Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Have you got the time?

The Chinese literal translation of their most popular greeting is “have you eaten rice yet?” Showing clearly where their priorities lie. It’s usually the first thing that a mother says to her student son returning home from the weekend also!

Now, as explained by David Mc Williams in his book The Pope’s Children, the question we ask when we ring our friends is “have you got the time to talk.” We say it so casually but somehow everybody in Ireland got busy. It was a transition so subtle that it left no trace. The tiger economy seems to have taken all our time.

I was convinced that our friends wouldn’t read our blog. Why, well simply because most people’s e-mail access is at work and people just wouldn’t have the time but I am glad to hear that the situation is quite the contrary. They just don’t have the time to leave us any comments! (Only joking).

I have thought about the differences between the Irish and the Kiwi’s a lot and come to the conclusion that one of the main differences is simply time. When you ask a Kiwi how they are, they give you the answer, and when the question is returned they expect an answer. It might seem inconsequential, but I don’t think it is. People here are like people in Ireland before the boom. They have time, take time, give time.

We booked our holidays to Australia the other day (more on that later) and the travel agent confirmed that he had been to Ireland on a few occasions. He relayed a story about pulling up in a camper van into a one hour parking space in Galway City and staying there for three and a half days without any difficulty. I couldn’t help but wonder if that would happen now?

We were stranded yesterday at a beach, not a bus or taxi in sight. I asked a Kiwi couple how to get back to where we are now living. They apologised for the lack of transport service to the area and kindly gave me directions. I went back to Sharon and broke the news gently. It was time to start walking again (we’d already notched up a few miles at that stage), I got out the map and memorised the route to the nearest bus stop. A few minutes later the girl returned offering us a lift. We gladly accepted. She left her child and husband behind at the beach and drove us to the nearest bus stop. (Incidentally she got engaged in Galway, so perhaps the Irish Brogue helped a little.)

There is a flip side to this, and can be experienced in most cafes and restaurants in NZ. It takes time to order food, time for the food to be cooked, time for it to arrive at your table, (no time to eat) and time to get the bill. The Kiwi experience in a restaurant is to have your coffees before the main course, otherwise you would crack up or starve! The key is to never go to a restaurant in NZ hungry as you’ll be gnawing on the table before the food arrives. We’ve already gotten used to having coffee before our food now and if you go with the flow it’s quite a civilised way to do things.

Are we slowly being assimilated?

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The Bone People

As we have no broadband at the moment I have decided to write a few posts sans pics. Normal service will resume shortly. Do not adjust your PC's!

Before we left Ireland we got a very nice gift of a book from Norah & Ian called The Bone People. It won the 1985 Booker Prize. It is based in New Zealand and written by a Kiwi named Keri Humle. It was a most appropriate going away, to New Zealand, present and a book that I really enjoyed despite the odd grievance on which, I am about to elaborate.

As a sort of preface to this short story, I will explain a little bit about my reading habits.

Unfortunately I am a very slow reader which would not be a problem if it wasn’t for my second idiosyncrasy, the inability to skim read. I cannot skip the descriptive pieces of a novel that others might consider superfluous. I have to understand everything or I become quite irritated! No real problem there you would think until you get to the book in question.

The book itself, was without doubt one of the most difficult books I have ever read, not that I have read very many, and certainly very few “classics.” The English was difficult but the Maori, yes that’s right Maori, was naturally incomprehensible! It would seem that the Maori characters, of which there was a lot, would only speak Maori to each other when they wanted to place great emphasis on something. So here’s the “scene” you are just arriving at a critical piece of, admittedly a sub plot of a sub plot and they start speaking Maori!

I remember saying to Sharon on several occasions that the book was incredibly annoying and you never knew who was speaking or what they were speaking. To make matters worse the author did not differentiate the public and private thoughts of the various characters but decided to intermingle them like confetti throughout the book. Then to top it all off the author decides to have the characters spouting Maori!

You’ll understand the frustration that enveloped me when I finally turned the last page and there on the opposite page, mocking me, was the following:

Translation of Maori Words and Phrases

Page 14 Aue= Exclamation of dismay, or despair
Page 15 Te Kaihau= lit. windeater. Can mean either a wanderer or loafer
Teno Koe= hello, greeting to one person
Page 17 Raupo=a variety………..

Ahhhhh!!!!!!!As you can appreciate I had a few choice incomprehensible words of my own at that stage. Sharon on the other hand just couldn’t stop laughing!

I am currently reading The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, there are no difficult passages, and the author puts the character’s names at the beginning of the various passages to avoid any confusion. Notwithstanding all that, I am not enjoying it nearly as much as The Bone People, considering the above, that’s high praise indeed!

Haere ra.


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