Tang Juice: Our favourite juice, it’s a way of life

Tang_juice_Powder_strawberry

Tang juice

Tang juice

Tang_juice_orange
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Packed in small packets as powdered juice, they come in different flavours: orange, strawberry, mango, pineapple, and etcetera. They make good refreshing drinks. Orange, and pineapple flavours are popular with consumers.

They are served at barbecues, picnics, feasts or mumus, and at meal times.

Kids love it. It’s a student’s favourite lunch time drink, and buai (bettle nut) sellers and chewers preferred mouth rinse.

On good days playful children through gaps in their front teeth would spit projectiles of this juice and are scolded by their mothers, who would threaten to pour the remainder on their heads.

Occasionally when a mother or father or both, whilst hustling their way to a game of cards, would scream at their children to stop nagging them and buy something to have with the money they’ve given them. More often than not the juice is implied.

A mother who has been loosing money would persist on playing cards and opt to feed her child this juice as she barks orders to her elder daughter(s) to cook something quickly. But it becomes a heavenly seep when she has lost all and ends up with a throat that feels like a desert that misses the rain for a thousand years.

Steam Bodies – slang for people who consume Steam (alcohol produced from illegal backyard brewing) – use it to dilute their brew. This group’s noise making skills, albeit without the aid of musical instruments, is unrivalled.

Often a drunk would use the juice as a matter of convenience, to sprinkle over the heads. This act of baptism, in an attempt to ease the tight embrace of the brew with its chill, often works well. A sweet and sticky residue however, which attracts honey bees to their faces, remains after all had dried up.

Picture a Steam Body in his/her drunken stupor, fights off honey bees. It is funny as it is serious. And if beaten, disregards the pain and continues to drink this precious fluid with a swollen face.

Owners of roadside markets make money from thirsty pedestrians, many of whom would have been loitering in and around shopping centers or government offices and are on their way home in the afternoons with their last kina in pockets.

Often up to four or five days a week, poor families in Port Moresby’s squatter settlements have it with a piece or slice of baked barn before laying their heads to rest. How tomorrow feeds them is another saga in their wretchedness.

Imported from Asia, a packet is going for fifty toea – it is cheap, and makes juicy and refreshing drinks for the whole family. It is called Tang juice.

This product has become the beverage of choice for the masses living around the fringes of Port Moresby city. It is and will be a favourite as long as it can be obtained cheaply.

It is part of us now – it is a way of life.

Come to think of it; what if a factory in the country starts producing Tang juice or its equivalent? Isn’t there a business opportunity when the demand is huge?

Well, this is for the money men and the government to think about. However, until these bastards start behaving selflessly, importation of this fine product will continue.

For now I shall pour myself a glass – orange flavour – and slowly seep my thoughts to slumber.

The Crocodile Prize: More than a literary competition – it’s a learning centre

To promote the Crocodile Prize 2014 competition – see flyer, I have used my own experience in the article below.

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I entered the Crocodile Prize competition in 2010 on the premise I could write and write well. Upon reading other contributors’ work, I immediately realised their superior inherent talents.

They knew how well to use words, and did quite eloquently. As I read their works, words maneuvered seamlessly into beautiful phrases and these phrases began to dance to otherworldly tunes and conjure up memorable images. This is the power of their raw talents. Talents that only thinking people will comprehend their origins.

In short, the quality of work that appeared on PNG Attitude was astounding. I knew right away there is more work to do in order to elevate my writing skills.

Then it dawned on me: Crocodile Prize presented me with a precious mine of literary work I could use to learn. Henceforth, I have been learning whilst contributing my own articles.

It has been more than three years and I must admit I have learnt quite a lot – about both the writers and issues they write on.

Enlightenment from poetry and short stories were spellbinding. Other works offered additional insights into politics, international diplomacy and some social issues I take for granted.

Soon I began to judge the world around me and its goings on with more caution and restrain, sometimes overdoing it.

My awareness level in general has taken a great leap – thanks to the Crocodile Prize, PNG Attitude and all the regular contributors.

Anyway, through Facebook, emails and my blog, I have been promoting this wonderful competition every year to my wantoks in order to arouse interest. Their responses however were not so modest – at least from what I know. Perhaps I am wrong. But only two brilliant individuals I know of have participated so far and their works are published in the Crocodile Anthology.

If everyone takes the competition as a venue to learn and fine tune their writing skills, the organisers will be overwhelmed with entries. But I think paranoia about not writing well because English isn’t their first language discourage many.

Perhaps only a few can see a light of opportunity to learn beaming from the Crocodile Prize Competition, so it will take a lot more to drive this message home. And if this reluctance is any indication, many Papua New Guineans are genuinely reluctant to help improve their apparent incompetence in English.

As a country in a world that is fast embracing the English language as preferred business lingua franca, how will we cope?

Many a time I have read pieces of writings from university graduates and they are always riddled with child like mistakes. Worse, these mistakes are repeated time and again. Even on social media where potentially their friends around the world would read their posts, mistakes are common sight.

Now don’t get me wrong. I also make mistakes. But if a university graduate repeatedly makes the same mistakes, then something somewhere is seriously wrong.

So who is to be blamed: our education system; or graduates’ lack of interest to continue to improve their English writing and speaking skills outside of the classroom environment; or the Papua New Guinea mentality and the way it thrives on ignorance and consequently promotes reckless complacency?

I’d rather blame graduates and their general lack of interest to take English seriously.

Learning English has been my journey and I relish it to a point it sometimes takes up my time for other things and become a nuisance, especially household chores.

As a suggestion, Papua New Guinea should start measuring its progress by levels of improvements in our collective proficiency in English. And also use it to measure how well our schools are doing in educating our children.

This is important as our own languages cannot be used sufficiently and effectively as modes of instructions in schools.

Take me for example: I got through four years of university education through sheer hard work and dedication, without fully understanding many of the concepts taught. And it isn’t because I was dumb. Rather, the language of instruction was English and as I wasn’t good in English, I spent most times trying to understand the words and meaning of instructions and less time on the concepts the words were explaining.

Many students face this problem. And those who cannot cope simply fail their courses.

With this experience, I have advised many I have had the opportunity to converse with. Often telling them to read a lot and of course try writing. And what better place to start then with the Crocodile Prize writing competition which promotes Papua New Guinea writing.

Potentially, the Crocodile Prize competition could teach many students with a keen eye the ways of writing. And with a lot of information being shared, one could learn much thereby increasing one’s own awareness level.

The competition and PNG Attitude has been a revelation to me and I hope others too will come to find its worth.

In ending, the Crocodile Prize is more than a competition – it is a learning centre. So join us now to write and learn.

New perspective and a new lease of life

Bird

Over the months of August and September, I roamed a barren land of non-writing, and perhaps non-thinking; clambered steep mountains, and strolled deep dark valleys often, alone through thick pools of quirky ignorance.

In abject cold and darkness, a whistle from softest of beaks harassed the ears, while scent of a rose sets off fire alarms in the olfactory mill. Even dance of evening sun, ends with me been shown the middle finger. And when a dawn appears promising, throughout the day I seem to try to catch up with something I missed in the morn.

Not a day ends in which I’ve given briefest of consideration to poetry and writing, let alone reading – not even my favourite blog PNG Attitude mattered. Such were my days between August and September. I however found something – a new perspective and a realisation of sorts.

This new perspective, result of culmination of years of blind ignorance, urged on by an unsound and unstable ideology sets me on a new path. It feels like I would be living my whole life all over again, this time from a vantage position. And I am really grateful life has given me another chance, so to speak. Perhaps I have found hope, but I am yet uncertain of its true nature.

During this time however, I roamed the filthy streets of Port Moresby – dark alleyways where corruption in any form plays out under flood lights; backyard waterholes where bartenders sell their own booze as well as their employees’; pimps oasis where pensioners flourish without care; and a card gambling haven where entirely families live on scones and Tang juice.

Learned one or two new tricks though, and I witnessed something common in all the people I’ve met: they have a spirit of joy. They all enjoyed what they do and I saw it in their eyes. This spirit of joy was dancing many dances and couldn’t care less if it missed the world. And there was peace and contentment, a kind I can’t comprehend. Only they knew. And that spirit of joy manifested in the ways they carry themselves: confident, content and certain of their respective tomorrows.

I have also discovered another face of corruption. It is a simple face with no designer glasses, nor scents of aftershave or oil. It is unshaven, adorned with rows of buai stained teeth and heavy black lips, and wears a gullible odour that reminds me of my grandfather’s smoke-filled round house.

Whatever conclusion one arrives at from these descriptions, corruption has reached the simple man and they too have become partakers in ways that blew my mind. Whether we let corruption flourish whilst we find our way to progress through its thick undergrowth, or kill corruption first then find our way to progress, I guess it is up to individuals and families as the government cannot be trusted.

For me, I’ve realised that life is but short. And I am not keen on wasting any more time suffering from complaining and talking about things I can’t do much to change. I will continue to do the things I love most though- write and read but with more passion and about life and its mysteries. May this be my new perspective, new inspiration, and hope it brings me joy and happiness.

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