Giant Turtle, Kartini Beach Jepara

The Sufi Teacher Passed By…

By Seno Gumira Ajidarma

One ordinary sleepy day a sufi teacher landed in Jakarta on his magic carpet at the gates of the toll road leading from Jakarta to Cengkareng International Airport. He hopped down and strolled into Jakarta as his magic carpet flew off again back up into the heavens.

It happened to be a Friday and at midday the sufi teacher went looking for the nearest place to perform his Friday prayers. He walked into the office block he was passing and on the ground floor found a small prayer room. The usual plastic prayer mats were laid out ready for Friday prayers but the room was still empty. A man who seemed to be the prayer room attendant was getting ready to perform his prayers, so the sufi teacher asked, “Prayer room attendant, isn’t it Friday today and shouldn’t everyone be here performing their prayers?”

kebenaran

“True. Usually there are lots of people here on Fridays to pray. The office workers in this building prefer to pray here on the ground floor rather than go out and look for a mosque.”

“But prayer room attendant, why isn’t anyone at all here today even though it’s time for prayer?”

“Ah, they’re all praying on the ninth floor.”

“And why is that?”

“Because.., it’s air conditioned. They say the atmosphere there is more conducive to prayer, and it’s nice and cool on the ninth floor, while down here it’s hot and sticky.”

“Ah, I see,” replied the sufi teacher in English, nodding.

And so he and the attendant performed their prayers together by themselves with the attendant leading the devotions.

When they had finished, the sufi teacher continued on his way looking for Gus Dur, the director of the Islamic community organization called Nahdlatul Ulama. He wanted to ask whether Americans could use the English phrase ‘good morning’ instead of the Arabic greeting ‘Assalamu alaikum’.

A month later the sufi teacher was again going past the same building and as it happened to be right on time for midday prayer he once again entered the building.

It turned out that this time there were dozens of people preparing to pray in the small prayer room. There were so many in fact that they were spilling out of the prayer room into the lobby as the fiery sermon lambasted the spread of worldly greed.

The sufi teacher again asked the attendant, “Prayer room attendant, why are there now so many people praying here, so many that they are overflowing into the lobby? What has become of the air conditioned prayer room on the ninth floor?”

“Sojourner, the office workers have come back here to pray because the air conditioning is out of order, and the room which used to be so nice and cool is now unbearably hot. Because of the humidity on the ninth floor, they now want to pray here; if they are lucky they might catch a passing breeze.”

The sufi teacher again nodded, saying in English, “I see. I see.” Then he continued, “Well then, take note prayer room attendant. Reflect on this question: Is there any difference between those who pray in an air conditioned room and those who do not?”

The prayer room attendant was silent, and, after midday prayers were over, forever more followed the sufi teacher wherever he went.

One day on their travels they arrived at the edge of a river somewhere in Central Java where there was no bridge. To cross to the other side it was necessary to use a small bamboo raft. The raft landing on the other side was not directly opposite and had to be reached by using a punt some way along the bank before crossing over.

Punting along the edge of the river the sufi teacher noticed a man fishing at the edge of the river who didn’t seem to be using any bait. But even though the fisherman wasn’t using any bait, the fish were just jumping from the water by themselves and landing in the man’s basket, filling it to overflowing. As the basket filled, the local people emptied fish into their own baskets and carried them away to their homes. The villagers flocked to the fisherman’s basket.

Amazed at this sight, the sufi teacher asked the raft keeper, “Raft keeper, who is that man by the river fishing without any bait?”

“That’s Saint Jagakali.”

“Who’s he?”

And so the raft keeper told the sufi teacher the story of the fisherman. It was said that long ago in that village there had lived a fisherman who lived solely from the fish he caught. Every day he would take his catch, return home and cook and eat it. One day one of the fish he caught was flapping gasping on the ground near him when it had begun speaking to him.

“Fisherman, please let me go. Grant me a great blessing and throw me back into the river. What good can I be to you? The small amount of flesh on my tiny bones will hardly fill you.”

The fisherman was astonished, but replied, “Talking fish, why do you speak to me this way? Does a fisherman not have the right to eat a fish he catches? This is the way it has always been, and the way it always shall be.”

“But life is like a wheel,” replied the fish. “What would happen if you should die and be reborn as a fish?”

The fisherman laughed aloud and threw the speaking fish into his basket.

Finally after the fisherman had died he was indeed reborn as a fish. On the other hand, after passing away the talking fish was also reborn, but as a fisherman.

One day the fisherman who had once been a fish caught the fish who had at one time been a fisherman. The fish who had been a fisherman was also able to speak.

“Good fisherman, I beg you to let me go because I am just a small fish and life means so much to me. My small body will hardly provide you with enough. Please throw me back into the river and set me free.”

The fisherman who had once been a fish happened to recognize that the fish he had caught was the fisherman who had once caught him.

The fisherman said, “Talking fish, do you not remember that once you were a fisherman and that once you refused to grant the request of a small fish. I am that very fish, and now you must experience what I felt that day.”

“No! Please! Haven’t you thought that one day you might be reborn yet again as a fish and I as a fisherman who might catch you? Remember that life is like a wheel, spinning around and around and around.”

“I don’t care; I desire vengeance. Aha ha ha ha ha!” responded the fisherman as he threw the fish into his basket. The fish flip-flopped backwards and forwards with slowly weakening flicks until it was finished.

In its next life, the fish did return as a man and the fisherman too returned, this time as a fish. The man who had once been a fish who had once been a fisherman did indeed become a fisherman who loved fishing more than anything in the world. But he did not forget that once he had killed a fish and had finally as a fish himself been killed by a fisherman despite his pleas for mercy. Full of reverence, he resolved to return the fish he had caught to the river.

Hence forth the fisherman fished without using any bait. The strange thing was that ever since he had decided not to use bait the fish had just leaped from the water by themselves into his basket. Even then he couldn’t bring himself to eat the fish so he allowed the local villagers to take them. As there were more fish than a fish factory the local villagers took them gratefully.

The fisherman would sit by the river day and night fishing, refusing to use any bait. He did not want to eat any of the fish and he lived solely from the dew that formed on his lips in the morning, chanting the mantras of the poet Sutardji Calzoum Bachri:

How many centuries must pass,
How many watches must stop,
How many signs must appear,
How many steps must I take,
Before I am able to reach You?

Over time, the fisherman had been given the name Saint Jagakali after the great Muslim mystic of Central Java, even though the fisherman himself had acknowledged no creed.

When the sufi teacher and the prayer room attendant arrived at the other side of the river, the sufi teacher thanked the raft keeper and together he and the prayer room attendant continued on their journey to East Java.

The sufi teacher wanted to meet the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Kiai Ahmad Shiddiq, to ask the venerable teacher what he would think if Michael Jackson and Jean-Michel Jarre were to record Arabic devotional songs.

After that, the sufi teacher wanted to summon his flying carpet and return to Isfahan. He was planning to drop into Qom and let Khomeini know that wisdom had spread to every corner of the earth. But then he remembered, the Great Teacher was already dead, so he changed his mind.

The sufi teacher next planned to fly from East Java to Japan, but first he wanted to take the prayer room attendant to the modern Islamic boarding school at Gontor in East Java so he could learn English. After all, a prayer room attendant in an office block in Jakarta’s ‘golden triangle’ central business district crowded with the offices of foreign investors needs to know English.

When he arrived in Japan the sufi teacher planned to go straight to Kyoto, find a Buddhist priest, and find out how he practiced Zen.

(Jakarta, February 1990)

 


The Sufi Teacher Passed By… (Guru Sufi Lewat…) was published in Kompas Daily in May 1990.

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Asimetris

“Asimetris” (Asymmetric) – WatchDoc Image Documentaries Trailer

This is the trailer for “Asimetris” (Asymmetric), the ninth documentary film in the ground-breaking Blue Indonesia Expedition series (Ekspedisi Indonesia Biru) on contemporary Indonesia following the acclaimed documentaries:

1. Samin vs Semen
2. Kala Benoa
3. The Mahuzes
4. Baduy
5. Kasepuhan Ciptagelar
6. Lewa di Lembata
7. Huhate
8. Gorontalo Baik

The whole film will be uploaded this coming March.

Source: WatchDoc Image Documentaries

Ahok

A Poem for Mother

By W.S. Rendra

To recall mother
Is to recall dessert
Wife is the sustaining main
Girlfriend the side dishes
And mother,
The perfect final,
The great communal feast of life.

Her countenance is the sky at sunset:
The grandeur of the day which has completed its work.
Her voice the echo
Of the whisper of my conscience.

Remembering mother
I see the best promise of life.
Hearing her voice,
I believe in the good in the human heart.
Looking at mother’s photograph,
I inherit the essence of the creation of the world.

Talking with you, my brothers and sisters,
I remember that you too have mothers.
I shake your hands,
I embrace you in fraternity.
We do not want to offend each other,
So we don’t insult each other’s mother,
Who always, like the earth, water and sky,
Defends us without affectation.

Thieves have mothers. Murderers have mothers.
As do corruptors, tyrants, fascists, journalists on the take, and members of parliament for sale,
They too also have mothers.

What sort of mother are their mothers?
Aren’t their mothers the dove soaring in the sky of the soul?
Aren’t their mothers the gateway to the universe?

Will the child say to his mother:
“Mother, I’ve become the errand boy of foreign capital,
That makes goods which do nothing to reduce the poverty of the people,
Then I bought a government mountain real cheap,
While the number of landless villagers skyrockets.
Now I’m rich.
And then, mother, I also bought you a mountain,
For your grave one day.”

No. This is not something the child says to his mother.
But how then will the child explain to his mother about his position as tyrant, corruptor, forest and rice-field mouse plague?
Will the tyrant name himself the leader of the revolution?
Will the corruptor and errand boy of foreign capital name himself the hero of development?
And will the forest and rice-field mouse plague consider himself the ideal farmer?

But then what of the glowing gaze of his mother?
Is it possible that a mother would say:
“Child, don’t forget to take your jacket.
Remember to wrap up against the night air.
A journalist needs to stay healthy.
Oh, yeah, and if you get any fat envelops,
Please pick me up some fried prawns.”

Mother, now I really understand your value.
You are the statue of my life,
Which isn’t fake or a white elephant like the National Monument and Mini Indonesia Park.
You are the anthem Great Indonesia.
You are the rain I watched in the village.
You are the forest encircling the lake.
You are the lotus flower of meditation’s peace.
You are the song of the simple people.
You are the arrow of my conscience in what I do.

Pejambon, Jakarta
23 October, 1977


A Poem for Mother (Sajak Ibunda) was published in State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 52.

The Najwa Gaze

A Note from Ahok

 

A Note from Ahok
For Metro TV Show Mata Najwa and host Nana.

Indonesian Police Mobile Brigade
Headquarters [Prison], 16 August 2017

I’m one of those who was often invited onto [Metro TV’s talk] show Mata Najwa. (Showing off a little here 🙂 ) What’s for sure is there were a lot of supporters both for and against me appearing on the show. Why? Because Najwa would ask the hard questions and would fish and box me in when the viewers suspected me of, thought I was giving the impression I was guilty or lying. For me, [the host of the show] Nana is a professional person, and doesn’t try to win the argument all the time or give the impression of cornering you. Nana only wants her viewers to get the truth from insightful questions, of course with that classic Najwa gaze. I’m grateful, the Mata Najwa show allowed me to appear just as I am, and definitely to say it as it is. Facing questions, and the Mata Najwa gaze, there was only one key. I had to answer according to what was in my heart and conscience. My mouth and brain had to connect. By doing that, Nana and the viewers would accept all my answers. I pray that Nana is successful and full of joy wherever she serves. The Lord bless you, Nana.

Signed BTP

Nana

Nana

Nervous waiting to interview Ahok

Nervous waiting to interview Ahok

Notes from Ahok on Twitter

A note from Ahok on Twitter

 


1977 General Election

A Poem for a Cigar

By W.S. Rendra

Taking a drag on a fat cigar
Gazing over Great Indonesia
Listening to 130 million people,
And in the sky
Two or three businessmen squat down
And shit on their heads.

The sun comes up
And the sun goes down
And all I can see are eight million children
With no education.

I question,
But my questions
Slam into the desks of bureaucrats like a traffic jam,
And the blackboards of educators
Who are cut off from life’s problems.

Eight million children
Cram down one long road,
With no options
With no trees
With no shady places to rest,
With no idea of where they’re going.

***

Suck in the air
Full of deodorant spray,
I see unemployed graduates
Covered in sweat along the highway;
I see pregnant women
Queuing for pension money.
And in the sky:
The technocrats sprout:
That the country is lazy
That the country must be developed,
Must be “upgraded”,
Made to fit technology that’s imported.

Mountains tower skyward.
The sky a festival of colors at sunset.
And I see
Protests that are pent up
Squeezed under mattresses.

I question,
But my questions
Bang into the foreheads of armchair poets,
Who write about grapes and the moon,
While injustices happen all around them,
And eight million children with no education
Gape at the feet of the goddess of art.

The future hopes of the nation
Stars swirling in front of their faces
Below neon advertisements.
The hopes of millions of mothers and fathers
Meld into a gaggle of clamoring voices
Become a reef under the surface of the ocean.

***

We have to stop buying foreign formulas.
Textbooks can only give methods,
But we ourselves have to formulate our situation.
We have to come onto the streets
Go into the villages
See for ourselves every indicator
And experience the real problems.

This is my poem,
A pamphlet for a time of emergency.
What is the point of art,
If it’s cut off from the suffering around it
What is the point of thinking
If it’s cut off from life’s problems.

ITB Bandung
19 August 1977


Sajak Sebatang Lisong was published in State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 12.

Three parties in the 1977 election

The three parties in Indonesia’s 1977 legislative general election

Salawaku

Salawaku Trailer – MIFF

 

The remote wilderness of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands provides a magnificent backdrop for this gentle journey of youthful discovery.

In a secluded village in Indonesia’s beautiful Maluku Islands, ten-year-old Salawaku’s older sister has gone. Salawaku takes it upon himself to find her and sets off on a grand journey into the wild heart of his country. Joined in his travels by the son of the village chief and a tourist from Jakarta carrying her own heavy burden, Salawaku will learn to see his sister in a new light after discovering that the world of adults is more complicated than it seems.

From rising star of Indonesian cinema Pritagita Arianegara comes Salawaku, an eye-opening and heart-stirring road movie set in a stretch of the world where roads barely exist. Nominated for eight awards at the Indonesian Film Festival, including Best Film and Best Director, it is a film of surprises and wonder, where difficult secrets and glorious landscapes combine into a tender and morally complex whole.

CLASSROOM DISCUSSION POINTS
Double standards for men and women in different cultures, attitudes towards sex and family, how romance is depicted in cinema, the divide between the country lifestyle and the city lifestyle, knowing how to behave ethically.

MIFF recommends this film as suitable for ages 10+
Very mild themes about unwanted pregnancy and abortion, all of which is mostly indirectly implied through dialogue, and none on which is shown. Some very mild impact scenes depicting characters being pushed around and slapped. One scene where adult characters get drunk.

Source: Melbourne International Film Festival

 

On to Malang 24 July 1947

Two Poems For B. Resobowo

By Chairil Anwar

I

Is this journey far?
Just the twinkle of an eye! – How could it be any longer!
Then what?
Of the falling leaves you ask for yourself,
And of the soft sound which becomes a melody!

Does it remain only as a memento?
Look at the woman no longer gazing upward
Nor wistful, the stars have vanished!

So how long is this journey?
Could be a century… oh just the blink of an eye!
A journey for what?
Ask my childhood home which is mute!
My ancestors frozen there!

Is someone touching me to follow?
Is someone lost?
Ah, answer for yourself! – I am still
Homeless and forlorn………

 

Heaven

By Chairil Answar

Just as my mother and my grandmother too
And as seven generations before
I too ask to be allowed into heaven
which say Masyumi and Muhammadiyah flows with rivers of milk
and is full of beautiful maidens
But there’s a voice inside me weighing this up,
which dares to scoff: Can heaven really be
barren of the waters of the blue oceans,
of the soft touch of every harbor how come?
And also who can say for sure
there definitely awaits beautiful maidens
sounds like they have trouble swallowing like Nina, have Jati’s wry glance?

Malang, 28/2-’47


Published in Pantja Raja, p. 338.

25 February 1947 PM Sutan Sjahrir Malang KNIP Session

Photo: From the Dutch National Archives’ Elsevier Photo Collection this image by an unknown Dutch National News Agency (ANP) photographer is described as “The provisional [Indonesian] Republican Parliament (Komite National Indonesia Pusat or KNIP) met in Malang from 25 February to 5 March 1947. Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir is seen here outlining government policy.” 25 February 1947.

Source: Dutch National Archives

Indian Troops in Bekasi 1945

Photo: Indian troops with four armed Indonesians captured at Bekassi before the village was burnt as a reprisal for the murder of five members of the Royal Air Force and twenty Maharatta riflemen whose Dakota transport aircraft crash landed near the village.

Imperial War Museums (IWM SE 6054)


Interesting background wiki article on Basuki Resobowo.

Featured Image: [DLC] Soerabaja; de opmars naar Malang Beschrijving Nederlandse universal carrier (bren-carrier) met op de voorkant een affiche met de afbeelding van Soekarno Datum 24 juli 1947 Locatie Indonesië, Malang, Nederlands-Indië

Burnt out car of a Brigadier A W S Mallaby

Heaven

By Chairil Anwar, 1947

Just as my mother and my grandmother too
And as seven generations before
I too ask to be allowed into heaven
which say Masyumi and Muhammadiyah flows with rivers of milk
and is full of beautiful maidens
But there’s a voice inside me weighing this up,
which dares to scoff: Can heaven really be
barren of the waters of the blue oceans,
of the soft touch of every harbour how come?
And also who can say for sure
there definitely awaits beautiful maidens
sounds like they have trouble swallowing like Nina, have Jati’s wry glance?

Malang, 28/2-’47


Masyumi was a post-World War II Islamic political party.

Muhammadiyah is a major Islamic non-government organisation which was founded in 1912.

Photo: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208464

 

Mesjid Cikini Raden Saleh Jakarta 1947

Arctic Tuti

By Chairil Anwar, 1946

Between happiness now and in the future yawns a great canyon,
my little sis who’s lapping up an arctic ice dessert;
this afternoon you were my love, I decorated with eclairs and Coca-Cola,
my wife in training: we made the clock tick stop.

You’re really good at kissing, there’s a cut I can still feel
– When we rode our bicycles I took you home –
You’re blood’s so hot, how fast you became woman
Visions vivid flying high into the sky

Every day you meet your choice, every time changing;
tomorrow we’ll pass in the street and we’ll totally blank each other;
heaven’s only playing for a moment.

I am like you too, everything passes away quickly
Me and Tuti and Greet and Chinese Honey…… souls abandoned,
Love’s a joy that fades so quickly.


Arctic Tuti (Tuti Artic), Pantja Raja, No. 1 Vol. 2, 15 Nov 1946, p. 482.


Photo: Tjikini moskee aan de Raden Saleh te Jakarta, Indonesië (1947) Fotograaf: Cas Oorthuys Vervaardigingsjaar 1 januari 1947 tot 28 februari 1947

http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=urn:gvn:NFA02:cas-10031-11

‘Framing Asia’ is a monthly film screening and discussion on Asia during the Leiden Asia Year.

“Framing Asia” – The next monthly film screening and discussion during the Leiden Asia Year – KITLV

‘Framing Asia’ is a monthly film screening and discussion on Asia during the Leiden Asia Year. We are very pleased to invite you to the fifth edition of  ‘Framing Asia’. You are welcome to join us on Wednesday 7 June at 19.30 h at Lipsius 028. This edition will screen three films centered around the theme ‘Decolonization and Revolution: Veterans and Re-enactments’.

Libera Me (30 min)

Martin van den Oever & Jos Janssen

Libera Me is a transnational approach to the colonial war between Indonesia and the Netherlands. With personal reflections of some veterans of war from both sides a concentrated circular and shared history of 30 minutes is constructed, merging and reconciling both perspectives. We meander between past and present and between two nations that came to be further apart then they already were.

Looking Back Now (18 min)

Marjolein van Pagee

A sequence of videos made between 2013-2015 that show the people that Van Pagee interviewed, all related to memories of the Indonesian independence war in East-Java and Madura. In this 18 minute video-compilation we will see the people behind the portraits of photo-project ‘Kembang Kuning – Yellow Flower’. Stories about war and destruction are usually sad, yet, the compilation ends with a video that will make you laugh for sure.

The Feel of History (29 min)

Lise Zurne

Each year, a historical society called the Komunitas Djokjakarta 1945 reenacts one of the last battles with the Dutch colonizers of 1949 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Following their preparations, this film seeks to portray this community and its main members. By focusing on the material culture of re-enactment, one learns how these re-enactors create a spectacular and romanticized re-presentation of the past that allows them to temporarily be the war heroes that they worship so much.

All filmmakers will be present to enter a discussion with Bart Luttikhuis. Bart Luttikhuis is a researcher at KITLV in late colonial history and the history of decolonization, with a particular empirical focus on early to mid-twentieth century Indonesia.

Date: Wednesday 7 June 2017

Time: 19.30 h

Location: Leiden University, Lipsius Building, room 028

More information: www.kitlv.nl/framing-asia

Adat law 100 years on: towards a new interpretation?

‘Adat law 100 years on: Towards a new interpretation?’ – KITLV

REMINDER: The Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI), in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), organize an international conference on the continued importance of adat law in present day Indonesia on 22 May 2017.

International Conference: ‘Adat law 100 years on: Towards a new interpretation?’

Leiden Asia Year

Leiden Asia Year

22 May 2017

National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

This international conference focuses on adat law in Indonesia a century after the Adat Law Foundation (adatrechtstichting) was set up in Leiden in 1917 by Cornelius van Vollenhoven and Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje. In present-day Indonesia adat law continues to be of great importance.

The international conference aims to provide an update and to look at the current legal, social and political meaning of adat law, the way it is being invoked and how it is deployed for a variety of purposes. The key question is what the relevance of adat law is in present-day Indonesia.

Read more about the progam

Date: 22 May 2017

Time: 13.30 – 18.00

Venue: National Museum of Ethnology, Steenstraat 1, Leiden

Registration required: adat.law.conference2017@gmail.com

Founded by KITLV/Adatrechtfonds, Leiden University (AMT, VVI) & LUF.

For more information visit http://www.kitlv.nl/conference-adat-law-100-year/

Graffiti

Event: Two films on transgender issues in Indonesia

07 February 2017

Film screening

The first screening of the ‘Framing Asia’ film series will focus on transgender issues in Indonesia. Two short films Renita, Renita and Accross Gender  will be followed by discussion with Intan Paramaditha, Indonesian author and lecturer in media and film studies and one of the filmmakers, Anouk Houtman.

Films

Renita, Renita (15min)

Tony Trimarsanto

Trapped in a male body, Renita wanted to be a doctor and a woman since she was a child but her parents forced her to study at a Islamic school where she was bullied and ostracized. She rebelled by becoming a prostitute in the hope of finding freedom but instead, found that it came at a cost — she experienced brutality and was discriminated against by her family and the Indonesian society in which she lived.

Across Gender (24min)

Anouk Houtman

What is it like being transgender in Yogyakarta? There is no single answer to this question. This film aims to show different ways of negotiating visibility in the Indonesian society when one ‘crosses gender’. The difficulty of this negotiation becomes apparent through the anti-LGBT sentiments and actions in early 2016.

Discussion

Anouk Houtman is a young filmmaker with an MA in Visual Anthropology of Leiden University. She graduated with a film and thesis researching the visibility of transgenders in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Currently she is pursuing a second MA in Gender Studies and University Utrecht.

Intan Paramaditha is an Indonesian author and lecturer in media and film studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. Focusing on contemporary film practice in Indonesia, her research explores the relation between media, cultural activism, and sexual politics in the convergence and tension between national and cosmopolitan trajectories.

Time 19:30- hrs Venue Faculty of Humanities, Lipsius building, rom 028 Cleveringaplaats 1 Leiden Netherlands Google Maps

Source –http://iias.asia/event/two-films-transgender-issues-indonesia