Mi painim pinis dispela plaua insait long raunwara ol i pulapim lo buai wara by bobfoto

Mi painim pinis dispela plaua insait long raunwara ol i pulapim lo buai wara

The beauty and the buai. I have mentioned betelnut before, and it will get mentioned again. Betelnut (or buai) is the great mess of Melanesia, the red blight on the landscape, the reason why visitors often think that blood flows in the streets of Moresby.

Buai (is the nut from the Areca catechu Palm) often mixed with kambang (lime powder traditionally made from ground roasted sea shells and now agricultural lime) and daka (the flower spike from the Betel piper vine) is the drug of choice for 6 million Papua New Guineans. It numbs the mouth, it numbs the senses, and it is a hunger suppressant. Often PNGeans will substitute buai for a meal.

One Kina used to buy you one nut, one daka stick and you could get a free dunk of the lime powder. You use the daka stick to poke into the little bag of powder and then mash this up inside you mouth with the crushed up kernel of the betelnut. This would cause a chemical reaction inside your mouth and you would end up with a fair gob of bright red spit. The traditional Motuans who say they invented betelnut chewing would swallow this spit, while the uncouth Highlanders who invaded their fair city of Moresby would spit out the red saliva and stain the world.

Even Doctors and Politicians chewed the nut.

The nut causes tongue cancer, throat cancer, and gum cancer. I think it has something to do with the alkaline and acidic reaction that goes on inside.

So once upon a time, I was up at Sogeri, a pretty little part of Central Province which is an hour or so away from Port Moresby, up into the green cool mountains that provide a dramatic backdrop to the Capital City. Sogeri was where people would go to escape the heat. There was a tiny market place, hand made shelters, dirt floors and the Koiari people sitting around on the ground, selling vegetables and pineapples. Sogeri Pineapples were fantastic, so sweet, and oh so juicy. Amongst these people often ran a small trickle of water which some people may have washed their fruit and vegetables in and this water ended up in a tiny pond, maybe 1 metre in diameter.

To keep their market place clean, the people would spit their red saliva into the pond, and throw away the husks of the nut and throw away their "Twisties" packets and throw away their "Maggi Noodles" packets and throw away their "Orchy" drink bottles into the pond too.

By the way, Buai has this disgusting coying smell of palm nuts that have gone bad and are decaying and fetid and foul and putrid.

So the pond smelt pretty ordinary too. But the people at the markets were always so happy (bombed off their tits) and smiley (big red stained teeth) and they loved a visit from the white guy! They were a joy to chat to! And they laughed so hard when white guy got down on his knees, to get this photo of a flower that had emerged from the foul buai water.

I'm a fan of flowers, I have taken only a handful of flower shots that I am proud of. This one I have printed on canvas. I can still picture that boggy water, I can still smell the smell, I can still remember the warm smiles from the market vendors.

The beauty and the buai.

Photo taken on 20th January 2008 at the Sogeri Marketplace. Title reads: I found this flower in a pond full of betelnut spit.
That is one beautiful flower.
January 21st, 2012  
love the English translation Jason! Great photo and story once again.
January 21st, 2012  
I can see why you are proud of this shot, it is lovely, even more so considering the circumstances it grew in.
I remember the red footpaths from betel nut chewers spit when I was in SE Asia and the rotting red stained teeth, I read somewhere the lime causes the teeth to rot.
January 21st, 2012  
beautiful close up
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful flower shot of a pretty flower. This shot is good for canvas!!! Good title for this shot! It is amazing that this flower would grow in the pond full of red spit.
January 21st, 2012  
@lbmcshutter - Oh I do have a good photo of some rotten teeth for later.

@tigerdreamer @murnane @stepheesue - Thank you ladies :)
January 21st, 2012  
This is very pretty.
January 21st, 2012  
@daisy - it was amazing that anything was alive in that water!

@morrissey - thank you Krystal :)
January 21st, 2012  
Awesome.
January 21st, 2012  
Oh wow, this is freakin' fantastic. A fave. I would buy this if I saw it framed or on canvas. Totally in love with this. Bravo, friend.
January 21st, 2012  
I think you are more worth the read than the photo at times, not that your photos aren't frick'n awesome. Jason, thanks for the insight the smell, sights and sounds of your world...it expands my own 40 below world and reminds me we are all one....love ya bro.
January 21st, 2012  
Loving the PNG series,both the photos and the stories
January 21st, 2012  
Note to self: Don't read Jason's stories while eating supper! LOL! Gorgeous picture, Jason! I loved your story too, but my stomach isn't sure. :0)
January 21st, 2012  
These stories are so interesting. I think it was called "cola nuts" that people chewed in Nigeria .... same look, same mess, same smell you describe so well.
January 21st, 2012  
Beauty from spit,cool.
January 21st, 2012  
@gailwf - thanks.

@loriromp - Oh thank you Lori, it does look good on my wall. I printed it square and have placed it in two triptychs. Is that a sixtrych?

@httpgeffed - I think it says in the disclaimer that this PNG project will be a very personal one, and hence why it will be the stories that help paint the picture. I guess I am being selfish by linking such tales with such photos. But as I always say, one of my aims in photography is to catch a moment. Thanks Colleen :)

@onie - Thanks Leonie :)

@cjwhite - you should have heard my stomach while typing the story! Oh that smell of buai lives on...

@corymbia - Oh I know Kola Nut and it is different kinda buzz. The kola contains caffeine, whereas betelnut tends to bomb you a little.
January 21st, 2012  
lovely
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful shot, it must look great on your wall
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful photo, well deserving of an honored location to display. Even more noble after reading your story of it's less than pristine origins. Looks like a Lotus flower, oddly poetic given the mythos surrounding Lotus eaters since this one came from what was eaten.
January 21st, 2012  
Very pretty!
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful shot! Betelnut chewing is also popular in Peranakan culture (on ceremonial occasions) here and in other countries like Taiwan (where skimpily clad girls sell them). Loving your PNG series.
January 21st, 2012  
looks like a painting
January 21st, 2012  
@missvicki - Thanks Vicki K!

@kjarn - Cheers Kathy A, it is in a cool grouping of photos.

@robv - Don't know if I have ever seen these white variegated ones end up like the traditional pink Lotus... not sure eh....?

@ulpiphotos - Thanks Ulpi :)

@myautofocuslife - I am aware in India it is called Paan and is mixed with spices and wrapped in the Betel piper leaf.

@houdiniem - and this was one of the reasons why I felt the need to print onto canvas.
January 21st, 2012  
Fabulous ethnography.
January 21st, 2012  
I love the chalky texture of the flower petals, a great shot and I bet it looks fantastic on your wall. Fascinating story, too, as ever. but I failed miserably today with the Pidgin translation! :-(
January 21st, 2012  
i am surprised it does not have red stripes all through it - or does it have pink highlights that i am just not seeing? do not see reds well. you know how plants draw stuff up through the stems - see the flourists color blossoms all the time around here. very much enjoyed the read and the shot.
January 21st, 2012  
Looks like it's made of paper. Beauty can be found almost everywhere, even in the stench of the waste water.
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful. I love how the light highlights the textures of the petals.
January 21st, 2012  
Beautiful photo of this deadly plant! I wonder if it is addictive like nicotine? Interesting info Jason and great story as always. Imagine this to be a devestating public health problem...
January 21st, 2012  
Gorgeous! Wonderful composition!
January 21st, 2012  
Very beautiful!
January 21st, 2012  
@hillcrest - oh sorry Cheryl, this is not the flower for betelnut. This is simply a waterlily that is growing in a foul bog. Betelnut grows on a tall skinny Palm Tree. And the big problem is that it was around 30 years ago that an influx of Highlanders were introduced to Port Moresby and it was then that the commercialism of betelnut exploded. It takes 30 odd years for the habit to really start forming the cancers so it is only now that the severity of this issue will be realised.

On the streets of Moresby, it is not uncommon for a child to use the husk of betelnut as a teething rusk, the numbing sensation helping the poor child into a life long addiction.
January 21st, 2012  
@peterdegraaff - Thanks Peter :)
January 21st, 2012  
@deens @herussell - Why thank you for the kind words ladies #:0)
January 21st, 2012  
@catsmeowb - no this plant has not drawn up any of the colouring of the water. Thankfully. I think I would have been shocked to have seen it stain like that!
January 21st, 2012  
@jenirainbow - today's tip; look at p's as f's. So the literal translation is as: Me find finish this flower inside the round water all he full up with betelnut water.

So the finish after the find turns that to found. Round Water refers to a Pond. The words "long" and "lo" are abbreviations of "bilong" and the PNG people are getting lazy with their language so that "lo" is very popular now, so things like "haus bilong yupela" (their house) has now become "haus blo yupela"

Also the "pela" or fellow is now pronounced "pla", no longer "pe-la"
January 21st, 2012  
@teliz3 @moirab - Why thank you Tena and Moira :)
January 21st, 2012  
Thanks, Jason, good tips! One question; are the p's pronounced as f's or is that just a clue to help me guess the word from the written form?
Love the 'Round Water' = pond! :-)
January 21st, 2012  
@jenirainbow - just a clue on the written form. It is pronounced P. Vocab wise, the PNG people struggle with saying F or TH.
January 21st, 2012  
Interesting! What sounds do they usually substitute for the F or TH?
January 21st, 2012  
@jenirainbow - well the F becomes P, so fight is pait and find is painim. TH tends not to be used at all, but as Tok Pisin becomes more anglicised for want of a better word, TH has almost become a D.
January 21st, 2012  
January 21st, 2012  
@brumbe - It does look a bit like a Magnolia, but this one doesn't grow on a tree, just on a stem out of the water.
January 21st, 2012  
@bobfoto ah so more like a lily pad flower. I really love seeing the daily life and sights of PNG
January 21st, 2012  
@brumbe - yeah its a waterlily, and that is why I had to get on hands and knees to take the shot, despite the foul water just under my nose!
January 21st, 2012  
very pretty.
January 23rd, 2012  
@lmasinton - thank you Lael :)
January 23rd, 2012  
Isn't it amazing what mother nature provides and what can be done with it. Maybe not used to the best of its ability here but maybe could be used in modern medicine. It is a very unusual looking plant. Love your story but I thought we were going to get to the part where the white man partakes in the Buai with the locals!!
January 23rd, 2012  
@buttercup - I do have plenty of time for more Buai tales... I'm sure my journey to Bougainville Island will appear in the project this year.
January 23rd, 2012  
Thats a great story, did anybody ever tell you that you should be a storyteller, there very interesting. Looks like an awesome flower.
January 24th, 2012  
@veekay - only on here... Might see what happens with this project as it develops eh?
January 24th, 2012  
In South Pacific they sing 'Bloody Mary's chewing beetle-nuts....' I wonder if it's the same. This flower is lovely ..
January 24th, 2012  
I can see why this is on canvas. That such beauty can come from such a putrid place. Ah, the joys of being high. Here, we have meth...we lovingly refer to the aftereffects as "meth mouth." Google THAT and see what lovely photos spring forth.
January 25th, 2012  
@filsie65 - Sounds like it might be Phil!

yeah @aj1268 I'm aware of meth mouth... yucko. Stay tuned there will be one betel nut mouth shot.
January 25th, 2012  
It's a beautiful flower, looks a lot like a waterlily.
January 28th, 2012  
@bella_ss - It is Sheralee :D
January 28th, 2012  
@bobfoto Oops... I thought so!
January 29th, 2012  
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