Saturday, November 28, 2009


Trap for the unwary: Normally The Bali Times avoids advertising in its editorial space – being a real newspaper, we do that sort of thing – but Hatten Wines’ new labels rate an exception to this otherwise firm rule. Here are the three new casks. You’d be flat out spotting the difference in the muted light preferred by retailers of such beverages. You mightn’t spot the reversed accent on the rosé either, though that could be a benefit.

No More Whining, Now. Just Drink Up

THERE seems to be movement on the wine front in Bali. This is a felicity, since when you’re sitting in the dark courtesy of PLN’s world-beating ineffectiveness you can generally manage to hang on to a glass and even to refill it, as long as you keep the container within arm’s reach.
There has been another little outbreak of Aga Redness. The Diary happened upon four of Hatten’s new take-a-stab-at-what’s-within lookalike casks at Gourmet Garage at Jimbaran, the entire stock on display, and having examined them closely to ensure they were indeed reds rather than whites or that pink in-between stuff, grabbed them for the cellar. (The Diary has also learned the lesson: If what you want is there, in minuscule quantity, grab it: First in, best dressed.)
Antipathy to the local drop, a perennial distemper, is unfair. Aga Red in particular is a very passable table wine. It is also snobbishly foolish, unless you’re so far up yourself that paying the equivalent of US$50-plus for a very ordinary imported wine gets you off. The local stuff is cheaper (and will always be) and drinkable. It is also, stock control and distribution woes permitting, readily available. And even for those who fancy themselves sommeliers, it is surely better to look on the bright side and enjoy being where you are rather than someplace else.
That lovely scene in one of the Fawlty Towers episodes – when someone had told Fawlty that his hotel, in Torquay, was the worst in England – springs to mind. Fawlty’s long-term resident guest, The Major, like many superannuated middle-ranking military types a thickly pedantic bore, stepped forward, angered at this slight. “No, no, no! I won’t have that,” he cried. Fawlty smiled his favourite deprecating smile and responded, “Thank you, Major.” There was a short pause while the major pondered. Then he said: “There’s a place at Eastbourne.” There’s another bright spot on the horizon too. At least one local company in South Bali is now offering alcohol, including spirits, at reasonable prices. You have to buy in bulk – but hey, that’s what big cupboards are for, isn’t it?

Not Zapped Yet

THERE was a flurry of excitement last week when PLN’s capo di capo (big boss), Fahmi Mochtar, said he might soon be out of a job. He made this comment, to the Jakarta press, fresh – though that might not be the word – from a marathon nine-and-a-half hour meeting with Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Hatta Rajasa, and the ministers for state owned enterprises and energy.
“I may not be being interviewed by you next month,” he told reporters. “As head of the company, who has a duty to the people, I am ready to be replaced at any time.” His immediate political boss, State Owned Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar, said later there were no immediate plans to unplug Mochtar.
The sour note for Bali in this is that Mochtar’s future – such as it is – hangs on Jakarta’s latest series of unplanned blackouts, brought about by PLN’s nonchalant approach to its core business. Bali can be in the dark forever, apparently, without anyone in Jakarta noticing (or caring).
If we must have state-owned enterprises (and it’s a big if) the sooner they are broken up into more readily managed and regionally responsive monopolies the better. If there were a PLN Bali, you can bet its boss would not have been sitting down without suffering exquisite pain for a very long time. And that he’d actually be doing something to fix the cause of his discomfort.

Equilibrium Atremble
NORMALLY nothing much disturbs The Cage; not even the squawks of fragile egos. But last weekend was somehow different. Scotland beat the Wallabies for the first time in 27 years, an event that created a dilemma for your diarist. Thirty-five years a green-and-golder, the ancestral ties are merely notional where almost anything (in the sporting arena) happens to the poor, benighted folk of Britain. Except if it’s Scotland. But a double tot or so of whisky saved the day: when you’re seeing double, it’s much easier to barrack for both sides. Mrs Hec is not a rugby girl. But she too had a little episode at the weekend. A pleasantly shared Indian meal – at Queen’s of India in Kuta, the one where you don’t get dosa (you have to go to Seminyak for that), was momentarily disturbed by the sudden presence of a young and untutored fellow, old enough to know better, who was leaving with his mum and dad and apparently wanted to sit on a small ornamental elephant positioned at the unoccupied end of our table, exclaim “Yeehah!” and then to inspect our dinner very closely on his way.
Mrs Hec fixed him with her trademark gimlet glare and intoned (quite loudly): “Go away.” Quite right too: Parents may have all the trouble with their children they like, but total strangers shouldn’t have to put up with the ill-mannered results.

Oh, Um, Er ...

WHAT a delight it is to read that the Bali Prosecutor’s office, and evidently the Bali Prosecutor himself, possess laid-back, relaxed attitudes to their jobs. It fits so well with the ambience of administration in Bali, where near enough is always good enough and often miles away.
The prosecutor wants to investigate the Karangasem regent over an inflated-price land deal that, prima facie, was very cosy indeed for the chaps who got the dosh. There’s a report on the matter in this week’s news pages.
Under the law on protected species (leaders), such actions need the concurrence of the President. Hence a letter went off to the Istana Negara in Jakarta on November 17 requesting the seal of approval.
Unfortunately, due we are told to a clerical error, the letter asked SBY to authorise an investigation into the Bangli regent. Now this may be desirable too – we don’t know – but it would seem rather vital that requests of this nature are thoroughly checked by the officials preparing the correspondence. It would help, too, if the Prosecutor himself could manage to read the things he has to sign before affixing his squiggle.
The phone call to the Istana Negara when the error was eventually spotted would have been interesting: “For ‘A’, read ‘B’.”

Immutable Law

THE Diary is a smoker (there ... we’ve said it) and – let it also be said – one of the reasons that made Bali so attractive a living environment versus the not-quite-ancestral homeland is that, here, elective behaviour is for the most part left unmolested by Those Who Know Best and who, in the Odd Zone and other meddlesome places, tirelessly and tediously tell you so.
A giggle was forthcoming, therefore, the other day when we read a blog by Tony Eastley – he fronts the ABC Radio news programme AM – complaining that smokers have stolen all the best spots at Australian pubs and restaurants.
They have to sit outside, you see, so that the demon smoke does not distress others (and spark litigation from persons who believe that life owes them a substantial compensation payout).
Tony likes to drink and dine al fresco, too, it seems. Well tough: He and his ilk almost won their war – clearly a case of close but no cigar – and now have to live with the result.
Seasoned analysts of human affairs must understand the law of unintended consequences. Briefly, it states that you can never win.
SCRATCHINGS appears as The Bali Times Diary in the print edition of the newspaper, out every Friday. The newspaper's website is at The Bali Times is available in print wherever you are through Newspaper Direct.

Friday, November 20, 2009


That’s the spirit: The new warung on the Sari Club site this week. See Warung Hantu, below.

The Joys of Sulawesi Street

THE Diary spent much of last Saturday on bag-carrying duty in Sulawesi Street, the Denpasar precinct where silk, cotton, linen and all sorts of other fabrics are to be found in the hands of many traders, some useful, some less so. It was an interesting experience, though not nearly as much fun as dinner later (at Zanzibar on the beach at Double Six) where the merits – and demerits – of that wonderful mobile communication device, the PickleBerry, formed part of the round-the-table discussion.
Sulawesi Street is bizarre, as well as a bazaar in the more traditional sense. The traders themselves are an eclectic bunch. Some are very helpful and – like everywhere – respond to courtesy. There are many bargains to be had and plenty of smiles to be found. The persistence of the touts is tedious: we all know everyone needs to make a buck, but touts – especially in Indonesia – do not seem to understand they are slightly more likely to make one if they avoid irritating the ordure out of potential customers. In the mellifluous lingua franca of Indonesia, as the simplest of primers will tell you, “tidak” means “no.” It is not some arcane codeword that means “keep trying and I’ll give in eventually.”
Among its many entertainments is the fact that it is sited directly opposite the Badung Market car park exit, where the driving skills (sic) that are a ubiquitous element of Indonesia are prominently displayed. The Diary was deeply engaged at one point by the single-minded purposefulness of a motorbike rider who stopped in the middle of the ultra-narrow street, made narrower still by the apparent belief of car parking attendants that you can squeeze an SUV into a push-bike space, to make a mobile phone call.
It seemed to take him an age to realise that the reason he could not hear his friend on the other end was that the drivers of several dozen blocked vehicles behind were tooting him rather urgently and very loudly.

Warung Hantu

KADEK Wiranatha, the nightspot man, Jaguar enthusiast and failed airline entrepreneur, has apparently signed off on a cosy little interim deal at the Sari Club site in Legian, where a dimly lit warung now offers fare to the passing trade. We won’t be going there, but we thought readers should see a photo of Pak Kadek’s latest insult to the spirits of the many people – a lot of them his countrymen – who died on that spot on October 12, 2002. (See photo at top.)
Wiranatha, who also publishes an advertising fortnightly (apparently for the expatriate community, or so it says), obtained a 30-year lease on the site from its Jakarta owner earlier this year and in August announced both this significant investment in money-grubbing and that he would be implanting yet another restaurant-bar-entertainment venue in the area.
He said, when the inevitable chorus of protests was raised (including from the Governor, whom Pak Kadek clearly views as just another impediment to his profit line), that he didn’t care what people thought – he’s not in the news business, then, if he believes this to be startlingly new intelligence – or that there were existing plans for a memorial garden and reflection centre on the site.
The sorry saga of the Sari site, it needs to be said, largely results from the fact that the Australian advocates of the memorial plan would have difficulty running a chook raffle.
For those who don’t know: hantu is the Bahasa word for ghost.

Latex Faire

APPARENTLY it is to be National Condom Week early in December. It is a sad commentary on modern life that we need “national weeks” of this and that, and an international array of special days and the like, to remind us that it is sensible to be sensible.
Such is the modern condition. It is the ruling dynamic of post-modern human existence: the unavoidable and sour dichotomy found in the solitary, sad fact that the more we know – the more knowledge that passes into human hands – the more profoundly ignorant we become.
Never mind. Human frailty produces all sorts of entertainment, including risibility. Here’s one laugh: While we are all supposed to be wearing latex in December (The Diary assumes that like most things in Indonesia, such a decree is compulsory but will be universally ignored), we can have a giggle about an actress, Julia Perez (widely known as Jupe), who has agreed to be condom ambassador for the National AIDS Commission.
She was apparently chosen because she is considered an authority on sex. Hmm. Not sure we’d want that on our CV.

Terminal Droop

IF state power utility PLN was in the business of running a brothel, it would have gone out of business a long time ago. But it’s not, of course, since the sex industry globally is a profoundly enterprising sector and PLN and enterprise are mutually exclusive. PLN is a government monopoly that manages to combine the benefits of this condition – no competition and a national budget to subsidise its incompetence – with a singular lack of interest in the rights of its consumers, or indeed in supplying the product it is mandated to provide.
Leaving aside its treatment of Bali (about which there is more below), it is a public utility that has institutionalised the oxymoron: it is neither public (being a secretive and closed organisation that says as little as possible, and if letting anything out of the bag at all, makes sure it is merely a mendacious cat) nor of quantifiable utility.
So it was interesting to read a report a few days ago that its director, Murtaqi Syamsudin, had said PLN would give a 10 percent “compensation” – a rebate off bills in other words – to the thousands of consumers in Jakarta and surroundings that it has disadvantaged through blackouts.
The promise came along with that other promise, the repetitive one we hear consistently from PLN: they really are trying to fix their problems and desperately want to keep the lights on.
Talk is cheap. PLN’s uncertain, ephemeral and variable voltage electricity is not. And of course, it’s about to get more expensive.

Not Well Connected

THE farcical saga of Bali’s rolling blackouts continues. PLN publishes lists of them, but these are fictional. It says it won’t unfairly blot out the evenings of consumers but will ensure there’s a reasonable gap (in any area) between one three-hour-plus candlelight experience and the next.
So why did the Ungasan area have one of PLN’s little de-lights on Sunday and another two days later? Residents are beginning to suspect that the kepala desa (village head) is not well connected at all; well, it’s either that or like them he’s had enough and has told PLN where it can stick itself.
There seems little point in publishing a roster if no one at PLN bothers to read it.

Heroine’s Return

JANET DeNeefe, Ubud luminary, hotelier, restaurateur and literary festival person, has just come back to the world’s best “city” – ranked thus by some travel oriented outfit – from Paris. We hear that several centimetres may need to come off the new girth before she can reassume her preferred level of svelte decorativeness, as a result of a dearth of mie goreng in the city of love and the consequent need to consume vast quantities of violently over-kilojouled Frog fare.
Husband Ketut did not make the trip.

Guide-led Economy

INDONESIA apparently needs one tourist guide for every 200 tourists. Gosh, if the successive reruns of “Visit Indonesia Year” – we’re up to three and counting – actually ever work, there will soon be more tourist guides than public servants. And there are far too many of them.
We gain this information from I Nyoman Kandia, chairman of the central executive of the Indonesian Tourist Guides Association (HPI is its Indonesian acronym).
He said in Pontianak last week that Indonesia needs around 35,000 tourist guides in light of the target of attracting 7 million foreign tourists in 2010. There were 12,000 at present and for only 2 million tourists they needed around 10,000 guides. Most of them are in Bali.

Rover’s Return

THERE is a delightful sequel to last week’s item on the presence in London, on the eve of Remembrance Day, of Australia’s first Victoria Cross winner since the Vietnam War four decades ago. Our mention of SAS Trooper Mark Donaldson’s meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle brought a note from a reader in Australia, who told us one of Donaldson’s comrades in Afghanistan – where he won his gong earlier this year – has returned to duty in the war zone.
We don’t know the chap’s name, of course, and even if we did, for security reasons we wouldn’t publish it. But he is said to have hurriedly decamped when Taliban RPGs – rocket-propelled grenades – started pasting Donaldson’s patrol.
So it is cheering to hear that Explosive Detector Dog X, who probably missed his dinkum Aussie Army dinners while he was AWOL in the hills of Uruzgan Province, is now back on base and hard at work.
We’d love to know what he told his CO, though.
SCRATCHINGS is published, as The Bali Times Diary, in the weekly print edition of the newspaper on Fridays. The Bali Times is available anywhere through Newspaper Direct. The newspaper's website is at

Friday, November 13, 2009


Well Briefed

THE new health minister, Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih, is not without her critics. Politics is an unforgiving environment in any culture. And it’s not all that unusual for ministers – here or indeed anywhere – to be less than perfectly briefed on matters within their portfolios, especially if these are complex policy areas.
But it is extraordinary that Endang could come to Bali for a medical conference – it was held in Jimbaran, newly re-declared a red zone after a further rabies case in Kedonganan – and express ignorance about the presence of the disease on this island.
Where had she been since her appointment on October 24? And more importantly, what had she been reading? Not much in the way of briefing papers presumably – or for that matter, even the newspapers.
We recommend she takes out a subscription to The Bali Times – or buys it via Newspaper Direct, which readers in a great many places around the world can do – where she will quickly find a means of informing herself about the rabies situation here.
She said when queried about rabies that she would ask her officials. Maybe they need to be reading The Bali Times too.

Direct Mail

THE Alila chain, one of those upmarket retreats for Wudbees and Wannabees who like to trip around the globe expensively, pretending they’re having a cultural experience among the natives, doesn’t advertise its wares to the common herd. It doesn’t even think of them as wares: that would be much too down-market.
But we hear that, locally and in the Maldives at least, it has embraced the new world of “social media.” That’s the bit where you get all sorts of “information” from highly subjective – and frequently misinformed – sources and are encouraged to delude yourself that they’re telling you the facts.
Two Bali outfits – water&stone and ClearWhiteSpace – have been appointed, and we quote, to “manage the social media marketing for Alila’s two-product line, Alila Hotels and Alila Villas, and across two markets, Bali and the Maldives.” We are further advised that “water&stone and ClearWhiteSpace are charged with profile creation, channel management and social media monitoring and engagement.”
What this means, when you cut through the guff, is that they’ll Tweet marketing dross at you. It sounds like a great lurk. Perhaps they’ll throw in the free eye surgery that should soon be necessary.

Get Smart

JACK Daniels is a Twit. Well, lots of us are nowadays. It should be Tweeter, or possibly Twitterer, but Twit is shorter, more eye-catching, and in many cases (not in Jack’s case) soundly apt.
The Diary had some traffic with Jack on Twitter recently, after The Man Who Updates Himself had posted a sweet little tweet about a sign he said he had seen on his neighbour’s gate, saying “Salesmen Welcome. Dog Food is Expensive.” Hector, who says he doesn’t twitter (cockatoos screech after all), posted back: “You won’t be going there, then, Jack.”
Things then went downhill. Jack said he kept mace (spray) for journalists. Hec suggested pepper spray was a cheaper option. Jack said he’d really rather Taser them, but a Taser needed to be recharged and PLN was an ineffective source of power. He said Hec should not deny him freedom to lavish upon him the very best of ill winds. And on that, quite so: we’re all for freedom of screech here at The Bali Times.
Might it be that Jack’s distemper had arisen from last week’s Diary item that referred unkindly to cruel winds in the comfort zone. Surely he can’t have thought that the barb was aimed at him?

Yoo-hoo! It’s Me!

THE cult of vanity, so much a part of the YouTube Generation, is not very sensible. Aside from unpleasant hubris – there’s something distastefully odd about people who are convinced total strangers would actually be interested in seeing their mug – it can also be disadvantageous.
We note this point because, last weekend, we read a news report on a little toe rag in Britain who didn’t like the mug shot police asked a local newspaper run of him as part of a public appeal to track him down – they would like to talk to him about a burglary – and sent along a better likeness. He was standing in front of a police van.
South Wales Police had given the media a photo of Matthew Maynard, 23, as part of a crackdown on crime in Swansea. They have now thanked him for helping them in their appeal, saying: “Everyone in Swansea will know what he looks like now.” We’ll spare you the photo. He looks like any number of young thickheads of British provenance. It wouldn’t do to spark a flurry of fake sightings in Kuta.

Sound Advice

LEIGH Sales, who fronts the Australian TV current affairs show Lateline (unfortunately not seen on the Australia Network satellite service), has some very good advice for people who chair panels at writers’ festivals or bookshops. It should be required reading in certain parts of Ubud.
She wrote recently on her ABC blog – it’s called wellreadhead, Sales being attractively thus endowed – that she gives a standard spiel at the beginning of every event: “We’ll have time for questions at the end. And let me emphasise that we want questions, not statements. If you stand up and make a statement, I will cut you off and publicly humiliate you.”
She says it usually gets a laugh; until they realise she means it.
Sales writes: “There’s always at least one person per event who uses the occasion to pontificate instead of just asking a question. At any event for a book about refugees, for example, I can all but guarantee a sixtyish bloke in a flowing shirt, leather sandals and a silver bangle will leap to his feet and rail about the evils of the Howard government – even if the book is about North African asylum-seekers to Europe.”
She adds one anecdote that engaged The Diary’s attention, its genesis being an assault on sensibility from motor-mouth audience members at a Sydney Institute function (the institute and its executive director rank highly on Hector’s list of commonsense sources). It’s worth repeating in full:
“One of the funniest examples I’ve seen of somebody being cut off was at the Sydney Institute. Several people in a row had stood up and made statements. When it came time for the next question, the executive director, Gerard Henderson, gave a very sharply worded instruction that the audience was invited to ask questions, not deliver lectures. He then called on a woman who took to her feet. ‘When I was a young girl ...’ she began. ‘That is NOT a promising start!’ Henderson cried.”
We sympathise. There are similarly self-obsessed folk around here who salivate at the sight of a soapbox.

Gong Day

AUSTRALIA’S newest Victoria Cross winner – and the first to be awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, the separate but equal denomination of the highest award for military bravery instituted by Queen Victoria during the Crimean War of 1854-57 – met the present Queen this week, at Windsor Castle.
The occasion was the annual gathering of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, held the day before Remembrance Day (Nov. 11). Special Air Service (SAS) Trooper Mark Donaldson, VC, won his award in Afghanistan (he rescued his patrol’s wounded Afghan interpreter by dashing hundreds of metres over open ground under intense and well-aimed fire).
By tradition, VC winners of whatever rank are saluted by everyone from the Commander-in-Chief – in Australia the Governor-General – down.
Among holders of the civilian equivalent, the George Cross, is one national state. Malta, then a British territory, was given the honour in 1942 for enduring the intense World War II aerial siege and Blitz-style bombing of the island by the Italians and Germans. Its red and white flag has the insignia of the George Cross in the top left-hand corner.

Unlucky for Some

TODAY is Black Friday (Friday the 13th). It is said by some who study such things that it gained its disquieting moniker from the fact that it was on a Friday the 13th that one of the more unpleasant of the medieval popes proscribed the Knights Templar and rounded them up. Many of them were later burned at the stake for heresy; or possibly banking.

SCRATCHINGS FROM THE CAGE FLOOR appears, as The Bali Times Diary, in the weekly print edition of The Bali Times, the island's only English-language newspaper, every Friday. The Bali Times is also at The print edition is also available globally through Newspaper Direct.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Brighten Your Day, Get Into That Cell!

CELL PHONE: Just the job for brightening your day ... or that cell. The new Samsung Corby hand phone, now being advertised in Bali, should find a ready market at Kerobokan Jail, Des Res of the richly infamous.

Cruel winds in the Comfort Zone

APPARENTLY there are people out there who think that Hector is a particularly crusty old curmudgeon, with insufficient knowledge of anything much, and certainly not enough to pen critical comment of secular, self-appointed deities who nowadays blight life at every turn. Last week’s little flurry of distressed correspondence [to The Bali Times] points delightfully to the discomfiting nature of criticism to such people and their acolytes when previously unchallenged comfort zones have been cruelly disturbed.
There is a view, it seems, that a public newspaper – mark that word: newspaper – is not the place to say such things: Much better to gather around the back of the bike shed and mutter, then? Well, it’s not of course. Bike-shed muttering is best avoided under any circumstances.
In this edition of Bali’s only real English-language newspaper, you can among many other things read the thoughts of veteran Indonesian observer Max Lane – so fluent in Indonesian that he actually translates complex texts fully, taking nuance and changing usage into account, in other words doing it properly, for a living – on what he sees as the real imperatives facing Bali.
These are not the sort of thoughts one finds given space in a tabloid. But then The Bali Times is a tabloid neither in content nor in context; or in fact. We are not for big photos and disingenuous short text. Neither are we authors and photographers, nor for that matter that curious modern amalgam of the two, author-photographers. We are not self-publishing self-publicists, either.
In this edition – as in every edition – readers of The Bali Times are presented with real news, of and about the island on which they live, of a size and scope that nothing else published in English even tries to approach. We have fun doing this, just as a bulk of our readers – those who appreciate that value can be found in others, even if their views differ from their own – enjoy reading the paper.
Hector may be a curmudgeon. He hates trendy, after all. He also abjures self-abuse and he has never worked for a "tabloid" newspaper.

Good Chums

CORDIAL relations have been established between Hector of The Cage and James of Jembrana – goodness, it sounds like something out of Rob Roy when you put it like that – as a result, curiously, of a shared sense of wonderment that That Book, about which they are making That Film, should be thought worthy of much attention at all.
Reader James writes: “I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world who could not see why the book was such an apparent raving success and film-worthy. It was quite a relief to read in your column that there is at least one other person who ponders its worthiness. I found it weird to wander through summary descriptions of the orgasmic delights of Italian gelato, wrestle with descriptions of chants and mantras and learn that her boyfriend had a vasectomy and she got a urinary infection.”
Well, James, we sympathise; although we do like gelato. These days, in order to become a celebrity author, all you have to do is to write about yourself. Once upon a time people left such maundering to their private diaries, and kept them under lock and key lest anyone should actually read them.
In the past, in those halcyon days when private quests for relevance were sensibly kept private, for fear of embarrassment, and grammar and syntax and plain good taste were thought important, novelists created whole plots around the horrid circumstances that were apt to unfold when private diaries were by mischance discovered. Today we live in the Age of Prurience where Ignoramus is king.
James adds, by the way, in his welcome and thoughtful missive: “While on the topic of the filming, the Governor was “embarrassed” by the monetary demands of the locals: I wonder if he gets embarrassed at the monetary demands made on arriving and departing tourists? I think they spend more money per annum than a film company.”

Still Looking

FRIENDS from a place where there are bookshops at more than very scattered intervals and which offer more than big picture-and-little text coffee table dross from the universal self-publisher Figjam and opportunistic rush-reprints of Eat, Pray, Love, left The Diary a present the other day, when they went home after a lovely Bali break.
It was their copy of Dan Brown’s latest fanciful excursion into the world of myth and mayhem that we are encouraged to believe exists in the various sects of Christianity and the mobs of enforcers, liturgical and otherwise, that are said to have held such sway within that community of faith; and still do, if you believe people like Dan Brown.
The Lost Symbol, which must be something unaccountably overlooked in the exhaustively febrile pages of The Da Vinci Code and that other hysterical tale about papal chamberlains who in an excess of faith and self-belief painfully brand themselves between committing vile murders, has joined the hardback section in The Diary’s modest library.
The Alexandria Quartet it’s not (got that anyway). But it’s welcome nonetheless. It will fun to read in the circumstances in which PLN requires you to feed your mind these days – by flickering candlelight. So atmospheric!

So There! Too!

A FELLOW of The Diary’s acquaintance – a valued professional acquaintance in fact – has been having a little problem lately (well, for several eons, according to him) with a succession of noisy roosters his Balinese neighbour at Canggu keeps in cages for cock-fighting, one among the many formally illegal activities that thrive here by reason of custom and official ennui.
But he tells us he no longer feels quite so alone in his distress, having read of the troubles one Dan Harper, occasional columnist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel in the USA, experiences with pets in his neighbourhood. Dan lives in California, where pampering has been mandated as a human right – one extended to pets of the house nowadays – and where, inevitably, the unforeseen costs of this collective stupidity must be paid.
Dan, who we think may be a little desperate, as well as – in the American fashion – a little ill-informed (he referred to the yapping dogs in the “little kingdom of Bali”), wrote on November 1 that if you want to love your neighbours, you'd better love their pets. He notes that this is in fact rather hard, since some them (the pets, but he subliminally, we’re sure, he means the neighbours too) are pretty hard to take.
They make a lot of noise, you see. Though none of them, apparently, are roosters. But our friend this side of the ocean would surely sympathise with the sentiment: unsolicited 4am alarm wake-ups are a universal bane.

Timely Change

EVER one for a genuine cultural experience, as an antidote to the un-genuine, of which there is an oversupply, The Diary dropped into the Four Seasons at Jimbaran on Thursday evening for the opening of Timeless Change, Ganesha Gallery’s latest exhibition. Adriaan and Runi Palar are an engaging couple and the astonishing mix of painting and jewellery that their collaborative art produces is certainly worth the long walk from the upper lot, where Gallery visitors are required to park if self-drivers.
John O’Sullivan’s crew at the Four Seasons also turn on a good circulation of passable wines by the glass, too, on these occasions. Another reason to skip sundowners elsewhere!
HECTOR'S DIARY appears, as Scratchings From the Cage, as The Bali Times Diary in the print edition of the newspaper every Friday. The Bali Times is at