Simplicity or Simply Poverty?

CarTo begin with, I had this duty trip to check a solar power mini-grid in the most south inhabited island of Indonesia: Rote Island, part of East Nusa Tenggara Province. The plan was to stay in the island for two days but the high-tide decided differently. We stuck in the island for seven days instead. Nothing scary nor was I exposed to any danger, but there is a story I’d like to tell you.

To give you a bit an overview, the district has more than 119 thousand population with majority of electricity provided from a diesel power generation plant. The electrification ratio is only 30% where over 8000 solar pico system are installed in most coastal residences. The district only has one bank (BRI) and no gas station anywhere on the island. Fuel (gasoline and diesel oil) is sold by small local vendors (packaged in bottles) that cost around 30% higher. During bad season, the fuel can cost seven times more expensive than the price at official gas station.

We went to a small village called Lidor. It is situated in the southern part of the island about three hours car ride from the district capital Ba’a. We had the luxury to stay overnight in one hamlet and observed how they live.

This hamlet of less than 100 households never experience having electricity before the solar mini-grid installed. They used kerosene lamp for lighting and they literally lived in the dark since forever. Well, except when they collectively arrange some kind of party or celebration in which they collect money to fuel a diesel genset.

Water ladyMost of them are farmers and they really depend on this unsteady source of income. When I asked how much they earn in average per month, they can only come up with IDR 250,000 or USD 25 or less than 1 dollar a day! They rarely spend their money on food since they eat basically what’s available in their garden. But well, the cut a chicken for us that day for our dinner and lunch.

Every afternoon around 4pm the ladies come out their houses with buckets or bottles or a traditional container made of leaves to collect water for shower, washing and cooking. Other than that they have a deep-well that only works once a week against a fee of IDR 20,000 per month.

They live a very simple life. They live a poor life.

You know what?

  • On the other side of Rote Island, there is a beach known as a surfing paradise where some foreigners have their villas to enjoy comfortable life. The most famous villa has an extremely expensive rent up to IDR 18 million per night!
  • The ferry is operational once per day (return Kupang – Rote) during good weather and normal tide. It costs IDR 165K (USD 16) for VIP class, IDR 125K (USD 12) for executive class, and IDR 40K (USD 4) for the rest of passengers. The boat trip takes 2 hours one way.


Ingin Pergi Sebentar

Aku ingin pergi sebentar
Dari hiruk pikuk hidup yang penuh hitungan
Yang penuh muslihat dan tipuan
Yang penuh topeng-topeng menutupi kepalsuan

Aku ingin menghirup udara pagi yang bersih
Ingin mendengar suara burung bernyanyi
Ingin bercengkerama dengan ketulusan
Ingin bercanda dengan kesederhanaan

Aku tak ingin bertemu kamu
Kamu yang hanya menilai paras
Dan menghitung apa yang aku punya
Kamu yang tak benar-benar melihat hatiku


Wanna Go for A While

I want to go for a while
From the hustle and bustle of life that is full of calculation
Full of artifice and deception
Full of masks cover the falsity

I want to breathe the fresh morning air
Want to hear the sound of singing birds
Want to mingle with sincerity
Want to joke with simplicity

I do not want to see you
You who judge only on my exterior
And analyze what I have

You who do not really see what’s inside me