In Jamaica the only thing bigger than the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships (aka “Champs”) is Christmas. (Maybe). After 106 years of existence Champs is the leading schoolboy/schoolgirl athletics competition in Jamaica (if not the world) and Jamaicans look forward to it with a fervor and passion that is a sight to behold. In the unlikely event that you weren’t aware that Champs was coming up here are some sure signs that its about to take place…
When visitors to Jamaica ask what they should do while vacationing here they’re often told to visit the usual tourist spots like Dunns River Falls and White River on the north coast and Bob Marley Museum and Devon House in Kingston. There’s nothing wrong with these attractions which are wonderful parts of Jamaica’s heritage but we feel that visiting these places, by themselves, wont give a vistor the full pungent, unadulterated flavour of Jamaica. If you really want to experience Jamaica we suggest you extend your trip by a few weeks and rather than merely visiting places you use the time to immerse yourself in the following experiences:
Throughout the ages philosophers have pondered mankind’s great metaphysical questions. What is the meaning of life? What is man’s purpose on earth? How does one get a Jamaican woman to like you? The latter is possibly the most difficult conundrum of them all. How does one court and win over God’s most complex and wondrous creation – the Jamaican damsel?
Here at ThingsJamaicansLove.com we’ve spent a lifetime pondering this very question and we’re keenly aware that there are many frustrated men out there looking for guidance. Alas, young Romeo, we dont have any definitive answers for you. The best we can do is to give you a few suggestions based on a lifetime of research and (occasionally painful) experience.
Around this time each year the recipients of National Honours and Awards are awarded their honours in a swanky ceremony on the lawns of Kings House attended by numerous dignitaries and closely watched by the news media. Persons who have served the country with distinction in a wide variety of fields are given Orders of Distinction, Orders of Jamaica, rders of the Nation Medals of Honour and so on. While these persons are eminently deserving of these honours we believe that there are also a number of outstanding Jamaicans who have been left off the list of honourees who should be recognised for their contributions to the Nation. ThingsJamaicansLove.com would therefore like to respectfully recommend that the following persons and entities be awarded national honours without delay:
From time to time my female friends have asked me for advice on how they can find themselves a good Jamaican man. I usually tell them “go ask my girlfriend” but, truthfully, I’m not sure she actually knows how she ended up with me. If you ask me it was pure dumb luck on her part but if you ask her she’ll probably say it was punishment for her sins. That said, for those of you who are looking for a more strategic approach, I’m going to share with you my insights on how you can get and keep a Jamaican man.
Centuries ago star-crossed lovers uttered sweet nothings along the lines of “How do I love thee, let me count the ways” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet #43) and “Shall I compare thee to a summers day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate” (Shakespeare, Sonnet #18 ). In more recent times sweethearts (at least in the movies anyway) were saying things like “You complete me” (Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire) and “Don’t forget I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” (Julia Roberts in Notting Hill).
These, of course, are among some of the most romatic lines ever, but to us at ThingsJamaicansLove.com they sound a little old fashioned, a little sugary and just a little bit corny. As far as we’re concerned, while the passion lovers feel is timeless and enduring the sweet nothings they use should be updated from time to time. That in mind, we decided to create some updated sweet nothings for modern Jamaican lovers:
Its often been said that there are “two Jamaica’s” that exist side by side. This is usually a reference to the division between the rich and poor in Jamaica; the haves and the have-nots, uptown and downtown. Being keen observers of the Jamaican condition ThingsJamaicansLove.com has noticed, however, that there’s a further division in Jamaica that relates to lifestyle choices. We’ve observed that certain segments of the country have, in recent times, joined a health and fitness revolution that’s swept the island and has large numbers of persons jogging, spinning, cycling, crossfit-ing and boot-camping for the first time.
This health and fitness phenomenon has also extended to the way those persons eat. Old eating habits have been replaced by a new “eat-clean” mantra where simple carbs and bad fats are ruthlessly eliminated and every detail of what’s eaten is meticulously recorded and analysed. In other segments of Jamaica, however, we’ve noticed that the health and fitness revolution hasn’t quite taken hold yet and old eating habits stubbornly persist. That in mind, TJL decided to take a closer look at this curious “two Jamaica’s/two diets” phenomenon by studying the daily “food logs” of 2 Jamaicans, who we will call Miss A and Mr. B. Miss A is a modern, eat-clean-train-dirty kinda girl while Mr. B is, shall we say, more traditional. We share the results below:
1. That Tessanne Chin shell dung The Voice to rubble and reminded the world that, despite all our troubles, Jamaica is still a nation of world beaters.
2. That the Prime Minister travels so often. After all, she could be at home mashing up di country instead.
3. That curry chicken back with white rice tastes so gooood! After all, it’s the only thing most of us can afford this Christmas.
Everybody knows the old joke “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side”. Everybody also knows that if you ask a Jamaican a stupid question you’re bound to get an interesting answer. Being curious folks, TJL.com traveled the length and breadth of Jamaica to ask a wide variety of persons their views on why the fowl crossed the road. Here are their answers:
1. We do not sit and around and smoke weed all day long. Of course we could, if we wanted to, because we grow lots of really really good weed but weed is not free and we are a poor 3rd World Country. Only rich Americans can afford to sit around and smoke weed all day, which is why we export it to you.
2. We do not listen to Bob Marley’s music all day long. We listen to his sons’ music all day long. (Bob had several sons, most of whom are musicians. – Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Steven Marley, Ziggy Marley, Julian Marley and Kymani Marley.)
3. We do not say “yeah mon” in every sentence. You’re pretty sure you heard your Jamaican friend in the cubicle next to you say those very same words just a few minutes ago? Well, yeah mon, I’m sure he did but he was probably just making fun of you.
Those tv ads for various Jamaican all-inclusive hotels do a fabulous job of making Jamaica seem like an unspoiled island paradise where life is always slow and easy. Those of us who live here know better. Jamaica is a beautiful and unique corner of the earth but its not always the easiest place in which to live and you’ll need to know the “ins and outs” if you’re going to survive and maybe even prosper. So, if you’re determined to live here, or have no choice but to (because you’ve recently been deported, for example) here are some practical tips for living in Jamaica Land we Love:
You’re not really Jamaican if you’ve never had an experience something along these lines: You’re a child attending a family gathering of some sort with your mother in the country. During the event she calls you away from where you’re playing jacks/marbles/stucky with your cousins and says “Charlie, come meet yuh Aunt Silda!”
You reluctantly abandon your game and slouch over to where your mother is standing with an elderly lady who smells faintly of bay rum and ginger: “Charlie, this is your Aunt Silda. You don’t know Aunt Silda-Mae Brown from Chalky Hill?”
Your polite (but disinterested) response is: “No mummy”
Undeterred she presses on: “Lawd child yuh don’t know yuh family?Aunt Silda-Mae is Mas Joe’s daughter.”
My mother believes that being thrifty is the key to heaven. That’s the only way I can explain why a woman who’s been comfortably middle class for quite a long time still has an almost religious belief in frugality. And its not because I haven’t tried hard to understand from whence this passion comes. I’ve wondered whether it may have been instilled in her as a poor child in the 1950s (she was the 8th of 11 kids) when she grew up in a rural community in the hills of Clarendon and every shilling was the meagre reward for her father’s back-breaking labour on a small plot of farmland. Whatever the reason, one thing I can tell you for certain is that my mother is an absolute fiend when it comes to being thrifty.
It seems to me that it’s not the big things that cause ordinary people to lose their minds and wind up as permanent, straight-jacket-wearing residents of Bellevue Hospital. In fact, every day, large numbers of people work their way through divorces, redundancies, deaths of loved ones and manage to get on with their lives. The things that are most likely to drive us insane are those little, repetitive, exasperating things that happen over and over again and slowly drive us mad. We all put up with a lot of those things last year and, because venting is supposed to be good for one’s mental health, here’s my list of things that (almost) drove me crazy in 2010:
In other countries, when there has been a traffic accident, the drivers involved know that they are required to exchange their particulars and immediately report the matter to the police. In Jamaica the procedure is slightly different. Having been involved in a collision anywhere on the roads of Jamaica you should:
1. Bring your car to a screeching halt in the middle of the road.
2. Jump out of your car leaving the door open and engine running.
3. Race over to the other driver/rider, gesticulating wildly and screaming abuse at them (even if you’re at fault).
Who on earth can keep up with Jamaican slang terminology? As far as we’re concerned only 14 year olds and dancehall DJs have that special gift, but despite that, we’re still fascinated by the brilliantly inventive, lightening-quick, non-stop evolution of popular speech in Jamaica. Here are some of our favourite slang words/phrases of 2010:
I’m addressing this post to all the drivers of buses, trucks and taxis in Jamaica. Now I’m not attempting to single you out for ridicule or persecution but you’re the persons who spend the most time on the road and are, from my observation, responsible for most of the madness that passes for driving these days. And no, I’m not going to simply dismiss you as homicidal morons as so many others have done before. Instead, I’m going to offer you some free advice because, in my heart of hearts, I know you can change for the better. So, please take careful note as I point out some of the more annoying things you do on the road:
So the news has broken and your name and picture are all over the newspapers, airwaves and television. Your phone is ringing off the hook and your political enemies are calling for your head. You’ve been accused of the worst kind of skulduggery and, this time, there appears to be no easy way out. Don’t panic Mr. Minister/Senator/MP, these things happen when you are doing the nation’s work. Luckily for you, thingsjamaicanslove.com has created an easy and effective guide to dealing with political scandals – a sort of Political Scandals for Dummies if you will. All we ask is that you follow each of the steps below carefully (and that you remember us when the juicy contracts are being handed out later).
Like football, cricket and drinking white rum, calling to women as they pass by on the street is something of a favourite pastime for Jamaican men. Let’s take as an example the experience of an attractive female friend of mine who recently had car trouble in New Kingston. While sitting in traffic her car had made a strange coughing noise and immediately shut off in the middle of the road. My friend is not mechanically inclined (she says she thinks the car had a heart attack) and had forgotten her cell phone at home so she had no way of calling a mechanic. Being the intrepid sort, however, she decided to lock her car and walk from Knutsford Boulevard to Old Hope Road where her mechanic was located. She describes that walk as one of the most “intriguing” of her life. The number and variety of comments that were directed at her by bus drivers, vendors, taxi men, construction workers and just random men sitting on walls was astonishing. She shared some of the more memorable comments with me:
Two American men run into each other on a busy street in New York City. They are old friends. How do you think they might address each other? Well, they might say something like this: "Hey there Todd. How're you doing old friend/old buddy/old pal. Long time no see". Surely there can't be that many terms of address which can be used when two men greet each other? Of course there can. This is Jamaica and we have a 100 ways to say even the most ordinary things. It’s fascinating to observe the large number of terms of address used in Jamaica and equally fascinating to note the rapidity with which they are invented, accepted into popular usage and often discarded. It suggests a dynamic, constantly changing culture and a people with tremendous natural creativity. (Or a people with a lot of free time on their hands) The following is thingsjamaicanslove.com’s attempt to compile a few of the many terms Jamaican men use/have used to address each other:
Jamaicans have a rare talent for mangling the English language. One of the many ways we do this is by gleefully mis-pronouncing even very common words. Consider the short list of words below and their mispronunciations. (Note: If you are not seeing why these are mispronunciations please seek immediate assistance.)
Anthony: An-tunny or H’antonny. You’ll note that Jamaicans have a love/hate relationship with h’s. We love to put them where they are not needed and hate to use them where they are necessary. A great example of this is found at public events when one hears the national anthem beautifully sung in chorus: “H’eternal Fah-der bless H’our land, Guard H’us with your mighty ‘and…”
Persons who don't follow football (i.e. Americans, Canadians and space aliens) may have noticed instances of what may appear to be unusual behaviour in their Jamaican acquaintances these last few weeks. This unusual behaviour is as a result of an illness commonly known as World Cup Fever. World Cup Fever manfiests itself in many ways:
1. Firstly, you will notice that many offices and places of business in Jamaica are deserted during World Cup matches and staff members can only be found in canteens, lunch rooms and offices where televisons are located. Please postpone your business till the match is concluded. (It is considered very bad form to ask people to actually work during World Cup matches.) Please also note that if the team supported by the persons at the office you are visiting loses, work may be suspended for the rest of the week as employees come to grips with the tragedy.
Going to Church - No matter how unpleasant the experience (or Why Pastor Johnson Hates Going to Church)
Goooood Morning, brothers and sisters! Isn’t it wonderful to be alive on this beautiful Sunday morning? Being here to fellowship with you and to see your happy faces is truly a blessing. Hallelujah!
This morning I want to talk to you about why I hate going to church. Now, you’re probably asking yourself “Why on earth would Pastor Johnson choose a topic like that?” Well the truth is friends; I was walking through the supermarket the other day when, just by chance, I heard someone use the expression "Easy like Sunday morning". It was just a random comment brothers and sisters but the truth is, it struck me like a thunderbolt! I said to myself, what the hell is easy about Sunday mornings in Jamaica? And the more I thought about it the more I realised that the answer was: Nothing is easy about Sunday mornings. Not. One. Blessed. Thing! In fact, Sunday morning is the opposite of easy if you grow up in a typical Jamaican home.
So you’ve just graduated from an expensive overseas medical school having spent many long days and nights learning all the arcane secrets of the medical profession. You’re full of pride at becoming a doctor and are bursting with eagerness to put your hard-earned knowledge to good use. Then… you get assigned to a clinic in deep rural Jamaica or one of Kingston’s ghettos and you start to realise that you don’t know quite as much as you thought you did. Much to your distress, patients frequently come into the clinic complaining of strange conditions and illnesses you’ve never before seen mentioned in a medical textbook. Don’t panic, young healer, Jamaicans have their own names for everything. Luckily for you ThingsJamaicansLove.com has compiled a brief list of Jamaican names for some common illnesses/medical conditions:
After our first “Things Jamaicans Fear Most” article was posted a couple months ago, many of our readers were kind enough to take the time to give us the details of several other things that terrify them. We had no idea unnu so coward! But anyway, many thanks to all the fraidy-fraidy readers who took the time give their feedback and suggestions. Your input has inspired us to write another article about the things that scare the bravest people in the world…
Yeah, I did it. And no, I’m not sorry. Now that the “ponzi schemes” have gone belly-up and their founders are facing more criminal charges than Dudus and Bernie Madoff put together, many people have come forward to pontificate about the greed of the persons who invested in them. They heap scorn on the naiveté of investors who believed that rates of 10% per month were endlessly sustainable and they make it seem as if even a retarded six-year old should have known these schemes would fail. Well, I’m no child, I’m a hardworking man who invested in what seems to have been crap, and I lost my shirt. But hold on, I’ve thought it through and I’m satisfied that I made a reasonable decision based on the facts that were available to me. Lemme tell you why investing in a ponzi scheme made perfect sense at the time…
We make them at the start of each New Year and then promptly break half of them by the end of the first week. Indeed, New Year's resolutions are made to be broken. Since we are at the start of 2010, Thingsjamaicanslove.com has produced the following resolutions that we believe are worth adopting and keeping and may even make a difference in the average Jamaican’s quality of life in what is shaping up to be a challenging year:
Never mind all the talk of IMF Agreements, budget deficits, tax increases and the like. Jamaicans have a passionate and abiding love for Christmas and year after year they enjoy the yuletide season to the fullest, despite the trials and tribulations they've experienced all year... That is, of course, once certain basic things are in place. The "basic things" required for the full and proper enjoyment of a Jamaican Christmas, include:
1. Ham. You MUST have a ham for Christmas dinner. Even if it’s the size of a chicken wing. Even (God forbid) if it has to come out of a tin.
2. Sorrel mixed with lethal amounts of white rum is a must. (In some homes the sorrel is entirely optional. The “Whites” is all that's needed.)
A Jamaican man walks through the shopping plaza with his wife and children on a busy Saturday afternoon. Out of nowhere comes a loud, piercing voice that seems to reverberate off the walls near him: "Yow Lippy! LIPPY!!! Backside, a you dat Lippy?”
The man pretends that he is not the one being called - not with THAT nickname and certainly not twenty years out of high school… And definitely not in public, with the family in tow. Finally, turning around, he looks carefully at the person calling to him. He vaguely remembers the face but the voice that continues to speak is unmistakable: “Lippy… how tings man? Bwoy, all ah now you nuh grow into dat lip yet, eh?”
And the humiliation continues.
“Woe be unto the youth that cannot live without his Wii” - Author Unknown
Remember the games we played as youngsters? Now the youngsters I’m referring to here are the generation of Jamaican kids (including myself) that grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Before this era I wasn’t alive to comment and after this era I was totally hijacked by the video game phenomenon. Before the video games, however, I had another life. One where I built my toys and games from scratch; from the things that lay around the house, things that were meant to be discarded, or from the fruits of Mother Nature. Now, I look back at the ingenuity that went into these play-things and wonder, who first came up with each of them? Some of them are not unique to Jamaica, but for others you really have to think that only Jamaicans could come up with such inventions.
For the benefit of those who may not know these homemade Jamaican toys or for those who know them and remember them fondly, here's a list of some of them: