Day 20: The Adventure of the Sacred Banana

Today I’m wearing:
  • The Dress
  • Pussy bow blouse the colour of mushroom soup. 
  • Earrings made of banana leaf.
I’ll admit, today’s post isn’t coming easy. The well of adventure is parched. The proud tower of my ability to blether about anything is crumbling. Today I got up, went to work, and then came home. I didn’t even have a lunch break, so that scuppered any chances of lunchtime adventures. I’ve spent the last three evenings at home alone, this being the third, so I haven’t even got amusing pub anecdotes. It’s not that I don’t want to write, I truly do, it’s just that the material is lacking. I need more daily adventures, dammit.
I do have a story to tell, but it’s not about the Dress, and it happened a while ago, so I feel I shouldn’t really post it up here. But I make the rules and I can bend them to suit me when I need to. So what I’m going to do is write about my clothes and my earrings and how you can donate (because you really have to donate) before putting a jump in the page (that’s a “click here to read more” thingy, you’ll know it when you see it) and writing about the Adventure of the Sacred Banana. That way, ODOM purists don’t have to cloud their brain with non-Dress things, and people who are a bit bored and looking to while away time before bedtime can keep reading. Savvy? 
Today I wore a pussy bow blouse under the dress. I was also wearing a skirt on top when I walked to work, but I took it off when I got there. I looked like a Dynasty reject and that’s just not a good look on a Wednesday. It’s not a good look on any day for that matter. The blouse came from the PDSA charity shop on Queen Margaret Drive in Glasgow and it cost me ten Scottish pounds. This was a while ago, I left Glasgow two years ago. 

The earrings are made from banana leaf and I bought them in Ghana last April. We were at a market in Accra, I can’t remember what it’s called, but I bought a wee drum there, and a guy walked past with a whole range of earrings on a cork board. I can’t remember what they cost, and even if I could, I probably couldn’t convert it into sterling. Let’s say £2. They’re my favourite earrings, because they’re lights and swingy. Although if the wind catches them, it doesn’t half pull on your ear lobes. 

We’re at £475! Isn’t that just fabby? Only £25 before £500, and then only £200 more to the target! Actually that’s quite a lot. Can  you help me out? Even a fiver would get us a bit closer to the goal. And you’d have my eternal gratitude.

I heard on the radio this morning that there’s been a report published onto how bad dying in an NHS hospital is. People are left alone, cold and in pain. Suffering. My nan was very lucky. She had constant care, and her family around her all the time. She was in a beautiful peaceful room overlooking lovely gardens and the Crimple Valley Viaduct. With your donations, we can help more people end their days like my nan.

Justgiving.com/caitlin-rushby or text ODOM79 £5 to 70070

Right. If you’re still with me, hello. Make yourself comfy. Get a cuppa, I’m going to.

It began on Easter Sunday 2014.

Sunrise on Easter Sunday overlooking the Indian Ocean

I was staying with my aunt Jo in Durban, and my trip happened to fall across the Easter weekend. Durban is a wonderful mish-mash of religions and cultures but on Easter Sunday morning, the city was quite deserted. We’d hired a car and decided to drive round visiting some of the beautiful Hindu temples. They’d be totally empty, we thought.

We headed up and out of Durban, pausing at a few small temples before stopping at Umbilo Temple. Jo pointed out the firewalking pit as we got out of the car, but my attention was fixed on the gaggle of guard geese hissing menacingly at us. Memories of being chased at Studley Royal deer park as a small child came flooding back. If you’ve never seen guard geese, think dogs but more menacing. They had a look of bloodlust in their beady eyes that haunts me still.

Luckily at that moment the temple priest came out, calling off the geese. He was happy for us to look round the temple as long as we covered up a bit with makeshift saris if we went indoors. This was absolutely fine; we’re both pale as milk so the more protection against UV, the better. We strolled round, admiring the eye-catching carvings that adorned the temple.

We went inside, and were joined by the Brahmin. He told us that there had been a festival of some kind the day before (my memory fails me on the details) and there were still decorations and offerings to the Gods scattered.

He held out a silver plate to us, on which lay some fruit.

“Take some”, he urged, “it’s sacred.”

Jo, being wiser than me, picked up an apple, but I chose the sole banana on the plate.

“I will definitely eat this banana”, I thought. “Bananas are tasty and a good source of potassium.”

I put the banana in the front pocket of my camera bag, intending to eat it. We left, returning home to pack for our safari adventure the next day. The banana remained uneaten, and I transferred it to the front pocket of my rucksack, meaning to eat it in the car north.

We arrived at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park the following afternoon. We were staying in a safari tent, which was just that: a tent in the safari park (albeit one with proper beds in). There were electric fences to keep out the elephants, but theoretically anything else could just wander in. That meant lions.

In reality though, it probably meant more warthogs and monkeys than anything else. Vicious monkeys.

I couldn’t understand why there were two gates on the kitchen tent, until I left one of them open. We were putting the food away, and had left a bag of dried mango on the side. As we walked away, a monkey easily swooped through the bars of the gate I had closed, rattling around the kitchen a bit before picking up the mango and darting out. She sat on the fence, ripping it open with her teeth. When Jo took a step towards her and the kitchen, the monkey screamed in her face, baring sharp white teeth. Jo backed off, and the monkey swung into a nearby jacaranda tree.

I didn’t leave any gates open after that. I also made sure everything edible was inside the padlockable fridge, including the sacred banana. It had begun to look a bit sad, a bit on the squashy side, and I wanted to preserve its life for a little longer. I was still intending to eat it.

Hluhluwe Umfolozi is more of a DIY safari park than those you see on holiday programmes. We drove our neat little Fiat along tracks searching for animals, getting caked in sticky red dust. It was glorious. We saw zebras, giraffes, elephants, water buffalo, a rhino and numerous warthogs. Warthogs are my favourite animals. There’s something about the juxtaposition of their tusks and bumbling nature. It says “hey, I can pootle around or I can gore you to death,”

We spent all of that afternoon cruising the dirt tracks before heading back to the tent. We pulled up at the tent and I eased myself out, stretching after a rather jolty afternoon. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a little white bullet shaped thing on the path. Looking further along, I saw another. I bent down to pick it up, finding it was a tampon. One of those Lil-let ones. 
“Is this yours?” I called to Jo. 
“No,” she replied. “I didn’t bring any with me.” 
“Well, they’re everywhere. Some poor person has had their tent ransacked!”
We walked up the steps to our wooden veranda, following the trail of feminine products. It was then I noticed that the tent door was open. Silently I waved Jo over. 
“Did you leave the tent unzipped?” I whispered. 
“No”, she replied, “I’m not stupid!”
I paused, hand on the catch. There was every chance there could be a wild animal inside. Very slowly, I eased the zip up. 
Inside the tent was chaos. Stuff lay everywhere. Someone had turned the tent over good and proper. Yet on closer inspection, it was only certain stuff. Specifically my stuff. My clothes were everywhere, toiletries strewn willy-nilly. The copy of War and Peace I’d been attempting to read lay on the floor, battered and torn, with little teeth marks in the cover. My important documents wallet was similarly disfigured, although my passport had luckily survived with only a few light bite marks. I realised that the tampons had been mine, coming from the box my mum had given me before I left. She always gives me a box before I go anywhere remotely exotic. It’s one of the things she does. 
I looked at Jo. 
“Monkeys”, I whispered, eyes wide. 
They had scented the sacred banana and gone after it. The double-layered tent door and the zipped rucksack hadn’t stood in their way. Yet I had inadvertently thwarted them by locking the banana in the fridge. The taste of victory was sweet but somewhat Pyrrhic. My possessions were dusty, torn and damaged, and I wanted to pick up War and Peace even less. There were fruit stones everywhere, and my bed covers were ruckled and mussed. 
The potency of the sacred banana was evident, and I found I couldn’t eat it after that. But neither was I prepared to give in to the monkey pressure and let them have it. Imagine what would have ensued had they found it! A veritable banana-fuelled bachanal! I shudder to think.
It came back with us to Durban, and I laid it to rest under the tree in my aunt’s front garden. The sacred banana had proved too much for me. 
The sacred banana, obviously
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