Walk Quickly and Ignore the Triffids
The walking programme – jalan jalan olah raga, “sport walking”, around here – is well on track, so to speak, and aimed at achieving a level of fitness in Diary and Distaff that might make survival of cliff tracks in Scotland and wine bar tours in Budapest – both these excursions are scheduled for August – less of an unlikely outcome than might otherwise have been the case.We go twice daily, most days: an early morning trot around the ridges of beautiful Banjar Bakung Sari at Ungasan to see which of the local dogs are awake and a late afternoon reprise to check whether they still are. Most of them are. Mercifully, though, most of them now seem inured to the astonishing fact that two of the local Bules actually walk rather than drive, and no longer set up a furious round of serial barking on our approach. Our method of movement is certainly novel since the locals, the beneficiaries of price controlled petrol at Rp 4,500 (about 50 Australian cents) a litre, invariably fire up their scooters to travel anything over 50 metres rather than saddling up Shanks’s pony.
Lately, however, some of the scenery has been moving as well. It’s cut-and-cart time at the moment and we’re fortunate perhaps that, now equipped with Kindles, we haven’t yet acquired electronic copies of John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids with which to alarm ourselves.
Cutting and carting hereabouts, where the leafy product of particular trees and shrubs is concerned, is done by the simple process of pruning the selected plant and placing the collected result upon one’s back, and then trotting home with it.
This means you frequently see what are apparently small trees or big bushes crashing noisily out of the scrub along the track, or heading menacingly up the road towards you.
A Kindler, Gentler World
We mentioned Kindles, those handy little gizmos from Amazon that mean your library can now travel with you rather than being ignored at home and thereby providing a capacious des res for bookworms of another sort.The Diary’s new library is building quite rapidly, with the acquisition of a number of volumes previously held in physical form that went out with the rubbish when we shifted from Australia to Bali six years ago and which have been grievously missed ever since (Distaff to note).
It’s very early days yet of course, but Hector's Kindle already contains Plato’s Republic, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, Lewis Carroll’s The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, Thoreau’s Walden, a stout compendium of American short humorous stories, and several other musts in any decent library, electronic or not.
The Kindles have an additional benefit hereabouts. Ours have leather covers with built-in pop-up reading lamps. So now, if the local monopoly powerless utility unplugs the district, which it does with depressingly frequent irregularity, we can just carry on reading. It’s better for the soul (and the blood pressure) than foul fulminating; although the latter is certainly cathartic, as well as fun.
Oh Not Again...
Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid driving into Denpasar, Bali’s Ibu Kota (Mother, or capital, City). Or if you must, to do so only rarely. This week, however, we’ve had to do it twice, and on consecutive days. The reason doesn’t matter: suffice to say it was essential.
The streets of Denpasar are not very good at coping with traffic, especially when it’s at extra high volume and police are “controlling” several key intersections because there’s a big arts and cultural festival on and the fringe programme apparently includes continuous performances of Let’s Create Total Chaos.
We mention this only as an aide memoire to any who might have to venture therein, with or without a driver whose despicably low stipend is apparently supposed to fund his chronic ulcer problems as well as feed the family. Hector prefers to self-drive for this and other reasons.
There are no road rules in Indonesia. You’re bigger than anything around you? Push through. Your plutocratic derriere is smugly sunk in the comfy velour of your black-windowed and über-smooth limousine? Apply divine right. You’re in a hurry? Gum up the works by burning the rubber off your tyres in a nifty series of jump starts and screeching halts. You’re on a motorbike (most people are)? That 20cm space between the truck in front and the car behind whose driver is still inching forward is just made for you. You want to get ahead of the crowd? Get in the trickle left lane and then at the last moment barge into the traffic that’s trying to go straight ahead but can’t because of selfish idiots like you. You’re a traffic cop? Blow your whistle and gesticulate like an Italian TV newsreader. It doesn’t help, but it’s fun.
This weekend, if all goes to plan, we shall enjoy a pleasant reunion in Sanur with a former colleague not sighted for far too many years. She’s in Bali on holiday (so is most of the world it seems) and we have several beers worth of catch-up yakking to do, on many matters of mutual interest, including the state of the Australian media.One of the great benefits of living in Bali is that, eventually, everyone you want to see comes here. At The Cage we’re heading into prime VFR (visiting friends and relatives) season with a full book, basically, right up until August when we trip off to return the favour in very distant parts indeed.