Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Costa Coffe the Extortionist - an open letter to Student Union

Dear University of Salford Student Union,

My name is Adeline Cooke and I am a postgrad student, currently doing my dissertation for MA Social Work.

I was working at the main library (Clifford Whitworth) all day today, and by about 14:30 I needed something quick and easy to eat. I am a vegetarian, so there was not much choice in the student union shop. I bought a cup of pot noodle and was told by the lady at the till that I have to pay five pence for hot water from the machine. I was not happy with this, but I paid anyway. Apparently five pence hot water is not enough to cover and cook the noodle. I asked for a top up but the lady said that I have to pay another five pence. I am very very unhappy about this and I walked out. This is my complaint number one.

I walked into the library building, went to the ground floor café (Costa) and asked for a little bit of hot water to top up my pot noodle. The guy at the café said that it’s £1.00 for hot water. Yes, that’s right, one Great British Pound Sterling for hot water! I told him that it is ridiculous and that I only need 50ml in my own paper cup or into my partly filled pot noodle. The guy reluctantly squirted a few millilitres of hot water and told me that next time he will charge me.

Well there will be no next time. In fact, please support me in my new campaign to throw the capitalistic extortionist inhuman Costa out of our precious University of Salford! Let's boycott capitalist Costa! They earn a profit of millions of Pound Sterling and yet they charge one Pound for hot water - and of course if you need a paper cup or a plastic spoon or fork, they are not free!

As of next week, I will bring my own kettle and give away free hot water for anyone who, like me, too poor to buy a cuppa. Please bring your own tea bags/coffee and little cup or flasks! Pot noodles and cuppa soup are also welcome.

My suggestion for student union is to provide a brew room in major buildings such as the library for people to use the kettle and microwave free of charge…?

I hope that the student union will pay attention to this extortionist attitude of Costa coffee and take action. I have sent a complaint to Costa coffee’s customer service. I have no doubt that the corporation will ignore one email. However if 10-20 students a day ask for free hot water and make a complaint, I am sure our voice will be heard!

Long live the people’s voice!


Ps. Average electricity cost to boil one litre (1000 ml) of water in the UK is 24pence. The calculation (Yahoo Answer) is as follows:
1 liter is about 1 kg of water

energy to heat and boil 1 kg of water from 25ºC is:

E = 4.186 kJ/kgC x 75 x 1 + 2256 kJ/kg x 1
E = 2570 kJ or 0.7 kW-hrs.

Assume the efficiency of the heat transfer is about 30%, then total energy needed is 0.7/0.3 = 2.4 kW-hrs

You need the cost of electricity in your area. Assuming 10p per kW-hr, then it costs 24p


Monday, August 11, 2014

Indonesians in the North West to celebrate Independence Day and new democratically elected president

Indonesian communities in the North West will celebrate Indonesia's 69th anniversary of Independence with national dance, games, fashion, and food on Sunday 17th August 2014 at Lowton Civic Hall, Hesketh Meadow Lane, Warrington WA3 2AH.

The event will also be a big celebration for democracy, as Indonesia has recently elected its 7th president Joko Widodo. Indonesian communities in the UK are celebrating Widodo's victory. He is deemed the people's choice, started as an underdog, but ended up as a symbol of hope, much like President Obama in 2008.
Photo by: Heni Lockitt (Dapoer Chinta)

The day will start with national anthem "Indonesia Raya" at 11:30 followed by the cutting of Nasi Tumpeng (mountain of rice surrounded by assorted Indonesian dishes) which is part of slamatan – communal feast symbolising the social unity of all participants and in this event, as a celebration of democracy. There will be entertainment and a food market, Poco-Poco (traditional line dance from Sulawesi), fashion show, and traditional games such as tug of war, sack racing and krupuk eating. Entertainment will also include Indonesian traditional and national songs.

The event offers food stalls selling a variety of dishes from the 13,000 islands of Indonesia such as the famous nasi goreng, gado-gado (mix vegetable salad), rujak (fruit salad), siomay (dumplings), satay and many more. An Indonesian grocery shop from Stoke-on-Trent will sell specialised Indonesian food ingredients such as organic tempe, peanut/satay sauce, krupuk (traditional crisps), and more. Stall holders will be happy to share advice on food and recipes to the public.

Yanthie Gordon, organiser and stall holder from Stoke-on-Trent, said that she has some customers who will be coming frome Stoke as well as members of East Timorese community from Crewe. "The fact that East Timorese people are showing their interest and solidarity to our Independence Day and celebration of Democracy shows the hospitality, peaceful, and friendliness of Indonesia. Our Timorese friends hold no grudge for the decades of Indonesian occupation over East Timor, and Indonesians accept their wishes of independence," said Gordon.

Other stalls will offer traditional and modern dresses, jewellery, art and crafts, and Indonesian back and head massage. Also, "the fashion show will feature modern and traditional clothes, including Muslim fashion and clothing," said Mida Croft, another organiser and stall holder.

The idea came from three friends – Yanthie Gordon, Mida Croft and Heni Lockitt – who thought about a different way of celebrating Indonesia Day. Lockitt said, "Starting from a small idea between friends who miss their homeland and food, we now receive interests from Indonesian communities all over the country including those from the Midland, Lincolnshire, Wales, and Yorkshire."

Indonesia gained its independence from the Netherlands through decades of fighting. Declaration of Independence was on 17 August 1945 and in 1949 the UN recognised Indonesia as a sovereign country. In 1998, through people's power Indonesians toppled its dictator of 32 years. In 1999, East Timor (now Timor Leste) had a referendum that resulted in their independence from Indonesia. Today Indonesians are awaiting the inauguration of its 7th president, Joko Widodo, who is famous for his tolerance, non-militaristic background, and background as a rock star. 
By: Heni Lockitt (Dapoer Chinta)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Year of Meat Book Review

Ruth Ozeki (1998) My Year of Meat. NY: Viking. (Kindle version: 2013, Cannongate Book) 

Once started reading, I could not stop... Even on the gruesome part about slaughter house and hormones in beef industry. As a newly convert vegan, the part about cows in cages and their last walk to their death is very upsetting.

The book is an eye-opening, but also a reflection on media industry. As an ex-documentarian, I relate very closely to this book. As a mixed ethnic and multicultural woman, I feel even closer to Jane - and to Ruth Ozeki, the author of this stunning book.

The part about Akiko is disturbing, especially because I know the mindset of abusive husbands backed by paternalistic society that institusionalised the stereotype of the submisive wive. Akiko's experience of abuse almost made me puke.

One touching story is how stories told from the heart, by everyone in a small conmunity, woke a girl from her coma. 

Two thumbs up for Ruth Ozeki...! I read her books backward from the latest to this first one. Does not matter, all are enlightening! Can't wait for Ruth's 4th book...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Birthday Party and International Women's Day 2014

I went to a birthday party today. The little girl is turning two, her mum is my good friend. I thought shopping for a birthday present was going to be fun. I was wrong.

I went to three shops for the right present. I did not know how difficult it would be to find good quality educational toys and books for a girl. Years ago when my son was a toddler, there seemed to plenty of books and toys that would stimulate his young curious mind. From dinosaurs to space shuttle, from police cars and trains to aeroplanes and ships.That was in late 1990s.

I don't know why book publishers today have to write "for boys" and "for girls" on the cover?! I absolutely hate this! I hate the fact that producers and publishers dictate us consumer. I would buy books for boys if it were for my own daughter, but as this is a birthday present for my friend's daughter, I could not risk it. 
Another thing that made me angry is that books for boys have all the exciting titles like "I dream to be a fireman", "When I grow up I'm going to be an astronaut". Books for girls? "I dream to be a fairy", "Handbook for little princess", "Disney Princess dressing up activity book"...

For goodness sake, this is 21st century and they expect girls to have unreal occupations like fairies and princesses while boys fly aeroplanes and wear all the cool gears?! At least my grandmother's occupation as a housewife in 1940s was a real occupation! Be a fairy?! I am sure what the industry meant to say was, "Dress like a fairy (and buy our range of fairy dress and accessories)."

I ended up buying her a set of building blocks and a book about fireman - I was tempted to write "firewoman" with permanent ink but I did not. Though hoping that her parents would read her my card, I did write this, "Happy birthday my darling.  I wish you will reach your stars. Dream high. Be a fighter pilot, be an astronaut, be anything you can dream of. And don't you sit around just waiting for a prince to come, that is yucky yealks!" 


I am glad the little girl lives her building blocks. During the chaos of the party - including the time when a little boy decided to pour washing up liquid into the fish pond causing lots of adult got wet in operation saving nemo - the little birthday girl happily built her own tower.

Happy International Women's Day!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Toge Goreng

Bologna, Italy, has spaghetti bolognese; Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, has "toge goreng" �� Literal translation is "fried bean sprouts". The name does not do justice to the dish.

Toge goreng is fine street cuisine for people from West Java. No other part of Indonesia has the main ingredient which is "oncom".  Oncom is the by-product of tofu. Soy bean tailings (left over) from tofu production is fermented using Rhizopus oligosporus or Neurospora intermedia var. oncomensis. According to Wikipedia, oncom is the only human food produced from Neurospora.

Unlike spaghetti bolognese, toge goreng is 100% vegan. It is the food I missed the most from Indonesia. What a miracle that my friend found a food boutique that sells oncom. Hmmmm.....����