Liklik Tolai meri i gat bikela busnaip by bobfoto

Liklik Tolai meri i gat bikela busnaip

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments yesterday. I will endeavour to respond, just that time is crazy at the mo'.

This is one of my favourite photographs that I took in my three years in PNG and I would consider this is one of a handful of shots that inspired me to share this project.

We move from the Sunrise of Madang and return to Rabaul, where I love to photograph the volcano and where there is a trait amongst the Tolais to have blonde hair. It is this distinction that means someone like me can spot a Tolai a mile away in other parts of PNG, and one can use a bit of Tolai language to garner new friends and finally purchase that hammer at that hardware store.

Thanks to the volcanos, Rabaul has magic soil in which anything grows and with 2.5m of rainfall on average each year, the vegetation is lush and trees grow rapidly. Here we have Balsa, Banana, Coconut and soon Palm Oil plantations everywhere, and on this day, I could hear the rain coming across the coconut plantation. It sounded like a rolling boulder just building in intensity until bang! Down came the rain and left as quickly as it came. But it left everything dripping and the humidity escalated as it was still a hot day.

I was actually taking photographs of the aftermath of the 5 minute storm, of the drainage in action, and how it was coping. I looked up the road and walking towards me in one of the drainage ditches was this young girl and her bushknife. She hopped up onto the road and kept walking towards me, but it looked like she had purpose, albeit a slow melanesian purpose. Her gaze was fixed on me and perhaps she simply wanted to know why the big hairy white guy with bilum was taking photos in the rain.

As she got closer, I called out "Boina malarna" or "Good Afternoon" to which she quietly said "Malarna" and offered the tiniest of smiles. To which I then mixed my Tolai with my Tok Pisin and asked "Mi laik kisim piksa bilong yu, Boina Ke or nogat?" to which she replied "Boina."

So without worrying about apertures and technical stuff, I raised the camera, took focus on her face and fired one shot.

"Boina tuna" I said and she replied again quietly "Boina", and she slowly walked away. I called out "Catch Mulai" to which she turned looked at me and gave me a big smile, started to laugh and then she ran down the middle of the road, laughing and calling out "Catch Mulai"

How to Make Friends and Influence People, PNG Style or How to have an engaging conversation with a stranger when you only know around 6 foreign words.

Photo taken 9 May 2007 at Bita Paka, ENBP. Title reads: Young Girl and Big Bushknife.
Great look...
May 9th, 2012  
hahaha lovely story
May 9th, 2012  
Ira
Wonderful. :) The picture and the story behind it.
May 9th, 2012  
Nice photo Jason , Gerry.
May 9th, 2012  
Great story. Love her wet feet, her blonde hair and that big knife! What a photo!
May 9th, 2012  
Love it. As usual.
May 9th, 2012  
They're natural blond hair looks stunningly unnatural. Amazing. That knife - whoah - in the western world we'd never let a kid her age walk around with something like that as they may cut their pinky finger :)
May 9th, 2012  
Her blonde hair is amazing, just looks so different. Are her legs wet from the rain? I am wondering why they are so shiney?
May 9th, 2012  
What a cracking shot, one of your best from PNG for sure, the expression and the knife ("call that a knife" as Dundee would say") absolutely fabulous, have to fave this one!
May 9th, 2012  
Your photos and stories have a surreal quality to them at times.... this is certainly one of those!! Excellent
May 9th, 2012  
Love your story - it makes it mean so much more! Charming young girl...fav
May 9th, 2012  
BEautiful portrait,Jason! That blonde hair definitely makes her stand out!
May 9th, 2012  
Great portrait of a lovely girl and that knife!!!!
May 9th, 2012  
That is a very big knife for a little girl!
May 10th, 2012  
Pretty amazing. It speaks volumes.
May 10th, 2012  
The first glance at this photo and I knew it was special.
May 10th, 2012  
Another wonderful portrait, beautiful people
May 10th, 2012  
What a lovely smile and even the mari dress can't hide that cheery personality.
May 10th, 2012  
She is so beautiful.
May 10th, 2012  
Lovely portrait Jason - thats certainly some knife she has:)
May 10th, 2012  
Nice shot...errrr...like the knife!
May 10th, 2012  
this is one of my favorites of yours so far...for the story and the photo. beautiful sir. fav.
May 10th, 2012  
Great shot and story-have to fave!
May 10th, 2012  
great to see one of the shots which inspired your 365 for the year and as a result my project, she does look somewhat bemused by you
May 10th, 2012  
What a knife .Her hair & bemused expression are great.
May 10th, 2012  
JUst love this shot, that bush knife is almost as large as her
May 10th, 2012  
Beautiful shot and great story. I'm sure she thought of your encounter for days after and laughed each time, probably mystified people around her. Sometimes moments are defining cliche as that may be.
May 11th, 2012  
This is gorious Jason. She looks so vulnerable but at the same time strong.
May 11th, 2012  
@swilde - Oh the Tolai women are amazing! They have such a strength, the matrilineal society empowers and with women like Queen Emma in their past, the ladies of Rabaul have a control unlike any others in Melanesia. It is also said that only the Tolai people will allow women to have more then one husband. While the opposite is commonplace in the rest of PNG, the Tolai women can be quite promiscuous.

@robv - I hope so.

@jolefont @nikond40x - Thank you ladies :)

@lbmcshutter - I do have a few more of the inspiring shots to come, and most are portraiture too.

@pennymilner - Thank you Penny for the fave :)

@luvthyclassics - Oh Jesse, that is so sweet of you to say. Your kind words are much appreciated. :)

@sebella @michelle58 @cjriggs - Oh thank you ladies :)

@tonydebont - They love a good Meri Blouse in Rabaul.

@tigerdreamer @buttercup - Karen and Mary, I thank you.

@tanagerjohn - Cheers John!

@httpgeffed @cookie123 @grammyn @maggiemae @filsie65 @judithdeacon - Thanks ladies and thanks for the faves ;)

@michelleyoung - her legs are indeed wet from the rain, and the walking in the drainage trench.

@kareen - In Rabaul, the kids tend to have a bushknife the same size in relation to them. You should see the knife her big brother swings!!!

@dolittlemd @swguevin @ira @houdiniem - Cheryll, Sheila, Ira and Emily - I thank you all dearly!

@scottkaway @gerry - Scott and Gerry, Cheers guys!
May 11th, 2012  
Excellent story! Even more excellent interaction with a fellow traveler!
May 13th, 2012  
@espyetta - Thanks MaryBeth :)
May 13th, 2012  
Mel
i love her wet feet, and they look so big!
May 13th, 2012  
@emjay8 - Oh PNGeans have big feet!
May 13th, 2012  
Wow what an intruiging shot!!
May 13th, 2012  
@tamsg4 - Thank you Tams, I concur.
May 14th, 2012  
wow great capture Jason
May 15th, 2012  
@kmwilliams - Thank you Kate :)
May 15th, 2012  
Love that blonde hair.
May 17th, 2012  
@kjarn - down in Milne Bay, some of them have ginger hair. Very cute.
May 17th, 2012  
She is beautiful and that is certainly a big bush knife. Hard to estimate her age. About 10 or 11?
April 26th, 2013  
@dandolo - yup around 11 would be a fair guess...
April 27th, 2013  
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