I just had my appendicitis surgery last week, but feel the longing for blogging. So, I write this post in the nick of time to meet the weekly writing challenge: In the beginning. When I feel much better or at least manage to sit more than 15 minutes….I will try to catch other dear wordpresser friends posts who has been very nice to like, comment and follow A Simple Note.
I was intrigued by an idiom that is quite popular said in Bali and also other regions in Indonesia. That is selem manis (in Balinese language) or hitam manis (Indonesian), literally translated means selem = black, manis = sweet. It’s none of sugary things like in culinary side, much more to someone’s looking, as in his or her skin colour. Why it is then becomes popular and what other idioms that may begun from selem manis.
The Balinese, like most of Indonesian, more adore fair complexion/ skin than sawo matang/ very brown coloured or as we usually say here, selem. The fact that the TV commercials on cosmetic is also keep ‘reminding’ people to make their complexion looks fair, confirms that. Use this soap with mulberry extract to have fair and smooth skin like the Japanese ladies. Really? Probably, the smoothness. But, fairer complexion? I wonder how many kilograms of soap we (read: people with very brown colour) should use to make our complexion/ skin looks like the Japanese. Surely, out of many people with the very big hope/ dream to have fair complexion, fairer is nicer…some of us, still got mind intact by feeling blessed with our skin colour. Creating an idiom to express love to our skin in the Balinese language: biar selem tapi manis….very brown complexion but is sweet/ pretty/ lovely or exotic (I added the last one, to make it more dramatic). And also a song:
Selem selem manis (black, black sweet)
Cara buah manggis (like a mangosteen)
Diapin selem, kenyem ne manis (although she’s black, her smile is sweet/ lovely)
But, a joke followed, in Balinese language saying: telah manis ne, enu selem ne, when the sweetness has run out, remains the black/ very brown colour.
Does it make us feel no longer blessed? Of course not, in the old days, my mother used to say…hitam hitam kereta api, biar hitam banyak yang menanti: the blackness of a train, many people are waiting. What was the beginning of this idiom? Likely, because the colour of a train in the old days (steam one) is black, but many people (commuters or passengers) are waiting for it. Nowadays, trains are colourful or at least rarely found in black and monochrome, what a new idiom to keep the essence of very brown/ black but special. It has something to do with coffee. Especially when the coffee is Luwak (a civet) coffee. It once ever mentioned in The Bucket List movie, starred by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Kopi Luwak is IDR 100.000 or $ 12 for a cup, because of its exclusiveness in the taste and fragrance. That’s a price in Bali, I was not saying in other countries, it is said to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world (be my guest to check it in google :)).
I think, the latest idiom that is derived from selem manis as a compliment to very brown complexion is selem kopi, maal ajine: the blackness of coffee (Luwak), it is expensive/ exclusive.