The Buttocks Rapids

mandi di kalimas1

Picture taken from: on 20 December 2012

By: Achmad Supardi

Have you ever do rafting in Kali Pekalen, Probolinggo? If so, you might be familiar with this term: Jeram Bokong which means “the Buttock Rapids”. The weird name comes from the fact that the stream used for rafting is also used by surrounding dwellers to bath. Hence, the rafting do-ers could easily see the dwellers’ –sorry– buttocks. Well, you know, if people taking an outdoor bath, they prefer to cover their most private part rather than their buttock. Apparently, the “Buttocks Rapids” is also emerge in Kalimas River, Surabaya.

Take the boat from Medokan Semampir and go straight to Kalimas’ estuary. You’ll see a lot of “Buttocks Rapids” more than the one you can find in Kali Pekalen. If you do river cruising in the morning and late afternoon, it is more likely for you to witness the “Buttocks Rapids” since many residents and other people around the river take a shower at the river. This phenomenon is worth noted since a metropolitan with more than 3 million inhabitants like Surabaya has several “Buttocks Rapids” right at its heart. Ofcourse those unfortunate people do ‘outdoor shower’ because they have no bathroom, let alone their own full-off-privacy latrines. They are not ‘displaying’ their buttocks for a free exhibition, right? The municipal government of Surabaya needs to consider this when they plan to rejuvenate Kalimas and make it as one of the city’s tourist destination.

The emergence of ‘Buttocks Rapids’ in Kalimas is not a coincidence. It is not an experiment to enjoy the “outdoor shower” either. It emerges because of necessity, born of lack of choice. Let me invite you to look at the ‘Buttocks Rapids’ along Kalimas closer.

On the edge of Jl. Ngagel, just meters away from shopping mall, we can easily spot a permanent ‘Buttocks Rapids’. Well, we may call it ‘permanent’ because at that very point, every morning and evening, many rickshaw drivers, sometimes joined by itinerant fruit sellers and other people take a bath regularly. They even transform themselves into a community. They greet each other and share news. They are so proximate. No distance, no clothes.

You may claim that they take a bath there naturally. They seems take no consideration of the murky water as well as the curious sights of riders and passers by. They simply forced –and then accustomed– to have such a routine. Riding a rickshaw is not an easy job. It is a sweaty and exhausting one. Going home at noon just to have a shower is really ineffective. And, although Novotel stands nearby, it is not the place for them to take a shower. So, out of no other choices, taking a bath in Kalimas is the only reasonable option. Easy and refreshing.

If you move further north, you’ll get to the area which  used to be Keputran Market, Surabaya’s biggest traditional market. At some point, someone having an outdoor shower is easy to find. Most of people do it in the morning and afternoon, but some others do it during the day.

Move closer to the estuary, we will pass through Peneleh, Genteng Kali, and Sulung areas. On the left and right sides of the river, what so-called ‘helicopter toilets’ and ‘shacky bathrooms’ scattered everywhere. Well, we call the very modest latrines as ‘helicopter toilets’ because they look like ‘flying’ over the river. The toileds made by bamboo or wood supported by simple poles. People take a shower or –sorry—defecate there. The simple wall made by bammboo or wood will protect them from the sights of riders and passers by, however they are unprotected from those who use boat.

Move closer to the estuary, the “Buttocks Rapids” are increasingly more ‘open’ since the river is ‘hidden’ behind the old buildings. Some people might find it ‘exotic’. However, it definitely not a tourist attraction. (*)


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