Wednesday, February 08, 2012

HECTOR'S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Feb. 8, 2012

Give Me Some Lava

Big Apple expat, Nagacia jewellery designer and FOH (Friend of Hector) Tricia Kim has added an enterprising string to her bow. She has designed some specially branded logo charms for a new snip, clip and stick salon in Johannesburg, South Africa.  We’ve seen photographs of them and they’re beautiful.
     The new establishment is SoHo Salon – SoHo as in “South of Houston [street]” in Manhattan, New York, not central London’s Soho, which generations of British mothers warned their sons was dangerous (they never said it was also fun) – and according to its American operators it brings the first New York-style full-service salon to South Africa. It opened in January. We hear there are plans for a dozen more such places, which one assumes would translate into many more charms for the delightful Kim.
      She tells us the charm she designed for SoHo is of white wood beads dyed red and lava stones. Lava has shamanistic power. It was used by First American nations, known as Indians or Red Indians in the days before the Sioux discovered they were homonyms for profitable litigation, to give warriors strength and clarity when entering battle. It has similarly shamanistic qualities in many other cultures. 
      Kim has also designed lava stone totems for upmarket Bali spa retreat Desa Seni. Lava’s fiery origin is said to be good for people who might suffer from indecision. That could be useful in yoga class.

The Good Oil

When the latest lovely little MinYak trotted into our inbox in mid-January, our inner spelling policeman woke up – he should have done so earlier, but we won’t develop that line of criticism – to the fact that its content is rendered in the American fashion. You know, with the twenty-first letter of the alphabet prominent by its absence.
     We asked the friendly chaps at The Yak and The Bud, which are run with thoroughly British aplomb, whether this apparent addiction to Eng (US) was by design or by default. In other words, had the mellifluous benefits of Eng (UK) ceded the field to the shorter-form forces of the Non-U push? One of them got back to us – like the MinYak and the print magazines it supports they are timely and generally pertinent, which in Bali is truly a blessing – and said this: “The man who does the MinYak is American. And so is my spellchecker.”
     So that would be a “yes,” then.
     There is a serious side to this. At last report, Indonesia officially uses Eng (UK) and it is this form that is supposed to be taught in schools, yet increasingly the English-language media – particularly and spectacularly the electronic media, which can’t spell anyway and wouldn’t know a past participle if it bit them on the bum – opts for American English.
     It’s not something for which one would choose to die in a ditch and indeed the American preference might be the better way for Indonesia. But it does pose questions. There’s an interesting – and very valuable – English language teaching programme getting under way here that’s being jointly run by the Australians and the Americans. The Aussies (those who can spell; a dwindling number) use British-derived English. Like the Singaporeans, Malaysians, Indians, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders and sundry others, they are “U” people. The Americans, of course, as we know, are defiantly Non-U. The programme’s internal correspondence might make interesting comparative reading.  
     Moreover, American English is terse and truncated – some may define it as crisper, and that’s by no means an unwinnable argument – and does away with much of the colourful flourish that makes British English such a delight.

But Not From Canggu

We found a little internet gem the other day, an online newspaper that calls itself The Hibernia Times – it does so in a delightfully unreadable ancient script, by the way, which oddly seems both apt and ironic – and claims it is Ireland’s web-connected newspaper. This singularity will surprise long-established journals such as The Irish Times (and others) that cover local, national and global news and events on the web as well as in print.
     Its web-blurb says the HT (do not confuse this with the Hindustan Times, which is an eminently readable journal) has an editorial policy that is to always be fair, impartial and balanced in news coverage. It says it would “love to hear your thoughts and views on this newspaper” and to email these, should such inspiration occur, to editor@thehiberniatimes.com.
     Its editor, like that of the near-comatose C151 Bali Times hereabouts, is unnamed; but we believe we know him well.  We dropped him a line. It wasn’t just for old time’s sake. We’d still like to know (even if this is the age of instant communication, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc: see the HT website for the full dissertation) how William Furney – who Houdini-like departed Canggu for unknown locations in the Emerald Isle 15 months ago – finds it possible to seriously edit a Bali newspaper from half a world and eight time zones away; especially if you’re apparently also rattling out an allegedly round-the-clock e-sheet there. Still, a man’s got to earn a quiet crust, we suppose.

Meghan’s Moment

It’s nearly Bali Spirit Festival time again – it’s from March 28-April 1, safely after Nyepi on March 23, if you’d like to diarise the opportunity for yet another spirited Ubud opportunity – so it was no surprise to see the ubiquitous Meghan Pappenheim popping up in the previously mentioned MinYak. She’s a good sort, so it’s always a pleasure to see her.
     Pappenheim appeared as January’s colourful character, gave her standard responses to who-what-why-when and a nice little promo for the event she founded as a cathartic comeback – like that other Ubud love-in, Janet DeNeefe’s annual writers’ and readers’ festival – after the first Bali bombings in 2002, and then told us what we all wanted to know: What’s she’s listening to on her iPod.
      It turned out to be Lady Gaga. That would be a point of difference between us. The Diary long ago formed the view that only the Gaga bit accurately describes that particular unchained melody. But one should not be churlish. Perhaps Pappenheim doesn’t like to listen to Warren Zevon being prescient about his future at high volume, as he often is on the iPod at The Cage. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead is rollicking rock, but it’s not for everyone.
      The Bali Spirit Festival does great work in the environmental and health fields, and particularly in countering the threat of HIV/AIDS. It also entertains mightily well, so good luck with this year’s, Meghan.
     There’s a free Spirit Festival-backed outdoor concert in Ubud on February 18, by the way. Details are at http://balispiritfestival.com/ayobicarahivaids.html. For more information about the Bali Spirit Festival itself, visit www.balispiritfestival.com.

Up For It

We’ll be looking in on Jade Richardson’s writing course on erotica being held in Ubud in March. It should be fun as well as instructional. Too many people in these dumb days of post-literacy mistakenly conflate eroticism and pornography and assume you need continuous – goodness, we almost wrote “rolling” – pictorial assistance, when in fact all you need is a brain.
     It’s the fourth element of a quartet of courses the Ubud-resident Richardson has on the go. The first is Unlocking Creativity (Feb. 22, 23 and 25); next up is Travel Writing (Feb. 28, 29); then comes Advanced Creative Writing (Mar. 1, 2, 4; we’ll look in on that one as well); and then Erotica (Mar. 8, 9, 11). Email her at passionfruitcowgirl@rocketmail.com or call 0958 5727 0858 if you’d like to Write Like an Angel too.      
           
Still Trying

Here at The Cage we’ve been customers of Telkomsel’s Kartu Halo mobile phone system since 2006. Until last October, it worked well enough. There were one or two of the little stumbles that one becomes accustomed to in Indonesian public bureaucracy, but it more or less functioned.
     Since October, however, it has been impossible to pay. Telkomsel’s successive monthly bills have not been accessible, because they are not ready. The wonderful term here is “in process,” which of course means nothing of the sort.
     In November we were in Australia, where using an Indonesian mobile phone can be quite expensive. So we’d dearly like to pay the outstanding accounts, especially as another Australia trip is looming. But the “all calls” function on our phones continues to be unhelpful. On January 26, for example, unhelpfulness came with a new message:  “Mohon maaf, system sedang sibuk. Silahkan ulangi berberapa saat lagi.” ( “We're sorry, the system is busy. Please try a couple of times again.”)
     Gosh! It must be all those irritated customers trying to find out how much they have to pay before they get cut off that’s gummed up the works.  There’s a simple solution. Telkomsel could employ some people who can keep accounts.

Carp a Diem

Among the thickets of inspirational sites that now litter the internet is one that calls itself Brainy Quotes. It recently featured this thought from Christopher Fry – he died in 2005 – whose thoughts are considered worthy since he was one of the most celebrated playwrights of the 20th century: “I want to look at life – at the commonplaces of existence – as if we had just turned a corner and run into it for the first time.”
     Goldfish have it made then. They habitually do that.

Hector's Diary appears in the print edition of the Bali Advertiser, out every Wednesday, and on the newspaper's website www.baliadvertiser.biz. He tweets @ Scratchings on Twitter and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky).

1 comment: