The individuals who feel there is little need to wear matching clothes but to such an extent that it is offensive to the naked eye. Typically khaki shorts that reveal a little too much leg for the common person to contend with. This in combination with an over-sized dazzling hawaiian shirt with a perplexing pattern somewhat isolates these individuals from the common person.

These individuals tend to confine within their own kind. Fortunately their numbers seem to increase substantially in warmer places and will quickly seek out to find one another. They appear to have a developed a language not typically known
to the common person. Obscure discussions are followed with over-exaggerated hand movements that appear to distinguish tonal levels in the individual’s pitch, rather than vocal level changes in the common person’s voice.

Individuals tend to take little notice of local customs and values but will generally make a poor attempt at communicating in the local language. They seem oblivious to the local people and their obvious distaste at the individuals choice in
clothing. The female individual will frequently choose a lack-of clothing that will be considered inappropriate in local customs in order to let their already sun-damaged skin possibly breathe…

Money seems insignificant to the individual, they happily purchase over-priced goods that would be considered incredibly cheesy and crap to the common person. In possibly a show of superiority amongst other individuals, they tend to ‘throw’
money around. This often leads intense competition where two typically dominant-male types will appear to graciously pay for another and their partner(s) or group. Loud, heated discussions may follow such proceedings where one male will eventually
yield to leave the other victorious.

Some individuals have shown what is possibly an awareness of the common and local person’s hostility. They will move around slowly in groups, which are known as a ‘pack’ or ‘tourist group.’ They will also hold over-sized black objects in front of their faces, possibly to shield their identity from outsiders. These objects also create and store digital images. Individuals have shown an utter dependence on these objects to save ‘memories’ as it appears their brain function is not as astute as the common person.

Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

Excerpts from Article – I’m not sure if this is Legal.

I have been asked to write an article for a quarterly magazine about my last twelve months as Volunteer in Fiji. Here is a few sections I thought I’d share with you all. (and because I am lazy and havn’t written a blog for far too long…)
I hope this doesn’t conflict with IP laws…

‘What would be the best way to learn and integrate one’s self with Fijian youth and culture?’Well I am not sure but spending seven nights living with twenty-five Fijian teenagers in a run-down high school in the middle of Tonga was an experience not to be missed. I arrived in Fiji with little over a month prior to the Fiji National under 16’s side travelling to Tonga to compete in 2010 AFL Oceania Cup. What surprised me more was that there were some really amazing talented players in the group.

After all the excitement and amazing experiences in Tonga, it was the New Year and I was back in Fiji to start working towards my AYAD assignment goals. My initial expectations was that I would come here to ‘volunteer’ my time and effort, complete my AYAD objectives and assist more senior staff in the organisation to gain valuable work experience for my future endeavours. I didn’t expect to be regarded as an ‘Expert,’ ‘National Head Coach’ or possibly incorrectly referred to as a ‘Professional Athlete.’

I didn’t realise at the time the magnitude of sending twenty-eight players and four officials to Australia. Organising Visa’s, flight payments, budgeting and fundraising etc. would take a great deal of time and planning. The greatest challenge then became conveying this to the committee, players and families. The majority involved had never travelled overseas before and I myself had never applied for a visa to Australia surprisingly, let alone 32 of them. I came very familiar with the term ‘seqa na lega’ (‘no worries’) during this time, but with the support of the small committee and several parents, we began slowly working towards getting ready for the International Cup.

Little did I know but I had become the ‘Head Coach’ of the National Team. Words like ‘Acting’ or ‘Temporary’ were used by friends and family in Fiji and back home as I did gloat about it on the odd occasion. But with title came the fame; I became somewhat of a well-known sports identity around town. Possibly due to the regular newspaper articles (that I had written), a TV interview and radio interview during the lead up to the International Cup. I also possibly signed my first autograph but I’m not sure, it may have just been a misunderstanding and overall I think misconceptions of my status and AFL pedigree. It also became apparent to me how important and status of playing sport competitively in Fiji is in the community.  

The local committee, parents and players set about fundraising for the trip. This was common practice in Fiji, although predominantly revolved around the kava bowl. This was indeed always fun and entertaining but didn’t always last as long as planned when the kava effects would take hold. Common side-effects include muddy-water taste in one’s mouth, sleepiness, drowsiness and an increased sense to talk about anything. These side-effects had a slight dampener on profit made from such proceedings. Meetings more regularly occurred with committee members; we generally met at local coffee shops with husbands, wives and friends. Local chit-chat was almost always at the top of any agenda but after the initial pleasantries, we would get down to business.

After many exhausting hours, a lot of luck and a last minute frantic effort the Fiji TRIBE AFL team made up of thirty-two Fijians accompanied me to Australia to compete in the AFL International Cup. ‘What would be the best way to learn and integrate one’s self with Fijian youth and culture?’ again you ask? I am still not certain but in spending eleven nights in a Kings Cross Hostel with thirty-two Fijians taught me more, if not all that I did not know from my seven nights in Tonga…

Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

The Daily Grind:

I walk through the sliding doors to be greeted by the security
guard I now feel as though i've known for a long time without
ever formely meeting or knowing his name.

I then stop-by the coffee shop on the ground floor for my 
'usual,' the baristta nods in recognition, I reply with a
gracious smile and nod of for his superb coffee brewing.

I make my way to the elevators, which now seems that one of the
two are always out of order; but this alternates almost daily.
I await the day when one of the two become inoperable whilst
I am inside, as if I am gambling with it's clearly unreliable

As I await for the elevator I find myself gazing at the large
plasma screen opposite as it shows generic clothing promotions
being associated with extreme sports and attractive women
parading around in bikini's.

I arrive at the top floor, feels as though I'm the first one to
arrive. I make my way over to my desk over by ceiling-high
windows looking over the harbour. A cleaner passes by and smiles
as we appear to be the only people present.

I take a sip of my coffee, and start-up my computer and take a
look over my agenda for the week. There is more movement
nearby as others are making there way to work.

I do my usual check on news and sports scores from the weekend
just gone, probably wasted atleast thirty minutes by now. The
somewhat painful office soundtrack is now in full-flight. It
does little to enhance my productivity but I am now
unconsciously tapping my foot to a cheesy and tastless song
from the hits of last summer.

The mornings are generally quiet. there are numerous people
working on my floor but remain hidden behind their workstations
and in back offices. By midday, the office seems to be a
fluster of various people; many sit in large groups or some
alone at their desk.

One of the positives about the office life here is that
everyone seems quite content to eat lunch at their desk and
almost invite any friends in town to join them. I myself have
the occasional visitors at times that pop by for a meal and
chat before returning to their own work domains.

Just the other day I was joined by a good friend of mine.
We decided to have a late lunch up at my office. Probably the
most convenient attribute of the office is that the food menu's 
are clearly visible from my desk. A quick glance over several menu
options posted conveniently up on the far walls, my friend
offered to order and I was quickly back to flicking between
emails, social networking and sport updates....
Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

US adventure; a buck’s, a wedding and reunion of old friends & family..

Notes; I travelled to NYC to meet up with my best mate, his brother and another close friend for a bachelor party/week of hanging out and exploring the Big Apple.

Impressions of NYC:

People are doing shit. From our apartment, we walked a block and through a park in a relatively quiet area of Manhattan (if that is possible) to find every square inch of the park literally filled with people, dogs and several hundred squirrels (..a guess?). But what really surprised/impressed me was not only was everyone out n’ about! but that every chess table, every table-tennis table and even every downball-wall was being utilized by the park goers. This theme was apparent in every park we passed in our adventures. I could not help but think that if that this was Australia, that all these park features would be most definitely be left unused.

My last morning in NYC, most-likely still feeling the ill affects of intoxication from the night before, I managed to stumble out of the apartment and down the street again in search for food and refreshments. I crossed one block over to explore a new street I had not seen in the last five days. I was almost stopped in my tracks as a vegan market was in full-flight. My previous experiences in the US and NYC were that of cheap-nasty fast food, something I had barely even seen let alone tasted in this entire week. While I gazed at the fresh and healthy options, I noticed some activity on the street behind the marketpalce. Police, Fire Engines and Ambulances lined the street, the road had been closed off at either end and the police and fire department were actively entering an apartment block. I realised I had witness all of this in no more than ten minutes…

Notes: We then travelled to Los Angeles, where I spent a few days catching up with my Family, travelled around california before the big Wedding.

Impressions of LA: One of the first unusual qualities of LA were the drivers. Possibly due to the high risk of getting ‘sued’ in California, LA drivers are unusally friendly and courteous to pedestrians. I was almost welcomed to cross infront of on-coming traffic, although I was waving the car to continue driving, they insisted that I indeed cross the road. This requiring the driver to slow down to a near complete stop on a main road with no traffic lights in sight. I felt almost guilty knowing that if I was driving, I would indeed be infuriated at some ingnorant pedestrian walking out infront of me but this is common practice in LA and the rest of California. I think in general, Californians live a fairly relaxed lifestyle which makes them good drivers (except for SF bay drivers in the snow).

Californian Hospitality

Another common theme I noticed was that Los Angele-ians(?) and Californians are very dramatic people. I met many big personalities while I was there. While they are generally very friendly and social people but every little issue or story was told or acted out like the plot of day-time soap drama. Like I was watching The Hills or Gossip Girl LIVE 24/7! Well maybe not to that extent, but taking seat along the Venice Beach Boardwalk, wait 5-10 minutes and you are sure to witness:
a) An Market Stall owner complaining how the guy next to him copied his work
b) a homeless person muttering gibberish to themselves
c) religious freak claiming “the apolaclypse is upon us..”

d) street dude yelling gibberish at passer-bys
e) a marriage break-up
f) group of middle aged hippy/indies discussing how depressing the world has become

I also had the pleasure of living in a house no more than 50 feet from Venice Beach. Those lively characters that you see on the boardwalk also need to find their way to and from wherever they come from. This usually meant via the street I was staying on. I felt a little too close for comfort to these people. I think I said that “I’d rather be staying ten blocks from here, visit Venice Beach and then never come back…” The first morning I spent at the house, I was making my way out the front door to overhear some fruitful profanity. It seemed that some guy was not happy with ‘gary(??)’ and was making this apparent to the lady in his car. I listened in from the safety of behind the five foot high fence that secured our house from the outside world. I decided that this was not the best time to venture outside. The next time I walked outside, I could visibly see an oversized mohawk bobbing up and down along the fence line. The individual wearing the mohawk seemed to be also very tall and I could also see tattoos. I decided that this also wasn’t the best time to venture outside. The third time, I could hear several voices and see several what some may call gangsta’s bobbing up and down along the fence line… I had decided by now that I would rather take my chances with the dodgy back alley instead of the front gate.

One thing I did notice about Los Angel-ians is that most do not leave LA…. EVER! When I asked several LA-ians for directions to Agoura Hills (a place not far from LA) the response was either, “Never heard of it,” or “Oh that’s ages away, that’s like a ONE HOUR DRIVE!” …Hmmm, I’m pretty sure it takes more than one hour to drive a few blocks in downtown LA in peak hour, but a coastal cruise up the 101 Highway is seen as some kind of ordeal.

What can be found outside LA. (Photo courtesy of my Sis)
Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

Taxi Blog

Some days here, I will have the pleasure of catching several taxi’s. One of the glories of not owning a car.

On these trips, I will come to meet a variety of characters;

– Emo cabby – I wasn’t even given a chance to inform the driver of my desired destination before he began telling me of the rising fuel prices, the need for increasing the taxi flagfall and rates, and in a saddened distaste reflected on how it would cost $15 a day to fill up, now its gone up… *by now I had been in the cab for close to 10 minutes and nearing home before I had to interrupt his ramblings.

– Over-qualified/educated cabby – a few lawyers, masters in environmental sciences/mining and the head of marketing for multi-national organisation. I was going to ask them for a job too!

– Political freak – Had a lively rant about the events in Syria, Libya, Egypt…. and problems with absolute power and if this revolution will spread throughout the world. Do NOT want to get in his taxi again after the most recent events

– Looking for love/wife/Australian Visa & quite adamant about it –
Driver: ‘Do you have any relatives looking for a young indian man to marry…?’
Me: ‘….uh, nooo..’
Driver: ‘do you have any FRIENDS looking for a young ind…..i need to get to australia by december… i need to get there before the end of the year…’
Me: “……ok.”

– Personal driver: “Good afternoon sir, my name is Villiame and I will be your driver,” *shakes hand (My Favourite)

– A little too friendly; get asked over for dinner… *I thought about it

– One driver recognised me from a previous fare, and begun to reminisce on that trip.. I had no idea what he was on about until i noticed the seat-covers. They were a very pretty design with pink  love hearts and flowers..

Yes, these are some of the thousands, possibly more of the cab drivers that drive and usually stalk white-folk around the streets of Suva beeping their horns constantly, showing little knowledge of road rules and tend do what they please.

Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

half-time break.

Well not so much a break but I am close to reaching the six-month mark of my twelve month stint in Fiji. This definitely freaked me out for quite sometime. Those standard questions of ‘Whatttttt the hell have I been doing for the last six months….!??’ and so on have come to mind constantly in the last few weeks. I can’t even remember what I did last weekend!

…oh wait. I spent the weekend on a glorious tropical island. 

Prior to the weekend, I had the unfortunate task of conducting ‘research’ in the Western parts of Fiji (Also know as the awesome parts of Fiji). I decided it would be best to base my office at the bar of a backpackers hostel for the week.

*view from the office

Prior to this I had spent numerous painstaking hours in and out of the Australian High Commission. Over the course of two to three weeks, I had accumulated something close to an entire day in Australia!!! Yay!!

I never thought that I would ever be applying for an Australian Visa… let alone SIX of them!! But it was nice to be back in the homeland, I caught up on plenty of ABC news whilst in the waiting room too.

Posted in Travelling Thoughts | Leave a comment

mostly food-related… good day and other

Although I was hungover, barely had 5 hours sleep, no breakfast and was at work on a Saturday; I had a good day. The weather was perfect (and no rain!), oh and my office today was a school ground/rugby field which I then had the pleasure of transforming to an Aussie Rules Footy Oval! Once the day had started, I could then take a step back and let the Fijians take over, which is a good sign that they are making the game their own.

Back at home I am having some issues regarding some of the local produce. Team Fiji have recently acquired some coconuts, but unable to open them and reap the rewards, now I have never been overly fond of coconuts but it’s all I can think about. More than anything I find this slightly entertaining as  I don’t remember having had this issue before. Also considering the long-term benefits and dangers of purchasing a machete from the market for coconut cracking/opening activities vs potential intoxicated games involving the before mentioned machete.

This is actually from about three weeks ago, but I think it is still relevant..

My new friends down the street are great because they cook me fresh roti (I really like Roti!). I went and visited them tonight, we had a nice chat about what I was having for dinner with the roti and I had asked what they were having…… and that was about it. I’ll probably go visit in a few days and catch up where we left off.

I am also making the most of the socially acceptable form of footwear here, which is no footwear. Local friends regularly offer me their shoes almost showing sympathy for me, I then have to explain that I have indeed chosen this lack of footwear. I have even ‘worked’  barefooted! I’m not even sure what it is I enjoy most about walking around barefooted. It might the sense of freedom from the usual confinement of wearing shoes, or that it is one less thing I have to do in the morning, thus saving time and energy. In any case, I do love it and barefoot it regularly. If I’m feeling like being a little more formal, I then upgrade to flip-flops. These are an acceptable form of working footwear in Fiji, I’m pretty sure even carpenters, mechanics and road-workers wear flip-flops.

Also not from today’s events but from last week..

I’m not sure how it started, but most nights here at home usually involve a member of Team Fiji making the small trek down to our local shop. There are two options, (actually there are several but… ) one is known as Pacific Split, the other is a Blitz. These are two amazing creations in the ice-cream industry. Then today I was at the supermaket, and I came across the Tucker’s Ice Cream Value Packs. All I can say is thank you Tucker’s and definitely a good day.

Then to finish, as I left the house the air almost seemed to sit still, I gazed up at a perfect sunset,  as I went for a walk thorough the park opposite my house (barefooted of course) to get my Roti from my new friends. End to a good day.

Posted in Travelling Thoughts | 2 Comments