Stranded in the shit field

There’s depth of feeling here that you don’t often see in writing. Worth reading.

No Place For Sheep


Now and again in a life, one runs into what I like to call a shit field – a series of apparently unconnected events that occur simultaneously, or hard on one another’s heels, all of which share a common theme.

It can be difficult to recognise you’re in the shit field at the time, because its very nature clouds the mind and takes a toll on perceptions.

For the last twelve months, and particularly the last four or five, some of the effects of trudging through the shit field have been an increasing lack of creativity, loss of interest in the world, crippling anxiety, depression, and a sense of having completely lost control of my life and my ability to make good decisions.

I apologise to everyone who has stayed with the blog, for my increasing lack of output, and the deteriorating quality of the posts I have managed.

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HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 30, 2013


His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences 


Somebody Loves Them

Bali Dogs, that is. And the anti-rabies fighter BAWA too, the Bali Animal Welfare Association, which as no one should have missed or failed to remark upon, has come to grief on the treacherous shoals of Bali’s perversely acquisitive and uniquely dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Jaymi Muzzicato, who is 11 and comes from Cranbourne in Victoria, Australia, has used her big heart and energy to raise funds in Australia for BAWA programs to support the welfare of animals in Bali.

After visiting BAWA in September, she says she just can’t wait to come back to Bali and BAWA as a volunteer. Meanwhile, back home, she’s busy ramping up more support for BAWA among her friends, family and fellow students and staff at her school, Courtenay Gardens Primary, where earlier she won the backing of her school principal and teacher to run a colouring contest for the benefit of BAWA.

To promote the contest, she researched BAWA and shared lots of stories about rescued animals and BAWA’s many other animal support programs. When Jaymi visited BAWA in Ubud in September she presented $150 (Australian) raised from the contest, her personal money and donations. And she made a new friend of Monkey, a street dog that has adopted BAWA’s Jl Monkey Forest shop as her daytime home but likes the street life at night.

Jaymi says her visit to BAWA was the highlight of her two weeks in Bali and that it has motivated her to plan further fundraising for Bali animals in need.

Saying thanks to Jaymi for her efforts, BAWA founder Janice Girardi noted the capacity of young people around the world to make a difference to animal welfare. “We are really heartened when people like Jaymi take the initiative to give their time and energy to promoting BAWA and supporting our work to protect and create a better future for Bali’s animals,”  said Girardi.

Some people around here might profit spiritually by noting all that.


Kindling a Fire

Inveterate Legian blogger Vyt Karazija has had enough, it seems. But it’s not the terrible traffic, brutish baristas, ‘orrible ‘olidaymakers, importunate Rp600K quick-time girls, predatory premans or any of the other dangerous denizens of Grossville that have him on the outer edge of his temper envelope.

He popped up on Facebook, where like the Diary he spends a lot of time that probably gets him into trouble, with a swipe at Amazon/Kindle for complicating the life of authors from outside the USA. 

It was no wonder, he wrote, that authors from elsewhere other than the Land of the Free hate using that Yankee conglomerate for their works. We quote:

“First, they put you through a tax grilling, making you pay ridiculous rates of tax to the IRS unless you execute some complex document relating to ‘treaty benefits’ with your home country. Then you have to physically ring the IRS and confirm. Then, a year later, they make you go through the whole charade again…

“Here is a typical bureaucratic question on their latest incomprehensible tax form: ‘Do you derive the income for which you can claim treaty benefits?’

“Simple, right? But then they helpfully ‘explain’ how to answer, and melt your brain in the process: ‘Income may be derived by either the entity receiving the item of income or by the interest holders in the entity or, in certain circumstances, both. An item of income paid to an entity is considered to be derived by the entity only if the entity is not fiscally transparent under the laws of the entity’s jurisdiction with respect to the item of income. Answer yes or no’.

“Why don’t they just ask: ‘Are you the one getting the money?’ I guess that would be too simple.”

We engaged Karazija on this, pointing out that millions of legislative drafters worldwide would be unemployed were the KISS principle to be invoked. He came back with a lovely line: “Bafflegab rules.”

We can’t beat that.


In the Running

Alicia Budihardja, late of Conrad Bali and most recently late of Mantra (the newish Aussie player on the comfy beds circuit) has popped up at the plush St Regis, as assistant director of marketing communications reporting to Stephanie Carrier, director of same. It’s a move “just down the road” but a big career step.

We wish her well. It’s so nice to know cheery people who enjoy their work and are good at their jobs.

The new gig encompasses fellow Starwood property Laguna Resort and Spa. It’s a cluster in the new-speak of the resort world. Perhaps we shall soon be seeing Budihardja winning beach races with all the practice she’s bound to get sprinting up and down Geger Beach to the Laguna and vice-versa.


Exit Report

We love seeing old friends who make it back to Bali from far-flung places – even though in this particular instance we were so busy in paradise we could only see them once (for a lovely lunch at a favourite spot, Café des Artistes in Ubud) – and it’s fun getting their post-trip exit reports too.

Thus we hear from Larry Sprecher, of Portland, Oregon, who truly is a senior citizen, as is his wife Maggie, the self-driver on their trips:

“Maggie had no trouble with the missing International Driver’s Permit. We were stopped at only one roadblock. The officer took a look at Maggie, did a double take, saluted and waved her on through.

“The new [Ngurah Rai] International Departure Building is impressive. It will be even more impressive when they get the new restaurants, shops, and provide places for 1000 people to sit.”

Ah Bali! Don’t you just love it?


It Ain’t Half Hot Mum

Well it would be, dopey. And very humid: It’s Bali and the rainy season is coming. (Disclaimer: Print deadlines being what they are, this item was sent off 10 days ago; if everything’s changed by the time you read this, and you’re wearing galoshes because it’s sodden underfoot or ugg boots to ward off the rainy season chill, don’t blame your poor diarist.)

Back in mid-October BMKG (the Department of Meteorology) felt obliged to tell people it hadn’t been any hotter than it always was at that time of the year. Then it said it had been, which came as no surprise, since in Indonesia yes is so often no and black so often white. Living within earshot of public discourse here is reminiscent of  listening to Jim Trott (admirably played by Trevor Peacock) in that fine Brit sit-com The Vicar of Dibley, whose seminal contribution to any discussion consists of “no-no-no-no – yes”.

But we digress. BMKG felt obliged, in its public disclosure of the state of Bali’s weather, to advise that the sun was moving south at the time – both astronomers and astrologers will be glad to hear that, no doubt, though boffin-like quibblers could point out it’s actually the earth’s pedantic insistence on oscillating that does the trick – bringing with it the weather we normally expect in October.

We quote Bali BMKG chief of data Nyoman Gede Wirajaya as our expert source: “The position of the sun is directly over the island in October, resulting in quite hot weather,” he said, further explaining that Bali’s position south of the equator affects the weather cycles. Thanks, Pak Nyoman. Glad you could clear that up.

Daily highs average 33C in October but had been 35C. Perhaps at the BMKG 35C is not hotter than 33. We are assured that things will be cooler in November and December, when the sun has moved to the south and is fully-frying our neighbours in Australia.


That Sinking Feeling

Tanjung Benoa is sinking, so it is said. Hundreds of residents of the mudflat and sandbar promontory at the northern end of Nusa Dua think so, at least, and as members of a group known as Harmony Bali they recently attempted to apprise the Governor of this unsettling information. Harmony doesn’t get a mention in police standard operating procedures, however. A handily present platoon of plods was resolute in denying them entry to the gubernatorial offices in Denpasar.

An appeal to the shades of successive Venetian doges might possibly bear fruit. The Serenissima was built on much the same sort of shifting and watery ground. It was only stabilized – as an infrastructural entity we mean, not as a political community, which might be another similarity – when Medieval and later Venetians got among the aquatic stuff with megatons of reinforcing material and backed that action with rigid building controls that saved the islands of the lagoon from disappearing into the briny.

In much of the world, you don’t build on mudflats and sandbars anyway, for very good reason.


Hector tweets @scratchings


Some Points on the Pension



24 October 2013

Ross Fitzgerald had this piece in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today. It makes a good argument for policy change. I have some views on that too that I’ll blog about later. In the meantime, read on:

Government can’t ignore retiring baby-boomers

THE year 2011 was the year when people born straight after World War II turned 65. These were the thin end of a very large wedge.

The baby-boomers, that huge demographic group that has been slowly making its way up through the age brackets, are now starting to reach retirement age.

This presents a problem for governments and the economy in general.

The demand for aged care is likely to double, then triple over the next few decades with the costs rising commensurately.

Superannuation has been regarded as the answer to the problem, but not every Australian is going to have enough super to support them in old age – especially a very long old age.

People who have been on well-paid salaries for most of their lives can have over a million dollars in their super funds. However, many have not had access to super, or adequate super.

People who have been self-employed, unemployed, on disability or sickness benefits, supported by their spouse or working in industries where super is rare, face life on the aged pension – currently a subsistence allowance that is scarcely enough to put food on the table, let alone pay rapidly rising power bills.

A retiree with a younger partner who is still working is likely to get next to nothing as a pension and pity help pensioners who are still paying off a mortgage or have children living at home.

Two other solutions to financing retirement and aged care have been suggested. One is simply to abolish retirement: to encourage workers to stay in their jobs. However, how long can we expect people to keep working? There are health and safety issues for older workers. In our mid-60s heavy physical labour becomes difficult or impossible.

Do we want to see people in their 70s climbing on roofs, driving school buses or piloting planes? Apart from physical decline there is the problem of skills obsolescence: many people reach a point where their job ceases to exist.

If workers are unable to continue in their former careers, what alternative jobs are available to them? Are McDonald’s, Just Jeans or Supre going to start hiring salespeople in their 70s?

While there are a number of part-time jobs available for older people, there will never be enough to absorb all those who are about to retire. And what effect will it have on younger people trying to start careers if older people don’t vacate positions?

The second solution revolves around liquidating an individual’s assets to fund their retirement and, eventually, their aged care.

This includes such ideas as reverse mortgages (a misleading term: a reverse mortgage would presumably be a situation where someone lent money to the bank). This is simply a normal mortgage except that the borrower makes no repayments and the bank repossesses the home on their death.

What if the costs of care exceed the value of the home? How does such an arrangement take into account the rights of a spouse who co-owns the home?

What happens if the cost of caring for one partner leaves no equity to provide for the care of the other?

Many of the proposals for funding age care seem to assume that most couples go into care around the same time, whereas in reality there can be a 20-year gap.

Beyond the problems of equity and implementation, schemes to divest individuals of their wealth all imply either a diminution or the abolition of inheritance.

The economic consequences of this would be significant. One of the reasons Australians are prepared to spend 25 years paying off a mortgage is to leave something to their children. How keen will they be to do so if they know that, in the end, they are going to have to sell that home to pay for their aged care?

The tendency would be to devise schemes to pass wealth on to their children much earlier in life. One might foresee a booming business in property trusts and other schemes designed to keep the family home as the property of the family.

In the end governments are probably going to have to resign themselves to paying an adequate age pension and providing first class care for ageing citizens because, ultimately, economic difficulty will be trumped by political necessity.

An ageing population also means an ageing electorate and the most compelling issue in the next 20 years is going to be the number of cars driving slowly along our streets with stickers saying “I’m old and I vote”.

Ross Fitzgerald is Emeritus Professor of History and Politics at Griffith University, Queensland


Why does Australia imprison innocent women, children and men?

A voice that deserves to be heard

Oosterman Treats Blog


What motivates a democratic, peace-time government to imprison innocent men, women and children? Former Liberal MP Judi Moylan looks at the divisive history of Australian border policy.

Few matters have been more fiercely debated in the Australian Parliament or more unsparingly ventilated in the media than the recent and ongoing treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat.

To understand what motivates a democratic government in peace-time to implement policies that imprison indefinitely thousands of men, women and children who have not been charged with or convicted of any crime we must turn to historical, social and political attitudes.

Though countries around the world guard their sovereign powers jealously to determine who may enter, the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia has been particularly high profile and divisive. This article seeks to understand why.

The White Australia Policy

Immigration has been contentious in Australia since the early days of European…

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HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 16, 2013

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences


May The Farce Be With You

We were going to be nice about it all, really we were. APEC, we mean. It was so important to Bali, after all. All those lovely delegates were sure to be so impressed by the event and the island that hosted it that they’d all return later, with their families, for private holidays, thereby boosting the economy by a zillion convertible currency units.

Yes, well, farce has a long and honourable history. Only the Seriously Up-Themselves could possibly be impressed by their mode of transport: preceded, tailed and flanked by siren-sounding, blue-light-flashing and thoroughly rude loudspeaker-equipped police causing chaos and endless delays and pushing lesser mortals off the road. It’s how the ruling classes conduct themselves here but any delegate with the most rudimentary measure of social awareness would have been mortified.

The top three from our Farce List:

THE ban on kites and lasers as aviation hazards during APEC. If they’re hazards to VIP landings and take-offs, they’re hazards to ordinary air travellers too, all the time, not just on special occasions.

THE mass cancellations of airline services (700 of them) because the airport was closed through peak operating hours to accommodate VIP flights.

THE armoured car with fully loaded machine-gunners at each end that we saw trundling down Jl Raya Uluwatu through Jimbaran village escorted by police and military police motorcycles. Thank goodness they didn’t hit a pothole and squeeze a trigger. Had they been sent to get the fish for lunch?


Sartorial Splendour

Hector’s helper got into a bit of trouble on his Facebook on the last day of APEC for posting a photo from the ABC website of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott arriving at the end-of-event Big Dinner wearing purple Endek. It wasn’t the rig that was being critiqued – Batik and Ikat are wonderful fashion statements and vital elements of Indonesian culture – but the fact that purple just isn’t his colour.

Judging from the photo, in which PM Abbott is looking (smilingly) vaguely uneasy and his wife is looking determinedly anywhere but at his shirt, we think he knows this.


Bon Soirée

Hector and Distaff attended one APEC event, which was an American business oriented cocktail function at the Grand Nikko Bali where Jean-Charles Le Coz presides over the cliff-top presence with just the right amount of Gallic flair. We were invited by Jack Daniels of Bali Discovery Tours and Bali Update, with whom we share an interest in the fortunes – misfortunes rather – of Bali’s street dogs. We drank some very pleasant Californian red and chatted with lots of interesting people.

We had to chat. The speeches were off because of the inability of American governmental arrangements to realize that as this is the 21st century they really should move on (and no, we’re not talking about guns or health care). Everyone officially American present, including the US Secretary of Commerce, seemed to be on furlough. In the non-American part of the Anglosphere this is more simply known as leave without pay.

It was interesting getting into the venue. We didn’t have a magic APEC pass, you see. So after a bit of a circus we parked on the road outside and walked in. A chatty infantry corporal, fully armed, escorted us to the sign-in tent. He saw me checking his boots (old military habits die hard) and thereafter called me Sir.


Three Hearty Woofs!

An annual event of note took place in Melbourne on Oct. 11 – the Bali Street Dogs appeal night, this year presided over by one of the Diary’s favourite Aussie TV personages, Kerri-Anne Kennerley. The event was at the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, as always, and was co-sponsored by Garuda.

Volunteer cheerleader and longstanding Bali hand Sally Rodd reminded us the 2012 appeal raised more than $40,000 to help alleviate the appalling conditions in which most of Bali’s abandoned and urban-feral dogs live.

It’s great to know that some people understand that being Lead Species on Planet Earth confers obligations such as a duty of care towards lesser creatures. Perhaps some further educational literature on that rather broad topic could be usefully read by bureaucrats here.

Anyone interested in the Melbourne end of caring for Bali’s dogs should bookmark


Sanglah Connection

Kon Vatskalis, who as health minister in the former Northern Territory government was the leading political driver of the 2011 sister relationship between Sanglah and Royal Darwin Hospital, was back here recently to check on progress. He’s now the opposition spokesman on health in the legislature of that Australian territory.

We had dinner with him and his family at La Favela in Seminyak, an occasion hosted by Australia’s consul-general in Bali, Brett Farmer. Vatskalis pronounced himself well satisfied with the way the Darwin-Sanglah link had progressed and tells us he’s also keen to help with the establishment of a new international hospital here and to extend the Darwin link to the public hospital facility in Kupang, West Timor.

He issued a statement on his visit. Among other things it noted this:

“The Sanglah Hospital has completely revamped their emergency department and introduced a triage system that has significantly improved patient care. In addition, the hospital has introduced a Clinical Nurse Educator [and is] the only hospital with such a position in Indonesia.  It has also introduced a hospital school for sick children, modelled on the one in Royal Darwin Hospital.”

It’s these sorts of things that take place largely out of the public gaze that are so valuable, so effective at cementing relationships, and so useful in bringing otherwise unreachable benefits to the Indonesian people.


In the Swim

Celia Gregory of the Marine Foundation – she’s the Brit “underwater sculptress” whose polyp-friendly structures augment existing and nascent coral reefs in Bali and the Lombok Gilis – was at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival this year, presenting at a day of free events sponsored by The Body Shop.

The day-long affair (on Oct. 13) was a special addition to this year’s festival program and themed “Our Planet: Through Darkness to Light”. Gregory was joined at Fivelements (it’s on the Ayung River at Banjar Baturning, Mambal) by Rili Djohani of the Coral Triangle Centre, environmental activist and The Body Shop Indonesia CEO Suzy Hutomo, environmental writer Harry Surjadi and orang-utan rehab expert Simon Husson.

It presented “a journey across Bali’s coral reefs and Indonesia’s extraordinary forest and wildlife worlds”.

On Oct. 14, in another festival spin-off, Villa Kitty at Lodtundah staged a special literary and art-oriented day for children. Villa Kitty, which is now a fully fledged Yayasan, is run by that energetic Ubud fixture, Elizabeth Henzell.


Swish Dish

We see that snappy photographer Deborah Cayetano, who also runs the innovative Bali’s Best Chefs operation, has added vacation and time management to her skill-set outlined on LinkedIn, where the Diary does its real work. That’s probably a good thing. Her plush dining experiences require a lot of organization. They’re invitation only, the names of other guests are not revealed until all are gathered for the feast, and the location is kept secret until 48 hours before the event.

It’s a great marketing pitch. Award winning chefs from around the world who now live and work in Bali present special menu creations and premium wines are paired by the chef to blend nicely with each course.

The succulent celebrations take place in a luxury holiday villa, on a big yacht, or at an historical location. It’s a nice niche market to aim for and helps promote Bali as more than just a resort of the gulp-guzzle-and-go brigade.


In a Great Cause

W Resort and Spa at Seminyak is the venue on Oct. 19 for a Gala Fundraiser in aid of Bali’s new Breast Cancer Support Centre in Jl Dewi Sri, Kuta, which is an initiative of the Bali Pink Ribbon organization.

The evening will feature a four-course dinner by W Resort and Spa Bali’s executive chef Richard Millar (including free-flow wine).  Cocktails begin at 6:30pm. Tickets are Rp1.5 million (US$130). Call (+62) (0)361-8352299 or email


RIMBA Calling

Marian Carroll of AYANA – whose corporate boosting duties now include the new companion resort hotel RIMBA – is looking forward to the establishment’s grand opening on Nov.  1. It opened (in the soft way that such establishments do worldwide) in time to host APEC delegates and was performing very well when we had breakfast there with Carroll one recent weekend.

Some finishing touches were still being made and bits of it looked a tad To-Do, but the Lobby is spectacular, the breakfast was good, the staff attentive, and it was lovely to be in the midst of an infant forest and surrounded by masses of water.

The grand opening should be spectacular.


 Hector tweets @scratchings




Treatment of Asylum seekers by Sayomi Ariyawansa

We need to hear more of this and less of the “they’re coming to get us” nonsense.

Oosterman Treats Blog

UNExtract byimagesCAEF97OG Sayomi Ariyawansa From Future Leaders

Detention-centre advocates tell us that our tough attitude towards “boat people” is a deterrent for others who may consider seeking asylum here. They tell us these people are a burden that we don’t want, and the best way to stop them is to show them that Australia is not an open country and will not accept everyone. However, there is a line between tough and inhumane, a line that is blurred in terms of our refugee policy. Our current system humiliates and psychologically damages innocent people and goes against UN conventions.

There must be a better way to treat this issue, and we should consider the systems in place by other countries. The UN International Refugee Convention requires host countries to treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect while
Australia’s Treatment of Refugees is Unnecessarily Harsh

their claims for asylum are processed. There…

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HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2, 2013


His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Barking Mad

The real story behind the precipitate action by Bali’s authorities to close down BAWA – the Bali Animal Welfare Association – will probably never be known. It cannot have been licensing irregularities alone, surely? The only people who get pinged over licence issues here are those who have trodden on some bigwig’s ego, often with good reason. The island is littered with buildings that do not have permits and enterprises that are inadequately licensed or not licensed at all; it is overrun with vehicles that are unregistered and drivers and motorbike riders who are unlicensed; and there is a myriad of cosy little far-from-legal wink-and-nod deals, including in the veterinary area, that no one even bothers to hide. Bali is that sort of place.

BAWA does sterling work with Bali’s street dogs, many of which live appalling lives that should shame anyone with a conscience. The message it consistently puts out should be readily understood by anyone. If you feed a dog, it’s yours, whether or not it actually is. And if a dog is yours, you are responsible for it.

Let’s not forget that without BAWA there would probably not have been a properly managed vaccination program to control rabies, or an education program directed at and in the interests of local people. It was BAWA that did the hard yards and got the crisis recognized by global health authorities. We should not forget either that the disease – whether reintroduced or simply breaking out of dormancy; it doesn’t matter – emerged in early to mid-2008: now fully half a decade ago.

And let’s not forget that in 2008 a number of people died of rabies before anyone in the animal or human health areas could be bothered to notice. Let’s not forget that at least 150 people are known to have died of the disease. If it had been bubonic plague – that’s a zoonotic disease too – there would have been panic and Bali’s tourism industry would have been dumped in the plague pit along with the human casualties.

There are other things not to forget. BAWA funded the first-ever rabies seminar in Bali hosted by Udayana medical college where World Health Organization specialists and leading rabies experts spent three days educating local doctors and veterinarians in best-practice rabies control. Let’s not forget BAWA had a stellar reputation with the provincial local government until this year when many positions in animal husbandry were switched in another of the tedious merry-go-rounds of administrative changes that happen here.

BAWA founder and chief organizer Janice Girardi personally funded Bali’s first-ever rabies campaign late 2009 as proof for international funders that it is possible (although it is never easy) to catch and vaccinate dogs that have never before been handled by humans. BAWA vaccinated 48,000 dogs in six months during that pilot programme.

Girardi was away from Bali when the authorities chose to swoop. That they did so then instead of waiting for her to get home is itself a disgrace that prompts questions. The local media reported that she had refused to allow officials to enter BAWA’s premises. How was this possible? Did she email herself back to the island to stand in the doorway?

The dog vaccination campaign and related sterilization programs must continue along with the audited and regulated public education BAWA introduced in October 2010 and which since April 2011 has been conducted in consultation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The education effort must go on because many people (among them the thicker expatriates) still refuse to comprehend that street dogs are not “wild dogs” but the abandoned or ephemerally fed canine victims of human thoughtlessness or their progeny.  BAWA’s dog population control programs are vital not only to the issue of stray dogs but also for effective reduction of rabies.

It goes beyond this too. If BAWA is shut down, what will the authorities do about the 30-40 emergency calls each day to which BAWA responds, round the clock, free of charge? The question is rhetorical. We know that the answer is “nothing”.

Tourism veteran John (Jack) Daniels wrote an open letter to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika about all this on Sept. 21 (read it on It was a courageous move and he deserves applause for taking this action. His determination to get things back on track – and to keep BAWA in business – sends a strong signal to the authorities that the situation has gone far beyond the point where (according to some people) no one should speak up forcefully for fear of being thought a meddlesome foreigner who should go home if they don’t like it here.

BAWA needs support, financial and well as moral. Rabies must be reduced to a point where it is no longer a daily threat. That requires concerted, proactive engagement at every level of society and in every community.

Letters as an Art Form

This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is nearly with us (Oct. 11-15) and, as has been its established pattern, the festival has spread its wings a little bit further again. The Women of Letters series, fresh from sell-out shows in New York and Los Angeles, is presenting events in Indonesia for the first time – and one of them is at the UWRF.

We live in a world of short text messages and Twitter – even the Diary’s on Twitter – but classical letter-writing is a very civilized activity we should not let go by the board. Thanks to Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire and their series Women of Letters we are reminded of the beautiful art of letter writing.

The Ubud event, including a workshop and under the UWRF banner, is on Oct. 12 at Indus. It is in collaboration with the Salihara Literary Biennale (Jakarta), a delightful bringing together two of Indonesia’s most high-profile literary events and featuring leading Indonesian and Australian writers (women, naturally) who will share their stories through the art of letter writing at events.

The Jakarta event is on Oct. 3 and there’s another in Yogyakarta on Oct. 5 under the auspices of the Langgeng Art Foundation.

It’s an impressive line-up: Anne Summers, Alphamama, Ayu Utami, Clare Bowditch, Emilie Zoey Baker, Khairani Barokka, Kirsty Murray, Laura Jean McKay, Lionel Shriver, Lisa Febriyanti, Okky Madasari, Olin Monteiro, Robin de Crespigny and the Diary’s personal pick of the show, Shamini Flint.

This year’s UWRF pays homage to Raden Ayu Kartini, defined as Indonesia’s pioneer of women’s rights.

Good Deed, Great Veg

Tricia Kim of the Rotary Club of Canggu tells us the art auction held at Tugu Hotel recently raised more than Rp65 million to improve the lives of prisoners in Kerobokan Jail. The money will help build a garden at the jail and means prisoners will have access to more fresh food and achieve better balance in their diets.

Art up for auction at the event was the work of Kerobokan inmates, including Bali Nine convict Myuran Sukumaran, who has obtained prison authorities’ support to fund an organic garden and improve drainage and basic environmental conditions at the jail.

Among the many supporters of efforts to provide Kerobokan prisoners with a better life is the Australian not for profit enterprise Emerald Community House, whose director Mary Farrow has been providing support to Kerobokan inmates for more than a year.

She says this: “The prison arts program provides a rehabilitation activity that engages inmates and provides an opportunity for expression. The artwork produced by the prison arts studio will fund a new permaculture garden and help improve drainage in the garden area.”

Earlier this year the acclaimed Australian painter Ben Quilty led an art class at the prison art studio, which is said to have remarkably improved the quality of artworks produced by the inmates. Well done Quilty – and well done inmates. The result at the Tugu auction was vigorous bidding for the artworks on offer. Well done bidders!

The food garden and drainage improvements planned at the jail follow a visit to Kerobokan earlier this year by local Indonesian NGO the IDEP Foundation, from which a plan was developed. Rotary Canggu then offered to host an auction of artworks by the inmates to help fund the prison garden project.

Gede Sugiarta of IDEP Foundation says: “We recently worked with the Bangli prison to create an organic garden and the inmates found it very therapeutic. They get exercise and they grow fresh vegetables they might not get otherwise. We’re really excited to work with Kerobokan prison and the inmates to build a garden and improve the environment.”


Well, we didn’t make it along there ourselves, but as we promised Tom Hufnagel when he invited us, we drank beer anyway. The Bali Oktoberfest was held at JP’s Warung in the KLS F&F (fun and frivolity) precinct on Sep. 27.

Tom promised a Bavarian Beer Tent atmosphere with – sorry, that should be mit – Wiesn Haendl, Schweinshaxn, Nuernberger mit Sauerkraut, traditional Bavarian food and live stage performances featuring lederhosen and dirndl. A toast: Eine weitere Bintang bitte!

Hector tweets @ scratchings


BAD DIARIST’S NOTE: Tricia Kim reminds me that the Kerobokan benefit night was at La Finca, a fine establishment, not at  Hotel Tugu, also a fine establishment. Apologies.