Home for the Holidays

Joey Alexander, Bali’s young jazz piano virtuoso who can claim Herbie Hancock as a fan, nominated for a Grammy at age 13, will be giving a performance backed by bass and percussion on 5 December at Canggu’s Hotel Tugu. Rp500,000 nett is the price per person. Tapas are included, beverages are not. Cash bar opens at 6 and the performance begins at 7:30. A grazing menu will be offered. Details direct from the hotel on WA: +62 81337020904. This is his last concert planned for Bali this year, and these tickets will go quickly.


In trending style and cuisine, is there anything hotter than Mexico these days? You’ll uncover a rich culture when you venture deeply into its mix of Catholicism, Mayan mysteries, while tapping Indigenous knowledge and activism. Bali’s creative community and style mavens are embracing Day of the Dead imagery as seen in that wild skull shop in Petitenggit (skullbali.com is still open for business) and skull imagery on black t-shirts at cremation ceremonies has been de rigeur since heavy metal music cassettes reached a critical mass here.

Self portraits of feminist icon Frida Kahlo, often dressed in Mexican finery in an embrace of her mother’s indigenous roots, refuse to fade into oblivion. Each new generation finds fascination there, and one local designer who churns out one uniquely screen printed Frida bag after another is recycled denim wizard Jalangkara (@jalangkarabagdesign on Instagram).

Ubud renaissance man Indra Geed Saputra has just released his Mexico-Bali fusion design in sticker form, a great stocking stuffer for teens, which you can view on his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/artgeedart/posts/3437334656359897 and @artgeedart on Instagram


Farmers need our help! No future without farms, right? So a new farmer’s market has been added to the list of places we can go to support local growers (and, in many cases, the drivers who sell produce from small farms). Global Health Center, with Sanur’s most conveniently placed parking entrance (approachable from either direction of the bypass), has a market every Monday from 1 to 5pm. Chiropractic Doctor and Rotarian Patrick Montserrat supports the sellers by giving them table space free of charge. Stop by at Jl By Pass No 178, Sanur

A great gift for a teen reader! At the start of the recent Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, I caught up with Ahmad Fuadi, the author of Negeri 5 Menara (Land of 5 Towers), now released as a film. The young adult novel follows a gifted student into a pesantren (religious school for Muslim boys), where he and his close chums rise to diverse challenges. It’s a great page-turner of a book, topping my list of what today’s teens (of any culture or faith) should be reading.

Fuadi based the work on his own pesantren experience, and he has been greatly touched to discover how many western readers became inspired by something he himself used to achieve his goals as a teen. As does his fictional protagonist Alif, Fuadi the young student mounted an Arabic maxim on his dormitory wall: man jadda wajada, translatable as he who works hard is rewarded.

For Fuadi, this precept has proven true, and he suggested that Bali’s students who have slipped behind in their schooling due to CoVid19 would be served well by engaging their creativity in, not merely their consumption of, various arts and techniques.   Fuadi suggests technical pursuits that are easily acted upon with their phones, such as filmmaking, animation, coding games, writing, and other fine arts.

Google animation by kids and you’ll find a wealth of videos on the topic. Super inspiring, even for very young directors. And readers, perhaps this is a good time to lend some time and artistic or technical wisdom of your own, to local youngsters you already know in your area. Begin with a small group for best success. Have a look at https://lemonlimeadventures.com/how-to-do-stop-motion-animation-with-kids/ and you have the basic steps.


Speaking of film, we can look forward to the return of the big screen in Bali. Save the dates!

“Recording artist Ayu Laksmi and Yoke Darmawan celebrate the opening of Balinale 2019 with festival Founder Deborah Gabinetti.” Photo courtesy Balinale

Our 14th annual Balinale (Bali International Film Festival) has announced its 2021 dates! May 27 – 31 is when we can see all the great new movies carefully curated over months by the diverse jury. What used to be a September film festival, is now presented for greatest advantage to film lovers and to the many young filmmakers creating magic for the screen.

Scheduled to follow directly at the end of Cannes’ star-studded festival, Balinale launches its premieres and pre-release screenings, its workshops, community outreach and gala festivities, at the perfect time of the film fest year, and our own regional and local events calendar.

And new alliances guarantee that the Bali audience can choose from a more diverse program of live performances and virtual events. So it’s all good news.

Balinale Founder and Executive Director Deborah Gabinetti says, “by holding Balinale at this time, we reposition the festival for maximum exposure in the local and regional event calendar. With each year we aim for a firmer foothold in the global film market, benefitting our emerging Indonesian filmmakers. Affiliations with festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, Berlinale and Rotterdam will help us launch several new programs in 2021.”

Balinale.com is where you can watch for news and developments, program announcements and invited guests.


“A classic for Balinese children, available at Ganesha books”

Santa News Flash! Ganesha Books on Jalan Raya Ubud (corner of Jalan Jembawan, right between Bali Buda and the post office), stocks the best Christmas gifts. It’s a treasure trove of unique items, but books are the highlight, the gift that guarantees long hours of enjoyment. My favorite right now is Ocean Warriors, bilingual text, richly illustrated, about two kids in Raja Ampat, who have the simple task of stopping a turtle from eating plastic. Or you might even give the colorful Indonesian Picture Dictionary to an adult who’s lagging behind in their Bahasa! Ganesha founded the Books for Bali Project, where you can go and purchase titles (curated for enjoyment and educational value) that will go to the neighborhood libraries of Bali’s needy children.   Ganeshabooksbali.com


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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