Friday, June 03, 2011

HECTOR'S BALI times DIARY, June 3, 2011

It’s Tough
When You’re
In Training
For a

Here at The Cage, Diary and Distaff are in full training mode for an expedition in August to Scotland – where the terrain in the ancestral locality includes goat track cliff trails it will be necessary to negotiate on foot – and a week subsequently in Budapest, said to be a “walking city.” So are several others of our acquaintance, including Paris – better now they’ve outlawed poodle-droppings – and Buenos Aires, where there are empanada stands on every corner that are impossible to ignore. There will be a similar problem in Budapest relating to the oversupply of wine and cheese tasting establishments therein.
    Our training around the ridges of Banjar Bakung Sari at Ungasan on the Bukit involves two daily walks of three kilometres each. These start with a gentle stroll up a steep little lane (which does not seem to get any easier by the way) to a local rise now known to your Diarist as Anthem Hill. It got this name because from it you can see from sea to shining sea, albeit only across the narrow isthmus of Jimbaran that divides the Bukit from the main portion of the island. The other day it occurred to the tramping party that it could also represent Australia’s anthem, which refers to a land that abounds in nature’s gifts. Since the local cows use the spot as a gathering place, plenteous gifts of nature lie underfoot.
    The training track then encompasses a wide area of our locality, and we seem now to be sufficiently well known to the local canines as to be mostly unremarked as we pass by. A few remain a problem. Smallish stones, for throwing as warnings only if required, are carried on our morning and late afternoon ambles.
    They are rarely needed, but if they are, the message for any outraged owners is that the missiles are “hadiah untuk anjin galak,” “prizes for fierce dogs.”

Silly Old Fool

Few things nowadays enrage your Diarist. Even absent editors. Such derelictions are easily dealt with. You just tell them to piss off. That said, some things irritate, or perhaps annoy. But too much useless angst has flowed along with all that water beneath too many bridges to elevate much to enragement. There is the occasional exception, though, such as Nobel Prize-winning Trinidadian male novelists of Sub-Continental ethnicity who parlay literary success into vain excuses for misogyny. These people can still threaten to burst a blood vessel.
    It passes belief that we should hear this week from VS Naipul, who has lived an educated, mannered and privileged life with all the physical and intellectual comforts of western liberalism to hand, that no female writer is or could ever be his equal.
   What a planker. At least female writers cannot, by very definition, be insufferable pricks.


Having acquired a Kindle each, Diary and Distaff are now working through the technicalities of acquiring a superabundance of reading material handily contained in one little slim paperback-size gizmo that can go everywhere with you and be topped up with new material at will.
    Naturally, as with all technological marvels, there is much to be learned. But the Diary has managed to obtain Plato’s Republic, with which he has been without since 2005, when an earlier print copy of this handy reference to Utopia and beyond was placed in the remainders at the local second-hand bookshop as excess baggage.
    More gems are to be loaded.

Go Get ’em, Susi

Prominent position-taker Susi Johnston, ever one to seize an issue by the throat and worry it to death, is on a winner with her campaign to get Bali going really clean and green. This is the policy of the Governor, of course, but we all know that policy and outcome are mutual exclusives in Bali, for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that none of the little panjandrums in lower administrative jurisdictions will consider the thought that superior jurisdictions have precedence and must prevail, subject to the democratic process. Hence Governor Made Mangku Pastika’s significant problem with the regents over planning and zoning laws.
    The matter of rubbish – the real stuff, not the regents’ arguments that on planning matters the Guv can go and take a jump because they want the dosh – has lately been in the news. It’s part and parcel of the serious problems that Bali faces with the inevitable trash of consumerism, the island’s woefully inadequate infrastructure, and the fact that the Balinese themselves are still culturally attuned – we’re being polite – to producing only biodegradable natural rubbish and thus throw it away wherever they please.
    Susi has started a Facebook group to natter weightily about such matters. It’s a febrile little collective – which is good – that clearly isn’t going to go away. It includes not only foreign residents (whether anaesthetised or otherwise by their “guest status” here) but also Balinese and other Indonesians.
    More power to them. We need to make a noise.

Pedal Power

We hear that Marian Hinchliffe, chief flack at the Ayana Resort and Spa at Jimbaran and well-known fitness freak, has acquired wheels with which to take part in the Bali triathlon later this month.  The dehydrating process of running (and swimming and biking) around in circles has always struck us as a strange way to behave, but so many people seem to like it so it must be good.
     Fortunately we are able to get such pleasures vicariously, by reading about them. There are the drinks afterwards, of course. Now that might work.

How Bazaar

Sunday, June 12 is worth a diary date. It’s the annual Bali International Women’s Association charity bazaar, this year being held at the Lotte Mart wholesale premises on Jl Bypass Ngurah Rai. There are 200 stalls, according to the organisers, and it promises to be a fun day out. Proceeds go the deserving charities that BIWA supports.
     We wish Marianne Vertegaal and her troops all the best for the day. Visit for details.

Lit Glit, Etc

Some interesting things are happening on the art and literary fronts this year, about which we’ll have more later. They centre on Ubud as Bali’s crucible of imported culture (as well as its role as a lodestone of Balinese culture itself) and are certainly worthy of note.

Hector tweets @Scratchings and is on Facebook: Hector McSquawky   

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