01 September 2007

Creating a Home

नामस्ते (Namaste)

A month into service. A month living in Ba.
So much can happen in a matter of 30 days.


I have a new address. I have updated my listing on the sidebar.

I have officially moved into my new home here in Ba. It’s a 2 bedroom flat with a lovely yard, which is half of a single story home. Overall, I feel comfortable here. Though I have found it is a great deal of work to maintain a neat compound when you have mangoes, coconut, starfruit, lemons, eggplant and pumpkin growing all over. As I spend half my Sunday (or all of it) raking, I just have to remember what a blessing it is to be able to go into the yard and pick a ripe mango as a snack or some curry leaves for a recipe.

There are times I wish that smaller home might have been available. My rooms feel quite empty, devoid of furniture as they are. But, really I have little need or ability to fill my residence with chairs and tables. “What is essential to a home?” turns out is a difficult question (made even more so if you have just finished reading Walden). Does one really need two pots? What about a modern can-opener or will a sturdy knife do? One can live without a great many conveniences, but is it pragmatic? Does denying myself a material possession that would save time bring me closer to my goals?

A Day’s Purpose

Days here meander… not without purpose but something akin to the way a brook might course through the woods. Each day has a general destination or goal but which path it will choose is a constant and fruitful mystery.

For instance on one particular day, my purpose was to clean my new flat and secure some basic needs, such as a bed, possibly going into town. I awoke early had something to eat and went to town and returned once more around 10. I met my landlord at my flat and we cleaned until lunch. Afterwards, I was intending to go back to the task of scrubbing walls when my new neighbor, came to greet me and ask me to tea. She instructed me to go visit a house in the neighborhood where a migrating family was selling their possessions. I made my way there, was invited in and looked at what they had available. Our conversation at first formal, it quickly became pleasant and familiar. She invited me to stay for dinner and her daughter and I exchanged emails. I asked her to write to me in Hindi so that I would have a reason to study harder. Life is truly miraculous when you let it take its course.

A Most Unconventional Conversation

The other day, I was in town shopping at the market and on my way home, I saw a begging woman seated on some cardboard. I went give her some fruit and a small bit of change when she urgently gestured me to sit. So I did. We proceeded to have a conversation without words, herself being deaf and mute. She would write in my notebook and gesture emphatically, looking to me for comprehension. Then I would struggle to spell out in Hindi what I thought she was going for. Even she asked what religion I was. Just imagine me trying to gesture about the concept of inter-faith. But it was a success and we parted ways better for it. Now, each time I come from the market I’m sure to leave a piece of fruit or some such for my friend.


I feel as though I have become a different person here in Fiji. I already have gained a substantial social network and people seem to regard me as friendly and knowledgeable. I feel as though in some ways it is easier to be open-minded here. I am not tied to any one identity and I can learn to embrace each aspect of myself that in the past, may have been discarded from circumstance. One aspect being my talkative nature. In Fiji, it has become an asset that I can harness to make others feel at ease when talking about personal of difficult subjects. Also, my views on spirituality, although out of the ordinary are appreciated by most members of the various faith communities here whom I have spoken with.

Choti चोती
“The small one”

I adopted a dirty little abandoned kitten. She has taken to me very quickly and follows me from room to room. At the moment, she is on my lap trying to discover what is so interesting about the keyboard I keep playing with. Her fleas are mostly gone now that I have kept her indoors for some time. I try to give her a bath once a week to keep her infestation down. When she is bigger, I plan to let her out during the day while I am away at work. But for the moment she is still too young to be roaming where there are feral dogs.

My Work

Ba Methodist High School
I am creating a new reproductive health/ life skills curriculum to implement at the beginning of the next school year in January. I am using the upcoming national standards to guide my lesson plans, as well as taking into consideration various cultural factors, i.e. I am teaching in a Methodist school that desires a values-based approach to such sensitive topics. Also, I am developing professional teaching materials and workshops for my fellow teachers at the high school. These materials will focus upon learner-centered alternative teaching techniques, adolescent mental & psychological development and how it applies to teaching, and classroom management.

Ba Senior Citizen Community Centre
This is a small private non-profit organization that provides a much needed public service. It is the only senior citizen centre in all of Fiji. Each month the centre offers medical screenings (sugar levels, blood pressure, and weight) as well as activities (cooking, language, crafts, social games) and informative lectures on issues that concern seniors. They are completed supported by donations and grants. My role at this site is a bit more diverse… I am currently focused on the centre’s services and structure. I am working to more efficiently organize the centres procedures for grant applications and processing donations. As well as, seeking out new donors and more stable ways in which the centre might support itself. At the moment, I am developing a fundraiser with handmade paper cards which are designed using scraps of local fabric. I also participate in daily programs and sometimes facilitate programs on health. Recently, I did a workshop on HIV/AIDS for the elderly focusing upon their respected status as a means of educating and safeguarding their families and communities.

During my own time, I am creating a multi-racial, non-denominational youth group. The group will focus on leaderships skills, rights and responsibilities, peer counseling, and of course, cross-cultural awareness.


Earlier this evening I made a music mix of various Irish folk songs. Music is my means of remembering vividly moments that have passed and this evening I was reminded of the last few years. As I composed this entry, my mind flooded with the past… early morning fight call, archery on the hill at Pennsic, the long drives to faire site, food cooked over a campfire. Even now, even after living in a village where every meal was prepared over a fire, I still think of faires and Pennsic each time I smell burning firewood.
It’s a strange thing to feel so close to these moments and know that even as you recall them to mind they are changing shape for those whom you shared them with. CT faire is about to begin once more and Pennsic has come and gone and with this year’s passing and you know that these events have grown and changed, as have the people who were a part of them. Part of me feels a sense of loss for these moments where I have been absent from my friends. Not being able to share these experiences, which we have all come to cherish. But as I am learning, this is the way of life. I cannot be ever present. Sometimes, we need to be removed from what we have come to value to realize its worth. I can only keep the memories of those I care for near my heart and in my mind, praying for their well-being and contentment.

The delicate black lace of a dying Imli tree
Set against the twilight’s mourning dove wing,
The play of shadow and light, solid and insubstantial
Draws my mind toward the Infinite.

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