I started my job at the National Fisheries College on Thursday. They showed me around the campus and I was introduced to the staff. As usual, many names I forgot the very instant they were told to me. How embarrassing. I need to work on that. Why is my brain wired like that? Why can I remember the more unimportant things in life, things I only hear once, usually when having had too many beers, like the fact that men, on average, fart 17 times a day while women only fart about 9 times a day? If you were to fart constantly for almost seven years you would produce enough gas to create an explosion which would match an atomic bomb. I admit I am not fully trusting the source of this information but it still amazes me I can easily remember this and have trouble remembering the names of people I am going to spend a whole year with. And I bet almost any amount of money, the fart facts will be the only thing you, my reader, will remember from this entire article. I know I’m not alone in this. Anyway, I am mainly working with John (whose name I did NOT forget for a change) for the first part of my assignment. He is the main IT person of the campus and I will be working with him to set up the editing system. For now, my office is a large, empty room I share with two more IT people working on the student database. Having all this office space pretty much for myself makes me feel like a CEO of a big corporation.
My job description says I have to evaluate the existing equipment and order the missing bits to complete everything. This part was really easy. The existing equipment consist of 0 items. Yep, there is nothing there. I have to order absolutely everything and start from scratch. This is awesome in one way because I can put something together I think is good to work with. On the other hand, it is a lot of stuff to think about and to do research on. There are many cameras and formats out there in the media universe, computer editing suites, software and so on. I also need to order all the small bits one needs for video productions, batteries, cables, headphones, lights, sound gear, tripods, waterproof bags, microphones etc. etc.
So I sat down and started my research online, read reviews about cameras and get prices. I pulled up my sleeves, cracked my fingers and started hammering the keyboard. However, the most part of those two days I spent staring at a spinning blue circle in my browser window and a blank page. The internet is just really, really slow. This is going to be interesting and it may take a while to just get an equipment list together. Once the order is out I will think about the next stages, training, setting up the studio and producing a demo video. I really want to get over the first stage fast. I wont be bored, I think.
I also took my first steps into Kavieng town. So far people have been very friendly. I do make a point to permanently smile and pretty much greet everybody who makes eye contact with me. Almost always do faces break out into a smile as a reaction. I am even starting my first little chats with the locals. Usually with the workers at the guesthouse I am currently staying. It turned out that one of the workers, Terence, has german roots. His grandfather was german. He was here back in the days when New Ireland was a german colony. So I taught him a few words and now I am being greeted with a “Guten Abend!” (Good evening) every time I come home. Even at 10 am on a Saturday morning.
On Thursday evening I was invited to a fundraising dinner at the Red Cross, made possible thanks to the donations of the College. Stephanie, a woman working at the college, greeted me by saying: “You have to see what PNG is about.” Well, it obviously is about lots and lots of food. The buffet looked like a banquet straight from an Asterix comic. It had everything one could possibly ask for. From lobster, chicken to fish.
I am really spoiled when it comes to food at the moment as meals are included where I am staying but Norah, another VSA volunteer, already pointed out that the harsh reality of cooking for myself will soon hit me when I move into my own house.
To make this transition a bit easier I went to the Saturday market this morning. It’s a busy place with lots of vegetable, fresh and slightly less fresh fish for sale. It is quite an overwhelming sight, most people putting their products on tarps on the ground. People selling bananas, smoked fish, batteries, unidentified black things which smelled somewhat like fish, peanuts, everything but stupid touristy souvenirs. What a pleasant place. I made my first purchase, a coconut, from a woman who was selling her stuff and breastfed her baby at the same time. I met a few other volunteers and asked for an introduction to what the more mysterious looking bits on the tarps were and how to eat them. I was especially keen on the fish section as all the fish gets caught on the reef and then instantly thrown onto the market. Well, most are being thrown there instantly, they really seem to have just come out of the water. “See the small fish with the red stripes over there?” I did and in my mind the background faded away and was replaced by a steaming hot frying pan filled with onions, garlic, the fish lying on top, sprinkled with fresh parsley leaves. The imaginary smell made my mouth water. “This fish is on top of the list of the most poisonous fish in Australia”. Within 5 minutes Rob pointed out the top three most poisonous australian fish, all being sold on the market. I guess it depends how you prepare them. “Oh, I ate one of these and was alright!” Oh dear, the point of this mission was to gain confidence on what to buy and now it sounded like my fish cooking experiments will have a hint of being kind of a fishy russian roulette. He also pointed out good tasting fish. The color and shape of those will be forever engrained in my brain. Well, more likely until next Saturday when I will be at the market again and wonder which one of the two fish lying next to each other was deadly again? I also bought a water melon and a pineapple. The pineapple was fantastic. The taste of my first purchase, the coconut, is yet unknown. I tried hard to get to its content but it won. My brand new Opinel Nr.10 knife lost and has now a bent blade.
Now I will try to open the stupid the coconut again. It cost me 6 Kina! I probably succeed if I bang it against my head repeatedly. The pidgin word for it is kulau, by the way. I love kulau.