His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences
It’s Tough at the Top
Governor Made Pastika has faced some tough challenges during his term as Bali’s elected leader (today, May 15, is the gubernatorial election and he’s running again, vying for a second term) which have in some instances not been because of the things he has done or not done, but instead relate to the poisonous nature of politics. We’re not making an invidious point: politics is poisonous everywhere. Indeed, one of the reasons your diarist moved to Bali to live was to ameliorate the effects of too many years too deeply and too intimately involved in this arcane art in Australia.
In the Great South Land, the special biosphere, source of the monosyllabic legions of singlet-clad, beer-swilling, low-cost (golly, we nearly wrote low-rent) tourists who with alarming frequency turn Kuta and parts of Legian into something resembling an Antipodean swamp, Pastika’s local problems would be ascribed to one or other, or possibly both, of two immutable laws of public affairs: Murphy’s, and that of his cousin Sod.
Often, it must be said, it is somewhat inventive to invoke these functions of dysfunction as the agency of one’s own misfortune. It’s a long-handed way of advancing the explanation for failure, popular here, that one’s friend did it. In other places, it’s the dogs that eat the homework. Here they have no need to. There’s rubbish aplenty in the streets for them to scavenge.
So leaving aside a few inconvenient mangroves (which we see from reported remarks of the chap who’s in charge of building the Mangrove Motorway through the fragile and shallow waters of Benoa Bay are actually enhanced by concrete pylons) and a couple of his more visible stumbles into the footlights while starring in the latest popular farce, we sympathise with the Guv.
Take the recent rape-robbery of an unfortunate Australian woman at an Umalas villa, for one example. Pastika had nothing to do with this or indeed with the detail of policing to deter criminal mayhem. It’s not the Governor who sits on his bum all day instead of getting out patrolling the neighbourhood. That’s not his job. Ahem, that’s actually the job of the police. Pause for polite laughter.
Nevertheless, the Guv still found it politically necessary to give a categorical guarantee – which similarly he cannot give – that tourists are safe here. Chalk up another opportunity for Murphy; or Sod.
A Stand-Out Success
Founder Gaye Warren tells us 588 tickets were sold for this year’s Bali Pink Ribbon Walk – held at Nusa Dua on Apr. 28 – and says the 2013 event was spectacularly endowed with children and dogs. Both are essential elements of life, we agree. As well, an active interest in combating breast cancer (and other diseases) is crucial and should be inculcated in young people as early as possible. There’s no reason why an appreciation of civil society – in its broadest sense – should not be widely apparent in anyone with even embryonic faculties to recognise the rights of others and the fact that we’re all aboard the same Ark, in a manner of speaking.
Organisers were aiming for 500 ticket sales this year, so the result is very good. It testifies not only to increasing awareness of breast cancer but also to the energetic promotion of the fight against it that Bali is fortunate to see in people such as Warren and her band of enthusiastic associates.
This year’s walk, supported as always by the hotels and resorts which make up so large a part of Bali’s foreign earnings sector (the food was yummy, guys) also featured the otherwise unusual spectacle of medical perambulators. Doctors from Singapore and Darwin, as well as local specialists, trotted off round the circuit with the rest of the crowd.
In the days following the walk, they got down to the serious field work that is crucial to detecting breast cancer early enough to combat it effectively. On Apr. 29-30 the Pink Ribbon House mobile scanning team checked out 280 women in Denpasar and Ubud. This was followed by preventive checks and education sessions more widely throughout the island. In another innovation an online auction was held from Apr. 29-May 1 to raise further funds.
Breast cancer is still little understood in traditional and remote Balinese communities so the education effort and medical checks are a continuing need. Too many Balinese women are not aware enough of the risks of breast cancer to report symptoms early.
Pink Ribbon House in Kuta, a pioneer institution in Indonesia in more ways than one, is set for its official opening in October, world breast cancer awareness month.
We ran into Gaye Warren a day or so before the Big Walk when both she (and husband Chris) and Hector turned out for the opening of a lovely art exhibition at Ganesha Gallery, Four Seasons Jimbaran, organised by the energetic Melly St Ange in aid of the Senang Hati (Happy Hearts) Foundation at Tampak Siring, near Ubud. It is a not-for-profit group that assists the disabled in Bali. The foundation creates programmes to develop self-confidence, physical and economic independence, and increase awareness in the general community of the rights of people with disabilities. Its motto is “From Isolation to Integration”.
An auction on opening night raised funds for the group. Works by five artists were featured: Ida Ayu Wiadnyani Manuaba (her father is former traditional painter turned priest Ida Bagus Gde Djika) who has exhibited in Australia; Putu Suriati, from Kedewatan near Ubud ,who never went to school because she got polio when she was five; Kartika Sudibia, who started painting as therapy three years ago after surviving cancer of the uterus and whose work sells in Malaysia, Taiwan, Australia and Europe; and Australians Nina Packer (she lives in Bali) and Cheryl Tonkin, whose art presents the female form, frequently with a piquant eroticism.
Ganesha’s, and Four Seasons’, support for charity deserves a cheer. We caught up with Geetha Warrier, the plush pub’s publicist, at the show and said so.
Is That You Puss?
Facebook is an engaging environment, if you use it sensibly. It can bring you little moments of joy, such as, for example, an exchange recently – it related to the utility and function of Bali’s roads (the consensus was nil on both counts by the way) – that drew out American cult novelist and multimedia artist Kris Saknussemm, who is no stranger to Bali. He was a star attraction at the 2010 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.
It was in relation to the uniformly quiet nature of Bali’s roads that Saknussemm surfaced. Like public thoroughfares anywhere, the island’s roads are forever inanimate and silent. Their lot in life is merely to provide channels for those who use them to test Darwin’s theory of evolution or take the mischances of fate. Your diarist, wearing his day job hat, had noted this quality of quietness. Saknussemm, delightfully electing to miss the point, came back with a line that said the road from Ubud to Denpasar might sometimes be quiet, but only at the dead of night.
Saknussemm has lived most of his life outside the US but at present resides in Las Vegas, home of the Elvis Chapel which your diarist has never entered though some of his family have (it’s OK, we don’t have an issue with it). He told us: “But then it’s often dead silent where I live now. You could hear a cat piss right now. Not far away is the quiet of a million years.”
A writer of consummate talent (as well as 10 books) he certainly is. That drew a lovely word picture and we said so. And added: “I think I just heard a distant tinkle.”
Just a Thought
Twitter also gets a bad press. This is unfair. Not everyone on it is a total twit. And like all good things, it occasionally gives you a giggle. One popped up on our Tweet Deck the other day while we were desperately trying not to notice Kim Kardashian or someone else equally forgettable (perhaps it was Kanye West). It was doubly welcome because it also temporarily reduced angst over the latest annoying fiddling with things that work very well, by the busybody gizmo wizards in tweet heaven.
Here it is: “Fake friends would ask if you were okay when you fell. Real friends would trip you again.”
Conrad Bali at Nusa Dua is looking for a marketing and public relations manager. Mirah Marhaendra, who got the job after the 2011 management changes there, has departed. Conrad is a stellar property in Bali’s international resorts firmament with lots to market and plenty to publicly relate. We look forward to staying on the mailing list.
Hector’s Diary is published in the Bali Advertiser, out fortnightly, and appears on the newspaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets @scratchings and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky).
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