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!
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.
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 LBM’s 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!