Thursday, June 25, 2009

France new cabinet

I didn't know this could happen: France got a new government cabinet, 8 ministers were out and 8 new one joined in. The remaining were holding different position than the previous one. All these are done without even dissolving the old cabinet for a new election.

Well, I have only partially understood the political system here. Unlike in Malaysia, France really implement the separation of the 3 powers: judiciary, executive and legislative. The president and the representatives are directly elected by the people. These representatives do not hold any position in the cabinet.

So people like Samy Vellu who was elected to represent a department would not be a minister in the cabinet in France. Unfortunately, under the Malaysian system, he was holding work minister of Malaysia for over 20 years, known as the longest serving ministry ever in the history of Malaysia. He was in the executive and legislative branch at the same time. In fact, the Malaysian constitution requires that the Prime Ministry must be a member from the parliament and cabinet members are chosen from among the lower house (elected by the people) and the upper house (assigned by the Prime Minister).

I'm just a bit surprised that there exist countries that actually have different people in the legislative and executive power. And they can just change the cabinet before the 5 years term. It would be nice to different people leading the government every once in a while.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Where to find Marmite in Nantes

I have been running out of Marmite for a while and just couldn't find it in any French supermarket here. I purposely went to Chinatown last weekend as some people told me some Chinese grocery stores might be selling it, but I didn't see any. I need Marmite every time I eat porridge and recently I have been craving for porridge. So where I can find Marmite in Nantes? Posted this question on Facebook and two minutes later someone gave me a link to a forum and someone in the forum mentioned about Comptoir Irlandais, an Irish shop that sells Irish football clubs products plus some grocery.

I have never thought of finding it in an Irish shop. I forgot this product is originated from England. 6.50 euro for 250g, very expensive, but no choice, better than sending it from Malaysia.

The address of this Irish shop (hubby said it is a chain and the owner is from Brittany):
12, rue de Verdun
Angle rue de Strasbourg, between la Cathédrale and les Nouvelles Galeries

Now I can enjoy my porridge with Marmite!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Class duty

I'm very surprised that in France students do not have to perform class duty.

Basically, they do not directly participate in cleaning the classroom: sweep the floor, clean the white board, align and tidy the chairs and desks, wipe the windows, empty the dustbin and decorate the white board at the back of the class with articles, photos, students art work...

My MIL told me that during her time, she had to go collect woods for the school. But Hubby and FIL had never involved in anything like this during their school life. My MIL explained that ever since the 1968 student demonstration, French education system has evolved in a way that students are protected against labor type of works. Their only duty is to study. And, no extra curriculum activities.

Personally I think class duty is necessary to help build the sense of responsibility, teamwork and sense of belonging to the class. During my time, class duty started as ever as standard 1 (primary school). Usually, every student has to perform the duty once a week, either before class started or during the recess time. During the duty, two students sweep the floor, two students align the desks and chairs, one wipe the windows, one clean the white board and empty and dustbin. A class committee would be nominated to handle the cleaning schedule and make sure everyone does their job. A prefect would be given the responsibility to grade the cleanliness of the class everyday. Every class competes for the Cleanliness Award which is given out once a month and class who won would hung the Award (a flame with a certificate) in the classroom. I had been a class committee. For a very long time we never won the Award. I didn't understand it as it was a boy school and only form 6 classes had girl students and usually girls clean better than guys. So, I led a group of students to decorate the classroom with Chinese NY red envelope and the Malay ketupat wrapping plus made sure everyone cleans well everyday. Eventually, we got the Award, but it was immediately broken by our class monitor while trying to hung it on the wall. Well, at least it was something to be nostalgic about.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

French mother's day

Today France celebrates Mother's day. In France it falls on the last Sunday of May, and since this year the Pentecost fell on that day, the Mother's day is thus postponed to the first Sunday of Jun.

In the conjunction of Estuary 2009 arts festival in Nantes, we invited our parents in laws over to unveil the latest creation of the Royale de Luxe, a French mechanical marionette street theater company founded in Nantes. The theme this year is about the waking of a giant who was buried under the Loire River who has a mission to find his niece.

The parents in laws were impressed by the street theater show and we had a nice evening which ended with this yummy cake.