29. What Cannibals? and A Necklace For the Queen

One entertaining afternoon as I sat upon the wall curiously watching all the people, a young Indian man stopped just before blocking my view.  Gesturing towards the available spot next to me he asked if he could sit there.  ‘Yes of course,’ I answered with a friendly smile.  

He parked himself and watched Marine Drive with the rest of us.  After a short while, he asked me where I was from.  I laughed a little to myself before letting him in on my thoughts.  

I answered him this way, ‘There’s a little bitty group of islands in the deep South Pacific, very near to New Zealand.  That’s the Fiji Islands.’  The puzzled look on his face said it all.  After a chuckle I said to him, ‘Do you know where Hawaii is?’  

He said yes so I continued, ‘Well it’s about 6 hours if you fly or 5-6 days if you sail from there going further south.  There are two big islands; Viti Levu being the one I was born on and the smaller of the two is Vanua Levu.’ I explained.  He seemed interested enough.

‘My island is slightly larger than Hawaii and there are several smaller ones in the group.  The smaller ones have a few coconut trees, rooted in the sand, and they’re just standing there.’  the stranger smiled.  

‘Who knows, some storms come and wash them away for a time and maybe even the whole island!’  I smiled big as he laughed loud and I ran on with my seemingly entertaining story.

‘Originally the natives were cannibals, before the Christian missionaries arrived. They ate some of them; the missionaries and their friends that is, until convinced otherwise by the remaining missionaries.’  

This is really fun I thought to myself as I kept talking.  

‘When no one visited for a while, they probably boiled the bones of dinners past and had themselves a good soup.’  I had to laugh because my wall-mate looked a little worried.  

‘Then the Indians eventually came along with some Europeans, a few neighboring islanders, and a handful of Chinese too; migrated to Fiji that is.’  

I must tell you here, this was the loose version of my island history as we knew it and told each other as kids back home.  I was done with my story for the time being.  It was his turn now.

This young man was just as fresh to India as I was.  He was born and raised in South Africa.  His parents brought him her to experience India, his blood-line.  They had an apartment home right there on the Queen’s Necklace aka Marine Drive.  That was where a good percentage of the wealthy lived, at least some of the time.  

We both realised our relation to one another was effortless as the hours passed in conversation and people watching.   My new friend and I agreed to meet up very soon and further our adventures; we made plans to buzz all over Bombay and her outlying reaches.  

We felt such a sense of adventure coming on; we’d go everywhere via double decker bus, taxi , auto rickshaw, train and most likely a lot of walking too!

C - Delhi street vending

Before I met this Jittu Singh, I had been told by a few people that I must get to the elevated hills behind all of this to witness a breathtaking view of the Queen’s Necklace in the evening hours.  They were right, it was stunning!  

Good times are rolling now and no I haven’t forgotten that I still must get to London.  All in its own time though I thought to myself.

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I laughed a little to myself from experience past, at that time not many had heard of the Fiji Islands.  I know, right?!!

Just a reminder:    Jittu Singh is the fictitious name of a real character, a wonderful addition to LBMs first adventure in India.

The point of interest here was Bombay’s Malabar Hill.  It is where It is where LBM stood to take in the view which was within the Kamala Nehru Park.  

I sure do wish LBM could find some of those photographs he had taken in India and elsewhere too, I mean, while we’re at it …wishing and all!

10. Kiwis For a Queen and Aussie Burgers For Me! – part 4

My time in Sydney was also enjoyed at Bondi Beach.  Warm and sunny, big and beautiful, very clean sand, gentle playful waves which I believe were due to its shallow shores and well, it was just wonderful!

And it goes without saying there had to be hundreds of beautiful young ladies in their bikinis!  The beach of course was occupied by others as well, no discretion here, but it seemed as though these others were mostly under their beach ⛱, so how could I not notice the young, energetic ones!

Time’s up!  On to Melbourne which took only the day; we arrived late at night.  This would be our last drop of sugar.  Flour was loaded onto our ship, the SS Lakemba and that granted us three days here.

My Melbourne experience?  During this visit I was able to meet up with my cousin/brother who was there studying to be a pharmacist.  He asked me if I could get American cigarettes and so being able to buy these from our ship’s commissary (which was only open while the ship was at sea), I was able to supply a few cartons to him -I bought them for $1 each.

As confusion could set in about what seems like a little back-and-forth, I’ll try to clarify: Melbourne had an allowance of flour to load (also a couple of other factors) and that is why we returned to Sydney for flour instead of taking it on while we there the first time.  There had to be assurance for the Melbourne load first – something like that.

Now to pick up a fresh handful of +passengers, the remaining flour load and make our way back to the Fiji Islands.

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Sad note; this is where I took up smoking myself.  Happy note; I have been a non-smoker now for over 36 years!

+   The same basically applied to not picking up the Sydney passengers till the return trip; why pay to go to Melbourne, to return to Sydney and then onward?  Plus this way it allowed more time if others wanted to join the ship.