In Suva, Fiji recently, going about my business and found myself in a musical worm hole.
Fiji, it seems, is where pop music goes to die. The soundtrack of these islands is stocked with all the one hit wonders of yesteryear. The restaurants, the bars, the groceries all wafting with The Motels, Chris Isaak and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam.
Lisa Lisa was still in heavy rotation for heaven’s sake! I heard “All Cried Out” three times in four days.
Yep. If you’re a hit maker of days gone by and wondering whatever became of your career, chances are your agent sold your rights to Fiji and you’re still a big star there.
And it’s not only American Pop. It’s Hindi, too. Got into a rough looking cab with music blaring and headed on my way. The driver turned downed the volume on his radio. “This music probably grates on your nerves”
“Mine? Not at all! Turn it back up! Is it Hindi pop?”
“Yes! They don’t make songs like this any more! Today’s songs, you can’t even understand what they’re saying. It’s all THUMPA-Ticka-THUMPA-Ticka!”
“What’s she singing about?”
“Love, of course. She says she’ll follow him anywhere.”
I guess the love part is universal. Wanna know how you say “I’m all cried out in Hindi”? It’s like this,…
“Maiṁ sabhī bāhara rōyā hūm̐”
Speaking of hits,… I was hit by a bus.
Me and a friend in my little rental Corolla were waiting for a car in front of us to turn when we were rear ended by a mini-bus shuttle full of 10 unrestrained teenaged passengers. “POW!” Totally out the blue.
It is amazing the number of thoughts you can have while your car spins around in the road.
“Oh…My…God. I’m having an auto accident in a clearly developing country…What hit us?…. This is going to be complicated… I hope I’m not injured….. I hope my friend is not hurt…. Can I still go fishing today?… What are we going to eat for dinner if we can’t fish?…Why does my back hurt?
All that in half a revolution of a Toyota.
I’m fine. My friend is fine. It is a pretty incredible feat given that the road is the major highway heavily plied by busses and trucks. Every single teenager was fine, save for a tiny cut on one of their ankles. I swear those teenagers just kept piling out of the mini-bus like clowns from a circus car.
Sorting it out took some doing. A traffic cop arrived via taxi cab shortly. Took lots of measurements and drew sketches and hauled us all down to the local police station for statements and reports. The kids, we learned while waiting were all heading home from boarding school for Easter weekend.
|Sign on Police room door.
The police interview room was filled with three desks and a computer. The bulletin board covered in an interesting mix of crime trends and inspirational religious quotes. The officer wrote down my statement by hand and then hunted and pecked his way over the computer until he finished my report. There was a printer, but no copier so we wandered next door to the courthouse which really was a small house. Their copier was unavailable. Thankfully, I had my phone, so I just snapped some shots of the documents I needed.
The driver of the van, a commercial shuttle company, hadn’t yet picked up his license from the motor bureau yet. Hmmm. Let’s see if the company has insurance.
Here’s the final hit. I didn’t take the extra insurance that they’re always trying to sell at the rental agency, so I’m on the hook for the damage to my car. The very kind lady at Avis, says that because I didn’t take the insurance, I’m on the hook for up to 7000 Fijian dollars. They’ll charge my credit card and I need to take it up with my own insurer and the credit card company about getting the money back from the bus company.
Avis will, of course, provide all the documents I need, such as repair quotes and police reports and what have you, but the legwork is on me. The Avis lady chided me a little bit. “If you take the insurance, you walk away after a smaller payment amount.”
All the travel and finance people I’ve read say, always decline the extra rental car insurance, it’s a waste of money. Your auto insurance and credit card will cover it. This may be the case when you’re at home, but the lesson to consider is this. If you’re facing the prospect of getting your money back from Simi with his learner’s permit and his uncertainly insured shuttle bus company in a developing country 5000 miles away, it just may be worth the $12 bucks a day for the insurance.
Something to keep in mind for the future. I fear I may be All Cried Out by the end of this.