Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2009


Trap for the Unwary: Normally The Bali Times avoids advertising in its editorial space – being a real newspaper, we do that sort of thing – but Hatten Wines’ new labels rate an exception to this otherwise firm rule. Here are the three new casks. You’d be flat out spotting the difference in the muted light preferred by retailers of such beverages. You mightn’t spot the reversed accent on the rosé either, though that could be a benefit.

No More Whining, Now. Just Drink Up

THERE seems to be movement on the wine front in Bali. This is a felicity, since when you’re sitting in the dark courtesy of PLN’s world-beating ineffectiveness, you can generally manage to hang on to a glass and even to refill it, as long as you keep the container within arm’s reach.

There has been another little outbreak of Aga Redness. The Diary happened upon four of Hatten’s new take-a-stab-at-what’s-within lookalike casks at Gourmet Garage at Jimbaran, the entire stock on display, and having examined them closely to ensure they were indeed reds rather than whites or that pink in-between stuff, grabbed them for the cellar. (The Diary has also learned the lesson: If what you want is there, in minuscule quantity, grab it: First in, best dressed.)

Antipathy to the local drop, a perennial distemper, is unfair. Aga Red in particular is a very passable table wine. It is also snobbishly foolish, unless you’re so far up yourself that paying the equivalent of US$50-plus for a very ordinary imported wine gets you off. The local stuff is cheaper (and will always be) and drinkable. It is also, stock control and distribution woes permitting, readily available. And even for those who fancy themselves sommeliers, it is surely better to look on the bright side and enjoy being where you are rather than someplace else.

That lovely scene in one of the Fawlty Towers episodes – when someone had told Fawlty that his hotel, in Torquay, was the worst in England – springs to mind. Fawlty’s long-term resident guest, The Major, like many superannuated middle-ranking military types a thickly pedantic bore, stepped forward, angered at this slight. “No, no, no! I won’t have that,” he cried. Fawlty smiled his favourite deprecating smile and responded, “Thank you, Major.” There was a short pause while the major pondered. Then he said: “There’s a place at Eastbourne.”

There’s another bright spot on the horizon too. At least one local company in South Bali is now offering alcohol, including spirits, at reasonable prices. You have to buy in bulk – but hey, that’s what big cupboards are for, isn’t it?

Not Zapped Yet

THERE was a flurry of excitement last week when PLN’s capo di capo (big boss), Fahmi Mochtar, said he might soon be out of a job. He made this comment, to the Jakarta press, fresh – though that might not be the word – from a marathon nine-and-a-half hour meeting with Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa and the ministers for state-owned enterprises and energy.

“I may not be interviewed by you next month,” he told reporters. “As head of the company, who has a duty to the people, I am ready to be replaced at any time.” His immediate political boss, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Mustafa Abubakar, said later there were no immediate plans to unplug Mochtar.

The sour note for Bali in this is that Mochtar’s future – such as it is – hangs on Jakarta’s latest series of unplanned blackouts, brought about by PLN’s nonchalant approach to its core business. Bali can be in the dark forever, apparently, without anyone in Jakarta noticing (or caring).

If we must have state-owned enterprises (and it’s a big if) the sooner they are broken up into more readily managed and regionally responsive monopolies the better. If there were a PLN Bali, you can bet its boss would not have been sitting down without suffering exquisite pain for a very long time. And that he’d actually be doing something to fix the cause of his discomfort.

Equilibrium Atremble

NORMALLY nothing much disturbs The Cage; not even the squawks of fragile egos. But last weekend was somehow different. Scotland beat the Wallabies for the first time in 27 years, an event that created a dilemma for your diarist. Thirty-five years a green-and-golder, the ancestral ties are merely notional where almost anything (in the sporting arena) happens to the poor, benighted folk of Britain. Except if it’s Scotland. But a double tot or so of whisky saved the day: when you’re seeing double, it’s much easier to barrack for both sides.

Mrs Hec is not a rugby girl. But she too had a little episode at the weekend. A pleasantly shared Indian meal – at Queen’s of India in Kuta, the one where you don’t get dosa (you have to go to Seminyak for that), was momentarily disturbed by the sudden presence of a young and untutored fellow, old enough to know better, who was leaving with his mum and dad and apparently wanted to sit on a small ornamental elephant positioned at the unoccupied end of our table, exclaim “Yeehah!” and then to inspect our dinner very closely on his way.

Mrs Hec fixed him with her trademark gimlet glare and intoned (quite loudly): “Go away.” Quite right too: Parents may have all the trouble with their children they like, but total strangers shouldn’t have to put up with the ill-mannered results.

Oh, Um, Er …

WHAT a delight it is to read that the Bali Prosecutor’s office, and evidently the Bali Prosecutor himself, possess laid-back, relaxed attitudes to their jobs. It fits so well with the ambience of administration in Bali, where near enough is always good enough and often miles away.

The prosecutor wants to investigate the Karangasem regent over an inflated-price land deal that, prima facie, was very cosy indeed for the chaps who got the dosh. There’s a report on the matter in this week’s news pages.

Under the law on protected species (leaders), such actions need the concurrence of the president. Hence a letter went off to the Istana Negara in Jakarta on November 17 requesting the seal of approval.

Unfortunately, due we are told to a clerical error, the letter asked SBY to authorise an investigation into the Bangli regent. Now this may be desirable too – we don’t know – but it would seem rather vital that requests of this nature are thoroughly checked by the officials preparing the correspondence. It would help, too, if the Prosecutor himself could manage to read the things he has to sign before affixing his squiggle.

The phone call to the Istana Negara when the error was eventually spotted would have been interesting: “For ‘A,’ read ‘B.’”

Immutable Law

THE Diary is a smoker (there … we’ve said it) and – let it also be said – one of the reasons that made Bali so attractive a living environment versus the not-quite-ancestral homeland is that, here, elective behaviour is for the most part left unmolested by Those Who Know Best and who, in the Odd Zone and other meddlesome places, tirelessly and tediously tell you so.

A giggle was forthcoming, therefore, the other day when we read a blog by Tony Eastley – he fronts the ABC Radio news programme AM – complaining that smokers have stolen all the best spots at Australian pubs and restaurants.

They have to sit outside, you see, so that the demon smoke does not distress others (and spark litigation from persons who believe that life owes them a substantial compensation payout).

Tony likes to drink and dine al fresco, too, it seems. Well tough: He and his ilk almost won their war – clearly a case of close but no cigar – and now have to live with the result.

Seasoned analysts of human affairs must understand the law of unintended consequences. Briefly, it states that you can never win.

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One Response to “Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2009”

  1. Kermit Derren Says:

    Thanks for publishing about this. There’s a bunch of important tech information on the internet. You’ve got a lot of that info here on your site. I’m impressed – I try to keep a couple blogs pretty ongoing, but it’s a struggle sometimes. You’ve done a solid job with this one. How do you do it?

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