Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser November 16, 2011

Mum-in-Law Says

Domestic order has been disturbed at The Cage, domicile of Diary and Distaff, by the departure of our prized pembantu. She was apparently prised from our grip by the iron grasp of her mother-in-law, who seemingly saw benefit in depriving her household of one of the two regular incomes it received.
     We think she didn’t want to go. She’d been with us as our housekeeper for four years; we all enjoyed a joke and a laugh together; we gave her extra money for additional tasks, and her husband too, for providing overnight security (and messing around with our TV) during any of our absences from home; her work schedule was regularly (or rather, irregularly) amended to meet her need to attend ceremonies and to the other, many, demands of local life; and there were other benefits, including a regular supply of clothing for herself and her child brought to our house by visitors from overseas who had heard about, and often met, our Wayan.
     It’s a shame. It points up the impossibility of applying here employment rules such as might exist in more formal economies (notice? what is notice?). It reinforces with stark clarity the single most significant fact of life in Bali for foreigners living here: that they are ATMs, nothing more, and rate only the label of Public Convenience.
     But worse than that, it demonstrates that those who promote the concept of women’s equality (or even basic rights) in Indonesia have a long and very hard row to hoe. In Indonesia generally, and in Bali’s iconoclastic and restrictive society particularly, a woman’s place is in her home. Doing what her husband and her mother-in-law tell her to do.

Just So You Know

We dined some little time ago at Dava, the signature restaurant at The Ayana Resort and Spa, the guests of Ayana’s chief spruiker Marian Hinchliffe, who couldn’t be with us on the night but had nonetheless arranged a complimentary glass of nice Chilean red.
     The occasion was to sample the degustation menu of Singapore chef Jusman So, over which Dava divas and other paying guests have been swooning. And so they should – it’s top tucker. We opted for a five-course sampling (the Distaff, who lately has been breaking out, chose two desserts) and added our own purchase of a bottle of said Chilean red (the Lapostalle merlot) to help the medicine go down. That cost a pembantu’s monthly salary plus extras, which is why Dava doesn’t see us all that often.
     For those with the readies, however, the degustation menu is just So ...  fabulous. Should a lottery win eventuate, the Diary might dine at Dava very regularly indeed. There was no lavosh among the complimentary breads, unfortunately, but Ottmar Leibert seemed to be providing the tunes to chomp to, which almost made up for its absence.
    The Diary had the gorgonzola, duck foie gras, purple potatoes, wagyu beef and fondant. The Distaff made it through a salad and fish (grouper) and beef dishes before hoeing into her two desserts.
     So is also now presenting his full a la carte menu, by the way.  We might come back to that. But you shouldn’t miss it, if your plastic stretches far enough.

 New Look:  Aussie colour in the air

Go Green and Gold

Strategic Airlines, the Brisbane-based carrier that serves Bali from the Queensland capital, changed its name and its livery on November 15. It became Air Australia and went green and gold – the country’s sporting colours – instead of red, white and blue.
     As well as this, it went low-cost, dispensing with cabin service included in ticket costs in favour of the buy-on-board option. It has big plans to become Australia’s true low-cost carrier – Virgin Australia long ago having junked that idea, preferring instead to reinvent the airline duopoly that served Australia in the past – and plans to expand its Bali services among many other developments.
     It will be retaining business class on its aircraft, however.

Rovers’ Return

Many years ago the Diary gave up on both the UK and southern Africa and moved to Australia, shortly thereafter adopting Brisbane – appropriately the city is named after a Scotsman – as his place of domicile. It served admirably in this capacity for some 35 years before the Distaff, herself from another extremity on the Australian continent, sold the house and contents, packed the remnants in her dilly-bag, and moved us to Bali.
     That was six years ago and was (and is) a move in no way regretted. It’s warmer here, for one thing. And Australia’s vast and uncontrollably growing regulatory environment wouldn’t thrive in Bali either. Since we prefer to live freely by our own (reasonable and lawful) rules, and hate the very thought of a nanny state, let alone Big Brother and all the other meddlers, Bali’s where we have to be.
      Nonetheless, thoughts of home drift into consciousness now and then, and we flew down to Brisbane on November 11 – on Strategic (Air Australia) as it happens – for a two-week fix, our first since the big move though we regularly go to Perth.  It’s only a short visit, and a busy one at that – so much to do, so little time – but it’s great to see old friends and old haunts, to smell the eucalyptus, to enjoy long, smog-free vistas of distant gum-blue mountains, and visit favourite places.
      These include the Queensland Museum of Modern Art (in Brisbane) where there is a photographic exhibition on that the Diary is going to see come hell or high water, and the thoroughly seductive Byron Bay, scene of many past delights.     

In the Pink: Organisers of the Bali Pink Ribbon Walk at this year’s event

In the Money

Gaye Warren, originator of the Bali Pink Ribbon Walk, tells us this year’s event – it was on October 22 – was highly successful. She didn’t mean that this was because Hector wore pink and wowed the crowd. She meant – and this is really good news – that fundraising here and in Jakarta, and in Australia and Britain, looked likely to bring on purchase of a mammogram machine in 2012.
     Breast screening is an essential element in detecting breast cancer early enough to make remedial treatment a viable option. At present most women in Bali who are found to have breast cancer have gone to the doctor only very late in the progress of the disease. Having a mobile mammogram unit will help the Bali International Women’s Association (BIWA), which supports the Bali Care Cancer Foundation set up by doctors at leading hospital Prima Medika, to ensure that more women receive treatment early.
     The Bali walk alone raised Rp200 million, bolstered by similar amounts raised in Britain and Australia and a quilt made by Jakarta quilters was auctioned, raising further funds. One woman in a wheelchair travelled from Jakarta and wheeled her way around the course. That’s dedication.
     Another breast cancer fundraising event, a charity lunch organised by the Rotary Club Bali Seminyak  at Metis in Seminyak on October 28 and attended by nearly 200, raised close to Rp110 million.

On Your Bike

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Nyoman Minta, the Bali Tourism Development Corporation gardener who made monkeys of the presidential security corps in Nusa Dua a couple of weeks ago. Minta pedalled his pushbike right through the middle of the select throng chosen to hear the latest presidential pronouncement on the occasion of some international conference or other. He did so because, as he later told police, he always rode through there.
     Medals are in order. For Minta, we suggest the Medal of Freedom (from thought and everything else). For the commander of the presidential security corps, who said everyone else was to blame, we recommend the Grand Star of the Order of My Friend Did It (with Inventive Excuse clasp), even if he doesn’t also get the JDS (Jangan Datang Senin, known in the English-speaking world as the DCM – Don’t Come Monday).  And clearly the three cordons of security goons through which Minta insouciantly perambulated while they were watching, rapt, as the Indonesian Air Force put on an aerial display, collectively and individually deserve conferment of the Dereliction of Duty Medal with Nincompoop clasp.
     Perhaps the president himself should get a gong. He is reported to have ordered police to treat Minta humanely. The change of policy – a welcome shift from beating every miscreant in sight with batons – is to be commended.

That’s the Spirit

You’ve got to hand it to Tom Hufnagel at JP’s Warungclub in Seminyak ... he gets all the big acts. Star of their Halloween Monday Night Special on October 31 was Amy Winehouse, who they said would dance again for you all. Well, she might have been there in spirit. The non-ethereal sound effects were by Sound Rebel. Revellers who wore a Halloween costume got a free drink. The late Amy would have liked that.

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

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