Welcome to my global village!

Sharing with the readers my experiences through my travel, interaction with different cultures and my involvement through community work! Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Celebrated christmas and New Years Fiji-Pacific style in Fiji

We celebrated christmas and new Year Fiji- Pacific style this year. We did not travel overseas during this christmas since we have just moved to Fiji, and already done a lot of travelling this year plus some other committments. So, we decided to make the most during this festive season by celebrating it pacific way. We did not travel to any tourist crowded spots because then you don't get the true local feel. Instead we decided to just blend in.
While everyone was busy running away from Suva during christmas, we stayed put, and roamed around in town, watched movies, and chirstmas day had a buffet lunch at 'Raintree Lodge Resturant' which was just superb. Set in idyllic location, the resturant offers you the best of all the worlds be it food or ambience. I would recommend 'Raintree lodge' for a lazy sunday meal with jazz.

2nd Jan. 2008
Spent the 'New Years Eve' visiting 'Sigatoka Sand Dunes' near Sigatoka and clebrated New Years eve and New Years Breakfast at the 'Outriggers', both are a must visit while in Fiji. Sanddunes is Fiji's first national park and is looked after by 'National Trust of Fiji Islands', the staff is great and very friendly. Thank you to Suala Tavitani, Simon and Jason for showing us around! A walk along the wooden trail is a beautiful experience. Sigatoka Sand Dunes is a major archaelogical site, first significant clues to man's arrival in Fiji was found- a burial site in the eastern end of the park that dates his arrival to around 2,000 years ago. Also some of the potsherds are estimated to be 2,600 yrs old, finds of ceramic 'Lapita' provide an indication as to the origin of the sites former occupants, these people were the first settlers in this country. 'Outrigger' is one of the finest resorts in Fiji and we had a very good and relaxed time there on 31st dec. and 1st jan, again staff is wonderful and service excellent too. I would recommend half a day spent in Sand Dunes followed by overnight stay at Outriggers, wraps up the trip well. Will post pictures shortly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

We still miss Papua New Guinea

While we are having a good time in Fiji surrounded by natural beauty and lovely people, we still miss Papua New Guinea. People often ask me whats there in PNG, and they only have negative opinion on PNG. Agreed PNG has its fair share of problem but we had a good time there and enjoyed the place. I was working too thus very busy and quite satisfied.
In the last few months in PNG, I organised a charity trip to 'Salamua' , its an isthmus, it has a small but beautiful and pristine beach. WE managed to raise a good amount with this trip and everyone enjoyed the trip thoroughly. We hired the boat from Karen Quinn and Mike Quinn, they were very cooperative and forthcoming. Karen was enthusiastic about taking us to all the good spots! Pictures can speak more than words, so let me post a few photos:

The money raised through this trip went to the projects carried out by Soroptimist International of Lae (I was then, a member of SI Lae)

Diwali in Suva

Diwali in Suva brought back the memories from childhood. We left India in 87 and ever since we have not celebrated diwali the way we do it in India and finally we did it Indian way right here in Suva. I must have put on extra 5 kilos with all the the goodies that we have been enjoying for the whole of november.
The first diwali treat was the fundraising diwali dinner on 26th Oct. organized by 'International Women's Association', I was in the organizing committee and Ankita too helped us with the computer work as ususal. We managed to raise a good amount which will go towards the 'Light Up Village' project in Matainadoi, Vanua Levu; I am coordinating this project at IWA front and liaising with with the 'Macuata Women's Association'. Then followed Rotary Diwali dinner on 27th Oct, Atul is a rotarian and it was lovely. We then attended Fiji Hindu Association Diwali Dinner which was a fundraising activity on 3rd nov.
On 9th Nov., we invited a close Indian friend, with a few other friends from Netherlands, England, Kenya, China/ Japan and Canada while our daughter invited some 10-12 friends of hers. Ankita with her friends took charge of the barbequeue in the garden while I organized a typical Indian meal inside the house. The atmosphere in Suva was just incredible, I could not help going back to childhood memories. For our daughter, it was the first diwali in true sense , we did everything that one would do during diwali, we put ion all the efforts to make this diwali a memorable one for all our daughter especially as this was her first traditional one. We have celebrated diwali in Nairobi, Papua New Guinea and Australia too; but nothing like 'Diwali in Fiji'. Although, in Nairobi, one could buy fireworks and go to the designated areas in town to do the fireworks, in PNG we could hardly get any fireworks apart from sparklers, our daughter felt diwali more obvious in Australia as compared to Nairobi or PNG. But, one could not miss diwali in Fiji where you start hearing your neighbours doing fireworks 3-4 days prior to diwali and it con
Here in Fiji, we could easily do everything that one would do in India during diwali. So, we decided to celebrate it in a traditional way with a few exceptions.
Right from shopping to diwali preparations at home to the actual diwali night, we tried incorporate everything we could to keep it close to a traditional diwali.
It was the first time for our daughter to buy fireworks like we do in India and then do the fireworks in her own house at diwali night; made mithais; bought clay diyas in addition to electric fairy lights to light up the place at night; bought 'Ganesh-Laxmi' idol as well as a steel dish a day before diwali (which is a symbolic thing to do). So all in all, it was true diwali especially for our child!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Going is Good

I have just been busy with my charity work so could not post anything, there is plenty to write but the time.................... We had a very successful fudraising dinner on 21st september, we managed to meet our target and it was a good night. The dinner at Vineyard Palace was good for its value. I am hoping we will do the same for the diwali fundraising dinner on 26th oct for the 'Light Up' project. Two weeks back, we also said 'goodbye' to a friend, Kinji Ihara and his wife, Kiji was a Senior JICA volunteer with FVTTCPD and a very human being. Kinji and I bacame good friends as I took over coordinating 'Open Day and Fete' for the centre. It was sad to say goodbye to Kinji and his wife. Another newly made friend, Lydia Rowson who is from PNG and was in Suva with hubby and children left Suva to joing her hubby in Taiwan. Lydia too is a wonderful woman who expressed her willlingness to help out for open Day and we came good friends since then. Lydia was an IWA member too.We travelled to lautoka, the west of Viti Levu last month with a friend and he organised for all of us to visit 'Bounty Island' which was a beautiful trip. Will post some photos later. One thing I could say here for Fiji is that this is a country that has a beautiful blend of east and west. Bounty island is 30 mins boat ride from Lautoka , there are two more islands 'treasure' and 'beachcomber', we plan to go there again and do the three island trip all together once again. At the moment we are basically, just feeling the place around and will start visiting places properly again. Lautoka is the town known for sugarcane farming, the major export from Fiji. It is a small and cute looking town. All the sugar comes from here and the farmers are struggling at the moment, I just hope it will get better for the farmers.With Diwali round the corner, the whole of Suva is in festive mood, we will be celebrating Diwali properly after a long time nearly 9 yrs. In PNG, once I called ma in India to wish them 'Happy Diwali' and she told me it was yesterday, i just could not believe how we missed diwali (did not notice it on internet even, must have been very busy with work and other things), we were very few indians in Unitech so it was quite possible to miss. On the contrary, here we cannot miss a single small or big special occasion which has some importance, so I am basically making up for all the missed occassions.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Soroptimists and IWA members in Fiji

As we settle in suva, we are meeting more people and making more friends. Its a beautiful place with beautiful people.

IWA membership is thriving with members from more than 20 different nationalities. It is an excellent mix of members. Above is the photo that an Indian friend took at the IWA meeting last week. I have made many friends through IWA. It basically targets raising funds and giving the funds out to the needy organisations/ groups etc.

The photo below shows some of the Soroptimists of Fiji.

In the photo, I am standing with members from various SI clubs of Fiji. Seated in the middle wearing the 'chain of office' is the region President Saras Kewal and to her left is the SI National representative for Fiji, Vasewa Dakui and to her right is the UN Liason and Programme Convener, Suman Lata Lal. I met Soroptimists of Suva in July and then met the soroptimists from different towns in Fiji this saturday at the Region meeting held in Vineyard Palace (A Chinese resturant quite famous venue for fundraising dinners): Members present at the meeting represented Soroptimist International of Lautoka, Soroptimist International of Raki Raki, Soroptimist International of Labasa, Soroptimist International of Sigatoka and of course Soroptimist International of Suva. While I enjoy my association with 'International Women's Association', I remain Soroptimist at heart so much so that I did not want to accept any position in the committee in IWA because I want to save a major chunk of my energy and time for projects with SI of Fiji. The SI clubs in Fiji membership consists of all Fijians. It would be good to have some expatriates in the club, at the moment I am the only expat member and I intend to bring in more so that we can have an internationally diverse group. I have made some good friends here too.
The Soroptimist international is a service organisation and they do some wonderful projects all over the world and so do Soroptimists of Fiji besides fund-raising activites. And this is what I am looking forward to , to actually get involved with the local community and do some interesting and useful projects!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More on Suva

There is so much to see and do in Suva, we have hardly started. 2 weeks back we went to Sigatoka, its 2 hours drive from Suva. The drive is beautiful. We went with another family ( a dutch family), Atul was interested in seeing wind turbines, he is a renewable energy expert. The wind turbine set up is an intiative of French government. They spent more than 4 hours there. The group photo shows Raturi family with the Cloins.
On our way back, we stopped at Art Village in Pacific Harbour (45 minutes away from Suva, nearly half way between Suva and Sigatoka) for a drink. It was a day trip and we absoluetly loved it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Photos from the first project that I coordinated in Fiji

Some photos from the first project that I coordinated in Fiji. The photos were taken by Ankita at the 'Inaugral Fete and Open Day' that I coordinated for the 'Fiji Vocational and Technical Training for Persons with Disabilities', it was a huge not only a huge success in terms of the funds raised but very popular among the students too.

The final meeting with the staff and some volunteers that helped me with the project.

Students dancing and enjoying themselves with the Japanese Ambassador to Fiji, Mr. Namekawa.

No function can be complete without kava ceremony. Kava is Piper methysiticum, the roots of kava are masticated and mashed further in water to squeeze out all the juice out of it, which is considered a social drink. Below is the photo that shows kava cermony being performed in the honour of chief guest Mr. Namekawa.

Mrs. Namekawa enjoying the day, standing with her in the photo are computer teacher, my friend (the chinese lady and a volunteer) and myself.

Final moments: anouncing the raffle prizes and standing with me are the Centre Manager, Sumasafu Vilisoni and Senior JICA Volunteer (who was on a 2 year attachment with the Centre), Kinji.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

LIfe in Suva, Fiji

The very first day I went to FVTTCPD with the president of IWA and my daughter to talk to the centre manager, my daughter took some photos. I have uploaded some some of these photos here from 'Fiji Vocational and Technical Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities' (FVTTCPD) here for the readers to see what a brilliant group of people we have at FVTTCPD. They have a range of disabilities but there is no stopping for them and the work done by these students from the various sections is incredible. There are 11 different sections: cooking; sewing; offset printing and book binding; agriculture and horticulture; screen printing; art & craft; light metal works; sheltered workshop; computer centre and administration. If anyone would like to help the centre, please let me know and I can help you get in touch with them.
Life in Suva, Fiji is absolutely fantastic. If anyone gets a chance, one should not just miss it. Currently, I am busy with a fundraising dinner which is to support the 'Caregiver funds' for disabled people, I am once again with the same group of people coordinating this exercise. On the other hand, I am busy coordinating a project which is to light up a village called 'Matainadoi' in 'Vanua Levu', the appeal came from a group called 'Macuata Soqosoqo ni Marama'. Intially I was excited since it is a renewable energy project and thought we would get into the nitty gritty but realized we will be involved only to a certain extent. Nevermind, the idea of helping a village still makes me happy and satisfied. So we would be organising a fund raising dinner for this close to 'Diwali' (Hindu festival of lights). So the two exercise are keeping me busy for time being. There is lot to see and we are also getting around to do this slowly.

Iam asking all my friends and close ones to come and visit Fiji while we are here. So, we should soon be having friends/ relatives visiting us. I miss PNG every now and then, but this always happens. Right from childhood, I have moved so much and its always painful to leave friends behind. I have made some good friends here and we are still meeting more people. Its now been 3 months and we feel very much at home in Fiji!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sorry to have taken up the web space and keeping it inactive

I feel bad for not having posted on my blog for over a year. A lot has happened since. I travelled to and fro Australia a lot due to personal reasons besides work and community service and that kept me extra busy. WE spent 9 good years in PNG and decided it was time to move on. With heavy hearts we bid farewell to PNG and moved to Suva, Fiji. I am absolutely in love with Fiji, beautiful country with beautiful and warm people.
We, after much thought decided that it was time to pack bags and move on to see a new place. So when Atul got this offer from Suva, Fiji, we decided to take it against all odds and now have absolutely no regrets whatsoever. Fiji, as I said is a beautiful country and people are very friendly and warm, so we are very pleased that we decided to come here.
There is so much to see and do, we are overwhelmed! Its been 3 months since we came here, we left PNG on 18th May and arrived here on 20th May, still settling down. I resigned from my job to come here with Atul and not working here as yet. But I have kept myself very busy ever since we arrived here.
After a week in Suva, I started looking around for "Soroptimists of Suva' (there are five different Soroptimist International clubs) and different women's group that engage themselves in community work. I came across 'International Women's Association' and attended their meeting the second week, It is a nice mix of women who actively fund-raise and hand out money to different groups for some project work. In that meeting, the President announced that 'Fiji Vocational and Technical Training Centre for persons with Disabilities' (FVTTCPD)wanted IWA to look for a person who could help them coordinate their 'Open Day'. After the meeting, I asked the President if she could take me to this Centre since I was interested in fullfilling their request but before I commit I wanted to see for myself what it was like and whether it was worth it. I am very pleased that I went the IWA meeting because then I went to FVTTCPD and my heart fell out for them and I took up the challenge. I got four IWA members to assist me (they came forward and expressed their willingness for which I am so grateful to them) and all the section heads, JICA volunteers and centre manager himself. Because they wanted to use the exercise to fundraise too, I asked them to call it 'The Inaugural Fete and Open Day' and we set for the task, it was to be held on 27th July. My daughter once again helped us with flyers. She made 7 different flyers and each consists of image which is actually the work done in different sections. If you look at the 7 flyers carefully (I am attaching it here), each contains an image which is adapted from work done in different sections. It was a lot of work since I was very new to the country, I had to establish a rapport with the business houses with intention that they had to be convinced to donate, and I am very pleased we did it very well. Also the media coverage was there, the centre had a very good exposure during this time. It was a very successful event with Japanese Ambassador as the chief guest and students had a good time dancing with the Ambassador. To top it all, the centre made a handsome profit. This was a good 2 months effort.