Friday, January 18, 2013



Have you come for a Coco Loco Moco? You haven't? Oh, you are here for The Parrot that Talks in Chocolate then? Yes? Ah, my friend, you have come just in time. Tiwaka has just left the last one to question him dumbfounded, with infinite wisdom pouring into his mortal mind.

No questions for the bird, you say, just here to watch? *smiles, while polishing a glass with a rag* Well, here's a question for you. Are you really thirsty?

... And so goes on the night, with our unnamed yet popular (and mysterious) surfer-bartender, as he takes care of one customer after the other. (Customers who, no matter what, always order a second Coco Loco Moco after having their first.)

As you sit in the bar-stool, amazed at the intelligent bird while watching-but-not-watching the sexy pareo-wearing beauties, you begin to breathe in a tinge in the air. Is it the smell of the barbecued grass-fed organic beef (that's so good vegetarians had to reaffirm their faith in its presence)? Is it the scent of the chocolate cashews, beckoning you to hand it over to the all-knowing parrot? Is it even the faint musk of to-be lovers, meeting for the first time in this secluded bar and leaving for the very rustic cabanas in the area?

No, my friend. I believe its the Tiki magic working its way on you.

This book of connected-yet-separate anecdotes features to us the life of one who grew up on The Island. An island where an active volcano lets out its Vog every so often to agitate the spirits of its residents. An island where pineapple pickers long for the blue, blue sky. An island where choice surfing spots abound, stretched out as so as if each was designed to be shared by only two people.

An island among the islands of Hawaii.

It can't be anything but Tiki magic that sprinkles the words here, words of a simple man living a simple life in a curious island. It dusts his daily living with different incidents he doesn't bother to think about - only to feel about and let happen. While he talks about his memories of his old beloved Ococ, the feel of his dried hair while surfing the wave, and the unattainable apple of his eye, he talks too of ghosts, of connected spirits, and of the Great Cosmic Gift Giver. And he lets them hover in the air, not bothering to explain anything.

(Let's not forget the interesting parrot as well, whose current tap of the toes - now at 1, 3, 6 - signify the 136th song on the portable media player. Lo and behold, it's the perfect song to signify the current mood. And he does it every single time.)

No, don't come in if you're looking for an unscrupulous joint selling nothing more than ice tea and moonshine. Turn and leave if you expect therapy, and not escapism. Don't try to find this place if you don't have faith. This is a Tiki bar, through and through. (It even has the parchment paper certificate guaranteeing that it has passed the standards for authenticity of the 1958 TIKI Convention!)

While this book seems like a bunch of well-written (and slow-paced) stories, it holds much more than that. It has the promise of green turtles that snort as they save your life, it has the promise of dreamy vacation landscapes with unique and captivating locals, it has the promise of sun-kissed love.

Don't rush, feel the wind against your hair, and relax. You've got some minutes of escape at your fingertips. Enjoy, and aloha.

(This is almost! a 5-star read for me. While I can't quite rate it with 5 stars, it's awesome! I lost myself almost completely to this world. Note that this is my first foray into Hawaii- / Tiki-related books :) Great read!)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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