Who was this guy?

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He sits up high on this pedestal in the middle of Tavistock Square, legs crossed, eyes slightly shut and head somewhat bent.  I have been observing him since I arrived in the UK.  Is it strange that anyone would want to observe this guy?   Not at all!  There is so much activity around him as he sits motionless and that makes him an interesting case study.

From his vantage point he can see most of the entrances and it makes me wonder whether he is providing security for the square. One may wonder how could that be since his eyes are slightly shut, head somewhat bowed and he’s seems to be in very deep thought?

What could he be thinking about? Is he tired of the area? Is he bothered by his visitors? Does he want visitors to stop taking photos of him? Yes, he does have visitors. They come on a regular basis.  The sad thing is, I am one of his visitors although I have no idea who he is. There is a bench opposite from where he is sitting, and some of them would sit and stare at him, while others speak to him. Can you believe this? The number of visitors he has in a day could be more than some hospital patients will ever have in a month? He must have been a celebrity?

Today must be his birthday!  I passed and noticed that he had received several bouquets of flowers. Can you believe this? Flowers! These were not homemade bouquets, or flowers picked by the road side. They were bouquets from the floral shops, all nicely wrapped. What is he doing with flowers? The flowers he got today would be more than some ladies would receive in their life time. This guy must have been someone special? Why would he be getting all this attention?

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Can someone tell me who this guy was?

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Happy Independence St. Lucia!

Thirty-four years ago the island of St. Lucia with a population of roughly 174000 people and occupying an area of 238 square miles decided it was ready to move off on its own. It had been under British rule for a long time and now needed to spread its wings. So on February 22nd 1979 it gained its independence.

Being independent meant that we have our own government, anthem, flag, and the coat of arms. We no longer have to sing God Save the Queen as we could now stand proudly as a people and sing our very own Sons and Daughters of St. Lucia. This song was written by Fr. Charles Jesse and the music was by Mr. Leyton Thomas.

The flag with the colours blue, black, white and yellow was designed by our saint-lucia-flagvery own local artist Dunstan St. Omer. The colours were specifically chosen as each one represented something about the island. For instance, the blue is for our tropical sky and emerald surrounding waters; the black and white represented the black and white cultural influences; the gold represents the prevailing sunshine in the Caribbean. The isosceles triangle in the middle of the flag represents the majestic twin pitons in Soufriere.

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Every year as we celebrate our independence anniversary, the celebrations start with a church service followed by many cultural activities though out the island. Since the day is given as a public holiday, schools would organise their own activities the day before around the theme, and allow students to dress in their national colours. The students would take part in cultural shows that would include quadrille dancing. They would also enjoy the national dish (green banana and salt fish) for lunch.

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In London the celebration is no different. The St, Lucians residing here have organised a number of activities in observance of our 34th independence anniversary. The celebration begins with a church service at the Westminster Abbey. That’s right! Westminster Abbey! I guess we Lucians always want the best. There are a few cultural activities taking place on the weekend and the celebrations will culminate with a grande dance.

Students dressed in the national wear

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Quadrille dancing

Happy Independence celebrations St. Lucians!

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Stress Relief!

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” (Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes)

These words  mean a lot to me as a student. With the term coming to an end, this means that assignments are due soon. Oh my! This year is really going by quickly. Well, we are already into the seventh week of the second term with only three more weeks left to go.   Everyone is busy trying to complete all the assigned readings and assignments. However, there are times we need to take a few minutes of doing nothing.  This can really make a difference between living a less stressful day or a more stressful one.

To relieve my stress, I decided to spend a few hours away from the books and dancing the night away with some friends. I had a barrel of fun. Well, what I did not anticipate was having individuals constantly bumping into me because they had no rhythm. It’s amazing how difficult some people find dancing. I often wondered whether we were listening to the same music, or if I was hard of hearing or whether some people were really born with “two left feet”

There were three separate halls each playing their own music. The choice of music was great. You decided what kind of music you wanted to listen to or dance to.  I did however, noticed that the DJ played the song “Gangnam Style” several times. This song really had the crowd going. Every time the song came on, I got myself off the dance floor since I was not familiar with the moves. Those individuals who remained on the dance floor attempted the moves displayed by PSY in the video.  It was hilarious watching some of them who definitely could not use their hands and feet simultaneously when dancing. They too could have been students taking a break from the books and it didn’t matter whether they were doing the right thing or not. They were there to have a good time, and nothing was getting in their way of achieving this.

The break from the books did me good. I had a good laugh, got rid of some calories and got back to my reading with more vigor.  I have spent some time watching PSY’s video and learnt most of the moves. Therefore, the next time I hit the club I won’t have to sit this song out. I will be prepared and will be dancing with everyone else.

Here is PSY’s video of Gangnam Style. This will give you an idea of the moves that these individuals on the dance floor were attempting.

 

Surviving an Early Morning Train Ride

Have you ever taken the tube during peak hours? Are you less than 5ft 2”? If your answer to both of these questions is yes, then you should be able to relate to this story.

It all started on a cold wintry morning. The alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. reminding me of my teaching commitment at a primary school in East London.  I got off my bed, got ready and was out of my room by 7:15.  I opened the main door of the building and was hit square in the face by the cold air.  I suddenly realized that I was not heading to my regular job in sunshine St. Lucia, but was off to a new school in a foreign place. I hurried down the street and made my way towards Russell Square Station. 

If you are in a hurry and already late, then Russell Square Station is not where you want to be. Can you imagine walking up or down 175 stairs? 175 stairs? That’s right! So since you’re not going to take the stairs, then you wait for the elevator which takes forever, and by time it gets there, there are more people than the elevator can hold.

The elevator arrives, and you’re thrown inside whether you want to or not. There is hardly any ‘me space’ in this tiny cubicle, as you may be shoved against the walls of the elevator or stuck between two construction workers.  Hope it’s not the latter. The doors for the elevator finally opens, and again you’re pushed out as everyone is in a hurry to get on the approaching train. This is definitely, not a place to stroll. So, like everyone else, you’re running like you are a professional athlete on a race track.

The train pulls into the station and I get in. What a mistake! I am standing next to this guy who may have spent the entire night at the pub or stopped for a few quick drinks on his way to work. My goodness, the smell of stale alcohol fills my nostrils as he sings the lyrics of the song he’s listening to on his phone. If that does not kill me, then the odour from the armpits over my head is certainly going to do the job.  I guess that would happen to anyone who’s extremely short. I finally get to my destination, and hurry out of the station.  Boy was I happy to breathe in that fresh air.      

Caught Up in the Rush!

The show windows are decorated with those eye catching signs that read ‘SALE!’ and ‘BIG REDUCTIONS, 50% OFF!’ These are  posters that shopaholics are enticed by; they seem magnetic, as shoppers are constantly drawn to them.

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Image courtesy (guardian.co.uk)

 It is the Boxing Day sale, and everyone has their eyes on his or her prize.  It is cold! Some are shivering yet, that is not a problem, as they queue up and wait for the doors to open.

Image(Image courtesy (metro.co.uk)

The doors burst open and shoppers rush through the aisles picking through items of clothing and filling up their baskets as they go by. There is the occasional bumping of body parts, as shoppers hustle to get to their prize. The queues are long whether you are heading to the fitting room, heading to the cashier or just trying to get out.  It is a miracle that everyone gets through it although some may be more excited with their catch than others.

Image                                          Image courtesy (telegraph.co.uk)                  

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(Image courtesy metro.co.uk)

I am not one to jump in the mad rush. Rather, I walk quietly and slowly on the sidelines not letting the sinister grin of the big sale signs get the best of me. I only enter the stores where few people decide to visit. I am in no rush to buy anything that a few days later I have no use for.

I am more entertained by the madness of shoppers than shopping itself. I take pleasure in standing there and gaping at women and girls dragging heavy bags and rushing to see what train would go to another destination with bigger signs and more shopping rush. Every now and then, parents turn back to see whether the children are still trying to catch up. It all seems so satirical.

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(Image courtesy guardian.co.uk)

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(Image courtesy guardian.co.uk)

 London shopping; never a dull day!

SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!

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Snow! Snow! Snow! That was the word for the day. My kitchen mates were all very excited as this would be the first time that some of them would be experiencing snow.   We all waited in anticipation.  Then it came down.  White fluffy flakes caressed the ground, most melting on impact.   When it finally stopped, I couldn’t believe it.  “That’s it? Where is the snow? You mean these specks of white dust that I can see through is shutting London down? How would they handle a blizzard?” I asked.

When the air cleared out, and things were back to normal, I decided to take a walk.  That was dangerous.  The sidewalks had not been cleared and were extremely slippery.  I continued on my journey walking at snail pace for fear of falling and hurting myself.  It then occurred to me that if I tripped on the sidewalk and hurt myself, I would be stuck in a hospital with a huge bill.  Therefore, when it SNOWS in LONDON I stay indoors.