On Your Bike:
Why the Plods
WE’VE all heard some inventive lines from time to time, from people making excuses for not being in position to do the job for which they’re paid. The Diary admits, in this context, that long ago, before adulthood and a sense of responsibility came on board, his dog was known to have eaten the homework on occasion.
In Indonesia, such explanations are a commonplace at all levels. It’s part of the culture. If you have not been able to do something, then the cause of this deficiency is almost invariably down to someone else. One thinks of PLN, for example, where mendacity and prevarication are apparently required disciplines.
Some of these things are important; and not really laughing matters, except that laughter is always the best medicine. But we also get our quota of out-and-out slapstick. So it is with the traffic police on Bali, whose fearless chief proclaims that he cannot pursue large convoys of oversized and probably unlicensed motorbikes ridden by people who apparently believe the open highway is their personal property, because they go so fast that trying to stop them might cause an accident.
More risible still is that this astonishing claim – made the more so because such illegal road use is frequently escorted by a policeman on a motorbike, as frequently seen on the drag strip that bad drivers (and riders) make of the new double carriageway section at the eastern end of the Sanur-Kusamba bypass – was made in the context of an announcement that police would be cracking down on unregistered, oversized motorbikes.
Traffic police chief Cahyono declared – in his terrific announcement that his chaps would actually be going out there to enforce the law – that lone large bikes would be inspected and if unregistered would be confiscated. Three cheers. But unregistered bikes travelling around the island in "official" large convoys, often escorted by police personnel, will be exempt from the tougher certification requirements and the threat of confiscation.
He claims (and apparently he believes this, which is even more of a worry): “If we stop (the bikes) there will be an accident because the big bikes travel quickly which will be dangerous (if they are halted) on the main road, and we'll be blamed for that, too."
Many such bike tours are charity events to fund community service projects. That’s great. It would be even better if someone could think of a quieter and less road-hogging way to raise money.
In the Pink
COMBATING breast cancer is a vital task and events such as the Pink Ribbon Walk, an annual outing for anyone game enough to wear that immodest hue, are a great way to publicise the issue.
Anyone who would like to take part in the event this year - it's a gentle 5 kilometre stroll through the lushly guarded confines of Nusa Dua's star-spangled beachfront area - should certainly do so. You only have to wear pink for five klicks, so if you walk at a brisk pace that's hardly any time at all. And it's in a good cause. Melly St Ange of the Bali International Women's Association (BIWA) is the best contact point for inquiries. BIWA's phone/fax number is 0361 28 6564.
However, we were reminded of the upcoming nature of the event - it's on May 15: make that a date in your diary - by an unjustified exuberance of promotional puffery that popped into the email inbox the other day from the PR chap at Laguna Resort & Spa, Sugeng Purnomo, congratulating everyone involved in organising the walk, and by implication he himself for having achieved great publicity for it.
He'd posted it on one of those free website "news" sites. They’ll publish anything, unedited, even if it's not really in English and goes on and one for what seems like at least five kilometres.
Mass Massage a Hit
BALI is the land of massage. And that’s a good thing too. A nice rub-down can take away all the stress of living in unregulated anarchy (see above). And a beach massage is one of the rites of passage for many foreign visitors to Kuta Beach.
They’re not generally overpriced, unless perhaps you’re Japanese and have already got the T-Shirt. But a couple of weeks ago the 150 masseuses who work the beach at Kuta Beach put on a free mass massage for beachgoers.
We hear that curious (or possibly impecunious) tourists flocked to the scene. One Australian tourist who took up the offer, who gave her name as Erina, said it was her first experience of massage.
“It was very nice,” she said. “It was like going to bed.”
SPEAKING of a hands-on approach to life and its diversions, it seems a robotic hand has been developed which allows friends and family to hold hands with their loved ones over the internet. The handy little gripper plugs into a computer and communicates with an electronic wristband to allow people talking over the internet to experience the sensation of touch.
It is said that the hand can grip and shake and give the signs for “OK” and “peace” – it would need to get the digits the right way round there or it could spark a cyber war - and is expected to go on sale later this year. It can also pick up the strength of the hand movement and is capable of giving a weak or a firm handshake. That could be useful in some cyber circles.
But the Hong Kong boffins who developed the tool say it is not yet capable of more intricate or delicate movements, ruling it out for anyone wanting to get more intimate and touchy-feely with other people online. Sadly, they add that it is only a matter of time and money before it acquires this capacity.
WHILE we’re on the subject of silly things you can waste your time with, we hear that new research suggests jealousy can actually impair vision. Well, we’ve always known you can get into a blind rage – though it never helps solve the problem that caused the rage in the first place – but apparently jealousy does the same thing.
In a recent study, heterosexual couples of the romantically linked variety sat near each other at individual computers separated by a curtain. The women had to pick out certain landscape and architectural photos that were rotated 90-degrees within images of streams that flashed onto the screen. During the photo session, the participants also had to ignore occasional emotionally unpleasant images that were gruesome or graphic in some way.
Meanwhile, the men were asked to rate the attractiveness of landscapes that appeared on their screens. So far, so good: But then, part of the way through the experiment, the experimenter announced the male partner would rate the attractiveness of other single women.
They pay people to do research like this? There’s a cheaper way. Just visit any bar on a Friday or Saturday night and takes notes.
A LITTLE while ago The Diary noted the sad demise of Hector’s (no relation), a TexMex eatery at that time only lately established on Yellow Truck Hill at Ungasan. So there’s some good news for anyone who likes it when their jalapenos really get hopping: it has reopened.
So, incidentally, has the nightly “jalan macet” at Ungasan crossroads, with the seasonal return of the surfer crowd to the unbeatable waves at Uluwatu. As traffic jams go it’s a pretty minor affair: like peak hour in Canberra, or possibly Dublin. Twenty minutes sees it done.
But it’s worth watching for its amusement factor. There are several new watering holes along Raya Uluwatu at the crossroads where you can sit to enjoy the sight of a Bali traffic jam you’re not actually part of.
THE Diary has a voyeuristic eye – well, you need something to amuse yourself with in trying times, such as life – and because of this was momentarily attracted by a come-on headline on an item on the ABC Online website the other day. It said: French letter arrives 220 years late.
Long ago certain accoutrements of licentious private entertainments were popularly known, in the English speaking world, as French letters. In those much more sheltered, cover-the-table-legs-dear-we-don’t-want-you-getting-excited days, these were generally obtained in circumstances of great embarrassment from either unsympathetic or amused pharmacists, although they were then known as chemists.
To offset ennui (a French word, how appropriate) The Diary actually read the story. It had nothing to do with perished rubber at all. It actually was a French letter, apparently sent to Saix instead of Seix in 1790.
The civic authorities in Saix found it 10 years ago during a clean-up of the archives at the hôtel de ville but - being French – were apparently less than energised by their discovery. Now, however, an official delegation from Saix has made the 200 kilometre trip across southern France to Seix to deliver the misplaced missive to their counterparts there.
We hope it wasn’t a party invitation. The vin would be very ordinaire by now.
Hector's Blob appears, as The Diary, in The Bali Times, out in print every Friday. The Bali Times is at www.thebalitimes.com. Print editions are also available worldwide through NewspaperDirect.