When it comes to first International travel most of us believe it will be the UK, US, or Australia. But of all the places in the world, my experience in 2007 has been with the place renowned for its stunning beaches and warm friendly people. Yes, it’s none other than Fiji, in Oceania, and Suva as its Capital City. I was all set and energized to meet the Fijians, though my wife was a bit panicky when she heard of my travel plan as she had read about the cannibals in Fiji. Fiji is known to us as a British colony with many people of Indian origin.
I started off my journey with my colleague to collect beautiful moments. The tickets were ready and the first encounter at the Mumbai immigration. The person hard-heartedly said we do not have a Visa to travel. However, we had heard that the Visa to Fiji is on arrival. Just a couple of hours left for the travel, we were traumatized and hastily connected with Mr. Nitya Mudliyar. We were unperturbed when Mr. Nitya Mudliyar told us that we need not worry and can travel lacking any apprehension and we can obtain the Visa on arrival. Nitya is a person of Indian origin and was born and brought up in Fiji, whom I met thru an Ex faculty for some business meeting. Later, when I boarded the flight, I continued to make memories. My co-passenger was a Korean whom I engaged in a conversation. And I regret all these years for having a glance at his Korean Food. Live Octopus!! I just shut it over and survived with a Cup of Green tea. Now to top it up the Layover was 5 hours in Seoul (South Korea’s Capital) with a temperature of 9 Degrees and no warm clothes. The cold never bothered me anyway when I set off on a two hours tour to temples in Seoul. I experienced the culture and heritage of Seoul on this exciting tour, which shows the importance of Buddhism in Korean Culture. Later, set continued the travel and landed in Incheon in South Korea. The next flight was to the final destination Fiji. All the people whom I met sounded me that not to venture out alone in Fiji unless necessary. My anxiety grew stronger, but with the trust in Lord, I moved along and informed my family about my safe landing.
Just cherish your happy moments as yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and you never know where the road ahead leads. Nitya received us at the Nadi Airport and to my surprise, he spoke very good Hindi being a South Indian. When we walked across we saw some men wearing white shirts and some skirts and ties and shoes. I found it a bit hilarious initially but then later saw many of them dressed in similar attire. This is supposed to be the National dress of Fiji called “Sulu”. As we proceeded we pass lovely Blue waters. Astonishingly, around 33% was the Indian population and during that period Mr. Mahendra Singh Choudhry was the Finance Minister of Fiji who was way earlier in 1999 the Prime Minister of Fiji. I must say that people over there are of four origins, namely Polynesian, Micronesian, Melanesian, and Indian origin. The country speaks Hindustani (A mixture of Bhojpuri and Hindi) which is the official language of Fiji.
BULA !! which means welcome. I definitely felt that I have arrived somewhere special when I was welcomed in a great way. They played the drums with flowers in their head. Oh, what a great warm and friendly hospitality. I was highly contented. Nadi ( Pronunced as Nandi) to Suva we went thru the turtle walk. It just left me highly impressed. The people seemed to be so happy-go-lucky, which reminded me of Goa. Nitya then dropped us at the Hotel and asked us not to venture around. It was extremely difficult to stop moving around in the beautiful city. I was put up in a hotel called 180 Degrees. The name was so kept as the International date line passes thru Fiji and the Hotel was built on it. The subsequent day we went to the Post office at the clients’ site to help them with their software which was malfunctioning. Post Office Fiji used to run a software that was given to them by Post office New Zealand. Fiji’s most of the Government and all other things are highest influenced by Australia or New Zealand. We did an analysis and were taken to the systems head where he explained everything. We learnt that two months prior to our travel there was a Military coup and now the entire country was controlled by the Military. The EDP head jokingly commented, “Fix it or we have a beautiful prison”. This left us petrified.
You haven’t really experienced Fiji until you drink Kaluha (also called yaqona) with the locals. This is an intoxicating drink. It’s not polite to reject, one should at least take a sip. The effects are very mild and it’s very relaxing. This is the real taste of Fiji.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- Fijians are known as the friendliest people in the world, but rejection not accepted.
- Do not wear a hat as it is considered as insult to the Chief
- Always remove your shoes before entering any house or other building
- Speak softly. Raised voices are interpreted as expressing anger
THINGS I NOTICED:
- Hindi movies are played in theatres
- Most pubs play Hindi songs
- People play Rugby just like Indian’s play Cricket
- Pearl is eminent
- Whales tooth is a National emblem which one can carry back home as remembrance
- Diwali is a National festival and celebrated 8 to 10 days
- Fijian Indian’s treat themselves different from other Indian’s
- You can find the highest Obesity in Fiji
- People are happy go lucky
- Teenage Crime is the highest
- A exceptionally sparkling city
- Cost of living is relatively high