Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Solomon Star (newspaper)

Having travelled around the world it fascinates me what is considered ‘news worthy’. And how the media is utilised. So here are some snippets from the Solomon Star newspaper. The majority of the Christmas editions were dedicated for businesses, government departments and non-governmental organisations to write Christmas and New Year blessings.

International news includes NZ woman with text message thumb, Japan to build elderly-friendly jails and stolen boomerang comes back.

Advertising uncovers a goldmine of information. No fashion or clothes appear anywhere, but new and used vehicles dominate.

Lists of names appear announcing students with successful schooling qualifications to listing people’s job interview times with the lucky candidate identified in a following edition. Private views are commonly expressed from anonymous authors expressing concern about the corruption of managers of the national soccer team and identifying their own preferred players, to a previously convicted criminal writing a half a page article to defend his reputation when arrested by police and later released without charge.

Public notices also appear from matters of administer the estate of the deceased, hurricane warnings to timetables of sports leagues and entertainment clubs.

‘Street talk’ is a column which asks the option of different members of the public (photos included). The following is a 12-13 year old boy’s comment on –
How about the soccer riots?
“I think that in future soccer tournaments, they should have shared it to the provinces. This is because of neutrality. There are many soccer fans in the provinces that would like to see quality soccer. Therefore, by decentralising soccer to the other parts of the country, I hope that we will have the chance of avoiding riots.” Mmm . . . those are definitely the words of a preadolescent male!

Delightful quote:
“The southern provinces [of the Solomon Islands] are no longer a threat to cyclone Funa.”

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Solomon Sandwich

Mmm feeling like a sandwich you go to the fridge. Oh dear there’s no more bread. At this point many may turn back and make do with lunching on pineapple, pawpaw and watermelon. But if not . . . the next option would be to check out the hot bread shop. Luckily for us we can look out our bathroom window to see it’s red door which confirms what we already assumed – it’s closed (just like the last 2 months).
Only those craving for bread (and Auki AVI volunteers) would continue on to the next stage . . . making the bread. Equipped with bread recipe (starting to become second nature) the process starts. Shifting the flour is a necessary inclusion as it captures the weevils, bugs and occasional string. Even with this slight movement sweat rolls down your face. Depending on if your recipe requires milk powder or milk you will be making up the milk as more often than not, it too has run out. As the geckos chuckle from their vantage point oil is substituted for butter, extra yeast added for bread improver and you circumnavigate the rice in the salt which is trying to absorb the moisture from the air. Mixing completed, the bread is left to rise. 1½ hours later into the oven. Technical hitches threaten in the form of ovens that only do one temperature, the size of oven so small that the top of the bread may stick to the grill and gas that may run out at any time.

You sniff the air. . . aaaaah scent from heaven! And Volia!! 3 hours later your sandwich! It sure tastes great after all that work.

Monday, 14 January 2008

looking through the window

Looking through ‘the windows’ during “Playschool” brings back memories of anticipation and excitement. And now in our new house we have our own Solomon magic window. And from our window what can we see . . .
Canoes surfing on the reef.
A fight starting at the market place.
If the hot bread shop is open!
The fire engines lights flashing in it’s stop by the police station.
A man dressed in black cowboy hat, black with gold glitter cowboy shirt and trousers with sandals.
And a view worth millions!!!
So from our picture what can you see . . .

The view from Rob & Lara's over Auki town. A storm hits the Florida Islands in the distance, and Lilisiana fishing village settles down for the night...
The same storm as seen from Steve & Kel's

Lilisiana fishing village from Rob & Lara's deck

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

January 8th, 2008

I awoke this morning very reluctant to partake in this particular Wednesday. I spent three hours last night proofreading Lara’s report on the Community Based Rehabilitation service, and despite being brain-addlingly tired at almost 11.30pm when I went to bed, was unable to sleep. From somewhere in town (although even through ear plugs it could have been next door) blared a country music riff that would play no more than twelve bars, then pause and loop back to the start. The canine choir were well warmed up, and filling in the gaps. The dread of another working day with only me bothering to turn up for the required hours was heavy. More than a few frustrated words about my apathetic colleagues escaped as I limped my way out of bed in the morning.

It was same old, same old. I was there at 8am. The boss turned up (for the second time this year) a quarter after nine, and the other physio only a few minutes prior to him. They wandered off to different corners of the hospital to chat. I went to see patients on the ward. Blah blah blah, poor me, so it went on.

By lunchtime I was threatening to leave early, to make up for the extra time I had put in the previous day. Lara was very encouraging of this, but didn’t stay to hold me to my promise. I ended up staying longer than I should because the boss never came back from whatever mystery mission he disappeared to go undertake at 11.30am. Instead, I stayed and kept doing all of his work (as I have been for the last month, due to his lack of attendance, grrrr), but the appreciative patients were not my only reward.

Billy, the hospital secretary came by the department just as I had finished with what turned out to be my last available patient. He came bearing stationery supplies (even these are exciting at Kilu’ufi Hospital, the budget is so strained), a white envelope, a small pink card, and a flat cardboard parcel. A quick glimpse at the latter showed it to be a book from amazon.com, the lack of which Lara lamented that very morning! The envelope bore some very familiar handwriting, and unfamiliar stamp and postmark with a US address. Billy watched me get teary at the sight of this, and so of course I had to explain it was from my big sister, Erika, who left for New York just before we arrived in the Solomons. (He was, I’ll have you know, very impressed to hear about her PhD and spectacular intellect, and how she is single-handedly responsible for the astronomic growth of her company in America. That’s pretty accurate, I would say.) The pink card was to allow us to collect, for just $18 (why??), THREE parcels at the Auki Post Office!!!

Needless to say, it was a very hurried bike ride home to summon Steve and go to pick up the packages. Thank you so, so much to our wonderful family for transforming my day! Steve’s mum, Pat, was responsible for two of the parcels, and Steve’s sister Leanne sent the very promising looking (i.e. large and it rattles) third box. (My mum is also worthy of a mention, as we received a big envelope from her yesterday.) They’re not really even for me (well, I hear some things are), but I don’t care, the excitement is just as great. We are waiting until after dinner and a much needed shower to open them.

This was a rather unnecessarily detailed way of saying that we appreciate enormously the contact we receive from our friends and family at home. We get excited over e-mails, no matter how short. We get excited over the Christmas cards that have just started to arrive (thanks Sally and Anna!). The ultimate, of course, are the wondrous possibilities contained in a box. Some of the realities of working in this culture are really hitting home at the moment, but we are so encouraged to receive thoughts, words and goodies from home. Thank you all.

Cheers, Kel

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Sartorial Splendour in the Solomons

The clothing situation is an interesting one here. The vast majority of what is on offer comes from good people like yourselves who send cast-offs to charity. Bales of clothing arrive weekly, and in Honiara, at least amongst the Westerners, it is a battle involving sharply thrust elbows, to get the pick of the bunch. I am yet to experience this soothing consumer experience, and plan to delay it as long as possible.

The Westerners, of course, are fairly deliberate in their combinations of pattern, style and colour. The Solomon Islanders take a different approach, which is fair enough given that most own about as many items as a Westerner would wear in a day. All the same, we have observed some outfits worthy of mention, and more than a few T-shirt slogans that have induced mild horror.

You can spot the T-shirts that were Christmas presents that people were quick to slip in the bottom of the big pink plastic bag (for a Tuesday pick-up, or at least that's what happens in NZ). These are the T-shirts that are in mint condition, bearing slogans such as “F.B.I – Female Body Inspector”, anything describing the wearer as a b@%#h, a dumb blonde (invariably on a very dark and very brunette girl!) or “over the hill”. It is a little shocking to see these on Solomon Islanders (given the completely counter-cultural nature of these slogans), until you realise that they won't have understood what the words mean. Then it just hits home how crass Western society can be.

It is not unusual to see boys, even adolescent ones, in mainly pink Disney T-shirts bearing such manly icons as Snow White and Cinderella. Indeed, the appearance of quite a few otherwise tough-looking cookies is softened by their feminine shirts. Up at Dukwasi, I desperately wanted to photograph, but felt it was mean to do so, a twenty-something man who looked mostly like a cool sort of guy. He had his chin-length hair braided in perfect sharp rows, a short goatee, wore a green soccer shirt and baggy jeans – all familiar so far, right? The sight of him, however, tenderly holding a little girl (his daughter, I presume), and wearing a crown woven from coconut palm leaves complete with swishy leafy bits and pink orchids, was just too sweet for words.

You and I might be hesitant to combine florals with spots, or wear clashing stripes. Not so here, these are a commonplace sighting, even all three on one person. Another Dukwasi pearler was an elderly lady sitting in church, wearing a white broderie anglaise nightdress backwards, over a black-and-grey zebra stripe crepe skirt. It sounds insane. It looks bizarre, but really, it fulfils a lot of the comfort and modesty requirements. The humble nightie was sleeved (typical, especially in older women), loose-fitting, and wearing it reversed meant its slightly revealing vee-neck was at the back, keeping everything well-covered. I'm not too sure about the zebra stripe thing, though.

People seem to embrace the concept of wearing feminine night attire in public. Just this week, I had one of my outpatients (a thirty-ish male) turn up in what was unmistakably a women’s pyjama top. It was, in his defence, a t-shirt top, but really, a teddy bear print?? One big central teddy bear with a red bow around his neck was printed on the front, with smaller versions below. That and the red overlocked detail around the neck and hems….I am at a loss to explain that one!

It looks as though you guys ought to keep the autumn and winter items coming, because the moment the temperature stays below 32 degrees or so, the long-sleeves are out. And hey, any day is a good day for a woolly beanie. (And jeans. And a flannellette shirt.) There is one chap around Auki who is quite fond of his bright purple fake fur cap, worn without any sense of irony. One thing you don't see often, however, is shorts above the knee. Only on Solomon Islands Santa (see picture somewhere on this site, although it doesn't show his legs) have I ever seen anyone, man or woman, in shorts exposing the thigh (it is actually tabu [taboo] for women).

Right, it's time to get ready for church. Wonder what our fellow congregation members will be wearing today..
Cheers, Kelly
For those of you who don't particularly like spiders, this one has made its home
under our house - she's a beauty!


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