Absolute Rubbish

HECTOR’S DIARY

Titbits from his diet of worms

 

THE CAGE

Ubud, Bali

Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018

 

THE perennial problem of rubbish has yet again raised its head as a topic de jour. The trash that litters Bali’s beaches – it’s not only in the tourist-overburdened south – is something that won’t go away. At least, it won’t without concerted government-led action to set up efficient, sustainable and sufficiently funded waste management programs island-wide.

Getting troupes of anti-litter activists out onto the beaches to pick up trash isn’t the answer. It is merely a necessary immediate response (and very welcome and public spirited) to the universal practice of despoiling the island’s environment, from the tourist beaches where it’s blindingly and revoltingly evident to the piles of discarded garbage thrown away everywhere. The way to deal with the overall crisis – for that is what it is – is to reduce the amount of trash that gets dumped in the drains (ha!) and little streams and creeks, and the one or two watercourses that actually qualify as rivers. This is a local problem, not a tourist one, though of course the authorities point out that without tourism there wouldn’t be the level of waste with which they choose not to deal because official indolence is easier than effort. That way, in the methodology of Indonesian excuse making, it’s the tourists’ fault anyway.

There was an irate outburst on Facebook recently, from someone who lives in a family compound. She reported that she went off – there’s no better way of expressing what she did – when she saw one of her family neighbours littering the collective home environment. There’s no excuse for doing that. It’s not a matter of education. The only explanation is that the perpetrator doesn’t give a shit.

Yet as Yoda might say, “A shit is what we must give.” Until that happens, the criminal littering of Bali will simply continue.

Rubbish on a beach in the Sanur area recently.

Photo: Ton de Bruyn |Facebook

Plain Sailing

IT’S abundantly clear that Australia won’t be joining ASEAN in its present format, not least – as Aussie-Kiwi Indonesian hand Duncan Graham recently noted in a post on an Australian site for more conservative chatterers, On Line Opinion – because every member state has an effective veto on such matters.

Nonetheless, it’s a theoretical question that should be raised now and then, for example in the context of Australia hosting an ASEAN summit, as it did in Sydney recently. Such navel-gazing is in the interests of all parties to any such future arrangement, and James Massola, the new South-east Asian correspondent for the Fairfax media group, was right, not naïve as Graham implies, to do so. He had asked that question of President Joko Widodo and had received a Javanese answer. We’re sure Massola understood that this is what it was. But it was an answer that should be placed on the record.

Australian membership of South-east Asia’s leading geopolitical architecture would make more sense, in the future, and in the regional political circumstances that might well arise on the coattails of Chinese instead of American hegemony, than metaphorically sailing Australia round the world and anchoring it in the Atlantic in the middle of the New Anglosphere, as some Australians apparently would like.

Der Dummkopf

THE Commonwealth Games, a quadrennial sporting festival held among the countries that in long-ago days were jewels in the British imperial crown, and which have recently finished at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, provided the country’s leading former fish and chip shop proprietor with yet another opportunity to embarrass herself.

Two Indians won shooting medals at the games. According to Senator Pauline Hanson, she of the burka ban farce in the Australian parliament’s upper house in August last year, this was unsurprising since Indians were Muslim and Muslims do this sort of thing (shooting) for a living. She said this on Sky News television, the station of choice for those with towering intellects.

There are many Indian Muslims, but they constitute 14.2 per cent of the population. Hindus are the majority, totalling 74.3 per cent. It was possible, and indeed would be unremarkable if this had been so, that both Indian medallists were Muslim. But they weren’t, as their names would make abundantly clear to anyone even lightly briefed on the sub-continent, such as (even) an Australian fringe politician. The male winner was a chap called Jitu Rai. The female – she’s only 16 – was Manu Bhaker. For the record the men’s silver medallist was Australian Kerry Bell. He’s also neither a Muslim nor a terrorist in training.

Expeditionary Notes

WE’RE in Ubud again, as we write, with a visiting Australian friend who was last in Bali shortly after that dove got back to the Ark with a twig. She notes that things have changed. She enjoyed our drive up to Ubud from the Bukit the other day. It didn’t quite teach her any new words, but the form and expression of them was something of a novelty.

We’ve dined – again – at Kagemusha, the little Japanese garden restaurant at Nyuh Kuning, and the girls went shopping and dropped into the Diary’s favourite Monkey Forest Road café, The Three Monkeys, for a cooling drink. It’s hot work toting the totes.

Tomorrow we’re off to Candi Dasa. That’s a 57-kilometre drive which Google Maps told us today would take an hour and forty minutes. We’ll see tomorrow how long it actually takes to shift by road from Tegal Sari in Ubud to Bayshore Villas at Candi Dasa.

Tomorrow night it’s live jazz at Vincent’s. Pianist Nita Aartsen and her trio are on the bill. They’ve just performed at the closing night of the Ubud Food Festival.

Get It On

WE had a little note from Clare Srdarov the other day, telling us that An Evening on the Green is on again. This one’s on Apr. 28, at Hatten Wines in Sanur, with lots of wine, beer, games, raffles, auctions, and of course food trucks and bars. There’s music too, from four bands: Kim Patra, Muara Senja (from Ceningan), Eastern Soul and Linga Longa. Entry is by pre-purchased tickets only (Rp.200K a pop) and funds raised will go to BIWA, Solemen, Rumah Sehat and Trash Hero Sanur. Hatten’s technical adviser Jim K’alleskè, who also goes by the moniker Blue Cat Jimmy, was at last year’s show in his party hat as well as his Hatten one. This one should be a good gig too.

Chin-chin!

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Nov. 14, 2012

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Image

Bag brigade: Part of the rubbish cull at the inaugural clean-up in Tundun Penyu, Ungasan (see DIY Clean-Up, below).

Water of Half-Life

It has not yet been raining on the Bukit this official wet season, in any appreciable way at least, up to deadline time for this edition [Note: The first big rain was on Nov. 9, making a monkey out of publication deadlines.]. It has been hot and humid instead. We southern hill-dwellers have seen the clouds over places apparently more favoured by whichever committee of gods it is that controls precipitation. That this is more scientifically seen as a seasonal phenomenon – a variable one as all of them are – has been dismissed in the minds of some who prefer to believe that a laser being operated on the new Kuta-Nusa Dua highway construction is to blame. The theory goes that the contractors are using the laser to deter rain since getting wet would upset their work schedule.

     It’s a lovely story. It might even be worth believing, since all manner of people here seem to believe in all sorts of things.

    There’s an acute water shortage on the Bukit too. That is also a perennial issue. It might be solved – one day – if anyone here believed in practical things, like planning, or building efficient infrastructure. Or maybe they should look at laser-enhanced public water pipes? That might help get the stuff pumped up the tiny rusted and corroded pipes and if effective would certainly advance science, since it would prove the Indonesian theory that water runs uphill.

    On the other hand, there may now be a glimmer of hope that the authorities will notice there is a problem. The village chief of Pecatu, I Made Sumarta, has got into the act, complaining that local people are also being forced into buying expensive tanker water.  When it’s only “rich Bules” (hah!) and five-star hotels that quibble, well, frankly, no one gives a Rhett Butler.

DIY Clean-Up

Neighbouring Ungasan, where the village authorities have a proud record of ignoring essentials, presents a problem for people who really would like to live without rat, snake, dog and mosquito-attracting rubbish. They’re into you for general levy fees – which we have avoided here at The Cage, preferring instead to pay the local Banjar, since it does useful social welfare work – but outside Ungasan village itself, little activity has ever been detected.

      So it’s interesting to learn that in another part of Tundun Penyu Dipal – the top ridge, from where there are fine views of the litter-strewn Balangan road – the local staff from 27 villas have got together and formed an association to provide mutual self-help and security. They meet monthly (refreshments provided), have a New Year’s party planned, and are benefiting from having friends around them. Many domestic workers do not have the local family support base available to Balinese who work in their home areas.

      Backed by one foreign resident, owner of one of the villas in the project, the association is now also conducting monthly clean-ups in the area. At the first, on Nov. 5, 22 of the available 27 people turned out. A contractor has been appointed to take the rubbish to the refuse disposal centre at Suwung, whose operators will hopefully dispose of it properly.

      Since Ungasan village provides no rubbish collection in the area and there is as yet no appreciable decline in the cultural practice of just tossing your garbage over the fence – or dropping it on the road as you meander along on your motorbike – this is a significant measure to reduce the litter overburden. It’s an idea that is already practised elsewhere and should be copied in many other places.

      It’s self-help at its local best. Pity it puts the village authorities to shame, but there you go.

Five-Oh

Jennifer Bee, who among other things markets Grand Komodo Tours & Diving and believes – so she tells us on her Facebook – that a glass is neither half empty for pessimists nor half full for optimists, but simply has room for vodka in it, alerts us to another astonishment. This year December has five Saturdays, five Sundays and five Mondays. Apparently this happens only once every 824 years and the Chinese have a term for it (well, they would). It’s the Money Bag.

     Bee, a Jakarta native who would look very fetching in a big red hat if only one were still in her possession (she gave it away), is also an aficionada of art. She might possibly be seen distant from her Sanur domain on Nov. 16, at the opening of the Bali Sumba Timor Photography Exhibition, featuring the work of Ari Saaski. The exhibition, which runs through to January, is at Cafe des Artistes in Jl Bisma, Ubud.

     The photos on show include landscape, nature and portraiture and probably should not be missed by The Diary, either.

Pumpkin Heads

It was Halloween on Oct. 31, as no one should need reminding since it occurs on that date every year. It’s the eve of All Saints’ Day, a Christian festival, and is traditionally a night when the spirits are abroad; rather like the night before Nyepi, really.

     But it’s chiefly an American thing, dating from when the fun-loving Pilgrim Fathers landed at the Kennedy Compound in Massachusetts and wondered what they could do with all those pumpkins, since it was plain they could do absolutely nothing with the Kennedys.

     Ever since, whimsy has been the American way. And we’re indebted to American Prospect’s daily news brief (of Nov. 1) for giving us a break from election year politics – that’s all over now too – and instead informing us that according to a leading polling outfit, PPP, 62 percent of US voters polled said chocolate was their Halloween poison of choice, and that if forced to turn into a monster, 22 percent would prefer being a vampire against 12 percent who’d like to be a werewolf.

      It seems that the Democrats are the Party Party. Thirty-three percent of registered Democratic respondents told the pollsters they would be dressing up for Halloween, against only 23 percent of Republicans.

Peaced Off

Perhaps Nick Way, of the Bali Peace Park Association, will have more time to devote to matters of importance now that he’s left Network Ten in Perth.We learned of his departure from the broadcaster, which is having a bit of a commercial struggle these days, through The Australian newspaper’s Strewth diary column.

     It reported that at this year’s West Australian Media Ball, held recently and like all such events an annual bash renowned for feats of alcoholic misadventure, job security was the talk of the tables among the lads and the frocked-up lassies. This was apparently given extra piquancy by the departure of veteran sound-recordist Way and The West Australian’s so-called super sleuth Sean Cowan from the benefits of paid employment.

     Way should now be able to Google bananas (hint: they’re a plant, not a tree) to avoid further horticultural and arboreal embarrassment at the former Sari club site, as well as look for practical ways to progress his association’s long-running sequel to Mission Impossible.

Hector’s Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser and on the newspaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets (@scratchings) and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky). He blogs at http://www.wotthehec.blogspot.com.