Who would think such a busy market would have peaceful laughing and chattering that leads you to surprising places? In Savusavu, Fiji, the market is full with excited Fijians and Indians wishing to sell produce to you at decent prices. The fresh smell of fruits and vegetables mixed with the dirt smell of kava make your mouth water. I’ve been to many markets but this one has the most interesting vibe and had the best outcome.
At the Savusavu market there is a very generous Indian woman named Suruj. My mum, dad, sister and I came back to her every time we went to the market, chatted and bought produce. She gave us recipes for curries and after the fourth day she invited us to her house for dinner. Thus the next day at around six o’clock we were picked up by her husband named Kishore and their youngest daughter named Akansa, four years of age.
Ten minutes later we were warmly welcomed into their home. To show our appreciation, we gave all of the girls, including Akansa, Poonam, nine years of age, and Pooja, ten years of age, art supplies. The boys, Kishore and Shivam, twelve years of age, got ‘WhatCha Gonna Do’ shirts along with a bottle of wine, and Suruj got lotion.
After about fifteen minutes had passed, the headmaster or principal of the local school came by as well as some of Suruj’s and Kishore’s relatives. They had heard we were coming for dinner and they wanted to meet us. It made us feel very special.
We all went outside to pound kava shortly after everyone arrived. Kava is a root you gnaw (or guzzle after it is pounded and mixed with water) which numbs your tongue. Kishore’s younger brother put the kava root into a hollow stump. Then he took a five foot metal pole and pulverized the kava. Once the kava was somewhat fine, we took it to the kitchen and ran it under water through a t-shirt and into a bowl to filter out the pieces. Voilà! You have developed kava, or as they call it, ‘grog’.
All the men had grog. They drank and drank even while my mum, sister and I ate dinner. We ate with our right hand because the custom in India is to wipe after you go to the bathroom with your left hand. I’m not sure why, but only my family ate along with the kids, but no one else ate while we did.
At about ten o’clock we said thank you and we headed back to the boat. We went to bed thinking happy, exciting and amazing thoughts as we all dozed off. I never thought a market could bring such a great experience.
-Harrison in Fiji