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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


So today is the 18th August 2011 and the day after Indonesian Independance day. Yesterday I went with three of the teachers, Mike, Katie and Emma to the Snow Bay water park at Taman Mini. It's my second trip there but since we had use of an EF car, the sun was shining and two thirds of the population are fasting so it would be quiet, it seemed the ideal destination.

It was a great day out culminating in a wide range of sunburns and sushi at Sushi Naga in BSD which is always good (that'll be the sushi, not the sunburn)

Today is back to normal though but what is normal?

Well, I usually arrive at work between 9 and 10. This depends on if I have to drop my laundry off which today I did so today I arrived at 9.45.

I should put in the perspective that teaching doesn't start until 2pm for kindergarten aged 'Small Stars' and 3pm for regular classes and goes on until 9pm Monday to Friday. Saturday is a 9am start and a 1.30pm finish. My contract also insists I work 40 hours a week so anything over that is down to me I guess.

Anyone who knows me, knows I throw myself into my work 100% and here is no different. With teacher shortages the last three weeks I have been doing 52 hour weeks with up to 23 hours of contact teaching. But what I can say is that while it's been tough juggling teaching with administration, it's also been fun. I'm not quite sure the teachers would agree because if I do more teaching hours, the less time I have to observe them and do developmental workshops, but they've been a stoic bunch and I'm proud of them.

 But back to a normal day.....

When I arrive the first thing I do is make a pot of strong coffee. On my first day as acting DoS here back in January, the first thing I did was to buy a coffee machine. It's used by the other staff and whilst in the UK I tend to drink alot of tea, due to the sweetness of the milk in Indonesia I prefer to drink coffee here as I take it black.

While waiting for the coffee to brew I'll usually sit and scan the pages of the daily edition of the Jakarta Post, an English Language newspaper delivered every morning. Once the coffee is made I'll read a couple of stories in more detail and today's is the ongoing problem of Nazaruddin.

This guy Nazaruddin is a wanted criminal who has just been extradited from Columbia. His crime? Corruption, and on a pretty big scale at that too. So why my interest in this story? Well in the west I genuinely believe our governments are corrupt but are better at covering their tracks. Occasionally someone will take the fall at the end of a Machiavellian style plot and we never find out the true circumstances.
Here in Indonesia it's different. The country has had a problem for decades with corruption but they are openly trying to do something about it. In the form of anti corruption committees and high profile trials. But somehow the taint of corruption always seems to reappear.
In this case it is the revelation that 6 high ranking lawmakers visited Nazaruddin in his cell. Off the record. They sought no open permission to do this and there is no record of the details of the conversation. Maybe it was just a case of a bunch of old friends catching up on the state of the Premiership without Cesc Fabregas.....or maybe not. Whilst there is no record of the conversation, there was somehow tv footage of the lawmakers negotiating their entrance to the detention centre. I'm sure the fact that Nazaruddin had openly spoken about key colleagues also being involved in his corruption had nothing to do with this visit.
As morning rituals go, this story is akin to watching a 3 year old boy driving a car....funny to start with but you know it won't end well.

After that it's onto the details of the day. I plan any meetings I have to have, update my diary of the previous days events and add in upcoming events and then it's lesson planning. That I can do most of this before anyone else arrives gives me some peace and tranquility and then allows me to make myself available for any issues the teachers may have once they begin to arrive.

Lunch is usually taken at about midday and is often nasi goreng (fried rice) from the local food stall. in between teaching I may do some student placement interviews or I may observe the teachers teaching to offer them suggestion, feedback and encouragement and at the end of the day I may grab some food from a restaurant or go to the supermarket and cook for myself.

So that's pretty much my, what did I do with Emma's evaluation sheet......

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stealth Mugs

I have said before that as a guest in Indonesia i will do my best to respect the laws and customs of the country. However, sometimes after a hard day at work what you really want is an ice cold beer.

But where to get said beverage during the holy month of Ramadan? 99% of the shops remove it from their shelves, the local bar "Barrels" in Sumeracon Mall is selling only mineral water and even the "Happy Puppy Karaoke" establishment next door to EF Gading Serpong has closed for the month.

Now I could travel into Jalan Jaxa or Kemang in Jakarta but when I have to teach 3 hours of IELTS (international exam preparation) at 9am tomorrow and when all I want is one beer, help comes in a somewhat unique form.

I have mentioned Salsa, the food court near our school before and it was to here that Emma, Katie the new Irish teacher (she's from Ireland, not teaching Irish) Oli and I went to our favourite food and beer seller "Amie's"

"Three Bintangs please Ari" was the speculative request (Oli's fasting so he's decided this means no beer either) to which we were told "it'll have to be Heineken cans and we serve them in coffee mugs so no-one knows, is that ok?"

Well, no problem there then, we thought so asked for the menus as well.

Now here comes my favourite part of the experience........the beer duly arrived in said coffee mugs, but what was the pattern on the mugs?? yep, you've guessed it...."Heineken".....I promise, you couldn't make this stuff up!