MIDWAY : People palace

D B Rai

The other day I received an invitation card to a wedding party. The venue was people palace or so I thought. The name instantly reminded me of a place by the same name in Sidney long ago. Scrutinising the card closely, the name was party palace. Nevertheless, the name evoked a series of forgotten memories.

As a junior livestock technician, I was asked by my supervisor to fill in the forms for a short duration in-service training in livestock, sponsored by the Australian government. I did it reluctantly since I lacked in meeting the academic requirements. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised following the receipt of the acceptance letter.

After our arrival in Sidney, a reception in our honour was held. We were 25 or so from different developing nations. While the party was in progress, I saw a Mongolian face approaching towards me, flashing a benign smile. When he came close, the person was non other than Mr Ciang, my erstwhile tutor in Massey College, New Zealand from where I had done my diploma in sheep husbandry - it immediately dawned on me Mr Ciang’s hand in facilitating my participation, which he confirmed during our chat. He also took me around introducing me to his colleagues, including Mr Bland, our liaison officer, who was fond of drinks.

A few days later, after the classes were over, I invited Mr Bland for drinks. After gulping down a few drinks, we became more open. I complained about the insufficiency of the daily allowance, given the many city distractions and allurements. This was an appropriate occasion, I thought, to exploit the bond. “Can I move out from the present accommodation since the tariff is considerably high? Don’t worry nobody would notice my absence since I have been distancing myself from other trainees”, I said. “As long as you do it discreetly”, was his response. Extremely delighted, I ordered for more drinks.

Early next morning I closely studied the morning papers for a cheap board. After some close examination, I found what I was looking for — “bed and breakfast for two dollars.”

After the day’s schedules were over and the trainees embedded in their rooms, I quietly left the hotel to my new lodge called “people palace.”