Wed, March 29, 2017 | Salatiga, Jawa Tengah
Faculty of Language and Arts Live In 2017 (FLALIN) offers a chance for FLA UKSW students to have a retreat in the village of Ngaduman, by separating themselves from the hustle and bustle of a city life. But what makes this particular life in a village different from that of a city?
Ngaduman is located on the slope of Mt. Merbabu, approximately 1800MASL. After entering the area, the atmosphere changes; things seem to be quieter due to far fewer noise-and-air-polluting vehicles.
Fields of broccolis and cabbages will welcome you at the entrance of Ngaduman. Far-reaching view of the civilization below with all its busy businesses can be seen from the quiet mountain slope. You can almost immediately feel the difference already without having to live there for a while.
The full experience starts when you learn how to farm, tend to animals, interact with the locals, attend the traditions, and even know a bit about the village’s history.
The local legend, recalled by Pak Sukardi states that the village was named “Ngaduman” by a Kiai while chasing a fugitive, because the place was cold. The name was initially “Ngademan” and the pronunciation and spelling changed to “Ngaduman”, which all of them basically mean ‘cold’.
Pak Sukardi said that he doesn’t exactly know how old the village is, but he has his own method to know this.
“The village had five chiefs since the beginning, and every chief approximately lasted for over twenty years or so. From that, we know that the age of the village is around a hundred or two years old.”
“The second village chief was the meanest,” I stopped him and asked why.
“He possessed witchcrafts.”
Back to Nature
All of the fifty-nine families who live here farm the land. Even more surprising, every single family member has their own plant. Broccoli is the most popular commodity.
Some of them own cows, a few goats, and pigs. Chickens can also be spotted wandering the streets.
While in city like Salatiga, paper-related jobs are the most popular. The chance for students to learn farming or agriculture, the one of the earliest and critical inventions of humanity, is hard to find in a city.
The majority of city occupations usually never have to deal with life-threatening problems. Running out of inks, resources, ideas, harsh competitions are common, but rarely deal with nature itself since we have all kinds of security to protect us.
Pak Sukardi, a well-respected elderly in the village said that years ago the village faced a problem: few of the pigs were missing.
“Some pig bones were later found near the plantations,”
It turns out tigers were the ones responsible for the missing pigs.
“One of us set some traps. We caught three tigers in total at that time; two dotted-skin tigers and a black one.” He said when referring to leopards and a panther.
Dropping a jaw is the only appropriate reaction from a town student like me when listening to a story like this one.
Hospitality and Traditions
Is it rare for you to be greeted by a perfect stranger on the street? Almost every time I was there I was greeted by the locals, even those who are older than me. Whenever I greet them, they will reply with a smile.
This kind of interaction rarely happens in a city. But to be fair, greeting people in cities where you meet a person almost every minute is impossible, unlike in the village with a small population.
One major difference in tradition between city and a village is their closeness to rituals or mystical realm. 99% of Ngaduman’s population consists of Christians while the rest is Moslem. Though institutionalized religions have touched the village, there is still a traditional event like Reog, strangely enough, slipped in between Easter celebrations.
“They were lazy, hesitant to go to the church to worship, so I came up with the idea of celebrating Easter with Reog,” Pak Sukardi said proudly with his original idea. “Now they are always excited attending church’s events, we always pray before we perform Reog.”
Reog is a traditional dance originated in Java, which usually involves mystical rituals like eating smithereens of glass while being possessed by some kind of spirits.
If that is not strange, combining two sets of contradicting rituals, I don’t know what is.
There are some basic facilities like; an elementary school, a kindergarten, local government clinic, and a church.
Currently, the elementary school has five teachers and fifty-five students. It is a privately-funded elementary so the government only supports them with BOS (Bantuan Operasional Sekolah). Even though located in a high altitude with minimum accesibility, the school managed to have some computers and internet connection to ease the learning process.
The electricity was only available in 1996, they still use spring water to supply their daily needs.
The local government clinic does not operate 24/7, it is only used for a monthly check.
Roads are still using concrete, not asphalt. They were accesible for cars only in the 80s, before that point, it was completely impossible to bring cars up here. When building the elementary school, Pak Sukardi even said the workers needed to bring the construction materials up to the village using motorcycles.
Though quieter and more peaceful, the life here is not so different. They eat pratically the same food, use the same tools, mostly just the occupation and environtment that are distinct.
Some of the things we can easily find in city are hard to get in here like technology and transportation, but it works vice versa. The solitude and calmness of a life humanity had since thousand years ago, long before oil-based machinery took over the scenery, can be reminisced in this very place.
1965: The majority of the villagers converted to Christians, following Pak Sukardi step as they were told by the Indonesian government to have a religion.
1974: The church was built.
1980: Roads were accesible for motorcycles.
1985: Roads were accesible for cars.
1996: Electricity entered Ngaduman.