Last night I went to see Arham’s concert at Puri Saraswati’s temple pond behind the Lotus Cafe.  Or what I thought was going to be his concert.

Arham is (or claimed to be) the young composer I met on the night bus from Jakarta.  As an amateur musician and aspiring freelancer, it didn’t take much to convince me to see his performance, which he described as an experimental collaboration with a Frenchman.  His (alleged) professor from the University of Karawaci looked on smilingly from a few seats down as Arham and I discussed our musical backgrounds in the stuttering, broken language of Englonesian.  “I want be like Chopin,” he said sheepishly.  “Tapi… from Indonesia.  And with computer.”

As I took my seat, Arham was nowhere in sight.  But it was crowded and dark, and the program called for a ten-minute intermission, so I figured I would track him down then.  The program also said “A House in Bali:  A new gamelan opera.  Original music by Evan Ziporyn, Berkeley, USA.”  But where was Arham’s name?  Puzzled, I carried on an uneasy conversation with the Balinese gentleman to my left, who pointed out the gangsa his son would soon be playing.  “Ini namanya dia,” he said proudly, opening my program and showing me his son’s name.  But where…

I never saw Arham that night. 

(pictures from

If I had to describe Evan Ziporyn’s “A House in Bali” in one word, it would be “ambitious.”

Two?  “Possibly unprecedented.”

Three?  “Static, sensationalist, overwrought.”

Tonight I had dinner with Andy, the ethnomusicologist from the University of Richmond, who has played with Ziporyn in several ensembles.  Andy gave me the composer’s number, so I’m going to try to contact him for an interview about his work.  According to Andy, though, Ziporyn is averse to flattery, criticism, and explaining or defending himself.

On the way home from the show last night, a couple of Balinese men waved from across the street.  The walk home was less than a mile, but I figured I could use some company and wanted to practice my bahasa.  Elkah, the more talkative of the two, asked me how I liked the music.  “I am choreographer,” he explained (Indonesian lacks articles, definite and indefinite; he meant “a choreographer,” not “the choreographer”).  I told him I was a musician and a journalist.  “Oh!  Elkah journalist also.  Maybe can give me your email?”  Before long, he was patting me heartily on the back — and now slipping his arm jovially around my waist — and now asking where I was staying in Ubud.  “Maybe Elkah can walk home with you.”  I politely declined and sidestepped his reach.  “Well, maybe next time.  You want have dinner at Elkah’s house?”  Tidak, pak, terima kasih. After Arham’s weird betrayal, I’ve grown more wary.  As a lone traveller (Uncle Amir and his kids flew back to Jakarta this afternoon) eager to sniff out stories, it’s hard to resist an offer to chat, exchange contact information, or have dinner.  But as Andy pointed out tonight, the main themes in “A House in Bali” are anxiety, outsidership, homosexuality, and pedophilia.  Maybe it was all just a sly, sarcastic joke?

Back at Koman’s house, I hopped onto facebook:

“jo, I back to Jakarta, but my friends stay in Bali.”

I’d like to believe you, Arham.  I’d like to believe Elkah is a choreographer and a journalist and a benevolent soul.  Hell, I’d like to believe that I’m a journalist.  I’d like to believe Evan Ziporyn will be happy to talk with me, that Arief Rabik will email me back to set up an interview, that I’ll have something interesting and relevant to say about John Hardy come 3 July, that Titania at the Globe simply hasn’t had time to get back to me about the “Bis Malam” story pitch.  I’d like to believe that I know what I’m doing, or indeed that I’m doing anything productive.  But as Andy (of infinite wisdom) said, “Exploration, experimentation, stumbling around blindly, whatever you want to call it.  Otherwise how will you ever know if what you are doing is really what you should be doing?  Nobody knows half as much as they think they know, and you’ve got to trust something.  Might as well trust your gut.  Or fate, or whatever you want to call it.”


One Response to “trust.”

  1. freelance management Says:

    Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: