She had a serious demeanour when I saw her. Let me re-state that: I didn’t really see her. It was my boss, Ibu Rini, the director of the Cambridge Preparatory Classes at Global Prestasi School (GPS), who saw her. I only visualised the scenario in my mind when she related her meeting with a little girl with the serious mien. I saw her much later in class. Ibu Rini narrated that she was pleased to have met up with the young girl who was far from diffident and spoke fluently in English. Rucksack slung on her back, she marched into her office, introduced herself as Nadia, and asked to be placed in the grade 7 Cambridge Preparatory Class that day. She didn’t know that such a class existed and had her mum known she was certain that her mother would have signed her up for it too alongside the local class. Her resoluteness, I believed, impressed my boss – she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Nadia and Indira

Nadia (right) and gal-pal Indira when they were in grade 8 in Bali during English Camp

The incident was seven years ago when she and her family returned to Indonesia from Shanghai for good. Nadia Kris Sigit – Nadia or Nat Kris to friends and classmates – became part of the Cambridge Preparatory Class, dazzling everyone with her brilliance and wit. Now, she’s a high school graduate and waiting for the first semester of college to start this September. She’s enrolling in Business Management at the new satellite branch of Binus International at Summarecon Bekasi.

“It’s like everything fell into place!” Nadia exclaimed the afternoon I chanced upon her at Eight Coffee. “It saves me the time commuting to and from Jakarta to attend school. Moreover, our office is near the school so I can either go there or at here if I have free time in between classes.”

Nadia at Eight Coffee

The high school graduate and soon-to-be college freshman, Nadia

In the meantime, in the midst of observing Ramadan, Nadia is engrossed in the family business. Her parents own and manage Eight Coffee, a café specialising in the varied types of Indonesian coffee, and one of her tasks is making sure the café doesn’t run low on banana cakes. They are her speciality, be it chocolate, cheese, raisin or original; they are served oven-hot with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream at the café. (Aside: The banana cake is splendid with cappuccino.)

“I’m still perfecting my cupcakes,” she quipped.

Added the Benedict Cumberbatch admirer: “I’m also looking into getting nicer boxes for the banana cakes, as well as designing a logo for the boxes.”

Eight Coffee is located at Jalan Puloh Sirih in Galaxy City. It’s a terrific breakfast place for the early risers, being open by 6am and ready with their American, Classic Continental, and Indonesian breakfast sets; a cosy nook to read while sipping a cappuccino, iced or hot; and splendid venue for meetings, social or otherwise. My favourite spot is the corner from the entrance. It’s a two-seater table that gives me a view of everyone who goes in and out of Eight Coffee, and feng shui-wise, my back is to the wall so I feel protected. It’s also a short walk to the food counter.

Bone-idle was never – it still isn’t – part of Nadia’s vocabulary. It is an anachronism to her entire existence, which made her stand out in the pioneer batch of the Cambridge Preparatory Class (then called International Program) of GPS. For instance, assignments were done properly and handed in before the deadline. Her research paper in grade 10 English was structured well and packed with insightful analysis. Diligence aside, class discussions were a cinch for her – she had vignettes and conjectures to delight the class. She was also always prepared for Show-and-Tell, making herself the competition to be dethroned in terms of content, fluency, and interactive communication. However, her culinary inclination was a more recent discovery. I was oblivious to it until a business project in her 12th grade where she, together with her classmates, set-up something akin to a farmers’ market albeit smaller. Nadia’s group sold her banana cakes which were cut into bite-size squares, packed in twos in a paper bag (or was it a box?), and tied with a twine bow. The cakes sold out in less than an hour! Ever since that project, I’ve been a regular banana cake client, ordering boxes as treats for my students during our extra sessions. Verdict: the chocolate banana cake is a big hit among them.

Nadia’s not resting one bit although the banana cake is a feather on her toque. She’s knee-deep in two family business projects: a floral shop named Dianita Florist and a deli called Bacassie.

flower arrangements by Dianita Florist

Flower arrangements for any occasion by Dianita Florist – it’s opening soon

“The space is too small for my bakeshop so my mum decided to turn it into a floral shop. She took flower arrangement classes in Shanghai when we lived there,” explained the Bruce Lee enthusiast. “I like doing something creative, so I’m helping with the sourcing out of packaging, décor, flowers, etc.”

Continued the bookworm: “We are also looking into launching the Bacassie Deli soon. The name is patterned after the old spelling of Bekasi. We’ll have sandwiches that will complement the coffee we serve, and we hope to open after Lebaran.”

Bacassie Deli Interior

Bacassie Deli will be serving sandwiches soon.

On a personal note, Nadia has started a blog – – that she had to put on the back burner when she was in grade 12. Now that she has some time on her hands, she’s parking herself behind her laptop these days.

The little girl has grown up. The young student is slowly transforming into an entrepreneur and, as her former teacher, all I can do is stand, beam with pride, and watch her conquer the world one coffee or banana cake or sandwich at a time.


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