Send this Blog to the World

There is a little school located between two hotels – one not so well groomed; our neighbors. Their sewage system is bordering the main class house. Every Friday we cook a lunch meal for the kids over there and bring it to 35+ school children. Most of them are between the age of 6 and 12. The first impression is that of arriving on a camp. Ironically, one has to pass through the Hotel residence to reach the school area nestled (or squeezed) into a corner of the Island. The sounds of happy screaming children dressed in their uniforms is welcoming at first but close-up I was slightly depressed to see that all of them wear cloth that needs attention. Two incredibly dedicated teachers follow their self-adopted duty and care for the six class rooms and manage the wild horde of foremost children that cannot afford or are not welcome in other schools. Yes,  this is kinda the “last resort” school you would find your “difficult to manage” offspring, placed away from the modernized competitions where even in rural Thailand there seemingly is no room for slackers and ADD afflicted students. Their chances to make it back into the mainstream schools are limited and unfairly restricted. The two teachers have never voiced a negative comment to me and bound within the Thai tradition would never complain to me, although the facts are on hand; which is my reason for concern and outcry. Instead, the two teachers, married together, explain their love for each and one of them, especially the abandoned few they took on fulltime; After the Tsunami the parents had either vanished or simply left the Island and have never been heard of.

My instant admiration for this woman and man is clouded by a strangled feeling and I know we can help.  I talked with a representative for the Thai government; he explains that this is by far not the worst he has seen and there is hope for this little place. The infrastructure is quite nice and the dedication of these two teachers guarantees a long commitment if only we have a few more resources attached, involved and actively assisting. There is a dire need for a bathroom facility (they have none) and a simple kitchen/shower area since most of the kids stay on the school property during the monsoon season and/or during the week. It is often too far for them to go home or too dangerous on the choppy sea. Keep in mind, there are no streets on Phi Phi. A solar panel is producing limited electricity for night lighting, but it needs a serious overhaul. I already bought new uniforms, schoolbooks and writing utensils but my Thailand salary is limited too. The Girls Scouts from Montana came here two month ago and helped building a library. Unfortunately they had to depart without finishing the project. Now we need school benches, tables a chalk board and first off the materials that make a kid’s library so wonderful…
Foremost there are three kids that urgently need reading glasses.
I will make an effort to write about my self-adopted mission to support this school and I need all your help.
I will create a website and hope you all get involved. Keep in mind, if everyone only sends twenty bucks and makes all his friends aware via e-mail one would think there is no trouble in 2006 to help a school with only 35 children. At least try. I need your input on this one! Please!!
Thank You in advanced for the support.

I have cooked for:

My mom and all my friends. French President Jaques Chirac, Betty Estevez, Romeo Gigli, Sandra Bullock, President of the Senate Gabon (Africa), Princess Yasmine Aga Khan,  Faye Dunnaway, Muhammad Ali, Davis Gaines, Mirelle Mathieu, Lorna Luft, Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, Maurice Andre, Helmut Berger, Eileen Ford, Bruce Webber, His Majesty King Baudouin of Belgium, Mr. Paul Mrs. Synne Miller, Baron von Erlenbach, Barbara Hendricks, Prince Egon and  Diane Von Fuerstenberg, Jocelyn Wildenstein, Anthony Solomon, Nancy Reagan, Peggy LaBelle, Annette Bening,  Ann Archer,  David Bowie, Pierre Cardin, Mariah Carey, Uri Geller, Paula Abdul, Arlene Sorkin, Prince Rainer of Monaco, Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles and Lady Diana, L.A. Lakers Basketball Team, Cher, Ann-Nicole Smith, President and Mrs. Clinton, Barbara Grant Cohen, Holly Woodlawn, Mikhail Barishnikov, Giorgio Armani, Sophie Mutter, Natalie Cole, James Cromwell, Tom Cruise, Geena Davis, Robert De Niro, Kim Cattrall, Fabio (yes, I did), Robert Maplethorp, Nastasia Kinsky, Baron Guy de Rothschild, Danny De Vito, Cameron Diaz, Kirk Douglas, Gloria Ganer, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bernard Phriem, Dale Earnhardt, Robert Evans, Adnan Kashogi, Mrs. Susan Neworth, Diago Maradonna, David Benefield, Sally Field,  Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, Alan Ball, Alan Poul, Steveen Spielberd, Kevin Spacey, Bruce Cohen, Steven Katz, Barbra Streisand, Andy Tennant, Lela and Jean Cazes, Jane Fonda, Harrison Ford, President and Mrs. Gerald R. Ford, Michael J. Fox, Alambic Estate in Napa Valley, French Consulate (L.A.), William Friedkin, James Garner, Shirley Temple, Bill Gates, David Geffen, Mel Gibson, Merv Griffin, President and Mrs. Ford, Lord Hanson, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Claude Montana, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Aaron Sorkin, Hubert de Givenchy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Don Henley, Leonardo di Caprio, Arthur Mendoza, the Spice Girls, Contesse Hezterhajzy, Toni Curtis, Caroll Burnett, Tommy Hilfiger, Barron Hilton, Dustin Hoffman, Jeniffer Tilly, Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Helen Hunt, Janet Jackson,  Paul Beaucuse, Mick Jagger, Randal Kleiser, Mick Jagger, Patricia Arquette, Tom Moore, Elain Barker, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Nina Hagen, Gianny Versace, Karl Lagerfeld, David Hockney, Eric Roberts, Domenique Morlotti, Pavarotti, Sophia Loren, McFadden Family, Nina Hagen, Madonna, Playboy Mansion, Maxime de la Fallais, Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Saad  Al-Abdulla Abdulla Al-Sabah, Ann Margaret, Vivienne Westwood, Steve Martin, Devine, Ellen de Generes, Demi Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Boy George, Jack Nicholson, Christina Onassis, Al Pacino, Palais Royal France Jaques Lange Cultur Minister, Bernard Danillon, Jaqueline Picasso, Aretha Franklin, Nikki St. Phalle, American Embassy (Paris), Ron Edelman, Ron Jason Palmieri, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jada Pinkett, Herb Ritts, Winona Ryder, Pete Sampras, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Sidney Sheldon, Brooke Shields, Will Smith, Aaron Spelling, Sandy Gallin, Rod Stewart, Sharon Stone, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Naomi Cambell, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Nicole Kidman, Dolly Parton, Valentino, Donatella Versace, Heidi Blum, Richard Gere, KD Lang,  Naomi Watts, Sigourney Weaver, George Michael, House of Hermes, Keith Haring, Keith and Alain of Byblos, Elton John, Bruce Villanche,  and many more.

Letter to Susan

Dear Susan
Thank you for the postcard you send me from Argentina three weeks ago. Yes, it took a while to arrive on my little Island here. If one looks closely at such mail received, you discover that the few letters we nowadays write each other, often make a bigger journey then most people ever could afford; The greetings from Buenos Aires traveled as follows – (and yes, La Guardia National is by far the sexiest police force in the world…). It was first post-stamped in San Thelmo; I assume you visited the antique markets and bought a stack of cards with stamps in one of the old overfilled kiosks on the busy street sides. The blend of artists, music, Mate slurping hippies, vendors praising their colorful Lama wool scarves and the enticing smells from the many bistros grilling Argentinean beef is unforgettably burned into my memories. You had to see the white (pigeon shit covered) Cathedral del San Thelmo thronging above the market place; although it is confusing in that district, with 17 churches all clustered around one plazza. The next hint on the card was a little stamp with an airplane, indicating it flew possibly in a cargo from BA to BKK. There, unable to read your handwriting (you wrote like this before you became a doctor) it must have been waiting for some poor Thai fellow to decipher your hieroglyphs and they finally chosen, by sheer luck I say,  to send it down south Thailand where in a post office in Phuket town someone else stamped it again.

The front picture with bloody dripping beef carcasses must have really added to the Thai curiosity; maybe somewhere along this post-cards travel there were people pausing, opting to investigate if this message was a “threat to kill” someone… I can’t tell what happened in the next two weeks of its journey, but  your card arrived in the post office box for our hotel in Tongsai Beach on Phi Phi Island about five days ago (see last stamp). By now you are in Israel and possibly have discovered that the Israeli Soldiers are the “most perfect species” you’ve ever crossed eyes with…
I never knew we had a post office box when I gave away this address to my mom and friends believing it to be the physical Hotel information. Usually on Fridays it is office people (foremost HR and team) that go to the neighboring village via twenty minutes in a  long-tail boat for business excursions and to pick up mail… They had twenty minutes on the way back to study your card too (I am making sure it is known to be YOUR card):  It was of little relieve when HR brought me your “funny and bloody” post-card where you write:
Hi chef,
La Guardia National… I’m melting!
‘m loving the food here.
Thought about you;
Fresh bloody steaks!
All okay w/HR?
Love Susan
Yes, Susan – To make a diplomatic correction: All is okay. The head of HR was promoted to Resident Manager.
The first heavy Monsoon rains are gushing down on our property and last night I walked around in the warm tropical rain, enjoying my security duty. I’m so odd, but I love the storm. However this morning the main water tank was drained and empty again; for the secound time in one week we have no water available on the entire property. So we scramble to find where the pipes are broken. You think I am hired as a chef. Everyone is helping where hands are needed and we actually get most problems solved. Since this is the low-season all department heads have a chance to train our staff. My chefs are improving, its a joy to teach them! In exchange I study their language… My Thai speaking is getting a bit better. I finally can follow a basic topic in a conversation. Susan, you remember when I taught you French?  Once, at four in the morning you threw a book at me (I still suffer post psychosomatic stress) screaming:  “If I can’t speak this bloody language I will always be in doubt if the picture I see before me has anything to do with me…” Tell that HR!
Love you,
Raphael