Reporters’s Notebook: Protest props beat ‘Bali fatigue’

Reporters’s Notebook: Protest props beat ‘Bali fatigue’

Nusa Dua: Bali fatigue has set in. Journalists are complaining about the heat while scrambling from one press conference to a side event. Protesters are also wilting and delegates are tired of the same cold, soggy $10 (Rs394) sandwiches everyday. As one delegate said, “This is how they are making money. These sandwiches."

But a fellow journalist has figured out the trick to good, free food—the side events at the neighbouring Grand Hyatt. “I am fundamentally against buying those $10 sandwiches or a $5 coke. This, however, is okay by me," he said.

This reporter watched as he adeptly skipped the stalls and melted into the queue being served smoked salmon sandwiches, meant for delegates attending the specific meeting. This reporter purchased a lettuce sandwich and settled for a bite of the one from the journalist. Smoked salmon beats lettuce any day.

Apart from the conference, there are numerous tours to beaches and national parks being offered by conservation and environment groups, mainly to bring journalists face-to-face with the effects of coral bleaching and coastal erosion. One group, which just got back from one of these tours that was ‘showcasing’ coral bleaching, was overheard in the corridors: “Well, the snorkelling was just awesome. Wish I had done this sooner. Also wish the visit to the seaweed farm was after the snorkelling. That way we could have given it a miss." All work and no play...

The biggest surprise of the conference has been the sheer creativity shown at the protests and demonstrations. Some examples:

Giant snails were set up outside the convention hall by the World Wildlife Fund to showcase the sloth’s pace at which the negotiation was moving.

Helium “human eye" balloons: hundreds of helium balloons made to look like “eyes" were tied up at the entrance to the conference, with the tag, “We are watching you."

A giant holiday postcard was delivered to the “climate tourist" ministers, signed by Asian and African countries, with the message: “Wish you were here?" An activist from Kenya said, “This year we are determined that they go back with more than just a suntan. The last time they came to Africa and we felt it was only to see some wild animals and some poor Africans without much climate change action."

It is the end of the day. The helium balloons have tiredly floated down to the ground, the name tags are off, time to head for a tipple, but the soggy sandwiches are still in the café window, waiting to be sold.