Hotel-Fixer

Nobody likes to be an April’s fool. Everyone enjoys playing a prank on someone else. Well, in the fairness of it all we sometimes have to laugh about our selves and give in to the quirks of life.  Happy Fools Day!

Today I am starting a new chapter in my professional carrier. I’m possibly leaving Asia soon, after a truly incredible time and lots of beautiful experiences richer. Having lived in many different parts on this side of the globe I come to conclude that I like the variety of food better over here and I embrace the simplicity of community care with a warm heart. Although here is a lack of commonly products i.e. healthcare and modernity that make life in the US so comfortable, I have enjoyed the “wildness” of eating and living closer to nature. I have been taught wonderful ways of surviving and in return encouraged a many young souls to “go and get it…” – the chance to get ahead; a courage to try something new. To approach life with joy, reason and a strategy. I have build a house for a stranger and helped a family to live a dream; that really prides me. Life is significantly different here while having to battle for ordinary items, which we take for granted in the home-land. I have become more humble, respectful and within a richer man.

I do crave the convenience of “normality” and I am looking forward being closer to mom and friends I have abandoned for too long. Foremost, I am missing being closer to Q; he has been passionately supportive during my “wondering” years. Once more in my journey I am uncertain about what and where my next steps will carry me to. The opportunities and my multiplicity are in my favor.  Now I have new friends and responsibilities that will stay with me for the rest of my life; that is a blessing.

Hey, I miss driving a car! Oh, the idea of my own place is comforting. I will reach back for the memories of my days in Indonesia and find joy from afar having done a heck of a good deed!

Since my resume is “out on the float” again I will take this chance and explain what I do the best: I’m the guy a Boutique Hotel or High-end Residence brings aboard when in need of implementing either new Management or simply when in need of someone re-organizing structure, team building and implementing a clear-cut strategy. I come aboard a business that needs a multi-tasking independent thinking strategist that quickly can steer a commerce back on the track of success without interrupting operations. I’ve been contracted by a new business to translate and develop an idea into reality. Within my work I have come across every character in the hoteliers business and taking on the challenge of recognizing and correcting structure, HR, F&B and cost control. Clearly used to the “shooting of the messenger” – I care little about individuals ego when hired to “put right” an operations. I’ve been called the “hotel-fixer” and this title flatters me; In the end I’ve always managed to leave a place in better shape than what it was before I came aboard. The most gratifying compliment was from Appetite Magazine characterizing me as having the serenity of a monk. Indeed, I don’t see need for confrontation what could be solved with communication and usually I stay away from negativity, since any approach to reach success is only possible with the investment of kindness and encouragement. A simple logic; but often the very core point that causes a business to go astray.

I would not mind being placed as Private Chef again. I do enjoy family life, catering to the specific needs of my client and enhancing their life with the best I have to give. Let’s see what’s next on my horizon… Happy Fools Day.

A Lake thank you

Easter in North Sulawesi It’s totally uneventful. I’m not certain that is good or odd; We are having a full house in Minahasa Lagoon and I’m so busy, it was a complete surprise to me that today is Good Friday… I really even missed the fact it’s now spring!

Gosh all mighty! Time is flying past me. Q has a very exciting week (he thinks it’s stressful) making big changes in his life. I’m still working on my TCM book, but it is in the final stages; Possibly my best work yet. Even for anyone having no idea about Cooking or Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s a valuable collection of healthy teas and light cooking that require no culinary background nor medical knowledge. I simply collected a few tips that actually are randomly available by nature… (not if you live in a city  -mostly on the 23rd floor…)

Last week at a market in Bali I had a déjà vu that stranded me in my action; I stood affront an old lacquered box, on of them flashy red bamboo boxes you can find in Asia. It was square shaped, 40cmx40cm and merely 10cm high. The inside was black shiny lacquer and the outside hat pretty little white flowers on it, pulled together by a patient hand dotting each one on the red surface. It was not just the beauty of this old box that caught my attention; it awoken a long forgotten memory in the back of my brain. When I was nineteen years old, in the old town of St.Gallen in Switzerland during my last year in the culinary school, I visited a flower store. I can’t remember what attracted me to this place the first time. Soon I became acquainted with the owner who was not shy about his flirtatious attentions. It did not bother me the least; He had an affinity for drying little red roses which he carefully assembled in old China boxes. I asked him why not white ones. He said they are difficult to dry. I would be sitting there regularly and watch him, even greeting walk-in clients and foremost share with him about the learning-agony a young chef in a stressful kitchen experiences. One day he gave me a present. A square box filled with 500 dried white roses. I cherished this present, although stayed away from his shop afraid in my spooking mind; I’d owe him now a favor. He died a few years later, one of the early fatalities to AIDS.

As I stood there, I wondered where that little box was – but foremost, I finally fully appreciated the fact that someone had given me such a wonderful present and actually never asked for anything in return. I had the same euphoric feeling I remembered from way back when.

Yes, sometimes it takes a long time for us to register what others do from a kind heart. Within, I am finding hope that all I do might one day reach the heart of others. We all have a duty to be kind and share compassion, regardless if we are understood correctly or not. Here, far away from all the turmoil of Los Angeles, I have found a few duties to be rewarding. I’m still helping a family building their home and supporting my God-children. The oldest now goes to school. My curricular activities are keeping me sane and very happy; I can’t say that about work. Heck, I’ve gotten a lot done and in the end – I sleep well when going to bed.

Politics is keeping me edgy; Does anyone ever consider that with the evidence presented to the Senate five years ago,  Obama’s should have voted for it? Truly, with the security of the people he represents the fact clearly alarmed about a serious threat to National security. Sure now, many of us feel that the false and blown-out-of-proportion-information is possibly no rectification to kill 4000 US soldiers in a costly and loosing war. But way back when, (when it was called an invasion) I too felt the need for action. I did not like Cheney’s force! I’m against war in general. That makes me politically wishy-washy the most… Certain is, Hillary can run the US machine more efficient than Obama and within manifests my support for her.

Hopefully by July 08  the www.TCMchef.com site will be active and catching your interests.

Happy Easter! Raphael

A house for Alexius

MoveOn.org’s Adam Green surprised me again with a not so Green approach…

I joined MoveOn.org in the early Bush flaring days, giving my support to a well groomed team of internet savvy democrats in hope to make myself “heard” amongst a mass that thinks somewhat similar and is against violence or the absurd idea that democracy can be enforced with not so precision bombs and water boarding…

Today Adam Green is encouraging me to sign a petition against ABC for using the first 50 minutes in the recent Obama-Hillary debate talking about issues he finds “unfair”. Seemingly he does not like the questions presented. Get over it. You are really off your mission I once supported.

“Debate moderators abuse the public trust every time they ask trivial questions about gaffes and ‘gotchas’ that only political insiders care about. Enough with the distractions–ABC and other networks must focus on issues that affect people’s daily lives.”

So I wrote back:

Instead of supporting an united democratic success, you yourself have precisely participated in creating this curious debacle over notions that have little to do with bringing forward the best choice we (USofA) deserve to lead our nation. Obama over Hillary?… why playing one against the other? Let’s focus on what they can do immediately.
Oddly enough you now want us to participate in further distraction and upholding the very issues you correctly consider not okay to debate… Adam, Adam… Where is Kane when we need him?

I put MoveOn.org on my spam list.

I’m in the last few weeks of participating here with Minahasa Lagoon and expectedly it is all very emotional. Been here 13 month, way longer than originally planned. If it would not be for the support of Q, I could not even fathom to go back to Los Angeles, the lifestyle, the expensive culture and California’s “normality”.

I’m spinning a few head hunters trying to find a suiting job for me; I’m of little help, unclear what this would entail. Possibly as private chef, maybe training my TCM spa-cooking; either way, I will be working with healthy food.

The house I am building for Alexius and his family is soon finished. It is the first house in PooPoh with gas stove and porcelain toilet seat…and one of the few houses that have electricity and a water tower. In the end I’ve lived a very Buddhist life in Indonesia and basically put all my money into this project. It does cause for some “chatter” and unkind remarks sounding unfair and privileged support. I could help a lot of people a little bit but certainly make a life changing dent for one family. There is no other reason. ‘Could have been anyone. I’m happy it is Alexius, he and his wife are very appreciative.  For someone with a US 85 income per month and having lived in very reduced circumstances, this is a huge change. I did ask him the other day; “where were you born…” He looked at me and pointed to the ground; “On the dirty floor”.

I certified my first twins as open water divers, that was great fun! A Swiss family. Talking about it, I should receive a Swiss passport soon, my application for it was approved in Jakarta; I’m dual citizen!  Maybe I should be working there instead!

Yes, I will post pictures soon. I have tons and need to sort them out in my computers. Please let  me pack and move first. One more visit to the mountain villages and a farewell party. No, I’m not going to cry…

Raphael