I don’t know if the Monsoon season is upon us but rain is thundering down as I write. So far any rain here, and there has been precious little of it in the past month, has fallen at night time.
The thunder has been quite strong the last couple of nights and when it rains it is as if the gods are emptying the heavens. Whether this is the actual Monsoon or just the start of it I really don’t know.
It was a very comfortable 35 degrees this afternoon when we went to the supermarket in search of candles for the birthday cake. The daughter-in-law’s niece and I were sharing our birthday lunch.
I’d made one of my chocolate cakes which turned out okay but not the same as if I were making it at home…. different ingredients, different kitchen utensils …… but it worked out okay in the end and better than I thought it would. And the only candles we could get had Christmas figures attached to them. They don’t celebrate Christmas here – so what’s that all about?
To my horror as the candles were lit and we were singing happy birthday to the lovely 12 year old, the candle grease melted to form a watery congealing pool at the base of both candles. The Christmas figures were melting before our eyes faster than a snowman would in the tropics!
I am fascinated by the different flowers here and these large yellow flowers were on what looked like an evergreen growing over the wall bounding the property where the birthday lunch was held
Later, when we were doing a U-turn at a fork in the road so we could take the three girls shopping, I spotted this beautiful display of Bougainville.
(The son said he deserved a medal because he had five women with him in the car and was brave enough or foolhardy enough to take all of us shopping!)
U-turns are common place here, even on really busy main roads and you swing right and wait for space to slot in between the oncoming vehicles. The son’s car is so large more often than not the U-turn can’t be completed in a single turn and he has to reverse into the path of the oncoming traffic.
Zebra crossings are just there for decoration as rarely does anyone stop at them. Sadly a young mother and her child were run over by a bus on one yesterday. The mother did not survive. Buses seem to be a law unto themselves. They bulldoze at a rate of knots through the lanes and the most sensible thing is to give way to them whether you have the right of way or not.
There are gaily painted and decorated bicycles which you can stop and can buy a lottery ticket from the cyclist. There is not enough profit for them to afford to sell the tickets from a motorcycle or tuk tuk. A ticket sale of 200 rupees gives the cyclist a commission of 20 rupees. 1,000 rupees is the equivalent approximately of five euros.
I spotted a baby – about eight months – wedged between its parents aboard a motorbike. The parents both had helmets on but the smiling little chap was as happy as can be enjoying all the traffic.
(It reminded me of the time I received a panic phone call at work from youngest son’s nursery school teacher to report my eldest son, abut 16 at the time, had collected the child as arranged but had wedged my precious baby between himself and his best friend and driven them down the main road from Streatham Hill, London, aboard his motor scooter. My child too had enjoyed the experience of being driven home in this manner which was, I found out, quite a regular occurrence.)
People walk along the railway lines here just as you see in the Indian films. And people walk everywhere here mainly holding umbrellas. They use umbrellas for shade from the sun and tonight they were using them as shelter from the rain as we were driving home in the dark. Some vehicles had their lights on and others just didn’t.
We passed a cyclist holding an umbrella aloft in his right hand and steering with his left. The other day, whilst stopped at traffic lights, a vehicle crossed ahead of us. I couldn’t get the camera out of the handbag in time but the vehicle had two wheels between an engine, about the size of the engine for a ride-on mower and then the driver was steering the engine with two long straight blue handles whilst sitting on a makeshift trailer.
There’s also a little man we have seen on several occasions along the same stretch of road. He runs at half pace, in the middle of the road, pushing ahead of him a fairly big wooden cart laden with goods. He weaves in and out of the cars, buses and lorries and successfully manoeuvres over a busy main crossroads.
Today a tuk tuk came flying towards us on completely the wrong side of the road, against the two lanes of traffic, and cut across a gap to slot into the two lanes that were heading in the same direction as him.
I am exaggerate saying ‘flying’ as I am told they have a top speed of 30kmph.
Tomorrow we head to the passport office to renew my visa and if I am not allowed to stay will be heading home on Tuesday!