Sunday, July 10, 2011


From the Scribe’s desk, for the week ended Saturday, July 9, 2011

It’s All Go Around Here

It’s been a strange sort of week at The Cage; and in the novelty of our first dry season in two years a little chilly overnight at that. Still, the frangipanis are out again and the twice-daily walk programme is well entrenched. So everything’s more or less as the forest nymphs would like it, excusing a walk cancelled by a rude shower of rain or an access of incohol the night before.  On that last point, we are currently engaged in an innovative programme aimed at assessing whether the makers of Aga Red can keep up their supply to match demand. We think we have them worried.
    Meanwhile the two chaps with the little hammer seem to have returned for further tapping experience at the monster villa next door that has now been “under renovation” for about three years and was, we hear, recently sold by its Jakarta owners to some poor mug from Singapore who is in consequence the new employer of the little chaps with the hammer. We suspect leaks, which may be connected with improper sealing (or ceilings) or possibly with the inability of water – even, amazingly, in Indonesia – to run uphill.
    Two canine occasions enlivened recent late afternoon walks, in the short gloaming that you get in the tropics. First Mr Grumpy – we don’t know his name but he’s an old dog no longer at his best (we know how he feels) – barked at us when we appeared from the top of the little gang (alley) from which we always emerge after the hill climb we’ve built into our fitness regime. He long ago gave up barking at us, since we embarrassed him into silence by ignoring his threats to rip us apart and then being nice to him. He only barked twice (and ran towards us) before he recognised that he’d been an absolute mutt. An elderly proto-wolf looking foolish is a sight worth seeing.
    Then, another evening, Cleo, who is a very large brown dog of some variety who has similarly (unless she forgets) given up barking at us, was outside her villa eating grass along the roadside. She is a very big dog and the local cows are very small. It was momentarily confusing. Then it became amusing, because – like Mr Grumpy up the hill – Cleo looks hilarious when she’s severely embarrassed.

Birthday Week

Two of Hector’s favourite local luminaries from the distaff side had birthdays this week – serial campaigner Susi Johnston and Ubud scribble-fiesta doyenne Janet DeNeefe.  Facebook’s birthday facility was called into play on each occasion.
    Susi’s Facebook said she was living in Brussels – she wasn’t and doesn’t, she was just visiting – so we said cheerio and have a waffle, she was allowed. She told us by return that she was definitely allowed but by that time was in Milano so she’d have a giant gelato instead. Good call!
   Janet’s big day was on Saturday. We expect it was a decorative affray.

Here be Dragons

Well, not exactly, except for a few in breeding programmes in local zoos. Bali is not the natural habitat of the famed Komodo dragon, the world’s largest monitor lizard. They hail from Komodo Island, neighbouring Rinca and – in slightly diminished stature – the western end of Flores, which is several hundred lizard-swims east of Bali.
    We do have our own large monitor lizards on Bali, some of them of impressive size and astonishing speed – one we met once raced us up a long driveway and won, and we were in a car – and to these we apply our Standard Reptilian Rule: you stay out of our way and we’ll stay out of yours.
    Nonetheless, the Komodo deserves protection as a small and unique part of Earth’s natural heritage and for this reason we can afford to give a cheer to a concert in their honour to be held on Kuta Beach on July 30
    The concert is an important part of the “Komodo: The Real Wonder of the World” campaign that was launched in Jakarta on July 1. The campaign is aimed to raise global public awareness and participation in the conservation and preservation of the Komodo dragon and its natural habitat.
    The Concert for Komodo will be highlighted by East Nusa Tenggara ethnic music and will feature some of Indonesia’s most well-known musicians, including Dwiki Dharmawan, Dira Sugandi, Mercy Dumais, Sandhy Sondoro, and others, who are part of the Friends of Komodo community.
    So let’s hear it for the Komodo.

What a Shemozzle

The strange (and strangely disturbing) case of Prita Mulyasari, a 34-year-old mother of three from Tangerang, part of the sprawl of Greater Jakarta, who in 2008 wrote some unfavourable emails about the Omni International Hospital there and has been vindictively pursued by that self-evidently  less than august facility ever since, had another outing this week.
    In a decision that defies even the tortured logic of Indonesian justice, the Supreme Court upheld a prosecution appeal against her acquittal in a separate but related trial for criminal libel brought after Omni’s initial civil suit was quashed by the same court.
    Initially she was thrown into jail in 2008 after Omni sued for defamation over 20 emails she had sent to friends criticising the hospital’s service. That’s the way here: in a crisis, brain is chiefly used to round up and direct brawn to batter your opponent (sometimes literally). But she won the case.
    After first being ordered to pay Omni Rp 312 million (around US$39,000 at present exchange rates) she won a cut on appeal to Rp 204 million ($25,500) and then the verdict was finally quashed.
    At the same time, however, Prita was tried in a criminal libel case brought by Omni. This time, the Tangerang court threw out prosecutors’ preliminary arguments and later acquitted her at trial. But prosecutors appealed this ruling and it was this appeal that the Supreme Court upheld on Friday.
    Throughout this ridiculous travesty Omni has failed to learn the lessons it needed to learn: make sure your services actually are user friendly, which means not necessarily believing your own bullshit; and if a problem nonetheless arises, manage that through a sensible corporate public relations and mediation process.
    If you don’t do that, the whole world learns that you’ve been a bit of dill, or worse. And anyway, whatever the merits or demerits involved in a corporate shemozzle, some mud always sticks.

Yak On!

We’re chuffed. Hector has been invited to join the list of Bali Blogs promoted on the great Yak Online site, where readers of Bali’s best magazine can now get an instant update on matters Yak. Do yourself a favour and bookmark
    That way, you won’t miss any of the bubbles Bali produces for the party crowd – or the great reading the print magazine and its feisty stable mate The Bud present for readers.

Hector is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky) and Twitter (@ Scratchings). He also writes Hector’s Diary for the fortnightly Bali Advertiser.

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