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"And anytime you need anything, just hit three times on this ... ting ... ting ... TING ... and i come."

My houseboy smiled, bowed and vanished behind the riot of frangipanni and hibiscus overhanging the path.

"THIS" was a beautifully carved wooden hanging drum, known as a kul kul, depicting a fearsome fanged demon, with a long slot down the middle out of which, at a rakish angle, stuck the striker, carved, with true Balinese humor, in the shape of a penis.

The kul kul, flaunting its masculine charms, hung at the door of my thatched bungalow, and as I gazed reflectively at it, 1 had no idea that, far from being a quaint innovation for calling room service - the kul kuls of Bali are a way of life.


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Two hours earlier I had arrived in Bali - for my first visit. Now, having driven 30 miles up into the mountains, through a landscape tiered with terraces, drenched with irrigation canals, studded with temples, and carpeted wall to wall with rice sawahs, small wonder my senses were reeling feebly around, groping for something to steady them. Something a little more stable than the phallic symbol. I felt as though 1 had been catapulted onto some exotic film set. The ride through Denpasar, for instance, was pure Hollywood .....

Imagine, if you can, a veteran taxi, so large it could barely ease itself into the streets streets already crammed and seething with gay little horse drawn carts, called dokars; with pushbikes and scooters, minibuses and bemos, with shoppers and school-children, with peddlers balancing long racks of baskets precariously on one shoulder, with women swaying gracefully along, carrying

tall pyramids of earthern pots on their head, with ice-sellers and their eternal cry of "Es-Es", cheerfully edging their way through the crowd .....

My taxi, which looked as if it would have difficulties even if preceded by a police escort, hurled itself merrily into the assorted melee, honking its horn with unflagging gusto, weaving around

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