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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35. Broome, Talk About Outback!

Singapore to Broome is just shy of 1600 nautical miles.

I’m still trying to remember the name of the cargo/passenger ship which I boarded in Singapore for my journey south by southeast, back to Australia.  At some point I’ll remember it, I think.   

With limited room for passengers -similar setup to the first ship I worked on, the Lakemba- there was four of us to a cabin.  I bunked down, relaxing for the next 2 or 3 days.  And so began the continuing journey into my unknown future.  

Relaxing on the Indian Ocean coastline of Western Australia is Broome, over a thousand miles north of Perth.  Once the ship docked late morning at Broome I disembarked.  The weather was on the warmer side of things but I knew I couldn’t spend time sightseeing in this very different place, I had a bus to catch.

Although Broome is a coastal town, as I headed away from the sea, it was like being in a desert which really I didn’t know anything about (my comparison today would be like Palm Springs with sparse comforts), but I’d watched enough westerns to have an idea and I was starting to feel rather hot.  

Remember my last strong impression of Australia was all the big cities like Sydney, Adelaide & Perth and it was all a bit of a blow for me, I must say.  It wasn’t bad mind you but from what I was seeing, I was reminded of a John Wayne cowboy film and I guess I left that gun-slinging adventure back in my boyhood.  

Suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing to me anymore at least not in the same context.  Now as a young adult I think I was just wanting more bustle and bounce in my world at that time.  Of course I was certainly amused at what I was seeing; instead of cars, I saw horses.  

I remember thinking to myself silly comments as I watched the locals come in on horseback to the town for groceries, dinner or what have you and I watched curiously as they’d tie them up to hitching posts; wow they really do that.  Smile.

Yeah maybe the cowboy world wasn’t in the cards for this island boy after all.  I felt parched and dusty just watching these scenes unfold before my eyes, a mind game perhaps because I felt like it was blistering hot; true to a good western!

It was evening when I boarded my train that would carry me to Melbourne.  Here’s another, I can’t remember the name of the city where I caught that train from; good thing I wasn’t walking!  I was thankful that I had sleeper accommodations, even though the space was shared, it was comfortable, semi private and roomy enough for sleeping purposes.

It seemed that whenever I pulled up the shades to view the passing scenery I saw red rocks, little ones, big ones and sometimes very big ones.  Then there were the kangaroos who were jumping around all over the place, mostly in groups.  Anything smaller was a bit difficult for me to pin down as we were moving much too fast.

It was 1½ days on the train by the time we arrived in Alice Springs which turns out to be approximately mid point in the journey.  For some reason that stuck in my mind.  After 1900 miles traveling in a southeast direction from my beginning point and 3 days later, Melbourne greeted me at last.

Ready to really stretch my legs and breathe in some fresh air, I quickly sought out an information counter.  The lady attending to the booth was very friendly and helpful.

Crikey! The whole world is here.” she exclaimed.  She told me I would be quite fortunate if I was to find any accommodations at all, what with the 1956 Summer Olympics here and all.  

And then as though to let me in on a little secret, she suggested I look into the Melbourne YMCA.  She continued, “Listen mate, it’s only bed and breakfast; that’s only if you do get lucky enough.  You’d be smart to grab a taxi and do go straightaway.  Best of luck.”

I was able to catch a taxi and arrived not long after into the heart of the city.  I think the driver said something about being on City Road, knowing I was a foreigner.  Perhaps he thought I should be properly oriented in my directions.  I was hoping for at least the night’s rest at this point; a few more nights being a bonus.

The city was jam-packed with people unlike the sparse locales I had recently experienced.  Big city yes of course but more so crowded now, what with the games and all.

I was very fortunate to have found accommodations at the recommended YMCA.  I was set-up to share a room with a young student.  My bed and breakfast cost me A£3 per week, paid in advance and this YMCA became my home for the next 17 or so days.  

Yes I did try to see some of the games but I quickly learned that I should have purchased tickets ages ago.  I was fortunate enough to catch some of the games and especially the Hockey win by 🇮🇳 over 🇵🇰 when they took the Gold.

I caught these in a local pub on a television set.  That was pretty exciting all the same, knowing I was actually right there … only not there.

In between I had some time to think things over and I figured I would station myself here and then call for Hemma.  Australia.  England.  Either way I would make a go of it.  

And it would still mean I was out of Fiji and we would live our life together, away from interference.

 

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*Had LBM stayed till the 31st of October, he very well may have seen the Duke of Edinburgh arriving that day on the Royal Yacht Britannia.  Stopping off first in Singapore, he too was on his way to Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, to open the Olympic Games of 1956

27. ⚓️Voyage Across the Indian Ocean, And This Time I’m the Passenger; 🛳R.M.S. Strathmore –

Puri and lamb curry, yum!!  Yes, you read it right, the meal served on board the TEAL flight from Nadi to Sydney helped eased any tensions I experienced up there in that wild blue yonder!  I’m trying real hard to remember this; I think it was about a 6-7 hour flight and I’m sure I took a good long nap.

When we landed in Sydney there was a bus which took those of us who were continuing on to the P&O Liner towards Bombay and beyond (London), to a Sydney hotel for the night.  I believe it was called the Wentworth.

One of the Beautiful White Sisters by which the five sister ships became known, was awaiting our boarding the next afternoon; the R.M.S. Strathmore.  There would be four ports of call en route to Bombay.

I was set-up in a cabin which was shared with a fellow Hindu passenger from Fiji; nice guy, calm and kept mainly to himself.  He too was headed for England.

From Sydney we traveled south along the Pacific Ocean, turning right to now head west through the Bass Strait with Tasmania port-side, to dock at Victoria’s Melbourne.  We arrived the next morning.  

How exciting!  This was the first time I traveled on a luxury liner not to mention, as a free-to-relax-and-enjoy passenger and not the ship’s staff!   It completely changed the dynamics of this journey.  A different aspect and certainly not one to be missed!

We were there till nightfall and then onward in a northwest direction, passing Kangaroo Island and to the next port of South Australia’s Adelaide.  Another morning arrival for a full day’s stop.  

Once more we depart in the evening for our continued journey out on the open sea.  As we traveled west as we made our way through where the Great Australian Bight mingles with the Indian Ocean.

We went around the southern tip of Western Australia to arrive at the next port of Perth.  This would be the ship’s final continental port; it was just over an 1100 nautical mile journey from Adelaide.  Our ship docked for the full day and night.

Morning came again, as she tends to do, and we put out to sea.  This time our voyage took us clean though the Indian Ocean, crossing the Equator and looking towards Ceylon.

The air at sea to me was sensational!  It wasn’t hot or cold, it was amazing, it felt so good, so comforting and in a big way, helped to heal my soul.

At just over 3100 nautical miles this voyage was four nights at sea, setting us into the Northern Hemisphere, and on the 5th day we docked in Colombo.

This port was calling to me and so I disembarked in Ceylon to pay my respects to this ancient land and also to see and taste whatever I could in a full day’s time.  I enjoyed my visit, I did.  The seafood I sampled was absolutely delicious!  

The sights were fulfilling, the people beautiful and finally, a bunch of us took a bus up to Kandy Mountain where I experienced a real visual treat!

The following morning our ship departed for what would be my final destination via the R.M.S. Strathmore; Bombay, India.

There was plenty to do on board.  While strolling the decks was certainly my favorite, besides sampling the morning and afternoon tea spread, there was swimming, bowling, shuffleboard, poker, dancing and mechanical horse racing too.  

I probably should’ve used the gym more often but I thought being skinny was good enough.  The ship’s library looked interesting but in the end I ignored that to!

The ship took us around the southernmost tip of India and now in the Arabian Sea we passed Kerala, Goa and finally reached Bombay.  This journey, just over 800 nautical miles took nearly 3 days.  We arrived in the dark hours of the early morning.  

After breakfast it was time to leave this ocean voyage behind me and begin my adventures in India.  On  my way to London of course!  I disembarked this beauty for the final time and touched the soil of my father’s homeland for the first time.

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Strathmore and her four sister ships were given white-painted hulls and buff-coloured funnels.

http://www.pandosnco.co.uk/strathmore.html

R.M.S. Strathmore  ~  After a little research I have discovered this ship belonging to P&O Steam Navigation Co was launched by the Duchess of York  (the Empress Consort of India, wife of King George VI and of course the Queen Mother), 10 days before I was born – how about that!