Parting Remarks

Now that I’m back in Sydney it’s probably time for me to provide some closing thoughts on one of the most unique years of my life. Probably the most underrated change in me this year was that for some unknown reason I started introducing myself as Andrew rather than Hunt. I don’t even know why this happened, but now its got out of hand and I have two sets of people that call me different things. It’s very confusing. It seems trivial, yet names are so important I wanted to give it prime position in the first paragraph, right above all my trivial personal achievements which are as follows:

I played in the 2nd best basketbal team in Fiji
… and people paid to watch me play
I made a coffee for someone and they liked it so much they hugged me
I didn’t dance on the poles at O’Reilly’s
I started a book club
I played my first music gig… for a bunch of deaf kids… in a mumu
I learned enough Fijian to understand when people are making jokes about me
I accumulated more “one that got away” fishing stories in one year here, than in a lifetime of fishing in Australia.
I killed approximately 2500 mosquitoes, an average of nearly 7 per day
I wrote a Fijian children’s book
I got stranded on a breakwall at high tide in the dark and rowed a canoe to safety with a plank of wood
I won my first international soccer cap when my team took on the Tuvalu national side coached by one Foppe De Haan of EUFA champions league fame (seriously, check out his wikipedia page)
I maintained a regular blog posting on average better than once every two weeks
I am now an expert in picking out which drinking coconut to buy
I purchased my first tailor made shirt for the princely sum of $20AUD

OK you can stop skimming now. That was mainly for my own benefit when I read back over these blogs in a few years to feel good about myself.

My most significant work achievement was either helping my friend Shelly raise enough money for a man to buy building materials and make himself a house, or winning a grant for my organisation to buy two trucks so they can reach remote places reliably for income generation projects. Both of those I am still quite proud of. My biggest regret was that at times I think I acted like more of a jerk than I really am. I think I came across quite self-centered, and unfortunately this blog is doing little to change that impression, but since being back a couple of days I am confident it’s a temporary affliction.

Before coming to Fiji, I set myself a few simple goals that I wanted to achieve while I was here:

1. Learn Fijian
2. Get fit
3. Get decent at guitar
4. Make someone cry when I left

The first three goals were self-improvement related and the final goal was to make sure I’d made a difference in someone’s life. I couldn’t think of a better litmus test for that, if anyone has some ideas I’d love to hear them. I purposely tried not to publish the goals to make sure if I failed miserably I wouldn’t have smart ass emails and comments, but I think overall I did ok. Here is my self assessed Fijian goals report card:

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Subject: Learn Fijian
Grade: A-
Comments: Andrew got to the stage where he could have a decent chat if the person was willing to repeat themselves a few times. With a little more study Andrew probably could have been comfortable in general conversation. There are always words popping up that he don’t know, but what can I say about Andrew other than “iko sa susu madrai”?

Subject: Get Fit
Grade: A
Comments: This is Andrew’s most successful goal. He managed to start going to the gym before work 3 times a week and played 2 games of full field soccer too. He also did some 5km runs. It’s all very uncharacteristic. I blame fitocracy personally, because Andrew had little chance of pumping any irons at all if it didn’t get him points.

Subject: Get decent at guitar
Grade: B
Comments: Andrew did well at the start but got lazy. A lot of times he lacked effort and neglected private practice in favour of television. His guitar improved a lot due to his regular weekly sessions with Steve and the rest of SGH, but he lacked purpose and determination. Also his handwriting is atrocious.

Subject: Make someone cry
Grade: B+
Comments: Andrew made a few people at work cried, but he cried more than them.

*** End of report ***
————————————————————————————————–

So I guess this is moce mada for now. I have no intentions to keep the blog going at home, but I will try and update it when I make subsequent trips to Fiji. If you are reading this for the first time, the rest of the blog actually has some pretty good information on Fiji and Suva life, culutre and people. It also has a killer roti recipe just down below this.

Bye!

Roti – Do it for the Hits.

Recently it was brought to my attention that there are a lot of people using the internet in India. This is something I had previously overlooked in my quest to get hits for my blog (and subsequently, become an internet e-celebrity). I have decided to remedy this oversight immediately by including more Indian themed content, starting with this helpful recipe on how to make one of the staples of Indian cuisine, the roti. This recipe was put together from a variety of sources, many of whom have been waking up at 6am to make roti for their family every day since before I was born, so if you try it, and it doesn’t come out right, you might need a little more practice. JI HAAAA!



HUNT’S PLAGIARISED ROTI RECIPE

Ingredients:
Flour (around 250g + a bit extra for dusting)
Water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
ghee or butter

You will need:
Fists for pounding
A rolling pin
A cutting board
A big bowl
Some tunes
A roti pan (or a flat frypan but it isn’t as good)
Some grease proof paper

Method:
1. Put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix well.


2. Add oil and stir through. Make sure the delicious oily globules are evenly spread. I like to pretend at this point that I am Harry Potter or Hermione Granger mixing a brew in potions class for that jerk Professor Snape.


3. Your brew should look as such before you even think of adding water, Mr Potter.


4. Next, add water slowly, yeaaaah, real slow like.


5. Well might you say “well then how shall I stir it?” to which I would answer: “With a spoon you shall good sir, with a spoon”. Add the water slowly, stir a bit, add more, stir a bit until it looks like there are no dry white floury bits.


6. Your dough should now look like this. If it doesn’t you should start again and this time try not to fail as much, or it’ll be more than 10 points from gryffindor that you have to worry about.


7. Now for the fun part; take your fists of fury and pound the dough like it claimed to have dated your sister and then dumped said sister for her BFF.


8. Heat the roti pan and start rolling your roti. Sprinkle the crap out of everything with flour first. Cutting board, rolling pin, hands, invisible cape… everything. Then break off a bit of dough and make an oval shaped cake. Roll the cake out slowly, spinning it every time you roll. Flip it occasionally. There is no easy way of learning this other than practice.


9. Put the roti on the pan and while it cooks go and roll another one. Flip it after it starts to turn translucent.


10. If you are awesome your roti should rise. If you are not awesome, don’t despair, you can hang out with, or marry someone who is awesome and they will help you to be awesome by osmosis. It’s a scientific fact. Many white papers have been written on the subject and several conventions have been held in European cities with classy sounding names like Geneva and Copenhagen and Hamburger.


11. After you have flipped your roti, and it puffs up, dab some butter or ghee on the thing and press down the bits that puff up. You can use the grease proof paper for the dabbing. After you have dabbed, flip and dab a second time.


12. Repeat several times until you have a stack of roti like this. If you make this recipe, please let me know how it goes and take a picture of the finshed product!


COMMON MISTAKES/FAQ:
Q. My Roti are really crispy! Why do I suck so much?
A. You didn’t follow the recipe fool.

Q. My Roti are oddly shaped! Should I quit and become a barber?
A. No! Hold an Australian themed Roti party instead!

Q. My dog ate my roti!
A. That old bit? 10 points from Gryffindor.

Q. Wassap bro! Woooow! Great blog man! Would organic wholemeal flour be gnarly in this recipe or what?
A. Only if you want it to no longer be enjoyable to eat.

Q. Do you do catering for functions and weddings?
A. No.

Hey buddy guy! You sorta look like this guy I know!

The human compulsion to organise and categorise elements of day-to-day life means that we like to find things that are similar to other things. In my day to day life I step this up a notch and rank everything. I have a top 5 for a lot of things that are barely important enough for most people to discuss. This is a post for another day, but just as an example, my top 3 fish to eat are without a doubt: Coral Trout, Red Emperor and Mahimahi (this is of course subject to change should I try something more delicious in the future).

This need for categorisation and order runs into a stumbling block when it comes to people. This is why there are so many online personality tests that we are constantly bombarded with on facebook and other internetty type places. I recently completed a very-slightly-hippie-themed test called “The Animal in You” (http://www.animalinyou.com/test.php for those playing at home, please do the test and leave your results in the comments section). After a grueling session of about 8 multiple choice questions I was informed I am a Wild Dog. The description was actually fairly accurate. It is difficult to capture and categorise every element of a personality though, because as people we are really diverse. Every person has a set of different little nuances that make them unique from others that might be otherwise similar.

This, you will be relieved to know, finally brings me to the point of the blog post: visual categorisation. Even though there are billions of people on the planet, for the most part we all look different, but this diversity is a chaotic rebel that sits at odds with our need for categorisation. Due to our enlightened age of racial tolerence we can’t just categorise people’s looks solely by race (and nor should we) so instead of labels, we get all comparative. People are always telling other people who they remind each other of. Why? Why for we do this to each other? Well kids, it’s because it makes us feel like everything is under control. It’s also fun when you are on a bus. In the last couple of years I have been getting hit with this a lot, and these comparisons range from plausible to hilarious. So please, allow me to share with you now my top 5 doppelgangers in order of descending frequency. Well, I did warn you that I like to rank things…

#1 My Brother

The obvious choice, and the only lookalike I have where the possibility of twinship is invoked. My mother adamantly denies that we look anything alike, maybe because this is how she stills sees us. We’ve been asked if we were twins by Fijians, Whities and Africans. The Africans also thought Kyle might be our younger brother which is very astute of them. They obviously did their background research on facebook.


#2 Jesus

A friend of mine at work thinks I look like the actor who plays the main guy in passion of the Christ, and Connie’s Nonna and Aunties all agree I look a lot like Jesus. This has recently been compounded by the growing of my hair and the trimming of my beard. One Easter I got to wear a loin cloth in church because I was playing the part of Jesus in the Easter Sunday play. I had to suck it in pretty hard though when they were putting me on the cross because I had a bad case of IT belly. The soundtrack to this event was a song from Radiohead’s OK computer. It was the funnest and best church drama ever.


#3 “My friend from WA”

I am convinced one of my ancestors had some illegitimate children in the West, because it is uncanny how often people talk about some distant friend of theirs in Western Australia that I remind them of. Statistically speaking the state of choice should be Victoria, which would be really upsetting, or Queensland which I guess would be cool. I’m not really sure what to think about WA. I guess some cool bands are from there.


#4 Seth Rogen

This is one I don’t see, but it has been common enough that there must be something to it. It was first started by some people I only knew on the internet. Perhaps they were trying to insult me? I’m not sure if it is an insult or not.


#5 Zach Galifianakis

I’m sure this last one is an insult. I tell myself it’s just the beard they are seeing so that I don’t cry myself to sleep at night. I suppose the case for the affirmative is best made when I have slightly crazy hair and a big beard. Today is just a crazy hair day, but you can use your imagination.


Honorable mentions: Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway’, Some guy from heartbreak high (younger days)



So there’s the list. What do you think? Is it accurate? Who are your doppelgangers? What do you say to someone who compares you to a famous face that looks like it got a bit of a whupping from the ugly stick? Is this all vanity and insanity? Comment/like/link OK?

Kaivalagi in Paradise: An Immersive Experience of Fiji

Hello, and welcome to this very special and wonderful experience. Through the wonders of modern technology we are about to take you on a magical journey to the heart of Fiji without you ever leaving your chair. Take a few moments to breathe and relax your body. When you are ready you may click below to begin. Turn your speakers on or put your headphones in, relax and be transported to the tropical islands of Fiji…

click

If you are viewing this on an iphone, you might be disappointed.

Life, It’s Not All Hammocks and Cocktails.

As you may know, I’m spending this year living in Suva, Fiji volunteering at an NGO. The transition from my home town of Sydney to my new home in Suva has been quite smooth. The limit of my displacement has felt more like moving interstate than moving countries. Suva is the largest city in the south pacific, and in day-to-day life I have a lot less comforts than home, but I could fool myself into thinking I have moved to Townsville (This is easier because I’ve only been as far north as Gladstone).

Fiji is a country that is doing pretty well in a few of the really important MDGs (Millenium Development Goals), Suva especially so. Most people have access to food and shelter, as well as some level of education. There isn’t any malaria and a few of the things to do with HIV and kids etc. are better than some other places people go to help out. Fiji is not Australia though. Life here can be difficult for volunteers and especially the people that live here. The work people are doing in Fiji is based around water and sanitation, gender equality, Non-communicable diseases and Infrastructure. This is a simplistic summary of why people come to Fiji to volunteer.

The volunteer experience in Fiji is varied depending on who you are and your role. I am lucky because my personality fits in well with the Fijian culture and values. They appreciate my laid back style and my focus on relationships, and I’m always up for a bowl of kava, or at least to sit around the bowl while everyone else drinks. Many people working here who are wonderful motivated people can get stuck in the wrong role and find that people are actively working against the stuff they are trying to do to help Fiji. If I was in a place where my natural tendencies were contrary to the culture of the workplace I think it would be very draining to try to operate. This is something many volunteers have to face every day. I feel fortunate to be in a place where I mesh well with my boss and colleagues, and try to support people who are struggling with these issues as it can be hard to deal with day after day.

Socially, Suva provides a bit of a haven from anyone suffering from professional struggles. Volunteers leave behind their social support structures and come to an unknown place with strangers, but socially Suva has quite a big expat population so the fall is cushioned, and personally I have some great friends here. The psychology of this is cyclical for most people. There are weeks when home is really all you are thinking about, and that can get very depressing and demotivating. This happens about once every three months. Then there are times when you are walking down the street with some wonderful friends from about seven different countries and it feels like a nice dream. Regular reality is somewhere in between the two, and different people have different experiences. Some people get so well integrated they stay longer, and others find it very difficult to integrate. It’s a similar social change to say… starting high school.

In the city we experience only a few developing world problems. The water goes off sometimes for a few days, usually just after you have exercised yourself into a sweaty mess, and we all seem to get sick more often than back home. There are random outbreaks of diseases like typhoid and one person even got parasitic brain worms. The city is fairly sheltered though. When you go to rural areas for work, the conditions change drastically. The villagers go to a lot of effort to try to give you every comfort you would have in the city but even for the drastically naive it is easy to see there are needs that need to be met. Most people in Fiji wear second hand clothes from Australia, and the condition of these clothes in rural areas is low. Some villages you have to walk for a couple of kilometers to collect fresh water, and many places don’t have power except for a few hours by generator. Cyclones and flooding are common and hit hard because the houses aren’t always built to be disaster proof. The standard of living varies village to village but healthcare, education and facilities are sporadic. These are also some of the most beautiful places in Fiji, absolute pockets of natural beauty and wonderful people. Suva city actually has the worst weather in Fiji. It’s a peninsula and catches all the rain. It rains in Suva most days, whereas almost everywhere else there is a beautiful mix of rain and sunshine.

There are many wonderful things about my life in Fiji, the people and I get on well, everywhere is close to the ocean, there are some cheap and beautiful backpacker places to go for a weekend away when Suva becomes a bit too crazy or rainy and it’s always warm. This year has still been challenging for me though, it would definitely have been safer and easier to stay in Sydney. Fijians have taught me well about Fiji, and how it is both a beautiful, amazing place and a developing country in need of love, prayers and support. I hope I have conveyed those lessons accurately to you in this blog, and as I get closer to finishing up my assignment here, thanks for the support you have shown Connie and I while we have been away. It has been important to us especially when life is in a difficult period devoid of hammocks and cocktails.

Loloma!