How to be a bule (or so they say)

Any recommendation of a good hostel

In Ubud and need to go tomorrow morning

How should I pay?

Anyone here in Indonesia

I have 2 weeks

And will arrive Jakarta

I plan to go by train in

Bali with stops

Along the way

I have a question about this

I arrived in Jakarta this morning

And plan to travel down Java to Bali

And Lombok

Anyone up for meeting anywhere?

I have planned to see the Borobudur and

the Prambanan, after that

I don’t know what to do?

Someone in Ubud in the next 3 days

I’m planning to do the rice fields and monkey

forest. If someone wants to join

Let me know

I would like to do self-guided hiking/trekking trips

Whether day hikes or multi-day trips

I don’t want to go with a guide

And I prefer not to travel too much to keep

The costs down

I really want to spend time with nature

Suggestions?

 

(Things bule people say on a Facebook group filled it…bules)

 

 

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Adonis Durado’s ‘Dili Tanang Matagak Mahagbong’ in Bahasa Indonesia

Sometime in June this year, I was invited to talk about Philippine literature in Malang, Indonesia. During the event, Denny Mizhar, the founder of Pelangi Sastra Malang read three poems which I translated to Bahasa Indonesia; Adonis Durado’s “Dil Tanang Matagak Mahagbong” was one of them.

Here is my translation of the poem which was originally written in Cebuano:

Tidak Semua Yang Jatuh Akan Turun

Adonis Durado

Bayangkan kawanan burung yang terbang

membuang kotoran di balik awan tebal di atas langit
Apa yang akan terjadi dengan kotoran mereka?
Akankah meluncur utuh
ke atap?
Atau musnah,
Seperti bintang jatuh, yang hancur lebur jauh sebelum
Mencapai telapak tangan kita yang menengadah?
Mungkin tak semua yang jatuh akan turun
Tak semua proyektil punya target –
Segala yang lepas dari tangan (Atau jatuh dari langit)
tak perlu mendarat di mana pun.
Penerjun payung itu hanya beruntung
diselamatkan atap, seperti layangan
yang terjerat tiang listrik;
Buah mangga yang terhempas dari tangkainya;
Hujan yang menetes dari lubang di atap
pada kaleng bekas berkarat—semua ini
mematuhi hukum fisika.
Tapi di manakah (jika benar ada) gelakmu terpelanting
Saat kita melompat sambil cekikikan di atas sumur tua?
Nama-nama dan kata-kata yang sudah kabur dari kenangan:
Ke manakah semua itu pergi?
(Serupa anak yang bertanya:
Angin, yang juga membawa kotak makan siangnya,
bertiup ke mana, jika tidak tertelan gerhana?)
Dan siapa yang berani menjamin cincin
Yang tergelincir dari jarimu dan
Melompat ke ombak itu,
barangkali masih turun,
hingga tiba di kedalaman entah?
Kini, aku ingin percaya
Jiwa-jiwa pasangan kekasih yang meloncat dari tebing itu
Masih terapung-apung entah di mana,
Melayang-layang di udara.

Writer’s note: Wawan Eko Yulianto helped edit this translation

Memperkecil Cinta: Puisi “Bonsai” oleh Edith Tiempo dalam Bahasa Indonesia

Terkadang, bila kita memikirkan tentang cinta, kita menganggapnya seperti pohon: sebuah konsep raksasa yang sulit dipahami manusia. Tetapi, bagaimana jika kita mengecilkan ukuranya seperti membuat bonsai? Apakah cinta menjadi kurang bermakna?

Dalam puisi “Bonsai“, cinta dianggap sebagai hal yang dapat ditemukan bahkan dalam hal-hal terkecil. Bahwa cinta dapat dipegang oleh tangan. Bahwa itu bisa terjadi di hari-hari biasa.

Puisi ini awalnya ditulis oleh Edith Tiempo (1919-2011) dalam Bahasa Inggris. Tiempo adalah seorang penyair, penulis fiksi, guru, dan seorang kritikus sastra dari Filipina.

Dalam tulisan ini, saya menerjemahkan karya beliau ke Bahasa Indonesia karena saya merasa tak seorang penulis pun pernah menggunakan bonsai sebagai metafora untuk cinta.

(UPDATE: Wawan Eko Yulianto helped in editing this translation)

Bonsai
By Edith Tiempo

All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe.
All that I love?
Why, yes, but for the moment-
And for all time, both.
Something that folds and keeps easy,
Son’s note or Dad’s one gaudy tie,
A roto picture of a queen,
A blue Indian shawl, even
A money bill.
It’s utter sublimation,
A feat, this heart’s control
Moment to moment
To scale all love down
To a cupped hand’s size
Till seashells are broken pieces
From God’s own bright teeth,
And life and love are real
Things you can run and
Breathless hand over
To the merest child.

Bonsai
Oleh Edith Tiempo

Semua yang kucintai
Aku lipat sekali
Dan sekali lagi
Agar pas masuk kardus
Atau diselipkan dalam bis surat
Atau dalam sepatuku.
Semua yang kucinta?
Tentu sementara saja—
Atau seterusnya, atau keduanya.
Sesuatu yang mudah dilipat dan disimpan,
Surat dari anak atau dasi murahan ayah,
Gambar foto seorang ratu,
Selendang India warna biru,
Bahkan selembar uang kertas.
Inilah sesungguhnya sublimasi,
Prestasi, kemampuan hati ini
Untuk selalu
Memperkecil cinta
Hingga dapat digenggam
Sampai kerang-kerang itu hanya serpihan
Dari gigi-gigi Tuhan yang cemerlang
Dan hidup serta cinta adalah
Hal-hal nyata yang bisa
Kau jalankan dan
Serahkan
Kepada anak semata wayang.

Public domain photo taken here.

Macario Tiu’s “Bago Aplaya” in Bahasa Indonesia

Thanks to Karlo David for the wonderful English translation of Macario Tiu’s Bago Aplaya, which I first read when I was in college.

It’s only now upon reading this translation that I am able to delve into the poem’s deeper meaning.

And as a gesture of gratitude, I have tried my best to translate the poem to Bahasa Indonesia.

Bago Aplaya
Oleh Macario Tiu

Betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi

Sang pendeta memberkati perahu;
Dan kita diperciki air suci
Bersama dengan para nelayan yang rendah hati.

Aku senang untuk kebahagiaan mereka, mendapatkan
Alat baru untuk memancing:
Inilah yang kita rayakan. Namun

Betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi.

Dan, seperti beberapa penyair tua
Ku merasakan kesedihan yang terus menerus melanda tanpa henti
Terdampar oleh ombak.

Tapi bukan karena aku mendengar
Manusia mendesah tanpa henti
Namun karena keadaan ku yang teramat menyedihkan

Esok, kau tinggalkanku sendiri selamanya
Sedangkan betapa lembut ombak nya
Dan air pasang meninggi.

Lefthandedsnake

Bago Aplaya
by Macario Tiu

Hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug nagsugod na ang taob.

Namasbas ang pari sa bangkang de motor,
Ug lakip tang nawiskan sa bendita.
Uban sa mga gagmayng mananagat nga nanag-alirong.

Nalipay ako sa ilang kalipay
Nga nakaangkog himan sa panagat:
mao kana ang atong gisaulog.

Apan hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug nagsugod na ang taob.

Ug sama sa karaang magbabalak,
Akong nabati ang walay kataposang kasubo
Nga dala sa balod.

Apan dili tungod sa pangagho sa katawhan
kondili sa akong kaugalingong kahimtang.
Ugma, mobiya ka na sa hangtod
Samtang hinay ang tapya sa balod
Ug magsugod na ang taob

Bago Aplaya

Gentle is the dashing of the waves
and the tide is rising.

The priest blesses the motor powered boat;
and we are sprinkled by holy water
along with the humble fishermen gathered.

I am happy for their happiness, gaining
a new tool for…

View original post 1,302 more words

Poetry: Kapok

(In Bahasa Indonesia, Kapok can mean two things. First, it may refer to the Kapok tree. Second, it may mean deterrent; or that someone is not going to do it again. In Cebuano, the second meaning can be translated to tagam.)

The clouds in Lombok

are trapped in cocoons.

They wait for the time

Before they can bloom.

 

In a small village called

Sesait, I was told the trees

that imprison the clouds

are named kapok. “They

use it to soften your bedding,”

one of the farmers explained.

Ah, I know. So cotton, it is,

the innards of the pillow I

tucked under your head,

one night when you said

you’re spending the night

with me. So kapok is

the cushion that carried

your weight when I tossed

you into my bed of faded flowers

which breathed the fragrance

pulsating from your neck.

Now I remember, when I

buried my face into your silk

thighs; when you gasped for air —

your fingers whirled on my skin

like they were reading secrets

coded in braille. As I reached for

your face so I could tuck my lips

into yours  —

your hands pushed my head,

and you asked:

“How can you say that in Lombok,

the clouds bloom from cocoons?”

I said, there’ll come a time.

And they’ll bloom soon.

Maybe, before they could bloom,

I’d have to wait under

a hopeless sky.

So, I also know that apart from

Cottons, the word kapok

Could mean another thing

on the island of Java.

It could also refer

to a time where I’d tell myself:

This is the last time I’m doing this.

When I succumbed into

believing that you like

poetry whispered

in your wet ears,

you said not to expect.

Some cocoons give birth to

a plague of moths,

instead of butterflies,

or answered prayers.

 

And even as the kapok trees bear

flowers that resemble

beautiful clouds,

they’re not the exact

things we expect

they would become.

Poetry: Again (0:52)

At the crack of dawn,

your name is what

the sea hears from

my whispers. I say

it again, and again.

Meaning, to lose it,

it would need repetition.

Like, the countless nights

of not wanting to rise;

I persist on hoping

from the moment

your name is said

you’d mean less

with every breath.

Perhaps, it’s the same

reason: why, seldom do I

want to see the sun.

It’s the only thing I have

close to hope

of one day, I wish,

I no longer want you,

nor, the

the memories

tied to your name,

which to the sea

I repeatedly say

again

and

again.

There’s Another Kind of Poverty That Demands Our Attention

Our common definition of poverty is when people do not meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter, that’s when we start calling them poor. An estimated 896 million people or 12.7 of the world’s population fall under that definition, according to the World Bank. We have cut the poverty rate into half between 1990 and 2015. That’s something we should celebrate, something that should encourage us to strengthen our fight against global poverty.

But there is another form of poverty that we rarely talk about. There is no statistics that could tell how prevalent it is, but what I think is that it affects many of us.

 

Our Poverty of Words

In Indonesia, when one person declares that he’s depressed, it is easy for us to dismiss their state as something of less importance. We think that modern words like galau or baper is the best word to describe what they’re going through.

Galau, by definition, means kacau tidak keruan (pikiran). Many times, I have been told to have gone through kegalauan. Galau, because I don’t look the positive things in life. Galau, because I dwell on painful memories. Galau, because I refuse to move on.

I am impressed by how easy for many people to diagnose what I’m feeling, and I wonder what body of knowledge has turned them into experts in giving unsolicited advice to people suffering from kegalauan.

But of course, as many of you who have experienced kegalauan, galau is not as easy as imagined. In societies where our priority is to fulfil our material needs, there are things that are placed at the sidelines, such as depression, a condition often equated to galau.

 

My Struggle With Depression

I have been sporadically battling with depression since 2008, the beginning my tumultuous journey with life. Between that that year and 2015, I lost a college friend and a mentor, a colleague, an aunt, and encountered hundreds of families grieving for their loved ones washed away by natural calamities in Southern Philippines. The events happened at short intervals, just right after I thought I have recovered from each of them. In 2012, a month after I got the news that I was awarded a scholarship for a postgraduate study, I was informed by my employer that I have been accused of plagiarising a news report, an act that I denied but somehow people like spreading rumours that plagiarism became an inside joke among people I used to consider as friends. They weren’t.

Sure, I know that while the glass is half-empty, it is also half-full. I tried to look at the positive things of every problem, but depression is a selfish companion that thinks only for himself. There would be mornings where mustering the will to get up is a challenging task. Meeting people was a difficult task. You did not want to meet and talk with people. Your subconscious self refuses to talk. You lose vigour. You wish there wouldn’t be tomorrow so there’s no need to wake up next day.

In developing countries, treating depression does not have the same footing with treating common illnesses. It is understandable. After all, I do not expect much for people to see doctors when they feel they’re suffering from depression (as it may be costly). But, what’s not acceptable is when we try to silence depression, as if it weren’t there.

Depression is “the secret we share,” says American writer Andrew Solomon in his TED Talk. The thing keeping secrets is that it makes understanding even more difficult. Solomon discussed in his speech that people tend to confuse depression, grief, and sadness.

“Grief is explicitly reactive. If you have a loss and you feel incredibly unhappy, and then, six months later, you are deeply sad, but you’re functioning a little better, it’s probably grief, and it will probably ultimately resolve itself in some measure. If you experience a catastrophic loss, and you feel terrible, and six months later you can barely function at all, then it’s probably a depression that was triggered by the catastrophic circumstances.” — Andrew Solomon

Solomon went on to expound on the current state of depression treatment in the world, which he described as appalling. “They’re not very effective. They’re extremely costly. They come with innumerable side effects. They’re a disaster.”

He did not mean that people suffering from depression should not go see a specialist. “But I am so grateful that I live now and not 50 years ago, when there would have been almost nothing to be done.”

Such is true, and what we can also do is to treat depression by exploring such state through language.

 

‘Poverty’ and Poetry

In 2002, a research published for National Poetry Day said that England’s National Health Service could save nearly £200,000 a year using poems to help people with depression. The report based on 196 people with psychological problems found that 75% found writing poems as an emotional release. Two thirds found reading or listening to poetry helped them be able to relax and feel calm.

Historically, artists have conveyed depression through metaphors. Emily Dickson described it like “a Funeral, in my Brain.”  Bei Dao saw everything as “an endless beginning” and hope “hedged with doubt.”

But fast forward to the present, depression is simplified into galau.

Unlike economic poverty which is an important discourse globally, we do not talk about poverty of words. We might have different international lending institutions like the World Bank, but we do not have Word Bank, a multi-lateral organisation that aims to battle our word famine. That doesn’t mean, however, there is nothing we can do.

In the summer of 2014, I found myself applying for a literary fellowship, where I met some of the Philippines award-winning writers who gave me a deeper understanding of poetry.

For one week, we would listen to lectures, and in the afternoon, the works we submitted before the workshop would be critiqued by these esteemed writers.

The fellows came from different backgrounds. But what was strikingly common was that all of us were facing battles. We were needing a weapon, so when we come back to our normal lives, would have the ability to navigate the complexities of life.

The task of poetry, according to Filipino poet Mikael Co, is to never run out of words. Its task is to let those who battle the spectre of despair become victorious, in an age where people suffering deep inside continue to find the words that best describe their state of mind.

If some of you happen to be in the same predicament as mine, I invite you to enter the world of poetry, and discover what creative language can do for you, in dire situations where you think there is no more reason for you to live.

Because there is. And to support what I believe, let me leave you a poetry that I continue to read, especially when depression creeps.

 

 

Also All (in answer to Bei Dao’s “All”)

Not all trees are felled by storms.

Not every seed finds barren soil.

Not all the wings of dream are broken,

nor is all affection doomed

to wither in a desolate heart.

No, not all is as you say.

Not all flames consume themselves,

shedding no ling on other lives.

Not all starts announce the night

and never dawn. Not every song

will drift past every ear and heart.

No, not all is as you say.

Not every cry for help is silenced,

nor every loss beyond recall.

Not every chasm spells disaster.

Not only the weak will be brought to their knees,

nor every soul be trodden under.

It won’t all end in tears and blood.

Today is heavy with tomorrow—

the future was planted yesterday.

Hope is a burden all of us shoulder

though we might stumble under the load.

 

 

Photo courtesy of János Csongor Kerekes

Poetry: Sosyal Media

May sabihin ako sayo

Yun ganing gipost mo sa Facebook

Feeling ko ako man yung ginaparinig mo

Nung gisabi mo gud na puro pagwapa lang

Ako man talaga yun ba

No offence ha

Wag ka sana masyado maki-alam

Kasi Facebook ko man yun

Kung gusto ko mag selfie araw-araw

Wala ka mang magawa

Bakit ka man mag deny

Na ako yung gina-mean mo

Hindi man siguro ako tanga

Kasi sa lahat ng posts ko

Ikaw lang man hindi naga like

Kung gusto mo, i-unfriend mo nalang ako

At tsaka, next time kung magparinig ka

I-sure mo ha na walang mapintas sayo

Kasi ang grammar mo,

Funny baya masyado

Wag ka masyadong righteous uy

Parang as if ikaw lang tama

Nakalimutan mo siguro

Pag naga shot kayo ng friends mo

Grabe ka baya kung hubog masyado

Nung naglamutakay kayo

Nung guy na taga upper year

Baka gusto mo pati iyon

Sa Facebook i-post ko.

May video baya ako

 

Photo courtesy of Simo Baudelaire