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Monday, November 28, 2011

Runaway and Hopeless Mum

I was at the mall with my 3 year old son today. He was doing really well until he saw Toys R Us. I explained that we're having a look and not buying him anything. He said ok and we went to the bike section where he proceeded to try out the bikes and the cars and anything he could ride on. It was time to leave and he didn't want to leave. I literally had to half carry him out of there kicking and screaming at me to put him down as he was not a baby. We got to the door and I spotted other friends so to distract him I said look there's your friend Ruth. We went over to say hi and he sort of ran back into Toys R Us. I saw him run back inside so I assumed(big mistake) he was in the bike section again. I quickly said goodbye and went back to find him only to find him nowhere in the shop. I called out his name and he didn't reply as he usually did. Now I'm running around the shop trying to find him then it occurred to me that he must have left the shop so I run out of the shop into the mall and now I'm about to faint as I was fearing the fact that he could be anywhere in this massive mall and the worst case scenario is someone snatching him! 
I notified my friends that I had seen earlier that I couldn't find my son and if they saw him and they said no. Luckily some people saw and overheard me said there was a boy by the mall entrance not far from where I was. I ran as fast as I could towards the doors and there was another mother with her child trying to coax my son out from under the stairs where he had sought refuge and was sitting quietly with tears in his eyes. The lady was kind and reassured me he's ok and that these things happen! The relief I felt was overwhelming as I went to get him. He said he ran away from me then he couldn't find me! Just great, my 3 year old is already trying to run away from his mother! I held him tight and told him not to do that again I was really scared because I couldn't find him. And he said to me not to lose him again! ouch. It looks like I'm not getting the Mother of the Year award this year. I thank God that nothing bad happened to him and that I'm not letting him out of my sight EVER.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Golf in the Gulf

Hubby went to play golf a few days ago. When I got home I found he and his golf buddy brooding in the lounge. "Hmmm", I dared ask "I take it, it wasn't a great day on the green today? Who won? How did you guys play today?" Me sounding all interested. One said it was an okay day and the other said they played badly. However that's not far from the normal reply though lately they were upbeat after a game, so I still didn't get why they were brooding today! I knew they were playing with a new golfer so I asked "Oh did Frank beat you guys today? Did he turn out to be really good!", "oh no no nothing like that, he's definitely new, and like us, he's working on his swing." 

By then I had enough of the riddles "So why are you both looking depressed as heck?" "Oh we played with Jack...Bahaha. Mystery solved: Jack IS a Pro Golfer, one of two mates that run the golf shop. So I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. It was just too funny. I said that they must be crazy to play him! And they said grumpily, that he just showed up to play with them and yeah he was bloody good. As in smoked them on the course. I said did you tell him that that's not good for their shop as it'll put you off golf? So I was enjoying this and rubbed more salt in the wound, "so how good was he? on par or bogeys all the way and how did you both do compared to him?" Hubby's mate(a pilot) said "It's like Jack getting in a pilot's seat, he just won't know what to do" Bahaha. I laughed louder at the fact that he tried to justify their play like that. I was just enjoying their pain I tell ya, mean I know but I had a good laugh at their expense that day. Too meke! lol 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shamal Crew

So we were honoured with a visit from the Shamal crew this past week-end. The Admiral and the Commander have reached Sicily on their catamaran, have docked it there for the winter and are on their way home to New Zealand for Christmas. They caught a boat to Malta and flew to Dubai to see their daughter then hopped over here to catch up with all their friends in Muscat and are on their way back to Dubai to continue home to see their family for the holidays. These two survived the pirate ridden Gulf of Aden, sailed the Red Sea and went through the Suez Canal through to the Greek Islands and finally docking their boat in Sicily. They've stopped in many places along the way to sight see and their stories are always colourful and interesting about the people they meet along the way. They're very inspirational and such lovely people. If you want to read about their adventures go to Shamal Adventures

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The brutally honest Orator

By Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson
REVIEW: "You know why women don't want to be Orators, because they don't want to show their breasts in public." These were the words of Samoan High Chief Tagaloa, squinting through his leathery brown skin framed by a light trim of siga (white hair) as he spoke to Saili, the main actor in the movieThe Orator.
When this was said, my 8-year-old nephew Barry Uelese Sapatu nudged me in Magik Cinema in Apia and said: "But aunty, Grandma is an orator, and she doesn't show her breasts in public, or does she?"
Naturally the answer was "no" but as my mother Vaasiliifiti Moelagi can attest, it's no easy task being a female Orator, let alone a very short one. That much was clear in the film by Tusi Tamasese.I watched the film, not as a journalist, but as a daughter of an Orator, as a girl from Savaii and as a fiercely proud Samoan. Those three factors meant I went into the film, highly sceptical of this New Zealand-made film about Samoa, as I had great doubts that it would be culturally accurate, let alone realistic.
The first scene convinced me, it was the sound of the rain, the mist over the mountains, the colour of the grass and the voice of the boy singing in the plantation that gave me great hope that indeed the film would be true to Samoa. 
One hour into it, I was thoroughly impressed.
Disturbing at firstThe movie was a little disturbing at first, as it gathers all the sad truths about the Samoan culture and weaves them together in extremely awe inspiring cinematography.
But who was I kidding? It was the truth, and it was so accurate, and so beautifully done it was almost painful to watch.
This is by far the best Samoan movie ever made, and trust me, I have seen them all. If it has a Samoan word in it - even a flash of brown skin, even a short reference to Polynesia - then I have watched it.
The Orator makes no pretence, it doesn't make the Samoan culture look beautiful and admirable, it draws out the violence, the hatred, the slanted hierachy and ultimately the discriminating nature of our people in a story line that happens in real life.
I can relate to many scenes in that film, from swimming in the village pool to wrapping the dead body of a loved one in a tapa cloth.
I have sat like Litia next to my mother, with a  humble fine mat in front of me, while she lays out in metaphors why our finemat belonged on the coffin of either a great uncle or my dear grand mother.
When Saili, now Leopao, explained in simple words why Vaaiga's body should be returned to him, I cried, because I have seen those arguments in real life.
Cultural accuracyThe accuracy of the cultural representations in The Orator was absolutely astounding and those who ensured the quality of this film must be commended.
The film portrayed the beauty of the Samoan village and landscape, it explored the simplicity of Samoan life, the home and the family but it also drew out some very heavy and dark issues about discrimination, death and hierarchy.
Samoans will be the first to deny the accuracy of this film, but it's important to keep in mind, like any other culture it has its negative extremes.
My mother, an Orator for more almost 50 years, enjoyed the film. She said the Oratory, although not extensive, was mostly accurate and made it appealing to those who don't understand the chiefly language.
She enjoyed the part where the Tagaloa took off his ie (skirt). She said that it displayed the daring nature of our people.
She liked the fact that the movie included stone-throwing fights, a preganant school girl and an affair in the village, because to her, it's important that those elements of village life are captured.
I agreed. What was portrayed are things that happen in the Samoan culture that are not necessarily talked about, some villages do not see the banishment of a pregnant young woman as a negative thing, in fact the Church also ousts the young woman or fines her family if the village does not banish her.
People who look different are teased constantly, if your'e dark you are "black thing", if you are short you are "thing that is short", if you are light-skinned you are a "fake palagi" and the list goes on.The Orator is poignant, it forces the audience to contemplate the not so Paradisal image of Samoa, and ultimately it brings out the natural acting talents of our people and it artistically embraces the reality of the Samoan culture.

Written for Pacific Media Centre

*Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson holds the title Lagipoiva from the island of Savaii, she is the daughter of High Chief and Orator Vaasiliifiti Tauo Moelagi Jackson.
The Orator (O Le Tulafale): Written and directed by Tusi Tamasese
About the author
Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson
Samoan journalist
Cherelle Jackson is an independent Samoan journalist who has worked in the Pacific media for more than 10 years.

Friday, November 11, 2011


11/11/11 I just had to blog today because of this special date. That's a whole lot of 1s in a date. Today we went to Shatti Beach where lots of people go for strolls, BBQ and not necessarily swim. A friend with a son same age as my boy met us there. We had lunch there then our two boys rode their bikes around, played in the sand while us two mums laid on the mat under the shade until the two boys made their way to the water(to my horror). I was hoping they wouldn't swim but yeah kids and beach of course that's inevitable. They played in the water for a bit and then another friend joined us. The sun came out today after almost a week of dreary and rainy weather here so a lot of people made their way outdoors to enjoy the beautiful day(Friday too)! We stayed there until after 5pm which was perfect timing to come home, feed the little one and put him straight to bed totally knackered from his big day. 

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
I started reading this book last night and ended up sleeping very late due to the book being as usual with this author REALLY GOOD. So I'm going to make my way to bed as I have a good book to keep me up awhile! Tomorrow it's back to school for the little ones. The one week break is over and so it's back to the grind of school drop-offs/pick-ups, lunches and the lot! But you know what, the three hours I have to myself are well worth it too! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Christmas soon
I'm really looking forward to Christmas now! I've decided to stay back and celebrate Christmas in our own home to give my son the full Christmas experience of putting up and decorating a tree and so on. I'm looking forward to the Christmas decorations and hype in the shops. It gets better and better every year here in this great Muslim country we live in. When we landed here 7 years ago Christmas time was almost depressing due to the lack of atmosphere. Today it's Christmas in the malls and even better are the malls in Dubai where they go all out! I'm secretly hoping to sneak a trip to Austria before THAT is REAL Christmas!

We had a bbq last night and a few friends came over, which was fun as usual. Woke up with a bit of a headache but not too bad thank goodness. There was a lot of food though and today we enjoyed the left overs from it. Today I parked myself on the couch and watched my recorded shows all day! Like how useless is that! It's a week-end here and the end of Eid holidays. The town has been utterly dead all week! What's more is the weather has been very unusual of dark days threatening to rain. It has drizzled every day for the past three days! Last night as everyone left it rained, heavily which was just beautiful to watch. It didn't last long though but to experience it was nice enough. You probably think how boring but when you live in these part where it only rains  three times a year, rain becomes an absolute blessing. Until it causes floods in some parts of the country because wadis are filled quickly and become raging rivers!

So it seems everyone I know own a GHD except for me of course! I've been wanting to get one for the last 2 years only because when I've tried using everyone else's it's basically the best hair straightener around! I was shocked though when I heard how much it costs. Like really ridiculously expensive! I decided that was going to be my birthday present for my last birthday and I'm proud to say I've ordered one and didn't feel ALL lol. Funny thing though is as my hair grows longer, the more straight it is, so I may not have needed the GHD after all, but who am I kidding:) lol

Thursday, November 03, 2011


Day 3: Up early and headed to Maria Delle Grazie where the original Last Supper painting by Leonardo DaVinci is to be found. Unfortunately you have to pre-book to see the painting and as our trip was a bit last minute we were unlucky with the tickets. So I thought we'd still go there and hope for the best. Luckily where we stayed was not far from all this and it amounted to about a 5 minute ride on the train every morning. And once there we could walk everywhere and the streets are so pretty that it's pleasant and fun. We took Tau's stroller of course so we didn't have to carry him though he enjoyed sitting on his dad's shoulders than the stroller half the time. We got to the Grazie and sure enough it's fully booked and we're obviously not the first to think that there may have been cancellations as they had a big sign on the desk to say that there were no cancellations!
DaVinci Codes
However we weren't to be disappointed as in a smaller chapel they had an exhibition of DaVinci's original notes and sketches regarding his works and interest in the universe. We paid our 10 euro each and went in to have a look. The man was a genius. He figured that earth was part of a universe of planets and there were calculations of the distance of the earth from the sun. He tried to figure out the movements of the tides and it's relation to the lunar cycle! It was just awe-inspiring stuff. The relation of the sun's rays and that of a mirror were sketched on the pages. And in the room where these notes were displayed there were cameras everywhere and laser beam security system that they obviously activate at night. The notes were framed in bullet proof glass and within other frames! Apparently it was the first time DaVinci's notes have gone on display and they will make their way around the world to different museums! 

We left the Grazie and walked back through Sforzesco Castle and through to Montepoleone that the hotel receptionist pointed out was more a local area with really good restaurants. On the way we saw a photo shoot going on. I was happy to see that, it being Milan it was nice to see with my own eyes a fashion shoot in progress. Of course the model was freakishly tall with legs that went on forever. She looked a younger version of Claudia Schiffer (hubby's description) keep moving lol. Well as we emerged in yet another piazza there in front of me was a shoe shop. I went inside and found walking boots that I was happy with. I sucked in my breathe and asked the owner how much they were but they were on sale! well hello, what a bargain! Off came the trainers and on went the nice boots and onwards we went.

We found the nice restaurants and stopped to have a snack and a coffee before we continued on to Via Brera where the Brera museum was located. Tau was a bit antsy then so we gave that one a miss. Just our luck it was All Saints day so the town was quiet and a lot of things were closed. We walked on Via Manzoni which was just fashion shops galore. From brands I'd never heard of to Prada, Gucci, Versace and passed the Armani hotel..hello. We went all the way back to the Duomo via Reale Piazza and caught the metro back to our hotel. In the evening we went back Montepoleone the locally popular area and chose a random restaurant. We let the waiter did the choosing for us and wow it was a yummy meal. They have this Italian thing of a vegetable flower stuffed with cheese as an appetizer, that was so yummy. We went home happy once more and what a lovely end to our Milan trip. Next morning we had our last breakfast at the Ottolina on the way back to the airport.

My take
All the restaurants and cafes we ate didn't disappoint us. The food was good. The city is generally expensive but if you make your way away from the main plazas then it's slightly cheaper and this goes for the shops as well. There are some outlet shops around town I didn't go into but through the window the prices were cheaper than the shops on the main streets. 

The Ugly Reality
So there were beggars in many areas, some homeless people with cups asking for money. One scene which was very ironic was on our last night at 10pm as we were walking down another beautiful fashion street, the shops were closed and there in front of the 200 euro for  pants shop window, two homeless people had laid out their blankets for the night. Such a contrast! From ridiculously expensive clothing to people who can't afford a roof over their heads!!! It was also common for people to ask us for money. On the train from the airport a guy comes up with a 2 euro coin, I took it he wanted change so I got out what I had in my pocket and all I had were 2s and one 1 euro so I showed him what I had and he grabbed the 1 euro said thanks and walked off! I was so surprised and he actually had made a grab for the 2 euro as well!! After he walked off hubby then told me that he was warned about people asking for money! No wonder the guy didn't even hesitate to take the money with no intention of paying back! 

Milan-Fashion Capital of the World

Day 1 We landed really early in the morning but hotel check in was 3pm. We walked around Venezia ate at cafes and had machiato and cappuccino. We walked to a nearby park where Tau played in the playground and rode on a merry-go-round which he didn't want to get out of. It was fun walking all over the place until around 10am we were really tired and went to check the hotel Sheraton again. To our delight we were allowed to check in early. We went had a good days nap and then went to the Duomo to look around and enjoyed the sights and food. We found the famous Luini bakery but it was closed. After dinner we went to the Cioccolati Itali gelato shop and had an ice cream each. It was yummy with raw chocolate. The shop's so popular there were queues of people to buy ice cream in October!
Day 2:
We were up early so we got dressed and strolled to Ottolina cafe on the way to the metro to have our Italian breakfast of croissant and latte machiatto baby chino for Tau before we headed for the Duomo. We went inside had a look around the centuries old Cathedral. Beautiful inside and just amazed at the grand-ness of the structure that was built by hand out of marble by people centuries ago. We made our way around the back of the Cathedral and bought tickets to climb up the roof of the Duomo. €10 per person to use the elevator or €6 to use the steps 250 of them. As we're eating our way through Milan we decided to take the steps the healthier, adventurous and also cheaper option not by much. Tau happily climbed up the steps on his own ahead of me an very fast too. Alex brought up the rear with stroller in tow. We hung out at the top and took photos. Beautiful views from up there plus a closer look at the intricate work on the Gothic designs and statues that surround the top of the Duomo! After awhile we made our way back down and walked to Sforzesco Castle. Tau had enough and I piggy-backed him down which wasn't too hard a task seeing that we were descending. Another breath-taking structure was the castle. Towered over the city in all it's red brick clay glory. Just mesmerizing and imagination provoking. Mentioning the word castle had Tau enthralled that we might see Rapunzel or Swords there.
We came across a guy playing an instrument called a hüng that looked like a wok with a lid covered with dents on the top. He tapped and rubbed on the top of it and it produced an unusual sound like that of an harp and xylophone put together. He made this melodic music that resonated around the castle walls. Apparently according to him only 3000 of these instruments were made in Switzerland and no two hüngs produced the same sound. As it turned out he was from Liverpool. I had a fleeting strange thought that he could be my estranged English half-brother!(long story for another time) I wandered through the castle grounds then came back to where hubby and Tau rested on a bench enjoying the sun and the music. We strolleed down Castello Piazza and chose a restaurant named after the castle and ordered cold meats and what was Italian schnitzel for lunch. It was scrumptious and afterwards we made our way back to the metro and headed back to the Sheraton Diana for a rest. 
Boots are not made for walking
I went for a walk around the area for a look and to check out the shoes. I really wanted to be the owner of winter walking boots. I bought some gorgeous high heeled boots before we left but had my hideous trainers in tow for practicality, so dire measures were necessary to confine the trainers to gym use only! And having seen the beautiful clothes and shoes people wore in Milan, my feet took a battering as I braved my stiletto boots into town and back. And whoever said comfort comes before beauty should have their head checked as I felt better in the fancy boots then in my trainers that made me feel like the circus was in town!
After losing my way around the area and feeling revitalized from my long walk I went back to the hotel for a rest. Later we headed into the shopping street to look for boots. The lowest priced boots in the area were €69 up to €450(Versace, Gucci and the like of course) but I didn't come across any that jumped at me within my limited price range.
After walking up and down the shopping street we headed towards the metro and then we spotted a pizzeria restaurante nearby that we thought we'd check out. Well it turned out to be an authentic beauty of a discovery as it was a local family run place with every table taken except for one, we were lucky to get a table by the door and close to the wood oven where the expert pizza maker was throwing pizza dough in the air to our 3 year old's amusement. The waiters were very nice and the food was excellent. There were queues of people waiting for a table. We all ate and drank our fill heartily before we strolled back to our hotel room for a good night's sleep.