S’Pacif­i­cally Speak­ing: Mad to Fooled!

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March is usu­ally touted as Mad March by re­tail­ers when re­fer­ring to any last minute op­por­tu­ni­ties for sales pro­mo­tions of their prod­ucts – how many times do you hear of the Mad March Sale in that month! The late great James Datta with his team at BP’s Home­cen­tres did amaz­ing deals and tele­vi­sion pro­mos that al­lowed or­di­nary house­holds to own wash­ing ma­chines, big­ger tele­vi­sion sets, state of the art au­dio equip­ment, com­put­ers, house­hold goods, white­ware, , fur­ni­ture etc – you name it you could get it on easy terms! 12 months af­ter that, the items be­gan to be col­lected by the same com­pany due to non pay­ment of in­stal­ments or what­ever rea­son the cus­tomers didn’t hon­our their agree­ments – and I think that’s when April Fool set in – from be­ing mad in March to fooled in April, which I think was the nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion (I just made that up!). From the deals still around these days, the cash flow in the econ­omy must be flush as ads ap­pear­ing ev­ery week are so tempt­ing – es­pe­cially for mo­bile phones, aps and plans! Let’s hope the re­turn of goods el­e­ment has less­ened, other­wise we haven’t learnt a thing over the years. Times have changed. Cer­tain sounds in the at­mos­phere are be­com­ing as fa­mil­iar as birds singing to wake you up ev­ery morn­ing – they do in my res­i­dence any­way as I have many trees sur­round­ing me, much to the dis­gust of the SCC. The sounds of sirens – po­lice sirens of course, and that rau­cous whine used by the Nazis dur­ing World War II – no dear reader, I wasn’t around then but note the noise in movies of old, es­pe­cially the first “Di­ary of Anne Frank” movie. I al­most changed my re­li­gion, epe­cially when I first heard the sirens here in Fiji, it was so eerie. And it seems to be so of­ten in the morn­ing. Are they round­ing up crim­i­nals, show­ing off or rush­ing to the toi­let at the sta­tion? Be calm dear po­lice per­sons - learn first how not to cross at a pedes­trian cross­ing when the lights are red – as a po­li­ceper­son you are com­mit­ting a crime right be­fore our very eyes. Aren’t you the cus­to­di­ans of law and or­der? Be calm. The sec­ond sound that is get­ting fa­mil­iar around Flagstaff is the call to prayer from the mosque up the road at Bau Street – have been hear­ing this for the past few months. It must be a new trend as have never heard if be­fore – times are a chang­ing, or per­haps too many in­ter­ven­ing trees have been cut.Vis­i­tors from over­seas are con­stantly amazed at the won­der­ful eat­ing es­tab­lish­ments in Suva owned and run by women, or women with their hus­bands and part­ners. I try to take vis­it­ing friends and fam­ily to a va­ri­ety of the eat­ing spots and they are amazed at the qual­ity of the food and the style of the venues. Gov­er­nors, Palm Court, Mango or any Kalara Vu­soni­wailala eat­ing es­tab­lish­ment, Gin­ger Café, Café Vic­to­ria, Bu­lac­cino, The Gal­ley and then there is Eden, to name a few. And that’s only Suva – the West and the North have dy­na­mite es­tab­lish­ments, es­pe­cially The Orchid. The Mad Hat­ters Hut has joined the list as of last month and the two young own­ers, moth­ers Ella and Lor­raine, are just amaz­ing – the Hut is to­tally chil­dren friendly where there is a lit­tle play area cum mag­i­cal gar­den where the chil­dren can amuse them­selves whilst mum has a much needed latte in peace. So so proud of you all. Even more proud to hear the news of our own Renu Chand, the for­mer pres­i­dent of the Fiji In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants and part­ner in KPMG Fiji who was awarded top ac­count­ing hon­ours, to­gether with 144 ac­coun­tants world­wide for her out­stand­ing ser­vice of more than 20 years in the ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion in Fiji and the Pa­cific. So so proud of your achieve­ments Renu – a quiet achiever, highly pro­fes­sional and re­spected, Renu has never failed to help char­i­ta­ble causes with ad­vice and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance. Renu her­self hails from a strong fam­ily back­ground and in turn has nur­tured a won­der­ful young fam­ily with her much re­spected hus­band, Pramesh. Whilst on the sub­ject of amaz­ing women, con­grat­u­la­tions to young Ju­dith Bev­erly Gi­b­lin, a 25 year old Masters grad­u­ate in Past and Cur­rent Geoen­vi­ron­ments from the Uni­ver­sity of Lille in France and cur­rently study­ing for her Masters in Cli­mate Change at USP spe­cial­is­ing in Mi­cropa­le­on­tol­ogy, Ge­ol­ogy, Sed­i­men­tol­ogy and Se­quence stratig­ra­phy (please google like I did to find out what it means!). A young Fiji Gree­nie, Ju­dith was spon­sored by the Asia Pa­cific Green Fed­er­a­tion to at­tend the Global Greens Con­fer­ence that was held late last month in Liver­pool. Even more ex­cit­ing is the fact that she par­tic­i­pated as a pan­elists to dis­cuss the poli­cies for ocean sus­tain­abil­ity, pro­vid­ing a Pa­cific view­point on the strides that the Pa­cific has made. Con­grat­u­la­tions Ju­dith – we’ll hear more about her par­tic­i­pa­tion in next month’s S’Pacif­i­cally Speak­ing. Fiji’s two Green can­di­dates were suc­cess­ful out of the three Pa­cific funded po­si­tions but un­for­tu­nately our other can­di­date was un­suc­cess­ful in re­ceiv­ing her visa. More op­por­tu­ni­ties com­ing up though for our young pro­fes­sion­als. You may have no­ticed the num­ber of cruise ships that have berthed at the Suva and Lau­toka wharves and also ply­ing the wa­ters in the North. I was very ex­cited to see them on the horoizon of our cap­i­tal city once again – once upon a time they dom­i­nated the sky­line and you could see them from Toorak and even parts of Knolly Street as they tow­ered over the Burns Philp clock but alas no more, with the high rise build­ings now in place you can only see them up close and per­sonal along Stin­son Pa­rade. But their pres­ence is good. How­ever some alarm­ing re­al­ity fig­ures re­leased by the South Pa­cific Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion, SPTO, in­forms us that Fiji has less than a hun­dred cruise lin­ers vis­it­ing us an­nu­ally. The high­est fig­ure was in 2013 when 75 lin­ers came here – there are no fig­ures supplied by our na­tional tourism of­fice for 2016 but we had 51 vis­it­ing ships for 2015. In 2015, The King­dom of Tonga and Samoa each wel­comed 13 ships to their shores, PNG had 25 and New Cale­do­nia had 213 while Van­u­atu re­ceived 252 vis­it­ing tourist ships in 2013! All fig­ures were supplied by the in­di­vid­ual is­land na­tions’ na­tional tourism of­fices and when I asked Jen­nifer Bu­tukoro, tourism re­search of­fi­cer at the SPTO why the higher num­bers for Van­u­atu and New Cale­do­nia she ex­plained that they were also nearer to Aus­tralia and New Zealand and there­fore eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, and the tourist were mainly from those two coun­tries. In­ter­est­ing in­deed and thank you Jen­nifer and Ro Bu­lou Adi Rusila Drekeni for your great as­sis­tance.

Un­til next month – Di­vine Mercy bless­ings. Pax Vi­tia, BRG

Mrs BER­NADETTE ROUNDS GANILAU is a for­mer ra­dio per­son­al­ity and Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. Now re­tired, she con­tin­ues with her NGO work and runs her own busi­ness.

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