Kava or Noni
Kava is the Fijian version of soft drug. It is popular at home and at the same time it has not been outlawed by the overseas public so consumption is safe. The taste is an acquired one and the ritual rather down-to-earth with lots of foreign saliva on offer. Not only the different recipients use the same “shell” but if the preparation were really authentic, the pulp had been chewed by boys – somebody else’s not you own.
The rival exotic drink is the Noni juice. It comes from a specific plant, not local anymore – it is available in Panama too. The trick is to somehow taste the product before buying the industrial quantities offered for sale at practically any Indian store. Despite their sixth sense in all trade-bound matters, the poor businessmen have no clue how to promote this intriguing liquid to foreign customers. The local insight into this Noni matter is that a male is not to mention it in front of Indian girls the combo “Noni Juice” because he can become a laughing stock for implying semen (Apparently Noni is the brother of Dick).
Service center for the adventurous
Nadi is the second largest town on the island of Viti Levu but this does not make it more interesting. It is hot and relatively dry by Suva standards and close to the main point of entry into the country, namely the Nadi airport. This is no coincidence since the area was identified as the most appropriate for tourism development. It offers the most rain free days which is what the shivering from their terrible winter New Zealanders and Australians are clamouring for. Most of these migrating birds, albeit for a week or two are quite satisfied with immersing themselves in the nondescript luxury of the modern resorts stringed along the beach of Denarau Island. This is technically a separate piece of land but in reality the body of water that divides it from the “mainland” is a mere moat-looking river.
The value of Nadi is the show of the two cultures, the indigenous and Indian one at work. The Indians have specialized themselves (with a little help from the Fijians) into business and trade. The main street of Nadi is a proof –there is hardly any other shop but Indian one. Even the wooden statues and crafts so unmistakably Fijian, are traded by the “imports”; or try to have something to eat after a grueling shopping, chances are one is going to be fed somosas or curried fish; and at the end of the day the taxi cab to the luxurious Fijian resort of Denarau Island is going to be Indian driven.
It seems that Fijians have been marginalized in their own country. Before any misleading generalizations have been concocted in any foreigner’s mind, Fijian customs officials had probably greeted the new comer with the smiley “Bula”, Fijian policemen have manned check points and traffic on the way to his hotel and Fijian service personnel had been exclusively hired at the hotel where he is to stay. Zealous and affluent entrepreneurs make their digs more welcoming by applying as much Fijian art forms as possible. Fijian tapestry and preferred black/brown colour combination, wooden cannibal forks or tools of murder, even elaborate musical instruments and traditional architecture are there to make sure that this dying Fijianness is omnipresent.