Kyoto Journal

Sweat for a Few Noodles: Agung Parameswara

Mie lethek (in Javanese, “dirty noodles”), the wheaten noodles are a staple of Indonesian cuisine.

In Srandakan Village, there are two mie lethek factories: Garuda and Busur Panah. The owner of the legendary Garuda Factory, Yasir Feri Ismatrada, took over the family business founded by his grandfather in the 1940s in the village of Trimurti Srandakan, Bantul District, about 30 kilometers south-west of Yogyakarta. Yasir’s family continues to make mie lethek the traditional way, using oxen to rotate a one-ton stone cylinder to grind the wheat, a technique rarely seen today.

The factory has 30 employees. The business operates in an atmosphere of modesty. Yasir, although he is the chief, acts no differently from the other workers.

Yasir noted that the purpose of the factory is to promote the well-being of the local residents, rather than simply making a profit. Local residents have the opportunity to work in the factory as long as they are able, so the age of the workers ranges from 40 to 70 years. Yasir puts great importance on the fair treatment of his employees, with profits capped at 10%. Mie lethek are sold for Rp 8,000 or US 80 cents a kilogram.

 

Bali-born Agung Parameswara (b. 1990) has been a freelance photographer since 2010. His works have been published in numerous international media such as The New York Times, TIME Lightbox, The Wall Street Journal and many more.

www.agungparameswara.com