An Internet Diet Fueled by Curiosity

                             Photo via Pexel

Curiosity is often the common denominator that drives some of the worlds most interesting people, ranging from authors, artists, innovators and creative people. Those who go on to revolutionize the world, are greatly curious people, who follow and engage that curiosity of their’s – people like Leonardo da VinciAlbert Einstein and my present day hero; the amazing Elon Musk – founder of PayPal and CEO of TeslaSpaceX and Solar City. So curiosity is actually a good thing, if you have a ‘child like curiousity‘, never loose that or if you find it lacking, then start collecting few embers and light up that curiosity fire within you. One of my throbbing curiosities these days is actually learning more about the lives of such creative, succesful and multifaceted people. I am insanely interested in how they work, their habits, their backstory and the other small minute details behind their success. This is one of the reasons why I am very selective about what I read, listen to or watch over the internet.

I have to say that I am greatful to be living in an age where the internet is available and accessible almost everywhere. Where I am currently writing from, in this rural part of Fiji, I often have to compromise a bit on the internet speed and I am often adjusting myself, sitting in uncomfortable places in order to get better internet connection. This small limitation requires me to be a bit more creative, and at times a bit desperate too, in gaining connectivity. 

Mostly, I have to hunt for interesting information and store them for my ‘off the grid’ days – like a hunter and gatherer – a modern, digital age version of it. I proudly consider myself as an inspiration seeker and the internet is my bountiful hunting ground. It’s how the internet continually opens up my mind to the world and its seemingly endless reserve of interesting’ness that makes the hustle for connection totally worth it.

My ‘Internet Diet’ consists of a very small but carefully curated list of trusted and interesting sources which gives me a great deal of value for my very limited time and internet data. Off of these sites I learn a lot of thought provoking, informative and at times life changing information which feeds my mind and fuels my curiousity. Also from them I get to uncover a wide array of other interesting subjects and interesting people, who are living interesting lives. I spend most of the time on the internet mining through these three mediums: You Tube, Podcasts and a few free Websites and Blogs that I am drawn to perusing constantly.

You Tube

A great deal of my data is consumed by watching You Tube videos. Because it quickly wolfs down data, I either watch several short videos – that highlights great and important points in just a few minutes  – or I would watch the longer one’s -that has a vast landscape of great resources to mine over the course of that 1 or 2 long videos. 

My current interest area – which becomes my focus areas when watching You Tube videos – lies in writing, entrepreneurship and creativity. I am often out on You Tube learning about writers; their life, perspective and their writing process, entrepreneurs and business moguls; on their journey, work ethic and how they build businesses from startup to great success and I also like to watch creative people for their work, their creative process and how they achieve a creative flow. 

I am a great consumer of Interview videos on You Tube. Mostly I would watch interviews of people who intrigue me like writers. For instance, I’ll watch all of Malcolm Gladwell’s interview videos from multiple You Tube channels because I am admiring his books and his ideas at the moment. I like the Charlie Rose interviews for it’s simplicity and how he is able to get writers, and other guests of his, to reveal more of the important stuffs about themselves without being too intrusive into their lives. I also love to watch writers interviews through channels like; Barnes and Noble Studios, The New Yorker, CBS This MorningGood Morning AmericaOprah book club and Big Think. I have learnt a lot from them and I try to implement them into my routine as a young writer. 

For entrepreneurship, business moguls and creative people I enjoy channels like the Lewis Howes: The School of Greatness show. Lewis Howes brings a lot of interesting guests on it who share their success stories and also their failures. It’s very motivational and Lewis Howes is a cool, down-to-earth guy, with a sense of wonder in his eyes and he is so devoted to lifting people up into reaching their greatest potential. Also, a channel which is similar to it is Marie TV; Marie Forleo also brings in great doer’s and thinkers and she does these short advice videos which I find very useful.

I also love videos by Forbes, which perfectly covers the day in the life and success stories of exceptional, high achieving, young entrepreneurs. I also think that the Y – Combinator videos are very useful for entrepreneurs, I have only watched their interview with Elon Musk but they seem to have this other great reserve of content on interviews with a lot of other succesful entrepreneurs from the Sylicon valley that I intend on watching soon. And there is this other You Tube channel that I love too; Ympact. It does these motivating 30 minutes documentaries on entrepreneurs and Start up Incubators around the world. 

For entertainment I like to watch Wendy Williams show ( how you doing! ), VlogBrothers ( vlog by ‘The Fault in our stars author John Greene with his brother Hank Greene which is also educational ) and several booktubers ( readers vlog ). With all this buzzing excitement I get from watching videos of writers, creatives and entrepreneurs, I like to wind down and get myself in touch with my spiritual side by watching the Oprah Winfrey Network’s supersoul videos and sometimes, the old Oprah Show interviews too. At the end of a long week, or a long month of trying to hustle, I need me some Oprah so that I can reconnect with the Universe. 

Podcasts

Oh my goodness, I just want to declare this out loud – I love listening to Podcasts! I have been finding great value from listening to Podcasts. It has become a substitute for listening to music for me – well, not entirely, I still keep a few songs to listen to; 2 favorite songs that I have been listening to repeatedly these days are Ed Sheran’s – Galway Girl and Mackelmore’s – Glorious

In case you are new to this concept of a Podcast, or don’t know what this fancy sounding word is – like I was – a Podcast is something like a Radio show, but it is in episodes of 1 to 2 hours (atleast for the ones I listen to) and it is mostly an interview or a discussion on a specific topic or subject.

I first started listening to Podcasts from the blog The Minimalists. The Minimalists is a black and white, simple themed blog with compelling, thought provoking content by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburns about ‘living a meaningful life with less stuff.’ I talked about how this blog had changed a lot of my thinking in a previous blog post earlier this year, it helped me re-evaluate the meaning of a succesful life. They helped me simplify my life into being more focussed on doing work that is meaningful. I had been enjoying their writings on the blog prior to them begining a Podcast. At first I was reluctant to check it out, but when I did, I just got swayed away by the very authentic and intimate nature of the conversations and I ended up listening to their single Podcast episodes repeatedly.

But to be honest I haven’t been checking them out lately as much as I would like to because I have been voraciously devouring this other Podcast by bestselling author Tim Ferriss, called The Tim Ferris show. Most of his contents are very useful, and this is a guy who takes his curiosity very seriously and translate them into the books that he has writen and through his Podcasts. Through his Podcast episodes, Tim Ferris “finds worldclass performers and deconstructs them, to show us how they do what they do, what makes them unique, their routines, habits, favorite books and other things“. He deconstructs the lifestyles of world class performers through his podcast and I try to construct my life by listening to it. 

Some of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently are: Lessons from Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci and Ben Franklin | Maria Popova on Writing, Work Arounds and Building BrainPickings.org | Maria Popova on Being Interesting, Creating more time in a day, and how to start a succesful blog |

Websites and Blogs

I try to make it a habit to read a few websites constantly, because again they produce great content. Also, these websites and blogs are writen by great writers whose writing style and perpective I admire. 

Firstly I love Maria Popova’s website BrainPickings.org. I first came across it on twitter few months ago and it has to be the most greatest internet discovery of mine this year. According to it’s writer Maria Popova;

BrainPickings – which remains add free and supported by readers – is a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, science, psychology, design, philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, and more; pieces that enrich our mental pool of resources and empower combinatorial ideas that are stronger, smarter, richer, deeper and more impactful. Above all, it’s about how these different disciplines illuminate one another to glean some insight, directly or indirectly, into that grand question of how to live, and how to live well.

I can’t find the right words, or some fancy expression to describe how much value I get out of reading the BrainPickings website. My life and mind is enriched by reading it. Maria reads all these great books from the library and she condenses it down to the useful and essential for our consumption and reflection. You must check it out if you haven’t. 

Apart from BrainPickings, I read from a few other literary websites. I read writing pieces from writers who I admire on The New Yorker online. Admitedly, I am trying to fine tune my writing, so reading The New Yorker articles by some of the greatest writers today is something that I have to do. There are 2 other websites that I also try to keep up with and they are; On BeingThe MinimalistsSam Harris blogs and Hazlit. Also I like reading this blog by a very talented young writer who I admire – Cody Delistray. I read them all for the same reasons; great writing and an array of interesting ideas that gets me thinking and writing myself.

So that is my Internet diet which I use to get me informed, interested and excited. There is a lot more exciting things to uncover for I feel that my internet search – in a useful and meaningful way – has just begun. It has been a great so far with this particular internet diet, I feel more leaner and full of energy, in the head that is.  

If you share my enthusiasms for anything mentioned above do let me know. Also I would love and appreciate suggestions for anything that you enjoy and feel that it could be useful to me too – like your favorite you tube channel, podcast, blog or website. Thanks for reading, stay happy and safe in your personal internet adventures. 

Advertisements

A Most Fun Job Interview

Last week Friday I had a job interview, the first one in quite a long while. I am always excited about job interviews, I get to talk to the important people within an organization, without knowing how important they are yet, which is cool, and we converse as equals, with me hoping that I get hired. When succesful, then the organizational structure kicks in and I tip toe around them, respecting them for their important’ness. 

I love interesting questions, I love answering them and also seeing what sort of answers I can pull out, off the top of my head. It’s like some sort of game for me, a challenging game that I try to win. At times I miss, I have an embarrasing flop in answering certain questions and other times I hit the spot, making me thrust my hand side to side, doing the choreography to Beyoncés song Formation, singing 🎵I slay! I slay! I slay! 🎶

Talking about interview flops, I got shortlisted for this job in this other organisation that I dreamed of working in sometimes this year. This particular organization has a significant focus on our agriculture sector. The job requirement was a Degree in Agriculture or Agricultural Economics or Agribusiness and somehow I got through with my Economics and Finance degree. They asked me questions about agriculture, and I learned then how I hadn’t any clue about agriculture at all, even though I grew up in a farming community. I may have grown up in the farm but I don’t know how to milk a cow, ride a horse and I have never engaged in commercial farming. The interviewer asked me how many acres of land we had and I didn’t know what acres meant, well I have never taken a measuring tape and measured the entire land area and neither have I had any interest in reading my dad’s documents about the land. He asked me about the viability of an agricultural business, ignorant me, I confidently answered that I believed it was viable. Few months later I actually realize how that agricultural endeavour wouldn’t be viable, it would have failed. Thank goodness I didn’t get the job, I wouldve been bad at it and miserable in it. 

Remember few weeks ago I talked about the few good job applications that I did and the ones I was crossing my fingers for. Well I had an interview for one of them last week Friday. Oh what a relief it was, to finally get called. I had to travel to Suva for the interview. I have to travel for four hours in order to attend interviews in Suva. I hate sitting still in a bus for four hours, it’s exhausting. 

I have made the mistake a couple of times of travelling early in the morning for 4 hours, getting straight off the bus and then straight into the boardroom for the interview. Tired, my mind slows down, desperately needing rest and refuel. I remember once looking at the interviewer funny, thinking; ‘Is that a true question? Sorry, I dont know anything about your organisation. I had other pressing things to do while travelling here, like watching You Tube videos and reading BrainPickings articles – which to be honest, is more interesting than reading your companies website.’ There goes the interview and the four hour commute down the drain. 

This special job interview on the other hand was the most fun I have ever attended. I enjoyed it so much. They were very interactive as interviewers. They knew which questions to ask and how to follow that question up with another interesting question. 

Some interviewers just stick to the script that they have. Sometimes I feel that they are more nervous than me. Some interviewers blankly stare, looking and talking in a very bland way, atleast from a few that I have endured. Like seriously, I get bored sometimes. I get to imagine what the job will be like, thinking that this would be the same group of people I will work with. In these situations I fear that I would suffer from prolonged exposure to uninteresting people and end up having some sort of brain death. 

Now back to this job interview. I applied for this job basically trying out my luck. Initially, I didn’t want to become too invested, expecting to get a call back, because the Organization is a huge one, a prestigious one and the position is a very promising one too – it requires people of high calibre. I didn’t know if I would be considered and I was okay if I wasn’t. But then, hey I did get a call back and I felt so proud. 

I exclaimed to my mum, “Na they called! I am so proud that they considered me for an interview but I dont think I’ll go, I’ll just bask in the glorious feeling of being considered. It feels good.” My mum thought that I was being ridiculous, whereas I thought that it was admirable of me. She ensured that I went. And I did go. It was worth it!

I went a day in advance, so I had rested well prior to the interview. Everything was perfect. Don’t you feel that sometimes, things goes smoothly, there is a perfect flow, well that was the case in this interview. I didn’t make too much effort, it just all happened naturally. This time I did my research of the organisation in advance. The organisation is of great interest to me, the work that they do, their vision, mission and core purpose just aligns with my own. A small but significant part of my interest in life links with the work that the organization does. It was very interesting reading up on the organization. I really felt like this is where I wanna be, climbing up the career ladder, this is where I wanna spend a good portion of my work life in. 

On my way to Suva city, I stopped at Nausori town, roamed around there for a bit. My uncle, who works at the Nausori Airport – as a Pilot – was supposed to pick me up from there and take me up to Suva. Fortunately, he was still tied up (probably flying the plane off somewhere unexpectedly) at work so I had a little bit of time to roam around town. I wanted to check out the small lovely town with the iconic bridge. I checked out their second hand shop for books and I found Reading Jackie by William Kuhn selling for only $1. Its an account of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a reader, writer and a intellectual. I can’t wait to read that one. I will read it after I finish Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I had lunch at Nausori town, I roamed around that small town and then caught the bus back to Suva. 

So I had learned everything that I wanted to learn about the organization which left me with enough time to catch up with my relatives in Suva. My favorite Aunty, who used to be a party girl, the scandalous queen of the West, who was also my best friend, adventurous partner in crime and confidant, is now married with two kids. She is lovingly settled yet she still has that sense of fun in her and her husband is a cool man – eventhough he is a bit older than her. 

The interview was scheduled for 10.45 am. I went early because of early morning traffic and also buses in that area of Suva likes to swirl around the neighbourhood for 45 minutes before it finally flings itself off to Suva. I was not taking any risks so I went early. Suva was still the same old Suva that I left. It was great to go back and I hope to go back next year – getting back into the system of buzzing and happening city life. 

Walking into the building, I remembered how when I was still at University, passing by, on my way to school, I used to daydream of a chance to work in that building. Atleast Financial Career wise, it is the organisation that interested me along with this other organization where I had that interview flop. Inside the building, it is so amazing. It has a large work space. Everything inside is modern. Also the people working inside look so professional, so smart and intelligent in their dressing and in the way they walk about. 

As soon as I got out of the elevator on the office floor, I went straight into the washroom, freshned up for I had walked quite a considerable distance from the bus stand to the building. I was sweating. I also rehearsed in the washroom thinking it was empty, but I was was caught by surprise when a toilet flushed from a cubicle and someone came out of it. No awkwardness passed between us, I just ignored him and I continued neatly adjusting and parting my frizzy hair into place. 

I went out and sat in the cozy warm reception area – with dimmed romantic light – for a few minutes, smiling at the receptionist and asking the lovely lady whose name I remembered over the phone how many people were interviewing. Its not a very large number, so the probability of my success is okay. I had a friend who I applied with and he was also shortlisted for the interview. I checked up on him and also had to encourage him to come fast and not to be alarmed by the beautiful, competitive diversity of the other candidates also interviewing. 

Then as I am sitting there, calming myself, a lovely Itaukei woman who I later learn is the Human Resource manager peeps out of the doorway – from the inside of the work space where the boardroom was in – and asked the receptionist where the relieving panelist is and if she was coming anytime soon – all said with a big, genuine welcoming smile. She also asked me if I could just wait for a few minutes. I smiled back at her and told her that it’s okay and I hadn’t any problem with waiting. I learned from the receptionist that I was the fourth candidate to be interviewed.

Few minutes later, the HR manager lady opens the door out for me and then accompanying me into the boardroom. She warmly led me into the boardroom with a huge bright smile. And the other panelists also had their genuine warm ‘bula’ smiles on. They even stood up and shook my hands when I entered, introducing themselves. It felt so good, I felt so welcomed. When I am writing this and recalling it, I realize how special that moment was and how very warm the panelist reception to me was. They were kind and friendly. I took to them instantly. They are the people who I want to work with, they were amazing.  

The questions started with the usual first question; “Please tell us a little about yourself.” Now that question, as simple as it is, is one the most difficult questions for me to answer. Good thing was that I had rehearsed my answer to that in advance, and it started off the interview on a good note. Then the interview just led into a great deal of interesting discussions. We were laughing and we shared enthusiasms and interests. I shared an interest in Elon Musk with the main panelist, who could potentially be my supervisor if I am succesful. I enjoyed the interview so much and I had a great time.

Now, I am awaiting the result of the interview. Next process is an interview with their super intelligent and charismatic CEO. I am positive about it. I am getting invested in this. All my expectations and emotions, I am heavily investing it in. I want it so bad. I wanna cry getting it or I wanna cry if I don’t get it. This job means so much to me. I want it so bad, for so many reasons. Its perfect for me. This is it – the make it or break it. I am intentionally investing all of myself, emotionally and mentally into this. 

I feel that at times we need to take chances and throw all of our hope and effort into something. To take the great emotional risk for something, once in awhile. So now, I am crossing my fingers and waiting, hoping and praying that I go through. But heyy, if I dont get it, I might be disappointed an confused for a short while but then I’ll adjust my sail and set off again. Life goes on, eventhough at time’s we don’t know how it will do so after an ending. 

Wish me luck, I need it! I am wishing you all the best too in whatever you are hoping and praying for. We are all in this together. 

‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens

I am proud of the fact that I am able to ‘somehow’ read classic novels. This has to be the third classic novel that I have read and classics are not easy to read, atleast for me, its not. For Charles Dicken’s novels, this is the second book that I am reading; The Curiosity Shop was the first, but than I only half read it because of the spooky characters and the desolate situation that the main characters are in. So maybe that doesnt count, however I will read it again, sometimes soon.

I finished reading Great Expectations few days ago. When I was reading it, I found it a bit of a surprise how very interactive the writing style is, with us, the readers. I found Charles Dicken’s writing style to be a bit modern, I may not be an expert at this because I havent read much Classics, but I say this, because of its similarities with some of the writing styles employed by some modern authors that I have read.

So the novel is narrated by the young boy – Pip, the main character. In the begining we are introduced to him and his life being raised up ‘by hand’ by his sister Mrs Gargery, after the loss of his entire family, with no obvious explanation as to how they died, atleast while I was reading I couldnt get out how they died. 

The novel starts off with him being in the grave yard reading his parents Tomb stones when he met with a very scary incident – an encounter with an on the run convict. The convict made up some scary stories and threatened him in order to obtain some food, money and a metal file. 

It was around christmas time when this event went down and he obliged after being threatened with his life. Being a guilable terrified little boy he ran off home and did as he was told by the convict. 

Then we are introduced to his guardians, Mr and Mrs Joe Gargery. Mr Joe Gargery (Joe) is a blacksmith – a very nice and hardworking man. Mrs Gargery – Pips sister – on the other was a very bossy and aggressive woman who often got physical with both Pip and Joe. Since they were both receipients of her beatings, shaking and shoveing, they ultimately backed each other, confided in one another and protected the other from her wrath. They became the best of friends and for life it was. 

Pip’s life is sad, we can say. He was  a kid who didnt have the comforts of a home he can call his own, a loving mother and a loving father. His only surviving relation, his real sister was very rough with the way she brought him up and reminded him all the time of how much she had to sacrifice to bring him up and how Pip was such a burden. He also had worser uncles, relatives and family friends who made him know how much he was a burden. He was always the subject of their conversations during dinner time and he had no option but to sit through it and hear his pittiful existance being tossed around like some dirty rag. 

That christmas, in the begining of the book, we see Pip stealling from the house and taking the needed supplies to the awful prisoner in the marshes. Now I forgot to mention in advance that Pip grew up in the marshland. Over dinner that evening we are also introduced to the other characters like Mr Pumblechook and Mr Wopsle, the typical village know it all and wannabes, which I happen to know of true life examples in my own life, in my village and in towns. They are not necessarily men, women too can be Mr Wopsle and Mr Pumblechook. 

It was on that Christmas evening that the escaped convicts were caught, towards the end we find out how everything is linked, even those two convicts who seems like miscellanous characters in the begining are all part of the grander story in this book. 

Then there is the rich lady Miss Havisham, the ghostly looking woman who is stuck in time, living in a large dark mansion where also everything stopped, most importantly, the wall clock stuck on a particular time. We later learn, that the time on the clock is the time in which her heart was broken, the time that brought her whole existenc into a hault. There is a wedding banquet with rotted food from something like decades ago and a moldy wedding cake in a room where she likes to visit with Pip. She was a very sad woman and she had a young beautiful adopted daughter Estella. After being fortunate enough to be invited to the mansion through Mr Pumblechook, Pip formed an attachment to the young beautiful Estella and visited more often to Satis House – the name of that mansion. 

Now what is this book about? Well, the title of the book is actually what the book is all about – how Pip came into great expectations of a large fortune and becoming a gentleman in London – getting educated and having money to spend. This book talks about London of those days, with lots of mention of dilapitated buildings, grime, dirt and dust. We are introduced to the very stern and upfront lawyer; Mr Jaggers who is a highly demanded lawyer by the downtrodden people. Most of his clients were the poor desperate people. Mr Jaggers became Pips guardian after he came into expectations, he looked after his finances which was mostly handled by Wemmick his clerk who was of great help to Pip, professionally and personally. 

Wemmick was a true professional, he separated his character at work from his character at home. He kept an amazing home that Pip visited occasionally. Pip had a friend, Herbert, who he got off on a wrong start with. They had a small fist fight, but a very fairly played one in the begining in Miss Havishams mansion. Later they became the most closest of friends. 

Pip was kept in the dark as to who was the founder of his fortune and one of the conditions of his expectations was that he never asked questions or sought out its source. Pip went into problems, especially with overspending and also he had a fondness for the cold Estella who was raised that way. Why does Pip love Estella, I dont get it but I do understand that things like that happen in real life. Obviously, as a reader I disapprove of Pips affection for her. She doesnt deserve his love and somewhere along the way I figured that she would do him so much bad rather than good. She was spoilt and trouble for him. Beautiful people make foolish people act foolish and leave them feeling miserable and foolish in the end. I somehow related to this quote: 

I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four – and – twenty hours was harping on the hapiness of having her with me unto death. 

The story goes on and on and we have to keep up with the classic language and description. Thank goodness, this book got footnotes or else I would have been reading on without a clue of what some terms were, making some made up assumptions and then reading on. Classic books ought to be respected for how long they have lasted. Some people love them and get them. To be fair I loved certain parts of it. Maybe, I think I did. Anyways I read it till the end and I got what was going on – that I can say. I even found myself making some predictions while reading as to how the events would turn out – which was all so wrong. 

As a person from a closely knit village, I related so much to Pip. Yes, maybe one of the reasons why I had some sort of aversion while reading it, is because it reminds me some bits and pieces that made my childhood so dreadful in the village. I know of people who seek attention and like to take credit for other peoples success – that I can relate to. I have met a few characters like Mr Pumblechook and Mr Wopsle in my life. Also, the changing faces of people when you are successful with great prospects and when you fail with a seemingly bleak horizon. Some people can be smart and for one, I swear to myself I dont need that kind of attention and I hope to keep myself away from such kind of people. I believe we can relate to this story in terms of coming into great expectations, having your life change and how we can loose ourselves in it all. Also we never know who can come into our life and actually change it, family, friends and loved ones can come from the most unlikeliest places in our journey through life. It also teaches us to stay grounded and continue to stay in touch with those who love us unconditionally – those who dont need us to be rich with great prospects and future, in order to love us. Thats important and its an important take away message I got from this book.

To be honest, I read this book, I am glad to have finished it but I didnt really enjoy it. It made me feel gloomy. I think there maybe other great works by Charles Dickens that I might like but not so much this one. However I respect this book and the author and the storyline and how it all came together in the end is great. I liked the ending portion of the book. 

If you are a Charles Dickens fan, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on what makes Charles Dickens novels tick for you? Also what is your favorite Charles Dickens novel? 

The Village Sign Board | Flash Fiction

Picture from Pinterest

A passenger in a black – posh looking car – travelling back to his busy life in the City found himself seized by the laid back look and content air of my village. The young man who ‘was’ not proficient at Itaukei language read the big sign board that said ‘Welcome to Nakoroya Village’, trying to pronounce the Itaukei word. The village was a congregation of neatly arranged, multi-coloured – Brick, corrugated iron and wooden – houses, with a single thatched Bure standing amongst them proudly.

As the car respectfully crawled by to cross two road humps, the young man dreamily looked out taking in the village passing by before his eyes. The green grass and leafy tropical plants that bordered houses and pathways. The tall Lemon tree with a wooden bench underneath, standing beside an outdoor corrugated iron kitchen and cooking on its fireplace was a black-based pot with steam seeping from the little slit opening of its silver iron lid. Three piglets ran around freely. Few dogs lay sleeping underneath a mango tree and above it – Mynah birds screeched and pecked away at ripe – red and yellow – mangoes.

Two small brown naked children stood beside a tap splashing water at each other from a blue plastic bucket, while a young lady, probably their mother, hung her newly washed laundry out on the clothes line. He giggled warmly seeing the children laughing with water glistening on their faces and dripping through their fingers.

He snapped out of his reverie when the car slowly came to a hault beside the concrete village bus shelter where two young women from the village sold mangoes.

This black car came upon us when our faces were fresh with laughter. I was laughing at Miliana’s jokes about Tai Kisitoni, disrespectful jokes, but ones that we enjoyed so much because he was a mean man of all sorts who made our lives miserable in the village.

When the car parked in front of us we stopped our conversation and smiled at the passengers of the car. Miliana stood up to greet them.

“Bula, how much?” the large fair man in the front seat asked.

“Five dollars,” answered Miliana who knew little, but enough English to understand and answer. She showcased her wide welcoming smile as if her teeth were also on display and ready for sale.

My attention was immediately drawn to the young man at the back seat, the daydreamer with dreamy eyes who looked at me with friendly interest. I smiled and turned my attention away to Miliana instead who waved flies off the mangoes beside me, eagerly waiting for them to tell how many mounds of mangoes they will take.

“Do you have change for $50?” the driver finally asked.

“No,” Miliana answered softly, we didn’t even have change for 50 cents because they were our first customers.

Carefully looking back into the car I found him smiling. He had light brown eyes and a fair creamy complexion. This attention that he continued to pay me, made my heart flutter and I felt this foolish feeling of losing touch with the cement pavement at my feet.

Mr Dreamy eyes with creamy face moved at the back. “Oh don’t worry,” he intervened. “I got $10 and we will take two mounds of those mangoes,” he titled slightly to get the money out from his pocket. Miliana looked at me, smiled a knowing smile and then began packing up the ripest looking mangoes into the plastic bag.

He got out of the car and came over to our table.

“Bula, I am Steven,” he introduced himself.

“Bula, I am Rusila,’’ I answered and likewise Miliana also replied with her name, taking the money from him. She continued packing in the second mound of mangoes while stealing small mischievous glances at me.

“Nice names, Miliana and Rusila. And this is a beautiful village. How do you pronounce the name of your village?” he asked me in particular, looking back at the two sided sign board.

“Nah.Koh.Roh.Yah,” I replied, smiling, feeling more comfortable with his dreamy, out of the village presence.

“Welcome to ‘Nah.Koh.Roh.Yah boys’’ he said to his friends. “I invite you for a grog session at Rusila’s house”, he told them, not in a pervy mocking way that some boys do to flirt with girls, but in an innocent joking way which was respectful at the same time.

“Yeah right, Rusila’s brothers will warmly welcome you with their fists before they make you sit down with them for grog”, the driver said and they all laughed in the car. “Sorry Rusila, this kid here likes to welcome himself to other people’s villages. He hasn’t even been to his village,” the driver further added, and the two other passengers continued to laugh, even adding in their funny remarks to Steven who also laughed along with them.

“Don’t listen to them girls, they don’t even have a village”, he retorted while taking the plastic of mangoes from Miliana.

We both laughed at his joke, matter of fact we laughed at all their jokes, not deciding whose joke was funnier, not even trying to understand them, we just kindly laughed along. It felt good to be included in their city conversation. In that small moment we felt like the cool city girls on TV, chatting with smart, sophisticated city boys.

“Vinaka for the mangoes Rusila and Miliana,” shaking both our hands.

We both smiled and said ‘vinaka’ back.

“Right,” he paused taking another good look at the village.

“It was really nice meeting you two lovely ladies, till we pass by this way gain, vinaka and moce,’’ finally making his way back to his seat in the car.

The driver and the two other passengers also waved and bid us their ‘moce’.

It was in passing by that Steven performed a small salute gesture like some cool cowboy from the movies and I in return giggled the most soft girlish giggle ever.

We sat smiling and in silence, watching the car drive away, waiting for it to be out of visible sight, holding in our rising excitement.Safely out of sight, we both burst out in a crazy fit of laughter, laughing at what we both understood and needs not to be said outright.

“Steven, Steven, Steven please don’t go. Take me with you to Suva. Take me with those mangoes. I am sweeter than those mangoes. Please I beg you,” Miliana putting on a grand act, mocking me.

“You are crazy Miliana, he was just being nice to us.”

“And did you think he was nice?” she winked at me.

“Oh he was Nice,” I widened my eyes and we both burst out laughing again not noticing the incoming old white Four Wheel Drive with the man inside who started to narrow his eyes and shake his head in disapproval of our loud raucous laughing. Miliana noticed the car first as it got close and rapidly said “FS! FS! FS!”

We both collected ourselves and acted proper, waiting for my granduncle Tai Kisitoni’s car; FS 800 to pass by. Tai Kisitoni was a pot-bellied dark man with the distinct shiny bald head. He was feared and respected by most villagers for his deep thundering voice and slicing bitter tongue that ruthlessly humiliated and insulted those that dare cause him any dismay.

We knew we were in trouble because we were obviously acting inappropriately as per standards that girls like us should maintain as female members of the village. And as expected, he stopped right in front of us and fearfully we both looked into his eyes.

“Pack it all up. Pack the mangoes up. Come on, pack it up Now!” he roared.

Silently with trembling fingers we both started packing it into the buckets that we brought the mangoes in.

“Is that how girls are supposed to be acting by the roadside? Laughing loudly. What were you doing there? Calling boys and men driving by to sell them mangoes or were you two trying to sell yourselves.”

We both looked at his eyes meekly, holding our breaths while collecting the mangoes, for nothing irritated him more than a person who doesn’t look at him while he or she is being counselled.

“And I don’t think so you should be sitting there Rusila. I’ll have a word with your father, you should be at home helping your mother. And Miliana, make sure to tell your father he should be ashamed of himself for letting you sit on the road side selling mangoes. Where are your brothers, they should be doing this, not you. Now hurry up, I don’t want to see you both here when I drive by. Fast! Pack it up!”

His car entered into the village changing the scene from peaceful village bliss to our typical village life where we tiptoed around my unstoppable granduncle Tai Kisitoni. In the brink of crying I helped Miliana pack in the mangoes. After awhile she softly whispered, “Steven,” with a mischievous smile in her face. That night we came back and threw soft ripe mangoes at the village sign board leaving yellow marks and dried mango skins on it. Miliana wrote in dark bold capital letters ‘Welcome Steven’. 

These Days

Well these days I have been resting very well – one could say not by choice because I am unemployed at the moment and I am still awaiting results from the few good job applications that I did for the last few weeks. I am getting very good at writing application letters – I am prose writing to potential employers; ‘Hire me! Yours Sincerely, Charles Dickens.’  

But to be really honest, I have been enjoying my time at home. I love it, I am at a bliss. Obviously, and I say this with so much confidence that I WILL EVENTUALLY GET A GREAT JOB SOON, but hopefully before the New Year or it would be really nice to start work soon during Diwali Fesyival – the Indian festival of lights which is celebrated here in Fiji that involves lots of sweets and fire crackers. Starting before Diwali would be most ideal because I want to feast on a lot of Indian sweets from co-workers (I know how ridiculous that sounds, especially if you are a reader from Fiji or who has lived in Fiji). 

However without much pressure, for now I am living, I am breathing, I am resting, I am reading often and I am staying informed and connected. I am currently reading ‘Great Expectation’ by Charles Dickens and I have read 15 books so far, I am aiming for more than 20 this year. Oh and not forgeting the fact that I am writing too. Gosh I shouldnt talk about that .. shhhh .. but then eventually few of my small works that I have been working on will appear here on my blog and I will be sending a few out too. Yes, I am ready for rejections, or no responses, but hoping those small works of fiction will be published. I had this idea, a Flash kind of idea that I thought would work well with the blog and again I shouldnt talk much about it, but Ill post it up hear on the virtual home of my imaginations and thinking soon. Give me a bit of time, just a bit. 

My goodness, I feel as if I am rambling again, a bit scatty, but hey who cares, atleast thats what authentic conversations with a friend is mostly like. We could talk for hours, at our great comforts with friends on everything and nothing in particular, topics just intertwining or sprouting from the earth. 

So yeah, for the past couple of days I just thought that I will be honest, truthful and little bit more open on this blog. Like if you should meet me in real life, you would be like, “Oh I know what you are going through and sorry for that,” or “Hey congratulations on (that thing).” Not that I want to be pittied or praised or be a braggart, no nothing of that sorts, its just that I want to be more transparent and comfortable in this space. 

You know what, I love to watch You Tube videos of people who I admire and who are invested in a similar craft which I wanna be invested in. One of the thing that came out of a video that I watched recently is that we should enjoy what we are doing – like oh my gosh, thats such a no brainer Kaliova. But then really, it sounded very new to me. Like, wow, thats such a cool idea and it makes sense. It was an Adele, Michelle Phan and also Author Stephen Kings video interviews that I watched recently that this idea stood for me. They talked (on seperate interviews in case you are wondering) about how we should enjoy the process of doing what we do and be fans of our works ourselves (vanity, no, positive self esteem, yes). We need to do something that we would like to see, read, hear, taste or watch ourselves. Enjoy yourselves my darlings. Just delve deeper into your craft, and work towards a niche market. Just focus and have fun. Do the work. Lets hunker down and do the worker. Its difficult, I know but lets do it. Come on, lets chant… put your fist up – Do The Work! Do the work! Do the Work! Yes, friends, yes. 

On that end, regarding this blog and my overall dream, I have been working on a few things. I am trying to create contents that I want to like myself. By the way, do I mention enough how I am working on becoming an official writer. It gives me a bit of goosebumps, to admit that here, its uncomfortable to have to admit publicly. And a lot of things I will be saying here from here on will be personal and uncomfortable to admit but as I said, I hope to be more transparent on this blog. Thats my 800 words of personal stuffs, filed under Personal with an intention to be more connected with readers (assuming I have some). Okay byee! Have a great weekend. 

Breathing Underwater

Entirely and dangerously consumed
Uncontrollably crazy and filled up till the brim
A separate world of our own making.
It’s paradise
It’s warmth, it’s fire, it’s water

Rolling around the red earth
Dust rises from the ground, heat from the sun,
Sweat on my back and chest, drips and drops to the sand on my feet.
It sticks, I lick and taste the salt, I need
I feel enclosed, in a closed space
Inhaling warm damp air
Savoring a distinct smell
I lay in peace, regaining zeal

A bird spreads its wings
The heavens changes its scene
We most alive enduring a peaceful death
Begining just to gain a pleasent end
Then we repeat, traversing the silky bends

Clear torrents of oxygen rush through my chest
Falling,Rising
Breathless, breathing deep
Suspended underneath the cool of your deep
I twist and turn, feeling so free
I can breathe, in your deep
Best we remain in my deep
Best alive within the deepest of our deep

‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy

I read this book straight after I finished reading the last one. I was really eager to read another book, which is a very good thing as I used to secretly dread the idea of reading another book before. Now I am like hungry towards reading new books. That’s because I made an effort at making reading become a good habit of mine. Also thanks to the last book I just read where I was introduced to a compulsive reader – oh I just loved that book, I continue to think about it and I am still seeking suggestions for other books like it – Parisiane and bookish based books. 

So this novel by Arundhati Roy is a Man Booker Prize winner for the year 1997, same year that the beloved Princess Diana died. I was very young then so I hadnt any awareness of this two events. I was born in 1993, so this book is almost by 4 years – older than me. Its been 20 years since Arundhati Roy published this book and this year she came out with another novel ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’.

This book is a very unique book, thats what I can lamely or instantly describe it as. It wasnt a comfortable read, its very deep, the way the words and the sentences are used – it plays this sort of game that is meant to appeal to our emotions as a reader. I guess that is why it won the Man Booker Prize (MBP). In case you arent aware, I give you credit for guessing that the MBP is a big deal of an award in the world of Literature and Writing. I have not much of an idea about the award too, but definitely it would be really really nice to win it as a novelist.

This book is to a large extent an atmospheric read. She describes the environment and the surrounding very beautifully, very creative with a poetic sort of language.  Parts of the novel was a bit graphic for my senses, they stand out in my memory of the book. All that description about phlegm, Esthapens encounter with the Lemondrink man and the idea of Sophie Mol doing cartwheels in her coffin, and many others which is explained in gruesome raw detail – I just found it very troubling, it made my stomach churn abit. I have a weak stomach for these kind of things. 

The book follows an Anglophile Kerala family in India. Anglophile according to Uncle Chacko, means people who have adapted the English culture strongly into their lives or have a great fascination with the English culture. This novel follows the 2 Egg twins – Rahel, the girl twin and Estha, the boy twin. Also it looks at the lives of the other family members and the household at Ayemenem. The household in the novel consists of the mother Ammu, grandmother Mamachi, grandfather Papachi, grand baby Aunty Kochama, house maid Kochu Maria, their uncle who was educated at Oxford; Chako. Also there is the visitors, their British ex Aunty Margaret Kochama, former wife of Uncle Chacko and there untouchable workers Velutha and his father whos name escapes me now as I am quickly writing this. 

The family is a well known and established touchable family in Ayemenem and they are Christians. They are well educated, supporting the fact that Kerala is the state with high level of literacy. At the point in their lives that this novel is writen from, the life of the family seems to be slowly crumbling apart. Former glory of the family is slowly starting to be challenged and shaken, its foundation starts to get weaker. We are introduced to each adult character and given their back story throughout this book – there personal tragedies and losses. Its a bit melancholic. I might have laughed once in the book, I remember I did but cant remember which particular place or what it was.

The book introduces us to each character  and all events leading up till the one day that changed their lives forever. I guess what this book tries to teach us is that change can happen very quickly, in one day. The life changing event barely takes place within a few days less then 3 weeks from the day that their cousin Sophie Mol and her mother Margaret Kochama arrives in Ayemenem on a holiday after the tragic loss of Joe her husband.

The twins is obviously the main character of this book. To me, reading this book, I feel that these two twins are privilidged, they know that but more than anything they felt confused by the adults around them. They wanted to be loved ad they wanted to learn as much about the world around them. They were damaged to a certain extent by the troubled adults.

Some very horrific and graphic things happened in this book. They were all a result of status in society which dictates who should be loved and how much. I am loosely quoting a significant phrase from the book their. A scandal happened and it ruined the family. Reading the book we are made to realise how very complex a society is. I mean I totally relate. Homosexual relationships would be a very scandalous thing in my society, people will talk and being the person who people are talking about is very unpleasant. This is another book about people struggling to live a life according to deeply rooted societal definitions of how to love and who should be loved.

The way she uses language is very vivid and also poetic, the characters and environment really come to live in all its rawness. She starts of with an introduction to the environment, it acclimatises us to Ayemenem and that lasts with us as we read on. She confidently writes about her region, which I admire and applaud. I think the genius of her writing makes it appeal to a wider audience not familiar to the region. Ill give it time, maybe in a few years, I could take a deeper appreciation and a greater liking to this book. I am keen to re-read it later on and discover the magic of it.