Friday, 17 September 2010

Putting off the clouds...

Well: I said I’d write about clouds – and I will – but I’ve changed my mind. Since there’s a chance that people are reading this in order to gain some wonderful insight into the life of an examiner in Indonesia, I thought I really ought to satisfy that want.

I suppose to understand the situation here, you have to know something of the Indonesian people. I’ll save most of that for a later blog, when I’ve got more experience of them, but for the time being it’s enough to know that they’re unfailingly polite and respectful. Being an Associated Board examiner here gives you a meretricious aura of wisdom and authority that it’s hard not to enjoy.
My welcome at Murni Music Centre. Note the spelling mistake, which was corrected two days later...

Also, the cynic in me suggests that the people who run these centres make a tidy sum of money out of the ABRSM (which I’m sure they thoroughly deserve), so it’s in their interests to make us feel as important and appreciated as possible.

Another examiner and I flew out from Heathrow on the same flight. When we got to passport control at Jakarta, a representative was waiting for us on the ‘wrong’ side of the desks. Ignoring the queues, he took our passports, ushered us through a diplomatic channel, and told us to go straight to baggage control. With only the briefest look to check some verisimilitude with our passport photos, the security guards let us through.

A large people carrier then whisked us into central Jakarta where – at the prestigious Intercontinental Hotel – we were not allowed to do anything as mundane as check in, or take our baggage to our rooms. That was all dealt with while we sat in the bar drinking complimentary gin and tonics.

The other examiner had carelessly picked up the wrong suitcase at Jakarta airport and had walked off with it: it was only the hotel receptionist who noticed that the name on the luggage didn’t match the name on the passport. In the real world, that would be a disaster (imagine the person whose luggage had been taken, forlornly watching the wrong bag going round and round the carousel), but oh dear me, not here, oh no.

Details were softly taken in hushed tones, phone calls were made and as we sat and chatted, the correct suitcase turned up, with nary a comment. Quite, quite extraordinary.

I hope that’s gone some way to set the scene and provide some context to what it feels like to be an examiner here.

Tomorrow the lovely Angke (receptionist at the hotel, aged 18, visage like a 50s Hollywood model, tall as a Greek statue, shapely legs making up about two thirds of her height, light as an angel, braces on her teeth) will take myself and another examiner round Jakarta to show us her favourite areas of the city. What happens then will decide whether the next blog is continuing this thread or starting another, entirely unrelated one.

See you then… I hope…

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