Thursday, August 04, 2011

HECTOR'S DIARY The Bali Advertiser (July 27, 2011)

Doing Without the Wicked Witch Bank

We hear from the organisers of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – it’s on October 5-9 this year – that everything’s going ahead even though Citibank is no longer the major cash sponsor. (It seems Citibank may have overspent on their own credit card; let’s hope they have a convincing repayment plan to put to their outsourced delinquent accounts collectors.) That’s good, as we’ve noted before. The litfest should be supported by everyone; it’s a really great idea.
    So, according to a statement UWRF put out recently, the 2011 bash will be better than ever, with even more Indonesian writer participation. Last year founder and chief eminence Janet DeNeefe announced with a flourish that Citibank was the festival’s three-year naming sponsor (apparently on the basis of an unsigned email from someone at the bank). This year she’s been banging on some fairly deaf doors as a result of Citibank’s little accident on the way to a collection.
    More than 110 writers from more than 20 countries are on the books for a starting place this year, on the theme Cultivate the Land Within. Confirmed authors include Alexander McCall Smith, Alice Sebold, Alberto Manquel, DBC Pierre, Junot Diaz, Paul Kelly, Tim Flannery, Alex Miller, Izzeldin Abuelaish, Andrea Hirata, Tariq Ali, Glen David Gold, Benjamin Law, Putu Wijaya, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Corinne Grant, Peta Mathias, the Cambodian Space Project – and the Diary’s personal favourite, Trinity the naked traveller.
     Programme director Melissa Delaney says the full list of writers will be announced in August. These and other details are available, or will be, on the festival website at, and via Facebook and Twitter.
     DeNeefe says that despite Citibank’s withdrawal UWRF will present yet another world‐class dynamic event and that “overwhelming support from readers and writers alike” has given a huge surge of optimism to the festival team. That’s good. But it’s no substitute for a business plan you can actually bank on.

Spirited Effort

While on the subject of Ubud and festivals, make a note in your diaries: Next year’s BaliSpirit Festival — billed by the spirited Meghan Pappenheim and others as South East Asia’s premier
yoga, dance, and live music event – will be held from March 28-April 1.
    The five-day-and-night event, now entering its fifth year, offers more than 100 workshops, convenes dozens of top international yoga and dance instructors and world class musicians, and attracts several hundred guests from all over the world.
     Among those presenters scheduled to appear at the 2012 BaliSpirit Festival are renowned figures
in their fields such as Danny Paradise (Ashtanga Yoga and Shamanism); Vinn Marti (Soul Motion Dance); Mark Whitwell (Heart of Yoga); and Carlos Pomeda (Meditation/Tantra Yoga).
     “We offer something for everybody, and every year the festival atmosphere only gets better,” says Pappenheim, the festival’s co-founder and producer. “I believe it’s the magic and beauty of Bali that enhances the festival experience.”
     When we spoke to Pappenheim last week she was in Singapore – the Diary loves the New Serenissima: all the traffic stays in its clearly marked lanes and stops at red lights – where no doubt there are opportunities to promote the festival. She says the 2012 festival will feature Indonesian and Balinese culture and art; world music concerts and collaborations; workshops for many interests – and a new bamboo reforestation project among other programmes for the socially aware.

Happy Appointment

In yet another sign of the indelibly beneficial links between Indonesia and Australia, Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, has just appointed Indonesia’s ambassador in Canberra, Primo Alui Joelianto, as an honorary professor. The appointment recognises the ambassador’s personal commitment to Indonesia-Australia relations and support’s Murdoch’s mission in Indonesian studies, Bahasa Indonesia, and a strong research capacity.
    Joelianto gave a lecture at the university on July 21 to mark his appointment. His topic was Indonesia’s Foreign Policy and Australia-Indonesia Bilateral Relations. He certainly brought some formidable intellect and knowledge to that task – before his Canberra appointment, in 2009, he was director general Asia Pacific and Africa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was previously director of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
    Murdoch University’s professor of South East Asian studies, Professor David T Hill, heads the university’s Centre for Asian Studies and is on the board of the Australia-Indonesia Institute. Earlier this year the university hosted a workshop on the future of Indonesian studies in Australian universities.

It’s B(ad)

The Diary has a lovely young friend who lives in Jakarta and keeps us up to speed with events in the Big Durian that actually affect real people rather than just the elite. You know, the sort of stuff that generally fails to rate a mention from the politically rich and religiously powerful whose views are sought on a whole lot of things and which are reported ad nauseam. We met on Facebook and now commune regularly via instant message but – other than on webcam – have yet to meet face to face.
    All of which is by the way, except that she recently travelled home to Lampung in Sumatra for her brother’s wedding and tried – as we had agreed – to make contact from there.  Her first go was hardly a success. Her text said:  “Service here is b”.
    The full but regrettably truncated word was “bad” and the veracity of her report completely self-explanatory.

Alila Delight

Alila Villas Soori on the Tabanan coast, the plush boutique resort which benefits from the public relations skills of the delightful Devina Hindom, had a wine dinner on July 23 which it would have been lovely to attend. The Diary, however, is determinedly self-drive (we prefer to have our own accidents) and while a round trip might have been feasible with just OJ in the middle, it would be suicidal to attempt it accompanied by the inevitable results of exposure to real wine. So we didn’t go.
    Should we come into a more than modest inheritance and have the sort of cash required, we might try it sometime, though. Chef Ashton Hall’s ingredient-driven cuisine, a prime al fresco dining ambience at Cotta restaurant, and a decorous real wine or three would really be rather nice.
    Alila has another treat available. Its current artist in residence, Gregory Burns, has an exhibition of paintings at the resort until August 3 and is also offering classes for anyone who fancies adding gifted amateur to their CV.

Just a Thought

We’re in the middle of some enervating annual bureaucracy here at The Cage, a chore that sometimes detracts from enjoyment of the Bukit views and ocean seascape that are among the many delightful features of our des res. It so happened that this coincided with the unsought arrival in the in-box of some promotional puffery from a property developer in Malaysia.
    It was spruiking expatriate housing – apparently in Kuching, Sarawak, which would not be our primary choice as a place in which to while away a genteel retirement – but was interesting for its enumeration of the benefits of the MM2H programme run by the government of Malaysia. It stands for Malaysia My Second Home.
    Hey, those guys actually want expatriates to go to live there! You can buy freehold property in your own name. You automatically get multiple exit re-entry permits with your annual visa (and automatic permanent residence after five years). You don’t need a nominee. You can take your household goods and chattels with you free of import duty. And a quality global standard internet connection costs you about a third of what you pay here for a service that drops out at will and otherwise runs like a dead donkey. 
    Still, it’s not Bali.

Europe Calls

By the time you’re reading the next Hector’s Diary we’ll be in Europe. We’re going to Scotland on family business (the clan’s got to get it together sometime) and then on to Budapest to check on the summer flow level in the Danube. (That is, as it relates to the by-product of the fermented grape juice available in the city’s many wine bars.)
     But don’t be alarmed. We’re not doing a runner and we do know, unlike others lately scratched from our address book, that you have to be here to write about Bali. It’s not a permanent relocation. And we’ll be looking forward to getting home.

Holy Month

The Diary is blessed to have many Muslim friends. With Ramadan starting on August 1, we say to them all: Kul ’am wa enta bi-khair (May every year find you in good health).

The Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser in print and in the e-paper. Visit  Hector blogs here and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky) and Twitter (@Scratchings).

No comments:

Post a Comment