Monday, September 30, 2013


Recently, here in Indonesia, a Christian woman was appointed to a District post in Java.

That's two strikes from the get-go.

Immediately, radical Muslims began to demonstrate against the appointment. The demonstrations continue to this day. The demonstrators are calling for her dismissal without further ado.

A woman and a Christian. Outrageous! She must go. She cannot possibly represent the population of her district, which is mostly Muslim. The position has nothing to do with religion, of course, but still ....

Imagine such an uprising in America.

But this is Indonesia, folks. A prime example of the foolishness of Indonesia.

Of course, it's not as simple as gender. It's not as simple as religious affiliation. Somewhere, down at the bottom of the farce, is the likelihood that the woman was granted the post on the basis of prior performance over someone less worthy who had wanted it nonetheless.


The traditional Indonesian wife disseminates information in bite size bits and pieces. Her husband is placed on a 'standby/need-to-know' basis. Conversations with similarly situated friends seem to bear out the theory.

For example, your wife announces that a trip to Pak Wayan's house in Ubud will occur tomorrow morning. You get up, you shower, you clothe. But nothing happens. Your wife is still in bed. What happened to Ubud?

Oh, that was canceled for today. We'll go tomorrow.

The next day you do indeed start out for Ubud. But wait -- you've ended up in Seminyak!

Oh, we're meeting Putri for breakfast first.


On to Ubud.

But hold on. You note that the pursuit of the current route will take you far to the east of Ubud.

Oh, we're stopping at cousin Ketut's place first to pick up a cake.

A cake?

Yes, a cake, for Pak Wayan, in Ubud. For goodness sake, pay attention!

So you pick up the cake. You visit with Ketut for a short time. Perhaps three hours.

And  you head for Ubud.

When you arrive, Pak Wayan is nowhere to be found. In fact, he's not home.

But why would he leave. He knew we were coming. Right?

I don't know. Maybe not.

But surely you called ahead. I thought this was all arranged.

That was yesterday.

Good grief.

Well, nothing to do but head back home to Sanur.

And yet, somehow, you end up in Kintamani.

Friday, September 27, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog

Moving on.

Finishing up the final pieces of the coming issue of Bali Style, already done with my week's allotment of English First work, and so here I am with chance to write something in the blog.

Umm ....


Well, that's the trouble with going back to work after you've been retired. You get back in that mode and suddenly can't figure out what to do if you're not working. What did I do when I was retired?

Oh, I know -- Go to the beach for a swim! Take my sunblock and a book.  Nice weather today. Perfect. About 170 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's still only morning. I'll wait till the water gets to be the same temperature, then take a dip.

So, no time to blog, after all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The End of a Story

Ten years ago, my second wife and I were divorced. She filed, I signed.  In her mind, it was my fault. In mine, it was ours. I left her, at that time, with 200,000 dollars and a house, which I had inherited from my parents. For nearly ten years, I continued to hope that she would share this bounty. I loved her then, and love her now, and never let go of the stubborn faith in her character, never let go of the conviction that she would ultimately see clearly, return to what I saw as a defining 'fairness' in her most basic makeup, and, finally, share whatever remained of what had been given.

Well, I heard just today, through a circuitous route, that she had sold the final portion, the house, for half its worth., and with no intention of informing me of the news.

And I am in disbelief, even now.

She is at this moment, as far as I know, walking the Way of St. James, from France to Spain. And I wonder, what can she  possibly learn that has not already been betrayed?

But do I hope, still?

Yes, of course I do.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Let's Go Glamping!

It’s called ‘glamping’, and to be honest (at the risk of seeming obtuse), I had not so much as heard of the thing until about two weeks ago when Bali Style asked me to stay a night at recently opened Glamping Sandat, in the scenic countryside near Ubud.

‘Glamping’ is a portmanteau word, a combination of glamour and camping, and, as I soon discovered through a perusal of the website (, as well as other internet info, glamping is a global trend, with sites spreading from South Africa to Europe. The idea is to merge the uniqueness and character of the camping experience -- the quality of serenity, a closeness with nature, locale and culture -- with the personal luxuries so closely associated with the comfort of a rewarding travel experience -- in other words, to enjoy the best of both worlds, nature and luxury.

As a younger man, in another country (long ago and far away), I did a lot of camping -- without the ’glam’. While rewarding in its own right, this does come with some minuses. Exposure to the whims of the weather, for instance. Hardships such as wood chopping and fire building. Trips to the outhouse (if there is one). And meals of generally blackened campfire cuisine.

Not so with glamping. At Glamping Sandat you will find five spacious luxury ‘tents’ and three two-storey lumbung huts. Each high-ceilinged tent is built on a raised wooden platform and has two rooms -- a living room/bedroom and a fully equipped, modern bathroom. Each has, also, a generous front deck with a small, private swimming pool beautifully situated at the verge of a breathtaking, jungle ravine.

The tents are equipped with mesh-screen windows, which may be covered against a chilly night, and a powerful, perfectly substantial ceiling fan, while the lumbung huts have a large living area on the ground floor and a bedroom and balcony on the second level, including air conditioning unit. The lumbung units share the large main swimming pool.

Each dwelling has been lovingly decorated and furnished by Emanuela Padoan, co-owner with her husband, Federico Carrer -- each with a welcoming, gracious mood of its own, furnished with cosy antiques, playful lamps and other, friendly little touches which put an accent on the ‘glam’ experience. The bathrooms are fully equipped with modern toilet, sink and shower. Ours even had a chandelier! In the front room is a centrally placed bed for two, a sofa, other seating options, coffee table, side tables, dressers and more -- without the slightest hint of crowding. These are not pup-tents, folks! They are family dwellings, perfectly comfortable for three or four occupants. Wifi is also online, and music is available -- but no TV.

The idea here is escape. It is a place for quality time, shared with one another and with the natural world -- for personal reflection, renewed appreciation, the chance to have a genuine conversation with the world you had somehow left behind while busy in the concrete jungles back home. Here, the voice of the natural world reasserts itself above the noise of man and machine, such that you can hear the wind again in the tops of the trees, the chirping of birds, the buzzing of insects, the whisper of the river far below in the ravine.

I took a cool dip in the afternoon, leaned on the lip of the pool to drink in the breath of the untouched, unspoiled landscape, and then laid on the poolside lounge chair, half-awake, half-asleep to the profound and inimitable dialogue of nature. I had all but forgotten what I was missing, transported anew on the wings of peace and quiet. I felt like a child again, somehow -- full of wonder and tranquillity, in a place where time, if only for a time, is able to stand still for precious hours on end.

Situated between the glam-tents and the lumbung huts is a spacious dining area -- an open-air, A-frame structure made completely of bamboo. This features a long, communal dining table as well as an additional social area with sofas and a large, square-ish table made from railroad ties. As with the individual dwellings, this too has been tastefully attended to by the interior decorating talents of Emanuela, featuring antiques and other conversation pieces, a small library, and one wall devoted completely to mirrors (a particular passion). Each mirror has been sourced from local shops around Bali and has been fashioned from a variety of materials, from bamboo to metal, glass and paper. Well, all but one -- a favourite, good luck mirror which has travelled all the way from Italy. I’ll let you guess which it is.

Italy is the home country of Federico and Emanuela, who now spend their year between Italy, Spain and Bali. They are a delightful, friendly and easily befriended couple who will join their guests for breakfast and dinner, for the character here is communal as well as private and peaceful, all in its proper time and place. Sumptuous meals and amity are shared by glampers and owners alike. It is a spirit which extends as well to the surrounding community and its Balinese culture, as the ideological aim is to be one with the surrounding world in every possible aspect, with a compassion for the place, the society and the culture.

In this respect, glampers may easily spend a day exploring the surrounding countryside, with its temples, rice fields and forest attractions, as well as the charming town of Ubud, with its countless shops and restaurants -- and still return in the evening to refresh and renew.

Glamping has become a global trend, devoted to eco-structures with zero environmental impact and a sense of responsibility to the land and its people. But it’s more than that, and I, for one, can see why. In a time of increasing concern for the environment, and a heightened drive to find truly fulfilling, personalized experiences in the midst of options that have become common, or even mundane, here is a shiny new key to open beloved old doors and return to the incomparable amazements of the real world.

(for Bali Style Magazine)


It takes conviction, conscience and determination to truly lead. Thank you, President Obama, for your courage in the face of doubt and indecision.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Omnia Vanitas

We live now in a cowardly, fearful, paranoid world, where societies are typified by malaise and self-absorption. There is no moral compass. Everything is relative, right? What one man thinks is wrong, another may think is right. The use of poisonous nerve gas, for instance. Who's to judge?

Omnia vanitas.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

MS Poetry

Just passing on, from poet Jennifer Evans, news of a new poetry anthology, soon to be published. It's a collection of heartfelt poetry by authors who have MS. Check it out at Will be available for purchase in about 2-3 weeks.