Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Icarus flies again

Ah, but first…:

A couple of years ago, back when Donkey first started this thing, he was working for Saving the World HQ. To be brutally honest, despite the name, it was not the greatest job in the world, and was about as taxing as eating a sandwich! So while one never actually wrote blog posts when one was at work (well not very often, anyway), Donkey generally found that he had plenty of energy when he got home to sit down for 2-3 hours to pound-out some magnificent missives for you and all.

That’s not been the case, however, since one day, waking up with a keyboard imprint in the side of my snout and a gallon of Donkey Drool cascading across the desk and onto the floor, I decided I’d had enough of being bored out of my pea-sized brain, and hot-footed it to the oxygen-starved streets at the top of the world, where I re-discovered the invigorating claustrophobia of not having enough hours in the day in which to get everything done.

The result of that, of course, is that when Donkey finally hangs his chaff-bag on the top hook at the end of the day, he’s way too knackered to think about something to say or some witty observation to expound. No doubt for some of you, that’s more a blessing than a curse, but for me, it is a great sadness, ‘cause I love being an active member of your community, rather than a sinister, lurking, dirty-ol’ Donkey-type.

Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know that I’m not really all that slack, just incredibly busy and exhausted at the end of the day after all the odd things I have to do in order to keep the good folk safe and healthy. If I could, I would let you know all of the certifiable, ridiculous imaginings I’ve got chasing a piece of cheese on a treadmill in my mind, but I’m only equine, after all (I think) and I can only do what I can.

And now on with the show…:

As I was saying, two years ago, when this all started, I was living in a place that was so stiflingly hot that at 3am on any given day it was still 35°C, and it had been hot in that hell-hole for so many centuries that the stink outside your door was beyond belief. Add to that a billion, crappy, window-unit air conditioners rattling away at the same time, and before you know it, the volume of the world outside had been pumped-up way higher than eleven, and was rumbling and shaking as though the Japanese International Sumo Team had devoured twelve pots of Mama Flatulina’s famous stewed beans. The noise, and the stink, kept everyone locked-up in their airless tombs, day in, day out.

The thing about this place, however, due to the massive industry associated with illegally tapping-into the electricity supply using only a paper clip and some elastic from a pair of Rajiv’s old, brown underpants, is that perhaps only five of the fourteen million residents of that place had ever paid an electricity bill (that’s five, not five million). As a result, the electricity authorities believe that only five (again, that’s just five) homes actually receive electricity, and when the demand (from the additional thirteen million, nine-hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-five, undetected users) gets too large, the system (developed and built in 1943, and only upgraded after the total customer-base of Yamuna Power Inc. exploded overnight by an unprecedented 25% in April, 1945, when a Mr Sanjoop Nankernee finally got sick of the late Mrs Nankernee’s whining about the outside light not working) goes into complete shut-down, and all five people jump on the phone to demand immediate action.

And everyone out there in the massive urban sprawl who is drawing on the illegal electricity knows this. They know that the system can’t cope, but Devji from No. 32 will be damned if he’s going to run only one air-con unit, when Sanjay from next door is running two. And when Sanjay learns that Devji’s upped the ante, so too, will he switch on all four of his. By 7.33am, the whole city’s running at full load, and everyone knows that the power will be all gone by 7.35am … and yet no one switches anything off. It’s just the way it is.

And when the power does go out, a sweeter silence you have never in your life heard … there are actually birds out there somewhere in the haze … you can hear their melodic calls … until six million generators kick-in at 7.36am. Then we’re back to business as usual.

Jump forward a couple of years, and I find myself in stunning Fiji, this time on assignment for Saving the Herd. As you’d expect from your intrepid Donkey who’ll stop at very few lengths to ensure the readership receives a complete overview of what some of the World’s exotic locales have to offer, I hit the bars and nightclubs of Suva last night in a mighty fashion comprising the consumption of a great many beverages and the some rather odd, shouted conversations. Indeed, a casual passerby who happened to peer through a darkened window of O’Reilly’s at about 12.42am may have seen a shaggy, barnyard beast swinging from, and grinding against the raised poles situated around the seedy dance floor, and the resultant looks of horror on the startled faces of the young locals thereon. Needless to say, by sunrise this morning, the only things anyone should have been expecting to get out of Donkey would have been repulsive snores and another bucket of Donkey Drool swelling his pillow.

But instead of sleeping on until mid-afternoon, being careful to lay completely still so as not to rock the bed and create a great, jolting, Fiji Bitter-induced stab to my head, Donkey was wide awake at 5.30am thanks to the wonderful, competitive devotion of the good people of the Friendly Islands. Because at 5.30am, from right outside my window, came not the gentle, soothing trill of the morning sparrows as they greeted the dawning sun, but rather the thumping bass of a mega-amped PA system, amplified electric drums, guitars and a host of mic-ed-up, happy-clappin’ angels singing their praises to Heaven on high … en masse!

Anyone who’s ever been to the Islands will recall well the myriad of multi-coloured churches that have been erected to The Almighty, often numbering in the realm of 3:1 churches per member of the population, with almost as many denominations, sects, break-away evangelist communities and “outreach” centres to match, and Suva by far has the largest and most diverse range of these compared with any other city in The Pacific. Now despite their common, constant promotion of working towards spiritual and community harmony, in Suva, as with anywhere that you have a great collection of conflicting, doctrinal dogma, the many churches are in heavy competition for the immortal souls (not to mention the substantial financial contributions) of those “poor, lost souls crying out in the spiritual wilderness”. Unfortunately for Donkey, the way to win that competition amongst the spiritual majority of Suva, is to play music louder than any other congregation, and to play it earlier.

So at 5.30am on Sunday morning, equipped with the biggest hangover Donkey-kind has experienced in … weeks, I was holding onto the bed head as the room was spinning around with increasing, alcohol-induced velocity, while the bed bounced all over the floorboards with each base-line from the church next door.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. Just as I was getting the room under control and starting to cope with the jolts, the hymns and clapping started-in on 6:4 time. Even in my delicate state, I thought that was pretty amazing, until I realised that every second bass line was slightly louder than the other. When it started in on 8:4 time, I finally twigged that my plush little, abode – oh-so-peaceful during the week - was situated bang in the middle of a weekly religious war zone being fought on multiple, spiritual fronts.

I guess it’s fair to say it did get me praying, “Jay-zus! Will you shut the fuck up!”, I bellowed before turning green and being forced to hang onto the pillow again for stability. There was nothing for it, I was going to have to sit this one out, and I lay there snivelling in misery as new players joined the cacophonic war outside, and the musical crescendo continued to build.

And then, by 7.45am, completely at my wits end, and with every non-fixed item in the room having moved six feet from where it had been the night before, it all stopped in mid-beat “Alle-fucking-luiah! It’s a miracle! Praise be to Him on High!”, I cried.

It seems that air-cons and musical devotions are not dissimilar when it comes to keeping up with the Joneses; just as Devji and Sanjay had gone head-to-head with the cooling, only to create a meltdown, so too had the spiritual soldiers of Suva battled with weapons of over-amped bass until there was nothing but silence. Clearly, in the armoury of the churches of Suva, electricity is not a bottomless gift from God, and no army can fight a war without appropriate resources to ensure back-up.

The result? Donkey was able to sleep-off his aching scone until afternoon, and not one of those well meaning institutions managed to enjoy his hooves upon their hallowed floors last Sunday.

They may look cute (from afar), but I think the close-up on those eyes suggests a deliberate, satanic ploy to hurt Donkey's head. Pic:

1 comment:

Ann O'Dyne said...

oh you're back.
I was worrying.
Now I will go back and actually read your post.