MY WIFE AND I were a bit alarmed when Pak Rajin (not real name—literally means Mr. Diligent) hadn’t shown up for two weeks now. It is his habit to come over as other people in the neighborhood have relied on him too to clean up their garden. As for us, we sometimes asked him to buy flowers to replace the old ones. 

Buffaloes bathing in mud (Image:

Now we’re wondering why the diligent man who speaks a little has seemed to disappear. We would like to assume he has returned home to his village since rice crop is progressing. It’s likely he is harvesting paddy in his own fields or his neighbors’.

When he finally showed up two weeks later, I immediately invited him to clean up our yard. Dried leaves and long lawn are everywhere.

“I haven’t seen you for a while now. Have you been home?” I asked.

He smiled and replied, “I was but jailed, sir.”

My wife and I were shocked. “Don’t be kidding! Why on earth were you jailed?”

He told us he was watching his neighbors gambling when policemen came to arrest him. He was alleged to join the bet in the game. Taken to the nearest police station, he was declared guilty and sent to prison for two months.

“How ill-fated had I been, sir! I was there but to watch,” said he groaning. I couldn’t buy his words completely. I’m convinced he’s got something to conceal. He might have been in the game as well due to the temptation to get money effortlessly.

“Don’t you ever read ojo cedak kebo gupak by the way?”

“What does that mean, sir?” While he’s younger than me, it’s clear he seemed to be unfamiliar with the Javanese expression.

“Never draw near a buffalo deep in mud unless you want to be filthy. When you spot a buffalo bathing in the mud, you’ll likely get yourself muddy as it moves its tail. That is how it goes when you are hanging around with indecent people. You may be tempted to join them and get addicted to what you’re committing.”

Be warned

The catchphrase ojo cedak kebo gupak should be a warning when we make friends without the tendency of discrimination in social life. We must be selective in taking whom to get along with. Enjoying the company of drinking people will probably drive us to taste one sip or more. As we encounter them more and more often, the influence becomes even stronger that drinking gets instilled into a habit. The situation will turn worse as those people add gambling into the habitual action. It is no wonder there’s a song titled "Mabuk dan Judi" (Drunk and Gamble).

The great Prophet once said, “A good friend and a bad one resemble a perfume seller and a blacksmith assistant. A perfume vendor may spray some perfume or you purchase from him or you simply smell the aroma. Whereas the blacksmith assistant will probably cause your cloth to be burnt or you’ll simply deduct unpleasant odor from him.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)

Parents should be aware of whom their kids normally spend time with. Teenagers are now enveloped by every possible temptation they can have. Their growing age creates a proclivity for finding who they really are. “You’re such a dweeb!” is a typical expression addressed to those unable to gel with. When one refused to join his friends burning up the road, he will be doomed to laugh and mockery. They don’t seem to care what they do obviously endangers the life of others and of their own.

A group of students engaged in a gang fight will likely force others into the same commotion. Those saying no will be dubbed disloyal, disbanded, and averse to standing for their friends. Instigation and mock flavored with a portion of intimidation may cause other teenagers to join the fight. On the basis of peer solidarity those who were cowardice and normally indisposed to any brawl finally decide to get involved. It is a nearsighted solidarity by the way, that tends to go negatively destructive.

Ojo cedak kebo gupak is a counsel proposed by elderly that remains valid until no time. If our kids get along with folks who are regular prayers, industrious students, and those with manners, they’ll probably turn out to be good.

(Original text by Abdul Cholik, translated by misterblangkon)

Javanese is one of unique languages in the world which is currently spoken by 82 million people in Indonesia. A uniqueness specifically lies in the degree of politeness used when speaking to different people.   

It has a three levels of expression to address to people of different age. Ngoko, being the first, is probably the widest in use as it enables everyone to talk freely without consideration of politeness. Ngoko is more casual than the other two levels and used by friends or colleagues in informal context.
Understanding whom we talk to helps us choose the best communication way.

Different level of politeness

For instance, "Awakmu njaluk opo?" that means "What you do want?". It is spoken to peers that indicates the most informal way of speaking as none of the communicators are older who deserve veneration. Both speakers feel confident and relaxed to express themselves.
In the second level, called krama madya, the sentence will say, "Sampean nedi nopo?" that contains the same message. It is normally said to those older but with moderate authority. I may be using this level of krama when talking to my aunts or uncles.
The last is krama inggil. As the name suggests, inggil which means high, this level signifies the highest degree of civility. In today's life, not too many people understand and use this type of krama. Younger generation have seemed unfamiliar with specific words of krama inggil.
The example will be, "Panjenengan ngersaaken menopo?" that also offers people what they want to have. Perhaps something to drink or to eat. The application may occur when students talk to their teachers or when kids talk to their parents at home. People of religious position or of social authority also receive this level of politeness.
I will be delving into more details in the following posts to present more examples as well as the structure of Javanese sentences. Enjoy!