New Zealand and Australia have both lifted travel sanctions against Fiji. Members of the Fijian military can now waltz into Auckland and Sydney whenever they want to. It seems all is forgiven and the military - which deposed democratically elected governments - is once again kosher in the eyes of Oceania's two big democracies.
However, all is not well in the south Pacific country. The military still calls the shots and the people of Indian origin, who were a slight majority before the 1987 coup, continue to trickle out. Hundreds of thousands have left the country. Those who can, try and get out. One of the saddest sights at Immigration New Zealand offices is that of immigrants from Fiji literally pleading before the case officers to extend their temporary visas.
A little trip back to the past will help explain why Fiji has become the sort of place it is now.
Fiji was home to one of the most inhuman gulags in history. Deceptively beautiful, the emerald island was the place where the British led tens of thousands of Indian indentured labourers into virtual captivity. After being hauled halfway around the world the men and women were beaten, tortured and made to work long hours while being given bare minimum food rations.
Perhaps the first thing that a visitor from India would observe in Auckland is the traffic. Even in rush hour, it seems doable! I mean, in 2009 in Mumbai I was at a red light which had a 400-second countdown timer - that's nearly seven minutes of waiting.
While my birthplace Delhi has some order - probably because of the large number of cops - most cities in India are in an entirely different category. That category ought to be labelled "Chaotic". For instance, the BMW X6 has the right of way over the 800 cc Suzuki hatchback. You get the drift - you got a bigger car, you rule the road.
Because I made the mistake of owning an 800cc Suzuki hatchback, I was occasionally tailgated by large SUVs. Only my PRESS sticker prevented more frequent tailgating. Being a stickler for the 50 kph speed limit and at the same time having a bit of a mean streak, I would get my cop friends to get the guy picked up the following day. They would then haul the guy to my office and make him apologise to me. I mean, who doesn't enjoy schadenfreude. It felt great to see the creep being hauled by the collar and the cops telling him: "Do you know who this is? That's our journalist saheb. Now say sorry to saheb."
It pays to have friends in high places. But that's another story.
After all that I went through on Delhi roads, rush hour traffic in Auckland is like a walk in the park for me. I mean, drivers stay in their lanes, rarely honk or try any dangerous manoeuvre.
TV3 is not exactly known for the quality of its journalism. But when it comes to matters that involve non-Western countries its coverage borders on high-decibel scare-mongering.
On Valentine's Day this year, the channel ratcheted up the scare factor by declaring that roses imported from India are ''routinely dipped in poison'' at the port of entry in New Zealand.
That sounded real scary - and a little over the top. So I called up the channel and asked the correspondent what she meant by poison because in my dictionary it means something that kills you in the following time spans:
1. Instantly or in minutes
2. Hours or days
Indians are one of the world's greatest litterers. If throwing plastic bottles out of a moving car becomes an Olympic event, then Indians will run away with gold, silver, bronze and fourth place as well.
Last year I and a friend took a road trip across the western state of Rajasthan, my favourite destination in India. Although I was impressed by the smooth, well-marked and picturesque six-lane highways, something seemed odd. And then it hit me - every 100 metres or so you could spot an empty mineral water bottle or a Lays wrapper caught in the hedges planted in the road divider.
Littering in the great outdoors is nothing less than a crime because there's no such thing as rubbish collection out there. It was especially galling because the hills we were driving through once provided refuge for great Hindu warriors who had sacrificed everything - including their kingdoms - while fighting off marauders from Turkey, Central Asia and the Middle East. But apparently most Indians have forgotten all that and litter such historic places.
So when I heard that some idiots from Hillsborough in Auckland were seen dumping ''multiple bags of flowers, cooked food, tinfoil, plastic bags and plastic bottles into the sea'' my first hunch was these must be Indians. More specifically, Hindus.
My guess was spot on, as this Fairfax report shows. A kayaker who often visits the area says that "on any given day he will see fruit and flower debris on the shore".
A cricket story - clearly apocryphal - from the WWII era goes like this. German leader and mass murderer Adolf Hitler is being driven through the Berlin countryside and sees a bunch of people in all-white attire playing a strange - and rather listless - game.
Hitler orders his driver to stop and asks his adjutants what the hell is going on.
''Cricket, mein Fuhrer. It's an English sport,'' says one of his Nazi flunkies.
Watching intently, the German leader says, ''How many players in each team?''
''Mein Fuhrer, there are 11 men to a side, and then there several extras and two umpires,'' the adjutant replies, and then provides a short description of how cricket is played.
Blog terms and conditions
You're welcome to post in the comments section of our blogs. Please keep comments under 400 words. When submitting a comment, you agree to be bound by our terms and conditions.