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In our time

Sailosi Batiratu
Sunday, January 13, 2013

THAT never happened during our time!

We all have heard the comment when something, especially behaviour, did not measure up to the lofty standards those our senior expected of us.

And so it would continue. "In our time it was so different. The young ones knew what was expected of them and they did just that." Another variation is, "In our time we trained hard and listened to our coaches because we respected them". Or, "In our time we never had all these things". And they would continue: "You guys are just so spoilt".

The list of variations is endless. It all serves to emphasise a point, that we are not as good as our elders. They had to struggle a lot more than we and so turned out to be better than us.

That's just an opinion so it's all right if you do not agree. What we will agree upon is that times have certainly changed. A story will certainly show this.

About 10 years ago, while drinking yaqona in a Nasinu suburb, a friend related to us his niece asking him: "Momo Ju, where is the screen for this thing?" Lela was pointing to a typewriter which had been used by her maternal grandparents, both of whom had been teachers.

Some more later on the uncle and the niece.

We had a good laugh and then spent a part of that evening on how test papers used to be prepared where the school secretaries had to "crank" that particular machine to churn out the required number of papers. Or maybe that was to create the stencil. Whatever it was, that could be a messy process as there was a lot of ink involved.

The list of comparisons, like the list of variations is endless.

In the early to mid-1980s, secondary school rugby was played barefoot except for the senior grade. The midget, bantam, junior and intermediate grades played without footwear or pato. And we didn't have the emphasis there is today on weights training.

A nephew who is to be in Form Seven this year has been doing weights during the holidays. And imagine the first term hasn't even started. Rugby is played during the second term. I know, if you fail to prepare then prepare to fail. But still, things certainly have changed.

I once visited a friend with a friend in tow. When the introductions were made, the lady of the house was in awe of my friend who had a master's degree. The friend said it was nothing as a master's was not so much of the rarity it was when we were growing up. Bachelor's degrees we agreed were a dime a dozen.

Another sign of the times.

Over the Christmas and New Year's period, the difference was again highlighted.

The siblings and cousins met and they brought their children along. And there were quite a few. They did the usual running around inside and outside the house. This included scrambling into and out of the tree house.

Of course there were usual squabbles among the younger ones. Every once in a while they would queue up in front of the TV screen for their turn on the wii. Sometimes there would be a tussle for another Nintendo game.

Two nephews had to ask their father for a massage because of sore shoulders. When he asked if they had been too rough in their play, they told him they had been boxing. The game version of course.

And I must add that when the younger ones were having their nap after lunch, some of the not-so-young could be found on the wii either pretending they were Babe Ruth with the bat ready at the mound, or trying their hand at a round of golf or boxing. Or some other sporting pursuit while seated in the comfort of the sitting room.

The event which really brought home to me in a big way the difference between when I was growing up and that of the next generation was when we were preparing the cousins, Francesco Navunicagi and Sireli Abraham , for their eventual parting. Sireli has returned to Lautoka where he will be in Class Two at St Thomas Primary School and Francesco, or Ces, to Brisbane to begin Year One at St Joseph's School in Nunda.

Sireli, who has been travelling to Nadera to be with Ces during and after New Year's Day was told by his aunt from Queensland he is to do the same later this year. The only difference is instead of travelling to this side of Viti Levu, he is to go to Nadi and board a flight for Brisbane. As to be expected, there are no shortages of volunteers on who is to accompany Sireli.

A quick check among some newsroom colleagues showed some have never been abroad, some first trips overseas were work related while one said she went to New Zealand as a baby.

During an email exchange with Momo Ju, he said Lela now makes her annual trip to NZ. The visit from which she is returning is her fourth to the Land of the Long White Cloud. She was to have returned on Friday.

She has been to Australia once and on that trip covered three states. Not bad for a 15-year-old.

He added: "Io, they are so lucky ... maybe. Because they also miss out on the lasa mai na koro!" By that Momo Ju was referring to the fun associated with all that goes with being in the village during the holidays.

Whatever one's take, it just goes to show that whatever happens on the other side of the world affects us in one way or another.

Francesco is attending school in Brisbane rather in Suva or any part of Fiji because his parents had the skills needed overseas. The skills of course were acquired after the training in the relevant institutions underscoring the need for education. His mother's a nurse and his dad a chef. They had first gone to Wellington, New Zealand before moving across the Tasman.

When there are job openings abroad, however these come about, it is those with the relevant qualifications and experience who stand to benefit from such opportunities. Just ask those former Vatukoula miners and FEA and Telecom employees who fill the ranks of equivalent companies abroad. Or even those in the military in the UK and the US.

So whatever the differences in your time and their time, one fact holds constant. It pays to have a qualification and the experience to back it when in due time an opportunity from abroad comes a calling.