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

by 8 Degrees of Latitude

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