Friday, 16 August 2013

Change Of Heart

( Source )

"You change your life by changing your heart."- Max Lucado

For the year 2013, I made a list of resolutions that I actually intended to achieve. Included on the list were my plans to become more involved. It was with this in mind that I decided to join the Rotaract Club of Sangre Grande Central. Before I can become an official, pinned member, I’ve had to show my interest by attending meetings, and participating in the club’s events. I think of it as a hazing period of sorts, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Last week Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to accompany the club to a Summer (I prefer July/ August Vacation) Camp for Children in Sans Souci. Now, I was not enthusiastic about attending. You see, I REALLY dislike dealing with children. I find most of them, except my mini me, Brendon, to be annoying, insolent, hard to handle, difficult to talk to and connect with, and loud. Furthermore, their unbridled honesty unnerves me and spending time with them makes me miserable. Gosh, I’m a regular old Scrooge! Thus, after a great deal of coaxing, I found myself standing in a sweltering, community centre, in front of 30 or so children.

The Camp Director, let’s call her Lisa, introduced us and the Club’s President, Darcel told the children about our plans for the day (we were going to do an Arts and Crafts project with kite paper, and play board games). Meanwhile, I was giving off this very awkward energy because I felt so unsure of myself. I didn’t know how I should stand, where I should put my hands (I settled for my pockets), or what my face should look like. Sigh! I was snapped out of my reverie at the sound of my name, and I gave an awkward salute, as a way of greeting. Let the games begin!

The first activity was the Arts and Crafts project. I have no idea what’s the technical term for it, but it basically involved rolling up differently coloured squares of kite paper and sticking them to a photo with glue. I tried to delay the inevitable by helping sort the kite paper, but I soon found myself sitting at a very small table with a group of 4-6 year olds. I was nervous at first, but after a pep talk to myself, I decided to get it over with. I sat, started helping, felt my anxiety melt away, and realised, to my chagrin, that I was enjoying myself.

I met Kayla, Renee, Tevin, Reesa, Taylon, Lulu and Merkayle. They were so precious, eager to learn, and actually listened when they were spoken to. There was no attitude or preconceptions, just love and innocence. I especially bonded with Reesa- a 5-year old, whose demeanour was similar to mine. She was sassy, outspoken, bossy, and had a “plaster for every sore”. She was a riot; constantly challenging Renee and the others, and she even admonished Lulu for being greedy. I laughed so much at that, and I felt bad, afterward. I had to remind her on several occasions about the importance of kindness and sharing and being patient, but I’m not sure she heard me. She was very busy with her duck!

Chilling with the kids
After a brief lunch, a walk to the beach and a light snack, it was time for the afternoon’s activity. I wanted so much to remain indoors and play board games, but I was sent outdoors, so I had no other choice but to feign interest in cricket. Although I didn’t play cricket, I had the most riveting conversation with Tevin. We spoke about his watch collection and his love of cars. He seemed genuinely surprised when I told him that I can’t drive and encouraged me to learn to do so as soon as possible, so I could get a “bad car”. Then, he ran off to push Taylon and whisper in Renee’s ears. So friggin’ cute!

Although some of the older ones seemed to reinforce my views of children with their rudeness, it did not faze me. I now believe that most children ARE a joy to be around and not very complicated. I even got some hugs at the end. I felt my world open up. Maybe, I’ll have one of my own, and put them up for adoption when they turn 7. Sounds like a plan!

The kids, displaying their art, accompanied by other club members

Until the next post! 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

7 Things I Miss About Living In Neiva, Colombia

Happy Anniversary! 

Hello blog-o-sphere! Today marks two months and a week since I've been home. Also, around this time last year, I started my job as an English Language Teaching Assistant in Neiva. It was an amazing year, one that I would never forget. Sometimes, I miss my life there and I find myself reminiscing about it all. In commemoration of my anniversary, I made a list- the title explains what the list is about. So, here goes!

7) Chorizo and potatoes was my preferred night time snack whenever I had a particularly tough day at the university, or when I was out partying/ drinking and the unexpected hunger pangs hit me at 3 in the morning. There was this little shop/ mini restaurant, operating from someone's home, pretty close to where I lived that would sell them. I would go there almost every night, which probably explains my weight gain during the second half of my trip.  

6) Redd's was my alcoholic beverage of choice. It's not as bitter as other beers, and has this sweet, yet tangy taste to it that I enjoy. A lot of people seem to think that it's a drink for girls, but I could really care less. 

5) Cholupa! In a blog post around this time last year, I spoke about my love for cholupa. And throughout the year, it never died. Words can't express how much I miss drinking a tall glass of cholupa juice with ice cubes on a hot day. So refreshing! If I ever visit Neiva again, it's one of the first things I'll have.

4) La Abuela or The Grandmother was the bar of choice for drinking after a day at the University. The day didn't matter, neither did the company. I enjoyed going there because it was a chance to hang out with the students, and on occasion, teachers, in a non academic setting. We would talk about all manner of things, and drink. Good times!

3) Random outings were usually done on Saturdays when myself and the other assistant would venture into town and explore. We would go down side streets, go into corner shops, and discover great places to buy clothes, souvenirs, and food, among other things. Then, there were the times when my phone would ring, and next thing I know, I'm off to the desert or a finca (farm) in the middle of nowhere.

2) Being a foreigner. It's funny that I wrote this, since I always whined about the unnecessary attention, stares, questions, and sometimes, mockery that I got when people found out that I was a foreigner. I mean, the first time I went to the shop where I lived, I was bombarded with all these personal questions about my life and work in Neiva. It was eerie! But, I miss that now. Gosh, I sound like an attention whore!

1) Friends. Those people that made my stay in Neiva much better are the ones I miss the most. They made sure that I always had something to do or look forward to. We did it all! We went out dancing. They invited me to their houses for lunch. They included me in their asados (BBQs), pizza nights, movie nights, birthday celebrations, and other plans. We hung out in the cafeteria, talking and laughing. We drank on Fridays at La Abuela. They got me a cake when I was leaving. They hosted the most awesome farewell party ever! They even visited my house one hour before I left for the terminal with gifts in hand. There was so much more. And I miss them, a lot!

Oh, I made a collage:

good people... good times!
I'm done reminiscing, and now I'm sad. It's comforting to know that all good things come to an end and memories never leave us. Until the next post!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Necessary Evils: Going to the Barbershop

It’s only because I have to…

With my blog revamp in full swing, I’ve been thinking about possible, future blog series that I can develop. The idea about “necessary evils” had been swimming around in my head for some time, and given the fact that there is more than one, I figured that it would make an excellent blog series.

By definition, a “necessary evil” is something that you don’t like doing, but you have to, for whatever reason. Included in my list of necessary evils are travelling by maxi taxi, working, Facebook, and going to the barbershop. The latter is the subject of this post; basically, I’ll explain why I think I have to go the barbershop, although I don’t necessarily like it.

So, why is it necessary? The answer is quite simple actually: I like looking good from head to toe, and without a haircut, I feel like a vagrant. I blame my parents; they have always instilled in me the notion of "having pride in your appearance". You know, having clean fingernails, well ironed clothes, clean shoes, proper hygiene, and so forth. As it relates to my hair, as soon it starts “rolling up”, I begin to feel uncomfortable and ugly, and I need to have it cut. 

Sadly, I can’t do it myself. I’ve been told that I should, but I know that it will take a long time for me to master doing it, since I’m an uncoordinated mess. Until I master it, there will be a lot of mistakes up there. Overall, it’s going to defeat the whole purpose of getting a haircut, if I walk around looking like a browner version of this:

Long ago, my father used to cut mine and my brother’s hair, but life happened. I suppose that I could find another family member or friend of the family to take his place, but I don’t really trust anyone else. Basically, I need to go to the barbershop because I don’t want to look homeless, disappoint my parents, and there are no other options. So, the question remains: If I really need to go to the barbershop, why do I think of them as evil?  


Every time I enter a barbershop, I’m reminded of all my insecurities from secondary school. In short, I was called names and judged for not being most students’ idea of how a “man” is supposed to act or talk. It took me a long time to accept myself as I am, but whenever I visit the barbershop it all comes rushing back in a swirl of dead hair. I feel like everyone scrutinizes me about everything from my brightly coloured T-shirts to my high voice to my use of Chap Stick to my colourful hand-bands. I view the barbershop as this overtly masculine place, where men go to be men, and anything against the norm is simply not accepted. I try my best to dissimulate; I keep my head down, and keep conversation to a minimum. It’s possible that I could be imagining it all, and taking myself too seriously. Sigh!

Then, there are the annoyingly infuriating topics of conversation that most barbers and patrons alike seem to engage in, especially those that border on male chauvinism, homophobia, and the like. One barber was talking about how upset he was that his wife had decided to find a job because she would eventually begin to neglect her duties as his wife. *rolls eyes* I can recall other occasions like that one, which incensed me, but I’m always too afraid to speak up (see the aforementioned paragraph). Double sigh!

Finally, there are some barbers who perturb me to the core of my being. They’re usually the ones who enjoy talking, which I have no problem with, but when they stop cutting my hair to pose with the machine in their hand and wave emphatically while telling their story, I become livid. Then, there are times when the barber insists on engaging in small talk, that is, ask me a lot of questions to mind my business. I don't need you to talk to me; hurry and do your job, and quit with the mindless conversation. Honestly, sometimes, I feel like screaming, “HELLO! I have somewhere to be!” Triple sigh!

That’s all folks! Keep on the lookout for other posts in the series.

Until the next one!