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WHEN YOU ARE HOME YOU EAT MORE

In 2011 when I arrived in Mumbai for my first ever trip to India my mind went into over drive. Too many people, heat, noise, smells, unfamiliar language, all skin shades and traffic. My camera, never stopped clicking – I captured everything buildings, people, food, anything that looked slightly different. Jump forward eight visits, nine cities and countless car and plane journeys, I am back in a city I love – Pune, it is here that I forged my longest friendships and grew into my event role.

What I love about Pune, is it is less vibrant than Mumbai and yet, feels more like a place to live. On this trip, I did not ease into the local cuisine – Wada Pav, cuttin’ chai, Misal Pav, locally cooked lunches costing less than a cup of Coffee in London, vegetarian specialties including peas and beans, rice, flat breads, sweat dishes made with sweet milk,  paneer, potatoes and the flavours are familiar and new. I become a foodie in this country where the Cow is sacred and veg is cooked in a hundred ways. I also realised that Indians are all foodies, theyc an wax lyrcial about South Indian cuisine – coconut milk, spices and rice and North Indian cuisine – rich creamy, butter and less spicy and all the variations in between.

Snacks wrapped in newspapers and lunches brought in a tiffin…The few times we had western food, stomach did not thank me.

Food here is more than something you throw down in between work and home or save for special occasions, nope food is necessary and a communal event and they love it when you say “yep, I’ll try this” or ask “what is this?”.

At our hotel – the breakfast is pretty awesome – the waffles and pancakes are a total joy and the on site baked pastries are so delicate and served warm that the thought of not eating breakfast is not even a consideration.  This is the only time that I studiously ignore the Indian choices.

I am consciously eating – savouring the flavours – spices, heat intensity – cooking spices and then adding the main – veg/fish/meat…

On this trip, I am less cautious, if, my team eats there, I eat there too – diving in and enjoying – finally, I am eating with joy

 

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CHILDHOOD MEMORIES LIKE DEW

2017 has begun with the loss of women who stood in my childhood shadow, feeding, teaching, laughing, sharing, encouraging and just being there. One lived up the road from me and the other’s h…

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES LIKE DEW

2017 has begun with the loss of women who stood in my childhood shadow, feeding, teaching, laughing, sharing, encouraging and just being there. One lived up the road from me and the other’s home was a sanctuary during the turbulent years between leaving your teens and your early 20’s, when it feels like you’ve borrowed someone else’s jacket.

Both shared the kind of laughter that made their eyes twinkle. They filled your mind with stories about family and their early days in England. Both worked hard, married men who like many men of their generation looked outside for validation.

Both women stood tall and strong, striding through life, working, raising their children to believe that they can and will be more. Going home, visiting their families, sending packages, money and letters in blue envelopes filled with news of their children and the weather.

Both women believed that family business remained behind closed doors and gave counsel to those who asked. One went to church until her knees and eyes did not allow her to sit on the hard pew chairs. The other, spoke of God’s will.

Their passing within ten days of each other was a reminder that my youth has melted away like the early morning dew. I now tell stories to my son that begin “when I was little” and draw images of small, black and white televisions and ice cream vans and hours spent in the park or at Saturday morning matinees eating tom thumbs and cola cubes.

 

I am now big people.

RIP my dear ladies – our tears mean that we love you

 

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photo by Brenda Lee Browne

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in age, death, family, home, life, Uncategorized

 

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

  I love this picture taken in a quiet spot – if, you look closely you will see me in the mirror. Small, hidden behind my camera-phone trying to capture a moment without being seen. Yet,…

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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT

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I love this picture taken in a quiet spot – if, you look closely you will see me in the mirror. Small, hidden behind my camera-phone trying to capture a moment without being seen. Yet, in the last seven days I have had to read headlines, essays, comments, news stories about #blacklivesmatter – the deaths of young black men at the hands of those whoa re paid to protect and serve. Not the fist time and sadly, not the last time that the black community will have to ask for justice! Yet, as people dissect the meaning of #blacklivesmatter  and the ‘innocence’ of the young men killed is brought into question and peaceful demonstrations are seen as a ‘tense’ response to violence until a lone gun man took a rifle that he bought legally, cause we all have the right to carry arms – right! And shot five policemen – the shock and horror and the questioning of #blacklivesmatter and the indirect and direct accusations that the peaceful demonstrations lead to this, that a phrase that simply states that whenever we are killed by the police, unarmed, yet, perceived to a ‘threat’ – the response, is’ a justifiable killing’ – I use that phrase as no one as yet, has been found guilty of killing anyone – ‘reasonable force’ – to shoot a man when he is on the ground, to shoot a man who is obeying your orders, to shoot/choke/beat a man/woman because, because…….. and I realise that I am tired of always having to explain my existence , our existence.

My skin colour gives people licence to presume me “guilty”, to tell me that “you are not like the others”, that I “sound like I lived away”, that “I am not racist cause my best friend/partner is black” and yet, you question me and even here in the land of my parents, I am still being asked to explain who I am – “why she don’t speak like us, she here long enough”, “do you need a work permit?”, that “she must have money cause she lived away and came home” …..

It is the explaining that is so dam tiring, feeling like you are always ‘defending/defining’ who you are, cause, dam it yes, it matters, we all want to feel as though we belong, that we matter – we want to be valued as we are. I am Black, British, Caribbean, Woman, Mother, Writer, Traveller, Teacher, Student, Passionate, Dancer, Limer, Creative and yet, when you see me, you  see ‘Black’. And no, I can’t sing, I am serious, I don’t laugh every five seconds, I love glossy magazines and good books written by writers of any colour, I don’t smoke, anything or lie on the beach everyday or move slowly, I am not a ‘hustler’, never lived in no dam ghetto (parents worked hard to move us to a white neighbourhood – ah the ‘moving on up’ 60’s and 70’s – they did what they thought was best), I have no chip on my shoulder and no, I will not forget.

I am who I am because of all the experiences – because I read, because I participated, because I learnt and am learning , because I teach, because I watch, because I am free – that last one is a lesson I had to take along, long road to understand with a little help from brother Bob (Marley), Iyanla Vanzant, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Gilbert, my son and conversations. I am free to be me – I have no business trying to prove anything to them that will never want me to be more than they see.

#blacklivesmatter – too!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES

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One of the joys of a staycation is that you get to re-discover your own country with fresh eyes – cities that seemed for other people to enjoy or were associated with drawn out history classes about the Tudors and those other killing types.

This time I revisited two cities/towns – never did understand the difference – once it has a high street, bank or banks, a big church and parks, it’s a big place…I digress –  Brighton was the first holiday my son and I spent in a hotel in the UK – he was seven and wide-eyed by the basement pool, the dining room and the water front pier – we rode on the roller coaster, more than once and ate sweet things and chips and a stranger handed him a stuffed, blue dog ‘Bluto’, he carried it around like a trophy. we ate at a restaurant with some sister-friends and visited a palace and the fair – we looked at the beach. Having lived in the Caribbean, we knew real beaches.

Yet, on this visit, I was solo  – meeting up with sister-friends, we are all mothers, been through a few wars, career changes, location changes and men – love, lust, leave, left and stayed. On a brisk, beautiful Sunday morning we walked for over a mile, walking and talking – catching up, moving forward and laughing. Walking and talking, the beach and waves our only other witnesses, apart from the families – him and him, she and she, oldies and young-uns, cyclists, skateboarders, skaters, tourists taking pictures of everything and the sea gulls. Yet, we were able to talk from within ourselves, no judgement, just questioning our roots, our responses and it continued in the evening , wine and back steps, children telling us to keep down the noise – and yes, we laughed in response. 30 years worth of friendship and love.

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Before catching the train back to London, I sat on the pebbles and inhaled the sea air, and missed Antigua. The sun warmed my face and a veil was shifted as I went over our conversations…. in our 50’s and still learning, changing, questioning – we did not expect this as our mothers never told us this.

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My next trip took me back up north – a city with a Minster, medieval thorough-fare, buildings that talk to you and contain shops built on passion and a need – wools, buttons, teas, antiques, vintage, one-off designs, books, adult comics, booksellers and food. In this city, I meet a chef, whose real passion is creating ice creams – not your usual types – think – coconut with coconut cream and flecks of dried coconuts; peanut butter and sea salt – each flavour as close to the ‘food’ that the chef envisions – his ice creams are sold alongside cakes, sausage rolls that look like the ones you used to buy at the local bakers before we became aware of good and bad fats, except he has added Jamaican jerk sauce – talk about a meeting of the minds – old recipes, mother’s intuition combine to make a sausage roll that is reflective of the country we now live in.

 

In this city my desire to do something more is regenerated as I taste teas and search the corners of the specialist shops and talk to owners who have time to talk about what they are selling and teach you a new way of looking at something and in  one store I get a knitting lesson without my hands even touching a pair of needles. In another one, my sister cousin and I marvel over buttons, hundreds of buttons, vintage, new, plastic, bone, wood, colours, patterns, plain, big, small, delicate and shiny. We pick several designs and again, the staff share their knowledge. Eventually we settle on a bag of assorted buttons, a pick and mix selection and two sets of vintage buttons.

 

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My writing spot, my eating spot, my I-can-do-that spot is an old pub that has a range of whiskies that will take years to taste as each has a story, a history and a way fo being made that has not changed for centuries as well as chinese teas served in tea-infusers that evoke well-being alongside a slab of home-made cake. Mornings begin with the owner  and his friends doing a crossword, sipping coffee and putting the world to right. Then the regulars drift in , each with a story continued from the last visit – one pint, one tea, one conversation – then come the lunch time visitors hungry for food – Jamaican dishes and gourmet burgers – served up with a dash of warmth and mum’s portions – not for the weight conscious or the food-shy. upstairs, there is a corner perfect for street watching and writing and day dreaming and planning next steps, dreams to action.

This city is made for walking, looking, discovering and being inspired – dreams no longer lay dormant as I followed trails set by Romans, Tudors and the like.

Each time I leave a city, I discover a new side to myself – not really new, more like the pressing of a piece of coal into a diamond, not quite ready to shine.

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Pictures by the author – Brighton and York – Staycation 2016

 

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54 Steps

MUHAMMAD-ALI

Boxing and moon landings are two of my earliest television memories – our father and mother would take their mattress downstairs and place it in front of the small, black and white television set. They would watch through the wee hours the world’s prettiest boxer float and sting through the night.

The boxer’s image in a white and gold frame sat between images of Jesus and his disciples – I ignored all three images, after all one was just a boxer and the other, well, I wasn’t sure. We were told that my brother was named after him – Cassius – I read ‘Julius Caesar’ at school and Cassius was one of the characters.

 

Growing up in the heady late ’60’s, ’70’s and early 80’s, the civil rights movement consisted of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., the black panthers, Angela Davis and the Soledad Brothers – soon replaced by black mariahs, SUS law, young, black men who died in police custody and songs about ‘injustice’ and going back to Africa. Boxing was no longer so important to our dad and the iconic West Indies team became the reason for much celebration. And yet, the ‘boxer’ popped up everywhere on television, on the a chat show and I heard him speak of class, colour, faith, injustice with humour and a sting in the tale…. And I listened and read some more and listened…. the ‘boxer’ became Muhammad Ali, he  way above any other sports person… and my brother and I bought each other books about him….watched his biopic and pieces fell into place.

On the morning of my 54 steps, I saw that he had left us…. his spirit joined our ancestors and the coverage begun on television and it was I that sat transfixed hour after hour, interview after interview…. his words, his anger, his understanding that he must stand taller and own himself, still stand true today… he shone a light on the America no one wanted to see. Sometimes, we need reminding of how far we have come and how much more we have to do to free ourselves of mental as well as physical slavery. Yes, our history is full of brutality, injustices and pain and also beauty, grace, pride and pushing through barriers. My 54 steps begun with reflection and gratitude. Thank you for being in our world and for releasing childhood memories of passion, of vision and lessons being taught by osmosis

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Photo credits: ranker.com  and  Doris Blue Gown

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Uncategorized