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!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Day One

So 2012 is finally here for us in Fiji, the date appears 31st on the blog though!

1st January, 2012.

Started the morning with a cup of freshly (ground and) brewed coffee while watching news to see how well 2011 will be recapped etc etc. Al zazeera shows a clip where according to Mayan calendar 21st Dec 2012 is the end of the world?!? Should news channel convey something like that to its viewers considering there is no substantive evidence for that! Or is it journalism gimmick! Or is it to attract tourist (so says the reporter!)!

After my breakfast, I caught up with a group of senior citizen friends after a considerably long period! It was lovely to chat with them and share stories. At the same time it was sad too to hear how their children sometimes have no time for their parents and they feel neglected and ignored! I also gathered two lovely ladies, Keleti and Maria are no more, RIP Keleti and Maria. Keleti was a retired school teacher and it was always a pleasure listening to her world of wisdom in her calm manner while Maria was also a lively old woman whose presence in the room could not go unnoticed!

Got back home and thought of blogging straight away while listening to some Ethiopian Jazz and sipping away green tea!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011 and Welcome 2012

Another year passes by...what have we achieved! It is good to spread a bit of niceties around if you can. I sometimes wonder how we the human-race behave and act! I hope and wish with the new year approaching the human race will learn to be more tolerant, respectful and sincere in their action more than just words!

A few issues put me in a reflection mode:

"Netiquette" seems cliched but cannot be emphasized enough considering an ever increasing community interacting online whether it is writing emails/ online forum/ VOIP etc etc. I have no idea how one can be taught 'netiquette', this is something that simply translates from a physical to virtual world, it is just more dangerous since the reaction reaches faster as it is just a 'click' away!

On the other hand "taking a person for granted" seem to be the most common issue with the ignorant ones! Or should I say its easier to choose to be ignorant perhaps because it serves our purpose, I wonder, again...

There is this young man (a very courteous, ever smiling, energetic with a good sense of salesmanship) who I have been buying vegetables from for the last 4 years - he is a constant reminder of how our society is yet not ready to assimilate school dropouts but hardworking and talented individuals into the mainstream workforce! Solution...

Food for thought as we get ready to welcome the new year 2012...

Friday, December 02, 2011

A fine play by a group of fine team : Fine Dancing

"Fine Dancing"- Finally being staged in Suva these days. A play by a group of talented artists, choreographer, writer and director - all Pacific Islanders. An excellent home-grown production!

I went to watch it tonight and came back mesmerized once again! In a nut shell, the play revolves around this abused woman who is struggling with her emotions and finally returns to her husband. In the booklet, the director informs that when this play was staged first time in Honolulu, he was confronted by a lot of women on the 'ending' with the arguement - abused wife should never return to the abuser. After the play I was thinking what is my take on this! I am pretty sure if I watched this play 25 years back I would have said the same as women in Honolulu. But now...what is my take! One angle: the abused wife has two small children and she returns for them! Another angle: she still loves the husband- she must be out of her mind to love the abusive husband, right! Even though I am passionate about women's rights and status in the society, I still cannot just think that she should not return or she should...there is obviously more to it...children to consider, the abused woman's frame of mind, her sense of security/ insecurity, may be the love is still intact which I doubt! I don't know and I am still thinking...

Overall, it was a fabulous show - the execution was simply brilliant, what better way to enjoy friday evening, it was worth the wait!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The beautiful coral coast of Fiji

A 3-day meeting in Naviti Resort last week once again gave me the chance to connect with the Pacific Ocean. Every morning a one-hour brisk walk along the coral coast beach not only helped me to keep up with my fitness regime and reflect but also appreciate the abundance of natural beauty that Fiji has to offer!

We must have driven over 50 times along the Queens road in the last four years, each time I learn something new. This time round, a colleague gave an insight into the cultural norms and communities/ villages on the Queens road. On the other hand meal-time conversations were equally enlightening - got acquainted with some of the defining rules of marriage in Fijian culture and a few terms such as 'vuda' means land; 'viseisei' literally means 'spread out' but according to a senior colleague it is composed of two words 'visei' means 'to fight' and 'sei' means 'spread/ disperse'. So I would try to interpret the meaning as 'to conquer the land and spread the community further on the land'. This is the beauty of our lifestyle of working in different places - learn something new everyday!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

One small Step towards 'Equity and Education'

Informal education can be very effective and interesting is well expressed in the photos here. SI Suva organised a workshop in the Laqere settlement area with around 25 women. We had two main session - one on Health (concentrated on HIV Aids through a woman's perspective) and another one on Microfinance. The attention span of this group of women was amazing - one of the most eager bunch of learners I have come across. Lots of tears, lots of laughter, lots of information and lots of question in just a 2-hour session - It was an extremely satisfying experience. Like I said during my talk on 'Insight into SI' that one should engage in community work because it gives you immense happiness and you feel your time and energy well spent! Give it a try and experience the joy of community service!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

OCAPS Performance Space and the Culture dose!

Oceanic Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies inaugurated its refurbished Performance Space yesterday (15th Oct, 2011), the place looks very nice. I am sure that this performance space will be very well utilized and it will be a feast of performing arts for the lovers of arts and culture. A short cultural programme yesterday was an indicator of whats ahead for Suva folks. I am still mesmerized with all the music and dance we experienced yesterday. Allan Alo (Ta'aroa, Producer) and yet another graceful dancer Peter Espirito captured our undivided attention and left us mesmerized for the rest of the evening. Iglese Ete's (choirmaster from NZ for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) voice filled the evening with harmony and his choir (Pasifika Voices) was simply beautiful. The Oceania dance group, one of my favourite in Fiji once again performed extremely well. For now, I have had my culture dose that will keep me going for a while. I look forward to 'Fine Dancing' which will be staged from 1-3rd Dec and 8th-10th Dec. at the OCAPS Performance Space!!!

Have had unsuccessful attempt of trying to upload a video of dance performance by Allan and Peter but will keep trying, so keep a watch!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Belated Happy International Literacy Day

A belated Happy International Literacy Day (8th Sept)! And I must mention how Soroptimists in Suva marked it!

One of the slides from the Workshop on 'Stress Management and Mental Illness'

Stationary Items for donation

Yesterday (8th Sept.) was 'International Literacy Day'. With fellow Soroptimists in Suva, we organised a workshop for teachers in one of the highschools on 'Stress Management and Mental Illness' on 5th Sept. It was a satisfying experience as teachers indicated that this was a much needed exercise. And then on 8th Sept, we donated stationary items to another primary school which caters to students from nearby settlement area mainly. We also gave scholarship to three deserving students - this will now be an annual exercise for Suva Soroptimists.

And then last night I watched a TED talk and came across this quote while watching a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on Learning Revolution.

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
— Abraham Lincoln

Food for thought...

And for me it was a double dose of niceties in a week!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Humbled by the work this technical committee does!

Hard working and lively bunch - The Technical Committee, RPWL
(From left to right are Etika, John, Diana, Amar, Navneet, Warren, Atul, Rashmi in this photo)

Rotary Pacific Water for Life is doing a great job by providing access to clean and safe water to the needy rural communities in Fiji. The technical committee meets once a month to discuss various apsects of each project! I had an opportunity to sit at one of the technical committee meetings and felt humbled by their passion, work and dedication. The enormous time and effort that goes into these projects is truly remarkable. This post is dedicated to the technical committee members - Thank You for doing this meaningful project.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Namosi Highlands - A beauty!

All in one go - clouds, mountains, trees and the sea at a distance - Wish I had a better camera!

Loved this lone rockie!

The scenic drive!

We drove up to a village in Namosi highlands (Viti Levu, Fiji) early this month. It was a lovely and picturesque ride, a pity my small camera cannot do justice to the scenery and neither are my photographic skills any good which could have otherwise helped a little bit. Nevertheless, here are a few photos of some breathtaking views, wonder if I have captured even one tenth of the visual treat that I experienced!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pacific Ballet of Creation

'Ta'aroa' : Atul trying to capture the ambiance of the evening with his Samsung Corby 3650

The Waiting: Atul and ma 'waiting' in the balcony of 'Suva Civic Centre' - lovely Pacific Ocean with the sun-setting

One of the most enjoyable evenings of my life was watching the Pacific Ballet of Creation - 'Ta'aroa'. My mum is currently visiting us here in Fiji and she has a huge interest in performing arts, so what better introduction to Pacific art and culture than this ballet! On 14th April we went to watch this production by Allan Alo, a very talented Samoan artist who has been working and living in Fiji for many many years. Allan must be one of the most gracious and beautiful dancer I have seen in my life and I have enjoyed all his performances and productions. This was Allan's last production in Fiji and I did not want to miss the opportunity! I do not think words can describe this experience but I must treasure it here.

'Ta'aroa' was based on ancient Polynesian mythologies from Tahiti, Samoa and Maori. The production had the best from all the fields contributing - so what do you expect - A most unique and sensational production! Right from the concept to direction to music/live drums/ string ensemble and dance/ choreography to finale' - everything was just so incredibly beautiful. It was an everlasting cultural experience for Atul, mum and I. It is experiences like this that reaffirm, "I am blessed". Thank you to all the Pacific Island Countries and its people for all these experiences that we are able to have while we are in this part of the world!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My two little friends

Sometimes we meet and a bond forms just like that! Simply Beautiful! I met two young boys around 8-10 yrs old when I was visiting a settlement just outside Suva. I started conversation with them by asking their names - Nooki and Vilimoni, they said (and I wrote the names on my palm) and we talked for a while. Finally time to say goodbye - 'Bye Nooki and Vilimoni' I said making sure I remember their names and showed them my palm. By now we had established the bond. They quickly took pen from my hand and wrote their names 'Luke and Filimoni!'

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where is the Community Spirit!

Where is the community spirit?

If one has a brilliant idea for a community project, is it important we look for recognition/
hierarchy or the bigger picture! I guess each one has its place but what matters is which one overpowers the other or should all elements gel in to find a balance itself. That would be ideally the best solution. Why am I talking about this? Any particular reason or there is none...Just trying to reason out and make sure that I am in sink with the reality...

When we say I do not care , is it that I really do not care. Or is it because I care so much that I want to say I do not care to make sure I do care for other entities and perhaps I wish I could care for this one too...

A children's rhyme or is it really?!?
I wish I had a little red box to put the bad girls and boys in....
Now why would we want our kids to learn that bad girls and boys should be put in a little red box...is it right or perhaps it is...perhaps we are training the little minds that the place for bad girls and boys is not within the society...but what if this bad girl or boy is not really bad and has some problem...so why not say
I wish I had a little red net to save the bad one from drowning in...
Perhaps something along those lines, just something more positive, thats all!

A culmination of series of events led to the post...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another natural disaster. Lessons learnt?

While people are still trying to bring their lives together in Christchurch (New Zealand), an earthquake recording 8.9 on Richter scale hit Japan on friday, 11th March, 2011 followed by devastatingly terrible tsunami that not only hit Japan but reached all the way to San Francisco, California...Yes, Fiji too was on alert along with more than 20 countries. Friends in Japan described their experience and fear through various social networks, this was really heartbreaking! Nature seems to be testing our patience but it is very very sad. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who have been affected by this twin disaster in Japan and the ripple effect of tsunami in other countries.

And if that was not enough the cooling systems in the nuclear reactors in Fukushima goes kaput..Solution - Release steam slowly (which comprises radioactive vapours) in order to bring the pressure down and this would technically save the reactor from exploding...so they said! Few hours later, explosion in one nuclear reactor... so how and why did that happen? What does it matter! But what matters is that already a number of people have been confirmed to have absorbed radioactive radiation and I shudder to think 'how many more...' And with this , electricity is also going to be in short supply. 55 Nuclear Power plants in Japan must have generated a huge amount of electricity so far but then how do we deal with it when there is a problem!
On the other side of the world, Germans were protesting in Stuttgart against extending the life of its nuclear reactor; with the news of nuclear reactor chaos in Fukushima, many more people joined the protest in Germany! Well they expressed their views loud and clear. Some 60000 people formed the human chain clearly indicating they meant business.

Have we learnt any lesson? I wonder! I have never been a great fan of nuclear energy but events like this compel you to express your views.

Food for thought- At least something positive has to come out of all this tragedy, why can't all Governments concentrate on Renewable Energy - solar or wind or geothermal which is much more cleaner and safer than nuclear! I wish and hope they would.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

International Womens Day Centenary - 8th March 2011

To all you wonderful Women out there ,

Happy International Women's Day!

Together, We Can Make a Difference!!

Cheers to Women Power!!!

As we celebrate 100 years of IWD, I think of all those women who made this possible and dedicate this blog to them. Listening to a talk on Rosa Luxemburg, on BBC radio while driving to University yesterday (8th March), I could not help think how fortunate we are to have come such a long! And then, I stumbled upon what I would consider an over-confident response to IWD by a person who commented and questioned on web, "if the women's day celebration should now be a thing of past". I certainly do not think so! We have come a long way no doubt but we do have to cover many more miles...
Sharing with readers how some of my friends celebrated IWD and their thoughts/ reflections from around the world:

"...Clubs in Wales South ran an exhibition about 'Wonderful Welsh Women' and show-cased sorop projects from our clubs. We also held a bridge event there..."

"...We had a wonderful speaker from Botswana at the IWD Breakfast here yesterday..."


"...Greetings and Best wishes on this Women's International Day - 'Educate a Boy and you educate an individual; educate girl and you educate a community'(African proverb)..."

"...We ARE making a difference..."

Indeed, we ARE making a difference...

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saturday of Service

For Soroptimists all over the world, the first Saturday of March every year is dedicated to provide service to any one community/ institution/ organisation depending on the need. A noble cause indeed. I have been a soroptimist since 1999 and have been involved in the community work even before that. But the kick you get by the service provided on the SOS day is unparalleled! It personally gives me great joy and satisfaction to realize thousands and thousands of women all over the world are working towards one 'call'. As the SI Suva member and the program director, our club carried out the task of cleaning the walls of the passage to 'Children's Ward' at the 'Colonial Memorial Hospital' in Suva despite the low membership (we are facing this year). Our membership has reduced to half for various reasons and it is now a huge challenge to increase numbers not just in our club the rest of the six clubs in the country. We then cut the cake to celebrate the 'International Womens' Day' in advance with the nurse and other medical staff from the CWM. It was time well spent!

More on 'what', 'when', 'where', 'how' and 'why' on the Saturday of Service for all soroptimists can be found on the link below

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A project is budding

I have been thinking of natural disasters and human lives and how can it be helped each time there is a disaster. Watching these disasters on TV can be depressing be it floods in Labasa (Fiji), cyclone/ floods in North Queensland, Sri Lanka, the annual floods in Bangladesh or earthquakes in South America to the most recent one in New Zealand. Help comes in and a lot of help comes from other countries and organisations like Soroptimist International, Rotary International etc. which is great! Sitting here (faraway), I often wonder how can we help! I strongly believe and encourage that everyone should donate no matter how small your donation, it all adds up as well as reaffirms solidarity amongst human beings!However, each time a disaster hits, I sit back and wonder is there something substantial that can be done...we may have just found the answer together with my daughter. We had a good skype conversation yesterday (23rd feb) and a project is budding! Later in the evening, discussed it with Atul, he liked it too. What better day than 23rd February (Rotary International 106th Anniversary) to conceive the idea! Hopefully in 2 months time, I should be able to post something substantial on this blog regarding this project, here is hoping. Keeping fingers crossed.
P.S. Posted on 24th Feb, 2011

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Reguregu and meeting Lockie

Yeterday, I attended a 'reguregu' (an offering made to the grieving family usually with mats, tapa, yaqona commonly known as kava etc.) with some friends. The deceased was a Fijian man married to a Papua New Guinean woman and thus my connection to the 'reguregu'. This is second 'reguregu' I have attended in the last one month and emotions are running high. The ceremony sucks you in the cultural traditions and it is an experience that just cannot be described in words. As I came out with my friends and try to start my car, the car makes a 'click' and thats it. So we decide to jump start. Amidst all our talking and moving of cars, I see a pair of shiny eyes and a tiny structure looking at everything with a sort of expression, "Yes, this is what you need to do!" We pull out the jumpers and we hear "positive to positive and negative to negative". We all turn back and here is this little boy tiptoeing and looking inside the engine looks back at all us and smiles, we all smile back. I asked him his name and what he wanted to do when grew up, he told me he wanted to be a mechanic. And I said why not an 'engineer' and he said yes , ok. We talked for a short while with my usual rant of 'Work hard and utilise your time well'. And then he asked me will I come for the funeral on saturday, I looked back at him and just wanted to give him a big hug. Instead I said, 'Go home Lockie, its getting late now and remember what we talked about, engineer not a mechanic, just work hard and you will get there' and waved, he waved back. And we drove off. All the way back, my friend and I were discussing Lockie. There was just something about Lockie that I cannot forget and had to mention it here and write something today. Now I wonder whether he will have money to study till university or he will just stop after school and fulfill his dream of "I want to be a mechanic", I can vouch for those twinkling eyes that Lockie will make a brilliant mechanic. There are so many Lockies in the world and I just hope they get all the help they can. If you can help a child by sponsoring for his or her education, do that.