Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Nov 25



In the middle of the forest there was an old army camp, where leaders from many countries from around the world were holding a Top Secret Meeting. They got their food fresh, daily, so they took different routes each day and had to be careful where they were travelling.

When they went down to the river to have a wash, they had to make sure they weren’t being stalked. The water was clear and fresh and many animals went down there to have a drink the water and it didn’t appear to affect them, so they knew that the water was good to drink.

Those in the camp didn’t wear any particular uniform, so it was quite easy for personnel to go into the headquarters and search through the files, but on checking, found that nothing had been tampered with and they didn’t find any incriminating evidence, so they knew that the files were all clear.

It was time now for the conference to get started. There was a lot of noise and confusion; they were all behaving like a bunch of spoilt politicians. The Speaker took hold of his gavel and banged it down heavily three times on the table and called out in a loud voice, “Order please gentlemen!”

Whilst these countries were discussing their top secret matters, they had a feeling that there was a spy, an imposter infiltrating their ranks. They doubled the security to try and filter out the imposter. After a thorough check on the results, one particular man’s name emerged as the possible imposter.

Now there was the task of finding someone equipped well enough in tracking, and also in handling themselves in the area of martial arts.

The Speaker decided that they should have a secret ballot. A nomination ‘agent’ from each country was put forward as their country’s candidate. A pen and paper was handed around to the member of each country.

When the votes were counted, the Chinese nomination ‘Xian’ was found to have received 90% of the votes.

Xian was an intelligent young man, who had been taught many skills by the older Chinese men, skills that no-one else knew.

Andros had an idea. He would target every country as he went along, very discretely extracting important information from each one and selling it to another country at a price.
As he travelled, he hid himself, going deep undercover and meeting agents that he knew, not knowing that he, himself, was being followed.

Xian shadowed him every step of the way, never losing sight of him. He was so good at keeping out of sight, that even though when Andros glanced over his shoulder on several occasions, Andros didn’t see anyone.

As Andros made his way into the first country which was China, Xian being Chinese felt right at home. Xian followed him at a safe distance, keeping up with him, but keeping out of sight.

China is an extremely large country. It is the largest in population and the fifth largest in area. According to the CIA and customs, the traditions of its people vary by geography ethnicity. Present day Chinese culture is an amalgamation of old world traditions and a Westernised life style. The two co-exist like the traditional Ying Yang formula of balance. Ancient Chinese culture is older than 5,000 years.

Chinese religion, philosophy and politics: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism have left a collective and lasting impression on Chinese culture and tradition.

Confucianism – Propagated “Ren” Love and “Li” rituals signifying respect for society and social hierarchy.

Taoism – Advocated the controversial philosophy of inaction.

Buddhism – Emphasize on the need to attain self-emancipation through good deeds.

In China and in Japan, you can learn the art of relaxation and meditation through exercising with Tai Chi.

After wandering throughout China, Andros found himself at the international border into Tibet. On entering Tibet, Andros managed to change into some orange coloured Buddhist robes, and mingled with the the Buddhist monks.

With all the orange clothing around, for a short time, Xian lost sight of him.
Xian thought to himself, you can’t lose me here; I have friends who are monks that live here in the Buddhist Monastery.

Xian made his way back to the Monastery. On arriving at the Monastery, a young monk handed him a message in an envelope. It was directions of where to go to find Andros. Reaching the place, Xian spotted him almost immediately.
Andros had taken off the Buddhist robes and changed back into normal clothes.

Tibet maintained a unique culture, religion and language for centuries, prior to China’s invasion in 1950. Today this culture is under threat from mass Chinese immigration and the strict control of all expressions of Tibetan culture and national identity.

China boasts of huge investment in Tibet, but its economic development is primarily intended to cement its hold onto Tibet and enhance its ability to exploit Tibet’s natural resources.

Primary and secondary education is taught in Mandarin, with Tibetan as a second language.

Along with other countries around the world, Tibet has changed greatly over the past sixty five years.

Tibetan culture and identity is inseparably linked to Tibetan Buddhism. Religious practice and Buddhist principles are a part of daily life for most Tibetans .Monks and Nuns play a key role in their communities, providing guidance and education.

Almost all Tibetans are deeply devoted to the Dalai Lama and his exile and treatment by the Chinese government are sources of grief and much anger.

Nepal is particularly well known for its mountains. Andros remembered what he had learnt at the base camp last year. Nepal has the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. He let his heart be touched as he stood in awe, wonder and amazement at the spectacular snow capped mountain set before him.

This was the challenge set before Edmund Hillary back in 1953, when he was recognised as the first person to ascend to the top and conquer this mountain, Mount Everest. He was a well known mountaineer from New Zealand and gained the well deserving title of Sir Edmund Hillary.

Xian was taken aback at the sheer raw beauty of the place. It was still not enough to let him forget, the reason why he was here

Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another.
A conglomeration lies in the capital city Kathmandu where cultures are blending to form a national identity. Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th century. A prominent factor in Nepali’s everyday life is religion. Adding colour to the lives of Nepalis are festivals the year round which they celebrate with much pomp and joy. Food plays an important role in the celebration of these festivals.

Nepal was declared a secular country by the parliament on 18th May 2006. Religions practiced in Nepal are Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. The majority of the Nepalis are either Hindus or Buddhism. Most of their customs go back to Hindu or Buddhist traditions.

Among them, the rules of marriage are particularly interesting. Traditional marriages call for deals arranged by parents after the boy or girl come of age.

Nepalis do not eat beef. There are several reasons for this, one being that the Hindus worship the cow. The cow is also the national animal of Nepal.

South Africa
Andros found it difficult to believe that no-one had been trailing him. Fear made him become wary and paranoiac, so he changed his plans and headed down to South Africa.

Arriving in South Africa, he saw that here was a place with many opportunities.
For some reason, Andros visited the most deadly snake-pit, making it easy for Xian to shadow him. It was partly enclosed. Under the ginormous Boab tree, hidden behind the trunk, Xian observed Andros as he watched the deadly cobras being milked.

Andros felt safe here, as no-one would dare to come here. He was never afraid of snakes. Not waiting too long, he went into the jungle to meet with one of his agents who was patiently waiting for him in a bark hut.

Xian was still on his trail. For some reason, Andros grabbed a machete from the bark hut and took to his heel. Xian sprinted after him, still keeping well undercover.

Andros hacked wildly through the thick undergrowth. A funny feeling overcame him. He continued hacking and slashing furiously for quite a long time and was deep into the jungle before slowing down. It was only then he was convinced that it was safe to journey on.

Andros watched as the elephants, rhinoceros, lions, tigers and giraffes roam the plains, and kept clear of the hippopotamus wallowing in the muddy rivers.

South Africa’s culture is one of the most diverse cultures in the world and has given rise to the term ‘Rainbow Nation.’ With eleven official languages and eight other non official but recognized languages, the rich culture of each of these groups brings its own vibrancy to their diversity.

The original aboriginal people living there were the Khoi Khoi and San. They were joined by two main migrations, that of the Bantu peoples from the north of Africa and the colonisation by the Europeans from the south, all bringing their own cultures, skills, arts and farming methods with them.

Zulu beliefs are based on the presence of ancestral spirits, which often appear in dreams, and a supreme being who is seldom involved in the affairs of mortals. They believe in magic and evil spirits.

The Xhosas have a strong oral tradition with many stories of ancestral heroes. Ancestor worship rituals as well as the initiation ceremony for young men are practiced, even though many young men die, or are mutilated by circumcision.

Stick fighting is a common pastime for men, whose daytime job is looking after the cattle. Women tend to the crops, and do much of the other work around the home.

It was the Xhosa leaders who initiated the fight against apartheid and founded the ANC. Among these were two of their modern day heroes, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

On entering into Egypt Andros jaw dropped, leaving his mouth wide open. It was a country of such splendour and amazing beauty with a touch of magic.

Tourists were flocking everywhere. Because of the crowds, Andros became careless, making it easy for Xian to keep shadowing him.

As Andros toured Egypt with its hypnotic pull, there seemed to be an unusual power that drew him into places strange and exotic. Never before had he seen a place like this. He felt like it was his paradise.

The culture of Egypt has thousands of years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations in Africa. For millennia, Egypt maintained a strikingly unique, complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe.

After the Pharaonic era, Egypt itself came under the influence of Hellenism, for a time Christianity and later, Christian culture.

Arabic is Egypt’s official language, it came to Egypt in the 7th century and the Egyptian Arabic dialect today has become the modern speech of the country. Of the many varieties of Arabic, it is the most widely spoken second dialect, due to the influence of Egyptian cinema and media throughout the Arabic speaking world.

Egypt’s position in the heart of the Arab world has also had reversed influence, adopting many words, phrases and proverbs from neighbouring Arabic speaking areas such as Maghreb area and the Mashriq. Today the daily Egyptian Arabic adopted several French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Armenian and English words to its dictionary, as well as keeping several other words from its own ancient language such as Coptic and Demotic.

The Egyptian language which formed a separate branch among the family of Afro-Asiatic languages was among the first written languages and is known from the hieroglyphic inscriptions preserved on monuments and sheets of papyrus. The Coptic language, the most recent stage of Egyptian, is today the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

About 75% of Egypt’s population is Muslim, with a Sunni majority. About 22% of the population is Coptic Christian: other religions and other forms of Christianity comprise the remaining 3%.

Sunni Islam sees Egypt as an important part of its religion due to not only Quranic verses mentioning the country, but also due to the Al-Azhar University, one of the earliest of the world universities and the longest functioning. It was created as a school for religion studies.

The use of camels in the desert, the great pyramids and the Suez Cannel are great landmarks and tourist attractions for visiting Egypt.

Andros saw those huge pyramids towering above him in all their glory. It would take many days of just looking and dreaming of their past.

This is where we leave Andros and his stalker Xian to their own devices.

Taking another irrational direction, Andros fled into Germany. Here the food was scrumptious with many delicate and fine pastries.

The population of Germany is approximately 82 million.
Germany is the third most popular language in the world. It is official in five countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

In Munich, in the middle of September, begins the great Oktoberfest Festival.
The Germans are well known for their drinking habits, and occupy the third position in the world for the world beer drinking rating, consumption per capita, just a short place behind the Czechs and the Austrians.

Germany is also well known for having three hundred varieties of baked bread.

Andros, being a vegetarian, was not into consuming any of the pork that was on offer.

Schweinshaxe is braised pork hock.
Bratwurst being pork sausage.
Saumagen is pork stomach.
These are a few traditional German pork dishes.

Germany is home to the world famous composers of classical music. The most famous German composers were: Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Wagner and Richard Strauss.

Andros had no idea where he was going t next. Wandering around, he found a little cafe, still not knowing where his destination lay. As he drank his coffee a wild thought teased his mind that would change his whole destiny.

Sitting for a wee bit longer, then Andros sprung to his feet ready for his next adventure. Japan was beckoning him. Xian followed, staying discretely behind him. Not understanding where Andros was headed or why.

Japan was romantic and exciting. He never minded hearing about the history of this beautiful country; those days were in the past. The beautiful flowers that were pained by Mother Nature decorated and bloomed in many Japanese gardens, a diverse array of heavenly hues which attracted a variety of colourful butterflies.

As Andros dawdled along, he felt an immense sense of pride not only for their beautiful cherry trees but also for their attractive gardens in all their floral foliage and perfectly and tastefully arranged.

Xian was extremely jealous of Andros. Watching Andros as he roamed freely, leaving the covering of the brilliant elegant cherry trees. There was nowhere for Xian to hide. He could not follow Andros across the cultivated plain, so he waited impatiently for a glimpse of his prey. Suddenly Andros appeared out of nowhere seemingly mighty pleased with himself.

Xian felt a huge amount of anger against Andros. He imagined what he could not see.

Women in Japan were expected to be subordinate to men and were confined to a hierarchal authority in both speech and behaviour, until 1947 when a new legal framework was established.

Andros was in total agreement. This being established, affording equality to both sexes, thus giving women more access to education and job opportunities, also to career advancement. However, the changes in the gender gap, equal pay and advancement were slow moving, and the concept of total attainment was also slow.

Andros changed his focus onto positive thinking. Looking around his eyes sparkled and brightened up, changing the whole appearance of his face.

Pulling himself together he looked upwards in admiration. His gaze lifted his spirit. The finest, special array calmed his soul. Cherry trees were in full bloom with a host of blossoms.

He had to try Japan’s favourite, Teriyaki Sauce. It is made from Saki and other ingredients.

The children are the centre of the family in Japan. Childbearing is seen as an extremely important role. Strong family bonds are developed early on, particularly between mother and children.

Andros could not understand the feeling he was having. There was this strong, powerful fear that was controlling his every movement, as he tried to lessen the pull towards Borneo.

Andros did not want to go there, but to his astonishment, no matter how much he wanted to go in the opposite direction, this controlling urge led him in the direction of Borneo.

His captors increased their pressure they had on him. He fought against this grip with all of his strength and might.

Going with them against his will, he reluctantly headed to Borneo. At his side, his partner clung to him. She was an unusual one, patiently keeping close to Andros, calming him somewhat, walked side by side, time after time.

He tried hard to make an escape, but his efforts were thwarted. Borneo was far different from any other country Andros had visited before.

He still had to come to the understanding of why this place had so much control over him, with immense its power. It was as though they wanted him to worship Borneo and the folk that live there.

Andros could feel a pull like a magnet. He felt as though he was a fly trapped in a spider’s web. He only wished he could find where the power came from.

There were three men representing their own country, Borneo. This was where the power came from. At last he was delighted to find the answer.

Denmark is located in Northern Europe, bordering on Germany for 68 Kms.
Its capital city is Copenhagen. Here Andros would take it easy and treat himself to a holiday.

This time he was going to renew and revitalize himself altogether. Andros found that Denmark was a place of healing to his needs.

After the previous experience, this country was totally different from the last visit where Andros was treated badly. Here he was welcomed with opened arms. A balm to his body and mind.

Denmark pampered him, loving all the attention; Andros realized his need to know their customs. This time Andros was perfectly happy since arriving in Denmark.

Andros became attached to these wonderful people, becoming pleased to help others. His face beamed with delight.

The following paragraph explains to everyone that this was what Andros wanted.

Danes believe that there is one proper way in which to act in any given circumstance. If someone is not following the rules, be they written or merely understood, someone would generally speak up and admonish them to obey the accepted protocol.

The Danes expect courteous behaviour. Talk in moderate tones and do not do anything to call attention to yourself.

Greetings are casual, with a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a smile.
Shake hands and say goodbye individually when arriving or departing. You would always shake hands with the woman first.

Andros quickly learnt all the customs as he had a photographic memory.

Danes tend to introduce themselves with their first name, Danes give gifts to family and close friends on birthdays and for Christmas.

Changing his thoughts, Andros perceived the list of customs knowing this country had these customs under lock and key.

He would not forget to find the right key, so blatantly explaining what his task was.

There was one easy going Dane who Andros bribed with an immense amount of money to obtain a skeleton key, to carry out his plan.

His right hand shook as he tried to open the safe. The trouble seemed to increase as the tumblers were not dropping themselves into the correct position. He silently swore under his breath. This was unusual for Andros, as he had never sworn before.

This mission had him rattled against his will. Suddenly he heard a Click! Click! Click! The old safe door swung open, revealing an envelope with the crest of the Denmark Government on it.

Would he be able to copy the contents which detailed all the ideas pertaining to the role of each person who would have one custom meted out to them after a secret ballot? How was he going to duplicate the list?

Scratching his head, Andros could see into the far back of the safe, His hands trembling with excitement. He remembered the Dane he had bribed mentioned that there might be a duplicate stashed somewhere.

There it was! He gave a huge sigh of relief. Thrills of pleasure splayed down his spine. Andros maintained a diligent watch behind him. He was careful not to touch the envelope yet. He donned a pair of gloves took out the envelope and locked the safe again.

In his hands were the original papers about the customs of the Danes.

Xian remained in a silent vigil. He was hidden amongst many very large pot plants where Andros could not see him. The only noise Xian heard was a thumping sound. Listening carefully to find out where the noise was coming from, then it came to him in a flash. His heart started racing, leaving him bewildered. Then it returned to a normal beat.

After his discovery, Andros was on a high, being very emotional he cried happy tears. Although the Danes treated him as royalty he realized that he must move on to his final assignment, Greece

Greece is a country of great and diverse cultures, influenced by its location at the junction between the East and the West and by the many occupations of the Greek people throughout history.

Greece, a truly magical scene where many avid occupants practiced the past memories that they followed, the historical ways, especially the women who avidly stuck to what the elders handed down to both men and women. To their great expectations, it filled their hearts with pride as they watched the young people practicing what their ancestors taught them.

The Greek people have a rich history from the Bronze Age to the Classical Period, then the Roman Period and the Ottoman Period and more. Beside bronze, gold and silver sculptures, the Greeks made many things out of metal.

Andros was mesmerized and fantasized with the large amount of gold. Like many men in the olden days, gold fever touched random lives of the claim diggers.

Metal was easier to collect and made to mould into precious unique bowls and vases, cauldrons, knives and daggers, shields, armour, decorate wreaths, drinking cups and lanterns.
Andros was immensely interested in a few different articles such as the knives and daggers, also the coloured lanterns, which was an unlikely collection for a man who was usually more interested in just the manly type of possessions. The lanterns drew him in like a magnet, as he was uncontrollably drawn towards them, as though they possessed a certain type of magic. He was wondering that his thinking may be coming a little irrational.

Greece has famous archaeological sites, historical monuments and Unesco sites.
Traditions in Greece and the Greek Islands either have a religious character or come from paganism.

Greece has virgin olive oil from Lesvos, Crete and Laconia, Capper from Santorini, potatoes from Naxos and citrus fruit from Peloponnese.

All of this only confused Andros all the more.

Maybe he could find someone who was familiar with the country, wise in all things and having a knowledge to answer all his questions. Perhaps is a man of some age who would give him a tour of this very old fashioned country.

Andros noticed another type of artistic creation that they made and used on a daily basis. It was their beautiful pottery and urns, which they made into hundreds of different and unusual shapes and sizes.

His eyes became glued to some of the more unusual urns, and it was almost as though he was thinking of purchasing some of them. Each one he was interested in was delicately made with a handle on the right handle side of the urn, though there were some cast with no handle at all.

Mosaics with patterns and pictures became wide spread in classical times, both in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Mosaics have a long history, starting from Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC. Pebble mosaics were made in Tiryns in Mycenean Greece. Early Christian Basilicas from the 4th century onwards were decorated with wall and ceiling mosaics. Roman and Byzantine influence led Jewish artists to 5th and 6th century synagogues in the Middle East with floor mosaics.

Mosaic was widely used on religious buildings and palaces in early Islamic Art, including Islam’s first great religious building, the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Mosaic went out of fashion in the Islamic world after the 8th century.

Andros was very interested in finding out that mosaic is a picture made up of pieces of glass, pottery or small tiles. Thousands of small pieces of coloured tiles are placed together so that when altogether they make a picture.

The Greeks wrote many different types of literature, from poetry to their history. They turned their writing into an art form.

Andros thoughts returned to the here and now, the present time. Reality hit him like a hammer, of why he was here now. He was prepared to accept all the pleasures of life and those that challenged him. Listening to his heart, he realized that there were many things he had heard, that made him become the person he was with a real purpose to life.

He realized it was vital for him to concentrate on gathering information from each country he visited and selling it to the highest bidder

Although Andros had enjoyed his travels, he became disappointed. His journeys kept him on a high, and there were countries where Andros would not return to. There was one place that was a living nightmare, that he chose not to dwell on the incident, but every single adventure, nurtured his changing life.

Xian noticed Andros’s weakness and watched intently, waiting for Andros to make his first big mistake, Xian was almost certain of the outcome.

Andros was moping around between the large urns in a dream like state, when a loud crash reverberated throughout the air. These urns were rare because they had a handle on the right hand side of the urn; where as the ordinary urns had no handles.

Xian took notice of several of the urns that had fallen over, with wide open handles that were spilling forth small objects. Having a closer investigation, Xian noticed that they looked like microchips.

Andros quickly tried to clean up the mess of broken urns, but to Andros dismay, Xian rushed over and picked up the microchips. Before Andros could stop him, a heated argument broke out between the two of them.

Xian quickly placed the microchips into a special container. He didn’t know what was on the microchips, but knew it would be some type of secret information that Andros would want to sell.

Andros became desperate. He tried to slip under Xian’s arm and get away.
Xian blocked the escapee’s way by using the techniques that the elderly Chinese men had taught him. After some time, Andros accepted defeat.

Xian listened to Andros lies. All the countries Andros travelled through; he coerced their leaders into parting with top secrets, then he sold these secrets to rival dictator countries. He was gathering top secret information and putting the information onto microchips, sealing them in the handles of rare type of urns.

Andros had told the country’s leaders that all the money he got, he was going to hand it over to needy, not for profit charities. Instead, being the very greedy person as he was and having no principles, he kept all the money for himself.

Xian used this advantage to appeal to Andros’s truthful nature. He put a proposition to Andros.

“You have been caught red handed dealing in espionage, passing information from one country to another country. I will give you the opportunity to redeem yourself. This is a very important, but awkward question I am putting to you. I am prepared to forgive you of your shortcomings only if you become a double agent and work solely for the United Nations Committee.”

It still took a long time for an answer from Andros, who had to weigh up between right and wrong. He eventually gave in to Xian’s request. He hesitantly stuttered out a meagre “yes”, then thinking it over fully, he replied with a loud definite “YES!” and repeated it once again, “YES!”

Xian was amazed at Andros’s reply. “Are you quite sure about this? Now that you have given your word, it’s final. Even though it’s only a verbal contract you can’t change your statement.”

“The first country I want you to get information from is Taiwan. Taiwan is just a small country that is not associated with the United Nations. Sell them a small amount of information for them to get your trust, then, find out some important information from them, like, in which direction their country is heading.”

Xian was filled with immense amount of pride. He would now return to the committee who entrusted him with the task of catching Andros, and inform them of the deal he made with Andros.

The greatest achievement Xian made was turning Andros into a double agent.

Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 22.10.2018

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