http://www.makepovertyhistory.org New Pages: Muntok - Old Lady with Trace of Beauty and Charm part 2

Monday, July 25, 2011

Muntok - Old Lady with Trace of Beauty and Charm part 2

Walk the City, then you will get the soul…

...and you may find more hidden beneath...

Filled with otak-otak and es kacang, we continued our walk around Old Muntok.

Few houses from Petak 15, there is a weird signboard : "Lorong Babi".

We laugh at the funny words in the beginning and follow the direction it shows.



We found a newly built kiosk in a dead-end narrow alley.

In there, 3 men are selling pork. They were smiling and told us to come in.


I asked them if this place is new and they approve.

"We are moved here when they (the government) move the old market to the new one across the river"

I could see the new market from their stall…across the river.

All of you are not joining the others to the new market?

"No, this is the location for us"

I didn't ask further. It is clear to me.


Johannes Widodo, our Keynote Speaker, coined "Meeting Pot" for Muntok. According to him, differences for centuries manage to live side by side in Muntok, without trying to convert each other. Islam is Islam, Buddhist stays as Buddhist, and so on. "Melting Pot is not the right phrase for Muntok" he added during his lecture.

Lorong Babi shows different condition. The Melting has just started.


I can't dismiss the thoughts of threaten pluralism in Muntok.


Walking out from Lorong Babi feeling slightly sad, I moved on towards the sea.

Petak 15 is in dead end road. According to Ai Nie before they could directly access the beach. Houses are now blocking the view.

I walk a little further into the houses then I saw a middle age lady waving at me from her window. Her house is a semipermanent wooden house.

She was kindly asked my origin and what I was doing in Muntok.

Conversation started and I could tell that she is a Javanese from her accent.

I asked but she said,

“No. I am originally from Mentok”

I told her that I heard strong Javanese in her accent.


Later on she explained that both her parents are Javanese but she is no longer a Javanese since she was born in Muntok.

"Saya orang Muntok asli. Suami saya Cina asli!"

(I am real Muntok. My husband is real Chinese) she said lightly and pointing to the veranda where her husband was working on something.

I took a peek to the veranda that faces sea, yes her husband looks very Chinese with dark skin.

This old wooden house own a great view to the sea which rich people from Jakarta will pay trillions rupiah to have a house like that.

I wonder if this couple enjoyed the view, too.


I always trust that in daily life people can embrace differences. Some even do not recognize its existence. Things get worse when a higher level –whether government, political parties, religious leaders –sometime teachers do!—interfere that innocence with their unnecessary worries on differences.


Issues on religious or race intolerance have been there for long in Indonesia. In these last few years, this issue is getting more transparent after democracy. Political Party with strong religious sentiment starts to openly criticize activities and culture that is not inline with certain religion, although most of them have been part of Indonesia richness since time of our ancestor.


Acceptance of differences even appears in Bugis historical epic I Lagaligo.

Sawerigading, son of Batara Guru and ancestor of Bugis people , tied knot with a Chinese princess, We Cudai. La Galigo is their son and become the center of this long epic.


This epic shows for centuries diversity is part of our inherited culture.


All political leaders and government should position their policy and decisions carefully within this given context.

And in my opinion, Lorong babi shows Muntok new city leader has taken a not-so-smart first step to deal with this.

to be continued

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