Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Concours de Circonstances

 Concours de Circonstances: combination of circumstances. 

        A week ago I was on my way to Soakarno-Hatta International for my spring break vacation.  Easter day was my lucky day and happily made it to the airport in no time...that is 1h25 minutes.

       It was 4.15 p.m., and still had about an hour and a half before my international flight (Singapore-> Tokyo-> Portland). 
I checked in and walked to the immigration desks. After waiting in the slowest line of my entire life, I proudly presented my Kitas (Indonesian working permit), my U.S passport, a photocopy of my French passport, as well as other non-sense administrative documents they might ask... 

        Unfortunately the so-far pleasant airport experience quickly went back to a usual Indonesian nightmare. Indeed the immigration officer had made it clear that I was not going to go past his desk: my Kitas showed I was French, yet I was holding an American passport. Obviously the possibility of having dual citizenship and two passports was WAY too much for him to handle and he categorically refused to let me go. Without even looking at me he told me to go get my French passport and come back. 

I managed to push back my original flight to 8.20 p.m., and quickly called up my friends. 

        The night before I had hosted a French "couchsurfer", Nicolas and had left him my keys and offered him to stay at my house an extra night until his flight to Bali the next day. 

Couchsurfer - The CouchSurfing Project is the largest hospitality exchange network, with over 1.7 million members in 237 countries and territories. According to Alexa it is currently the most visited hospitality service on the Internet, averaging around 40 million daily page views July-December 2009.

         Luckily and thank god for Smartphones, Nicolas emailed me right at that moment which allowed me to email him back to let him know that a friend of mine (Thank you Frederic!!) needed to get into the house to get my passport. Nicolas ran to the house, opened the door for Frederic, who in turn jumped in the first taxi he saw. Everything worked out perfectly and by 7 p.m. had gotten a hold of both my American and French passport. 

Love C-.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Festival Sinema Perancis 2011

         For more than a 100 years the French government has been working on promoting visual arts, music, performing arts, architecture as well as the French language in foreign countries in the form of "French Institutes" commonly known as Alliance Française (which btw I've had the chance to work for in New Zealand) or Centre Culturel Français. With more than 150 Institutes and 1000 Alliance Françaises around the world, it is no mystery that we, French people are committed to showing to the world how great we are.

  In Jakarta we are blessed with an amazingly active and dynamic Centre Cultural Français. We all know by now that Jakarta isn't the most attractive place there is and it can often be very difficult to talk artists into coming to the City of Traffic. Yet our local CCF has succeeded in convincing (among many more) Yann Tiersen, the Chopin Orchestra, Louis Bertignac, Java, Nouvelle Vague, DJ Wax Tailor.. to perform. 

      This month and for the 16 consecutive year in a row the CCF is happy to present the 2011 Festival Sinema Perancis (French Movie Festival) in partnership with the the Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism. With more than 15 French movies to choose from my friend Laetita and I opted for La fille du RER, La Danse, le Ballet de l'Opera de Paris, Les Mains en l'Air and Une Petite Zone de Turbulence. 

     Lastly, I would like to thank the CCF as well as Philippe Zeller, French Ambassador in Jakarta for their work and effort and most importantly for contributing to the well-being of the French expats in Jakarta. Personally I see these events as a real breath of fresh air in a city where oxygen has become almost.. a privilege. 

Love C-.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jakarta Road Race Series 2011

The Jakarta road series event is a yearly Jakarta tradition that offers individual as well as family 5K and 2.5K races, aimed at raising money for local charities. The 5K races are held at 4 different locations: the British International School (BIS), the Jakarta International School (JIS), The International Sports Club of Indonesia (ISCI) and the Jakarta Ragunan Zoo.

        After placing third in my age category at the first 5k race at ISCI on January 30th, I had in fact no other choice but to register, along with fellow Jakarta Free Spirit team members to the March 27th race at the British International School and try to beat my time. 

BIS Jakarta

      At 6 a.m and only 20 minutes of driving west later, my friend Guillaume and I arrived in "Pondok Aren", a sub-district in the city of Tangerang, and were charmed by the green open spaces and the smell of grass (because smelling grass in Jakarta never happens, never). As I was walking toward the sign-in booth, I was immediately struck by a state-of-the-art campus. And looking at the brand new buildings and the amazing sports facilities (2 tennis courts, 1 soccer field, and an Olympic-size swimming pool) wondered if I might not be working for the wrong school after all. 

        The race started at 6.45 a.m. in 80F (31.1C) 66% humidity weather. As usual the run was a lot of fun: we ran through neighboring Kampungs filled with satay barbecue air and happily high-fived local children along the side of the road while running. I crossed the finishing line in 23min57sec and beat my time by 27 seconds. 

My friend Guillaume and I both scored first place in both the female and male 20-29 age category.... and even got to stand on the podium!

Love C-

Saturday, March 26, 2011

22 Minutes of Fame (+ commercials)

House Hunters is an American reality series that currently airs episodes on the cable television network HGTV. It premiered in 1999 and has now expanded to the world with its House Hunters International series. The program follows individuals, couples, or families searching for a new home with the assistance of a realtor. Each broadcast features three properties, one of which is selected by the prospective buyer or renter. In the final moments of the show, the new owner provides a tour of the house, revealing what their new life is like in the new home.

                  A few months ago I woke up to a surprise in my inbox: it was an email from a TV show Associate Producer. The woman told me she had seen my blog online and thought I'd be a great fit for their House Hunters International Jakarta episode. I immediately jumped on the offer and thought what better way to document my life here than having a professional crew shoot it!  
After all, aren't 22 minutes of moving images worth a thousand words in a blog?

            Jakarta has a very distinct real estate market. To start: there are 2 categories of expats: the ones that can easily afford a 2000 USD + rent per month and the ones that can't. Being a teacher I fall into the second category which also means that my choices in terms of housing options are quite.... limited to say the least. The city has in fact a lot of both extremes: very rich and very poor... but very few of "in-betweens". 
So for us teachers finding a house in Jakarta is all word of mouth... although one might use the help of a broker if he's lucky to find one.  Other interesting facts about the real estate include: 
  • one or two year rent to pay upfront
  • included staff service (maid, gardener, guards) 
  • and yearly arduous rent negotiation. 

We were blessed with an amazing crew!

         The 3 day movie shooting was a lot of fun! We tried to cover as much material as possible and got great shots of  my classroom at the French International school, the Mahakam animal market, the Kemang neighborhood,  the notorious heavy Jakarta traffic ... and much more. I'm very anxious to see how this will all translates on camera. Dates for the backstory shooting have been set and I cannot wait to be back in front of the camera. :)

Classroom scenes

Love C-

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Top 10 Bali Fun Facts

         Call it whatever you want: tradition, custom, belief ...If you're from the States you might even call it "O.C.D** for what I know; The Balinese people have thousands of rituals to observe everyday and most of which are geared towards keeping all evil spirits as far away as possible from their house... and man, will they make sure it is done. 

Offerings to keep the boat safe from Bali to Gili.

There are way too many of them but to name a few....here is my top 10 list of stunning Bali facts:

1: Babies can not touch the ground before the age of 3 months, which means they require to be held and carried around at all times.
2: All babies are born with 4 brothers of equal importance: the blood, the foetus, the plancenta and amniotic fluid of the newborn
3:The "brothers" are to be taken care of all your life more particularly on a daily-basis until the age of 6.
4:The baby's placenta should be buried in the family compound as it is believed to be part of the newborn's soul and source of good luck and guidance.
5:Evil spirits cannot turn corners.
6:The kitchen is a powerful place where evil spirits can be neutralized.
7: The tooth-filling ceremony is executed for all adults by smoothing down their incisor and eye-tooth: the purpose is to cut the gluttonous, arrogant, and bluff which are owned by every human being. 
8:What happens in our life now, is the result of our past actions.
9:Good spirits are believed to reside in the mountains, whereas the seas are home to demons and ogres.
10:A newborn baby is most likely the reincarnation of a family ancestor.

**OCD is a type of anxiety. Kids with OCD worry a lot. Sometimes they feel afraid that bad things could possibly happen to them, sometimes they feel that something bad could happen to people they love, or sometimes they feel like they have to get things "just right" and have to check to make sure.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


"When we weren't scratching each other's eyes out, we were making each other laugh harder than anyone else could."

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball

Feb 19th 2011, JAKARTA SOEKARNO-HATTA International Airport - Here I was, the only white woman standing among hundreds of Indonesian drivers, mothers and children, waiting for the most important person in my life: my mom. 

        One of the many perks of being a teacher in the French Education System is the glorious, divine, extraordinary 16 week paid vacation... that's right you read it: 16. Now, one of the many perks of being a teacher in the French Education System in Indonesia is the cheap airfare to places like Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. And I won't lie: having awesome vacation to look forward to is part of how I'm able see Jakarta has a livable city. 

          For my mom's first time in Indonesia I had planned the following itinerary: a couple introductory days in Jakarta followed by 3 almost excessively relaxing days in Amed, Bali, a 4 day shopping spree in Ubud completed by 4 exceptional days on Gili Air, an island part of the big Island of Lombok. The actual unwinding of the plan exceeded my expectations: we had more fun than I could have ever hoped for.

           I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have spent such quality time with my mom. Although her leaving Jakarta resulted in an intense though brief desolation , I now feel recharged and reenergized... 

6 more weeks until Spring break ;).

 Love C-.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Like a Prayer

        I remember being woken up really early my first night in Jakarta;  in fact the clock had hit 4.48 a.m. and chanting prayers of the Fajr were coming out from the Mosque down the street...  

The Fajr (Arabicفجر‎) prayer is the first of the five daily prayers recited by practising Muslims. (Fajr means dawn in theArabic language.) 

         Indonesia is the largest muslim country in the world, with 202.9 million practicing muslims. Whether your are a local or an expat the 5 formal prayers are part of your daily life. These are: near dawn, just after the sun's noon, in the afternoon, just after sunset and around nightfall. Aside from hearing the chanting and callings of the Mosque, I have only rarely (passively) experienced the Salah. I find Indonesians to be very discreet... somehow almost delicate. 

Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt (Arabicصلاة‎; pl. ṣalawāt) is the practice of formal prayer in Islam.Salah is a ritual prayer, having prescribed conditions, a prescribed procedure, and prescribed times.

         Last night as I was walking back to the women's locker room at Celebrity Fitness, I almost ran into a woman all covered up in her shiny blue burqa contemplating what would have been the  Asr (afternoon prayer). 

The lady had laid out her prayer rug according to formal rules and was performing movements very similar to the Sun Salutations I teach my students in yoga class. A few minutes later the lady took her gown off and was suddenly back in her personal trainer clothes... pretty comparable actually to Superman turning into Clark Kent. 

Love, C-