Something in the Air

They’re always at it at Ubud, or so it seems; thinking about navel engagements, that is. A delightful piece by Marie Bee in the latest edition of La Gazette de Bali – the great French language monthly journal for the Francophone community – discusses what one can do when it is the saison des pluies and going out invariably involves getting wet.
Bee, who is La Gazette’s Ubud scribbler, suggests that the answer is to study the Indonesian language rather than get out your poncho and rubber boots. And that seems fair enough to a dilettante like your diarist. Mlle Bee’s busy little voyage of discovery this time relates to the invisibility of the penis in the Indonesian-French dictionary of 1980 and its discovery (as an item of lexicographical interest at least) by 2001.
These days, of course, they are ubiquitous in Bali. You can even open bottles with them, though why you’d want to is quite another thing.
Anyone who reads French should definitely catch up with Mlle Bee’s engaging discourse in La Gazette. It piques several of the senses. Among other observations, she notes that elements of the search for the lost penis would certainly have interested Proust. It’s on page 30 of the current edition and is headed En Quête du Pénis Perdu (it sounds much better in French, doesn’t it?).
These are literary matters. And on that topic there’s a couple of interesting writers’ workshops on the books in Ubud. The first is a course, Write for Your Life, being held from February 5-11 with the participation of American penman Jeremiah Abrams. Details are available at
The second is the work of Australian Jade Richardson, who should by now be well known to Diary readers, since she keeps popping up with revealing ideas.
She’s offering four short courses for aspiring scribblers in February and March, under the broad subject heading Write Like an Angel: Creative Turbo-Boost is designed to inspire and energise beginners, blocked writers, stuck novelists, lazy poets and cathartic free-writers who want to learn finesse; Advanced Creative Writing in which participants will explore their own work for signs of genius; Travel Writing, for people who want to turn their notes, insights and adventures into travel stories fit for publication; and Erotica, where we assume the cerebral side of sex will get an outing.
If you’re interested, contact Jade at or by phone on 0958 5727 0858.
– from Hector’s Diary in the Bali Advertiser, Jan. 25, 2012 

How to Regulate the Currency

Super Idea
Proposals for a redenomination of the rupiah which have resurfaced from Bank Indonesia are essentially sensible and should be welcomed. There is however one difficulty with the proposal – insofar as the details are known – to knock three zeroes off the currency under which Rp1000, Rp2000, Rp5000, Rp10,000, Rp20,000, Rp50,000 and Rp100,000 would become Rp1, Rp2, Rp5, Rp10, Rp20, Rp50 and Rp100.
This is because by reducing Rp1000 to Rp1 you lose the capacity to divide below the primary number. Rp1 would therefore become the minimum available currency value. It would mean no one could mark up prices by Rp500, for example. Or reduce a price by the same sub-unit amount (assuming there was ever a blue moon).
The central bank could reintroduce the sen (cent) of course. But we have heard of no plans to do so. And in any case, it would then be better to strike four zeroes off the face value – converting the current Rp10,000 into the new Rp1, divisible into 100 sen.
That’s complicated. There is another way to simplify things and reduce the confusion wrought by zero-overload. That is to superscript the zeroes on banknotes and the Rp1000 coin. Like this: Rp1000; Rp2000 ;Rp5000; Rp10000; Rp20000 ; Rp50000; Rp100000. Leading retailers already do this in stock display signage. It would also need only a minor redesign of banknotes and existing lower denomination coins could remain in use.
– from Hector’s Diary in the Bali Advertiser, Jan. 25, 2012