Thursday, 25 October 2012

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Yesterday was hot. So hot that John had to change his shirt before leaving to go to work. So hot that I had a semi-permanent rivulet of sweat running down my back. So hot that it was difficult to escape the ever threatening heavy blanket of tropical torpor. They should institute a law of siesta here, though it might not work as it would have to last most of the day.

Despite the sauna-like atmosphere, I had a great day. Every morning I walk Anna down to the back entrance of the university campus where the guards greet us with a friendly “yadra” (good morning – pronounced yandra). It is a lovely walk and bus stops right at the back gate. I then head back up the hill and inevitably work up a lather, some days are worse than others and yesterday was bad. I was reminded of Robyn William in Good Morning Viet Nam - "It's hot! Damn hot! Real hot! Hottest thing is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking." Not to overshare, but you end up putting deodorant in the darnedest places here.

The road down to the school bus stop after a heavy rain.

After an hour or so of internet banking/emailing/tweeting/facebooking, Mela arrived and reminded me that it was market day at the university. So after a long Skype session with my friend Helen in the UK and a trip to the university book store to send off Anna’s UK passport to Wellington for renewal, Mela and I took our shopping bags and headed down to market.

First thing I bought was a woven palm fan, with which I fanned myself vigorously for the duration of our market visit. I bought two beautiful sulus – one for me and one for Anna – from a Samoan student, Mark, who dyes the cloth himself. We bought curried potato rotis for lunch, a painted fabric clothes peg bag, and my favourite – a balabala (sort of pronounced mbalambala). He is now in the drive but will shortly be watching over us from the garden. I haven’t given him a name yet – I’ll have to research appropriate Fijian names. For now Mr Balabala will have to do.

Mark and his beautiful sulus and uncut dyed cloth.

My balabala - Mr Balabala to you.

I met Anna from the school bus home at the university pool. I don’t know if it is the heat, but that pool is the most perfect temperature – the water feels soft and fuzzy, like a warm fleecy blanket, but refreshing. I probably could stay in there most of the day.

Last night I finally attended a university function with John. It was a celebration of Fiji at 42 – Fiji declared independence in 1970. Luminaries included Yash Ghai, a renown international scholar, who is the Chairman of Fiji’s Constitution Commission. He gave a very interesting talk on the rapid changes currently occurring in Fiji which is moving from a culture of community towards a society of liberated individuals. The politics of Fiji are a minefield. Much of the strife is down to the tensions between the various ethnic groups particularly the Fijians and the Indo-Fijians, many of whom are descendants of indentured workers who came over to work in the sugar industry in the 19th century. I quote from Wikipedia for an explanation here:

Relationships between ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians at a political level have often been strained, and the tension between the two communities has dominated politics in the islands for the past generation.

Suffice it to say that as there have been four coups since 1987 and Fiji is currently governed by a military dictatorship, I will mostly be keeping any opinions regarding Fijian politics to myself.

After the talks, there was a wonderful display of dancing and singing by students and local groups. Young people may be questioning the rules of traditional village life here, but from the amazing performances that we saw, they certainly still embrace their culture through song and dance. At the end of the show, all of the dancers and singers came out and got audience members to go onstage and dance. John and I nearly managed to escape, but a young lady from John’s office came and got us and up we went to dance the conga with the rest of them. Anna was mightily relieved that she hadn't come with us when we told her about our mortifying parental dance display. Next time she might not be so lucky.


  1. Did you say you were going to have air conditioning in your house, or did I imagine it?
    We had snow on Friday night, only a cm but it stayed until mid-morning. As you know, we Paxtons only like snow when it involves NOT travelling out of the village.
    Watched Blades of Glory again - just think of snow cones when you are in that pool :) Carolyn

  2. Hello C&P - we do have AC but mostly turn it on in the bedrooms at night (don't want to be profligate with electricity). Some days it's so hot that you sweat just sitting still.

    Do you mind if I put the photo of Joseph on the blog?

    Mary....thinking of snow cones....