37. Does My Necktie Really Need Straightening?

You know I was so lucky to find a temporary job in a garment factory in town.  I accepted it, I was paid well and it was cash under the table as the saying goes.  The majority of workers were ladies and there was about 35 of them.  Only 4 men sewing to include myself.  

Not to boast like a proud rooster or anything but it’s the truth; I loved all the attention the female staff showered on me.  There were no complaints here!  They were always looking to buy my lunch, take their breaks with me and oh how they fussed over me, I mean my goodness!  

Many of them would walk by and tell me that my necktie needed straightening only to immediately start playing with it.  Fortunately the men on the team didn’t begrudge me while my ego was being blown-up like a hot air balloon.

While it was all well and good and my work pleased the supervisors (my previous experience shone through apparently), management had to let me go.  Within the allotted 2 weeks I was unable to provide legal documentation allowing me to be lawfully employed in Australia.  🇦🇺 

I was very happy though as I made over A£200.00 and this was enough to buy me a one-way aeroplane fare to Nadi, Fiji.  There was also a tidy sum remaining for pocket money and gift purchases for the family back home.

After separation from tailoring I remained just a few days and then took a bus to Sydney where I would catch my flight back to the Fiji Islands.  Once I arrived in Nadi, I took a commuter flight into Nausori where an airline shuttle bus then delivered me back to Suva in just under half an hour.

There my mother and brother-in-law were waiting for me with a taxi.  My mother was so happy to see me, she began to cry big tears of joy; she couldn’t believe I was really there and said as much.  I offered her my arm and said, ‘Pinch me and you’ll see I am really here!’

I told them as we began to drive that first I must go to Samabula, to the house on Moala Street where Hemma was so that I can bring her with us, back to our house.  My mother agreed wholeheartedly.  The taxi took us to where I had left my wife with her parents and siblings before heading to India.

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34. Singapore

Pressure to get along in my quest came to shove, it was October and I now possessed booked passage on an Italian ship (asia.jpg) to … you’re not going to believe it, Singapore.  Didn’t my mausa just invite me on similar journey?    Timing I suppose.

daddy's ship passage 1956 to Singapore BLURI would spend 10 days there and so it was only natural to visit as much as I could.  After this layover I would move along, still forward as far as I was concerned, to Australia.  Broome, Australia to be exact …at least as a starting point.

Parwez back at the Bombay travel agency had arranged my hotel accommodations as well as everything else to do with my itinerary to the very ending point of my travels.  I stayed in a nice and clean of course, 3-story, centrally located hotel in the heart of the city.

I was wide-eyed at the action of the hotel owners; they sent beautiful girls my way meant to escort me around the city, dine with me and keep me company.  Definitely not something I would’ve imagined, in spite of the Bombay parties I attended.

I guess I was still an amateur in the world.  I politely sat with a few of the girls in the hotel snack bar, enjoyed a coffee and a little conversation and I literally left it at that.  This was not for me.  After all I have a wife waiting for me in Fiji.   

Interestingly enough for I don’t wish to judge it as suspicious but to all the letters I wrote to Hemma from India I never, not once, received reply.

Well, anyway here is another part of my 1st encounter with Singapore.  I remember some guys walking around with pythons draped around their necks offering to drape them around any passerby’s neck for a photo opportunity at the rate of a couple of Singapore dollars.  There was always something.

Singapore consisted of many delightful and unusual eateries.  I found my way to an area of the city which was an Indian community.  It has existed since the 1800’s and for a moment there I thought I was back in Bombay.  Anymore I cannot remember what it was called but that’s all right.  

The food was good and you know me by now, that’s what I was looking for.  Oh the coconut-cream cooked curries and the fish dishes were especially yummy!  I don’t know how I remained as skinny as a stick.

I also found myself in a parking lot that was converted for the evening eateries.  Food vendors opened up their cafes after the day’s use of the lots by automobiles and served up the most delicious varieties of Indonesian cuisine.  

Make sure you don’t litter, I was warned by a few helpful people.  There are covered disposal containers for your rubbish when you are through eating.  No one cleans up after you, this you must do and be certain to do it properly, or else!  

Singapore I have to say is refreshingly clean.  Littering in any shape or form is severely punishable by their law … just don’t do it!  It really has got to be the cleanest, used by people, place in the world.  It was without question very beautiful.

I visited a gorgeous place called (if I remember correctly) the Tiger Balm Gardens.  I loved it so much I made a point to return to it again before leaving Singapore.  I called this place the Buddha Gardens due to all the statues depicting various translations of Buddha.

All fun things must come to a halt at some point and besides the next destination was calling.  My travel accommodations would be a bit different this time.  The ship for starters would be more like traveling on the SS Lakemba and my off-point was not so glamorous.

 
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33. Stalemate – a New Game is in Order

One day and much to my surprise, my mausa (maternal uncle) showed up and yes, right here in Bombay!  He came in from Fiji with an associate of his and was just wanting to visit … hmmm.  I couldn’t help but to wonder if my brother had something to do with this.

We spent just about every day together.  We weren’t perfectly alone as this associate (tagalong rather) was always with him.  Jittu would go off and do other things with his family while mausa and I did whatever it was we did, going around here and there, eating this and that and basically sightseeing.  

This associate of his I felt very strongly about.  Though it wasn’t my place to voice my opinion of this person I was not at all pleased with his attendance.  I felt sure he was along for a free ride; not once ever did he offer to pay for anything.  

There was just a certain air about him.  But I never asked my mausa about him because who knows, maybe it was some sort of payback or … well that’s why I won’t assume.  I still didn’t like it.

One day mausa came to my hostel to pick me up as was the usual and we went for lunch.  Afterwards we enjoyed a nice drive, not looking to see anything in particular.  He then told me he did not like Bombay.  He was ready to head towards home going first through Singapore and then Australia.

He said I should go with him as his guest.  I was very happy for that gracious invitation of course but I did not wish to return to Fiji.  I’m supposed to be on my way to London.  I gratefully thanked him for his most generous offer and reminded him that I must make my way to England.

He did understand and just before he left, he pocketed me some money and yes I will admit it was a big help to be sure.  Then he was gone.  

Imagine this: neither myself nor Jittu were locals for one and the population of Bombay, never mind the rest of the Indian subcontinent was already astronomical.  Looking for work, the percentage of competition for any one position was completely overwhelming, Why do you think Jittu and I sold movie tickets?   

After my mausa’s departure, Jittu and I returned to doing whatever it was that we were doing … hanging out in Bombay and ultimately closing our season of friendship.  We went on for a few more weeks.  Jittu gave me his contact information for back home in Africa.  

I had no way of knowing how much longer the Suez Canal would be closed and when would I really be able to afford a flight to London.  These flights’ price tag remained well, sky-high as this was really the only way to England at that time.  I had to make a move though and I knew I must leave India and my bond with Jittu behind.

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With the Suez Canal not reopening until March of 1957, which of course I didn’t know at the time, I would’ve been in India for a few months more and most likely homeless and hungry, not knowing how much longer I could continue selling movie tickets.  I had to make a move.