Guest Shooter – Alison Raynor – Gob Smacked

Posted in Guest Shots, Humor on June 25th, 2010 by MadDog
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I’ve barely had time for a night’s sleep here in Nandi, Fiji since I arrived. So, I’m going to give my crazy friend Ali Raynor a guest shoot today. It would not be possible for me to think of anything funnier than this, let alone write it, so I’m going to give you Ali’s email to me along with some images which will either look very familiar to you or will blow you mind, according to where you live. – Enjoy!


Hey Jan,

Look out . . . I’m back!

I am slowly sifting through the thousands of pictures I took in PNG. (No G11 quality here, but I like to imagine that I have some interesting mementos.) I thought you would probably be one of the few people who might appreciate the attached. They are something you no doubt see on a daily basis, but not something you are not likely to see on a PNG postcard.

These guys came up to me at a POM 2nd hand clothes market and asked very politely if I would take their photo, which of course I agreed to do. I got them together and told them that I would “snap” on the count of three. They nodded and posed normally, but on three, the following is what happened!
You can imagine my surprise followed by my gales of laughter, when the guy on the left gave me this “right royal red gob full” and followed up with “Welcome to PNG”

His mate was pretty taken back at first, (as you can see in the picture) but when he saw my laughter and reaction, he got over his embarrassment and decided to get in on the act “Numba 1 Buai Man” was really amazed by my complete amusement and he started to laugh hysterically as well. He was so happy that I thought he was “COOL” rather than rude (as he may or may not have initially intended to be????) He was also happy that I asked for another picture. We parted laughing and pointing (at each other) and it was quite a lovely moment. Laughter is such a leveler.

In all my travels through PNG , I have tried in vain to capture a good shot of someone with a really fantastic (bad) “buai mouth” and even tho my chosen subjects have had no idea that I am secretly interested in their outstanding GOB, rather than their “beautiful face” (ha ha ), I have always found them to be totally self-conscious of the way their mouth looks, and will always shut their traps tight as soon as they agree to have a picture. Very frustrating indeed! So this little episode was a real blast for me!

How’s their shock value? How’s the humour? How’s the reality? I loved these guys!

Am I boring you yet? Tell me to stop!

PS  – Bad news about the fire, but well done with photos by your Lois Lane . . . they are quite spectacular!

Love Ali


Well, I can’t compete with that. However, I can show you what Eunie is up to:

Eunie is in the middle – look for the platinum blonde hair. One thing which encouraged me was that women made up a very significant proportion of the attendees.

Sounds boring, but it’s not. I’ve been sitting here all morning listening in. These folks are discussing some amazingly complex and interesting issues.

There have also been a few good laughs.

I’ll have more about it later.

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Off to the Bush For a Day

Posted in Mixed Nuts on December 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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Yesterday I went out to a village to visit with people with whom I’ve been working for a few months. I took some pictures along the way. It’s a bit of a wild ride out to the mountains between Madang and the Ramu Valley. The road dates back to a trail that went alongside the first power lines. It’s twisty and very rough for much of its length. Maybe you’ll see something interesting.

Here is a shot about twenty clicks out of town just as you are coming up on the mountains:

The road leading to the Ramy Valley from MadangThe road here is pretty flat and stays in relatively good shape.

Here is a ford that is right before you start up into the mountains. You can see the first steep hill on the other side. It’s a 20%+ slope:The only remaining ford between Madang and LaeThat means a long slog in 1st gear, even in  my diesel 4WD truck.

I can remember when we first started driving to the highlands in 1981. There were 21 rivers that had no bridges. If the water was too high to get across, we had to either wait for it to go down or drive back to town. I was driving a Suzuki 4WD jeep across a river similar to this when it fell into a hole and went floating (mostly) downstream. Fortunately I had a long rope laying on the passenger’s seat. I jumped out into the water and hooked the rope around a bumper while the Suzuki tip-toed over the rocks. I swam over to the side and threw the other end of the rope around a tree. Fortunately the rope held. After retrieving the car from the water it took several hours to get everything dried out enough to get it started.

This is a Bailey bridge. You find them all over the world in difficult, out-of-the-way places.A Bailey bridgeA Bailey bridge is a portable pre-fabricated truss bridge, which can carried by a few trucks and erected with simple equipment. The only problem with them is that old ones tend to sag quite a bit in the middle and do not inspire confidence. This one has a steel road bed. I have been on a couple of them which had wood plank beds and most of the wood had been pilfered. We once crossed one by carrying the remaining planks from the other side to our side, laying them down in front of the truck, driving the truck to the end of the last planks and then moving the planks from behind the truck to the front. It made me think of an inchworm creeping along a branch.

Here is a little market along the way:A market on the way to UsinoThis lady has a bag of betel nut on her head:

Woman with a bag of betel nut on her head
I had a little chat with her about the evils of buai  (the Tok Pisin  word for betel nut). She just kept laughing at me. At first I couldn’t figure out why. Then I noticed that she was looking at my hair, which I had braided Indian-style. I don’t think that she had ever seen a man with braided hair. I was happy to give her a few minutes of fun.

Here is a mob of kids that were hanging around the market. When kids see a camera they automatically line up for the photographer. How convenient:A bunch of village kidsI kept trying to get them to look at me, but they were too fascinated by the woman with the bag on her head who was still laughing at me.

I asked one of the fellows to take a photo of me, since that hardly ever happens:

Me trying to stay awake at a meetingI don’t know why those bamboo ‘couches’ are considered high-style. It is extremely uncomfortable. I’d rather sit on the ground. However, if you are (for the moment, at least) a VIP, you can’t sit on the ground; they won’t let you. I have been to several villages in which there was exactly one chair and they would always drag it out for me to sit on. This is a holdover from the days of the Kiap  or Patrol Officer who was like a travelling sheriff, judge, census taker and general overseer of the Australian Administration. I believe that people did not understand that white people were capable of sitting on the ground.

Here’s another shot of us discussing weighty matters:A group of leaders at Somau-GariaI hope to be doing a lot more of this kind of work in the future.

After thirty-five years of wrestling computers, I’m pretty tired of it.

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Cholera Epidemic Doesn’t Stop Illegal Betelnut Sellers

Posted in Rants and Rages on November 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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If you don’t live in PNG it’s probably escaped your notice that there’s a cholera epidemic ripping through the population – as if HIV/AIDS was not enough! Anybody with an ounce of brains knows that cholera spreads through, uh, . . . well, there’s no polite way to say it – feces.  Okay, I guess that that’s reasonably polite.

So, the powers that be in Madang, in their infinite wisdom, have promulgated many rules to try to stop the spread. The problem is that nobody is out there checking to see if anybody at all is paying attention. These people certainly are not:

Illegal buai sellers in the centre of Madang Town

They have set up an illegal betelnut market (called buai  in Pidgin) not fifty metres from our office. They’ve even put up some scruffy barbed wire to mark it off, heaven knows why. They have not been happy at all with my three visits today, camera in hand:

Illegal buai market in Madang Town

Those faces may look  happy, but let me tell you they are not.  So, what’s so bad about this? Well cholera spreads primarily from poor sanitation. Your best defense from cholera is to stay clean, especially the places that count, drink no water that’s contaminated and do not eat food that might be contaminated. If you fail to follow these rules, you’re very likely to get very sick. The hospital has set up a special ward for cholera patients and it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be big enough.

Illegal buai seller

So what’s this got to do with buai?  Well, think about it. Especially since town water has been only occasionally available for several days, nobody is paying much attention to washing their hands. So, the guy shown above goes to the toilet and, guess what, he doesn’t have any toilet paper and no clean water is in sight. Then he goes back to his little store of death and picks up a buai  nut and hands it to you. You do the usual thing, pop it into your mouth and start to peel back the skin. Hmmmm . . . yummy cholera germs!

So, you’re skeptical, eh? MadDog is off on another of his rants, tasol.  Well, let me show you what I found (by smell) twenty metres from the buai  market. You guessed it – the toilet:

The toilet of the illegal buai market

Uh, that brown blob in the lower centre of the image is exactly what it look like. There was plenty more lurking inches back in the foliage. Lots  more.

If you’ve never had the delight of walking (very carefully) around in a tropical area where people are defecating all over the place, believe me, you can forgo the experience with no great loss.

Okay, now I’m mad. Somebody is going to do  something about this or I’m going to sharpen up my pencil and start jabbing it into people’s ears. There are people that I care about who are at risk from this.

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