Journal Province: West Java Regency/City: Depok Subdistrict: Limo

The Confusion at Parung Bingung: Parung Bingung as Folklore

The Parung Bingung 3-way intersection: a left turn towards Parung, a right turn towards Cinere, and a road from the opposite direction towards Depok City Terminal
Written by Akbar Rahmadi
It began with spontaneity
On a bright afternoon in beloved Depok City, I decided spontaneously to do an activity that I had rarely been done. It was walking around without any purpose and target that would be obtained. That activity had already rarely been done since people didn’t have enough leisure time anymore because of other routine which made some of them spend themselves as present urban people, a one dimension human being who sometimes forgot to breathe for a moment or even did not care about the daily things around them.

The Parung Bingung 3-way intersection: a left turn towards Parung, a right turn towards Cinere, and a road from the opposite direction towards Depok City Terminal

The Parung Bingung 3-way intersection: a left turn towards Parung, a right turn towards Cinere, and a road from the opposite direction towards Depok City Terminal

This time, I decided to bring my digital pocket camera, just to prepare myself without any excessive pretension, only to fill the sections of the memory card and to exert the remaining power of my battery which maybe I should change later. You know, my camera was inadequate and all like its owner, who was confused about his middle-class identity. Well, it was neither sophisticated nor battered. While I was still busy with the conversation in my head, apparently these feet had already set themselves down on the very hot black asphalt.

The heat of the sun in Depok that afternoon was really intense. It had been different with the beginning of my transfer to Depok about 11-12 years ago. At that time, the thickness of the tree had still been able to protect us from the sun. Also, the traffic fumes had not been too much to fill the city’s spaces and air. A few thousands of rupiah bills had changed hands. And with that, I arrived at a location on which I maybe had passed thousands of times.

However, once again, I simplified all those past activities only as a ritual of a physical movement that had been reduced without ever getting basic questions such as: why it had been called like that, how was the story, who had been the first person to name it like that or even since when it had been called like that. Parung Bingung, that was what the location was called, a location that was a 3-way intersection, a meeting point from three different directions. Bogor and Parung-Ciseeng Market could be reached by taking the blue public transportation number 03 and the same vehicle could also take you to Depok Terminal, while the public transportation number D 102 would take you in another direction which would end in Cinere or even Pondok Labu.

Parung Bingung (confused) that made us confused
Ihad passed, like I wrote in the previous paragraph, the Parung Bingung 3-way intersection thousands of times before. It had not been without any reason, because that place was strategic to connect Depok and Jakarta and Banten (take the public transportation number D 03 and get off in Bojong Sari, long before reaching Parung-Ciseeng, then take the right turn, later you will arrive at Pamulang area which is a part of Banten Province). Although it was not a border of the province, but for the residents of Depok, a growing city, of course, that meeting point was meaningful to them and to the users of that road.

Even though I had passed that road thousands of times before, Parung Bingung still became a question in my head that afternoon. Usually people only answered shortly about the origin of its name, which was a location that often made people confused when they wanted to go to Parung. It was short and without further explanation about who had been the first person to call it that way, how and since when people had started to use the name. The curiosity often gave in to my other thought. So that day I decided to go to Parung Bingung, a spontaneous decision in a stuffy public transportation, which helped people to lose their calories and their minds, even.

I looked for a cool place which sold cold drinks because I sweated profusely. I chose a modest stall on the side of the road which the interior was being renovated it seemed, but the goods were varied. The owner of the stall was Teh Titi, a young woman from Bogor who had been trading in that place for a long time. However, her stall was different from other stalls I had known because it didn’t serve as her residence.

Teh Titi, one of the stall owners at Parung Bingung 3-way intersection

Teh Titi, one of the stall owners at Parung Bingung 3-way intersection.

“I live in Sawangan,” answered Teh Titi with a thick Sundanese accent when I asked her where she lived.

“Have you traded here long, Teh?” I asked.

“Quite long, A’, maybe about five years.”

While smoking and drinking a glass of cold drink, I asked about the name of Parung Bingung.

“Well, it’s been that way for a long time. I didn’t really know how exactly, but people here said that every person from Jakarta who wanted to go to Bogor always ended up getting lost here. They said they were confused…”

“I see, Teh. Since when has this happened?”

“A very long time ago. I also only heard it.”

Teh Titi’s answer coincided with the last gulp of my drink. I watched the situation of the road again at that time. The frequency of people’s activity and the volume of traffic were not reduced at all. It was not surprising, because it was the meeting point of two routes of public transportation: D 03 and D 102. That not so big road was also often filled with the public transportation that stopped, waiting for the passengers. It even unofficially became a ‘shadow terminal’ for the public transportation number D 102. Just like two sides of a coin, on one side it helped the passengers to look for transportation, on the other side it occupied the narrowing road.

Parung Bingung 3-way intersection became the station of the public transportation number D 102 from Limo to Cinere to Pondok Labu and often to Lebak Bulus

Parung Bingung 3-way intersection became the station of the public transportation number D 102 from Limo to Cinere to Pondok Labu and often to Lebak Bulus.

Although we didn’t get lost in our way, don’t be shy of asking questions
An old proverb ‘if you are shy of asking questions, you will get lost in your way’ still felt relevant until now, perhaps because I was lucky to find friendly and nice people to help me so that I didn’t get lost in assumption about Parung Bingung. It was not difficult for me to find those friendly people. I instantly walked toward an ojek station where the ojek drivers certainly gathered (this station was located on the side of the road, in the same line with Teh Titi’s stall). Hopefully, they were friendly and could satisfy my curiosity. Without further ado, I started the conversation by borrowing a lighter to break the ice. It was Mr. Ubai, an ojek driver about 40 years old who answered all my questions kindly.

“Excuse me, Sir, this place is called Parung Bingung, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Yes, son, if you turn left, you will head toward Depok (terminal), if you turn right you will head toward Cinere, and if you go straight ahead you will head toward Parung,” he answered.

And then I asked again, “The name is funny, right, Parung Bingung. Did it come from the Local Government, Sir?” I fished.

“Oh, it has been that way for a very long time, son, the name has been like this since before the New Order, even,” explained Mr. Ubai.

I was surprised to hear that. After hearing the story about Parung Bingung all this time, only at that moment there was someone who could give an explanation about when people started to mention the name.

I had not finished musing over his words when he added, “Here, son, this is Mr. Rojak, he’s older than me. I am nothing compared to him, ha ha ha,” As he laughed he was getting ready to put on his helmet and jacket because at the same time there was a passenger coming to that station.

Not long after that, Mr. Ubai went on his motorcycle and I started to ask Mr. Rojak. He was in his seventies and already had had much gray hair, but he still stayed in shape and drove the ojek every day. I didn’t need to ask again because he immediately interrupted and explained, “Parung Bingung wasn’t like this in the past. The road wasn’t made of concrete. In the middle of that road (he pointed at the middle of the road that led to Parung) there was a big Tamarind tree to take shelter. Well, the road was still made of stone and mud.” He explained with a thick Betawi accent.

“How about the name itself, Sir? When was it used for the first time?” I asked curiously.

“It was the same as now. This road was passed by many people who wanted to go to Jakarta and Bogor. So, in the past, son, every person who wanted to go through here was certainly confused either they wanted to go to Bogor or Jakarta. Nobody specifically gave the name, people just mentioned it,” he said.

“Oh, so it was called that way really because the road created confusion, right, Sir?” I asked immediately.

“That’s right, son. People who came here were confused, with no sense of direction, either to the east, west, north or south.”

“It has been like that since the Dutch colonial era, son, I was still a child back then. In the past, people walked or rode in an ox cart or delman (traditional horse-drawn cart). There was no car at the time, son, unlike now, cars and motorbikes are everywhere.”

That conversation more or less made me smile and feel ashamed. How in more than 10 years I’d lived in Depok only this time I heard the detailed explanation from the person who had experienced the history.

And then Mr. Rojak got a passenger (The allocation of passengers at the ojek station was in turn, for instance, when there were 10 ojeks the first one came would get the first passenger and then it continued to the second person and so on. The first person who had already had a passenger would be marked and when he got back he had to wait until the tenth person had already had a passenger too, except when there was a regular customer or it was given by the tenth driver) which meant that I could not hold him any longer. So with that I said thank you by taking a picture of him wearing a jacket and a full-face helmet. After taking the picture, I lit my last cigarette before finally decided to take the public transportation number D 03.

Rojak, one of the ojek drivers at Parung Bingung 3-way intersection

Rojak, one of the ojek drivers at Parung Bingung 3-way intersection.

Parung Bingung as folklore and identity
Considering that the history of the naming of Parung Bingung cannot be traced in detail anymore, who was the first to call it Parung Bingung, when, why and how the story was, then Parung Bingung story can be considered as Folklore.

Folklore which I have gotten from the college’s materials can be understood as (according to James Danandjaja): “Folklore is a part of a culture of a group of people (collection), which is spread and passed on from generation to generation, among various groups, traditionally in different version, either orally or accompanied by gestures or mnemonic device.” Folklore consists of two words: folk and lore. Folk has a character of collectivity.

According to Alan Dundes, folk is a group of people who have physical, social and cultural identification characteristic, so that they can be distinguished from other groups, while lore is a culture (in this case, a story) which is passed on from generation to generation.

Consequently, the story of Parung Bingung can be categorized as a form of folklore, considering it is spread orally (oral tradition), traditional and has been happening for at least two generations. It has different versions, the author is anonymous, and it is collectively owned (Danandjaja, 2007).

That collectivity also what ensures the name is still used until now, especially when the earlier generation is nearly gone. The current generation should own the awareness to keep that story as their collective identity. The mnemonic device is realized in a story about the origin of a name, Parung Bingung. It reminds us of the nature of life that is harmonious, close, and without any tendencies of any parties which show the power in giving the name. The expression in folklore which tends to be spontaneous and innocent can be understood easily. The presence of the folklore about Parung Bingung should be able to help us understand that the civilization might not be as complicated as what we are going through now.

About the author


Akbar Rahmadi

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