8degreesoflatitude

THINGS THAT INTEREST, ENGAGE AND ENRAGE

Month: March, 2014

Hector’s Diary Bali Advertiser, Mar. 19, 2014

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Stop Being a Pain

BIMC Hospital at Nusa Dua is now offering a revolutionary treatment for chronic joint pain and muscle injuries. News of this beneficence has already piqued the interest of certain elderly diarists around town, whose bodies unaccountably will not conform to the desired 21-Forever Plan.

There seems to be an increasing frequency of events in our life that bring to mind the ultimate predicaments of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in the delightful 1992 American dark comedy Death Becomes Her. Apart from trying to avoid accidental upsets on slippery steps and imperfect pavements – and that’s a functional impossibility in Bali – there has lately seemed little to do other than to cleave to classical Stoic practice: Grimace and bear it.

A chat with BIMC Hospital executive chairman Craig Beveridge the other day was therefore interesting. The new Orthopaedic PRP treatment is a four-step process that involves drawing a small quantity of blood from the patient, separating it in a centrifuge to extract the platelets, extracting 3-6 millilitres of platelet-rich plasma (that’s the PRP bit) and injecting the concentrate directly into the injured area.

The technology is new in Bali and a prime example of how medical science can help keep you on the bike (for example) and otherwise mobile. Sports medicine has grown rapidly over recent decades. Many among us have a dickey knee or two from continuing or former affiliations with energetic things. Beveridge and the Diary compared notes on precisely that point during our chat.

We’ll certainly look at the new procedure. People have been telling us for years that we’re a pain in the neck. And these days we know exactly how they’ve always felt.

 

SEB Programme

Regular readers will now what we mean, especially those who live full time in Bali. It’s a great place to live but it’s somewhere you need to escape from now and then. Our escape interval is generally less than six months.

This SEB is highly marginal against that preferred timeframe. It commenced on Mar. 14 and will end (appropriately perhaps) on All Fools’ Day, Apr. 1. When we left for Australia it was just short of six months since the Diary was last somewhere where white lines on roads are not just artwork to be ignored if they are noticed at all; where you can generally count on people complying with give-way and stop signs; where traffic leaves a red-now-green light without delay; and where drivers don’t indulge in a chorus of tooting before they remember that it’s their own inane fixation with their horn that is holding up the traffic behind.

It’s a joy to drive in a place where people stay in lane; indicate turn intentions and know where they’re going; use turn lanes properly; keep left; merge seamlessly into traffic from side-roads; don’t have an unquenchable urge to overtake you so they can then crawl along in front of you; and never overtake on the left.

That’s to say nothing of the absence of undisciplined hordes of motorcyclists who have no idea of the road rules or (if they do have an inkling) show any willingness to accept that they actually apply to them as well; or possess any apparent interest in their own longevity.

So OK, it’s basically boring, far too regulated, and absolutely overrun by the smoking police and battalions of other do-gooders who insist that they have a role in your life and won’t go away even if you give them very explicit and highly detailed advice as to how they should do so, now. It’s true that after two weeks in Australia you feel as if you’ve never left (and wonder why you haven’t).

But it’s good to re-immerse yourself in something resembling order, briefly. Perhaps that’s why Jo Hocking returned to Perth without much notice lately, after a surprisingly short engagement as spruiker for Mozaic beach club at Batu Belig.

 

Micra to Go

We’re driving a Nissan Micra on our SEB. It’s a nice little car of the same type that we hired in the UK over Christmas 2008. That occasion proved its worth. We were driving to deepest Lincolnshire (it’s about two to three metres below sea level and the area is even called Holland).

It’s also deeply agricultural. There are fields with cabbages in them as far as the eye can see, and we could see at that time of day even in midwinter. It was in that strange environment that our little Micra proved her worth. We had been chugging along behind some giant motorized agricultural implement for some little time when a clear stretch of road appeared.

The chance was grabbed. The Diary, who was driving with the lights on, used the right-turn indicator to indicate intention to pass (strange how quickly you lose Indonesian driving practices when you’re away from home) and flashed the headlights on full beam to further alert the driver of the mobile obstruction.

We pulled out and were level with the cab and its headphone-equipped driver when the machine suddenly turned right. It was apparently going home up some farm track. We were on track to go under its giant wheels.

Instinct took over: We jumped on the footbrake, spun the steering wheel full lock right and wrenched the handbrake on. That saved us, turning us 90 degrees in an instant. Or the car did. It’s a beautifully engineered little vehicle.

We stopped just short of a roadside dike (in the Lincolnshire fens that’s a ditch) and spent a little moment recovering our composure. The Diary wondered out loud, assisted by several adjectives of a scatological and even coarser genre, whether he should pursue the heedless moron up the farm track to remonstrate with him. But there would have been no point. He was plainly as thick as a plank and quite possibly only spoke Mangel Wurzel.

Our West Australian travels, courtesy of the good folk at Aries Car Hire in Perth, are far tamer and much better mannered.

 

Well, Hello!

It has been an extraordinarily long time between drinks for the Diary and Distaff and two lovely friends whose fly-in-fly-out Bali visits from either Brisbane or Singapore have for years somehow failed to coincide with our own otherwise all but permanent presence.

But the drought has now been broken. We’re having dinner with them somewhere up Seminyak way just after we get back to Bali. It probably won’t be a riotous night. This isn’t because age has wearied us. It’s merely encouraged us to view moderation as a benefit rather than a bane.

But we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. There will be a few laughs. And that may be loud.

 

That’s the Spirit

Jade Richardson, who blogs evocatively as the Passionfruit Cowgirl, has been busy lately writing about ethereal and other things connected with the 2014 Bali Spirit Festival (Mar. 19-23). This is very clever of her (though this is no surprise; she is one of the brighter stars in the Bali firmament) since she’s in Ecuador. Still, these days you can sit anywhere, even on an ice floe if you want, and write about anywhere else. Unless you say, no one would know where your real as opposed to your virtual self was located.

The annual spirit festival, Meghan Pappenheim’s baby, is perfect for Bali and especially for Ubud, where if you ignore the big buses full of Chinese tourists seeking bric-a-brac you can still almost smell the ether.

Richardson’s offerings include a nice piece on a compilation titled “Music to Surf Clouds to”, that gathers favourites selected by those who will be providing the musical component of the festival. We’ve grabbed it for our music list. It will help us to be virtually present at the show this year.

 

Good Friends

A new Facebook group has caught our eye: Friends of BAWA. It’s good to see, because despite rumours to the contrary that are either scurrilous or misinformed, the Bali Animal Welfare Association is alive and well and (in the Shakespearean sense) still kicking against the pricks. It needs friends.

Animal welfare is a global concern. It’s not just about dogs, even here in Bali where the pathetic condition of many strays – “unhomed” seems to be the buzzword nowadays – and the treatment regularly meted out to them would bring a tear to the most flinty of eyes.

In Bali, there’s a lot of education still to be done about the duty of care humans have to the animal kingdom. This is not a wealthy western community. That’s something many wealthy westerners who come here and bitch about poor services and other demerits should think about, in a context far broader than animal welfare.

We need a full house of not-for-profit community based organizations that look out for the health and welfare of both humans and animals (and the environment) and getting that message out widely is important.

Hector is on Twitter @scratchings

 

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Mar. 5, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Diving Lessons 

The matter of the Japanese divers whose expedition turned into disaster off Nusa Penida on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is now in police hands. An investigation is apparently under way. The skipper of the dive boat is a person of interest, according to reports.

That seems fair enough. The facts of the case should not be the subject of ill-informed prattle or gossipy rumour. As always, one lives in hope that should the authorities actually discover the facts, they’ll let everyone know about this rather than finding another corner of carpet to sweep them under. One hopes. They do say hope springs eternal.

It was interesting that the rescue authorities – who did a magnificent job and deserve public praise for doing so – suggested at one point (there was a published reference to this) that the dive boat wasn’t where it was supposed to be when the seven Japanese female divers surfaced as scheduled because it was low on fuel and had gone away to get more.

If this is the case, it is yet another astonishing example of the cavalier approach to dangerous behaviour so often seen in Bali and other parts of Indonesia. It would seem to ordinary mortals, for example, that if you’re running a dive boat you don’t run low on fuel. You ensure you have enough for the scheduled task and a safety reserve to cover emergencies or unforeseen events.

The weather was foul on dive day. That’s another issue the regulators should look at both from the local regulatory perspective and in terms of measures to foreclose on foolish decisions to go ahead in risky conditions. The waters off Nusa Penida are not benign.

Five of the seven divers survived their experience, including three days adrift in dangerous waters or clinging to a submerged coral head. Sadly two did not. That makes it a tragedy, not just something that can be dismissed as bad karma.

Lobbying for Art

There was a lovely little soiree at Conrad Bali on Feb. 28 to introduce the in-crowd to the hotel’s Living Lobby Art exhibition. It’s often been pleasant to drop into the lobby at the Conrad in the past, since it has always featured art to catch the eye. It goes with the ambience, so to speak.

Some little time ago, when Michael Burchett was GM, we dropped by to chat with the delightful Cecilia Hatmandayani and while waiting were entranced by the delightfully outré art on display. The erotic does not have to be prurient, after all, and in fact is better for not being so. There are other places to view material that’s more explicit, if that’s your bag.

In any case the hint of hidden delights provides much greater cerebral piquancy. One of the problems with the modern world and its condign attachment to the banal is that you so often find the finer side of life has been abolished in favour of rude vacuity.

We couldn’t make the opening unfortunately. But it was nice of Imuthia Yanindra, Conrad’s marketing, PR and communications manager, to ask us along. We shall have to drop by now and then, while living art from sculpture to painting is gracing the place, and have a look. We’ll have a drink at the lobby bar too. It’s a fine venue.

Evening Wrap

Those who observe Australian matters (of which there are a few and they are important) will have noticed that Australia Network, the satellite TV service run by the ABC, has been attracting some critical attention at home in the Special Biosphere. In part this is because of the curiosity of how it funded, which is by the Department of Foreign Affairs, and debate about how the network achieves its aim of advancing Australia’s interests.

It actually does this very well in an environment (in Australia) where internalized self-interest does not necessarily bring benefits to those who espouse a world view. Its programming is specific and includes a useful English language teaching element. Australia is a small player on the world stage and the resources it can afford to outlay on winning friends (in this case audiences) and influencing people are finite.

Australia Network heavily emphasizes news and current affairs. This is sensible. There’s more than enough pap around elsewhere in the televised ether to service other needs. So it was good to hear that a new one-hour news and current affairs program will launch on Mar. 10. The World, presented by veteran Jim Middleton and former ABC globetrotter Zoe Daniel, will cover the news of the day and in-depth analysis of the most important issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region.

It will screen Mondays to Fridays at 8.30pm in Bali (7.30pm in Jakarta).

Moving Moments

Vyt Karazija, the Australian blogger and closet bon vivant who enlivens several social media forums locally, has recently moved house. This event is unremarkable. It is something many of us do from time to time, as fancy dictates or quantum increases in wet season leaks suggest is warranted.

Karazija’s move did strike a chord at The Cage, however, since he reported that his trusty domestic manager, the sibilant Seven, had taken charge of the program and had made it work. Moreover, it had worked more speedily, to greater effect, and remarkably smoothly.

This brought back memories of a similarly moving event in our own life. Twenty years ago we shifted house in Brisbane, Queensland, from one suburb to another. The Distaff was busy elsewhere at the time, doing important corporate things in Thailand. The Diary’s schedule was constrained by journalistic duties. You know, editorials to write, issues to research, news lists to ponder, copy to edit, writers to correct (“It was the Boer War you idiot, not the Bore War”) and sundry other things to attend to on behalf of Mr Murdoch; dross like that.

Plainly things were not going quite as speedily or efficiently as they might on the necessary domestic movement front. Nor were they ever going to, which was also abundantly clear, especially to our then local equivalent of Karazija’s inimitable Seven. She stepped firmly into the breach. We’ve moved any number of times in the course of our three decades together, Distaff and Diary, but that shift has passed into history as The One That Neither of Us Noticed.

Sanctuary Plus

One of the special delights of living at The Cage is that the little local kitty clan has adopted our securely walled back yard as a sanctuary for its latest kittens. We use it only as a utility area – it houses the underground tank without which we’d be as stuffed for government water as everyone else in the precinct and the gas house, which we built to the wonderment of the locals so we could shift the hot-water service and the kitchen gas out of the crawl space – and therefore mostly leave it alone.

But it is sheltered from the wet north-west monsoons and brightly lit for security at night. Regularly, the latest kittens are settled at dusk by their mums on the warm timber steps at our back door, safe from dogs and snakes and other dangers. They’re wary of us (we often delay daily checks on the utilities to give them time in the sunny mornings to pack up their swags and move on for the day) but each seems quickly to work out that while we’re big and noisy we’re no threat.  We engage in mutual meowing and purring through the glass door now and then. That’s nice.

We don’t feed them and they’re in no sense our cats. It would be unfair to feed them since our schedules make regular feeding impossible. But we like them around because their regular diet (you might call it “ratatouille”) helps keep under control the Norway rats that proliferate locally and which, unless sudden death by cat intervenes, feed and breed well on the selfishly and thoughtlessly discarded garbage of others.

On the mutually supportive neighbour scale, members of the kitty clan are great acquaintances for whom we’re happy to provide light and safety.

Good Work

It was nice to get a little note the other day from Alicia Budihardja, the helpfully svelte No. 2 in the public relations team at the top-line St Regis and Laguna resorts at Nusa Dua. It’s always pleasant to hear from good friends, especially if it’s good news.

It was in this case. Budihardja told us The Laguna Bali had been named one of the island’s top performing resorts by leading online accommodation booking outfit Booking.com, part of Priceline.com. The property achieved an exceptional score of 8.5/10 in verified reviews for consistency in delivery in six review classifications: cleanliness, comfort, location, facilities, staff, and value for money.

Hector is on Twitter @scratchings