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The Story of the Puss Roll

Today I’ll be returning to my Yaad (Jamaica). I love being in airports but this wasn’t always the case. I felt it was only fitting that I shared the traumatic story of my first time being at the airport. I wrote the story a year ago for my public speaking class. Enjoy!


Crisp white socks; folded neatly at the ankles. Shiny black shoes. A denim dress that flared at the waist with a rounded lapel. My mother completed the look by putting my hair in four evenly parted braids. There wasn’t a crease in sight or a hair out of place. I was ready. I was 1½ years and I was ready for my first trip by airplane.

While my mother and father juggled two suitcases and my diaper bag, my lone responsibility was to guard my stuffed kitten. This was no ordinary kitten. Pink fur, a white under belly and a long white string, courtesy of my grandmother, for a leash. After a 30 minute journey, we arrived at the airport. Mommy kissed daddy goodbye. He then kissed me on both cheeks and gently clunked our foreheads together so I wouldn’t feel left out. It was just mommy, me and my kitty now.

Despite what my mother would say, I was a well behaved baby. I walked beside her in silence taking in the hustle and bustle of the airport. This was probably my first introduction to the concept of “waiting in line”. That’s the thing with airports; lots of opportunities to wait in line. We had to queue to check in our luggage, then we had to queue for the security check.

We waited and waited until it was finally our turn. Mommy lifted her carry on and my diaper bag onto the conveyer belt. While mommy balanced monitoring her bags and conversing with security, some woman snatched my kitty. My jaw dropped as I tried to process what happened. I looked to my mother, waiting for her to defend me but she was busy with the bags. I had to take matters into my own hands.

In one swift motion, I dropped to the ground with a splat. I simultaneously kicked my feet, exposing Huggies underneath so they knew I meant business. I kicked and rolled to the right and I kicked and rolled to the left. They still hadn’t returned my kitty. I added a new move to my tantrum combo. I hollered. I had a pair of lungs and I knew how to use them. The entire airport waited with baited breath for my stuffed animal to be returned.

The conveyer belt had swallowed my kitten and was taking its own sweet time with the digestion process. I was kicking and rolling and screaming at the top of my lungs. My mother was frozen in shock and appreciative of the sympathetic looks she was receiving. The poor attendants ran from my mother to myself then the conveyer belt, unsure of what to do next.

The scanner finally spat out my kitty and the security personnel passed it around like a game of hot potato to get it back to me as quickly as possible. The same woman who had taken my toy returned it and apologized profusely. I stopped my tantrum mid-roll, got up and took it from her. Wearing one shoe, I hopped passed my mother. She scrambled to retrieve my other shoe and any other article of clothing I might have dislodged in my fit.I didn’t know where I was going but I knew it was away from catnappers, stuffed toy eating machines and baffled onlookers. My mother chased behind me and swiftly pulled the back of my dress down to cover my diaper.

Despite what my mother would say, I was a well behaved baby… unless provoked.

#KultureShocked

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Feeding of the 5000

Shida and I ready to serve :)

Shida and I ready to serve 🙂

On December 21, 2014 I took part in The Feeding of the 5000 with fellow Bongo Crew members Rashida and Denni. This has definitely been my most meaningful experience to date and I look forward to participating in the years to come. Jordan Bennett’s Feeding of the 5000 is a charity event that aims to provide meals to the homeless and the shut in. The group’s mantra is “Not just filling bellies, but hearts and souls with love.” and by the end of they day I certainly felt the love.

Feeding took place the day after Live from Kingston. I got home at around 2am and had the hardest time falling asleep because the excitement of the day’s activities had left my heart pounding. I dosed off a couple times but I didn’t truly fall asleep until what felt like minutes before my alarm went off. I hit the snooze button repeatedly until about 6.55 when I could no longer put off getting up. I showered, ate breakfast, got dressed and was out the door to meet Rashida at the bus stop at around 8.15. The goal was to reach 2B Grafton Road by 9am and we got there at 9:05.

Why were we early? This is Jamaica so, to be early one should arrive 2 hours late. Lesson learnt. My sleep deprived bum could have gotten at least an hour more of sleep. Anywho we were already early so Rashida and I tried to make ourselves useful. We posed for pictures, helped fold donated clothes and taped boxes while we waited for the buses that would transport us to the various locations to arrive. It was a long wait. For some reason or another the buses were ridiculously delayed. In the meantime buses arrived from the Golden Age Home delivering elderly citizens.

It was our task as volunteers to help the elderly men and women off of the buses, make them feel welcomed and serve them food. Simple right? Not really, well not at first at least. Starting a conversation with someone new is always a difficult task and if you throw in the generation gap it could go sour really quickly.Although it was awkward at first I was able to dive into an interesting conversation about cricket with one gentleman. At the end of the conversation I knew that today would be a life changing experience.

For the next few hours Shida and I pretty much just walked up and down doing odd jobs and hiding from the sun as much as was possible. The buses still hadn’t arrived and we were sleep deprived so we walked down the road to buy bag juices (you’re never too old to enjoy a bag of sugar water and red dye #4). On our way back we mingled with some other volunteers to help pass the time. The buses finally came some time after that and we got put into our groups to go to the different areas of Kingston. Then we sat down for another hour or so waiting for it to be our turn to head out. It was at some point during this wait that Meikle and Cespo finally appeared (I guess they got the memo) and we chatted about foolishness to help the time pass.

Eventually Rashida, Meikle myself and three other ladies loaded two boxes filled with food into a van and headed to Papine. We were on a mission. We had to use our judgement to determine who needed our help the most. You would not believe how hard this is to do on a Sunday afternoon. Like there were hardly any homeless people on the road. Meikle joked that they had gone home for Sunday dinner and we were starting to believe him when Rashida spotted a man in a park. Encouraged, we became more vigilant. We scanned the most unlikely of places and our pile of food started to decrease. We eventually came to a stand still so after driving through Papine one more time we expanded our boundary to include Hope Road and New Kingston.

We refused to return to Grafton Road with food. We watched as the pile of food shrunk with each thank you we received. The toothless smiles we received tugged at my heart and I knew that I found a new drug. We spotted one gentleman on Hope Road with a bunch of what we would consider garbage dangling from his neck and waist. To him they probably meant the world and he tied them to himself not to lose them. While conversing with him he said one of the items ( I can’t remember what it was 😥 really need to start making these posts sooner) was for protection from people who would trouble him. My heart melted as he said thank you a hundred times after we gave him a box of food. He pleaded for another and we could not deny him. There were many other heart warming moments like this throughout our drive but this definitely stood out the most.

We returned to 2B Grafton Road with empty boxes but filled hearts. We all exchanged numbers so we could meet up at  future events. We regrouped with Denni and Cespo and mingled with other volunteers before parting ways. It was a day well spent. Although there were some issues with organization, it was certainly worth the wait.

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Live from Kingston

The original Bongo Crew consisted of myself and my three friends Autumne (Tummy), Rashida (Shida) and Minkah. All of the original members are still present but the group has definitely increased in size. Since my last year of high school, Abbey, Denni, Shanice and Shantel have joined the crew. It just goes to show that music is a universal language that brings together people from all walks of life.

All of us, with the exception of Minkah, went to Live from Kingston at Hope Gardens on Saturday December 20. Rashida, Autumne, Denni and I got to the venue at the same time. Shanice and Abbey arrived shortly after us but Shantel didn’t arrive until after the show started. By the time we entered the venue a decent crowd had already formed. We opted to stay at the front so that we could interact with the musicians as they did their thing on the stage. Although there were no barriers, the audience naturally formed about two metres away from the stage. This all changed when Jason, the owner of Base Kingston and co-organiser of the event, came on stage and emphasised there were no barriers for a reason. He invited us to come closer and we eagerly obliged.f The newly evolved Bongo Crew stood so close to the stage that we could lean on the speakers for support.

The event stared at around 8.30pm without a hitch when Runkus, also known as Paula’s Son took the stage. The 20 year old walked onstage with his little brother who doubled as his flagman for the night. His set was energetic from the beginning to the end. In between songs the sound technicians would play pre-recorded audio of what I assumed was his mother either speaking highly of her son or inquiring whether or not he did his chores. This helped lighten the mood and aided in transitioning between songs of different tempos. Although this was the first time I was hearing most of his songs I could not help being drawn into his performance. His set tackled topics of love and politics with powerful and witty lyrics. I can definitely see a bright future ahead of this young act.

The thing about live music is that band changes are a must. The MC for the night, Donisha Prendergast (Bob Marley’s granddaughter) came onstage to help kill time. After what felt like forever the audience was finally able to welcome the Beautiful and talented Sevana. She opened with what she called her sob story (I cant remember the title :(). It was a song that told of the struggles she faced growing up. She then put all sadness aside as she dived into her line-up of love songs. She did a cover of Bob Marley’s Satisfy My Soul and two of her original songs ‘Chant It’ and ‘Bit Too Shy’. She glided around the stage in a white mini dress and a fabulous pair of tan heels. Her set was short and sweet and she certainly left the audience wanting more.

After another band change a group I have seen perform a million times came on stage. No Maddz have created a new genre of music which they call Bongo Music (They were the inspiration of the name ‘Bongo Crew because our outings started because we would go places just because they were performing). No Maddz are dub poets with a twist and their performance could go from comedic to serious to romantic in a matter of seconds. No matter how many times I’ve seen them perform, each performance is different and even if they perform the same songs over and over there is bound to be some adjustment that makes each time different. Despite technical difficulties which delayed their performance this group kept the audience moving. They performed new songs like ‘Shotta’ and ‘Romance’ as well as old songs like ‘Ganja Stain’. The Bongo Band  closed their performance with the crowd favourite, ‘Rise Above Profanity (Poo Puku Poo)’.

No Maddz (From Left: Birdeye, Sheppie, Onie P, Evie)

No Maddz (From Left: Birdeye, Sheppie, Onie P, Evie)

Next to take the stage was Kabaka Pyramid. This man is a lyrical genius. He too juggled topics of love, romance and politics. The crowd stood in silence as they listened keenly to how he twisted and morphed words to suit whichever purpose he chose. Words were his weapon and the audience would erupt in cheers as he cut away at the social, political and economic issues which plagued the island. He held his audience’s attention from beginning to end. His band, the Bebble Rockers aren’t to be forgotten as without them, Kabaka’s set would not have been as effective. Their playing was on point! I really am glad that they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Kabaka Pyramid :)

Kabaka Pyramid 🙂

Protoje was the last performer for the night. He expressed how glad he was to be back home after spending such a long time on tour and then he jumped right into his performance. He sang songs like Rasta Love and Arguments from his first album, Who Dem a Program and Hail Rastafari from his second album and Styling and Resist No Evil from his yet to be released third album. He gazed into the audience in amazement as we sang his songs word for word. Before finishing his set he called onstage the guest artiste of the night, Chronixx. The two sang their song ‘Who Knows’ after which Kabaka Pyramid came and sang ‘Mi Alight’ with Chronixx. They thanked us all for coming out and showing our support and just like that a wonderful show came to an end at 2am.

Protoje

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From left: Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje

Thanks for stopping by!

#KultureShocked

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Dream Big

I’m evidently not as young as I used to be so after several late nights or early mornings, depending on how you look at it, I’ve caught a wicked cold. Such is life I guess. Mommy (yes I still call my parents mommy and daddy) now has me on lockdown. I’m not allowed to leave the house until I’m better. With all this free time there’s not much to do but sleep and dream.

It’s my dream to open a music store like no other in my beautiful island home. I’d sell vinyl records, vinyl players, posters, CDs and musical instruments and equipment by day. By night I would transform the store into a mini concert venue where album launches and concerts can be held. I’d also have an amateur’s night where fresh musical acts can get some exposure.

That’s all I’ve dreamt up so far though but I really want to see it through. If you have any ideas or suggestions feel free to share.

More next time,

#KultureShocked

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Heartbroken

My little cousins are visiting Jamaica for the first time and they are absolutely precious. I’m pretty good with kids because we don’t age here in Neverland so things were going fairly well. That was until my little cousin looked at me with bright eyes and dropped the bomb. The conversation went something like this

Cousin: Where are you from?

Me: Jamaica

Cousin:Oh, but you don’t sound Jamaican

Me: *stunned silence*

Mom: She’s been at school in America for a while so that’s probably why

Me: *still stunned silence but if you listened carefully you could hear my heart break*

So there you have it folks, I’ve been thinking I was doing a darn good job at keeping my accent but here I am hardly halfway through my undergrad experience and it’s already fading. Let’s face it the Jamaican accent is mad cool and I don’t want to lose it. I’m so heartbroken :(.

#KultureShocked

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Nanook!

The second event I attended was Nanook last week Thursday the 18th of December. I honestly don’t really know what exactly Nanook is so I’ll describe it based on what I’ve seen and heard. Apparently is a bi-weekly event. On Tuesdays a DJ plays rootsy music while artists paint the walls of the venue and on Thursdays the DJ plays from 8pm until around 10.30 when a live band takes over.

My friends, Shida and Abbey and I walked into the venue at about 10 pm. We walked through the rustic two story building that was made almost entirely of wood. The ground floor housed what looked like a bar while the second floor was a sort of look out point where guests could view the band. This is at least how it seemed to me as I didn’t spend much time in either locations because my friends and I were instantly drawn to the outdoors. Once there we met up with another of our friends, Bugsie, who happened to be performing that night. We pulled up a seat in front of the stage and waited patiently for the show to begin.

After a while the Jazzy music the DJ was playing started to stir something within me and the overwhelming urge to drum started to take over. It seemed to have the same impact on Shida and as she is definitely the more ballsy of the two of us, she asked Bugsie if she could borrow his drum until the show started. So we sat there improvising on Bugsie’s djembe for the next five or so songs. Eventually members of the band walked onto the stage and started setting up so we returned the drum.

They did mostly covers of songs and musicians were free to come on stage and show their stuff. This is how I met my newest drumming idol, Hector. This talented man walked onto the stage, stole the set with a wicked solo on the djembe then walked off the stage, just like nothing happened. He later returned to play the drum set. He played with such confidence and power it was so magical. Can I keep him? Please?

Anywho my friends and I left before the show ended as it was a weekday and Shida had work the next morning. It was definitely a wonderful experience so if you have time to kill on a Tuesday or Thursday you should definitely swing by Nanook at 20 Burlington Avenue.

More to come but until next time,

#KultureShocked