Tuesday, June 28, 2011



I vaguely remember, but I’m pretty sure the second my head hit the soft pillow on my bed, I was out like a lit match in a tornado.  Though it seemed like that was only five minutes ago, when I woke up later.  I was in a completely windowless room, perfect for sleeping, though not great for any estimate of time. I glanced at my phone to see it was nearly 10 in the morning.  I was supposed to be getting up, but I could not bring myself to do so.  I fell back on the pillow and dozed off again.  25 minutes later I heard knocking on my door.  I chose to pretend it was not happening, keeping my eyes closed and burying myself  further under the covers.  Then I heard my name being called alongside the tapping of the wood.  I heard voices, Tosha and Jiten talking amongst each other in the hallway and then more knocking and name calling.
    “Jami? ‘knock, knock, knock, knock’ Jami?”
    “Uhh”  I groaned.
    “You up?” the voice questioned.
    “I am now.”   I heard giggles outside my door as the words escaped me.

It took every ounce of my being to get me up from the dark, warm, comfort of that bed and out into the cold, light filled, real world.  I showered and came into the kitchen as Tosha was preparing us a feast.  It smelled fantastic, and Jiten and I sat in anticipation as we watched her fry, toast, crack, and finally, plate.  Before we knew it, a full blown English breakfast was served to us, in between a giant piece of ciabatta.  Mushroom, tomato, bacon and egg.  MmmMmmm  I cut into the center of my fried egg, and the yolk began to run.  Pure simplistic pleasure.

We sat at Tosha’s for a good few hours eating and chatting, until we finally headed on our way.  Not much happened for the rest of the day aside from journeying to the supermarket, hanging around eating dried fruit and watching Kung Fu Panda, and cooking dinner.  After dinner, Jiten pulled out his mother’s special medly.  A mix of fennel seeds, fennel seeds coated in sugar, hand colored toasted sesame seeds, and a few other mystery items.  The fresh taste of fennel stuck to my tongue and the sugar coating and sesame seeds all formed this sweet spiced crunchy wonderland together.  It was a great ending to such calm day.

Around the World with Jami Cakes    ©2011 Jami Cakes     All Rights Reserved



I just can’t seem to win with sleep.  I didn’t want to go to bed last night, and now I didn’t want to be waking up, but somehow my body thinks that consistently being sleep deprived is a good thing.  Thanks.  I lay in bed for 2 hours waiting for Jiten to awaken, so I didn’t wake him in the mean time.  Turns out he was doing the same thing.  After a shower, we had breakfast.  Jiten poured me a bowl of cereal telling me to say “when”. When “when” time came, he added a bit more, telling me it was barely anything and he understands it’s not the best, but it’s what he has.  Telling me to eat more and guilt tripping me at the same time.  Nice touch, but it made me wonder, was Jiten a Jewish Italian mother in a past life?

The weather outside looked lovely.  Sunny, with few clouds, we were hopeful a day of good weather.  Then painful shrieks of thunder shook the house.  Hoping to avoid driving in the rain, we soon rolled.   The route to Cambridge was lovely.  We passed greenery in every form.  Pastures, knolls, patches, trees, that along with the blue sky and cotton candy clouds was something that the people who lived here saw everyday, but for me, it was just a picture in a post card.  Of course behind the white clouds and blue sky hid villainous gray clouds.  They rested sinisterly over where we were going.  It seems as though I had brought the “bad” (and I say “bad” because if it is slightly gloomy, it’s bad for LA) weather from LA and it was following me and my poor friends around England.

We knew we were in Cambridge when we saw the first sign of bikers. Cambridge is a charming University town and immediately I could feel it’s charm, sense of community, and lax vibe.  Bikers ruled the roads, girls were not as dressed up and decorated with 15 layers of caked on makeup and people walked with smiles on their faces, even in pouring rain.
We drove through the center of the city on our way to pick up Jiten’s friend Esther. We stopped in front of a quaint stone brick apartment building, where a girl in a pink summer dress opened the door and stepped out in an elegant manner, a slight strut to her girly walk as she entered the car.  She and Jiten had that of a playfully bickering relationship; constantly fighting with either other in a joking manner.  

We parked the car somewhere in the center of town and walked to Rainbow Room; a vegetarian cafe along one of the main drags, passing impressive architecture, giant stone structured old buildings, which turned out to be different colleges and universities.  On our short walk, it began to sprinkle, which turned to rain, which thus turned to down pour.  We ran to the restaurant and at the back, sat one of their friends with a girl he knew.  Arturo, a Mexican guy who had come to England 10 years ago to study, sat sipping orange juice  across from his quiet German friend, Andrea.  We joined them and everyone began talking.  It’s hard not to in this case, everyone coming from such diverse backgrounds, working in completely different  fields, studying completely different subjects. One has to have some sort of curiosity about how we all got to this table for lunch.

When our food was nearing, another one of their friends showed up. Ferruchio, a charming Italian walked in, sat down and ordered a cappuccino.  When it arrived, he took a few spoonfuls of the foam on top and didn’t look all too pleased.
    “It’s not very good.”, he said.  “But then again, I wasn’t expecting too much.”, he stated like a true coffee drinking Italian.

After lunch, we walked outside of the restaurant to see sun again.  We strolled down the street and around to another university hang out, where along the top floor, there was a coffee shop and a fantastic view over a nearby lake.  We sat and sipped coffee, until we headed off to a (not so) garden party.  Esther’s university was throwing a garden party, but due to the unexpected bursts of rain throughout the day, it was now an indoor party, filled with Uni students and strawberries over which they poured plain cream; The English and their cream.  They were serving Pimm’s cocktails some sort of alcoholic drink tasting like cream soda with fruit in it, or as Ferruchio explained,
    “You know Sangria?  Well it’s nothing like that.”

Most of Jiten’s friends were older than the university crowd and didn’t really know anyone there, so after a drink and a few hellos, we left Esther to her party. Jiten, Ferruchio, Arturo and I headed in Jiten’s car for a quick stop, and then over to Ferruchio’s pad for a pit stop and to talk over the plan for later on.  Ferruchio very nicely kicked us out after a bit so that he could get a few hours of beauty sleep.

Arturo, Jiten and I headed to Mill Road, a long street housing various restaurants, and club and then onto CB2 just for a place to sit until later on.  Part restaurant, part library it seemed, we sat on the top floor, where various mismatching chairs were arranged around tables, next to dusty book shelves filled with none other than books.  It smelled like an old person’s house; dusty and ancient.  We sat as the two boys sipped coffee, until Ferruchio joined us again, complaining how his father called him after 10 minutes of his nap to ask him a computer question.  There went his rest time.  

The boys tried to figure out where to go for dinner.  A place down the street was chosen, though when we got there the lady informed us that you had to book 2 weeks in advanced as they only sat 12 people.  Back to CB2 we went.  I skipped dinner as my stomach was hurting, but after the boys ate, Ferruchio and Jiten turned into 2 women, talking about how fat they felt, and how one of them felt guilty after eating chips.  I could have just as easily been sitting at the table with 2 girls.

From dinner, we went to the part of the day I was dreading.  It was Salsa time!  It’s one thing if I go out with friends and we jump around like crazy fools pretending to dance.  It’s another thing if I go out with a bunch of people who I barely know, who actually dance, and dance well.  I’ve always been an uncomfortable dancer.  It’s something I love to watch and dream of being able to do, but even if I learned, I’m too uncomfortable to actually do it.  

We parked the car in a nearby Avis car rental parking lot and walked across the street and into something that looked like an apartment building. Inside, a skinny Cuban man wearing what looked like Elton John glasses shrieked in excitement to see Jiten  and gave him a star stamp on his wrist.  I got a heart because I was a girl.  The pub, or salsa club  at least for tonight, as all of the tables had been moved, was having a dance lesson. A Cuban salsa teacher stood in the middle of a group of people taking a lesson before the actual dancing began.  I watched on as the paired dance partners did things that seemed to be troubling them, and most of these people had actually danced before.  It looked difficult, and terrified me, yet the people actually doing these moves, seemed to be having a grand old time.  I was introduced to the rest of Jiten’s salsa buddies, standing in the back waiting for their turns to dance.  They were all so friendly, and so eager to dance.   

As I stood in the back with them, a small man wearing a tight white t-shirt, tucked into tight jeans with a belt holding everything together, walked up to us, a beer in his right hand.  He had charisma, charm, and a swagger to him; only someone comfortable in their surroundings could carry this out the way he did.  He was obviously a local and  began inviting the girls around him to his birthday party in a few months.  
    “Am I invited?”  I questioned, looking at him.  He rested his arm on my shoulder, took a sip of his beer, looked me in the eyes and said,
    “Well of course y’are darling.”  

From there on, the lesson ended, the music began to play, and the real dancing began.  Jiten was attacked by one of his lady  friends and thrown out onto the floor to show off his smooth moves.  Nearly everyone was dancing, as I sat in the back watching.  I was uncomfortable, scared, nervous, and longing.  I so wanted to move my hips around in the manner of a sultry salsa temptress, but dreaded the thought of actually stepping foot out onto the wooden floors where people spun around and moved, leaving behind what had become my comfort zone in the back of the bar sitting on a stool.  As I sat watching, Tosha, one of Jiten’s friends, and the woman who’s house we would be crashing at, came up to me and asked me about my trip so far.  
    “So how long have you been here so far?  She asked.
    “Well this is my 3rd night.”  I responded.
    “So you’re not really jet lagged anymore then I suppose?”  She ended the sentence in a bit of an unsure question.
    “Why do I look exhausted?”  I said to her.
    “No, you’ve just got this look on your face.”  
    “It’s fear.”  I responded.    She told me it was fine, and went off to dance.

Jiten came to have a rest a few songs later, sitting near me.  Fed up with sitting and watching, I apprehensively asked him if he’d take me out the next song and show me a few basic moves so that I might be able to get into it.  He took me to the back and we did the basic step, another basic step, and when he thought I was ready for it, a spin.  This didn’t result too well for poor Jiten as my arm swung out and punched him in the stomach.  Let’s just say, he didn’t ask me to dance after that.

Stephen dragged me out to the floor a minute later, as I warily followed him, explaining this was a bad idea and I had just punched someone.  
    “I don’t believe that!” he said.
    “No, really, I did! Ask him.”  I replied.
    “Nonsense! You should have punched him harder, than he would have taught you.”  I could tell this was going to end badly.  I could feel my face beginning to flush, and a nervous smile was now stuck on my face.  I looked down at my feet, as he tried to lead me in some basic steps.  Doing ok now, he thought perhaps a spin would be a good idea, but I couldn’t get the foot work down, though Stephen refused to believe this and kept trying.  At least one of us was optimistic about the situation.  He told me to just follow the beat, and when the song ended, I thanked him and ran back to my comfort zone.  

I watched some more.  When Arturo asked me to dance, I declined, now fully embarrassed and dreading the thought of my bum leaving the chair for any other reason than to walk to the bathroom and back.  I was petrified of this environment.  Everyone so completely secure in themselves and their environment.  I felt like a bee in the swimming pool, out of my habitat, and completely terrified of what would happen next.  I then met someone just as scared as me.  A husband and wife had walked in and their first stop was the bar.  The woman sipped her drink through a straw moving her head and her hips to the music, anxiously awaiting a dance.  The man stood in the corner, clinging his drink for dear life, as if it was the only thing saving him from having to dance.  I talked to them for a bit. It was as I thought, she danced, he didn’t, she wanted to, he didn’t.  After he finished his beer, I convinced him to taker her out for one dance.  He did, and then came back seeming reluctant to have to go back out again.

I felt his pain, though I was dragged out by little Stephen again, just as the floor was emptying out.  
    “It’s a free dance.” he said. “Just move with the music.”  I smiled at him, once again that completely nervous awkward smile and just looked at him with dead eyes.  “Just like you would if  you were just out at a club, dancing.”
    “But I don’t dance.”  I said.
    “I don’t believe that.”  He stated for the 2nd time in the last hour.
    “No really, I don’t.”  I tried to convince this tiny free moving man that I was not a dancer, nor ever was a dancer, nor ever felt comfortable as a dancer, but he refused to believe me.  Showing me simple moves to copy, and telling me to move to the beat.  The beat, was not the problem.  I was.  

I ran away as fast as I possibly could when the song ended, completely humiliated, thinking everyone taking a break spread around the room had just seen me make an utter jack ass out of myself, though I am not sure they did.  Everyone was in their own little world, drinking, talking, and heading back out to dance.  Perhaps I had escaped that last “dance” without being too badly scarred.  

As the night went on, I still sat in the back, talking to the german couple, every so often someone sweaty from hours of dancing would come to take a break and join us.  However towards the end of the night, as my mind got tired, so did my attitude.  I was sick of sitting in the back, I was sick of watching everyone having such a fabulous time dancing the night away, and I was sick of not being able to dance.  Though I wasn’t really going to do  anything about it.  That was until as I was standing up for some reason or another, an older Cuban man came up to me and grabbed my hand.  
    “You’re gonna have trouble!”  I yelled at him.      
    He turned to me, chuckled, and stated, “We’ll see.”  then chuckled some more as he grabbed both of my hands firmly and began leading me in a basic step.  

Then he switched to another step, another step, a spin, another spin, a different spin, back to basic, and suddenly, I was dancing.  My feet were moving, though I don’t understand how.  This guy was a pro!  He got me and my two left feet to be able to salsa slightly decently and though in shock, it was the first time I got excited during the night.  I looked over at the bar to see the german couple laughing at me as I did 2 spins, I’m sure a goofy confused grin on my face.  When the song ended, the man chuckled some more and said, “see.”  I thanked him and my confidence in dancing had gone from a minus ten, to a straight zero.  

The dancing teacher, Flex straight from London, had a signature move.  He would dance with 2 women at one time, turning them both into him, or grinding or salsa-ing with the likes of 2 lovely ladies at corresponding times.  He found himself a little shawty, wearing tight blue jean shorts and a black spaghetti strap, whipping her hair around, and a slightly larger curvaceous diva in too tight of a black dress strutting her stuff as she dropped it low.  I’m sure he was looking for someone to take back home with him, but now he was working for 2.  Though unluckily for him, when the song ended, they both walked away, together.

No bother for the dancer though.  He was still just so happy to be dancing, as he glided across the floor to the front of the room, and then called everyone out to dance.  I decided to go for it, as he was showing us moves, and headed out to further embarrass myself.  However instead of salsa being taught, Reggaeton began to play.  Flex shimmied his chest forward and back, and moved his pelvis up and down.  We were supposed to emulate this.  I was not keen, but did so anyway in the best possible way I could without getting to far into it.  A routine was taught, kind of like some sort of odd Cuban Macarena and we danced to the song that never seemed to end.

A few more salsa songs came on as I sat at the bar with Ferruchio.  He told me, I didn’t do too badly; I actually kept with the rhythm.  Like I said before, rhythm is not my problem.  Then the announcement was made, that the pub would now be closing.  Relieved that we would be getting to sleep soon, I was all to joyful, until Flex announced “ONE MORE SONG!”  and had people get into couples around him.  I still sat at the bar, waiting to watch what was about to happen, until a tall lengthy man reached out his hand in desperation for a partner, and I was forced out again.  

We followed Flex’s directions from the center of the circle, as the male leads spun the women around, then switched partners and did the same thing.  This went on for a while, and then we all stopped and “caught a fly” as Flex said, reaching our hands into the air and clapping, as if, we had yes, caught a fly.  There was also the crushing of the cucaracha, in which we would jump, and the double crushing of the cucaracha in which case we would jump twice.  Then we began spinning and interchanging partners again.  I went through Jiten, my original partner, the older Cuban man, the maffioso looking man, the abnormally tall guy who I had seen earlier dancing problematically with a girl half his size and then awkwardly with the woman who who moved her feet like a trotting horse and had no rhythm, and then an extremely sweaty Flex, whom I ended the song with as he embraced me on the final beat, his sweat moving through his shirt and onto my hands.  Then everyone cheered for the last song.  I chimed in too, enthusiastic that we were leaving.  By leaving I mean, it was a Jewish goodbye, lasting a short half an hour to say goodbye to everyone.

The 20 minute drive back to Tosha’s house was long, but serene.   We came to her charming townhouse, and she introduced us to her 2 cats as we followed her upstairs. I dropped my bag off on the third floor in a small little room with a very big bed, and we all met in her 2nd floor kitchen for a spot of tea and a chat.  By 3:30  we finished up our tea, and went to bed.  I crawled into an extremely comfortable bed and the rest was history.

Around The World With Jami Cakes    ©2011 Jami Cakes    All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 17, 2011



It was sometime around quarter to 4 in the am when I woke up with the sudden urge to pee.  I crept to the bathroom and when I got back into bed, as tired as I was, I could not sleep.  Three and a half hours of tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep.  When I woke up again, it was nearly 11.  Will’s mother greeted me, asked me if she woke me this morning from spilling some powder and using the Hoover, and then asked me if I wanted some breakfast.  I smiled, shook my head and thanked her.  I brushed my teeth and went to transfer stuff from my suit case to a smaller bag for the next 2 weeks.  

When I went downstairs, she told me lunch would be in about an hour and then asked if I wanted some breakfast as she pointed to the table that held a few boxes of cereal, some orange juice, milk and a bowl.  Will’s dad stood there laughing.  I thanked her and told her I was going to head to the shops to get a sim card and send a package.  Stephen told me I would need a coat and an umbrella as it was going to rain today.  They got out a small umbrella and a large one and I chose the large one thinking it was going to soon be a monstrous rain.

I walked out onto their street, until I came to the main road and crossed over.   Still stuck in an American fashion, I headed right as someone was coming my way.  Then I realized I was supposed to go left and moved to that side instead.  The old man coming towards me quickly moved right and left, back and forth a few times as if joking with me and then as he, umbrella-less, passed me, asked if I had a big enough umbrella.  

In the Tesco Express now, I searched around the store for what I needed but couldn’t find it.  I asked at the front if they had any sim cards and a big bellied old Indian man tried to help me. The problem, I couldn’t hear or understand a word he said, so I just smiled and nodded until the guy next to him helped to explain it a little better.  99 pence later and I now had a sim card.  How to get money on it?  That was a different story.  I stopped at the post office next to send out a card and then to the wine shop where a young Indian guy stood behind the desk and smiled quietly as I walked in.  Searching around the shop, a larger older Indian man came out from the back and asked if I needed some help.  He suggested a bottle he liked and so I took his word for it and decided on that.  The younger guy who seemed to have trouble with English, told me to put my credit card in the machine.
“It worked?”
“Yes.”  He said. I began to put my credit card back in my wallet when he said “put it.”  he pointed to the machine again.    I did it and asked once again if it worked.  He said “yes.” and as I started to put it away again, said “Put it.”  The older guy came over, took my card and swiped it instead.  I thanked them and headed back to Will’s house.  

I entered and handed his mother a bottle of wine, who looked at me and said,
“What is this for.  No.  You shouldn’t have!”    His father walked in and essentially said the same thing.  “You didn’t have to do this.” his mother said.  I know I didn’t have to but I wanted to.   “You take it.  Take it to your friend tonight!”  His mother exclaimed, but I forced it on them and finally they took it.   

A bit later we sat for lunch where we had roasted chicken, with roasted vegetables, green beans, gravy and bread sauce.   His father had some cranberry sauce on the table, which was the same stuff we usually got in the can, served far more elegantly in a glass jar.  Caterina had worked on an apple tart and it was baking while we ate.  When we were done and I was stuffed, she pulled it out of the oven and tried to serve me a quarter of it.  
“It’s just apples.” She explained.  But I asked if I could possibly have a smaller piece and she reluctantly gave it to me, cutting it still rather large.  “You don’t each much!”  she said, but I was stuffed.

I headed out for another walk in an attempt to clear my full belly and perhaps get money onto my sim card.  I was successful in both and headed back to the house when  it began to rain harder than had been previously.  Back at the house, Will’s momma offered me some biscuits and tea.  I, once again, had to decline her kind offer.  

Within a half hour, we left the house heading from Little Chalfont to Watford so Caterina could do a little bit of shopping before she and Stephen dropped me off at Jiten’s house.    While at the mall, Stephen and I sat on a bench while everything closed waiting for Caterina.  When all hope was lost, a glimmer of light shown through as she began heading towards us holding two shopping bags and a pot of flowers.  Stephen looked up at his wife like a little boy looking at his mother for assurance that he would soon be on his way, but instead all he got was,
“I’ll be right back.”  As she headed once again, into Marks and Spencers.   We sat there again, awaiting her, until she came back holding  up a bag, pulling out a necklace in excitement.  She now had a present for her mother-in-law.  

We went up a flight of stairs, into an elevator and into their car, where we drove to Jiten’s apartment along Bushey, or “Booshey” Road as Caterina liked to say, until we got to his flat.  He came down to greet me and I grabbed my things, Caterina making sure I didn’t forget William’s shirt.  I thanked them, said goodbye (for 2 weeks) and headed up to Jiten’s apartment.

Once inside, he showed me to my room, explained how he lit candles because sometimes the scent of curry comes through his vents, showed me pictures of Tanzania and we talked.  When we were both feeling hungry, we left his house and drove to dinner.  We had to choose between  a quiet elegant little Italian restaurant and a loud packed house pizzeria.  Seeing as one was busy and one, not so much, we thought the hordes of people was a sign and entered into the bustling joint.   

We were seated at a table across from the pizza chef and sat looking at the huge menu.  Though a lot of things were not typically Italian, some things were.  The Calzone and the melenzane e zucchini pizza that Jiten and I got, were.  The corn, tuna and pineapple pizza somewhere on the long list, was not.   That was a sad British version, something I don’t think Italians could grasp the concept of, but they must have, as the men working  the joint were full blooded, Italian accented, Italian speaking, Italians.  

As we waited for our food, we noticed one after another, a table with a birthday.  Well how did we notice? you ask.  Great question!  The music would shut off, the room would go slightly quiet, happy birthday would turn on over the speaker, a waiter would walk out holding a menu hiding a candle lit dessert and a man would bang together pot lids as loud as he possibly could.  The pizza chef obviously enjoyed this immensely as I saw him make scathing faces at the guys just doing their job and mumble somethings in Italian, of which I got out of it all “Cazzo!”  He saw me looking at him in his busy miserable state and smiled.  He pointed to them and yelled,
“É stupid!”  I nodded.  

Pizza served, mine was large, but Jiten must have had a good 2 pounds of calzone on his plate.  He started out strong and as he slowed down to pace himself, our conversations were paced too, as a group of girls walked in and out of the restaurant on multiple occasions throughout our meal dressed as scantily clad as they could possibly be whilst still allowed to go out in public. Tight jean shorts, so short one’s ass was hanging out; Leggings and a shirt that looked like a sports bra; A tight sky blue mini dress; A tight black mini dress and an array of heals ranging from 4 inch wooden wedges, to barbie pink 5 inch stilettos.  They walked in and out of the restaurant several times to have a smoke outside.  We wondered what their deal was until, we saw them bring them a cake and bang pot lids.  It was one of their birthdays.  The girl stood up, she had to be at least 23.   But held up a card saying “Happy 18th!”  Want to talk about jail bait?  

As the girls walked out, we saw each one strut their stuff out, including that of long legs, and ms. alotta ass hanging out, all while sucking on lolly pops.  I suppose that was a show for what they expected to be doing later that evening.  Jiten like a true gentleman, paid the bill, saying I was his guest, as I tried to fight him for it.  He completely ruined my plan and I thanked him, as we followed the party girls out.  

We walked the main street of Watford, club after club full of more scantily dressed youngsters and older men, until we reached the end, and walked back to Jiten’s car only to see an inebriated man, who thought the stone wall of a building was his bathroom.  We drove back to Jiten’s house, watched a bunch of videos on YouTube, and went to sleep.  We had a long day  coming up.

©2011 Jami Cakes - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WEDNESDAY JUNE 15/THURSDAY JUNE 16, 2011  by Jami Cakes

I was rushed.  So what else is new. I knew it was going to happen.  I had just gotten out of the shower, I had forgotten to pack certain items in my bag, I needed to load music on my ipod, there was a random plastic piece on the counter which no one could figure out what it came from, but thinking it came from something of mine, I was now anxiously trying to figure out what this mystery bit was, and we were supposed to be out of the house 10 minutes ago.  Perfect. Just the way I like to start my trips.  On top of this all, my suit cases were inconveniently placed on the stairs so the dogs did not use them as fire hydrants, and as we finally got them down from the step and were running out the door, the house phone rang.  It was my Aunt Lissy with her fantastically inconvenient timing, letting me know she had lost track of time and wanted to say bye.  Thanks.

In the car, we hit traffic, and the constant stop start and shake of the car was giving me a headache.  My parents were in the front blabbering on about something they found utterly  hilarious, though I knew it was something horribly ridiculous.  It’s a trait with them to amuse themselves with things that no one else could find that bewildering.

By the time we got to the airport it was a half hour later than planned, but getting to the airport at the time they suggest, is just not something I am familiar with.  My mom dropped my father, my luggage and me off at the international terminal and we went in to check in.  My dad looked around, like a lost 5 year old boy separated from his mother, while I led him straight ahead.

“You really never had to do anything when you were on tour did you?”  I asked.  He shook his head.
“No, I just followed the leader.”  The line for British Airways was not ridiculously long, but my patience sometimes run short.  Then again, we were still waiting for my mother.  People were standing in a separate line next to us that read “Bag drop off” and I wondered if I could perhaps go there instead as I had some form of printed out information.  I showed it to one of the men directing people around and he told me I had to stay where I was.  Then I looked at my printed paper.  I was in the one world section of the plane, aka business, aka, I was in the wrong line.  When I showed it to him again, his entire attitude changed.
    “Oh! I didn’t realize you were in business.  I’m so sorry.  Yes in this line ma’am.” He directed me with his pointing finger to the “one world” line.  
    “It’s ok!” I responded back.  “I didn’t know either.  I’m not used to this.”  The advantage of having a lot of milage, is getting a seat in business class.  But somehow I felt like a traitor to my fellow people sitting in the squished coach section.  That was familiar to me.  Sure, it was terribly uncomfortable, and after 5 minutes of falling asleep, you were either awakened by a stewardess bashing a cart into your elbow if you were sitting in the aisle, or someone falling asleep on you, or the baby in front of you crying, or the old man 3 isles back snoring to his heart’s content, or to a throbbing neck pain, but that was the beauty of coach.  You were this giant community of people herded together in the back of the plane united by uncomfortability (yes I know that’s not a real word) in such cramped quarters, resisting temptation of the oh so alluring business/ 1st class and/or having insufficient funds to pay for it.  We were the regular working class people.  And now, I was one of the people I so highly despised and envied.  I disgusted myself!  Yet couldn’t help but be excited.

Bags checked, ticket in hand, my mom was now walking in.  She caught up with us, and they walked me to security before saying bye.  For the first time, there was no line, and I zoomed straight through, and into an elevator that sat directly out of it, up to the fifth floor, where I was now in the British Airways Executive Club!  Fancy!  I was wearing leggings and a tee-shirt, holding a giant back pack, a purple sweat shirt and a purse.  I looked scraggily, like a traveler going on a long trip.  I walked out of the elevator when it reached the fifth floor and was not so enthusiastically greeted by a tall man in a suit.  He checked my ticket, and then gave me a look of what I would expect to see someone in a store on Rodeo Drive, give me if I walked in wearing jeans.  The “you’re not good enough to be here look”.  But I was, and I walked past him and in to the Lounge.  

Granted, there was food, the seats were a lot comfier, the bathrooms cleaner, you could get alcoholic beverages, and there was wifi, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.  I was here in this secret above ground lair awaiting my flight with a bunch of wealthy business men,  couples holding Prada and Gucci luggage and kids with rich parents, all of whom were dressed to impress and drank champagne.  Eh.  I sat down and wrote until our plane was called for boarding and then I got to get on first.  

Remember all of my feelings about being an unfaithful traitor and a coach passenger and part of a united group of regular people and all that stuff I had said before?  Well that soon vanished when I saw my single seat, that sprawled out into a bed.  Talk about rags to riches.  In a section that could easily hold 120 people, there were only about 32 of us.   As I was seater the flight attendant came around with glasses of apple and orange juice.  Though unlike that of the norm, they were served in actual glass glasses.    

A young couple was seated in the middle section next to me in their own little pod, the only thing letting me know they were there, a tiny little window gap that allowed me to see them.  When we figured out at the touch of a button a screen would go up allowing all contact to now be withdrawn, it was pressed and we no longer had to awkwardly avoid trying to avoid each other.

To my right, 2 business men sat, speaking rather loudly for people diagonally facing each other with less than a foot separating them.  The fact that my ipod volume was nearly all the way up, and I could steal hear the pink floral covered shirt man, was really starting to piss me off.  I just hoped he would shut up soon!

After the plane took off and the air hostesses no longer had to wear their seat belts, they came around handing menus to us.  Oh, shrimp with thai curry glaze, or roasted peppers with gorgonzola?  What kind of airline food was this?  And these were only the starters!  The meals came on white ceramic dishes, with cloth napkins, and were actually plated quite elegantly for something you get while flying 20,000 feet above the ground.   

As I usually do while on a plane with my own personal television, I skimmed the movies and watched an atrociously fantastic rom com, starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher that involved the 2 becoming sex buddies before (as we all knew would happen) falling madly in love, although before they could both realize this, they had to get into some sort of painful fight, leaving each other for a substantial amount of time, before crawling back to each other to live happily ever after.  Story of every romantic comedy’s life.

When the movie was over, I made my chair into a bed and attempted to conk out.  There were no babies crying, no men snoring, no one resting on my arm, and I had plenty of space to myself.  For once, I actually got a considerable amount of sleep.  That was until they started serving breakfast and I could hear them asking everyone if they wanted a bacon roll or something.  I turned my ipod on louder and covered my face with my sweatshirt in attempt to get a bit more.  But instead I caved in to the lights and noise, and made use of the last hour of the flight by watching an episode of Modern Family.

We soon after landed in London, and while waiting in line for customs like everyone else, noticed the couple that was next to me in their own private line, getting escorted by a guard to cut the line while the rest of us waited for a good 15 minutes.   I watched as single travelers and families alike brought their passports to the customs officers and were quickly stamped and headed on their way.  When it was my turn I was questioned,
“Who are you you staying with?”
“My friend Will.”
“You friend Will?”
and questioned again,
“How do you know Will?”
“We met in Italy, and then travelled together.”
“I see, and so you met in Italy?”   No, I just thought I’d say that.   “So what were you doing in Italy?”
“Studying Italian.”
and questioned again,
“And it says here he lives in... is that right?”  
“Alright, so you’re going to visit your friend Will who you met in Italy at his house.  So how long will you be in England then?”
“2 weeks.”
and questioned some more,
“And then what?”
“Well then we’re going to Tanzania.”  
“So you and you’re friend Will, are going to Tanzania? and Will does what?”
“He’s a student.”    The questions went on and on while I watched everyone around me pass me until finally, I was let go.  

I walked through doors up an elevator to the baggage claim area where the young couple who sat next to me, who cut the line, were waiting again this time with another young couple, and yet another airport worker, who helped them get their brand new luggage and then carry it out for them.  I could never imagine having someone do that for me.  That’s part of traveling, waiting and carrying your bags.  If you can’t carry it yourself, then you shouldn’t have packed so much!   Finally I got my bags, and headed out to see Will’s father, Stephen waiting for me.

He greeted me with  kiss on each cheek and we headed to his car, where I tried to get in on the wrong side, my head still stuck in America.
“You can drive if you want.”  he chuckled.

A short ride later, we were close to Will’s house.  Stephen stopping quickly at the shops to grab something.  I had a deja vu moment as I remembered being picked up last time, his mother doing the same thing.  We pulled into their driveway and entered the house, where Will’s mom, Caterina came quickly walking down the stairs yelling,
“I’m coming, I’m coming!”  She too gave me a kiss on each cheek and then tried to feed me.  A trait of hers I remembered from last time and something I loved about Italian mothers.  

Will soon called the house, and they spoke to him about exams and such.  He talked to me for a minute, asking if his parents were taking care of me, and if I had gotten food yet.  I told him that wouldn’t be a problem, to which he responded
“You could be sitting on the toilet, and my mother would come to the door and offer you a slice of chocolate cake. (With a girlish pitch and an italian accent) ‘Jami would’a you like’a some chocolate cake?’ ”  After hanging up the phone with Will, his parents later realized it was his birthday.   At dinner she called him, asking if she had woken him up.  His dad and I laughed, as were pretty sure he was at a bar or something.

After settling in for a bit, they called me for dinner.  Lasagna, made by an Italian momma.  She tried to give me half of the casserole dish, but when I asked for a smaller piece, she reluctantly gave it to me.  She then tried to serve me a giant piece of chocolate cake, which I graciously declined, and then feeling as if I had to have some dessert, cut up a pineapple for me.  All while Will’s dad watched on and laughed, knowing I did not want any more food.  She gave me a bowl full of pineapple, and set another bowl with some next to it.  When she wasn’t looking I scooped some of mine into the other bowl.  Stephen, still laughing.

After dinner I took a shower and headed to lie down for a bit.  I came out of my room around 11 o’clock to hear Caterina tell me she left me water outside of the door and then came up to show me.  She was so sweet.  I thanked her and headed to sleep.

©2011 Jami Cakes - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Wrongfully Accused Pill Box Incident

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

 I had just a few things left to get.  Yet scrolling the aisles of the Rite Aid on 24th and Pico in Santa Monica, I somehow found myself adding things I did not need, to my basket.  Amongst them, conditioner that was on sale and the 28 pack of black hair tie; the one thing I did need, was a pill box.  

New to this whole concept of taking medication, I needed this orderly plastic device to keep me and my excess of pills organized.  I briefly examined the few choices they had before picking one, placing it in my basket.  Then, holding 2 others in my hand, contemplated for a second, looking back and forth between the 2 cases, as if I were watching a confusing tennis match or something.  I decided on one of them, and in my basket I now held my hair products and 2 bill boxes.  

I walked through the aisles some more, peering at each individual item, wondering if I needed it or not.  I stared into my basket, picked up the 2nd pill box I had chosen and somehow did not want it anymore.  I went to put it back and finally came to the conclusion I had everything I needed.  I stopped pacing the floors of the Rite Aid and headed for the check out.  

For once in this particular Rite Aid, there was no line, which could have to do with the fact that there was now more than one person working a register.  A large Latina woman wearing little to no makeup, her hair pulled back in an unflattering pony tail, rang me up.  She scanned my shampoo, my conditioner, my hair ties and my 1 and single small blue pill box.  Not wanting to waste a plastic bag, I told her one wasn’t needed, as I placed my purchased items into my bag, my receipt into my wallet, and walked out of the store, heading through the alley to Josie’s.  

As I quickly walked down the stairs and around them into the alley, I saw a large man following me, a smile on his face.  He looked at me and in a joking manner as if I person I had known for years said,
    “You want to give me what you put in your purse?”   I smiled an abnormal smile, the kind that says something alone the lines of, “this is an odd place to start a conversation, I’m going to keep walking” smile, as I wondered what kind of a bizarre pick up line that was.  Then things got weirder.  As I continued to walk, only making it a few feet, he looked at me, this time the smile lessening and said,
    “Do you want to give me the things you took from the Rite Aid?”  Still baffled by why this 6 foot plus guy was following me in a large back alley parking lot asking me ridiculous questions, I kept walking.  That was until he lay a hand on me, pushing me back and telling me to stop, or I would be arrested. He pulled a card out of his pocket, showing it to me for point 2 of a millisecond, telling me he worked for Rite Aid. Oh sure, the mystery of not knowing what the card says makes it official, is that right?  

By this point, I was fed up.  I wanted to get out of this alleyway, with this giant creep and get over to the restaurant, where I knew people; a safe zone.  This didn’t happen though.  I looked at him with an aggravated expression and began to walk away as I said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  He pushed me again and said he was going to call the cops.  He said that the security cameras saw me “looking suspicious” placed two blue things into my bag and he wanted them back.  I pulled out my pill box and asked if that was what he was talking about.
    “Are you serious?!”  I asked for what seemed like the 5th time. I thought this was a joke.  Where were the cameras and the crew who were going to pop out of the garbage bins and yell surprise?  “This is the only blue thing I have and I paid for it.  You want to see my receipt?”  He shook his head and told me he just wanted to see my bag.  
    “If you didn’t steal anything, than why can’t I see your purse?”  Umm, let’s see, because you’re a weirdo in an alley?  He kept repeating how he wanted the items, or he was going to call the cops and I would be arrested.  All I could think about was how I was in a rush to get home, how I was leaving tomorrow and this was the last thing I needed.  A slight fear did take over me though.  What if something did fall into my bag?  I was sure it didn’t, but a sudden anxiety took hold of me.   I held my purse, pulling out a pack of blue gum.      
    “Is this what you want?”  I asked holding it up.  “It’s blue.  I bought it the other day.”  He shook his head and held out his hands now trying to grab my purse.

    “If you don’t let me see your purse, I’m going to have to bring you into the Rite Aid and call the cops.”
    “Ok!”  I responded, “Let’s go into the Rite Aid.  I’d like to go where there are people.”  
    “No, you can’t leave here.  He began to try to pull me back.  I walked up the stairs and into the Rite Aid, asking the 2 women behind the registers if the man who had just walked out, worked for them.
    “What guy?”  They asked.  I described the 6 foot something, broad shouldered, red spiked hair man that was awaiting me outside the automatic doors, a phone held up to his ear.  I watched his lips move as a hand gesture beckoned me outside.   I stupidly walked through the automatic doors again.  
    “Hold on a second.”  He said into his phone.  
    “Look, you gotta understand, you can’t just come out into an alley after someone and expect them to show you your belongings.”  His rebuttal,
    “I showed you my i.d.”   Oh ya, the card that you would not let me see? That one?
    “I couldn’t see anything!”
    “Look, the security cameras caught you placing things into your bag with a suspicious look on your face.”
    “That wasn’t suspicious!”  I said.  “It was confused.  I felt like an old lady, having to buy pull boxes.”  He looked at me with a blank expression, and one again told me he needed to see my purse.
I was getting angry by this point, but still scared.  I took out my wallet, phone, ipod and anything valuable, just incase he was some nut job who was going to take my purse.  First thing, he pulled out my pony tail holders, and placed them in his pocket, all while tight fists held my receipt.
    “So do I not get to keep my stuff now?”  I asked.   He chuckled.
    “Naw, if you paid for em you’ll get em back.”  He rummaged around in my bag and finally handed it back to me.  “Here ya go.”    Gee, thanks!  “Just for the future...” he began.  He shook his head “Nevermind.”
    “WHAT!?”  I yelled after him.
    “Never mind.  I’ll see you around.”  He said as he walked up the steps and back through the Rite Aid doors.  I was left in the alley, next to the dumpsters shook up.  I went to my car, sat for a second trying to take in what just happened.  I called my house but no answer.  So I went into the restaurant.   My mom called me a few minutes later and I spoke to her.  Outraged as a I was, my mother was even more so, and she is someone no one wants to mess with.  She called up the Rite Aid and a bit later I got a call back that he should be over to give me an apology.  By this point I was in tears telling Josie all about what had just happened, and she too got into defensive mode.  

A few minutes later, we heard word that a large man was in front, or as someone had put it, “my friend was waiting for me”.  I wanted nothing to do with him, but Josie dragged me forward and began scolding the guy for his poor and idiotic behavior.

“Look at you!  You look like a freak!”  was the highlight of her words.  Yet as she spoke, he made no effort to make amends.  He claimed twice he didn’t touch me, then finally said he did.  And when he finally said sorry, he put his hand out with no emotion, just trying to get out of there.    Josie gave me a big hug, and I began laughing.  All this over a freaking pill box.