Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Living and dying in Seychelles P.S. Elvis is Alive

Yesterday, we had an inadvertant off-road experience when coming around a tight bend. To cut a long and somewhat traumatic story short, everyone is alive and well, but the tracking on our car's steering was out by a good 30 degrees. I asked Captain M if he knew Jo the mecanic, who was recommended by Monsieur C,

"No, sorry, I don't know Jo. I only ever use Elvis. Here is Elvis' number: 2589533."

After a 15 minute chat with Elvis, I still had no idea where his garage was in Cote D'or. All I knew was that it was a left turning near L'hirondelle Hotel and they have a car rental service called Austral. I asked for the garage name, but like most things out here, "no name". I wasn't too hopeful and anyone called Elvis was either going to be a right muppet or an absolute legend. The latter turned out to be true, but more on that later.

So Captain M started off our whole school INSET on ethos and ideology with a clip by David Blaine. You know the one where he throws the card through the window:

Obviously, Captain M is already a legend in my books, but he appears to have taken it a step further. After showing that video, he showed us a second video revelaing the magic trick. The point of discussion was that sometimes teachers over explain things and actually too much complexity and in some cases too much information can drain the passion, creativity and spark from Children. He also referenced Ken Robinson's infamous TED talk:

We got onto discussing "questionning" and after a few pretty high level discussions, as well as touching on "synchronicity", "experts" and "how do we know what we know", we moved onto a pretty big question:

"If it were physically possible to live forever, what would be the pro's and con's of this".

Faith/Religion were excluded from the debate as it is perfectly reasonable to believe that after this life, our bodies wither, but our souls continue living in an afterlife.

It made me seriously think about my time in the Seychelles so far, about life and death. Captain M once quoted someone as saying,

"[Thinking about] death is like the silver backing on a mirror-it allows us to see ourselves more clearly"

After a heated debate, the majority voted against living forever. Nobody likes uncertainty after all, it's much easier to deal with a more certain reality. Talking of synchronicity, whilst the debate dragged on for a touch too long, I looked at my cup of tea. This is what it said:

There was a powercut in Baie Ste Anne today, the second cut in 9 days. When I got home there was also drought, so no running water. It comes on again at 4.30pm. T.I.A afterall. Due to the powercut, we were allowed to work from home. As I'd already finished my curriculum plan, with Madame L providing me with a very solid one to start with, we decided to go home via Elvis's garage:
Elvis greeted us with a big smile. There was clearly a queue of cars, so we waited for a while, we watched him work his magic and it was pretty clear that he earned the title of King. A driver tried to start a car and it sounded like a washing machine with spanners in. Elvis leaned through the window, started it in one go, then shrugged his shoulders. He eventually came over and inspected our Suzuki Jimny, said it was a small job and told us to come back in 30 mins.

We went around Cote D'or, which is a beautiful village with a bizarrely empty beach. Everything was a bit more high-end here than Anse Kerlan. Prices were hiked up to double for standard tourist tat and restaurants were luxurious even by 5* Seychelles standard.

After the drive around, we headed back to Elvis's. We waited another 30 mins or so. Time passed by, but we didn't care-The Seychellois way. My good neighbour and dear friend, Boaty M indulged me with a long chat reflecting on life, Gladwell's 10000 hour rule and how awesome the team was at work. Our time finally came and Elvis mounted the car on his lift, all whilst driving with one hand on the wheel and the other on the phone; I'd like to say he was chatting to one of many girlfriend admirers of his, but maybe he was just taking a call from someone who had driven carelessly like myself.

Once on the lift, Elvis was right, the steering arm was bent. But with expert precision he had it off, straightened and fitted back on with the help of three assistants in under 30 mins. No messing around.

Unlike his compatriots, he keeps his overalls clean and has a real swagger about him. The most respectable Seychellois big man we've come across since arriving. Boaty M and myself were beaming with grins watching the King at work on our gold Jimny.

At the end of it, he got the measuring tape out to check if our wheels were aligned. Pretty careful and somewhat surprisingly accurate checking, given that his garage looks really amateur from a distance. He charged 200 rupees for the job and as he was cleaning his hands like a true gent when I went to pay him, he just nodded to his pocket, where I happily dropped in 200 rupees. The equivalent of £10 for 30 mins work with a 4 man team. A bargain I must say, just for the experience alone. And yes, "man crush" is the wrong word. I hope to see him down at "Oxygen"-the local nightclub at some point, I imagine he's pretty smooth with the ladies, Elvis by name, Elvis by nature.

To close, here are more scenes from school. Student art project "Positive Graffiti":

 Cool if this was actually 20 foot high.

View from my classroom.

View from Professor G's science lab!

Other views around school:

In summary, Elvis is alive and is the definitive Fresh Prince of Praslin. We are all alive and happy as larry, whilst there are power cuts, server failures, water cuts and mossie bites- the pro's kind of swing it back to positive.

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