THE street-stall and restaurant strip of Jl Pantai Mengiat in Bualu, Nusa Dua, is a great little precinct. The stallholders and shopkeepers are friendly and don’t push, and there are any number of restaurants to choose from that won’t empty your wallet. It is therefore a favourite place of many, tourists and resident expatriates alike.
Some months ago, the local authorities decided to make the street a no-parking area. That’s fine. It’s not exactly a wide thoroughfare and now that Balinese bus operators have fallen in love with giant charabancs that would fill half of a German autobahn it’s sensible not to park where one or other of them might remove your wing mirror or more.
It’s also true that most of the street’s custom comes either on foot from the hotels in the BTDC’s manicured multi-star hotel area just beyond the security boom gates, or is delivered by a transport driver. But there is, however, nowhere to park if you live here, have your own car, and prefer it that way; unless, that is, you use the generally not over-occupied parking area outside a long-derelict former place of glory where the street’s transport operators hang out.
Some people we know – who are well connected in the local area just by the way – have customarily done this since street parking was banned. But last time they parked there, on their way to a pleasant dinner at Laguna Garden restaurant, they were subjected to an intemperate (and unintelligible in any language) tirade from someone, in an old and depressed car, who when ignored – as you do, as an alternative to taking the wheel-brace to him – uttered further imprecations, executed an appallingly ill-skilled wheel-spin, and screamed backwards into another of the many vacant spaces.
On their return to their vehicle later they found it had been tied to the neighbouring trees with electrical flex, which had been wound around the side mirrors and the wipers. Perhaps the clowns thought these wouldn’t be noticed until, on driving away, they ripped off the mirrors and wipers. These they removed – some other intemperate chap appeared at this point and seemed to be protesting that they were damaging the trees – and they drove home, politely resisting the temptation to offer their interloculators a robust finger. Next day, they found deep scratch marks on the rear of the car.
There are several lessons from this. (Keep the wheel-brace handy is tempting, but will not be adopted as policy.) If the area is reserved only for transport drivers, whoever has authorised this should erect a sign saying so. In the way of things here, a small subscription should then suffice to secure private parking when required. If it has not been thus reserved, and has merely been expropriated under some “We’re Here and You Can Bugger Off” scheme, then the banjars and probably the BTDC should put a stop to it.
And in any event, the street’s restaurant operators should be concerned. Most people, subjected to the sort of bother-boy tactics described above, would indeed bugger off – and spend their dinner money somewhere else.
WHAT a delightful little enragement, the non-story about a tobacco company sponsoring a Jakarta concert by an American Idol winner whose engagement with sentience apparently does not extend to bothering to find out who is providing the readies. It precisely sums up the vacuous nature of modern life, really.
Smoking tobacco is foolish, like a lot of elective behaviour. Crossing a Jakarta thoroughfare, or even one in Bali, is a far deadlier threat. But the bottom line in the smoking “debate” (it’s not a debate, it’s a shrilly silly one-way chorus) is that tobacco is a legal product.
James VI of Scotland, who (perhaps unwisely from a four-centuries-on perspective) went on to become, jointly, James I of England) was certainly right when he described tobacco as a noxious weed. It is a native of the Americas, the northern portion of which nowadays produces a lot noxious material, television reality shows among them. But even Good King Jimmy didn’t ban tobacco. And for innumerable budgetary cycles since, national treasuries everywhere have loved it to death.
So governments must grasp the nettle (well, the tobacco plant). If they want to make it illegal, they can legislate to do so, find a way to cope with the social (and in some places electoral) consequences, and look for ways to replace all that lovely revenue.
THE annual ANZAC Day commemoration is not one to miss if you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, even if only by adoption. Thus the dawn service organised by the Australian Consulate-General in Bali is a firm date in one’s diary. It does mean getting up around the time the island’s frenetic night-lifers are finally wrapping up their day in the fractious entertainment precincts of Kuta – but hey, what’s a shooting affray or two, between friends – and being in your best-pressed before dawn, but it’s only once a year.
This year’s service (it was on Sunday, April 25) was sensibly contained under a large marquee, the rains being tardy this season; but in the event the sky remained kindly disposed to celebrants. There was a lot of brass about too. Australian ambassador Bill Farmer – who is about to leave us – was there. His wife, the Rev Elaine Farmer, read the Ode. Governor I Made Mangku Pastika came along. And, as appropriate on such an occasion, there were lots of uniforms around.
The Seraphim Choir sang the hymn O Valiant Hearts beautifully and the Australian and New Zealand national anthems too. They managed the Maori language first rendition of the Kiwi one with consummate skill.
Flag-raising result: This year the New Zealand flag made it to the top of the pole first. Usually it’s the other way round. Flag-raising is so devilishly tricky.
On Wednesday evening there was a pleasant soiree at the Consulate-General to farewell Farmer, who has been Australia’s man in Jakarta since November 2005.
THE fascination of the Australian media with Schapelle Corby continues. Melbourne's Herald-Sun newspaper - it's part of the Rupert Empire - had a little story last Friday that reported she looked tired and worn out in the crush of the crowd during "festivities" (their word) at Kerobokan jail and had refused to comment on her appeal for clemency or on her mental health.
The occasion was a little jamboree held to mark the anniversary of Indonesia's penal system. Prison guards and officials played games of table tennis and volleyball with prisoners.
Bali Nine member Matthew Norman played a game of tennis with jail chief Siswanto. But the breathless Aussies took care to report that Corby, 32, tried to avoid the media as she walked from the women's cell block to the jail's visiting area in the company of a Malaysian inmate. With their customary skill in getting to the nub of an issue, they also reported she was “wearing a tight yellow T-shirt.”
It’s so hard to find a non-shrink laundry nowadays.
THE Diary awards its Reader Prize this week to JM (Jack) Daniels, said by some (well, himself) to be a leading Bali “destination manager.” His award is for assiduous study, prior to his weekend tweeting of elements of his weekly email update (out Mondays), of last Friday’s print edition of The Bali Times, wherein was reported Governor Pastika’s Thomas the Tank Engine dream of a railway for Bali.
Good to have you aboard the growing readership train at the Times, Jack. We’re ahead of the times here.
No Spam Thanks
WHILE on the subject of promotional efforts, we note that Janet DeNeefe, doyenne of the Ubud literary scene, restaurateur of some prominence, and lately the name behind yet another literary night sequence, has employed some PR spam merchants to boost her Bar Luna reading experiences.
Spam is only acceptable – though even that is questionable – when in a tin containing suspiciously compressed meat.
FROM time to time one gets unsolicited mail. Until recently, much of it has come from Nigeria, where a surprisingly large number of people seem to have great business opportunities to send to you. But – perhaps rather like the way Nigerian criminal gangs have overrun the centre of Johannesburg – some of them may have exchanged the tropical ambience of West Africa for the rather more briskly remunerative climate of the South African Highveld, and there have passed along their entrepreneurial skills to their new chums.
That is why your diarist, though no stranger to the magic of Southern Africa, will not be taking up the kind offer received a few days ago from Mr Zulu Thokozani, who emailed an amazing promise of mutual enrichment.
And No Namaste
NEWS that Bali and Lombok tourism entrepreneurs, among other Indonesian operators, are chasing extra business in South Africa – as reported in our news pages last week – will be widely welcomed.
No more so, perhaps, than among the decidedly entrepreneurial traders of Jl Pantai Mengiat at Nusa Dua, the street of stalls and restaurants just outside the BTDC “safety zone.” (Come on out, folks; it’s great out here.)
The Diary remembers a delightful exchange from some years back when, while Diary and Distaff were partying with some local lads in a street-side arak session, our chums spotted some Indian tourists. “Namaste,” offered one of our multilingual companions. Back came this reply: “Thanks mate, but we’re from South Africa.”
So was Mahatma Gandhi, as we recall.
Hector's Blog appears, as The Bali Times Diary, in the print edition of the newspaper out Fridays and on the newspaper's website at www.thebalitimes.com. The Bali Times, Bali's leading English-language publication, is available worldwide via NewspaperDirect.