Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HECTOR'S DIARY in the Bali Advertiser, October 19, 2011

Lights on the Hill Again

Ubud, known to Hector as Guruburg and to his friend, the blogger Vyt Karazija, as Literati Downs, has been agog this month, celebrating the annual writers’ and readers’ festival which threatens to conjoin the two entities with possibly far-reaching, not to say astonishing, results.
    Some people – among them the Bali-resident Australian QC Colin McDonald, whom we ran into at the airport recently while both on visitor pick-up missions – assert that Janet DeNeefe’s eclectic shindig has become too commercial. That’s easy to say, of course, but even navel-gazers have to eat, and ones from distant parts of the Lintosphere have to get here as well and are unlikely to pay for that travel themselves.
    So, as with much else in the modern world, sponsorship is a must. The UWRF was fortunate to have gained the assistance this year of the big Australian bank ANZ, through its local Panin subsidiary, to boost the substantial official Australian support it already gets. The festival’s overtly commercial pitch (as McDonald himself noted) was less intrusive than with last year’s no longer lamented naming sponsor Citibank. And ANZ had some lovely customer relations staff on hand at the festival to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. That can’t be bad, can it?
    A success: We look forward to UWRF 2012.

Bali revealed: Yellow Dog, one of the Leticia Balacek works on show at El Kabron this month

From the Art

Leticia Balacek’s art that’s been on show at El Kabron, the new chill-space on the Bukit above Bingin Beach that sybarites serious about cocina español and value for money should definitely check out, has both an attractive naivety and cerebral clout. It has élan. Some could even suggest chutzpah. Balacek, who is also an architect, might prefer to say energencia, since she comes from Buenos Aires; the Argentine capital is surely the New World’s classiest and most energised urban collective outside Manhattan and, anyway, in the Big Apple they too often forget about the essential first two letters of the word class.
    It was nice to see a lengthy Q and A with her in the latest Yak – Bali’s best glossy magazine by, oh, a Tibetan plateau or two, we’d suggest – though it was a shame they didn’t make her the subject of an interrogative and interpretive piece. It would be fun to draw her out.
    The Diary’s favourite work from the collection on show at El Kabron – for the SOLEMEN charity: deadlines beat us on this edition but we’ll get back to the outcome of the auction on October 15 and other action later – is Yellow Dog, reproduced here. Balacek tells us it’s her favourite too.    

Con Brio

The desirable Jade Richardson – who rates a major 7 on the Hector Modified Scent of a Woman Scale (that’s the one that measures brain power) – has recently penned a delightful polemic that describes, from a Jade’s eye view as it were, the pitfalls of seeking good karma through yoga courses and their not infrequent consequential outcomes, often sexual, among the guruhood in Ubud.
   It was such fun to read that Hector nearly spilled his precious sultanas while doing so. The beak and other bits were so much agiggle that keeping a firm grip on small wizened grapes between the claw and the maw was terribly difficult.
    She titled it The Excellent Death of Mr Happy. If you’re on Facebook and have a mind to read it, you can do so on Hector’s FB (friend him at Hector McSquawky). It’s highly recommended.
    Richardson tells us she was flitting around the scribblers’ fest earlier this month. She once had a connection there. Perhaps she was looking up old friends.

Go Pink

Don’t forget the Bali Pink Ribbon Walk at Nusa Dua on Saturday (October 22). It’s to benefit breast cancer prevention and treatment support, which is a very good cause indeed. Plus you’ll get the chance to see Hector in a pink shirt. It hasn’t been his colour – in shirts or anything else – since youthful days now long gone when he occasionally fancied himself a bit of a Beau Brummell.
    BIWA (the Bali International Women’s Association) has all the details. Visit or make them a friend on Facebook.
    It’s not the only breast cancer benefit on the calendar this month (Breast Cancer Month). Seminyak Rotary has a charity lunch at Métis in Seminyak on Friday, October 28. We heard about this from many people but also from old friend Melly St Ange, who now busies herself promoting Rotary. Melly, who is so energised that we believe she must plug herself into a power point daily, used to be president of BIWA.  

Welcome Ideas

The Murdoch University-based Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) – it’s in Perth – has been given nearly A$400,000 by the Australian government to develop an innovative “Indonesia from the ground up!” programme. We’ll forgive the unnecessary exclamation mark in this instance.
    ACICIS founder and director Professor David T. Hill, Chair of South East Asian Studies at Murdoch, says the programme will give teachers a chance to immerse themselves in Indonesian culture on a 12-day study tour.
    “We know that if students are to have the best chance of learning a language, language instruction needs to be supported across all curriculum areas, with the involvement of non-language teaching staff,” Hill says.
     Teachers of history, geography, arts, business, environment, media and citizenship, who would not necessarily have Indonesian language skills, will be invited to participate and to become “Asia advocates” who can incorporate their new knowledge of Indonesia into their teaching and inspire their students. “They will have a dramatic impact on the teaching of Asian studies and make a substantial contribution to supporting language learning,” says Hill.
    Another sign of the increasingly deep relationship between Indonesia and Australia was the inaugural Indonesia-Australia Dialogue held in Jakarta on October 5. The dialogue – the Australians have dubbed its participants “Citizen Diplomats” – is designed to promote people-to-people links.
    The first talks were led by veteran diplomat John McCarthy as Australian co-convenor and Dr Rizal Sukma, executive director of the Indonesian Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Twenty Australians drawn from a wide cross-section of Australian society – from politics, business, academia, and media – visited Indonesia for the discussions.

Yellow Press

The Invisible Times, edited (if that’s the word) from Ireland, had a bit of a scoop at the end of September. We only saw it because we were at a loose end one cloudy afternoon and resorted to web-browsing, the preferred pursuit of those suffering terminal ennui.
     It breathlessly related that former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is seriously rich and doesn’t live in Thailand because, well, some people there think he’s a stinker, dropped in for a three-day stay in Bali. Readers were told “the Bali Times can reveal” Thaksin held a series of meetings during his stay, apparently also with his sister, who is the current Thai PM, after he arrived by private jet preceded by a posse of aides detailed to provide security for the billionaire runaway.
    The paper also reported that Thaksin stayed and held the meetings at the presidential villa of C151 Seminyak, a complex of luxury villas (his private security detail apparently took up five other villas).
     The sting in the tale was a quote from C151 Resorts owner Hanno Soth who said Thaksin felt at home in Bali. “He said he finds the Hindu culture of Bali similar to Thailand and the style of service like in Thailand. He said he plans to return.”
     The Invisible Times did not think it necessary to tell readers that Soth is its proprietor. And it still hasn’t reported that several C151 villa owners are suing him because, they allege, he cost them money.

Hector's Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser and on the newspaper's website

The item below was not published in Hector's Diary in the Bali Advertiser but followers of his blog might like to read it.

Made to Order

Many friends of Hector still remember, with just as much glee as Hector himself, that in the aforementioned Invisible Times long ago a little spat occurred with the guru of gardens and bad language, Made Wijaya, and that, as a result, Wijaya unfriended Hector’s helper on Facebook.
    Much water has passed under many bridges since that time, along with Hector’s involvement with the offending publication. Thus, recently, because Wijaya claims to possess a certain centrality to events of a peripheral nature in Bali, Hec’s helper sent a friend request with a nice little note suggesting they should try again. He did expect a polite refusal but, you know, one has to try.
    He got the refusal, but it wasn’t polite. It read: “Eat shit and die you twerp.”  He’s all class, Wijaya, and in this instance also disastrously misinformed, as he is so often.  Twerps are expectant goldfish. Neither Hector nor his helper is genetically equipped for pregnancy. And Hector might carp, but he’s a cockatoo.

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