I’ve just come back from Fiji where I learned two things:
- Fiji Bitter is very very good
- Bula is the only word you’ll ever need (along with Fiji Bitter)
Bula is the national greeting that seems to mean: hello, how are you, it’s a sunny day, take your time, have a good day, hope you and your extended family are well, play nicely. But sometimes it also can mean: goodbye, buy me a drink, I’m bored, I’m hungry or I’ve run out of conversation.
It’s a nice all-purpose, well-meaning word that you can just roll out on any occasion.
But there is another side to Bula, the side that occasionally crosses over to the dark side. After nine days in Fiji, I reckon it can also mean: shutup, be quiet, get into line, do what I say and I need a drink. There’s nothing wrong with this exactly - these are all necessary things that anyone who works on a cruise ship in Fiji or anywhere in the world would need to say from time to time (with the possible exception of Australian workers who would just come out and say shutup – I need a drink).
After you’ve done whatever the Bula bearer said, and shutup and got into line, then comes the flowing, cruisey Vinaka, which roughly translates as thank you, namaste or yeah, whatever.
There are a few more variations. Bula Bula - a double Bula - well when you’re on a good thing, why not stick to it? There’s Vinaka Vinaka, which means you can be my Facebook friend and then my favourite, Bula Vinaka Bula, which means – well by that stage who really cares? It’s probably time for lunch and a nanny nap. Which, come to think of it, is most likely what Bula Vinaka Bula really means.