16th September, 2009: A Day With A Difference

Dawn on 16th September, 2009 - from my window
Dawn on 16th September, 2009 - from my window

I woke up on Wednesday, 16th September and as I drew the curtains, this was the sight I beheld that morning. As the rising sun gradually chased away the night clouds, it was anybody’s guess what kind of a day was going to mark PNG’s 34th Independence Day.

What sort of day is today going to be...I wondered
What sort of day is today going to be...I wondered

I recalled when growing up that if the previous day ended with grey clouds the following day would be a great sunny day. Well, when I watched the dawn slowly break over Middlesex I kept on wishing that it was going to be a great sunny and dry day. I could not remember what the sunset was like the previous day!

Beyond the horizon the sun rises....16th September!
Beyond the horizon the sun rises....16th September!

As the sun sluggishly rose behind the leftover night clouds,  I began to feel an adrenalin rush. Today was a big day for all PNG wantoks who have been invited to the Independence Day celebrations that evening to be followed by the first ever contemporary PNG art exhibition. I really was looking forward to an Independence Day celebration with a big difference – to witness history being made. Wow, tarangu PNG yet ya!

Watching the sun rise for the very first time was an interesting experience...
Watching the sun rise for the very first time was an interesting experience...

Funny how every so often I stopped to think about nature and how God’s hand is in everything that’s around us. I wondered if the day was going to be different but more importantly whether the difference was more about my own thoughts about the day than the rising sun outside or anything else for that matter. I decided that I’d allow my thoughts to shape how I was going to celebrate the day. How many of us take a day for granted everyday? – just plowing through the day without thinking about it’s significance for that moment in our lives. I know, I am one of those people.

The excitement of 16th September and the fact that in a few weeks after the Independence Day I would be clearing 5 full years on my job contract was significant. My thoughts turned to that momentarily. But I decided I’d remain focused on the celebration of 16th September.

So peaceful and tranquil...not a car in sight!
So peaceful and tranquil...not a car in sight!

Meanwhile the rising sun, although not as spectacular as some of the ones I’ve witnessed growing up in Milne Bay and later on in Port Moresby, created a brief suspended moment so peaceful, it was hard to describe. All I could think about at that moment was how great our God is. He is Omnipotent.

I wondered whether the sunrise, the fact that I’m noticing if for the very first time, was a direct correlation to the significance of 16th September. The lyrics of the beautiful Hetei Dickson classic came to mind, “…16th of September, a day to remember, as brothers united we stand.” Oops, perhaps I can sneak in “…as wantoks united we stand” – just so gender-sensitve people don’t get hot around their collars.  Anyway, as far as I was concerned 16th September was  going to be my bestest day.

Yes, "...16th of September, a day to remember..."
Yes, "...16th of September, a day to remember..."

The curtains now fully drawn, and with the sun’s rays streaming through the double-glazed glass windows, I allowed my adrenalin rush to take over as I charged the battery to my Nikon D80 and looked forward to the photographs I would be taking at the Independence Day reception.  I was definitely taking photos! As I buzzed around getting ready for my daily commute to the office, I hummed the timeless Hetei Dickson classic and felt extra special. I was the only PNG person – yes, mi wan pis tasol long wok ples so why not. Feeling special for a special day was free.

"Let the flag of our nation fly high..."
"Let the flag of our nation fly high..."

Additional excitement…this was the day when the PNG flag will be flying high over my office building. This is a tradition of the organization, don’t know when it started, but whenever it was a national day for one of the Commonwealth member countries, that member country’s flag will be flying over the building on the designated day. Today was PNG’s and how fortunate, privileged and proud I felt as I anticipated seeing the PNG flag atop the building today. I felt blessed and excited as the day unfolded. The flags are always fresh and crisp and what pride one feels when one sees one’s country’s flag flying high over London. Perhaps not so high as my office building is only 3 storeys high. But it was better than nothing.

I looked up expectantly and there it was! What a proud moment as I sailed into the courtyard.
I looked up expectantly and there it was! What a proud moment as I sailed into the courtyard.

Back home as I took off for the train station my thoughts turned to the “Hailans to Ailans” historic international exhibition of contemporary PNG art which was to be officially opened by PNG’s High Commissioner to the UK and Northern Ireland and, I was going to meet five iconic PNG artists. I wanted the day to be the best for all of us – the PNG wantoks and me. I wondered too who I was going to meet at the reception and whether the wantoks I know were going to be there…

Well, the day ended, a dry sunny day not a rainy and windy one.  I recalled the grey dawn and sunrise over Middlesex at the beginning of that day and wondered whether there was a great sunset on 15th September and therefore a good omen for our 34th Independence celebration on 16th September. I’m not sure whether the traditional anecdotes from my Suau-speaking tribe handed down through generations of mothers and aunties is  worth keeping in my bank of traditional knowledge of unwritten facts of life.  Could I hang on to it? That a grey end of the previous day heralds in a bright sunny day in the next? As the celebration ended and I headed home, I smiled and grinned like a Cheshire cat as I reflected in silence – yes, without a doubt,  it was a great 16th September, a day with a huge difference. How many wantoks felt the way I did that evening…one of these days I’m sure to find out.

Infront of one of Martin Morububuna's cubic shape masterpieces
Infront of one of Martin Morububuna's masterpieces

Moon Over Middlesex: The Wonder Of God’s Creation

I came back from a welcome service for the interim Minister for Queensbury Methodist Church on the evening of 6 September and a wonderful uplifting sermon on ‘new beginnings’. I was really on a high spiritually and was so grateful in my heart for the message. It was an awesome sermon and it really touched me. As I got out of the car in the driveway I looked up and what I saw just took my breath away.

"How great Thou art..."
"How great Thou art..."

I ran into the house and grabbed my camera to take pictures of the full moon over Middlesex, England. As I took shot after shot the words of this song came to me: “O Lord My God, I am amazed with wonder, when I see all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars I hear the roaring thunder, Your power throughout the universe displayed….How great Thou art, How great Thou art’ .

Breathtakingly awesome!
Breathtakingly awesome!

I think this has had to be my best shot of the moon that evening. I felt the presence of God in these pictures and the thought of how insignificant the human being is in the face of God’s brilliance. These shots were taken outside my front yard. The camera is on a tripod inorder to steady it. The wonder of God’s creation can never be matched by Man but in our minds we can always try to re-create on the basis of how we feel and by what we feel in our hearts.

"O Lord my God, I am amazed with wonder..."
"O Lord my God, I am amazed with wonder..."
"...when I see all the worlds Your hands have made..."
"...when I see all the worlds Your hands have made..."
Did the camera capture what my eye saw?
Did the camera capture what my eye saw?

Sometimes the eye and the heart capture the moment simultaneously. I call that joy. A joyous feeling that takes in everything around you – whether there are other people, the ambience of a restaurant, the beauty of a garden, the sight of a new born baby, the vista that confronts your eyes when you are just about to land at the airstrip in your home province, the sight and smell of fresh bread or cake…fast forward…or looking up at the sky on a night like this!

These last two shots were taken on the top of a newly trimmed shrub in the yard to give the affect of the moon peering through the trees.

Simply awesome!
Simply awesome!

What an evening – a great sermon, great moonlight and great anticipation of new beginnings.

Just beautifull...
Just beautiful...

Commuting between Middlesex and London

Off to the office - waiting for the Jubilee Line

Commuting can be a pain but it also has its advantages. I’ve been commuting between Middlesex and London for almost a whole 12 months and I can say it does grow on you. The other day I was thinking, gosh I’ve been doing this through four seasons. The journey to London is about 30 mins and returning home is the same however, if the trains stop on the tracks because there is  red signal or some sort of congestion at the next station ahead well you’ve got no choice but hope you have something useful to do – even taking a drink of water. That’s another thing during the Summer or any season it is advisable to carry a bottle of water with you – even if taking a drink, it needs to look meaningful especially if you don’t have a copy of your favourite newspaper or the Metro ( a free newspaper which you pick up at your home station) in the morning.

In one of the carriages
In one of the carriages

I’ve noticed that the carriages are very quiet if all the passengers are not workmates or family or friends – oh boy! that could be a very lonely hour of commuting. You may want to check that you curb your urge to smile at strangers. We do it n PNG all the time. But it may, you know, sapos yu meri na yu  laik smail nabout, be inviting unnecessary interest as it happened to me when I first arrived in London and used to walk to work but that’s another story. It’s mostly quiet except for the odd loud music seeping through someone’s earphones that can be annoying especially if you don’t dig that kind of tune. I usually have my 4-year old iPod handy incase I have to briefly escape to Hawaii, PNG or the pop world. Another annoying thing is feet on the seats – aaaah but it is written on the windows no feet on the seats! Either the person(s) is too lazy, illiterate or can’t read English – the common and major lingua franca of Great Britain! There are some really nice unexpected wonderful experiences like someone letting you have a seat because you are a Woman! or they figure you’re greying around the temples and therefore entitled to the Priority Seats which are almost near the doors – nevermind about being old and suffering the draught! But anyway, I get to read someone’s paper because you can either ask for it or pick up as soon as they put it down next to you – by the way these are the free papers. Once in awhile I run into one of my workmates which is rather rare but it does happen. The journey to and from work allows me to get in touch with myself, if you can imagine that – reflection of the day ahead, the day just gone by and some heavy duty stuff I should be focusing my energies on at the office or some deadline to meet. It allows me time to catch up with myself and that is not a bad thing in this day and age when you are rushing around like a headless chick – en.

Sometimes standing is not too uncomfortable...
Sometimes standing is not too uncomfortable...

Commuting for me is not too bad but some of my colleagues don’t like it when it’s crowded. Well I do too. But on my line the crowd thins out after the first 4 stops which are on the outskirts of Central London. I get to sit down – phew! But not so for some workmates who say when it’s standing room only they find their faces up someone’s armpit – and I try not to imagine that! Or pickpocketed – hey it happens. I was warned about pickpocketing (yes, here in London) last Friday night by a friend on our way to the tube station heading home that I must watch my knapsack and make sure it’s tightly closed. Good advice  – why? because it happened to her and it’s a good habit to develop. I think she mentioned it 3 times, so, well coming from her I sat up and listened and made sure my knapsack was tightly closed.  Don’t get me wrong – I had to adjust to riding on a train as opposed to walking to the office. Adjustment’s cool. No complaints there infact I am learning alot about life in London and the UK by getting on a train to and from the office and home. Commuting is a way of life when you have a job somewhere else and a home somewhere else. So the long and short of it is that it is a fact of life for the next 12 months. I also need to ensure that my Oyster card is topped up and ready for either the trains, tube or buses so I don’t have to find myself in a queue when I need to get to somewhere pronto. Commuting for me  is an interesting, sometimes satisfying and enjoyable experience in a weird kind of way perhaps when I got used to not saying a word for 30 mins to work and 30 mins on my way home. I think anyone can write a movie script, put a business plan together or develop an idea for a major bestseller because you are thinking and not chatting to anyone. If one’s experiencing writer’s block or something similar perhaps one could consider commuting. It could be a great way to get those creative juices going.