By Patricia Page
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Extra info for Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji
They would go off to inspect plantations Hanka Singh managed for my father’s company. I, too, was impressed; mainly by the great rolling haunches of the horses as they departed and their plumy fly-switching tails. My parents referred to Hanka Singh as a Sirdar even though Sirdars — vicious Indian team leaders who often treated their own kind worse than the white overseers did — had gone out with indenture in 1920. Perhaps my parents and other colonials saw the Indians — in spite of their nose-blowing habits — as more civilised than the Fijians.
The spirit ladies must be mighty pleased with the result. ’ Utopia behind us, we crossed the Navua River — narrower and more mysterious than the Sigatoka, its steep banks rent with waterfalls. Gay suggested we come back there later for a whitewater rafting trip. ‘White-water rafting? ’ A picture sprang up in my mind’s eye of Gay and me in helmets and puffy jackets swirling around in angry froth. She was always more interested than me in doing sporty things, having been in rowing teams, hockey teams, and playing a mean game of tennis all her life.
It took two hours less, stopped at the luxury resorts along the way, and would deliver us to our backpackers’ hostel before nightfall. We filled our small packs and left our suitcases in the box room of the Sandalwood Inn. These were cheerfully heaved around by the same Fijian who’d picked us up at the airport and played the guitar in the dining room. He fussed over us like a fond and anxious uncle. ‘Where you going now? You all right there? ’ Our guidebook had told us that ‘tipping is not expected or encouraged in Fiji’ so we didn’t tip him or anyone else during our stay.
Across the Magic Line: Growing Up in Fiji by Patricia Page