Савелий Балалайкин (balalajkin) wrote,
Савелий Балалайкин

That horrible Papua New Guinea, or Always with a Condom!

Hi there. Shall I write about my first few hours in Papua New Guinea? it was rather outrageous down there. And I spent a whole year working at PNG and trying to make sense of that world.

It is more of a sort of story that one can tell over a glass or two of red, but I am thinking about making it into a novel... here is the core of the future novel, told as if I was telling it to a nice girl.... over a glass of some nice red... still needs editing and linguistic corrections, sure.


Out of the airport, I was driven in a company car and my immediate boss who was younger than me was giving me a lecture. Very short, but revealing one.

He was a tall blonde New Zealander, sort of sporty chap you'd find in the university rowing team.

" Always use a condom," he said solemnly. - ... "I mean always... no exceptions... with a condom.... no matter what...."

in a few more hours I have learned why...

I dropped my belongings in the high-rise apartment that stood alone on a hill as a medieval castle surrounded by barbed wire and a team of uniformed guards brandishing automatic rifles... And my young manager (let's call him Peter for brevity) drove me to the company headquarters for the top management meeting.

The owner of a company was a curious relic of an epoch long passed in Australia but kept lingering in Papua New Guinea, much like marsupials kept lingering in Australia while becoming extinct in the rest of the world. Conveniently, he was called Bruce.

Bruce was a very large and very hairy red-faced cro-magnon of undeterminable age, - maybe in his 40s, but perhaps 60s; it was an early morning so he drank gin-and-tonic with ice (his habit was to switch to Chivas Regal with no ice late afternoon).

Our conversation was pretty terse; he had two or three very clear ideas of what he wants to be done in my area of expertise, the details did not bother him in the slightest, but that's what Peter the middle-manager was for.

I wasn't bothered by the particulars of my employment as my idea of fun was to explore the world on my own and the job was just a vehicle for that. So I was distracted by every little bit of the environment... By the fearsome-looking Papua New Guineans in uniform with a variety of assault weapons patrolling the company compound... By the jukebox muzak replaying and replaying tunes that were soothing yet annoying through the invisible speakers... in every corner of the company building... tad louder than necessary.... the same muzak over and over again....

... then the extremely large moth beating its wings behind the window glass caught my attention, I stood closer and watched the moth as Bruce continued chatting with Peter about how to utilize me in the most efficient way.

While I was watching the huge moth with a silly childish smile on my face (I always try to make people believe that I am a bit of an idiot.... just to be on a safe side.... ) and bosses talking behind my back about my own future, I suddenly shifted the focus of my vision to the large truck that have stopped just outside the company compound. Something was not quite right with that truck.
It was full of black and mostly bearded men brandishing various weapons. Some shotguns, some machetes, and ugly looking sticks.
The guards at our side quickly closed the gates.
Then I realized that something rather important is happening.
- Excuse me, - I said interrupting Peter and Bruce, - I believe you have to look at THIS!
They came to the window, took a single glance, and rushed back and outside of the conference room. Bruce told me to take a sit and wait in one of the cubicles occupying the middle of the first floor and I did not like the tone of his voice.
Then Peter and Bruce disappeared in the corridors.
What has happened during the rest of the day I know mostly second-hand as I actually did not see Peter packed into the company car and smuggled into the airport and out of the country back into New Zealand. But I am sure it did happen pretty much exactly as I am about to tell you.
My knowledge of what and how did it happen was followed by the slow realization of why did it happen. This "why" was a learning of the invisible rules and social mechanisms that make the Papua New Guinean universe work in reality (as opposed to what one could read in encyclopedias and newspapers.

The astonishment with the fact that I lost my immediate manager on the first day of my year in PNG is still with me.
While I was sitting in the cubicle trying to get myself occupied with something useful ( first I was reading some random company newsletters then I switched to Internet surfing), the armed men disembarked the truck and came to the gate. They wanted to see Peter, my manager.
Surely they were not interested in computer software development. But they were interested in his persona nevertheless. In fact, they were so driven by their immense interest in Peter that they drove long distance from their village in the mountains and they were not prepared to go back until they have a meeting with this tall blonde New Zealander.
Our guards were in fact the same folks, - fearsome looking locals originating from the mountainous region of PNG which produces troublemakers steadily and continuously as well as supplying new recruits to the police and private militias.
So they started arguing and our guards had an advantage being behind the gates and having automatic rifles. But the village people were too many and they had a truck. Which they said will be used as a ram to bust the gates, if our guards will be too cocky.
So our guards were already wavering.
And here comes Bruce the mighty company owner.

He came out of the basement garage driving his huge Toyota Landcruiser. He stuck his hairy mug out of the window and shouted, first at the guards and then at the village people.
What did he shout exactly? I have no clue, but he made everyone scared, he was masterful in this art of scaring people. Perhaps he said he just called his drinking buddy, the chief of Port Moresby police department. And the police cars will be arriving in three minutes with full assault gear. And the village folks have a choice, - to spend a night behind bars, to get shot, or to get out right now.
So the next moment the truck was again full of armed men and drove away and out of the city; but not before the villagers promised with all earnestness to get Peter one way or another.
This did not look good for Peter. He could not hide in the company compound forever. In fact, there was only one bed inside the company building, and one shower and it belonged to Bruce. And Bruce had absolutely no intention to share it with Peter.
So the next hour Peter was officially dismissed. Unofficially for bad behavior causing company too many troubles. Officially his contract just has expired.
Bruce also booked a flight for him the same night, generously using his own money to buy a ticket.
Peter's possessions at his address were collected by another company employee. Peter's black-skinned girlfriend that was staying at that same flat was told to leave immediately.

The rest of the day Peter spent at Bruce's office telling with uttermost precision why the villagers may be wanting him so much.
As it turned, his current girlfriend was not the first he had had on this island.
Just a few weeks before the previous girlfriend told him she is pregnant. How did this happen? Peter was very sorry. Normally he would use a condom. But once or twice he was drunk. And his girlfriend used her chance to get her whitish baby. Yes, it is a precious thing in PNG, to have a white baby, especially a girl. It would have secured the mother's future income for years! And again, it would not be a problem for Peter. Few hundred bucks, and no problem whatsoever, everybody does that. But the cunning girlfriend did not want money, she wanted Peter! She wanted him to marry her! What a bitch! And he told her to go away. This would not be a problem either, just to tell the compound guards not to let her in... This have had happened before... In fact, this girlfriend was the third one Peter have had impregnated over the course of two years with the company.
But the third damned black bitch turned to be village chieftain daughter! And more! One of the favorite ones!

I could only imagine the expletives Bruce used to describe Peter's stupidity during that conversation. He still used some very colourful language talking about Peter half a year later.

So, Bruce the Almighty told Peter to stay at the company compound well until after hours, and when it was completely dark, Peter was shoved into one of the smallest company cars, down on the floor, and covered with some oily rags.

Four other men were in that same car, two in front, and two at the back, to give an impression that the car is absolutely full. They drove in circles around the city to make sure no one follows them and then to the airport.

Peter had his face covered with a fake medical bandage, as if he had broken his jaw. He was put into the wheelchair and rolled through the gates and his baggage was looked after by some bribed airport official.

And so Peter flew back to New Zealand. I have never seen him again. He did not email me either.
But his words "always with a condom" are still written at the back of my skullbone, although faded a little bit since then.
After all, I am a proud father as of today.
Tags: литературка, папуа новая гвинея

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