Monday, December 31, 2007

Road to Mecca: Tiny among Giants

Asian, particularly Indonesian, is considerably small in term of physical human body. I am Indonesian, and I am already small when you compare with other ordinary Indonesian men.

I was a tiny among Giants, there, at Hoora – Manama, the meeting point of Haj travellers. We all flocked into a large car park at Hoora. There were a lot of people coming with their luggage’s and I noticed most of them were huge.

I suddenly remembered what Baba saying. He told me a short conversation when he met some Pakistani guys from southern area.
“Where are you from?”
“North,” the huge guy answered.
“Wow, no wonder.” Baba replied.

According to Baba, my best Pakistani friend, culturally and geographically, Pakistan, his country is divided into two main areas, south and north. South is more civilized, because it is close to coastal area, where people there can easily have interaction with other worlds, trading, etc. It is more open, but generally people are physically smaller compare with the one living in the North Pakistan. “It’s a kind of Jungle men, huge and whatever you say…”

I am a tiny among those giants, Pakistani, Bahraini, and other Arabic nationalities. I was the only Indonesian, struggling to get equal services from the Haj Travel agent. We were about to leave for Saudi through land access, by bus. Everybody was busy with their group, while I was alone, searching my bus, my seat, my tour leader…

There were 5 buses, each one has 52 seats. Total was around 250 to 300 persons, I guess. Mostly were Arabic, Indian, Pakistani and I was the only tiny Indonesian.

Yalla…!

Friday, December 28, 2007

I AM BACK

Hmm... been quite long time, absent at this blog. This is the first time i connect to internet. I spent 16 days travelling and the other 3 days relax at my flat. No acsess to the internet, first because i did not find it and second, i did not want to.

This trip was, by far, the best vacation I've ever experienced. The haj travel, visiting macca and madina. I would love to write the journey, or some of the special occasions I've witnessed.

Insya Allah...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Stranger like Alien

In term of public transportation, living in Bahrain is similar with living in Bali. I mean, the public transportation here, in Bahrain, is not better than Bali, or even worse at some places.

Just like what happened one night (8/11/07). I was taking a sample of no objection letter from my Haj Travel Agent. I need it to reprint on our official head letter then ask my boss to sign it. I need this letter to issue my Haj visa, to enter the holy city Mecca.

I had just finished with the agent and when I looked at my watch, My God…! It was 10 minutes to go..! I was running like idiot, chasing the hotel’s bus. It starts 10.30pm from Novotel and should be passing the bridge where the driver dropped me earlier at 10.34pm.

I was running and sometimes walking fast. I was carrying my laptop bag with full of documents and of course the laptop, its cables, and my stationeries, it was quite heavy to me. Ok, I thought it might be good for me, just like, you know…, exercise, been long time never done it. I was sweat, rush, no time….!

And finally I reached the bridge, and I found a bloody huge dense traffic in front of my eyes. It was a perfect situation to yell…

I looked around I did not see any single bus moving across the road, but I found lots of fancy cars stuck in a traffic jam, right my sight. It was long queuing, and I thought the bus wouldn’t reach this road within 15 minutes.

It just like crazy, waiting for a bus at one of corners of a city park, in Manama city, capital of Bahrain. I was waiting and waiting, it already took 20 minutes.

I finally saw the bus, far away, crawling like a cocoon of moth, very slow. My 20 minutes turned to a bloody 45 waste minutes. I was yelling to myself, realizing how stupid I was and just wondered why a rich country like Bahrain does not have a good public transportation services.

I thought it was kind of ridiculous. People can imagine, how come, a small Kingdom that has everything, but does not care about it’s public service. Show me an affordable fare transportation. This is a rich country, in fact. Why they don’t just build road, setup the system, and so on… rather then let this traffic problem go on..

What is the measurement to value a good country? Its public service? Its modern lifestyle? Its people behavior? Its GDP? I don’t care…! I don’t want a fancy car, I just want a taxi, or a bus or whatever so that i can move safely to my flat…!

I know, most of Bahrainis or locals are rich people. Thay can have two or three cars at their garage. They have oil, tourism, trading, and prostitution, so that no wonder, there are lots of cars on the road…
Walk? No way… they don’t want to, they have nice cars. Car is cheaper here, particularly if you compare with Indonesia, car is such an expensive thing for us. But here, you don’t need to pay the tax, if you do, I don’t think it makes you headache, the government tax is nothing.

I am not good at automotive, but I know which one is expensive and which one is luxury vehicle, and damn… I saw lots of extremely expensive cars in this Kingdom.

Private vehicle is everywhere, poor transportation system, no train, lots of Saudi tourists travel with their own cars, petrol is cheap and what more…? Yeah… one more… people don’t want to walk….and they don’t care about global warming, eventhough the country has extremely high temperature during summer… as the result: TRAFFIC JAM.

..and I am here, a stranger, a little alien in the gulf.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Welcome back my winter

Yeah... just wanna note. Today is really cold. The winter is coming back. It's really freezing out there. Today, 28th November 2007, the real winter gets started. It's colder then my flat's AC, perhaps 16 or 18 celcius. I dont know, maybe less.

Plus, the wind blows pretty hard. It has been couple weeks ago, the weather here pampered me. I like going out, walking under the warm sun, breathing the fresh air, which is not really fresh i, think. How can you say it's fresh if you are surrounded by noisy and lots of dense traffics round you. Damn...!

Like this afternoon, I ran here, ran there, doing busy with some of my bloody routines. Those hotel's jobs made me crazy, suck my time. I tried combining two month jobs into a 28 days working hours with some overtime almost every nite. Yeah, i have to do it, no choice, i gotta finalize everything before my leave. But i was not sweat, its kind of surprising me...

Well, welcome back my winter. I believe, upcoming months would be chilling days... and i had better get prepared, before my bones stuck.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Xmas & New Year’s Feasts at the Resort

The festive season is coming and Novotel Al Dana Resort is preparing to celebrate the Christmas and New Year’s festivities with passionate style in their relaxed surroundings. All dining outlets will promote special gourmet meals on Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve is going to be just as exciting as all of the resorts restaurants will be open for you to join in the exciting celebrations and countdown to the start a fresh year.

Mediterranean Delight
Zytoun Restaurant will host a special dinner buffet on December 24. Christmas carollers will visit the restaurant to serenade the evening and bring the festive spirit.

On Christmas day, Zytoun opens for a special brunch where families can enjoy a large selection of International cuisine. Novotel's Curves team will host a range of activities for children and offer lots of fun and games. Santa Claus will make a surprise visit and deliver gifts to the kids to make their experience all the most memorable.

To celebrate the beginning of the New Year, Zytoun's chefs are going to be serving up a selection of special culinary feasts. Coupled with live entertainment to ensure the festive atmosphere.

La Perle
La Perle Seafood Restaurant will be open on Christmas Eve and will be offering a fresh selection of gulf seafood. The décor and atmosphere will be designed to transport into a magical night of Christmas by the beach.

The mood will be complemented by a group of carollers that will deliver traditional Christmas carols. How could they forget New Year’s Eve? Why not invite your loved ones for an enjoyable meal of at the most agreeable seafood restaurant in the Kingdom?

Moroccan Merriment
Kingdom’s ultimate Moroccan restaurant, Al Yacout, will celebrate a lively Christmas Eve in all of its glory. A romantic and blissful Christmas themed night has been prepared and an array of entertainment has been put together to convey the Christmas spirit.

On New Year’s Eve, an exotic and exquisite dining experience will be recreated, bringing you the best Moroccan food on the island, alongside the most vibrant performances of a Gnawa musician and belly dancer.

Lounging Around
The party must go on, as the panoramic lounge bar, La Bellevue, continues to turn Christmas Eve into a really buzzed party.

As for New Year’s Eve why not celebrate with the great selection of food and wine that Novotel has to offer combined with a great performance from the live entertainment?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

White Beach Party

NOVOTEL’s private beach was scheduled to host the White Beach Party, following its successful of the initial event. The party beat the resort’s beach on 8th November 2007, and again, after his stunning performance on August 2007, Mountana continued to show his skills on the deck!

The white sandy beach was set to accommodate nightlife goers and was decorated with white-glowing fabrics, combined with a spectacular sound and lighting system, submerging the entire audience in an unforgettable experience.

All decors and ambiences were designed in white colors, and guests were encouraged to wear their favorite white outfits. As a result, the evening was tailored to entertain clubbers and transport crowd into an endless exhilarating party, an event that must be seen to experience it - everyone should.

The music comprised of electro house music’s, programmed and seamlessly constructed by Mountana, who returns to spin clubbers with his latest mixes. His uniquely distinguished arrangements, rhythm, melody, and hits were combined to splash the Novotel beach and to offer an agreeable coastal atmosphere where music fans could dance by the sea.

Mountana is a young talented DJ and has 22 years experiences in nightlife and entertainment. He was a resident DJ for many world’s exclusive nightlife spots, such as the Pacha, the Theatro, the Niki Beach and more.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Indo-Italian Chef

I am happy to know there is an award-winning Indonesian chef, Twedi Martatna, who is recently appointed as an executive chef at Cafe Italia, one of the best dining venues in Bahrain.

He is an Indonesian, how can he become an executive chef for italian cuisine at Italian restaurant? He must be very hardworker...

Just visit http://www.gulfweeklyworldwide.com/article.asp?Sn=4923&Article=17295

Congratulation..!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I did not ask, they gave it

Hm... praise to the God, who created the universe...

The boss phoned me, I said, can i see you? "Come, please," he replied.

I went to his office, as usual bringging some documents. This time I showed him some pictures I took. Images of Alesia, my colleague at the sport & leisure department. She is the only superviser there. I showed him four pictures of her "action", doing exercise with some dumbells, and othe fitness stuffs. Hmm... reminded me when I enjoyed my gym last time in Bali. Another picture was a banana boat, an image I took last year, where there was a huge crowd in the resort during Eid al Fitr 2006, around october last year.

He chose one and of course he aggreed the Banana boat one. After some short conversation, i asked permission to leave. But suddently, he asked, "well, how much your salary currently?"

Dare, how come, he couldn't remember my salary? I just wondered in my heart. I replied spontaneously the amount. "Ok, it will be increased this month," he said.

"Thank you, sir. Thank you very much." Not lots of conversation we had, the next question was he asked whether i had a friend from Bali who probably wanted to find a job at this property.

I said, i had to search my friend. "As long as from Bali, like you, like Suka, Marcya and.... the other one, I dont remember...."

"Agung, Sir." I mentioned the last balinese name in the resort.

"Who is she?"

"Agung, the balinese waitress."

"Um, yeah, yeah.. Agung." He try recalling a figure.

"Look, i dont want from Jakarta, coz, there are mostly... um.., you know... different. Why?" He questioned me rhetoric.

"Well, Sir... we have different culture, different place." I answered.

"From Bali is good, but not Jakarta," he added.

"Maybe because Bali is a tourist destination and people from Bali know well how to deal with tourism and hotel jobs. While Jakarta is a Capital, it's a big city and you know, like New Yorker, the will behave different, maybe little bit snob, something like this," I answered.

"I see.."

* * *

Anyway, that was my conversation with the Boss. There were two things contrast I found. First he increases my salary. It means I am happy, but the other matter, he does not like Jakartan. That makes me sad.

I know Jakartan are mostly arrogant, and they are more superior when they come to region, like Bali or other regencies. They controll everything, teaching us, people from island. But not all of them, I think. Some of them are good, some of them are bad.

I hope, my boss will meet a good Jakartan. Wallahu a'lam.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

ITHAKA: The Journey of Ulysses

The Culture vultures, the Italian Embassy and the Italian Bahraini Friendship Association hosted a charity piano concert at my hotel, I mean the hotel where I work for, last night.

The concert featured renowned Italian pianist Cristinana Pegoraro delivered a theme "Ithaka - The Journey of Ulysses: the piano as a vessel in discovering the Mediterranean.
Cristiana played four peices inspired by the poem Ithaka (written by the Greek poet Cavafis), which is based upon the voyage of Ulysses. It tells about the need to unite people from diverse cultures, religions and traditions of the Mediterranean, a region as a place encompassing solidarity, tolerance and friendship, asn as a defender of peace; a sea as unifiying force and a sysmbol of dialogue between gistories which are different, but which are all about the same universal subject: mankind.

According to Deborah Lanyon, one of the Culture Vultures member, all profits raised will go to the Alia School for Ealy Intervention and RIA Centre. The event, sponsored by African and Eastern, Contax and Euromotors, was part of the first Italian Cultural Festival which continues until next Thursday (8th November 2007).

People were very happy with her performance. Everyone seems enjoyed the evening. I myself, eventhough I have no idea about piano and classical music, but i enjoyed her performance. The music, the arrangements were very nice.

But why people just sit down and whatch...? How could they enjoy it? I was about to dance, my legs just started grooving by themselves, following the rhythm, eventhough there was no order from my brain. But I realized, i was in a middle of such a classical concert, something like this. everybody was sitting down, paying very serious attention to the performance and the mood was very calm, quiet, only sound of piano. Hmm...cool...

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Adib Albab

Adib Albab, my youngest brother. We are four, all men. Badruddin Thiyabi, is my big brother, we call him Bobby, then me, then Farrich Mabrur (we call him Ruri), then Adib Albab.

Adib had a nick name Lanir or Ranier, during his childhood. I dont know why people now call him Adib, no more nick name. Only Iqbal that has no nick name. But sometimes, Bobby call me qiqi, my mom as well.

Come back to Adib. He is my youngest brother. He is very stubborn. He is currently studying at one of Kediri islamic boarding school, i dont even know the name of the "pesantren". What I know he is struggling to improve his english at this place. How hard he's been struggling for it? I dont know, wallahu a'alam. Many students come to this boarding school not only to learn about islam but they are more interested in English. Why they dont just learn at EF? or IALF? maybe too expensive, too capitalist, huahaha....

If you spend about 3 months, people say, you will be able to speak in english well and gramatically perfect. Who knows? Maybe it's true. Then imagine if you spent more then a year, i guess you will speak fluently, like a native? Two year, you can write very good, i think. But believe me, the community who are living there speak English. It is obligatory.

Let's get back to Adib. He is very good at Arabic language, reading qur'an, and has good knowledge in islam. He likes something related to mistic, magic, ghaib, somethinng like this. He likes wirid (reciting verses), I have no clue, whether reciting qur'an, shalawat, or other arabic literatures. "The main reason is to get close to the God", he said someday.

"You dont know what i recite, even if i told you, you would never understand, because you dont like this way", he continued. We fought because of it, one day when we were in Denpasar.

To me, I dont like people, particularly a student, enjoying reciting something that he has no idea about it. But I hope he knows what is he doing. It's hard to tell him what going on out there. Today is millenium era, and we are no longer belong to those kind of stuffs.

"If you really interested in magic, then be specialize in this field. Be a very professional magician and you will go public," I shouted him.

"You will be invited by television to present comments on football match, for example," I added. He was just silent. Meaned, he was angry. Close the conversation.

Last conversation with him via email, i advised him, that only through education, patient, hardwork, continuity and pray, we can change our destiny to a better life. Only those five things we can elevate our dignity.

Therefore, keep studying, whenever the time, wherever the place, whatever the subject, whoever the teacher. Put priority on subject that you like it, for example hobbies, who knows if you are intens on it, y0u would be professional and you will be expert and people look for you for this reason. "You must be specialist on one thing," i emphasized.

Adib has to decide what specialisation he goes to. He has to know what is the most potential talent in himself. He must be focus and be specialist, no more generalist. I said," a good general, a good leader, started from a special department."

For example, in tourism and hospitality industry, due to his patient and hadrwork, a waiter could eventually become a restaurant manager, promoted to be F&B (food & beverage) manager, then operasions manager then finally General manager. But still, he is an expert in food & beverage.

I wish, Adib could understand this. Wallahu a'lam.

Suck, today...

Dammit…! Bloody stressful, today. I hate myself. I am stupid. I am fool. I am careless.
I already foresaw, it will happen like this. My boss refused the brochure, my second brochure for the hotel. The color is not bright enough, not sharp. Really terrible. Far away from what we expected. Hmm…. We must reprint them again. It is costly, we printed 7.000 copies, the paper is matt 150 gsm and the cover is special texture paper 350 gsm. total 28 pages. Just magine that….

Huh, I am tired… what I am suppose to do…? Aackhh…just do it…

Shawarma by the sea

I am sitting here, in a quite convenience park. Nothing to do, just relax, enjoying my spare time. The grass is so green, the park is pretty large. It is 8.20pm, there are some children and their parents over there, enjoying activities in what people say “family recreation”. The weather is perfect. Today, Bahrain is starting to be winter. I can feel the breeze, I can smell the soil, the grass, and of course I can still feel the taste of shawarma I have just eaten… he… delicious.

Shawarma is an Arabic sandwich made from bbq meat or chicken meat, mix with vegetable (cabbage, tomato, cucumber pickle, mints leave, potatoes, etc), with tomato sauce and dressing, and wrapped with of course toasted Arabic brad. I like it, some time I ask the vendor to add more chili pickle.
The key is in the chicken and the sauce. If you want a delicious shawarma, just ask the vendor to put some more mayonnaise and the other sauce, I don’t know the names, I guess it are some Arabic spices. You have to ensure that the meat is perfectly barbequed then mix with the vegetable and rolled with the bread.

It’s pretty cheap, only 200 to 350 fills. To me, 2 rolls of shawarma is enough for my stomach.

And here, at this dolphin park, is the second time I eat shawarma. It’s bbout a week ago, Faisal Salim accompanied me visiting this place, eating sahwarma and drinking diet pepsi together, enjoying the outdoor mood and watching a beautiful panorama of the muharraq skyline.

Faisal left Bahrain for Dubai. He “resigned” from the hotel we work for. He was our IT manager, a Pakistani who is still keeping his islam believes and thoughts. We are best friend, we are close and mostly I am close with previous IT guys in the resort, maybe because we all have the same hobbies.

Seems, Faisal doesn’t like the style of current management, doesnt like the style, the way GM leads management, so that’s why top management does not like him, as well. I don’t know. What I know is just he can no longer accompany me to enjoy shawarma.

Goodbye my friend, see you around… maybe in Dubai, maybe in the UK, maybe in Karachi, or the US, or perhaps in Bali… wallahu a’lam.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Al Yacout: Exotic Exquisite Vibrant Dining Venue

AL YACOUT Restaurant at Novotel Al Dana Resort proudly introduces its new Belly dancer as well as a new female and a male singer, all are brought directly from Morocco. The restaurant has been very popular among the diners in the Kingdom and the management is very happy with unexpected demand since the opening.


In order to response this demand and to maintain the customer satisfaction, Al Yacout is improving the quality of food, services and entertainment. The restaurant currently employees 12 Moroccan hoteliers or approximately 80 percent of total restaurant’s staff, where are posted in all sections of the service; from kitchen, waiter/waitress, to entertainer. This is to ensure the guest will experience a truly dining tradition of Morocco.

The newly vivacious belly dancer will collaborate with two Gnawi musicians to refresh the atmosphere and to deliver vibrant rhythmic motions. It generates an exotic dining experience complemented with uplifting entertainments, mixed with local’s warmth.

The food itself is a selection of delectable modern Moroccan food prepared by some illustrious chef divas, from Marrakesh, who have been putting up their hands to work for authentic and creative dishes in top restaurants and hotels across the region.

The interior and décor share contemporary Moroccan arts inspired by an ancient Kasbah in Marrakech. Four ornamented pillars act as centrepieces, where right inside of these pillars, the new belly dancer performs, accompanied with soulful music presented by a Gnawa musician.

Al Yacout states that one should experience a sensuous culinary trip, designed to indulge all your senses throughout the journey, from appetizer to dessert and cocktails. This 140 seats fine restaurant offers the exotic beachfront dining moment for both residents and visitors to the island.

Through those additional features, the restaurant makes its presence known in the Kingdom of Bahrain as the most exotic Moroccan dining venue.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Email signature this month

My GM asked me to design two new signatures. One signature would be eid mubarak theme and the other was any signature related to the f&b product. It was easy to make eid signature but not pretty easy for the other one. Above you can see, is one of the f&b signature this month, but GM does not like it. He’s right, the four images are too small. In fact, those pictures are the ones we want to show to people. He suggested me to delete the pool image and simply enlarge the four pictures.
The color, the shape, the logo, and names of the restaurants remain the same, but I changed the copy (the text) with “Discover Novotel…” This is very cliché, and I don’t think it is appropriate anymore to the property (the resort), since the Novotel Al Dana Resorts has been established for about 5 years and people aware about it. “It should not longer Discover…,” said Maria Vivero, my friend, my mom, and my director of art.
She’s right, we should emphasize on the next understanding of our market. Just give them a question, “what is your pleasure…? Just like to encourage or to trigger or to convince, to declare, propagate or even challenge our customers. Like…”what do you want..!!?

Then we can answer… whatever your request, we will serve…

Imagine, if you are a guest of a resort, then you are asked by one of its staff similar question, will you be challenged? he….

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Perfect Irony

This morning, as usual, every monday, I received an electronic newsletter from Discovery Bali, one of leading online companies in Bali. I was shocked to read one of the news.

It was about Bali branding. The title of the news was "lack of support of Bali's branding effort". It reminded me when I was in Bali, struggling with Bali Tourism Board to socialize the significance of branding or rebranding of Bali tourism.

It was 2 or 3 years ago and today, it seems nothing significantly happen. The government, the public sector, the private enterprises itself, all the related and responsible stakeholders, seem does not care with this issue. Even the minister of tourism has no idea to convince public to be aware with this critical issue.

Just visit http://www.balidiscovery.com/messages/message.asp?Id=4102 Perhaps, you have an idea what going on and how to solve this matter. Wallahu A'lam.