Random observations.

Funniest image so far – just outside the supermarket in Waigani (aka the ‘Stop’n’Shop on the highway), two grown men in security guard uniforms scurrying across the street as the traffic zoomed closer, giggling like school kids and holding hands as they ran. Yes, men hold hands here all the time. Sometimes it’s like a handshake, except there’s not too much shake and you don’t let go. You see friends reaching for each other’s hand’s instinctively in crowds, at PMV stops, on the busy streets of Boroko and Town. What you don’t see much at all is men and women holding hands. Cross-gender touching isn’t well regarded in public here.

Another great image – on one of dozens of posters and banners at big intersections, the portly but stern visage of the governor, Powes Parkop, frowning at bystanders and waggling his finger remonstratively. The posters and banners also bear the slogan ‘MASKI HALF SENSE NA LONG LONG – YU NO KEN SPETIM BUAI LONG ROT NA SPREDIM SIK TB’ (Don’t be half-sensed or crazy – you can’t spit betel nut along the road and spread tuberculosis). And of course the best of these banners and posters feature the unmistakable lurid red splash of buai expectorant all over the governor’s face. TB is a big deal here in PNG and the governor is at the forefront of what needs to be a huge campaign to reduce it. But the idea of getting people over here to quit their betel nut or be more responsible spitters is much like the the proverbial attempt at sweeping shit uphill with a feather duster (or whatever the anology is).

Yet another – the first day we were here, on being driven to the now-familiar but then-zany Gordons Foodworld (it’s actually still a zany place but for utterly different reasons), beholding a short caricature of a man with a fisherman’s cap and a wispy beard proffering a small wallaby to to exiting traffic. The man wore a huge encouraging grin, the wallaby looked anything but encouraged. When we drove out the man and the wallaby were gone. I feared the worst for the marsupial’s welfare.

Still another – at the Renbo markets in the fish section (ie right next to the road), a big awkward jelly-like blob amidst the colourful coral trout and red emperors. The stout woman tending the fish and swatting away flies with a leafy twig notices my interest and says, in the high-pitched lazy PNG meri style: “sqquuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidd.” I guess you had to be there. At the same market, half a dozen or so whole fire-charred wallabies, little forepaws sticking in the air in a macabre pose, their teeth locked into horrible grins. Fine dining, settlement style – think of the last time you were starving and in desperate need of protein before you make any judgements.

Last one – images in the Post Courier, ie Murdoch’s very own PNG daily newspaper, of the PNG national rugby league team cavorting like school kids at Wet’n’Wild waterslide park on the Gold Coast. The national team, called the Kumuls, are in the paper every day nowadays thanks to the League world cup, and they are gods over here – if I was confronted with one close-up I would of course assert without hesitation their Herculean status. But the image of the big men reclining butt-to-butt on an inflatable tube, giddy ecitement writ large on their expressions, was simply beautiful.

3 Responses to “Random observations.”

  1. 1 Larry November 4, 2008 at 8:48 am

    George, can you and pat please re-write this post into a comic?

  2. 2 Tavurvur November 5, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Your observations made me laugh 🙂 – Somethings are so simple yet they bear enormous meaning. I’ve seen Scenario 1 happen a thousand times – it’s PNG, a part of who we are. I managed to view Scenario 5 too – via the PC’s website. Those boys were enjoying themselves…it had to make you smile.

    Keep up your posts!


  3. 3 CRANKY November 6, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Hi Tavurvur – I assume you’re a proud PNGean then? I have a local reader, wow. Well, I hope I amuse and entertain, and certainly hope I don’t offend too much! I’ll check out your wordpress blog as soon as I get the chance – I make it to the Highway 11 internet cafe in Boroko once or twice a week. Cheers!

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