Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Few Things...

A few things I wouldn't mind trying to sew up this summer.

All pics taken from Neiman Marcus online catalog

Kamika can't wait for summer

Sunday, May 17, 2009

5.0 Earthquake

It felt like a 6.0 but who am I to judge.  Nothing major just a little shook up (pun intended).  


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lawd, Lawd, Lawd!

This was so painful to watch.  Some of the jokes were funny but after most I felt so COLORED.  I feel like some jokes need to be left in the company of the darker persuasion for fear of bad translation and the others getting to familiar.

Translation:  Wanda know damn well she don't be telling all the bidness and code switching in front of white shadow!  You can't invite negroes nowhere.

Did you see Tyra Banks and Barbara WaWa's faces?  LOL!!!!!

Kamika wondering why the cousins always messing up a good thing

Happy Mother's Day

To the wonderful mothers and to all of us female daughters in the village who help to raise, protect, and inspire children.

Kamika daughter of Martha Ann

Thursday, May 7, 2009

London ~ Day 4 & Eye Opening Paris

Spent my final day in London.  Had a great time riding the boat on the River Thames.  Took in the last of my sites, including the London Bridge and Harrod's.  Went out for a really late Italian Dinner and got ready to leave for Paris the next morning.


Got up at 5 am to make a 6:45 am Eurostar train to Paris.  The Eurostar is a great way to travel between London and many of other European cities because it's fast, quiet, and comfortable.  It takes you right under the English Channel, which at its widest point is 350 miles, and in to Paris in less than 2 1/2 hours.  Through the train windows, I got to see the English and Parisian country sides.

After my train ride I got in the Taxi que and was whisked off to my hotel.  Yes, whisked!  The cab driver drove so fast through all the tight little streets I had to hold on to my wig! LOL

He dropped me at a small hotel on the Rue de Gros Caillou called Hotel Eiffel Rive Gauche.  I had gotten a good deal with my train ride so I took it.  It's a 2 star hotel that is clean, well situated, and extremely french.  It bordered on bordello, but since I was only staying for one night and because it was clean, I didn't care much.  I immediately dropped my luggage and went to see the sites.

... you can check out the rest of my tour through Paris in my PARIS ONLINE ALBUM.  I really want to tell you all about the vibe.

London and Paris are day and night.  Both are large cosmopolitan cities but, in my opinion, lie at separate ends of the spectrum.  At first glance its easy to see how the US and the UK are related.  London has a very bustling population like New York.  I would even say a larger population than New York.  On the streets you see every shade of human being imaginable.  It seemed as if just about every person I met in London was mixed.  Londons not afraid to broadcast it either.  

On more commercials than I could count there were mixed couples.  Black and white being the most prominent.  For the first time I saw something I had always wondered about when watching American TV.  Where are the mixed couples that show Black Women coupled up with White Men?  London showed them both.  It was refreshing but strange at the same time as I started to wonder where the same race couples were?

The people in London were generally nice and helpful.  Maybe slightly apprehensive because I embodied a little more sun in my skin than they are used to in their overcast land that promotes perpetual paleness (especially in the minorities) - but still pleasant.  

Paris on the other hand... Paris is a beautiful city.  It has lots of tree-lined streets and beautiful monuments wherever you look.  The architecture is breathtaking. The food is phenomenal and the fashion.  True, the fashion is enviable but the people are beyond smug.  Unbeknownst to me before my trip is the subversive racism of the French. People and the media tend to romanticize Paris in such a way that you think that Paris is very open and egalitarian.  You think because Josephine Baker was able to escape there to shake her tatas and swing bananas or because Langston Hughes found his thrill in de Maupassant that Paris is a black person's paradise. WRONG!

Paris is a segregated society that still openly criticizes its minorities (check the links below) while denying that it has a race problem.  Quite honestly as a person of color, if you are not rich or a well known celebrity the French would rather you not visit.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't overt but I did get the since that if I had been 2-3 shades darker and a little less stylish, I would have been openly ignored.  While walking through the Jardin des Tuileries I stopped at a concession stand to get a waffle.  Prior to my approach all I heard were sharp Mercis and Bonjours.  When I got to the counter the two women just looked at me as if to say, "Why are you here?  You must know what you want if you are bold enough to approach the counter without bowing your eyes."  I just held her gaze and said, "HELLO."  They both stepped back away from the counter, the one who was serving me bowed her head and took my order.  It was obvious then that I wasn't a french black and that their attempts at intimidation were not going to work.  I watched her like a hawk to make sure she made my food right and then went on my way through the garden.  

I swear to you that I was probably the only black person in the gardens.

The Louvre Museum sits at the end of the Tuileries.  This museum is massive and cannot be seen in its entirety in under 4 days.  I just wanted a taste of it.  At the ticket counter, the attendant was sweet and helpful.  It wasn't until I had left her to go to the first exhibit, Les Portes Du Ciel, that I realized I needed another ticket to get in.  I went to the first ticket counter closest to the exhibit, thinking that I could just pay the extra 5 euros and get my ticket exchanged.  The attendant scolded me as if I should have known better and then told me to go back to the other ticket counter to have it fixed.  It's bad enough that because I don't speak the language (although I can read it well enough) I'm at a disadvantage and rely heavily on smiling to get my message across, to have to be overly nice to mean people so that you don't appear threatening is even worse.  When she told me to go back to the other ticket counter, she realized she didn't really know what I needed and asked me again.  Then when she got it (a simple void of my ticket and reprint of a new one) she had to call her supervisor to override her system and issue me the ticket.  Her supervisor was very sweet and helpful.  Uggh!

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone is Paris is not bad.  I would even venture to say that most in Paris are not bad.  Those that were helpful, truly were just that and those that weren't I cut short and went on my way.  I've learned very quickly in my life how not to fight pride with pride. 

With that said (and because this is getting long), I would definitely go back to Paris.  The shopping is amazing and the scenery is beautiful.  Parisian women know how to keep their fashion simple, which makes them look so elegant.  Paris in the spring is truly wonderful. Yes, I would go back but I think I would prefer to go with a few people I enjoy being around and after I read the Wretched of the Earth.  


Kamika au Revoir

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

London ~ Days 2 & 3

Day 2

Time to go see the sites London is famous for.  Woke up at around 11am, got dressed and left shortly after.  Stopped a Pret a Manger, to get a brown bag lunch, and then jumped on the Tube and went to Trafalgar Square.  Check out Nelson's Column and the Stone Lions.

I had every intention of going into the National Portrait Gallery but forgot.

Jumped on the bus and got off at Parliament Square where there was a rally going on for the Tamil Tigers.  If you haven't heard about the recent hunger strike of one of their membersParameswaram Subramaniam, check the link.  He was in the midst of the rally at Parliament square.

From this vantage point you can easily see the famed Big Ben Clock which is attached to the Parliament building, the Thames river, and Westminster Abbey.  *Tidbit*  The clock is actually called The Great Clock and St. Stephens Tower.  Big Ben is only the non-official name of the bell within the clock.
After visiting Big Ben, I went over to Westminster Abbey and then walked about 1/4 mile down Birdcage Road to St. James Park and looked at the tulips.  London is very rainy and so it has great gardens and lots of greenery.

From there I walked past the Guards Museum, Number 10 Downing Street, and straight to Buckingham Palace which is the official state home of the royal family.  Unfortunately due to the rain, there would be no changing of the guard nor was the Queen's gallery open.

Afterwards, I walked straight up The Mall, around a few corners where I picked up a gift for a coworker and straight on to Piccadilly Circus.  Didn't take any pictures of the actual Circus but it's reminiscent of New York's Time Square, just a more compacted version.  

Stopped into a patisserie and coffee shop and got some White Chocolate Truffle Cake and Hot Chocolate with Chantilly Cream.

Then went shopping on Regent and Oxford Streets.  These streets are full of retail stores, mostly chain, but mostly high-end.  I had to wade through a sea of people just to make it into the entrance of TopShop.  Got some earrings.  Loved the shoes, but I had to save some money for Paris.

Jumped on the Tube at Westminster and made it back to Camden.  Stopped and got myself a waffle from a street vendor.  Excellent!  Had it covered in strawberries, chocolate, and cream. Went back to the hotel and fell out.

Day 3

I was so tired I just stayed in for most of the day and ordered room service.  Later that night at around 9:00 pm, I got dressed and ran out for dinner.  Ate at a restaurant called Zensai, where I had fried noodles and got my first taste of Avocado Ice Cream while listening to two friends try to mend their relationship.

Kamika too pooped to Cheer

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

London ~ Day 1

Cheerio! I'm back and somewhat rested. Had a great time on vacation.  Saw some great sites and met some really nice people.  Also, got an eye opener towards the end of my trip.

This past week was spent in Europe, mainly London and Paris.  I had decided that I needed to go on vacation, and what better a time to take my first true international trip (a cruise to Mexico really doesn't count) than now.  I forced myself to get my passport and after that there was no stopping me.

Enjoy the details of Days 1 & 2.  For more pictures I've set up an ONLINE ALBUM for viewing.

Day 1

9:35 a.m. - Landed at Heathrow International after a long 9 hour flight from Houston (had a prior 3 hour connecting flight from L.A. to Houston).  

Sitting in the middle seat during the international portion was hard.  The flight was packed so I had no other option.  For some reason Continental didn't let me pick my seat at the point my reservation was made.  I had to wait a week before I could do so.  Other than that the flight was pretty cool.  I sat next to a lovely Indian woman who works for Rolls Royce and was able to give me some tips on the best sites to see in both cities.  She and I also mused over various Bollywood films and songs we both liked.  If you like Bollywood then you have to check out the movie Fashion with Priyanka Chopra.  If not, then just check it out for the great fashions and beautiful makeup.

British Customs was quick but very probing.  I felt like I was on trial.  Normal I guess for a first-timer.  After customs I made a quick exchange of some US dollars $ for British Pounds £ (a racket) and went directly to the train terminal located in the airport.  If you ever want to get around London quickly, cheaply but effectively then you have to get an Oyster Card and travel the "Tube."  

London's network of underground trains "Tubes" are so vast you can get from the airport to the city centre, out to Stonehenge, to the palace, and back again in no time at all and all for under $6 per day.  I bought a week's pass on my Oyster card and it cost me £25.90 ($38.90) and I still have money left on it even though I was constantly on the go.  The card allowed me to get on practically any London bus, train, or ferry boat I needed to.  I wish L.A. had a system like this.  I probably wouldn't have a car!

11:30 am - Jumped off the Tube at the Camden Station and just knew I had stepped into the
middle of a carnival.  The streets were packed with people.  I wondered if I had gotten off at the wrong location, so I stepped into a pub to ask for directions.  My hotel was right behind me, but with all the people I couldn't see a thing.

Checked in at the Hotel, The Holiday Inn at Camden, in Camden Town.  Dropped my stuff and went out for a bite to eat.  Ended up first going over a foot bridge into the Camden Street Markets where I went shopping!  Located under the Locks the markets part historical artifacts, part swap meet, part mall, part ancient food market.  I got myself a quick profiterole and started buying gifts for the family.

Later that day I walked the high street and stopped at a restaurant called the Camden Bar & Restaurant where I had breakfast (brewed tea with lemon, fried eggs and veggie sausage).  It left a lot to be desired so I immediately went grocery shopping at the local Whole Foods.  The rest of the day I spent walking around my neighborhood getting familiar.  I went back to the hotel at around 8pm and slept for the rest of the day.

See you tomorrow for London ~ Days 2 & 3.

Kamika cheers!