This writing is one of the selected essays done by undergraduate students of “Consumer Analysis” from University of Indonesia, the faculty of social and political sciences, international communication program of advertising 2013.
The humble beginnings of Kediri Bertutur originated from a cultural journey: “I am fully aware that to reach quality of life does not mean gaining a higher level of status and wealth. In my journey, I am seeking quality of life based on spiritual humanism that moves my very being on this earth. This lesson I can only gain from a cultural journey,” Kandi Windoe.
Inspired by the same spirit, Kediri Bertutur takes the undergraduate students on their own cultural journeys. Kediri Bertutur presents Angelica Chantika’s personal writing after taking the journey to Jogja in November 2014.
FINDING MY OWN JOURNEY BY ANGELICAL CHANTIKA
On November 28 2014, we flew from Jakarta to Jogjakarta for 45 minutes. This was supposed to be a trip where we look for something that should help us on our assignments in order to get satisfying grades. However, personally, this trip was a journey to find myself and going to different places to learn about several things that I would never get everyday.
This trip I called as a journey because these people whom I met and these different places where I visited are various parts that guided me to find the “new” me that hopefully can make me a much better person in the future, not just for others but also for the sake of myself. These people whom I met on this trip have their own journeys. They have struggled along with the wonderful adventure in order to get to where they are right now, which I think they have reached their success. Seeing them, I also want to create my own journey. To have my own struggles, to have my own happy times. Therefore, this trip was a start of something new in my life.
The trip immediately started after we arrived in Jogjakarta. We went straight to the hotel and settled our belongings. The hotel, for me, was fascinating because its atmosphere was very Javanese. It was not a fancy hotel, however, the ambience of the place made me feel blend in with everything surround me.
Then, we went to Solo which took approximately 2 hours for us to get there. At Solo, we met a group called Plenthe Percussion, who are local musician, at the place where they mostly gather together to create and record their music. Plenthe Percussion had worked with several Indonesian musicians such as Didi Kempot and many more. They also had been to different parts of the world in particular Canada, Hong Kong, Netherlands, etc.
There, we had a long deep conversation with them, getting to know more about their personal lives, their multiple experiences, their difficulties on being noticed by the government and other fascinating stories that they shared with us.
There are a lot of ideas that I have learnt from them. I now know that specific sound can actually be damaging. In particular hertz, there are sounds that people cannot hear and in counts of times those sounds can kill them. There are also sounds of electricity and moving feet of ants around us which we cannot hear directly that can cause sudden dizziness without us realizing what have caused it.
Another thing that I remember clearly was Mas Suryadi’s statement about a developed country is a country that appreciates its culture and the creation made by its people. However, Indonesian people have lack of appreciation toward their own culture. It is shown by Plenthe Percussion is sponsored by Australian government to help them travel and perform around the world. Plenthe Percussion is a group filled by Indonesian people that supposed to be supported by Indonesian government, not only to help them getting attention and appreciation from foreigners around the world, but also to contribute on preserving our diverse culture.
Mas Suryadi stated that when they first try to introduce their music which is traditional Indonesian music, Indonesian people and also the government see them only with one eye (this is translated from an Indonesian saying “memandang sebelah mata” which means ‘to belittle them’ because of playing traditional music). They underestimated their ability of playing music because Indonesians perceive their music genre as something that is old fashion. These made them to had a strong desire to prove of how Indonesia’s traditional music is not outdated by collaborating with other Indonesian musician such as Didi Kempot. Their work with one of Indonesia’s legendary musician was their first debut along with hopes inside in order for more of Indonesian could notice them through this collaboration. Nevertheless, like as mentioned before, Indonesians disregard them.
Since Indonesians government was very careless toward this group of musician, Plenthe Percussion was and is supported by Australian government to help this group on performing around the world and noticed by large mass. This fact is very heartbreaking because it shows how much Indonesians are unattached to its culture and do not have a big compassion toward their own beautiful heritage and I personally think it is such a shame to know and realize this fact.
The next thing I have learned from them is that I need to create something in my life, because it is such a waste if I do not leave a mark about myself. We do not have to create something for other people, but the first thing we have to do is that we need to create something for ourselves and also from ourselves. I also learned to not be afraid to be different on creating something because Plenthe Percussion creates something that not a lot of people can do and creates something that is so pure that people cannot even copy it. They dare to show something unusual about Indonesia from such different perspective not to get attention but purely to preserve Indonesian culture and introduce it to worldwide so that people around the planet can know what is Indonesia and what is so beautiful and marvelous about Indonesia through music because it is the only way they know how to express themselves.
The next day, we went to Abdi Dalem Keraton Ngayogyakarta. When we went to the place the first thought in my mind was that we had to be very quite and very polite in order to talk to them. However, it turned out that we could just really talk to them normally about everything related to their lives.
Bapak Mono was one of the ‘abdi dalem’ that we talked to. He is one of many abdi dalem that works inside Keraton. Aside of working as abdi dalem, he also works as batik designer. He has been working for 10 years at Keraton and what started him was that he actually has blood of previous Sultan so that his parents encouraged him to work as abdi dalem at Keraton.
I thought that in order for people to work as abdi dalem, they were chosen. However, it turned out that people have to apply just like you want to apply regularly for working in other places. There are also several requirements that they have to fulfill in order to work for Sultan. One of them is for instance, the minimum age of people that want to apply has to be above 17 year-old and the maximum age is 40 year-old. He also mentioned that there are a lot of people that actually want to work at Keraton, nevertheless, only several that got accepted. There are now approximately 1.500 abdi dalem that work for Sultan.
The uniform or clothes that they use daily have meaning behind every single part of the clothes. The reason behind of wearing the same uniform when they work as abdi dalem is a symbolism where people that work as abdi dalem in Keraton have the same mother. The “Blankon”means empty, which means you have to empty your heart and mind from negativity and start spreading optimism toward yourself and people surround you. Also at the back of the “Blankon” is placed a ribbon shaped as jasmine flower. Next is the suit they wear. The color of the suit is blue which means deep and there are 6 buttons on top of the suit that represents “6 rukun iman.”The buttons on the sleeves are counted as 5 buttons that represents “5 rukun Islam.”At the back of the suit, tucked a traditional knife called “Keris” that symbolize the life itself.
As stated above, both of these abdi dalem have worked for Sultan for a quite long period of time. They felt happy and proud of themselves for serving Sultan and Keraton itself. They felt like they matter because Sultan sometimes call them personally and ask them to do several different things. They did not feel like a maid because they know it is not what they are. By getting order from Sultan, they gained new knowledge, experiences and new different perspective about life that they did not know before.
There are a few things they are willing to do for Sultan and Keraton and one of them is that they were ready and willing to die in order to protect the Sultan. They did not really think about tomorrow, what matters is the present day because they do not know what is going to come the next day. So, if they die the next day, they will feel satisfied because they have served the best for the Sultan and Keraton, and they have become better person by working there.
Their journey of becoming who they are right now is not easy. There are several sacrifices they had to make in order to serve for Sultan and Keraton. Leaving something that has become a habit for you is difficult, and there are several habits and parts of life they had to leave behind in order to be where they are right now. This is a part of their journey becoming abdi dalem to serve Sultan and Keraton. A journey to be nice people as they are right now. A journey to become people that are believed by Sultan to do several work that Sultan will never give to anybody.A journey to find the best selves inside of them and bringing them out in order to spread optimism to themselves and to people around them.
There are 2 things I learn from them. I learn that they were self-less and loyal. They have worked for Sultan and Keraton for a long time and they were willing to stay longer in order to serve Sultan. They did not complain because the only thing that matters most to them is the pleasure of Sultan and they were also ready to die for Keraton and Sultan. These statement represents of how they are very self-less and loyal to whom they dedicated their life for.
On the following hour, we went to eat lunch and we had Nasi Gudeg. The last time I ate gudeg was when I was in elementary school so I already forgot how it tasted. Having it was a trip down to memory lane when visited Jogjakarta back in 2004.
Afterwards, we went to visit Ibu Tia at Yayasan Pamulang Baksa Sasmita Mardawa. It was a studio for most of local people to practice their traditional dance. Ibu Tia herself have been dancing for approximately 56 years. She first started interested in dancing when she was a little girl. However, her father did not permit her to start taking dance lessons because she was too young to start dancing. So, after being old enough her father then put her into several dance lessons and she became a traditional dancer ever since. Ibu Tia is now a teacher at Yayasan Pamulang Baksa Sasmita Mardawa together with her son. She mentioned that dance is her life and she is going to keep dancing until she can not do it anymore and that is why now she dedicated her life on teaching at the studio.
She also had been to different parts of the world such as Europe, USA, and Asia. In Asia, she had been to Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and of course Indonesia. She visited these places not only for performing herself or assisting the students to perform in these places, but she also taught foreigners from these different places to learn Indonesia’s traditional dances. Going to these places made her realize how Indonesians are very disrespectful to their own culture because Ibu Tia mentioned that she felt more appreciated when she danced at these various places than in Indonesia itself. Whereas, these traditional dances were established and born in Indonesia.
Indonesians are now more looking for modern lifestyle, we look up on western people was of living. We focused so much on wanting to be them that we do not try to filter and choose which western lifestyle could be a part of our lives and which not. Seeing on dance perspective, most of Indonesian dancers that I know are now more into modern dance such as hip-hop dance, contemporary dance, jazz and so on. They see those dances as something that are edgy and “hip”or “cool”just because most of western people do them. Indonesia’s potential dancers are forgetting that our traditional dances are beautiful and stunning. Our dances are very different from other dances and that what makes Indonesia’s traditional dances are beautiful. The slow movement, the shift from one leg to the other, the stares from traditional dancers eyes that follows the movement. Everything about Indonesian traditional dance is exotic and also rich of culture at the same time.
What I learn from this visit is about dedication of doing what we are most passionate about. There are regrets that I have in my life because I did not expand more of my talents and embrace them. I was afraid to try and I was too shy to show these talents to people. The conversation that we had with Ibu Tia made me realize that I have so much in me that I can expand and all it takes is courage. This visit made me notice that I have to start my own journey of creating something from these talents that I am provided, for the best of me and from me.
Later at night, we went to Magelang to attend a seminar called “Designer. Ing. Kampung.” This was a seminar held that invited our lecturer, Mbak Kandi and several other experts in this field. The event was basically about people that work as farmers in the morning until the afternoon and a night they become graphic designers that creates logos and many more. They become graphic designers from competing in a crowdsourcing contest and most of these people did and do not go thought design schools. They learned about how to create these logos through different softwares on their own. In 5 years length, there are about 120.000 farmers/designer.
These farmers receive orders from multinational and international companies to create logos for these companies. They receive thousands of dollars as their pay check for creating these logos or posters. Because of them, Indonesia receives huge amount of foreign exchanges just from simple designs that these farmers made for multinational and international companies.
In this seminar, Mbak Kandi, as one of the speakers at this event, appealed and reminded these farmers/designers that they should go look for references from everything surround them and not to go looking from western or outside Indonesia references. What Indonesia has are enough for these farmers/designers to get inspiration to create more and more.
What I learn from this event is that these people have great desires and persistent toward what they do. They work, physically hard in the morning until the afternoon in the field and at night they work hard again on designing these posters or logos ordered to them. I am sure they have less of the technology that I have and they are not provided with items that I have right now. However, their creativity and their passion get them to where they are right and here I am whining about how less of technology that I have and I only use these gadgets not to create something, but only to watch or to go browsing on something that I know is a waste of time.
Seeing these people go through such amazing journey, I know I want to make one on my own. I want to use more of what I have and not waste it. To work harder and put efforts in everything I do in life, because these creations that I am going to make are going to get me somewhere surprising.
The next day, which was the last day of our trip, we went to visit Sanggar Tari Angguk. When we arrived, there were children and teenagers from all different ages ready to perform tari Angguk. They performed twice, first was the traditional tari Angguk and the second one was performed by the older ones where they performed tari Angguk as well, but this one was composed and freestyle was included.
Most of these children are aged from 2 being the youngest and 15 the oldest. However, there are also older ones that was not there because it was not the day for them to have dance practice. These children have learnt the dance since they were a young age and most of them want to join and learn these dances because their friends tell them about the dance and they were interested on learning it.
After seeing their performance, we had separated group conversation with different children. Kanya, Hana and I talked to approximately 8 children. We asked them a lot of random question to make them relax because they were a bit shy. We talked to them about what are their favorite songs, TV shows, bands and so on. I was very surprised that one of these children watched the same Korean TV show that I also watch regularly. They mentioned that they also play several gadgets but not as addictive as Jakarta people would because these children always go out and play with their friends if they have spare time at home or at school. They had several social medias such as Facebook and Twitter and they check them regularly.
What amazed me most is their love toward dance. In a young age, they are very passionate about this dance and tari Angguk is not the only dance they mastered, but there are also other traditional dances that they can do very well for instance Jaipongan. They learned other traditional dances at school because they provide these children with extracurricular of these traditional dances. Talking with them I thought that these children were just young people that only have dance and play around in their mind. However, they turned out to be very mature and realistic. When we asked about what do they want to be when they grow up, I thought they were going to say that they wanted to be dancers. Nevertheless, they stated realistic jobs such as nurse, teacher, and writer. For such a young age, they already know realistic jobs that compared to me when I was their age, I still dream to be something that I would never pursue.
Afterwards, we kept talking about how do they want to live in the future and whether they want to come and live in Jakarta. As mentioned before, some of these children had been to Jakarta before and stayed for 3 days. They said that they like Jakarta because you can find everything there, so many tall buildings and colorful places. They enjoyed visiting Jakarta, but they would not stay there. They like the place where they grew up and also a lot of their friends live in Jogjakarta, they said they were afraid to leave them. Jakarta was a nice place to them, but they said that Jakarta was too hot and too crowded.
Their dedication to dance, especially toward traditional dance is incredible. They are willing to spend hours of practice and give up their day off from school to dance. As for young people that still have their unstable wants and needs, their passion toward dance was very shown from how they speak and they move the motion of the dance. Seeing this, I know that this is a part of their journey of becoming who they want to be in the future and hopefully their passion toward something in the future will be as big or even bigger that what they have right now.
The last visit of the trip was Gerabah Kasongan. There we tried to make ceramics from clay that we could form into ashtray or pencil case. We did not interact much with the sellers and with the ones that taught us how to form the ceramics because we were to focused on creating something that we had not done in a long time. Personally for me, the last time I played with clay was when I had a trip to Cirebon in junior high school.
The sales of the the ceramics were done helped with internet marketing. So, when we wanted to look for ceramics souvenir for weddings or birthdays on the Internet, once we searched we then would find Gerabah Kasongan on the first page and top of the lists. They have shipped these ceramic souvenirs to all over Indonesia and the furthest is Papua. They also shipped these souvenirs to outside of Indonesia, however the range is still in Asia, such as China, Arab and many more.
What amazed me was that we could really focus on making ceramics and coloring them that we forgot to asked the sellers about the products and the business. We also forgot about our gadgets for awhile and have deeper conversation with each other and enjoying making these ceramics.
This trip was a blast. It was not a trip to look for good grades for our assignments, but it is way for us to refresh ourselves from all the hectic-ness we have in past days. For me, it was an eye and heart opening for me, because I saw so many different things that I perceived through only one perspective but being there made me see these those things through different perspectives and that was beautiful.
My first epiphany from this trip is to never hold back. I am always afraid to do something or to create something just because I am simply afraid of what people might think about me or my creation and afraid to fail. However, I now realize that I have to go for whatever I like and passionate most that I have to have courage and have faith that I am able to do anything if I do it with efforts and prayers. Moreover, I have to do it for me first and from me.
My next epiphany is to see things from different perspective. I cannot assume that this would be bad or this would fail or this is not my style, because if I see it from such different perspective and see it as a whole then it could be very beautiful and surprising.
My last epiphany is to start my own journey. Seeing these people I visited, listening to what they have been through and are going through amazing different journeys that when they look back they would realize of how much they have struggled and how much they have had tremendous times of getting to where they are right now or getting to where they want to be. And I want to do this too. I want to start my own journey by creating and doing something that can make myself proud of me and then I can make most important people in my life be proud of me.