It was amusing to read recently that the Krakatoa Festival in Lampung, Sumatra, had been less than a total success. Apparently, organisers forgot all about Krakatoa and instead focused on lots of singing and dancing; that was fine. And on heaps of boring speeches from local luminaries; which was not.
There are two lessons in this for such luminaries everywhere. The first is that the inspiration of an event (in this case the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa and the subsequent sulphurous arrival of Anak Krakatoa) should never be overlooked. The second is that luminaries need to be brief and to the point, and to focus on the event and not themselves or their political agendas.
In the West, which infiltrates Bali particularly, and particularly in the KLS super-precinct despite its tropical climate and torrential rains (see below), the aptly named era of the common man has devalued leaders. They are now almost universally seen – quite wrongly – as a succession of dissembling and flawed characters attempting to put something over the populace. Future historians will record that the decline of the West (though this is inevitable in the cyclical sequence of global affairs) was contributed to substantially by this pernicious misperception.
In the East, of which Indonesia is indelibly a part, the balance is still in place though – probably temporarily – at risk. Respect, a word much used in the West but thoroughly misunderstood and misapplied, is a formal commitment. In its own way it is reciprocal within cultural norms.
At the same time, this is the Dangdut era. A lengthy ramble about government policies and the speaker’s thoroughly enervating commitment to these is counterproductive.
It would have been far better for Lampung’s leaders just to get up on the podium and tell the crowd: This Krakatoa Festival is a blast. Have fun. And that’s something leaders everywhere – in Bali as well – need to accept.
A Proper Charlie
Prince Charles is an Egg Wetter. That alone makes it difficult for the poor chap to be taken seriously. The Diary was once – nowadays this is an embarrassment – of much the same linguistic ilk, but the Fates were kind and modified this with several decades’ exposure to Australia’s short vowels and swallowed consonants, though it did not (thankfully) result in conversion to the full-strength Bintang singlet variety.
Mystified? Well long ago an affable gaffer alliteratively known as Afferbeck Lauder wrote a primer on Aussie English, called Strine. It was useful, back in the sixties on Fleet Street, if one wished to communicate with the procession of itinerant antipodeans that passed through one’s newsroom. How else could you tell them, should they be thinking about taking a walk in the park (and how we all wished they would) that they should key poffer grass mite an doan pigger flares? (“Keep off the grass, mate, and don’t pick the flowers.”) Lauder followed this up with a little tome on upper-class English, called Fraffly Well Spoken. In it, the politely disengaged conversational rejoinder egg wetter gree is prominent.
But the heir to the British Throne (and at least for the moment those of Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Papua New Guinea and a few other places) is hard to look at or listen to without getting the giggles for quite different reasons. His activities have always been a cartoonist’s and photographer’s delight. “Will this make me a Proper Charlie?” ran the line on a 1969 cartoon when he was invested by his Mum (bless her) as Prince of Wales, with foolishly regal splendour. “A Loon Again” ran the headline over a newspaper picture, when he was in his marital difficulties phase and communing with nature, and looking like a Jessie, on some inhospitable stretch of Scottish heather. Not much gravitas evident there, regal or otherwise.
So it’s no news that he believes he is among us on a mission to save us from ourselves. The monarchy is doomed – ultimately: not this year – so a search for meaning is unsurprising. This quest takes him all over the globe. He talks to the trees in Indonesia, and lots of other places. He looks out for wild birds everywhere. He thinks deeply about orangutans (as we all should) and architecture. He is photographed with squirrels. We’re sure he OD’s on muesli. He even took an RIP (Regally Important Person) jet to the Copenhagen Comedy last year; that was curious, since it added massively to his personal carbon footprint.
Now, according to a new home movie, he’s decided he’s been purposely put on Earth to rescue the planet. That’s OK. He’ll give us a few more giggles along the way.
The Diary is the pleased recipient of a globe. It is in the antique mode, though modern, and is the (very) early birthday gift of The Diary’s much loved mother-in-law, who lives in the place where you can buy quality globes readily and at a reasonable price.
It is also an object of wonder to the lovely pembantu who daily cleans and cooks at The Cage. She was observed the other day puzzling over the orange-shaped object. She was unable to find Indonesia, far less Bali, seeing only Australia and the East Asian mainland.
We put her right, with smiles all round. But the education authorities should seriously consider placing a globe in every school. Perhaps that’s an aid project worthy of thought.
Roy Morgan Polls, inveterate opinion samplers in Australia where public opinion sometimes matters, produced an interesting result in a recent poll of airline passengers who were asked to rate the performance of airlines they had used.
Singapore-owned low-cost carrier Tiger, which nowadays flies on domestic routes in Australia, came out very poorly. It scored only 51 percent satisfaction, well below competitors Virgin Blue (up in the 80 percent level with the full service airlines) and Jetstar.
Tiger is sometimes viewed – not least by Jetstar and Virgin Blue – as the unwanted third in the litter and its schedules, as a smaller player, are less accommodating.
The Diary likes Tiger – in Asia; its Australian operation has not been sampled – but there may be a lesson for the Singaporeans in the poll result. Aussies like to feel they’re being pampered: even the ones in the Bintang singlets.
On the Rocks?
Jack Daniels – the one that twitters, not the one you drink – has been off island again, apparently on private matters. This time in Bangkok, we saw from his Tweets. Not so long ago he was in Singapore on some other private swing.
So what’s wrong with Bali’s services? Perhaps he’ll update us on that.
In the Soup
Susi Johnson, who didn’t win woman of the year at the 2010 Yakkers (as reported in The Diary last week) dived back into the alphabet soup last weekend: it had rained in Seminyak, you see, and everything was wet.
Apparently this was less the fault of the rain (which was tropical and torrential if Susi is to be believed, but then that’s fairly common in tropical places where the climate produces torrential rain) than of the rampant development and inadequate infrastructure in that particular stretch of former ricefields.
And that’s a fair point. Susi says it’s those dreadful foreign developers who are to blame. Well, they build the stuff, that’s true. And they cut corners and ignore the rules (hah!) like everyone else. But, just like foreign purveyors of fine Balinese handcrafted artefacts, they’re in business to make a profit.
The real problem is the laissez-faire attitude of the Balinese (and Indonesian) authorities towards regulations. You can’t have them watertight, after all, because that might foreclose on all those lovely under-the-table sums that keep adding up.
Not Big Enough
The Diary had an unusual experience recently. On presenting at the Australian Consulate General for passport renewal and handing over two photos as required, along with the wheelbarrow-load of cash demanded for a coveted (not to mention essential) travel document, the following advice was offered by the pleasant Indonesian gentleman behind the big glass screen: “Your head’s not big enough.”
The Diary is actually a shy and retiring entity. And that head has served pretty well for several decades in the dimensions that nature dictated. Still, you can’t argue with someone who otherwise might not give you a passport. So – after a small delay, a manic drive in Denpasar’s delightful midday traffic, a light showering from that day’s collection of unseasonably passing clouds, and a worrisome sighting of a dog that did not look at all well – photographic evidence of a larger head was supplied.
Up the Poll
Some readers may have noticed that Australia is having a national election (it’s on August 21). We hear from sources in the Great South Land that even some Australians have heard about this: so something’s working down there.
Australians in Bali, if eligible to vote and on the electoral roll, can cast a postal vote at the Australian Consulate General in Renon. There’s an advertisement in this edition of the paper that gives details (it’s on Pg 5).
One of the curiosities of Australian democracy is that the Botherers insist that you vote and fine you if you don’t. If you’re outside the country you’re exempt from this irritatingly intrusive compulsion. But The Diary always goes up the poll on ballot day anyway.
Hector's Blog appears as The Diary in the weekly print edition of The Bali Times, Bali's only English language newspaper. www.thebalitimes.com. The newspaper's print editions are available worldwide through NewspaperDirect.