Friday, 31 October 2008




After centuries of sexual innuendo the Malay culture’s love of the Naughty and the Nice is as of today illegal.


This morning I came out to find my poolside monkey statue especially well decorated; for twenty years the same four garden artisans have toiled on the gardens here, and for the last ten the spunky monkey statue has been their mascot and their pride and joy. Over the years sexy things have grown on Rosa (the monkey’s name), as has a tiny, perfectly-carved (from a toothbrush handle) anatomically-correct circumcised penis which protrudes from one side of Rosa’s G-string (sexual ambiguity is big in Bali), donated by Kadek Susy from her legendary collection.

We now have to worry about Brown-shirts kicking in the door, and making off with our monkey!

What is the Malay world coming too!!

Pura Karang Boma Temple

Kajeng Kliwon, Buda matal, Tilem Sasih Kapat (new moon), 29 October 2008; The village of Sidakarya did a ‘recharging’ ceremony for sacred ‘Barong’ and ‘Rangda’ in the village. The ceremony was held at the Karang Boma temple, Sawangan, Nusa Dua. It is aimed at recharging the magical power of the ‘Barong’ and ‘Rangda’.

Pura Karang Boma Temple is a temple dedicated to God Siwa in his manifestation as Sang Hyang Pasupati. It is said that this temple has a connection with Pura Ida Ratu Ayu Mas Temple in Nusa Penida. Ceremony for this temple is held every year of Balinese calendar, i.e. every Saturday, Tumpek Landep. The temple is worship by all Balinese especially if their own village has ‘Barong’ and ‘Rangda’. This temple is a bit damage as it is quite old. A restoration to this temple was done in 1992 and Karya Pedudusan Agung was then held in 1994.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Count down of Amrozy et al.’s execution

From Bali Post, 30 October 2008
Translated by Putu Semiada

More than 1000 policemen are ready at Nusa Kambangan

An Anti terror and anti bomb truck is sent to Nusakambangan via Wijayapura quay, Cilacap, Central Java, Wednesday (29/10).

More than 1000 policemen have been mobilized to Nusakambangan Island in Cilacap, Central Java which are prepared to look after security before the execution of Amrozy et al. According to some sources, policemen are coming to the island in several different groups. “There are already many policemen there. They are not coming via Wijayapura quay” Says a source.

It is said that the policemen are coming via some different quays with strict security so that no journalists were aware. At the main quay (Wijayapura) only empty trucks were seen passing with no passengers.

Other source says that policemen are seen on street patrolling on street towards Jojok, in anticipating any infiltrator. “Every police post in each prison in Nusa Kambangan is now provided with a Brimob (Brigade Mobile) personnel.

It’s not a revenge!
Wayan Sudiana would never forget what happened six years ago ( 12 October 2002). He and his wife are the victims of Kuta Bomb I. His wife was the cashier at the Sari Club. His wife died together with the other 202 people.

What does Sudiana think of the coming execution of Amrozi et. al. “I just hope that the execution will be done according to the schedule that has been decided by the government. It’s not a revenge, this is about justice,” says the father of two children.

He also hopes that the bombers would remind his followers not to take any similar action. Because if they do so, it would make other people suffer. No religion on the earth permits that kind of action.

The chairman of Isana Dewata, Raden Suprio Laksono whose wife is also the victim of Bali Bom I hopes that the government would be consistent with their decision.

Monday, 27 October 2008


Taken from ‘’Wayang’’ in Bali Post, Sunday, 26 October 2008 by I Wayan Juniartha
Translated by Putu Semiada

Nobody is really interested to watch the ‘Wayang Wong’performed at the temple outer courtyard. They are playing Anoman Duta. Only some children are watching. But as it starts raining, the children are leaving as well.

But the show keeps going to finish the story. For the dancers, it is a matter of ngayah, so they do not really care whether there are spectators or not.

“It is raining heavier and heavier. I think, the dancers would get sick,” says I Made Tengal Sengal-Sengal while biting a piece of sugar cane.

Due to temple festival at the village at the temples, the warung tuak has closed for a week. The owner of the warung, NI Luh Makin Digosok Makin Sip, has been busy ngayah at the temple day and night, so does the sekehe tuak.

“It’s not only the dancers would get sick, so would us. After big ceremonies many villagers would get sick,” says I Kadek Bukal Kual.

Some get sick due to too much ngayah. They make skewers and chopping spices. They don’t get enough sleep as they have to be always ready everytime they hear the sound kulkul. They would get very tired. The same thing would happen to the wives. They have to make thousand pieces of cakes and have to serve the women making offerings. As they are too busy, they don’t even have time to take care themselves and get sick too.

There are also some people who get sick as they never do the ngayah. Instead, they are busy gambling (playing Chinese cards) and forget the time and keep drinking coffee. They don’t even pray to the gods. This make them get sick.

“There also some people who get stress after ngayah as they loss their job. As they have to do ngayah for a month so they have to take a month leave at their office. Once they back to the office to work, their positions have been replaced by others from other islands. It is difficult to employ Balinese. Too many holidays. That’s what their boss said,” says Made.

If you don’t do the ngayah, the villagers will talk about you or the gods will punish you. But if you do a lot of ngayah, you will have to be off from the office very often, then you might lose your job. So far no boss is punished by the gods because of firing their employees who ask for many days off to do the ngayah.

It seems that the gods are afraid of the boss. It seems also that the village has no obligation at all how to deal with unemployed villagers. The village’s obligation is just to make sure that the villagers will do the ngayah, instead of making sure if they have a job.

Back to the Wayang Wong show. The Anoman is jumping high. It seems that he is going to burn the Alengka. But as it’s heavy pouring now so it is not possible to continue the story. It is not possible to make fire in open stage when it is raining. Let alone no villagers are watching the show. Nobody cheer up. They prefer gambling at the banjar hall. Some are sitting in the warung working on numbers for the lottery.

Only I Made and I Kadek are still watching.

“I find that the Balinese are like the Wayang Wong. They are busy looking after their heritages but nobody really cares. Like now, they keep playing although nobody watching,” says I Made.

“I agree with you. We are like wayang. Since We’ve never done anything on our own in our whole life. We have to follow the adat, banjar, village, the gods, employer, boss, company and the state, all the time.

It’s flooding now around the temple but as the dalang keeps telling story, so the wayang keeps going.



Adat : village or customary law
Anoman : The powerful white monkey in the Ramayana story
Anoman Duta : a play taken from Ramayana story.
Banjar: village community sub-unit
I Kadek Bukal Kual: lazy and naughty person
I Made Tengal Sengal-Sengal : Someone who always do something in hurry
Kulkul : Balinese wooden drum
Ngayah : Doing something voluntarily (usually religious matter) without expecting rewards
Ni Luh Makin Digosok Makin Sip : a flirting lady
Rahwana : The evil king of Alengka in the Ramayana story
Sekehe tuak : informal association of Balinese men whose hobby are drinking palm toddy (tuak)
Warung tuak : food stall offering palm toddy
Wayang: shadow puppet
Wayang Wong : classical masked play.

2008 Balinale Film Festival - Indonesia Premiere "Shelter"

On the fourth day of the 2008 Balinale Film Festival, October 24, Bali movie-goers attended the screening of the Indonesia premiere of the movie "Shelter".

It's the story about a young guy who is either closeted or unaware of his gay nature until that one special person comes into his life. The film doesn't indulge in gay stereotypes: no campy, effete, flamboyant character to emphasize what it "is" to be a gay man. The gay men in this film drink beer, punch each other, get around on skateboards, and go surfing. Zach, the protagonist, presented more as a troubled talented-artist who struggle of accepting his sexuality while also showing the fear he experiences while contemplating what effect the revelation of his discovery will have on his family...especially his relationship with his young nephew, Cody, who has come to revere him as a father.

Although easy to predict, "Shelter" is a beautifully edited, spectacular looking and luscious sounding film which is definitely character driven. Each of the main characters is carefully developed so that we quite soon decide that we really do care about the characters. Zach and his lover, Shaun, who portrayed as two gay men becoming aptly-able father figures to a young child sends a remarkable message that perhaps not all heterosexuals may be capable of raising a child as effectively as two responsible gay men with strong family values in their hearts.

Sarita Newson, Widgie Wienberg and her Balinese surfer husband

Friday, 24 October 2008

Film Introduction "Son of A Lion" - Balinale International Film Festival

On Wednesday, October 22, MW introduced the film Son of A Lion at Galeria 21 Theater, Simpang Siur, Kuta.

He was in disguise as there had been death threats against him by Pashtun extreme anti-redhead faction.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Banaliale Film Festival

From the photoshoot for advanced publicity for tomorrow night's Gay Surfie Movie "BEACH BUM-BANDIT" at the Banaliale Film Festival.

Die Geister Sprechen Wieder (The Spirits Speak Again) - by David Leser

As published in Vanity Fair (German Edition) October 12, 2008

In Bali the spirits never sleep. From the mist-filled volcanic mountains of the north to the warm, turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, up through emerald terraces of shimmering rice and into dusty villages of temples and laughing, bare-footed children, the Gods speak to the Balinese, normally with loving kindness, but sometimes with a loud and terrible fury.

In this land dubbed the “ Island of the Gods” it is important to pay heed to the spirits and deities. To perform ceremonies and rituals, to prepare offerings, to keep a fragile world in balance. There is magic aplenty here in Bali, if you have the eyes and ears for it. Ghosts sitting in the fork of trees, singing. Rain falling in temple grounds during the dry season. Black witches crossing the waters to darken people’s doors. To the Balinese what is unseen is just as important as what is seen. One must remain vigilant at all times.

Six years ago, just before the terrorist bombs ripped through Paddy’s bar and the Sari nightclub on Kuta Beach’s main tourist strip, killing 202 people from 22 nations, the Balinese received four warnings. They weren’t the kind of warnings normally associated with government intelligence agencies monitoring the activities of radical Islamist groups, although there was some of that too. No, these were the kind of alerts only a people deeply in touch with their spiritual and cultural traditions might have been able to see … had they been watching closely.

The first warning came two months before October’s carnage when a giant turtle was slaughtered on a beach near Klungkung, the ancient capital about 25 km north-east of Denpasar. The turtle, an endangered animal in Bali used for important ceremonies, was said to have had a swastika – the Hindu symbol for unity – naturally marked on its belly. Many Balinese now believe this turtle had come to save the island but instead of heeding the warning, a group of youths from a nearby village had killed it.

A week later a second warning was issued when, at midnight, in the temple of Klungkung, a wooden bell sounded. There was no one sounding the bell. On October 6, a third warning in the form of a white ring around the sun; and then, three days later, a fourth, this time a small earthquake shaking the region around Denpasar.

On October 12, 2002, exactly one year, one month and one day after the September 11 attacks on America, catastrophe struck in the physical world. Up in the palace in Krambitan, 35 kms from Kuta Beach, Rai Girigunadhi, a member of the most prominent royal family in Bali, thought he’d just heard thunder. “In my heart,” he told Vanity Fair last week, “I was happy. I thought it was the first rains of the wet season.”

He was horribly mistaken. A suicide bomber by the name of Iqbal had walked into the crowded Paddy’s bar on Jalan Legian, Kuta’s busiest street, and blown himself up, along with scores of foreign tourists. In a clever piece of evil a second bomber had been waiting for people to flee into the streets before he detonated a Mitsubishi van packed with more than a tonne of explosives. The van was parked across the road from Paddy’s, directly outside the popular Sari Club.

“Try and imagine the biggest wave you have ever known,” an Australian environmental student, Hannahbeth Luke, told me shortly after surviving the inferno, “and then multiply it by 1000. Imagine it breaking over you. All around you. The whole place exploding. I remember my body being lifted. I really thought I was dying. I thought `This is it,’ and then I realised I could move. And so I did. I ran like I’d never run before.

“Everything was hot to touch – dry heat, stench, my nostrils filled with smoke … I kicked my shoes off and began to climb. I remember grabbing these electrical wires and climbing up this four metre wall … and then I climbed over three garages and dropped onto shrapnel and glass and bits of metal. I landed without barely cutting my feet.”

Hannahbeth Luke’s English boyfriend, Mark Gajardo, had left the dance floor only moments before a song by British pop singer, Sophie Ellis Bextor, had begun blaring from the loudspeaker. The song – incredibly enough – was called Murder On The Dancefloor.

You’ll just have to pray
Don’t think you’ll get away
I will prove you wrong
I will lead you all astray
Stay another song I’ll blow you all away
Hey it’s murder on the dancefloor

Bodies were blown apart or incinerated on the spot, arms and legs and heads torn off, corpses charred and disfigured beyond recognition. Hannahbeth’s partner, Mark Gajardo, died near the entrance to the club while Tom Singer, a young Australian man whose life Hannabeth thought she’d saved, died a month later from his burns. He was one of 88 Australians murdered.

In the unfolding chaos people began running, screaming, bleeding, burning, vaporising, dying in their tracks, or in the arms of their rescuers. Hotel lobbies like the Bounty Hotel, 350 metres from the Sari Club, were suddenly transformed into emergency hospital wards. At one stage the hotel was confronted with the appalling fact that 177 of its guests were missing. By the time the dead and injured had been fully accounted for, 32 of the Bounty’s guests were dead and 48 injured.

“You cannot forget it,” the former manager of the hotel, Kossy Halemai, told me. “I think it will stay with me as long as I live.”


Three years after that dreadful night, on the evening of October 1, 2005, lightning struck a second time. Three bombs, one in Kuta Square and two at seafood restaurants on the beach at Jimbaran Bay, were detonated by three men wearing backpack bombs. Twenty people, many of them sitting at dinner, died in the attacks. The heart of Bali had been smashed again.

In the aftermath of the first bombing in 2002, as tens of thousands of tourists had fled the island, as hotels had emptied of their guests, as village after village had been thrown into poverty, as beaches and restaurants had been deserted, the Balinese had set about cleansing their island home – placing their special offerings, preparing exorcisms for the dead, whispering their mantras and prayers, spending what little money they had on trying to restore the cosmic order.

They had also done something else quite extraordinary. They had begun asking questions not normally posed by a people overwhelmed by grief. What had they done wrong to bring this calamity on their guests and themselves? Were they not sufficiently observant in their prayers? Had they strayed too far from their traditions, not been Balinese enhough in their daily practices? Had they been too busy looking after their guests to heed the warnings?

This was not to say they didn’t also start searching for answers in the temporal world, that they didn’t suspect Islamic militants for this unprecedented violation of their home. They did. It was just that as Agung Kartini, sister of Rai Girigunadhi, told Vanity Fair last week, the Balinese preferred to look at themselves first.

“Why should we blame others before we check ourselves?” this princess and priestess said as she sat with her brother in the fading glory of their family’s palace in Krambitan where Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall once celebrated their wedding. “We will look at everything that happened, but we will check ourselves first.”


Bali is a little dot in a swarm of islands in the Indonesian archipelago. It is a place of such loveliness that it almost takes the breath away. To visit it now, six years after the first bombing, three years after the second attack, is to find a society in the grip of an unexpected and extraordinary economic boom: Rice fields being razed for apartments and boutique resorts, villas being constructed on cliff faces, clubs offering all-night dance parties, new concepts in sophisticated fusion dining, spa treatment centres in the foothills and by the sea, fashion and furniture businesses flourishing, five star chains such as the Four Seasons, the Aman resorts, the Bulgari, the Intercontinental, the Ritz Carlton, St Regis … all competing for tourists from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Europe, and the new high-rollers in town, the Russians. (Such is the Russian presence here that there are now even Russian restaurants, menus in Russian and Russian hospitality staff!)

Last year delegates from over 180 countries flew to Bali for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. In two weeks time (editors note October 14-19) some of the world’s leading writers will attend a literary festival in the central highlands of Ubud. At the same time Bali will also play host to a new international film festival.

“There is no way Bali is on the ropes,” says Australian expatriate, Made Wijaya, a resident of Bali for over 30 years and one of the world’s leading landscape gardeners.

“It’s barely even reeled from the punch.”

Tourist figures confirm this. By the end of July more than one million people would have visited Bali this year, making it the most successful year for foreign arrivals on record, far more than before the first bombing. Indeed at the time of Vanity Fair’s visit last week it was all but impossible to find a spare bed amongst the 40,000 on the island. Other than perhaps Dubai it’s hard to imagine a place on earth experiencing such spectacular economic growth.

And yet what makes Bali unique is that it remains a place of ceremony and ritual, a place deeply wedded to its communal and spiritual belief system.

“The wheels keep turning here as they have for centuries,” Made Wijaya tells me on a visit to his home in Sanur on the south-east coast. “This is not just a playground. It’s the world’s last surviving medieval God-kingdom.”

And therein lies a source of conflict - the clash between the commercial and the spiritual. On a clear day on the beach here at Sanur you can look across the Bandung Strait to the tiny island of Nusa Penida, known by tourists for its steep cliffs and spectacular diving locations. To the Balinese this is the home of Ratu Gde Mecaling, the supreme deity and protector of Bali who lives in the main temple.

In the lead-up to the 2002 bombing Nusa Penida was the proposed location for a gambling casino, despite widespread opposition from the local population and a number of priests. Although desperately poor, the people of Nusa Penida opposed the casino for fear it would provoke the fury of their protector.

According to Agung Kartini this is perhaps what happened. Why? Because the person behind the casino proposal was none other than Kadek Wiranatha, owner of Paddy’s bar, the first place blown up in 2002, as well as the Bounty Hotel which lost 32 of its guests that same night. Kadek Wiranatha also happens to own Indowine, the biggest distributor of alcohol on the island, not to mention the world-famous nightclub, Ku De Ta where Bono once gave an impromptu performance and where, in the last few years, people like Mel Gibson, Christine Aguilera, American soul and hip hop singer, Erykah Badu, and international model, Kate Moss, have come for cocktails by the sea.

During the European high season it is not unusual to find 2500 people in wild celebration, grooving to the latest dance tracks over the Indian Ocean.

Over lunch at Ku De Ta last week Kadek Wiranatha told Vanity Fair it was not he who had proposed the casino for Nusa Penida, but rather his brother and business partner, Gde Wiratha. Nonetheless he saw no problem with building such a complex there, so long as it was not built next door to the temple of Ratu Gde Mecaling. “If you want to build a casino on Nusa Penida, I think it’s possible,” he said. “Just find the right land.”

As Bali’s richest and most successful entrepreneur, Kadek Wiranatha told Vanity Fair that while he didn’t believe in magic – as most Balinese do – he did believe in the spirit world.

“I do believe in things I can’t see,” he said. “This land, for instance, where we are sitting having lunch (at Ku De Ta) is an old cemetery … and so I pray for the people who are buried here.” And this he says without a hint of irony.

Rio Helmi, Vanity Fair’s photographer, believes this is this kind of approach to commercialism that can cause problems for Bali. The son of Indonesia’s former ambassador to Germany and a veteran of 35 years photographic experience in Bali, Helmi believes Kadek Wiranatha is stretching the bounds of what is possible.

“He lives on the fault line,” Helmi says. “He presents that whole brash culture which believes you can do anything you want. And that’s part of the anger that drove the bombers to do what they did. They wanted to hurt this place where it hurt most, and that’s why it was a perfect strike.

And yet visiting the area around Ground Zero near Kuta Beach one is struck today by the glorious, throbbing, defiant life force prevailing again in Bali: Hawkers plying their trade. Cafes, bars and restaurants jostling for business. And t-shirts on sale summing it up best: `Drop Pants Not Bombs,’ `Fuck Terrorists,’ `Osama Don’t Surf,’ and the one that Rio Helmi chooses to wear: `There is no Prophet in Terrorism.”


Sometime later this month (editors note October) on an island off central Java three men are likely to be led from their prison cells in the middle of the night, taken out into the bush and tied to poles or crosses, had black hoods placed over their heads and shot by firing squad.

The firing squad of 12 men will be assisted by a spotlight illuminating reflectors placed over each man’s heart. The men will be given a choice as to whether they want to die standing, kneeling or sitting.

This is the fate that most probably awaits three of the Bali bombers, members of Jemaah Islamiah, the radical Islamist organisation responsible for both Bali bombings.

Last month (September) the condemned men – Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Ali Gufron ( better known as Muklas) and Imam Samudra - attempted to argue before a panel of Indonesian constitutional judges that death by firing squad amounted to torture. Instead of being shot and left to bleed to death for several minutes they preferred to be beheaded.

The Indonesian Government argued it was not torture to kill by shooting. “If they feel pain,” said the Justice and Human Rights Minister, Andi Mattalatta, “it’s just a natural process and it doesn’t contradict our constitution. Pain and torture are two different things.”

None of the three Moslem radicals has ever shown the slightest remorse for the death and devastation they caused here six years ago. Amrozi, a 46 year-old father of four and the man responsible for buying the chemicals and Mitsubishi van, came to be known as “the smiling assassin” for the way he laughed in court and gave the thumbs up when convicted.

In an interview following his 2003 conviction he admitted that his smile was his weapon because it made his enemies upset. “This is a very special weapon for jihad,” he said.

His brother, Muklas, a 48 year-old Islamic teacher, was found guilty of being the overall co-ordinator of the operation. His recruitment to Islamic militancy had begun in 1989 when he’d joined Arab mujahedin in Pakistan plotting ways of putting an end to the Soviet occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan. Asked by a judge if he knew Osama bin Laden from those days, Muklas had replied: “Yes I know him well,” but he denied Bin Laden had had any role in the Bali bombing.

The third convicted bomber, Imam Samudra, the 38 year-old so-called “field commander,” chose the target, led the planning meetings and then stayed behind in Bali for four days after the attack, to watch – and revel – in the carnage he created. He’d learnt about explosives in Afghanistan during the same peiord as Muklas and then, two months before the Bali bombing, studied tourist literature to narrow down the list of possible targets. All of them regarded Bali as a haven for Western decadence.

A fourth man, Ali Imron, the younger brother of Amrozi and Muklas, was also found guilty of his role in the bombing – he helped build the bomb that destroyed the nightclub – but was spared the death penalty because of his remorse.

In an extraordinary interview last year with Australian radio Ali Imron explained how he had been “de-radicalised” as a terrorist and was now helping Indonesian police break up terrorist cells. “I’m giving all this information to police so I can stop violence and terrorism,” he said.

Asked whether he ever thought of the people he killed on the night of October 12, 2002, Ali Imron replied: “Yes I’m still thinking about that night and the victims. Why did I commit that act of violence, that act of terrorism? What harm did those victims do? The mistake we made was that all along our target had been the US Army and its allies that have been waging war against Moslems. It was wrong to attack civilians. I will continue to ask for forgiveness from the victims and their families, from anyone affected by violence in which I was involved.”

The majority of Balinese remain unforgiving and would like to see the bombers executed. On this Hindu animistic island the threat of fundamentalist Islam has not gone away. Although extraordinarily tolerant towards their Muslim neighbours – said now to be more than 30 per cent of the population – they view with alarm proposals coming out of Jakarta.

Last week more than 1000 people gathered outside the Legislative Council building in Denpasar to protest against an anti-pornography bill - one that, if passed, could make it illegal to kiss in public or wear a bikini. Even statues of naked gods and goddesses, part of the great pantheon of Hindu deities, would have to be covered.

“We will continue to reject the pornography bill,” the Governor of Bali, Made Mangku Pastika, told the crowd. Pastika is the former police chief of Bali credited with capturing the Bali bombers. He was elected governor earlier this year.

The Balinese are a gentle but defiantly proud people. In 1906 the Dutch mounted a naval bombardment of the capital but rather than surrender the Balinese decided on the only honourable path – a suicidal puputan or fight to the death. As many as 4000 nobility, all dressed in their finest jewellery and waving their ceremonial golden knives, marched to their slaughter.

Over the centuries the Balinese have shown the world what it means to adapt and still be themselves. They have absorbed and withstood Hinduism, Islam, Dutch colonialism, Japanese invasion, Javanese transmigration, the massive corruption of the (former president) Soeharto years, tourism on a grand scale and, in recent years, terrorism. Still they flourish.

“I think Bali is just one long process of re-invention,” the Four Seasons’ general manager, John O’Sullivan, tells me finally, as we sit on Jimbaran beach watching a blazing sunset melt into the night sky. “Regardless of their circumstances they have an ability to go back to their spiritual essence. That’s why this is the most amazing place in the world.”


Red Carpet Premiere and Reception, 2008 Balinale International Film Festival

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Galeria 21 Theatere, Simpang Siur, Kuta

From left to right: Terence Clarke, Made Wijaya, Terry Fripp, Dirk Gastmans and Jamie James

Sarita Newson and Rucina Ballinger

MTV's VJ Ben, Marshanda, and her mother

Marshanda and Kadek Khrisna

Christine Hakim and Rio Helmi

Rima Melati and Warwick Purser (the festival patron)

Rucina Ballinger

Rucina Ballinger and officer from Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Indonesia

Christine Hakim and the director of the film on Pierre Rissient which opened the festival

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Reading of Donald Friend Diaries

On Sunday the 19th of October I was asked to introduce Terence Clarke A.M. at reading of the Donald Friend Diaries at The Alila Hotel in Payangan.

The Donald Friend Week was sponsored by The National Library of Australia and The Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Below my introduction:

When Terry Clarke was my maths teacher at high school we were mesmerized by his fashion sense, his depth of understanding of advanced algebra, and his comic timing. We were often rolling in the aisles.

As the coach of Cranbrook's 16A football squad he would dazzle us with his locomotion. Those golden, well-oiled thighs thundering down the wings.

Somehow Mr. Clarke's whistle was always louder.

Years later I discovered him in a rehearsal room at the University of Sydney, banging away at the piano—a true Vaudevillean virtuoso. (He was musical director and composed the music for and acted in "Flash Jim Vaux" a play he had written for Sydney's legendary Nimrod Theatre Company).

Shortly after this episode, Terry, consumed by his passion for the theatre, started teaching at N.I.D.A., Australia's National Institute of Dramatic Art. And I went to Bali.

My early years in Bali were spent at the feet of the great Tuan Donald—in fact, I never knew during those years that Donald was visiting Terry and his first wife on his not infrequent trips to Sydney. (Donald Friend was a great friend of Lya's father, the famous Australian painter Sir Russel Drysdale, another genius artist caricaturist).

It is fitting therefore that Terry Clarke should read from Donald's diaries tonight—and fitting also that the reading should be here at the Alila—designed by Kerry Hill one of Donald's dearest friends.

Now...Before I relinquish the podium I want to use this opportunity to say, for the record, that Donald Friend was indeed a big bugger, and a great man, but he was also a total bastard (very little he says about me in his diaries bears the faintest resemblance to the truth).

Read also Wijaya's article on The Jakarta Post: Sydney diary: 'Nyonya' Wear and Tear

2008 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

On Saturday Oct. 18th, I braved literary female-occupied Ubud to attend the launch of two books: Bali Today 2 (Jean Couteau’s brilliant series of essays on life and love in Bali), and SOMPRET (a collection of satirical cartoons by Balinese artist, I Wayan Sadha).

As I approached the venue—taking the corner at Peliatan—I was greeted by the musty odour of a pong clitteratti, as the combined faded batik moo-moos flapped in the stale night air.

Dr. Couteau & I Wayan Sadha

I Wayan Sadha

Clitterati in attack mode

Mrs. Dr. Nazrina Zuryani

I Wayan Sadha

I Wayan Sadha

Dr. Couteau

Jakarta literary artist delivers his speech

Honorary Consul of Italy (Bali & NTB) Mr Giuseppe Confessa (Pino) and The Stranger

I Wayan Sadha's son spills his guts (cue theme song "The Bodyguard")

Made Wijaya and I Wayan Sadha's son