Friday, November 02, 2012

James Michener in Fiji

from w
I found one of Michener's books -  Return to Paradise - in my shelves and delved into the chapters about Fiji. The book which he wrote in about 1947 was published a few years later.. This is not the Tales of the South Pacific which was the basis for the film/play. What a shocker!  He had a strong reaction to the Fiji Indian people and in his short story with a title 'The Mynah Birds' he really showed up his racist view.  Anyway other bits written by him are kinder.

Yet Suva is a superb tropical city. It is cleaner than Papeete, better policed, better built. It is much duller, of course, for Papeete is French, but it is superior in most services and in health. People of all races walk its streets. It has a canal that reminds one of Venice. It has brawling markets, stately banks, two movie houses, numerous churches and more taxicabs per capita - all owned by Indians - than any other city in the world.

He also describes the Grand Pacific Hotel.

For $3.03 a day, it provides antique living quarters - no baths in rooms - which are kept scrupulously clean, plus three meals a day that are difficult even to describe. Dinner customarily runs to seven courses, and the guest may order as many items from each course as he wishes. The G.P.H. as it is called, is the only inexpensive thing in the tropics today.

And also, later on he wrote:

 ‘The World is my Home’ (1992): “And then came the target of my trip I would ever make to Fiji: one of the memorable hotels of the world, not majestic and not particularly spacious, but a haven to all who crossed the Pacific on tourist ships or who now came by airplane. It was the Grand Pacific Hotel, famed GPH of the travel books, a big squarish building of several floors, with a huge central dining area filled with small tables, each meticulously fitted with fine silver and china, bud vases, and a facing porch leading out to the lawn that went down to the sea. It was grand, and it certainly was pacific, and the barefoot Indians who served the meals had a grace that few hotels in the world could offer and none surpass.”

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