‘Have you been to Palestine?’ is not a question I have been often asked if I’m honest. But thus began some really interesting conversations on a chilly London night. I found myself among people passionate about Jesus’ birthplace. And some who called or still call Bethlehem home.
What I quickly realised, was that many of those most involved with the evening’s events were Christians. Not box-tickers forced to select an option, evangelical types, proper Jesus freaks. The women I got to chatting with had recently been to modern-day Palestine, to do otherwise mundane things like teach music or run marathons. But their engagement deepened and they are now involved with project ‘Open Bethlehem’ and promoting the film about it. Given my exposure to a general discourse of Israel vs. Palestine as Jews vs. Arabs, the evening began to get interesting.
Toes in the sand and nose to nose with the horizon line, today I tried to contemplate how I ended up here. When did I become Neo? I saw TheMatrix; I was not enthralled with the nebuchadnezzar. I could have chosen the blue pill. Heavy-heartedly maybe, but I would have done it. That porridge three times a day would have driven me mad and I would have been no use to the revolution. So which part of my journey through life determined that I would step off the treadmill, out of the rat race, move a gazillion miles away from my beloved London and set up home in the French Caribbean? Clueless, I retraced my steps. Continue reading →
As I’m far from home and much-loved traditions, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Christmas 2012. Although I refused to accept the fallacy that Christmas couldn’t possibly be Christmas without snow (have you seen a map of the world recently?), it still took me a while to get into the spirit of it. A night of enthusiastic chanté nweling which included copious amounts of Christmas ham, followed by a Saturday morning wake-up to a pile of presents and cards all with my name on (thanx peeps!!) got me thinking…
1) Family. I’m from a stereotypically Caribbean family as a Trini friend enlightened me once. I thought she meant in reference to raucously loud get togethers of very loving, proud black people convening for any occasion; Christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings, or funerals. But according to her, it was having more than 20 first cousins. ‘Have them?’ I can name and tell stories about growing up with them!! Continue reading →
As a recent emigré, this time of year has the potential to be the hardest. Despite subjection to some notoriously painful Christmas do’s with colleagues, I love the Christmas season. Christmas spirit for me is all about quality time, ideally spent at Christmas dinners, drinks and parties; with friends, family, food, laughter and good vibes, all in huge quantities. A good few thousand miles away from home however, forgive me if I was more than a little slower than usual in getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Thankfully, round here the Christmas vibes are no different even if the unchanged climate seems unsettling at first. I definitely enjoy the party; it’s called chanté nwèl, literally ‘singing Christmas’, which conveys the idea of a vibrant, musical personified Christmas perfectly.
Chanté nwèl, is basically carol singing. But that doesn’t do it justice. Continue reading →