Thursday, 14 January 2016

Stranger in Paradise: Bogan Heroes

Bogan Heroes

Kelvin Carlyle AKA Django
In 1970, the Sanur Balinese gave Sussex emigre Kelvin Carlyle the nickname Django, because he used to ride horses on Mertasari beach. He has since had four children — three of whom now live in Denmark — from two balinese wives and is consulting on the coming Hot Lips bar theatre company's all- camel production of Bogan's Heroes (see photo below right).
In fact Bogans (Australian slang for Oik or Yob) have taken Bali by stormy —encouraged by the government as part of its dumbing down Bali program.
The signature Bir Bintang T-shirt, braided mullet and shoulder to knees tats can be seen from Nusa Dua to Singaraja. Their mating call — ‘Waz yer larse pries” can be heard, loud and clear, in shopping malls and hooters bars across the island.
Having spread out from their original breeding ground in ‘Little South Perth’ (Kuta South Beach) there are now various sub-tribes including the Hardynistas (Bali’s answer to Wal-martians), the nocturnal Sky Garden Gorillas and the infamous surfing Bukit Bogan responsible for some sensationally ugly architecture along the south coast. 

Bogan Heroes, Mertasari Beach, Sanur
To be fair, however, it’s hard to justify the constant Facebook shrieking — by the West Coast Expat herbal suffragettes, lead by Conan the Librarian (Susi Johnston) — about environmental degradation, street crimes and pollution when the expat C.U.B. (Cashed Up Bogans) themselves are responsible for some pretty irresponsible and illegal development, particularly along the coasts and riverbanks.  Set-backs, zoning restrictions and common sense rules of geometry and theology are regularly flounted by these pale-faces. They have their own magazines, that only display photos of Real Bogan housewives of Brawa in bikinis, which they read in their microwave oven-style abodes.

Official Bogan Magazine
It would be unfair not to point out the positive impact on the Balinese economy of the budget tourist and C.U.B. expats — they prop up the tourism industry no end. Without them there would be an exodus of working girls back to East Java and Bandung, and many tattoo salons and hooters bars would have to close.
The numbers of turis domestik indigenous bogan or (Homo Erectus Nganjukensis Pithecarpus Boganensis) have recently soared, now that Bali has lots of plastic-fantastic attractions for the culture neutral (the aforementioned camel-rides and such). Fleets of budget airlines help mass tourism fill up the budget hotels and handicraft (oleh-oleh/souvenir) centers that have mushroomed in the island’s green belts.
Bali Bogan Icon - Miss Widji Wienberg, actress, exotic dancer
6 January 2016: To Sampalan, Nusa Penida for a rare ceremony
I love going to the big island of Nusa Penida — it is ‘Old Bali’ with a tough of sass: the Balinese there are full of beans and a joy to be with.
Today I am invited by local tourism and culture journalist Dewa Gede Santana to witness a Ngadegang ritual in the island’s capitol, Sampalan. This involves a procession of a Barong Bangkung (Swine Barong) to the harbour — to face off holy Mt. Agung on the main island — with a series of ceremonies aimed at harmonizing/balancing the universe.

Rangda-bearer wearing groovy shades,
Nusa Penida

Dewa Gede Santana, our guide in Sampalan Nusa Penida on
7th January 2016 for the Ngadegang ceremonies
There is a new boat service called Mola-Mola Express, direct from Sanur to Sampalan.
On board this morning I meet a Sanur pedanda (high priest) and his wife, pedanda istri, on their way to perform the climax of an important ceremony in a village temple. We talk about Nusa Penida’s growing popularity for Hindu pilgrims (pemedek yatra) from Bali’s new generation of spiritual tourists.
“I am more randy archaeologist than a spiritual tourist” I tell them, jokingly.
There is a new restaurant near Dalem Ped, 8km West of Sampalan, called Penida Colada which is such a great name. It marks the start of a new phase in Nusa Penida tourist development, as Poppies did in Kuta forty-three years ago today!! — of joint ventures (love matches) between a Balinese-foreigner restauranteur  couple.
See my video “Ngadegang in Nusa Penida”: 
•    •    •
9 January 2016: Palastian Pelawatan, Gases of Sesetan
The things you stumble across at Mertasari Beach: this morning I was escaping the free-range spring roll vendor's interrogating me about my marital status when i stumbled across five barong masks floating in the shallows and, behind them, the wondrous ‘GASES of SESETAN‘ performing arts troupe , with their charismatic leader MANGKU KOMANG CANDRA busy purifying the troupe's spooky masks. North of the group the saturday beach crowd were soaking, like satiated lemmings, in the warm coastal waters. South of the ceremony a grumpy tourist monitored a skyhigh drone. At home base (the pondok merana) men in black headdresses gathered, having spent SIWALATRI night on the beach or at the nearby PURA DALEM PENGEMBAK.

Mangku Komang Candra of GASES, Sesetan leads the Pelastian rituals for the Barong masks
at Mertasari Beach, 9th January 2016
See Video Penyucian Pelawatan Sesetan, 9 Januari 2016:
•    •    •
I Dewa Nyoman Muka (Dewa Sari)

31 December 1959 — 7 January 2016

Dewa Nyoman Muka  (Dewa Sari) , one of C.V.Swastika Kebun and P.T.Indosekar's founding garden commandos, died last month.
It's hard to imagine life without the booming voice of gentle giant Dewa Sari entering our office compound every morning, as he has for much of the last 35 years. He was the go-to man for anything that involved special work such as carving diety statues, lifting heavy objects, packing with perfection, taking charge at cremations, offering sage advice (for the last 15 years he became a Sai Baba devotee) and out-eating anyone in the staff kitchen.

Lately he enjoyed an encore career as a character actor in various Wijaya Pilem  productions (see photos and links below):
He is survived by his wife, four children( including his superbly talented and beautifully-mannered  son, Dewa Nyoman Dwipayana, who now maintains the Villa Bebek gardens) and five grandchildren.

WIDJILEAK: The holy Bule Hindu see just announced the beatification
of The Mother, Puri Abian Base

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

TRAVEL DIARIES: Nagaland, North East India

Nagaland, North East India

Beautiful, traditional village of Khonama, one hour outside the Nagaland capital Kohima
For many years I have dreamed of going to Nagaland in North-East India near the border with Northern Burma, to see the culturally colorful Austronesian tribes. These tribes, according to many anthropologists, are closely related to the Dayaks and the Iban of Kalimantan; the Nias islanders are also related, as are many of the minority tribes of Yunnan, and the tribespeople of Batanes in the Philippines (next month’s column). The region has only recently been open to foreigners — due to decades of separatist strife — and since the year 2001 has annually held a ten-day Hornbill Festival to celebrate the culture of the nineteen far-flung tribes. It’s an excuse for a big get-together, to stage a night carnival, and to promote tourism.
From Jakarta one flies to Kolkata (Air Asia the cheapest) then on to Dimapur, Nagaland’s capital.
In Kolkata it’s best to overnight in one of the cheap hotels near the Airport. I can recommend the Silverline ($15) and the Sri Krishna ($40). Both have air-con and WiFi in the rooms.
Watch my video My Kolkata:
The village in which the hotels sit is full of Bengali life in the mornings.
We flew to Dimapur, the commercial capital of Nagaland, on Indian Airlines. Indigo Airlines also flies.
In Dimapur I stayed one night at the charming Aiers Enclave Lodge ($50) which has a very good spa next door. The lodge arranged a dashing Assamese driver and an Innova. We were set!
•    •    •
We drove to the Nagaland capital of Kohima (three hours) then straight on to the festival ground for the morning show, — a sensational medley of tribal dance performances — in a large amphitheatre with terracing of Naga Morung houses and courtyards representing each tribe above and surrounding. Everything was well organized, and everyone was incredibly friendly and hospitable.

Chief Minister of Nagaland open Hornbill Festival 2016
The honor guard of Naga tribals  await the arrival of the Chief Minister of Nagaland at the Hornbill Festival
•    •    •
Images from the tribes’ village at the Hornbill Festival
After a fabulous lunch at the festival venue we drove back to our lodgings in Kohima, a rather grim-looking and congested place. We had lucked out with rooms at the very atmospheric colonial-era Razhu Pru lodge which is owned and run by Nagaland’s handicraft pioneer Jesmina Zeliang.
The first night we went into town to the Carnival — a festival night-market selling duck momo and other local delicacies in a calm New Year’s Eve atmosphere.

Tribesperson at the Hornbill Festival
•    •    •
There are many architectural interesting villages one hour’s drive (on good roads) in any direction from Kohima.
Please watch my videos: Hornbill Festival and Nagaland, MY NAGALAND TRIP, 6 - 11 December 2015, for a fuller overview of the festival, and the scenic and cultural delights of Nagaland. Otherwise, here are two postings from my travel diaries:

Entrance to the old walled fortress in Jotsoma

The charming mini-museum in Jotsoma, 15 minutes outside Kohima

The traditional Naga village front gate of the Art and Culture
Museum in Kohima

Inside the Kotsoma village museum
8 December 2015: Razhu Pru lodge, Nagaland
Last night we came in from the carnival to find that the Bangalore Aunties (a busload of old school friends doing the Northeastern states tour) had occupied the sole fireplace in the lodge and were semi-smashed on Indian wine, in a nice way, and were screaming and shouting over a game of gin rummy.
Now, Miss Daisy and I had bedrooms off the communal sitting room and needed to go to bed — but we did not want to break up the Aunties' game. I was a tad reticent also as the alpha aunty, a Mz Poonam, had earlier chastized me, in front of the pack of closet man-haters and redhead bigots, for calling them 'Sandras from Bandra' on arrival. Poonam, the architect, had pulled herself up to her full 5'6" and bellowed, ‘We are not Sandras, we are pure Indians’. My position was indefensible, so I beat a hasty retreat.

Jesmina Zeliang owner of Razhu Pru (left) and Miss Daisy (right)
We went into our rooms and put earplugs in, but they did little to stifle the din. Every five minutes or so, a huge holler would go up, like a goal had just been scored at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
I went out and asked if they could just keep it down to a dull roar.
Well, they were so embarrassed and apologized profusely and scurried off, all fifteen of them, layered to the max in Fab India fashions, to wreak havoc on the back verandah.
This morning, as I was lighting the fire and emptying their ashtrays, they started coming out, one by one.
I was feeling frisky and thought I’d try again to mend the bridge. 
Special staff of Razhu Pru
One aunty was a ringer for Ava Gardner, and I told her so. None of them had heard of her. I told them what a legendary screen goddess she was, and that she had starred as the stationmaster’s daughter, a half-caste, in a famous Jean Renoir film set in India.
They all looked daggers at me; three sauntered off.
Mercifully, Rawlinson's Arms came up on my iPod mix, and I tried to explain, thinking that Anglican school-educated anglophile Bangaloreens would love an explanation of Vivian Stanshaw’s seminal 1950s humour.
Their eyes glazed over to a woman as their lips curled in disdain.
Mz Poonam said, ’I have brothers who like that sort of thing’.
The 2016 Miss Nagaland ceremony
10 December 2015: Mischief-making
There was a terrible incident at the Hornbill Festival Naga Chef Season 3 dining terrace yesterday. Miss Daisy and I got separated from our dashing driver Tapan.
I asked the waitress, a very pretty docile Assamese miss named Vesky Chernobyl BSc, HM, if I could borrow her cell-phone, and she agreed, but in that moment a demon took possession of my very being and, recalling some graffiti I had just seen on a tribal village house wall, and wanting to titillate sweet Tapan (the love of our lives), I texted, ‘Loverboy, kiss by kiss every day, Vesky. PS: we are at the barbeque stall’, and handed the phone back. 

The impossibly suave Tapan Swargiany of Assam,
our driver in Nagaland

Sophia, one of the attentive staff at Razhu Pru Lodge,

Line-up at the Jotsoma Sports Associations Annual Wrestling tournament
‘Why did you write this?’, protested Miss Vesky moments later. I had no defense. I did say that as she had a degree in tourism she needed to learn that tourists come in all packages and that I was a naughty one. She just scowled and stormed off.
Tapan appeared moments later looking ashen-faced. He had rung Vesky to clarify our location and she had scolded him. Tapan told us that a Naga girl would have laughed it off. 
Motto of the story: What’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander.
•    •    •
Art and Culture Museum at Kohima