8degreesoflatitude

THINGS THAT INTEREST, ENGAGE AND ENRAGE

Month: November, 2012

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Nov. 28, 2012

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

By Jiminy, a GM

Ayana Resort and Spa, etc, which sits decorously back from the cliff at Jimbaran to which the iconic Rock Bar clings – and to which it is sometimes possible to gain access, if you have the inclinator – finally has a chief man at the helm. It’s been 10 months since Charles de Foucault departed for Mauritius where the ambience, not unlike some of the Caribbean islands also formerly ruled by the Brits, is a kind of eclectic Faux Français. It’s the sort of place where patrons can be heard intoning “Merde, I’d kill for a beer.” Unless they’re South Africans, in which case some of them might say, ”Shit, ek wil doodmaak vir ‘n bier,” and completely fail to make themselves understood.

The new man is Ed Linsley, who was selected in a process personally led by Horst Schulze, founder and chief executive of Capella Hotel Group.  Linsley has more than 22 years’ experience in hotels and resorts – 21 of them with the Four Seasons group – and was resort manager at 4S Bali Jimbaran (once home to the entertainingly enigmatic John O’Sullivan, who these days wears a sombrero having decamped to a plush 4S resort in Mexico) before going to Vietnam last year as general manager of The Nam Hai Resort.

Linsley says he was drawn back to Bali by its people and the opportunity to join the Capella Hotel Group. He rides Harley-Davidsons and he’s from Pennsylvania. Ground Hog Days could be fun.

The Good, the Bad, and the Plain Ugly

The Bali-based Institute for Peace and Democracy has been busy lately, talking to delegations from Egypt and Myanmar and selling Indonesia’s proud record of democratic advance achieved by digging the military out of politics and business, and overseeing completion of its monumental premises on the Jimbaran campus of Udayana University.

The institute is a project that carries the personal imprimaturs of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and is supported through various elements of Australia’s foreign aid programme and those of other nations.  We’ll be hearing much more about it in the near future.

The IPD was closely involved in the recent Bali Peace Forum, a recurring international gabfest that this time, and among many other (more valuable) things, provided yet another opportunity for Iran’s chief curiosity, President Ahmadinejad, to have a free shot at the Great Satan and sundry other lesser devils.

For ordinary mortals, or at least those of them who were trying to use the roads between Kuta and Nusa Dua while troupes of rude police were shooing traffic out of the way so VVIPs and VIPs could get wherever it was they were going before their tea got cold, the forum was chiefly notable, as such things invariably are, for its disruption of normal life.

It’s not over yet. Next year, when the APEC jamboree hits town with lots of HIPs (Hugely Important Persons) along with the VVIPs and the ordinary VIPs, it’ll be even worse. Note to self: Ensure you are away from Bali in November 2013.

She’s a Champ

Christina Iskandar, luminary of note on the glitter circuit (conscience division), has lost a lot of weight. This was deliberate – a girl likes to look trim, after all, though the Diary has never minded chunky if it comes along with brains, conversation and character – and this feat has also resulted in more than Rp 200 million in funds for YPAC, the children’s home at Jimbaran.

She told the world proudly via Facebook:  “We did it! Over 200 million raised for YPAC & new van very soon for the kids, a 20 kilo weight loss for me & a new lease on life… a huge thanks to the dedicated supportive amazing bunch of friends that attended this event for such a worthy cause you are all stars, thank you Motion Fitness Team and all the sponsors.”

Well done, Christina.

Fifty Shades of Bleh

It was amusing to see veteran British publisher Christopher MacLehose on Australia Network’s eminently watchable One-Plus-One programme recently. He was courteously perplexed as to how show host Jane Hutcheon could possibly refer to the blockbuster sex-romp novel Fifty Shades of Grey as a literary work. He said she was the first person he had heard make such a claim.

(We hear from friends, anecdotally, that the expatriate husbands of Vietnam are passing the book around theirs and other’s expatriate wives for serious study, apparently with mutually satisfying results. That alone supports MacLehose’s reflective assessment of the book’s true value and titillating purpose.)

MacLehose, a patrician Scot who reads in French – his wife is from l’Hexagone, as French people with an interest in cartography sometimes call their hexagonal patrie – made a late career change from mainstream publishing into publisher of foreign works in translation. He gave the world The Millennium Trilogy, a true work of literature.

Originally written in Swedish by the late Stieg Larsson, the trilogy – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – had been rejected by a series of publisher’s houses. Apparently this was because the author was Swedish (and so not an English language writer and therefore difficult to sell) and being unfortunately dead was not going to be writing any more books, which precluded creation of further career-enhancing income streams for publishers’ marketing people.

Planet Earth has long been made a better place by far-sighted Scotsmen (and women).

Fine Fare

Australia Network is always good value. On its summer schedule is a new Australian drama series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. This is a period piece, set in Melbourne in the 1920s. The network suggests you should get yourself ready to sashay into the city’s back lanes as Phryne Fisher sleuths her way through jazz clubs and other shady spots armed with a pearl-handled pistol and a dagger-sharp wit.

It sounds fun. The 13-part series will be on the viewing schedule at The Cage. It starts on Dec. 3 (at 9.30pm Bali time). Monday will be a stay-home night for the following three months.

And More Saxy Jazz

Sin City singer Edwina Blush is a regular feature of the saxier parts of Bali, as well as an ambassador for Villa Kitty cat refuge at Ubud, and we look forward to seeing her here again in the flesh –attractive portions of it at least – when next her schedule allows.

She’s been keeping in form for her much desired reappearance here by playing cabaret style at the Camelot Lounge in Marrickville, Sydney (on Nov. 28) with a pared down quartet and guests. The finely named Blush (she doesn’t, but others have been known to) says of the show: “Refuse to run with the pack, take the cat to the beach, comfort a surf widow, have an affair with your barista and surf a tidal wave of love in the quirky comforts of the Camelot Lounge.” It would have been fun to be there, but we didn’t have enough Qantas points to spare for the trip.

Blush launched her latest album, Sea for Cats, in June. She describes it as a lush retro cocktail with an over-proof kick and a hint of kitsch indulgence. Clearly, it should be listened to even though The Cage hasn’t done kitsch since … well, forever. But Edwina says it’s saxy, so of course it must be. The album is available on iTunes or through the Edwina Blush website shop.

So Very Sad

Little Ani, the eight-year-old severely malnourished and physically challenged girl rescued from distressing conditions in Sideman in Karangasem earlier this year by Jimbaran-resident British nurse Sarah Chapman and her Balinese friend Yuni Putu, has died. She had been playing happily at her new home, YPAC, on the morning of Nov. 17 but later that day had to be taken to Sanglah Hospital with serious breathing difficulties. In spite of truly heroic efforts by the Sanglah team, she died a few hours later.

Ani had become quite a Facebook presence – through a page called Friends of Ani – and touched the hearts of everyone who had contact with her actually or through the social media. Losing her is a tragedy, when she had been gaining much needed weight, was beginning the process of socialisation in an adequate setting, and was waiting for essential surgical correction of her cleft palate. It is particularly hard on her immediate carers and on people such as Robert Epstone of the charity Sole Men, who made strenuous efforts to win Ani a new (and proper) life.

But Ani, like all who pass away, will live on in the hearts of those who were her family and friends. Her last months were full of fun and love. She was only eight, and could not speak, but she taught many people the real meaning of humanity.

There’s a proposal to build a hospice in her name and in her memory.

Hector’s Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser and on the newspaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets (@scratchings) and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky). He blogs at http://www.wotthehec.blogspot.com.

Evilcabamba Diary 1

Brilliant. Read it!

Passionfruitcowgirl

It’s difficult to say, really, who ruined everything.

I mean, where the rot really set in.

Of course, there was that whole thing with the Spanish, and there has been that whole thing with the USA and its calculated plundering of the islands and continents sequentially, but I doubt that even these horrendous incursions, betrayals and greed-fests at the cost of the Simple Good People of the Quiet Earth were as diabolical as what you can witness right now, every day, in places like Vilcabamba.

In the very beginning, it was alcoholics and nature-lovers who settled in these little hamlets around the world. Looking for peace and quiet to set about their passions. Then it was property speculators, then online millionaires who’d made a killing with cacao beans and poisonous lies like Adyar Clarity, and were desperate not to have a single penny of their unworthy fortunes be wasted on…

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A masterly summation of the effects of a hideous populist policy.

No Place For Sheep

Politicians from both major parties have set themselves quite a challenge to come up with a deterrent that will persuade asylum seekers that traveling to Australia by boat will result in them facing a situation worse than that they’ve fled. Potential refugees are clearly undeterred by the prospect of life threatening boat journeys: the desire to escape their circumstances is stronger than the very real threat of dying at sea.

It is a comment on the profound emotional, psychological and moral stupidity of leading politicians that they seem on the whole to be incapable of getting their heads around this core reality.

According to Amnesty International

The Australian Migration Act sets out the laws regulating migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. The Act incorporates the UN Refugee Convention and defines a refugee as anyone who:

 owing to well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion…

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Bucketing Down

Abroad Blog of the Week: Lottie Nevin

Great! And well deserved.

Global From Home

If you haven’t already subscribed to this Abroad Blog of the Week, you’ll want to. I came across Lottie Nevin when I first started blogging about six months ago. I was hooked by Lottie’s blunt honesty but humorous take on the difficulties of being a Brit new to Jakarta. She is also a fabulous story-teller and frequently weaves previous life experiences into her present day predicaments. Lottie just celebrated her one-year blog birthday (huge congrats!) and her blog is a great source of funny advice for anyone considering a move to Indonesia. Want proof? Just keep reading for my interview with Lottie…I promise she’ll have you laughing by the end.

Looking back on this first year of living in Jakarta, what are you most proud of?

My greatest achievement thus far, is managing to avoid falling into any of the open sewers that are such an attractive feature of Jakarta…

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HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Nov. 14, 2012

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Image

Bag brigade: Part of the rubbish cull at the inaugural clean-up in Tundun Penyu, Ungasan (see DIY Clean-Up, below).

Water of Half-Life

It has not yet been raining on the Bukit this official wet season, in any appreciable way at least, up to deadline time for this edition [Note: The first big rain was on Nov. 9, making a monkey out of publication deadlines.]. It has been hot and humid instead. We southern hill-dwellers have seen the clouds over places apparently more favoured by whichever committee of gods it is that controls precipitation. That this is more scientifically seen as a seasonal phenomenon – a variable one as all of them are – has been dismissed in the minds of some who prefer to believe that a laser being operated on the new Kuta-Nusa Dua highway construction is to blame. The theory goes that the contractors are using the laser to deter rain since getting wet would upset their work schedule.

     It’s a lovely story. It might even be worth believing, since all manner of people here seem to believe in all sorts of things.

    There’s an acute water shortage on the Bukit too. That is also a perennial issue. It might be solved – one day – if anyone here believed in practical things, like planning, or building efficient infrastructure. Or maybe they should look at laser-enhanced public water pipes? That might help get the stuff pumped up the tiny rusted and corroded pipes and if effective would certainly advance science, since it would prove the Indonesian theory that water runs uphill.

    On the other hand, there may now be a glimmer of hope that the authorities will notice there is a problem. The village chief of Pecatu, I Made Sumarta, has got into the act, complaining that local people are also being forced into buying expensive tanker water.  When it’s only “rich Bules” (hah!) and five-star hotels that quibble, well, frankly, no one gives a Rhett Butler.

DIY Clean-Up

Neighbouring Ungasan, where the village authorities have a proud record of ignoring essentials, presents a problem for people who really would like to live without rat, snake, dog and mosquito-attracting rubbish. They’re into you for general levy fees – which we have avoided here at The Cage, preferring instead to pay the local Banjar, since it does useful social welfare work – but outside Ungasan village itself, little activity has ever been detected.

      So it’s interesting to learn that in another part of Tundun Penyu Dipal – the top ridge, from where there are fine views of the litter-strewn Balangan road – the local staff from 27 villas have got together and formed an association to provide mutual self-help and security. They meet monthly (refreshments provided), have a New Year’s party planned, and are benefiting from having friends around them. Many domestic workers do not have the local family support base available to Balinese who work in their home areas.

      Backed by one foreign resident, owner of one of the villas in the project, the association is now also conducting monthly clean-ups in the area. At the first, on Nov. 5, 22 of the available 27 people turned out. A contractor has been appointed to take the rubbish to the refuse disposal centre at Suwung, whose operators will hopefully dispose of it properly.

      Since Ungasan village provides no rubbish collection in the area and there is as yet no appreciable decline in the cultural practice of just tossing your garbage over the fence – or dropping it on the road as you meander along on your motorbike – this is a significant measure to reduce the litter overburden. It’s an idea that is already practised elsewhere and should be copied in many other places.

      It’s self-help at its local best. Pity it puts the village authorities to shame, but there you go.

Five-Oh

Jennifer Bee, who among other things markets Grand Komodo Tours & Diving and believes – so she tells us on her Facebook – that a glass is neither half empty for pessimists nor half full for optimists, but simply has room for vodka in it, alerts us to another astonishment. This year December has five Saturdays, five Sundays and five Mondays. Apparently this happens only once every 824 years and the Chinese have a term for it (well, they would). It’s the Money Bag.

     Bee, a Jakarta native who would look very fetching in a big red hat if only one were still in her possession (she gave it away), is also an aficionada of art. She might possibly be seen distant from her Sanur domain on Nov. 16, at the opening of the Bali Sumba Timor Photography Exhibition, featuring the work of Ari Saaski. The exhibition, which runs through to January, is at Cafe des Artistes in Jl Bisma, Ubud.

     The photos on show include landscape, nature and portraiture and probably should not be missed by The Diary, either.

Pumpkin Heads

It was Halloween on Oct. 31, as no one should need reminding since it occurs on that date every year. It’s the eve of All Saints’ Day, a Christian festival, and is traditionally a night when the spirits are abroad; rather like the night before Nyepi, really.

     But it’s chiefly an American thing, dating from when the fun-loving Pilgrim Fathers landed at the Kennedy Compound in Massachusetts and wondered what they could do with all those pumpkins, since it was plain they could do absolutely nothing with the Kennedys.

     Ever since, whimsy has been the American way. And we’re indebted to American Prospect’s daily news brief (of Nov. 1) for giving us a break from election year politics – that’s all over now too – and instead informing us that according to a leading polling outfit, PPP, 62 percent of US voters polled said chocolate was their Halloween poison of choice, and that if forced to turn into a monster, 22 percent would prefer being a vampire against 12 percent who’d like to be a werewolf.

      It seems that the Democrats are the Party Party. Thirty-three percent of registered Democratic respondents told the pollsters they would be dressing up for Halloween, against only 23 percent of Republicans.

Peaced Off

Perhaps Nick Way, of the Bali Peace Park Association, will have more time to devote to matters of importance now that he’s left Network Ten in Perth.We learned of his departure from the broadcaster, which is having a bit of a commercial struggle these days, through The Australian newspaper’s Strewth diary column.

     It reported that at this year’s West Australian Media Ball, held recently and like all such events an annual bash renowned for feats of alcoholic misadventure, job security was the talk of the tables among the lads and the frocked-up lassies. This was apparently given extra piquancy by the departure of veteran sound-recordist Way and The West Australian’s so-called super sleuth Sean Cowan from the benefits of paid employment.

     Way should now be able to Google bananas (hint: they’re a plant, not a tree) to avoid further horticultural and arboreal embarrassment at the former Sari club site, as well as look for practical ways to progress his association’s long-running sequel to Mission Impossible.

Hector’s Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser and on the newspaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets (@scratchings) and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky). He blogs at http://www.wotthehec.blogspot.com.