This is an excerpt from PACIFIC FLASH: A Year in FIJI by Gerry Takano. (For a copy of the book visit Gerry's web page and order away.
Expatriate dependency on technology was rampant even in rural Fiji. Willingly, we abandoned some conveniences -- cold showers, television, cell phones, the New York Times or CNN -- but not the laptop computer. The true test was when your laptop, exhausted from the tropical heat, required the arduous journeys back and forth into Suva for repairs. First, up at 4:30am in total darkness to meet the Suva express -- then, one hour by bus across Ovalau island to the Buretta ferry terminal and another hour crossing the channel --finally, two hours into Suva from the port to the repair shop with MacPacific, the authorized Mac part architectural firm and computer repair shop in a restored Suva residence.
On a particularly humid and hot December morning the Suva bus terminal was teeming with people. As we hustled into the bus, a strange man’s hand was slowly grasping my wallet. After slapping the probing hand and turning around we stared at each other for a few seconds, speechless and silent. The petty thief, a young local Fijian, ran off into the crowd. After the attempted pick-pocketing episode and back in Levuka, the Mayor consoled me.
It happened to me too, said Mayor George. It’s that time of the year -- Christmas. The town’s best appointed Muslim-run market was Hicks General Store. A moderate selection of Australian and New Zealand goodies, mostly chocolates, was prominently displayed. Scurrying through the aisles as I am Dreaming of a White Christmas, reggae style music struggled on the loudspeaker system and browsing under the brown, shriveled needled pine tree branches brought a smile to my usually probing countenance.
Christmas shopping in a Muslim store for Fijian and Indian wares – what a marvelous expression of diversity. As Christmas 1994 approached Fiji scentless pine cones were soon adorned for snazzy decorations. Christmas in Fiji was very, very quiet. Gift giving, unlike the commercial blitz in America, could not rival the Christmas services and singing at the local Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches, all done in Fijian. Christmas was lovely in its quiet island calm and peaceful restraint.
Gerry Takano was reared in Honolulu, Hawaii and received his architectural education and early training in upstate New York and Boston. Gerry served as Hawaii’s National Trust Advisor and State of Hawaii Commissioner of the Historic Sites Review Board.
He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached at email@example.com