April 3, 2013


The first and most significant fact I learned about Jamaica can be summed up with the words “No problem”. I was introduced to this important concept as soon as I arrived on the island by the people who live there.

 For a variety of reasons, my daughter and I planned our trip literally a few days before going. Our travel agent just called us and said, “You’re going to Jamaica the day after tomorrow”. That meant I had no time to visit Wikipedia beforehand. That also meant that, when our bus had left the airport, I nearly screamed “We’re on the wrong side of the road!”

We spent one memorable week in Jamaica – basking in the sunlight. And that was the greatest joy because, when we left, the weather looked something like this.
   During our trip, we climbed Dunn’s River Falls. I can’t quite capture the level of surprise I felt when we all joined hands and started making our way up, pretending that we didn’t notice the cold water that was pouring onto our faces. I’ll have to warn you that I personally saw one tourist – who decided to break away and climb by himself instead of with a guide – slip and slide down two stones, landing on his side. I can imagine you wondering – did we sign the paper that said the park was not responsible for any injury that may occur? No, we did not sign any papers, because nobody gave us any. Everybody knows that, in Jamaica, there are no problems – so, why worry?

We went swimming with dolphins. I, personally, also kissed a stingray. For that, I was promised ten years of good luck. How could I miss out on such an opportunity? Then, when I told about this adventure to my mom on the phone, she was quiet for a moment, and then said “You always manage pull something like this.” (I was also told that, for kissing the guide who showed us the stingray, I would get 14 years of good luck. I declined under the guise that the stingray was just so appealing.) Swimming with the dolphins was a fantastic experience. Just being near these otherworldly creatures left an unforgettable impression.

I really liked a joke that one of our tour guides told me. In Jamaica, jerk sauce is very popular – on fish, chicken, or any other meat. And if a wife calls a husband a jerk in Jamaica, according to our guide, all that means is that he’s hot and spicy. The people that we met in Jamaica all had a sharp sense of humour and they were quick to react with a witty phrase. Almost like Russians. It would be interesting to see a battle of wits between the two. At least in my case, I kept having mini-duels with words. You can be proud of me – the people I spoke to laughed while clutching at their sides after we were finished talking.

One time, at an overfilled bar, the bartender refused to give me what I asked for. I had to sing a rendition of “Red Red Wine”. That was quite effective.

Every evening, in several spots around the resort, it sounded like somebody was swinging on a rusty swing. The sound was loud, persistent, and it wouldn’t let up for even a minute. No, it wasn’t a swing. It was the sound of loud Jamaican crickets. We imagined that they were even giggling as they were swinging.

I was told that, if I try Jamaican coffee, I will open my eyes for the rest of my life. I can attest to that. The coffee is not so much strong as it is fragrant. It’s as if you’re not drinking coffee, but something else .The flavour lingers on your tongue and you want another cup, and then another one.

   Jamaican rum is really very good. I think that the best and most delicious rum is the one you actually buy in Jamaica. The same can be told of Jamaican Red Stripe beer. Maybe those drinks taste differently after a day of pirating adventures, or maybe they just save the best bottles for themselves and the guests.

Our hotel was very crowded and, having been spoiled in Cuba, I completely forgot what it’s like having to wake up early to find a spot on the beach chairs. I had to remember that almost immediately. Having spent the first afternoon tucked in next to one of the bars, where I got to listen to the latest reggae hits all day long, I decided it was best to wake up at 6 am to go find a quieter spot.

We spent our whole vacation to the sound of reggae music. I have never heard so many songs about people’s mothers in my whole life. Mother-themed songs appeared under different motifs. Some of them were dedicated not simply to somebody’s own beloved mother, but to all the mothers of the world. I would say that almost every fifth song on the radio was about a mother in some way or another.

    Something that I will definitely miss is the ocean water in the Caribbean. If you put your hang into the transparent blue water, sometimes you will find some curious fish swimming up to you – red ones, black ones, stripy ones, all kinds of different ones. Some of the most excitable ones will poke you right in the finger. I never knew this could happen. The water in the Caribbean is like a big aquarium under a warm southern sky.

April 1, 2013

The Old Man and His Dog

I believe that, in every neighbourhood, right next to us, there live some of the most eccentric and mysterious people. Their behaviour, actions and appearance deviates from what you might call the norm. By “the norm” I don’t mean to evoke a clich├ęd image of a businessman or a housewife. For me, personally, the concept of the norm is something vague. It’s not appearance, but the ability to give the people that surround me the ability to live without noticing me. Yes, I like it when people don’t notice me. It’s not that I do anything special to achieve that. I just like to be able to observe and enjoy the world without suffering from any intrusions.

Almost every day, I see a skinny, well-dressed old man who goes for a walk with his white dog. Even when I day passes and I don’t get to see this pair, I know for sure that we just missed each other. Or, on that particular day, we ended up in different parallel realities.

The white dog always runs in front of the old man, off the leash. If you can’t see the man yet, then the sudden appearance of the dog signals that he is about to show up from around the corner.
The old man usually picks stuff up from the road or the sidewalk. At first, I figured that he found something worthwhile. Then I took a closer look and realized that he picks up garbage. Candy wrappers, plastic bags, useless scraps of paper. Our neighbourhood is quite clean but, it seems, it does not match the standards of this old man. He even picks up cigarette butts.

One time, at the end of February, as I was coming home, I ran into the white dog and I was just about ready to see the tall, scrawny figure, which has a habit of holding his head a little to the side. But the old man did not appear. Instead of him, out walked a young, tall woman in an elegant black coat. I could hardly keep myself from walking up to her and asking what happened to her father. For some inexplicable reason, I was sure that my guess was correct and this was the daughter of the old man. I even looked at her departing silhouette for a while. It’s silly, but I waited for her to start picking up the trash from the sidewalk, with a hand clad in a beautiful leather glove.

 Yesterday evening, when my husband and I were returning from our walk by the lake, we saw the old man and the white dog running in front of him. He resumed his tireless work of bending down and picking up objects that other people do not need; that did not deserve anybody else’s attention; that exist only for the old man and his white dog. Why does he do that? 

Maybe someday I will gather up the courage to strike a conversation with him. Although, I think, he might be of the same category of people as I. If we’re doing something, it’s for ourselves, and not because we wish to be noticed.

March 1, 2013

The First Day of the Spring

Happy the first day of the spring!

To make you want me I can fabricate the truth
I'll give you easy it'll keep me destitute
You hang me up on the line, hang me out to dry
And you got nothing to lose

You've got the story all made up inside your head
You write me out of it and use your words instead
You hold me just out of reach, but you keep me pounding the beat
To take all the soul you can get

You take no chances and you give no other choice
You fill your pockets and you empty out my voice
You use the shallow and old, trade the heart for the gold
You sell the song for the noise

February 15, 2013

February 13, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

On Valentine's Day, it's necessary to go through a few simple formalities, which can really make it unforgettable.

February 4, 2013

Crispy Pig Ears and Simon Cowell

Have you ever found out about something that everyone already knows at the last minute? That happens to me all the time. One story began the moment I got a book called Modern Italian Food and Wine from the library. The title was promising, and it did not seem to indicate any potential pitfalls.

January 13, 2013

It's Over, But Not For Long

The winter holiday season has ended. We need some new directions. Let say that whatever happened during the holiday season will stay in the holiday season.

January 7, 2013

The Eye of the Beholder

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year - and, if you celebrate it, a Happy Orthodox Christmas!

The two photos below show something I've been seeing outside my bedroom window for a really long time. I consider myself very lucky, because this kind of entertainment made me have fun with no effort.

December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays !

Dear readers and visitors of my blog,

I wish you a wonderful Christmas celebrations - to all who observe it!

December 9, 2012

Mixed feelings

I know that time to be getting ready for the holidays and the winter weather is here.