Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

A random night…

I thought I’d write a blog post about a random evening here.  It isn’t anything particularly exciting, but I thought that maybe some of you would find it interesting!  Last Friday I finally felt well enough to leave the house, after being sick for two weeks.  We decided to go eat dinner at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants in town.  We wandered into a video store in Nuku’alofa, and marveled over the fact that every single film was both pirated and illegal.  Copyright laws are laughably unenforced here.  Upon leaving, an Australian family wandered up to us.  They asked us what we were doing in Tonga, and we explained that we lived and worked here.  Each of them had this shell-shocked, confused look in their eyes.  They were here on vacation, but it didn’t seem to be panning out in the way they expected.  They incredulously explained that there was a power outage at the guest house, and the toilet wasn’t working.  After living here for over a year, it is hard to summon up the reaction they surely anticipated.  We kind of mumbled, “Uhmm, yeah.  Things like that happen here.  A lot.”  The father then went on, in a befuddled manner, to tell us that they had just witnessed someone pee in the street.  Gasp.  Once again we replied, “Yeah, that happens too.”  We wished them luck on their vacation, and went on our way to the Chinese restaurant.

Honestly, there aren’t that many great restaurants around here.  But there is a nice little Chinese spot that we enjoy.  It is connected to a Chinese Guest House.  Our waitress was probably about 17 or 18.  She was absolutely adorable and spoke zero English.  We asked her how long she had been in Tonga, and she spelled out the word w-e-e-k.  The interesting thing was that she had on a totally see-through shirt and a ridiculously short and transparent skirt.  It was clearly obvious that she had on a black bra and panties.  Huh.  We weren’t sure what to make to make of that, especially considering that Tonga is such an incredibly conservative county.  Women exposing shoulders and knees is viewed as scandalous.

After dinner, we stepped outside the restaurant and heard Indian music coming from a nearby hall.  Tonga has a very small Indian population, many of whom are Indo-Fijian and left Fiji after the coup in the late 1990s.  We wandered over and saw that it was a Hindu kirtan or satsang!  I became familiar with these types of gatherings through the yoga community in the United States.  I LOVE traditional Hindu devotional songs, and routinely listen to them on my ipod.  They invited us inside and we joined the event.  A live band played the tablas and various traditional instruments.  The singing was beautiful.  I immediately joined in; knowing most of the words.

Om Namah Shiva

Shree ram, ja ram, jai jai ram.

Om shanti, shanti, shanti

Durge, Durge, Durge, Jai Jai Ma

A few people looked really surprised that I sang along, and someone asked me if I was Hindu.  The event was actually a birthday celebration for their guru, Bhgwam Sri Sai Baba.  We loved the music, and stayed afterward for some delicious Indian desserts.  It was such an unexpected twist to the evening, one that we both treasured.

So all is well in Tonga, except that I feel like our house is potentially turning into a horror movie, “Attack of the Killer Ants.”  There are literally thousands of them, streaming in through cracks and crevices.  And they sting and bite.  Totally gross and annoying.  We are trying to fend them off with Mortein, which is a suspiciously lethal insecticide.  I just hope it is not as dangerous to us…  Hope all is well with you all and that you are enjoying this holiday season!

Our thoughts are with the people of both Mumbai, India and Thailand and the PCVs and Americans abroad living there through this difficult time.


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