyone laughs. They all saw I Madé staggering as he carried two gallons of water this morning.
“We’ve never thought water would become commercial,” adds I Madé.
In old times, if we wanted get some water, we just brought buckets to the river and took it. Otherwise, we took water from the well and filled our buckets.
“But today, our rivers are full of rubbish, mud and pollution. Our wells are also out of water. Sometime it tastes like sea water as well,” comments I Wayan Bedak Layah (I Wayan Thirsty and Hungry).
For people who have more money, they can have city water service but even city water often doesn’t come out fresh.
Many people then tend to buy bottled water, which means they have to spend money.”
“That’s sort of modern life: Whatever you do or want, you have to pay: Money is everything.”
“If you can’t afford for bottled water, you can have the refilled one, it’s much more less expensive,” says I Ketut Wiraniaga (I Ketut Salesman).
Everyone laughs. They know that I Ketut is smart when talking about business. When there is a business opportunity, he will take advantage.
It seems that Madé doesn’t agree. He drinks ‘Aqua’ which he thinks is the best bottled water from a spring because it has 21 distillation processes and it doesn’t contain any bacteria at all. That’s why he feels insulted when he is asked to drink water other than ‘Aqua’ brand.
“Where do you get water for the refill one from? How many times is it distilled? Does it contain minerals and vitamins. I’m afraid that after I drink the water I will have stomach-ache,” says he.
I Ketut gets upset. As an experienced salesman, he can not accept if someone says something bad about his product. For him, if one says something bad about his ugly face, or about his fat wife, he still can accept that.
“Watch your mouth, Dé. My refilled water product has been registered at Department of Health and it goes through distillation processes. Before taking the water, we also do a ceremony to ask permission to the unseen powers. Our truck also is blessed with a ceremony, our staff also pray and are blessed with holy water before starting work. That’s why I guarantee that no virus, bacteria or black magic is found in my refilled water product,” says he angrily.
Everyone laughs as they note that the discussion is between a stupid person and a stubborn person. Both of them do not know what the real problem is. They both seem overwhelmed by the advertisements of the water companies and insist that they know much.
“Have you seen how the water is produced? Are you sure it is distilled 21 times? Have you seen if it is blessed with unseen powers? You’d better shut up if you don’t know anything. You know, in Indonesia, even registered products at the Department of Health are not guaranteed to be good quality. Have you heard about Indo Mie banned in Taiwan as it is suspected to contain preservative agent,” says I Wayan.
Everyone is surprised. Mie (noodle) has been a popular food among them. They have noodles for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner.
“Well, under this circumstance, what food is safe to consume? Neither refilled water or Indo Mie is safe,” says I Madé.
So it is much better to drink palm toddy. Even though it is not distilled 21 times, the result is obvious when you drink too much: You get drunk.