Eyes Wide Shut
14 October 2010
How sad. That's what I thought when I realised that I've become a blasé traveller. I'm really too well travelled. I often don't batter an eyelid when something happens that (in consideration of where I come from and my native culture) I really should find strange, hilarious or at least amusing.
Here in Fiji, I have made a conscious effort to be a normal Australian in a foreign land and I have two stories and one photo to show for it.
I go to the shop to buy some weet-bix and tokens for the washing machines. I approch the counter with the weet-bix and stand there waiting to be served. The lady is two feet away and facing me but she does not look up from her book. She has dark skin, short black frizzy hair and like most over 50 Fijian women she is wearing a traditional looking dress. She has served me the past few days with a smile but not today. I'm still waiting. 20 seconds later I say "Hi". She keeps reading for a few seconds then looks up at me with a frustrated face and says "I'm nearly finished! What did you want?" I tell her I would like three washing tokens and to pay for the weet-bix. She begins to rummage around in a drawer. "You know, I am nearly at the end of my book but no-one will let me finish!" "Customers can be a real nuisance" I remind her. She looks up at me and shakes her head. "There is a girl who saw the dead body of a man. The dead man had been killed by another man who the girl happens to run into and this man knows that the girl is the only one who knows the man is dead so he tells her to go into the barn. When she is in there he locks it and lights it on fire. There are some little kittens and she puts them in a bag to protect them from the smoke and is looking for a way out and then you come and ask me for some washing tokens!" I can't help but laugh "I'm so sorry". She holds up the cover of the crime novel for me to see, puts the tokens on the table, takes my money, says thankyou, sits down and opens her book.
I am in a shop wandering around quite aimlessly. I happened to be walking past a stand of lipstick when a shop assistant pounces on me. She is Indian with a strong accent and is wearing a sari "I think this colour would suit you" she holds up probably my least favourite colour, which is a pale vomit pink. I find it hard to hide my disgust but she doesn't notice, in fact she looks encouraged. "Yes" she nods, looking at me in a quizzical manner and I can see the artist is born and there will be no stopping her now. She picks up a black pencil "You see this" she asks. "Quite clearly" I wearily reply. "Well, you can use this to draw your eyebrows on with!" I look at the pencil, then at her. "But... I already have eyebrows!" I am truly puzzled. She looks at me and lets out a high pitched laugh "Oh no, those won't do, they are the wrong shape! You need to shave them off and draw them back on with this pencil. I have a friend who can shave them off for you if you like". I look at her and I'm lost for words. To my horror she goes to pick up some other cosmetic, but before she says another word I've realised that I'm late for lunch and have left the shop.