Just when you think you’re on a roll of good fortune and that you’ve managed at last to push boulders uphill to achieve the unlikely, the purveyor of portent dumps a cloud of gloom on your rainbow and delivers a dreaded Reality Check. And it’s a ghastly reminder that neglect of the little things, while you focus on the big picture, can cause the most irritating problems.
The Playmate, modest and apparently at least a trifle superstitious, had met my bubbly and self-congratulatory accounts of just how well, finally, things were going with cautionary glowers. Don’t be cocky, said his expression. Don’t tempt fate.
The year, which started so badly for so many, with floods, fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, was at last bringing some long-awaited personal positives that were, well, liberating in their relief of some serious anxiety and presentation of options – some more welcome than others.
A visit to Lombok had shown decent appreciation, after stagnant years, in the value of some land we’d bought on a whim and without a plan. We’d finally unloaded a small plot of land in Bali whose sale three years ago was obstructed by a criminally grasping nominee.
Reluctantly we’d paid him off, changed the title and sold at a decent price to the organisation that had stolen our view with it new neighbouring business premises. The money was in the fourth bank we’d visited that day as part of the settlement process, despite the young customer-service attendant’s plea that we delay our deposit until her “friend,” at that precise moment under a surgeon’s scalpel, was back at work.
It was a trying process, giving our money to this bank. The “instant” transfer of the funds, which we’d paid another Kuta bank to execute, took three hours. There was exasperated discussion after our attendant dutifully, and with a degree of self-importance, advised that each month the bank would remit 20 percent of our deposit to the government.
I think you mean 20 percent of interest earned, dear. Holy Heavens, that is quite enough. Only the patient persuasion of a senior colleague could convince our mathematically challenged novice that regularly taking in tax 20 percent of our capital sum would rapidly enrich the government and leave us with zilch and herself minus a customer. Doh!
The bad news started with the wholly undesirable confirmation that to access an age pension in Australia and retain it when living overseas, an overseas Australian such as the Playmate must return to and reside in Australia for two consecutive years. What despotic nonsense, imposed one suspects to relieve bureaucrats of any real effort and need for skill in identifying who is and who is not entitled to the nation’s public funds.
In an incredibly generous gesture, friends and empty-nesters in Australia offered shared use of their home for the period of internment. If we accept, in the interest of ongoing financial security, then the Playmate will be blogging as Pensioner in Prison and I’ll be doing: Why governments must not dictate to individuals for their own convenience and at the expense of the people. There’s so much to say about this idiotic, autocratic and self-defeating rule. That’s the easy bit. The hard bit is making the decision. Our home, our life, is here in Bali.
Countering the awful prospect of forced relocation and confinement is the outlook of long-distance, professional engagement for rewards in foreign currency – an increasingly scarce opportunity in this era of media syndication and conglomerates, and one we’ve looked for over our six years in Indonesia. That would be nice, but inherently insecure compared to a government pension. So there’s a conundrum: To go or not to go?
A verdict, we agreed, could wait until after our long planned and eagerly anticipated trip to Scotland and Hungary later in the year. Meanwhile, as we mulled and debated the weighty issue of our future, explored scenarios and fought with figures, your columnist neglected one basic little administrative task that threw a massive spanner in the works, bringing everything to a sudden and possibly terminal halt. She didn’t back-up.
Like a bulimic at a banquet, her laptop gobbled up five years of stored documents, most of her programmes and all of her emails but showed zero inclination to regurgitate even a fraction of its massive consumption. She hadn’t backed up. Actually, being the sort that simply needs technology to function and please keep its mystifying inner workings to itself, she had never backed up. But hush, please. That admission might be unwise.
She promises, once she’s found a way to get replacement e-tickets for next week’s trip to Australia – on which she’ll now be buying a new laptop – to learn how to back up. She’ll then spend weeks trying to replace all the essential ticketing for the Europe trip, assiduously backing up as she goes into the realm of responsible IT-users … and probably going bananas to boot (and to reboot, too, if that’s the responsible thing to do).