HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, April 18, 2012

by 8 Degrees of Latitude

That’s the Spirit

Meghan Pappenheim, who will now be enjoying some well-earned downtime after the 2012 BaliSpirit Festival held at Ubud – where else? – from March 28 to April 1, tells us her moment of pure joy at this year’s event was taking part in Indra Widjanarko’s yoga class for kids. “Pure happiness for a split second,” she reports. There’s a photo on the festival site that might give a clue as to why the happiness was for a split second. Meghan’s a good sport. Oh, and a good sort.

She tells us too that the other amazing thing she took away from the festival was how international it was. She says that in the night concert area she found herself surrounded by full-pass holders who had flown to Bali for the event from 13 countries – one of them Germany, from where the man in question had visited Bali for every festival since its inception.

The global reach of BaliSpirit is certainly remarkable. One of Meghan’s night concert companions had come from Iran. The others were from India, Mexico, Slovakia, Brazil, Spain, the USA, Canada, Australia, China, the Philippines and France.

BaliSpirit is not just the five-day event itself. It has a strong outreach and community building aspect as well, which every year is augmented incrementally. Says Meghan: “Aside from the thousands we raised with our partners for local initiatives, I don’t believe we’ve ever had this kind of backing and programming input from local community organisations before.”

Way to go!

Get Real 1

If anyone wants a take on the unreality that drives Bali’s Wayan Mitty real estate sector, they need look no further than the chairman of the Real Estate Indonesia (REI) Bali branch, Dewa Putu Selawa, who said in late March that property prices had already increased by 15 percent since earlier in the month because of the government’s announcement of rising fuel prices.  He meant, of course, asking prices.

For good measure, he added that many property owners had withdrawn their properties from sale. Doubtless, as the unfortunate (and entirely blameless, naturally) victims of the twin epidemics of unreal expectation and rampant greed that afflict our island, they did so in pursuit of further excuse to ask for an astronomical price in the hope that some mug would pay it.

The fuel price rise did not eventuate, even though ending a US$14 billion a year subsidy on highly pollutant low-grade petrol is clearly a good idea on budgetary and environmental grounds. This was absolutely no surprise, given that the national government – unless energised by antediluvian misogynists into pursuing mini-skirted women in the astonishing belief that female knees are pornographic – has all the courage of a craven. And little grip on reality, except in relation to who might still be persuaded to vote for it in 2014.

A recent study by Knight Frank and Elite Havens showed that Bali has the highest rate of land price increases in Indonesia (up by an average 34 percent last year against 8-16 percent in other parts of Indonesia). Selawa explains it this way: “The property business is very sensitive to rumours and discourse. Many businessmen cancelled the sale of their properties because the prices would again increase when the fuel price is hiked. They were waiting to get the highest profit.”

A fuel price rise of 33 percent would increase costs, naturally, by some quantum. That would be after the price rise took effect and impacted on transportation costs, not before. We’re talking about profiteering here.

Get Real 2

It’s not only the big end of town that needs to take a reality check. We heard an amusing little tale the other day – well, it’s irritating really, but you’ve got to laugh – that hits one of the nails of Bali’s development dilemma squarely on the head. We won’t name names, because that would be invidious and in any case the problem is so widespread as to be unremarkable.

There’s a nice little restaurant we go to where the land upon which it stands has been leased for 20 years from the local – Balinese – owner. The land has been leased by an Indonesian, so the usual fleece-the-filthy-foreigner rule hardly applies. But in the nature of things here, and of course elsewhere in the country, such arrangements come along with unrelated, unscheduled and entirely promiscuous calls upon the pocket: the landowner needs money, for this, that, or some other purpose; the fridge is on the blink; the beer has run out; someone is ill perhaps; or maybe that remarkable aunt in Jauh Sekali (it is nearly always far enough away to discourage direct inquiry) has experienced a further bout of repeated death and there’s yet another funeral to be paid for. If you live here, you’ll know the score.

Anyway, on this occasion, we hear, the landowner was after some money (a not insubstantial sum apparently) and was culturally distressed when the readies were not ready to be handed over; that of course means the cash was not available immediately. He then visited the establishment and engaged in that other customary local practice – looking miffed, shouting loudly, and banging any available flat surface.

Apprised of the fact (again) that the casual, unbudgeted and off-contract sum he demanded was indeed not yet to hand, he said he would never lease his land again and would not be renewing the current 20-year lease (it has about 19 years to run). Fine, replied our restaurant proprietor, a lovely chap from Sumatra. That was his privilege. But in the meantime, for the rest of the lease period, he didn’t want to see the other fellow’s ugly mug anywhere near the place. Got that?

Here’s to Your Health

The new BIMC Hospital at Nusa Dua opens its doors on May 5, an event that will certainly please anyone on the Bukit who needs international-standard medical care and doesn’t want to risk a potential two-hour road trip to BIMC’s other facility at Simpang Siur. It will be especially useful for those whose blood pressure is apt to rise to crisis level if stuck in traffic on what would normally be a 25-minute, 12-kilometre trip if everyone stayed in lane and obeyed the other road rules, or gave a tinker’s cuss about anyone else on the road.

That’s far from the only benefit of the new hospital, of course. It includes a 24-hour accident and emergency centre, a 24-hour medical centre, cosmetic medicine and dental centres, and – good news indeed – a dialysis centre which should make it possible for tourists who require regular dialysis to consider holidaying at Nusa Dua or nearby.

BIMC Nusa Dua plans an open day on May 5 to introduce residents and visitors to the new facility, housed in purpose-built accommodation in the BTCD enclave just across the road from Bali Collection. The complex was built by a Perth-based Australian firm that specialises in hospital construction and fitted out with state of the art interiors and infrastructure by a South African company.

Best Endeavours

Applications have been invited for the Endeavour Awards for 2013. This Australian government scholarship programme provides opportunities for Indonesians to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.

Announcing the awards on April 2, Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty said: “Twenty-six Indonesians were awarded Endeavour scholarships in 2011 and we look forward to receiving more Indonesian applications to participate in this internationally competitive, merit based scholarship programme.”

Applications close on June 30. Details are available at http://www.australiaawards.gov.au.

Why, Thank You

Diarists and other scribblers generally only hear from readers who have a gripe. This is not necessarily a problem. Often it gives you a good laugh, as for example not so long ago when a self-elected lunar luminary of long standing in these parts told Hector’s helper – it was in response to a polite inquiry – “Eat shit and die you twerp.”

How much more pleasant it was to receive feedback recently from reader Nurul J. Darmawan, who posted this note on Hector’s Facebook wall in response to the item in last edition’s Diary headed True to Herself:

“Hi Hector … reading your article really impressed me. What you said about Facebook is true in our lives. You’re right: we need late in life more real than virtual life. Facebook is where I find friends to add insight in my life. Your articles are very insightful and give an input to many people such as me. Bravo Hector’s Diary!”

And Again

Hector also tweets (some people say he twitters, but cockatoos don’t do that) and was recently followed – you do that on Twitter – by one Frank Seth, from Idaho, who advised: “I’m an undiscovered American watercolour artist. Have been painting over 53-plus years. Maybe this will be my year? I want to keep on painting as long as I can do it.”

Good on you, Frank.

Hector’s Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser, out every second Wednesday and on Hector’s Blog at http://wotthehec.blogspot.com. Hector is on Twitter (@scratchings) and Facebook (Hector McSquawky).