dicembre 17, 2007

Kopinya pahit, gelasnya kecil

Entah kapan terakhir gue ke Starbucks. Terlalu banyak lama purnama untuk gue mengingatnya.

Hingga kemarin. Gue putuskan untuk menjejakkan kaki di bintang hijau Grand Indonesia.

Di counter hanya ada dua cewe, satu kasir satu barista (at least she wears the apron!).

- Mbak, macchiatto satu yah.

"Mas... yakin pesen ini? Espresso itu kopi pekat dan pahit loh!"

Gue cuma ngangguk. Yakin, kok, Mbak.

Ngga lama kemudian, yang satu lagi angkat bicara dari balik apronnya.

"Mas gelasnya seperti ini, kecil loh! Ngga apa-apa nih? Yakin?" teriaknya, sambil menunjukkan cangkir espresso seakan ingin menjelaskan satu tambah satu sama dengan dua untuk pertama kalinya kepada gue.

- Iyah, Mbak.

Gue menggangguk.

Wow, ini mungkin yang dimaksud oleh Ve Handojo dengan kisahnya saat gerai kopi-cepat saji buka pertama kalinya di Indonesia: sekelompok bapak-bapak berkumis masuk dan cepat-cepat mengambil tempat duduk, sambil berteriak kepada sang kasir di balik counter, "Mas kupinya yah!"

dicembre 12, 2007

Status dan Cooking Demo

Memiliki status "contributor" membuka pintu. Plus jendela sekaligus. Memang cukup menyenangkan, setelah The Jakarta Post memuat beberapa tulisan saya, kini mencari material berita, artikel untuk features The Sunday Post semakin mudah. Minggu lalu misalnya, saya diundang sebagai observer di acara cooking demo di sebuah hotel di Sudirman. Resto bintang lima dengan hidangan yang rich, baik contents maupun harga (siapkan kocek tebal) ... dan saya mengamati, dijamu. Mulai dari hidangan pembuka, main course hingga penutup dan ... anggur. Teks tulisan sudah dikirimkan ke Jkt Post, moga2 mereka akan mempublish segera. Tapi sayangnya, sistem di Jkt Post adalah: kalau dipublish ya dipublish, kontributor tak tau kapan dipublish dan tau-tau "ah ini kan gue kirim lebih dari sebulan yang lalu."

Memiliki status di Jakarta memang esensial, helps you go places.


dicembre 11, 2007

Italian celebration in Indonesia: Unas hosts language week


Italian celebration in Indonesia: Unas hosts language week
Features - December 09, 2007
Gama Harjono, Contributor, Jakarta

Jakarta has recently taken part in a global event, the 7th International Week of Italian Language 2007, which took place from Nov. 5-9 in Indonesia.

Now in its seventh year since its launch in 2001 by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the annual event quickly became a significant flagship to promote the Italian language worldwide, and involves a series of conferences, film screenings and debates as well as specialized updating courses for teachers.

A theme is chosen every year to mark the occasion. This year's Italian language week celebrates "the Italian language and the sea", featuring the works of Emilio Salgari, a novelist from Verona whose many sagas set in Southeast Asia were published in the early 1900s.

The National University (Unas) in South Jakarta was host to the weeklong celebration, which opened on Nov. 5 was inaugurated by Ambassador of Italy to Indonesia Roberto Palmieri and Unas rector Prof. Umar Basalim.

In his address, Ambassador Palmieri highlighted the current state of Italo-Indonesian relations. In particular, he highlighted the importance of bilateral cooperation in the cultural and economic fields, with a goal to enhance the image of "the Italian style" and promoting Indonesia through intensifying Indonesian studies at l'Orientale University in Naples.

Attending the program were those who teach Italian in Java and Bali, two guest professors from the University for Foreigners Perugia, Prof. Maddoli and Bagianti, and Italian cinema critic Giacomo Gambetti. The latter conducted a lecture and open discussion on Italian cinema.

A presentation on the region of Umbria and Italy's many traditions received a great number of responses from participating students. Most of these students study at Indonesian universities and academies where Italian is offered as an elective or to the public, and who claim to enjoy learning the Romance tongue with their native Italian teachers.

Gavin, 24, an Unas student, said the Italian unit was quite well promoted at his campus.
"Learning about the culture is what's most interesting. I love their traditional feasts. Italians seem to well-natured," he said.

Another favorable opinion was expressed by Yessica, 21, an English major student at the University of Indonesia (UI), who said she was going to Italy in July 2008 on a three-month scholarship to study the local language and culture.

Education appears to be a key point of exchange between Italy and Indonesia. To date, 468 Indonesian students are undertaking or completing their studies at Italian schools and universities.

Similarly, their Italian counterparts have received grants from the Indonesian government to study the country and its culture.

Filomena Vaccaro, 25, majors in Asian languages and is now in Jakarta undertaking Indonesian studies. "We have Faizah Soenoto, who teaches Indonesian to Italians students at l'Orientale in Naples. When I first learned Indonesian, I instantly felt at ease with it," she said. "I applied for my scholarship in November 2006 and l'Orientale sent me here. I arrived in Jakarta in September 2007, and I love Indonesia and its people."

Furthermore, Vaccaro is teaching Italian at the Italian Institute of Culture in Menteng, as well as attending classes at Unas until June 2008. Immensely enjoying her new experience in her host country, she graduates in Italy next year, and hopes to find a job in which she can utilize her Indonesian knowledge.

Italian appears to be the "new" French globally, although its penetration remains very limited in Indonesia. Enrollment to Italian language courses worldwide has risen by about 30 percent in the last five years, says a source at the Italian Embassy.

In Indonesia, Italian is taught at universities and institutes in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali.

"The key to have Italian studied throughout the Indonesian archipelago lays in mutual exchanges," explained the director of the Italian Institute of Culture, Prof. Ostelio Remi.
"We need to strengthen our bilateral cooperation in all sectors, from sports to science to politics. There is an affinity between our two nations in terms of characters," he said. "Indonesia is absolutely important for Italy as to its economic potential and richness in culture. On the other hand, Indonesia could learn from Italy's savoir faire in many industries."

Meanwhile, the future of the Italian presence in Indonesia seems to be promising. Recently, Indonesian student Tri Astuti Oktavianti of Unas won second place in an international essay contest organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

And Shandya Rani Yunita, who studied in Italy on scholarship in 2006, is now an assistant of the Italian course offered at Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University.

dicembre 03, 2007

A Gentle Griffin

The Jakarta Post, 2 Dec 2007.

A Gentle Griffin

Curiously the locals -- often for simplicity's sake -- describe their town's whereabouts as "between Rome and Florence".

But it's not in a geographically or culturally linear way, because Perugia, the first city of Umbria, merits a deviation or even a long term sojourn.

The hilly region of Umbria now consistently draws visitors in search of something more sui generis, in the green heart of Italy, than its more well-known big sister, Tuscany.

Perugia, in contrast to Florence's air of renaissance, feels and looks extraordinarily medieval.
Until this very day, Augusta Perusia, the ancient Imperial Roman town with a roaring Griffin on its coat of arms, still boasts an array of medieval structures, largely dating back to the 12th and 13th century.

Make no mistake, there's more to this town than meets the eye, Perugia was (and, in many ways, still is) Etruscan before the Roman conquest in 295 B.C.

It may be a small provincial town, yet Perugia prides itself as one of Italy's best-preserved medieval burgs.
And because an Etruscan town layout differs to the regular Roman grid pattern, a circular stroll starting from the Duomo (the cathedral of San Lorenzo) will usurp you into a journey through the town's history and golden age.

A pre-Christ pagan temple, a jumble of criss-crossed sky-high arches hovering over a labyrinth of narrow and dark passageways, superb civic palaces in a harmonious 12th century fa‡ade (a testimony to Perugia's affluent mercantile class), and a 16th century apartment strategically perched on the world's mightiest Etruscan stone structure (the two millennia old Arco Etrusco at the end of via Ulisse Rocchi is real eye-opener).

Enough arch-watching? Then it may be time for some serious ceramic making. By tradition, the Umbrian region is reputed for its top-notch ceramics, a cultural legacy of the mysterious Etruscan tribe. Visitors can take up ceramic classes offered on a casual basis in the nearby vicinity of Perugia, the town of Deruta, Umbria's ceramic production center.

If this does not tickle your fancy, perhaps a day trip to Torgiano will help you become a connoisseur of Italian wine.
Head for Torgiano, the province's cantina (cellar). It boasts a limitless view of vineyards cultivated over the last 20 centuries and offers some serious wine tasting sessions.

Alternatively, in this quaint village 16 kilometers east from Perugia, travelers can visit the Museo del Vino (the Wine Museum).

And for the art buffs, there's no shortage of Renaissance art delights. Perugia's own golden boy Pinturicchio and Pietro Vannucci (also known as the Perugino) are synonymous with pioneering the early Renaissance techniques -- the latter was master to the young Raphael Santi in his workshop.

Head toward the chapel of San Severo to adore suggestive Raffael and Perugino's frescoes.
Traditionally, an Italian town's zero kilometer refers to the highest point, and in Perugia this corresponds to Porta Sole, a chic quarter that sits at 293 metres above sea level.

But for many, Perugia's center is analogous with its fountain. Constructed between 1275 and 1278, the Fontana Maggiore, a two-tiered marble water feature masterpiece depicting 12 zodiacal signs and feudal agrarian folkloric scenes, proves to be a such prominent medieval sculpture, it is repeatedly considered one of Italy's most important and splendid public fountains.

The fact the campanilismo -- one's attachment to his regional customs traditions -- may well still be alive in Umbria seems to work well with Perugia's cosmopolitan atmosphere, boosted largely by its student population.
Obviously, a multitude of academic residents have helped the town's rejuvenation process in their haunting of the University of Perugia in the last nearly 800 years after its foundation year of 1308 (making it Italy's third oldest university).

Whereas the younger one, The University for Foreigners, commenced giving Italian language and culture courses in 1928 at its imposing 17th century Gallenga palace in piazza Fortebraccio, and houses roughly 5,000 students at any one time.

So when the belfry hits 12 times at midnight, understandably the pedestrian-only centro and its many piazzas turn into a busy circus-like social fair, inciting revelers into an euphoric ambience typically Italian.

To stay at Perugia's best spot, Hotel Brufani is the place. This quasi landmark five-star de luxe establishment is renowned for having welcomed the Mother Queen of England and royalties alike.

According to locals, the top level of the luxurious hotel is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, but for whoever stays there, the seductive panorama over Perugia's skyline remains unaltered to each visitor.

No Italian could deny their penchant for their passeggiata, the quintessential Italian evening promenade.
In Perugia, the locals even have a local term: fare la vasca, which means "doing the tub", a convention to suavely roam the corso Vannucci, the number one avenue in Perugia's center dotted with Italian designer's boutiques.

Locals expect to encounter friends for a good round of chit-chat upon their sacrosanct passeggiata ritual.
And clearly, no trip in Italy is complete without having sampled its notoriously delicious gelato.
Real Italian gelati (the plural of gelato) must be produced fresh the same day -- more importantly, in an artisanal way -- to ensure unrivaled tastes unattainable outside the belpaese, Italy.

In Perugia, locals recommend the Veneta gelateria in Piazza Italia or the Fontana Maggiore (behind the Palazzo dei Priori) for some luxuriously melt-in-your-mouth gelato.

Two international events occur twice every year. The month of July sees elite jazz musicians swamp the Etruscan acropolis to spark the annual Umbria Jazz. Household names including Eric Clapton, Sting and Elton John have been invited in the past.

Your chance to walk through different stalls and exhibitions of all things chocolaty shall be this year's Eurochocolate in October; the occasion is said to be Europe's largest congregation of chocolate producers, just perfect to get intimate with Perugina's iconic Baci love messages and rare artisanal chocolate bars and liqueurs. Too delicious to miss.