HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 3, 2012

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences


Keep on Rolling

It was sad to hear of the death of Andrew Clark, late in September. We’d never met, which was a pity, but his skills in teaching English and his efforts to ensure English-language messages were rendered correctly in Bali – a Sisyphean task he nonetheless took to with gusto – were second to none.

     Clark, an Englishman, arrived in Bali in 1990 to teach and later to establish the delightfully pun-ish Full Proof Writing Agency.  He had an early association with Made Wijaya, he who we gather mistakenly believes that cockatoos are pregnant carp (well, he says Hector’s a twerp).

     He preferred Eng. (UK) as his dictionary language, abjuring Eng. (US) as an abomination and holding – correctly – that Indonesia’s official English variant was UK.  OK. He made this point with some force in a Siapa column in this newspaper in 2004.

     Since then, the ubiquitous spread of the American-dominated internet and the vacuously indolent belief that spelling and grammar are no longer important have together conspired to reduce spoken and written language to gobbledegook and the mob preference, such as it is, to notionally US.

     So we’ll have to muddle on without Clark’s attention, since he has departed for the great language school in the sky.  But some of us think Sisyphus got a bum rap and we’re still out there rolling that damn rock up the hill.

     RIP, Andrew Clark.

Gotta Have Sole

SoleMen Indonesia’s annual walk around Bali, which finished on Sept. 26, brought much needed help to the deprived people of Bali. It also celebrated the triumph of Balinese Paralympian Nengah Widiasih at a Return to Bali Celebration party at Bali Mystique Hotel in Seminyak that evening. 

     SoleMan Robert Epstone, who did much of the weeks’ long walk before being sidelined on doctor’s orders with holes in both his soles, tells us Nengah, from a poor family and in a wheel chair since she had polio when she was four, nevertheless managed to teach herself weightlifting and represented Indonesia at the 2012 Paralympics in London in August.

     The Sept. 26 party – it was a grand occasion and a great opportunity to meet Nengah – was to raise funds for a replacement bus and a second permanent staff member for ‘YPAC’ Home and School for Disabled and Mentally Challenged Children at Jimbaran, where she lives. There are 66 young residents at YPAC.

      Energetic charity weight-loser Christina Iskandar and friends happily promoted the event in the expat community and many Balinese also attended. Food at the function was provided by Biku restaurant and famed Russian violinist German Dmitriev played for 20 minutes in addition to appearances by other performers.

      Raffle prizes were donated by Tugu Hotel, Sardine Restaurant, Bambooku, Dijon, The Pelangi Estate in Ubud and many others.

Iconic Sangers

The villa next door to The Cage is occupied by a temporary resident, an old friend from Australia who’s here on an Australian Business Volunteers task to introduce the Udayana University-based Institute for Peace and Democracy to the arcane vagaries of relations with the press. Which is good; and not only because it provides an excuse – though none is needed – for several drinks to be taken, now and then.

     He’s getting to grips with the villa, whose absent German owners, residents of Hamburg, have confined themselves to holiday raids on targets nearer to hand while the Fourth Reich sorts out how to get the Greeks and sundry others in the European communion to work and pay for themselves. But he’s had a couple of culture shocks, including Vegemite at the equivalent of $13 Australian a jar.

     By way of extraordinary coincidence we had a note the other day from another Australian friend, Libby Callister, also on the subject of Vegemite. It’s an Australian icon of course, and very, very yummy.

     Libby and your diarist had an arm’s length association long ago – she was running media for a minister in an Australian state government of the opposite politics to those preferred at The Cage but the fellow, a great bloke with whom we were on very good terms, helped raise funds for cancer research by having his head shaved (in company) once a year. So, once a year, we crossed the thoroughly artificial No Man’s Land of Australian politics, knocked politely on the minister’s door, and handed over several crisp banknotes as our contribution to his sponsorship.

     Anyway, back to the point: Libby has a famous name. Cyril Percy Callister (1893-1949) invented Vegemite and now his grandson Jamie Callister has written a biography of this undisputed national hero. Libby’s media consultancy business is running the promotion campaign. The book went on sale on Sept. 24 and is being formally launched on Oct. 11 in Beaufort, Victoria, where the Callister of Vegemite fame was born.

     Vegemite had a tough early history. It was on the market in the British Marmite-focused Australia of the era for more than 15 years before it finally began to win wide acceptance. Says Jamie of his grandfather’s fortitude:  “It was particularly unpopular and at one time they changed the name to Parwill  … “if Marmite, Parwill.” The Aussies used to like schoolboy puns until they turned serious and started banning all manner of good fun.

     They’re serving Vegemite sandwiches (kill for ‘em) at the Beaufort bash. By happenstance we’ll be in Australia on the day; by unhappy circumstance, the bit of Australia we’ll be in is nearly 3000km distant from the yummy sangers and a signed copy of the book, so we’ll have to give the show a miss.

iPod. Therefore I Am

By absolutely no coincidence, the latest MinYak to hit cyberspace featured Nicola Scaramuzzino, GM of Mozaic at Ubud and head honcho at Mozaic Beach Club at Batu Belig, where this year’s Yak Awards were staged (on Sept. 28).

     The Diary’s eye was caught by his answer to the standard Q “What’s been heating up your iPod lately?” because it was apparent he and your diarist share much more than just a fondness for fine cuisine and discrete globetrotting.

     He said: “That’s a tough one. I swing between moods quite quickly during the day and my iPod does reflect this. There is always music around me, I hate silence. If I’m working on accounting stuff, then classic Italian music is the choice.”

     We’re at one there. Nothing beats the mathematical brilliance of Vivaldi (per esempio) if you absolutely have to deal with numbers. He further says:  “If I have to work on some graphics and need to be creative then AC/DC is normally the choice, together with Metallica, Pink Floyd and Queen …  the 70s and 80s music always cheers me up.”

     We might demur on AC/DC (they’re often better unplugged) but otherwise – Right on, Nicola! And we’re with him too in being able to state without fear of contradiction that Hip Hop is absent from our own little pod. He says: “I just don’t understand that music – am I too old?”

     Too old for Hip Hop, certainly: But surely anyone sentient is?

We’re Willin’

Diary and Distaff had a lovely dinner recently with Marian Carroll, official mouthpiece of Ayana Resort and Spa etc, etc. It was at Dava, where visiting guest chef Willin Low from Wild Rocket, Singapore, was in the kitchen from September 21-23. He treated diners to exquisite dishes, including soft-shell crab, wagyu beef and yummy desserts.

     Singapore’s suddenly looking very good for a visa run. We’d be off like a Wild Rocket if one were in the wind.

     By the way, expect a long-awaited announcement from Ayana soon.

Go Pink

We do, very occasionally, if it’s in a good cause. So here’s a good reason: The Think Pink 2012 Luncheon and Fashion Show, organised by the Inner Wheel Club of Seminyak – the Rotary ladies, you might say, whose president is the redoubtable Barb Mackenzie – which is to raise awareness of breast cancer and funds necessary to carry that message forward. It’s endorsed by Bali Pink Ribbon (on whose annual walks the Diary consents to wear pink) and the Rotary Club of Seminyak.

      The event is being staged at Métis in Seminyak, which is surely reason enough to attend anyway, and is on October 26. It’s from 11am to 3pm, too, which should give everyone a chance to both eat and bid at the charity auction. Tickets cost Rp300K and are available at Métis. The event’s VIP sponsors are Bamboo Blonde and Think Pink Nails.   

Hear Her Roar

Helen Reddy, who galvanised the WomLib movement in the 1970s with I Am Woman (Hear Me Roar) is performing for charity at Anantara Rooftop in Seminyak on Oct. 19. One of the Diary’s favourite dishes, Diana Shearin, tells us she’ll be there (she wouldn’t miss the anthem of the movement or Delta Dawn, she says). But she won’t be dancing. She’s on crutches after an unfortunate altercation with a wet terrazzo floor.

It’s On!

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival kicks off today (Oct. 3). It should be a good show as always, with plenty of chatter, erudite and otherwise. Be there – or you won’t be there.  The festival runs to Oct. 7 with various associated events around it.

Hector’s Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser newspaper, published every second Wednesday. The newspaper’s website is http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector is on Twitter @scratchings and Facebook (Hector McSquawky).

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