Sunday, January 3, 2010

Incessant Gamelan Music

In today's Sunday Times (of London), Ariel Leve laments the ubiquitous gamelan music at restaurants across Bali.
I’ve been to some beautiful Balinese ceremonies. My father, who has lived in Southeast Asia for fifty years, loves the traditional Balinese Gamelan orchestra. He’s told me all about how sacred it is and how it’s believed to have supernatural power. Although not supernatural enough to get rid of a headache.

I don’t mind Gamelan when it’s performed in a temple or at a theatrical function – even a hotel lobby is fine. But does it have to be at every restaurant too?
First, it reminds me of breakfasts in Yogyakarta this past spring, where Ibu Heru at Homestay Heru would put on the same gamelan recording every morning. I rather enjoyed it -- I'm a creature of habit and a fan of daily rituals and this particular gamelan music was much more on the soothing minimalist side than the clanging gong side -- but I know that the sentiment was not universally shared among the other guests.

Later on in the column, Leve says
Then the other night, I discovered the only thing worse than eating out with a Balinese Gamelan orchestra playing is eating out with a Balinese Salsa band.

“I forgot,” my father said as we entered the restaurant I like, “Tuesday is Salsa night.”
And, OK, I get what she's driving at -- a salsa band in a restaurant is going to be LOUD without a doubt and that is probably not going to make for the nicest dining experience.

But she leaves the most important question unanswered -- exactly how good was the Balinese salsa band?!

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