It Really is Time to Get Rabid About This Unholy Shemozzle

By Hector

It seems appropriate, though we wish it were not, to end the year with a note about rabies. This unnecessary scourge has now been with us for 26 months (officially) and has killed 113 people (officially). The Bali tourism office, ever an entity to miss the point entirely, now seems to be saying that it’s not really a problem and, for another thing, why can’t the Australians in particular just shut up about it. Meanwhile we learn from the Animal Husbandry Department that rabies is now present in 46 villages from which it was apparently absent six months ago. Anywhere else, this might be seen as evidence that the disease is still spreading uncontrollably. Here … well, who knows? No one’s ever going to say.

Reportage of the rabies crisis in the newspapers here – the local Indonesian language press and in The Bali Times – since 2008 makes uncomfortable reading. It should make our political and community leaders uncomfortable too, but there’s little evidence to show this. In Bali there are many official carpets and an awful lot that gets swept under them.

There are simply too many dogs and too many, as well, left the roam freely by their Balinese informal owners. Some steps are allegedly being taken to rectify this – the new schools-based programme in which teachers will instruct children about rabies and the need to take proper care of your animals is a decent start and is praiseworthy – but the authorities have had more than two years to do something and are only now switching on. This delay is appalling.

It’s a bit early for New Year resolutions, which properly should follow the Christmas jeer, but a commitment (then met) from all the authorities concerned to make a workable plan and stick to it would be really good news for the Balinese people.
   
All Hail

The Diary’s Australian friends – well the pacific sort, at least, those who live on the eastern seaboard, where they greet the day rather than wave it goodbye as they do in the west – are amused by reports of hail in Bali where, as keen weather observer Susi Johnston told us the other day, the little lumps of ice get a Warhol moment: around 15 minutes of fame as fake snow until nature takes its course and they just become a series of wicked little leaks.

It’s less because hail here is remarkable through of its absence except as a rare phenomenon than that, in eastern Australia, it is a regular menace. In Australia’s climate gigantic hailstorms are caused by the same sort of severe weather effect as that which creates huge and deadly tornadoes in the United States.

Hail storms can sweep through wide areas rapidly, often building up destructive power very quickly, and cause millions of local dollars – at present converting very roughly at near parity with the tornado greenback – in damage. Brisbane, from where well-heeled hail refugees will soon be able to flee non-stop in business class to a safer place (Bali) on Strategic Airlines, has been having some hefty ones lately.

Such events are not confined to the eastern parts of Australia. There was a huge hailstorm in Perth last March that did much more than just put a dent in some poor plutocrat’s Porsche.

Snowflake’s Chance

The weather might lately have brought us a meteorological moment – that hail – but we should spare a thought for all those poor souls in Europe who have already had two bouts of Arctic weather this winter … though it wasn’t really the northern hemisphere winter until the solstice, on Wednesday … and at last report were still afflicted by bitter cold and heavy snow. It also snowed in Australia this week, just ahead of the southern summer solstice and, granted, only at high altitude.

Global warming is certainly coming on fast, folks.
   
Tugu Times

Hotel Tugu Bali at Canggu, one of the comely stable of boutique presences headed by 2010 Yak Magazine Woman of the Year Lucienne Anhar, is playing a big part in the renaissance of classicism in Bali. No, not ancient Greek, though The Diary recommends this for its character-forming and mind-broadening benefits, but classical music.

There’s a classical piano performance there on the evening of December 29 by world-renowned pianist Boris Kraljevic and three of his students, Nguyen Tien Khai from Vietnam, Adita Permana from Indonesia and Neil Franks from the United Kingdom.

They’ll perform works by Chopin (The Diary’s absolute stand-out must-listen favourite), Schumann and Brahms, Debussy and Ravel (will their Bolero be a perfect 10?) and Balinese music written by Colin McPhee.

The hotel and other places are taking bookings and all proceeds of the event will go to The Green School Bali Scholarship fund to benefit Balinese and other Indonesian students. So not only do you get good music (and dinner if you wish to pay extra) but it’s all in a good cause.

Speaking of good causes, the Rotary Club Bali Canggu had a benefit dinner at Tugu Bali on Tuesday – at the hotel’s pleasant Warung Tugu – which regretfully The Diary had to miss. We’re sure the occasion, the Holiday Lamplight Dinner, went well and achieved its objective; both outcomes are things for which Rotary is justly renowned.

Devout Wish

Amid the clamour of the pre-Christmas season, especially in the retail sector which The Diary tries very hard to avoid at this (or any) time of year, the dulcet tones of the Austrian carol Silent Night are sometimes detected. It’s more relevant, and truer to the real meaning of the Christian festival, than White Christmas or Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, or ’Tis the Season to be Jolly (tra la la la, la la la … don’t sit on the bloody holly, oo oo oo oo oooo, ow ow ow, Ow!).

Silent Night (it’s better in the original German, as Stille Nacht) is now 194 years old and has just topped the list as Britain’s most recorded Christmas song of all time. Among those to have offered silent nights with a post-Age of Sentience twist are punk band The Dickies and Sinead O’Connor. The original devotion was penned in 1816 by a Catholic priest, Father Joseph Mohr.

The Diary historically views the song, when heard above the cacophony, as a seasonal wish that sadly will forever remain unfulfilled.

Hit the Road

Australia’s transport minister, Anthony Albanese, dropped by last week to hand over some more money for essential works, such as transport security and road safety and so on, and that’s great.

He made a speech – no politician goes anywhere without doing that; it’s in the job description – about several topics, including Australia’s key role in building Indonesia’s national road network into something resembling a thoroughfare.

It’s a shame he only went to Jakarta. If he’d come to Bali he could have had a nice chat with local legislators (who have just noted that not a lot that should by now be on the ticked-off list is actually on it) and seen at first hand the progress being made on his country’s flagship road development project here – the duplication of the Denpasar-Kusamba highway.

Of course, armed with the loud and über-pushy police escort of the sort hereabouts defined as de rigueur for visiting VIPs, he’d have cut right through the interminable holdups.

It’s Nearly Gone

The year, that is. It’s odd, really; it seems to happen every 12 months. It can’t have anything to do with global warming, can it; or WikiLeaks?

Anyway, as you do at this time of the year, Hec’s had a browse through his 2010 archive and picked out 12 of the highs, lows and bellows of the past year.

His assessment of 2010: You won’t see that again. It’s in LIFE, on Page 11.

Cheers!

The end of the year brings a holiday break for many, including newspaper diarists. The Diary won’t appear next week – because there’s no paper, silly – but look for us on January 7, when we start to run round that little wheel again for 2011.

In the meantime, have a good one.

diary@thebalitimes.com
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