Thursday, March 31, 2011

HECTOR'S BALI times DIARY, Apr. 1, 2011

Look Behind the
Hovel Door:
Paradise Is Out
To Lunch

Rio Helmi, who takes great photographs and like most nice people has a well developed social conscience, is lending a hand in fundraising for Bali’s street children. An art exhibition opening on April 15 offers two works for auction, proceeds to go to the charity concerned, Yayasan Kasih Peduli Anak in Denpasar (visit virtually at Bali’s street kids are everyone’s concern.
    YKPA provides a caring home, school, and a new life, currently for 24 children. Seventy more children still on the streets have reading and maths classes at the beach and in the slums where they live. YKPA’s work in AIDS and abuse prevention is aimed at giving these children a future other than becoming sex workers or the new generation of Fagin-style characters who force young children to beg for them.
    The launch of Helmi’s exhibition, Urbanities, is at 7pm on Friday, April 15, at Danes Art Verandah in Jl. Hayam Wuruk, Denpasar. Part of the proceeds of the exhibition will go to the foundation, founded by Ibu Putu in 2005, and two large prints will be auctioned at the opening.
    Then on April 27 Helmi opens an exhibition on Bali, The Seen and the Unseen, at the Four Seasons in Jakarta, with a substantial portion of the proceeds going to the Komunitas Anak Alam project that works with impoverished children in the Batur Caldera.
   He’s a busy fellow. On Thursday he interviewed fellow Ubud identity Diana Darling at the latest event organised by Janet de Neefe’s Bar Luna Lit Club, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival’s year-round primer.

Markisa Time

The markisa vine at The Cage is in overdrive at the moment, producing two, three, four, sometimes up to six drop-down delights a day that are retrieved from the garage driveway to which they plunge, dead parrot-like, at their appointed time and are taken upstairs where they are washed and put in the fruit bowl ready for brunch next day. There’s been a bit of a markisa drought recently, another imbalance brought to us by La NiƱa, so it’s good they’re back. They’re tastier here than in other places, where they are known as passion fruit.
    We brunch at The Cage, on the basis that if you don’t breakfast until late morning, by then it’s brunch and you can skip lunch. It’s part of the waist management programme. The home-grown markisas – from a vine cutting given to us three years ago by a friendly chap up the hill we stop and chat with on our morning walks – are a great addition to the water melon, pineapple, papaya, mango and bananas upon which we always feast, with yoghurt, before the main brunch course.
    Hector has oatmeal in between the fruit and whatever: as Rabbie Burns might have said, had he thought of it, a man’s a man for a’ that porridge. The Scottish bard, and Hector’s dad, stern culinary traditionalists the pair of them, would abjure the sultanas and honey that accompany the porridge; but, hey, times change and customary practices with them.
    We finish with a strong espresso. Then we feel ready to face the sybaritic trials of the day ...  and dinner long after the sun goes down.

Beat That!

This year’s four-day Bali Spirit Festival, the lovechild of Ubud based native New Yorker Meghan Pappenheim, wound up last Sunday with an eclectic – and big – musical bash featuring the Canadian fusion group Delhi 2 Dublin. They were sponsored by the Canadian embassy in Jakarta, in a cultural expansion that is not only welcome but of which we would wish to see more. Memo embassy: Some Alberta fiddlers would be good sometime. They’re not New Age; but, boy, it’s the best fiddle music in the world.
    The musical finale to four days of yoga-ing and other delights, sponsored by Fiesta condoms and Citibank (there’s an intriguing coupling) among others, was at the ARMA Museum’s World Music Stage. It was described by festival co-founder and music director Ron Webber as a “huge success.” We’re glad to hear it. It doesn’t do to have a “dismal failure.” And it’s good to create an epic dance atmosphere rarely experienced in Bali, as he puts it. That would be the sort of Bali epic dance atmosphere that doesn’t synthesise with the gamelan, of course, and which today, sadly, so frequently features beautiful women in diaphanous tops and thigh-flashing bottoms that sadly reveal  only disappointingly opaque and completely impenetrable Lycra body armour beneath.
    It would have been nice to trot along for a toe-tap, but competing demands kept Hector away. Perhaps Ric Shreves, the Water&Stone man, could give us a rundown. He noted on his Facebook that he was at the festival; he must have been taking a break from Joomla or Drupal or one of the many other incomprehensible things web wizards get up to in their extended working hours.
    Organisers say around 2,000 people attended the musical finale. Delhi 2 Dublin’s music combines instruments such as tabla, dhol, fiddle, electric sitar, Punjabi vox, and electric guitar to create a Celtic-Punjabi fusion with touches of reggae, breakbeat, drum n' bass and hip hop.  It grew from a live collaboration put together in 2006 as a one-off performance piece for a club night in Vancouver, British Columbia.
   Also last Sunday, a panel of cultural experts and spiritual figures endorsed the festival’s call for a stronger culture of service, and encouraged audience members to find inner clarity, strengthen their communities, and use positive gestures of kindness to engage people of all cultures and faiths.
   Good advice.

He’s Back ...

Australian foreign minister and former PM, Kevin Rudd, who is secretly a recidivist member of Peripatetics Anonymous and is known among the politerati as the Occidental Tourist, was back in Bali this week. He didn’t just come for the weather (which now it’s stopped raining quite as much people can do again) but for another performance of his favourite sit-com The VIP Monologues.
    We jest, of course. Foreign ministers are expected to travel, and he was due a Bali break after spending all that time rushing around the Middle East organising the Libyan no-fly zone. (We hear the West Australians were interested in getting one going there, until they discovered it was aircraft and not insects that the FM was buzzing about.)
    No, we jest. Really. He was here to attend the Fourth Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes (those Initial Capitals are either Important or just Gratuitous Gravitas; we’re Not Sure Which) commonly known as the Bali Process (ditto). The conference, initiated by the Indonesian and Australian governments in 2002, was held on Tuesday and Wednesday at a swish hotel in Nusa Dua. Rudd did a cosy little double act there with Marty Natalegawa, our very own foreign minister. Australia’s immigration minister, Chris Bowen, was along for the ride.
    It’s a serious business, people smuggling, and needs to be stopped. Indonesia could do rather more about that than it has bothered to do in the past.
    Rudd tweets of course, being a thoroughly modern deposed prime minister. He sent a message out into cyberspace on Wednesday that said he’d tried one sentence in Indonesian in his address to the lengthy-named function mentioned above but that no one had understood it and he thought he’d stick to Chinese in future. We twittered back:  Itu tidak masalah. Mereka semua akan memiliki mendapat pesan pula (It doesn’t matter. They’ll all have got the message anyway). Kev was once our local member back in the Special Biosphere, so we feel comfortable offering ex-constituent advice.
    But we do sympathise. So often you speak Indonesian to people here and they look thoroughly confused. It’s partly intonation, pronunciation and cadence of course (broken and heavily accented Indonesian must sound as risible to a native speaker of the language as broken English does to first-language speakers of the world’s lingua franca) but the looks you get are often ones of complete astonishment.
   Everyone knows that foreign devils aren’t supposed to speak the local lingo.
Read it Here

Some readers of Hector’s blog, who have been reading it in The Bali Times where it appeared as The Diary from October 2008 until last week, won’t be seeing it there anymore.  It was interesting that the moment we came to a disagreement all evidence of it disappeared from the newspaper’s website.  The site still links to any number and all manner of former columnists, several of them syndicated overseas personages of dubious local value and one currently in questionable circumstances, so it must have been something we said.
    Not to worry. The best place to catch up with Hector’s Bali times is here.  And it includes the archive. It’s shared on Facebook, Google and Twitter. Enjoy.

April Fools

Today is All Fools’ Day, an annual celebration that like so much else these days has been taken over by the genetically challenged and turned into something it’s not.  There are no April Fools in this week’s Diary, unless readers choose to identify any by vicarious implication.

Hector tweets @scratchings


  1. I really enjoyed this post. You write about this topic very well. There are many cherished moments in life, why not wear a beautiful dress! When looking back on special memories of your child wearing a gorgeous dress, it will make a fond memory.


  2. Thank you for your lovely comment.