The Palangi Files
One of my favorite things about Tonga...
Is the fact that I don't have to worry about lawncare. The school has this great custodian that like loves to mow! The only complaint that I have is that he loves to mow at the ass-crack of dawn; when I'm a little hungover.
Now I swear I haven't been out the Billfish Bar: Tonga! on a Tuesday night in about, oh I don't know six months? So, I've got this little hangover thing going for me. Its not bad, I didn't get too drunk, but its there. Lawnmower guy? As if ordained with prescience by God himself, he parks his lawnmover outside of my front door just long enough to make me HAVE to get out of bed. The second I can't fall back to sleep again? He's done mowning and heads to church or whatever.
Next, Tongan Names. Now, I can talk about Tongan names for a long time, some of them are simply incredible and I will, someday, but for right now I'm just going to share this one name: Geto. Now that word might not make sense to you now, but it will. So some friends and I are out just boozing it up and having a good old time, chilling, shatting, wishing we could drink buds, when our local superheroes/cover band 'Crystal Tears' (not the actual band) starts striking up and incredibly LOUD version of this song that may be local, I can't tell, called: "In the Ghetto" (See where I'm going with this?) Well it turns out "In the Ghetto" was this woman's favorite song and she loved it so much she decided to name her daughter after it. That's right, this woman named her daughter "Ghetto", except if you spell ghetto in tongan it looks like this: "Geto". The way Tongans name their kids is just one of those cultural things (like the fact that children don't call their parents "Mom" or "Dad") that I will never get my head around.
So it got me thinking about the pervasiveness of American Culture and how much it mislabels and belies what Americans actually are, culturally anyway. One of the things that I find both fascinating and obnoxious here in Tonga is the fact that the kids I teach have no idea about what the hell they're doing when they mimic American culture. I'll pull the unedited version of Eminem's latest CD out of a lab computer during class from the same student that I had to tell to stop singing "Amazing Grace" earlier. I'm like "REBEL! Yeah!" The other thing that gets to me: Gang Signs. Its like even Tonga preachers are flashing their cred Here's an example of one of my student in his graduation regalia, outside of the King's Church, flashin' east wc (not intended to dis east wc)
Addionally bogglesome: the continuted glorification of the Marajuana Leaf. I'm not sure why the hell this still goes on, I mean, Jesus, the Chronic was released in what, 1992? But, here in Tonga, cannabis sativa and its myriad icons are awash in the kingdom. Here's a work of art that I've had to tell one of my students repeatedly to get the hell off of his desktop. Here is my caption for this image: After a brief sunday morning church service and some invigorating choir practice, Sione and his gangstar posse celebrate by getting blunted. Again. I mean, c'mon! I'm pretty sure that dude on the left in the picture wouldn't know what weed was if it, literally, bit him on the ass. I don't know how to feel about it. I mean, should I be flattered that Tongans want to be American so bad that they're willing to pretend.shtmlects of my culture are the same as theirs'; even when its taken completely out of context? Do I blame America for letting this crap make it out? I don't know. Somedays I get a kick out of it. Somedays it makes me crazy. You be the judge.
So I was supposed to go to Tofua for a trip this weekend, but after much panic and deliberation, I actually decided against it. I just wasn't ready. However, not to let down any of the folks at home, J.K. has graciously allowed everyone to experience Tofua vicariously through his trip to Tofua. You can find J.K.'s story by clicking here. Or Here. But not here. Here, Yes. Not here. Here. No. Yes. O.K.
More stuff to come! Stay tuned.
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