Thanks a Million! Like a Dog’s Breakfast?

By Hector

It’s tough being not quite in charge of vaccinating dogs against rabies. You go to all the trouble of alerting the worldwide be-nice-to-doggies lobby and – even more difficult – waking up the Bali and Indonesian governments, and then the bureaucrats and politicians get under foot and it all ends up being like a dog’s breakfast.

This is not, to be fair, wholly or far less exclusively an Indonesian issue. Governments everywhere get under foot, closely followed by stumbling politicians. Witness the successions of close-but-no-cigar outcomes in other democracies. But at the same time the let’s-not-mention-it, perhaps-they-won’t-notice policy option is particularly popular here, helped along by the top-down nature of leadership.

The significant failure of the Bali and national governments to address the rabies crisis here in any substantive way, unless you count rhetoric, in which case everyone’s a champion, is a case in point. The money arrived, from overseas of course; and then the flat-foot bureaucracy stood on it. There’d be a decent PhD or two in a study of Indonesia’s astonishing capacity to deliver non-outcomes, if anyone were game to do them.

Meanwhile, up at Ubud, in the Wudbees, where such people thrive, Janice Girardi and the Bali Animal Welfare Association battle on, against the odds, continuing to cite international benchmarks that plainly mean nothing here.

We hear that Girardi said the other day – it may have been a quip, or a nice rounding of the numbers, of course – that she could use a million dollars for her charity of choice. Looking after dogs that the Balinese, by undeserved reputation dog lovers themselves, won’t bother with is a great cause and should be supported. BAWA’s sterilisation-immunisation-find-them-homes programme is great. It may need a million dollars (the people who reported that accounting to The Diary were donating a rather more modest sum) but in itself that won’t cure rabies.

Sadly, 118 Balinese are no longer around to make a comment on that. If the government, and BAWA, are looking for a bottom line – that’s it. 

Conrad Jaunt

We were at The Conrad at Tanjung Benoa on Tuesday night for a decorous little bash that enabled GM Michael Burchett to introduce his new sales team at the plush property, serve some very fine canapés and other delights along with a very palatable cabernet merlot among other products of the vine, and say farewell to long-standing media flack Ruth Zuckerman.

It’s sad to see Ruth go (after eight years she has a redecorating date with her Sydney apartment, we hear, and some very worthwhile charitable PR to do in Sin City) but there’s a silver lining: the lovely Alicia Budihardja steps up to the plate to hit some home runs for the place. We look forward to keeping score.

The usual crowd was about, some of it looking for updates. We chatted with Sophie Digby, whose latest little mid-term Yak is freshly on the electronic newsstands (the MinYak always has the good oil), about, among other things, the bad-word fund at her house. We shan’t be going there, then. An evening chez Sophie could be very expensive, especially since Canggu can be several hours driving time from Ungasan up the Manic Motorway.

And we met a very flamboyant fellow called Ray, who said he was trying to stay out of the limelight. Ray, it didn’t work; you were brighter than the fireworks, mate.

It was a special night in another way. We were able to see our good friend Wayan, who works for Conrad and who set up the venue for Tuesday’s function. We missed seeing another favourite person. Ayu works in the Lobby Bar but had gone home by the time Michael Burchett allowed us to leave.

Show-Stopper

A little while back Reinhold Johann, GM at the Banyan Tree at Ungasan, put on a very svelte soiree for the media at his resort’s fine cliff-top dining experience, Ju-Ju-Ma. It was a lovely evening, even though the weather wasn’t kind at all.

Ju-Ju-Ma’s chef de cuisine Mandif Warokka has introduced a revitalised French-Japanese menu that fully complements the stunning ocean views the restaurant provides (excusing the quarry the neighbouring village has gouged out of the nearby crag, proving yet again that the bulk of Balinese care not a jot for the environment).

The Banyan Tree has been open for a year. It will have its official grand opening soon.  

Grate Idea

Way back in 1952, at the beginning of the frightful fifties – goodness, that’s 59 years ago; doesn’t time fly when you take a historical perspective – one of the those dreadful quasi-musicals that in those days were Hollywood’s de rigueur fare came out to entertain children and (in those days) probably also their parents.

It was an excrescence called Hans Christian Andersen and starred Danny Kaye, among others. Truly there are some childhood memories that deserve to remain repressed. It featured a dreadful ditty, Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen, rendered with long “aah” instead of the Danish short “a” either to ease the minstrels on their way or to help Hollywood, fresh from arrogantly and ignorantly inventing the Wild West, redesign ancient Nordic languages.

None of this would matter, and should indeed have remained repressed, if it were not for the fact that some clown collective has decided that Indonesia – a place of wondrous eclecticism and superb ethnic and cultural variety – should promote itself as Wonderful Indonesia. It’s such a shame Danny and his crew aren’t still around to make a movie about it.

It would be invidious, perhaps, to suggest some rather more workable alternatives, since the clowns have done their work. So heck, we in The World’s Archipelago will just have to make do as always.

Cultural Moment

The Diary can’t be there of course (that Wallace Line thingy is a real nuisance sometimes) but this Friday Asmara Restaurant in Senggigi on Lombok has a bit of a treat for lovers of monologues. It should certainly appeal to politicians, budding or retired, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it attracted representatives of each class. One of the latter was certainly on the acceptance list, according to Asmara’s Facebook. Enjoy the evening, Peter!

Performer Adam Cranfield scheduled four contemporary monologues: Cornelius from The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder; David from Ortenga by Oscar Birbeck; Andrew Gomez from The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman; and Boesman from Boesman & Lena by Athol Fugard.

The evening features some music as well, and Sakinah Nauderer’s fine cuisine.

Kev’s Fault

The very engaging Strewth column in The Australian newspaper reminded us on Wednesday that there are nutcases everywhere who are convinced by the strange voices they hear in their heads that disasters (of any magnitude or provenance) are some sort of divine retribution and concoct suitably theological rhetoric to prove it.

It reported the view of one such self-illuminated prophet of doom, Pastor Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministries – he’s from Queensland, naturally, where they do Doh! so well – who apparently believes his flood-hit state is being punished for local lad Kevin Rudd, once prime minister, now foreign minister, speaking out against Israel.

Wonder if Pastor Danny is available on Twitter, like so many other farcical seers are today. That could be fun. Someone really should organise a global Twit-Off competition to keep them all amused. First prize: an all-expenses paid trip to the retribution of your choice.

Flood Trauma

It has been so sad in recent days to watch television reporting the terrifying and devastating floods that have hit Queensland, wrecking places and taking lives in area that was The Diary’s home for so many years. Apart from that, it brought back memories of the devastating 1974 Brisbane flood, a direct reference that brings additional poignancy to today’s vision and reporting of the events.

It’s important to keep things in perspective, of course. Australia is a well-serviced nation that, however difficult the situation, quickly rolls out public-funded support measures for people affected. But while speaking of perspective, people accustomed to Indonesian population numbers might like to reflect that 12 Australian dead (the running death toll on Wednesday) equates to 120 here; that 20,000 homes inundated and effectively destroyed equates to 200,000; and that around 5,000 people in emergency shelters (not counting the thousands who have taken refuge with family or friends) equates to 50,000.

There is a huge economic cost, too: the virtual closure of the Queensland industry, which supplies half the world’s coking coal, and the destruction of food crops, could bring the cost above US$10 billion and depress Australia’s $924.84 billion economy by at least 0.3 percent this year (about $2.7 billion). Try those numbers in rupiah.

diary@thebalitimes.com
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