Dengarkanlah and Listen…

May 12, 2008 at 11:54 pm (Indonesian Culture) (, , , , )

I’ve really enjoyed some Indonesian songs since I’ve been here. Even the most mainstream of songs seem to tower over similar mainstream offerings from my own culture. Maybe it’s just the language which gives them the lyrics power which otherwise isn’t there. Even so I feel that (while somewhat diminished), even in a translated form they are great. Here’s a sample from a song which has been following me everywhere as of late:


Letto – Permintaan Hati

Terbuai aku hilang terjatuh aku dalam
Keindahan penantian
Terucap keraguan hati yang bimbang
Yang terhalang kepastian cinta

Aku hilang
Aku hilang


Dengarkanlah permintaan hati yang teraniaya sunyi
Dan berikanlah arti pada hidupku
Yang terhempas yang terlepas
Pelukanmu bersamamu dan tanpamu aku hilang selalu

Letto – Heart’s Request

Oblivious I’m lost, falling in
The beauty of waiting
The hesitation of a nervous heart is spoken
A heart tied by the certainty of love

I’m lost
I’m lost


Hear the request of my silently tortured heart
And give meaning to my life
Flung aside and disconnected
Your embrace, with you and without you I’m always lost.


A bit wordy at times (my own lack of ability most likely in this medium – i.e. Music), but its still there. Well it is for me at least.

Ungu’s agnostic “Andai Ku Tahu” (If I Knew) is great in the original Indonesian, but perhaps falls off a bit in the English, due to the simplicity of the message. What is actually a soft message in the Indonesian perhaps seems even fundamentalist in the English.


Ungu – Andai Ku Tahu

Andai ku tahu
Kapan tiba ajalku
Ku akan memohon Tuhan tolong panjangkan umurku

Andai ku tahu
Kapan tiba masa ku
Ku akan memohon Tuhan jangan kau ambil nyawaku

Aku takut akan semua dosa-dosaku
Aku takut dosa yang terus yang terus membayangiku

Andai ku tahu
MalaikatMU kan menjemputku
Ijikan aku mengucapkan kata taubat padaMU

Ungu – If I Knew

If I knew
When my life was to end
I would ask God to grant me a longer life

If I knew
When my time is up
I would ask God to not take my life

I fear all my sins
I fear the sins which shadow me constantly

If I knew
When Your angel was to come to me
Allow me to repent to You.


The power of language greatly shapes feelings.

When I bend down to pray, saying “Allahu akbar”, its a statement of my humility before the creator. That God is so far beyond what I, or any other mortal being, can possible imagine.

God is greater than all

From the mouths of some though, it is a blood-curdling statement, dripping with hatred and the feeling that they are not proclaiming God’s greatness, but their own.

I am greater than all!

The same words, but completely different uses, meaning and feeling. If I tell people that every time I pray I say those words over and over again, what do they think? Do they see the first picture or the second in their mind when they hear those words?

Even benign words and their use can cause problems.

When I speak with Indonesians, using “Insyaallah” when asked about my plans for the future, or even saying “Alhamdulillah” when someone asks me how I am doing seems completely natural. Yet using these same words when speaking to people from my own country feels like (especially in the current climate) throwing up an instant barrier between myself and whomever I am talking to.

Yet another of the challenges you take on when straddling cultures.


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