Scratchie\’s World

School Done!!! Other stuff in life to write about now….

Back Like Crack 3

Well I’m going to summerize a lot here since work has been killer.

Days 5 – 8 of my trip to NY.

Well when you last read I was arriving in New Jersey. I’m a bit more familiar with this area since most of my visits have been to stay with my Aunt and Uncle and cousins in New Jersey. Now bear in mind that my last trip to that part of the world was almost 10 years ago so things look different. On Sunday night I spoke with my cousin who now lives in Arizona and my other cousin J who lives in NY. I didn’t catch up with cousin P until maybe Tuesday. He now lives in Maryland.

My uncles place is fantastic. Wonder if I can throw him out and move in?  It’s a great day for a revolution. I’m glad I made the effort to go see my family. I was a bit hesitant because of the travelling on the trains but what’s life without a few adventures and getting lost a couple of times in the big US of A. Uncle is as animated as ever and as always, fun to be around. Monday morning bright and early we were off to Manhattan. Hey, but I just came from here!!! We took the NJ Transit train back to Penn Station and decided to do a bit of sightseeing. We decided to walk instead of the buses or cabs. I can’t even begin to tell how far we went.

First stop was at a Barnes and Noble to try to find some text books for wifey. She teaches and we can’t get the book notes back home. Turns out we can’t get them in NY either. I’ll have to resort to internet ordering. We dropped in on Ronny McDonald for lunch and made our way to Rockefeller Plaza. Too late to get on the Today Show but interesting none the less. A tour of St. Patricks Cathedral followed and lots more sightseeing. i missed quite a few photo ops since my rechargeables got cooked by a stupid Sony charger. I vow never to buy any more Sony equipment. I’ve had too much bad luck with their stuff and their customer service sucks big time. 

We stopped at a few more places on the way back. Where do so many taxis go. Damn. The streets are just painted yellow. The Empire State Building stands majestic over the city. I’m not paying a lot of attention to the details around since I figure New York is a frquent stop to most people. What is important is the time I’m spending with Uncle J.

We had some great conversations and although we differ on many issues the argument and disagreements are interesting. He sees stuff from the eyes of history. My view is all about what is happening now. He longs for a time past and remarks on what could be and should be. I tend to see it from a more simplistic perspective. We argued about the train service in Jamaica which was discontinued many years ago. His view is that the government should never have allowed it to fail. He’s probably right from one perspective but from another it was an ailing expensive and under utilized system for many reasons. Violence is one. The train service was designed when the need to get from other parts of the island to Kingston was paramount. No amount of foresight would have seen the decay that would take place along its path. Winding its way through dangerous communities and the advent of our highway system saw to its demise. Light Rails may be the way of the future but the expenditure leaves many questions in my mind. These were the type of thought provoking discussions that followed for my visit with him.

On Tuesday we were around Orange County and East Orange. For lunch I order a fish sandwich from the local store. Trust me, I now understand why some people are so fat. The sandwich could easily serve for 3 meals. Tasted good too. Strangely enough I had not been able to find my favourite fish in either NY or NJ. Nobody sells parrot fish. Tuesday evening I met up with my cousin J whom I hadn’t seen in more than 15 years. We chatted for quite a while catching up on past eras and times missed and the happenings of each. We walked the mall in Jersey City and I was lucky enough to find a set of rechargeables for my camera on sale at half the price. So later I’ll upload a few photos of the rest of my trip.

Wednesday was back to NY to the Museum of Natural History. By now I can more than handle the trains by my lonesome (had Uncle not been there with me) but he was 🙂 The museum has changed quite a bit in ten years and I only managed to visit a few of the exhibits. You’d need at least 2 days to get a full impact of the exhibits. I have a few photos of my museum treks so later I’ll post those too.

Wednesday evening was dinner by my Aunt M. I haven’t seen her in soooooooo long. The dinner was nice but we had to leave early since I opted not to do any car rentals and Uncle J doesn’t drive. We walked back to Uncle J’s place just as dark was coming down and it dawned on me that my visit with him was also at an end since Thursday was all about packing and heading back to Brooklyn.

Thursday was spent packing and another short walk down Main Street, to the bank and then off to the train station for the trip back to New York. The ride took about 1 1/2 hour and was quite boring. Whatever happened to all the subway psychos we see in every movie? Cho :S

I can honestly say though that although my time with Uncle J was so short it was by far the best part of this vacation.

Rest of the trip will be posted by the end of this week.  Till then you have some photos to look forward to.  

  

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Student Tasered

I’ve been watching with some amount of interest the forced removal of a student who dared to ask a few questions of US Senator John Kerry. It’s impossible for me to decide whether the gentleman was out of order and had to be removed since the footage was inaudible. Based on amateur footage however it would seem to me that the measures employed by the officers were excessive. When he was zapped the student had already appeared to have been restrained.

The other question that comes to mind is that these senators represent the people and people will have differing views on their decisions therefore – Are persons not free to question these officials if they feel that they need answers to burning issues? If you aren’t prepared to answer to the people why run for office…or even more obvious, why hold forums? Print a news release then if you would rather not face the crowd. Being the coward at heart that I am, if I were a US citizen, I would most certainly keep my questions to myself and show my disgust at the next election rather than face getting zapped. I am placing the incident right at the feet of the senator as he holds the office of ultimate responsibility. Were the actions of the officers appropriate? Maybe or maybe not.  

What do you think? Should politicians face scrutiny? Was the police using overkill? Did the student cross the line? Would you dare to face the taser for getting answers to your questions?

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Back Like Crack 2 – The Vacation Continues

Well as promised I will now cover days 1 – 4 of my vacation.

Well after stopping at Wendy’s at 1:00 in the morning (something we couldn’t do here at home simply because Wendy’s don’t have those opening hours here) I called my family back home to let them know that I have reached safely. Sleep came easily and I’m not ashamed to say that I never even changed my travel clothes.

I jumped up at about 8:00 a.m. and had a shower and changed and by 10:00a.m. was on the road with my sister-in-law to get out of the house and to get accustomed to the transport system in New York. We went to downtown Brooklyn and while she went on her errand I had a chance to walk around this more upscale part of Brooklyn. The bus transfers were easy enough but this uptown downtown directions were a pain to understand. Not to mention that in the US they drive on the wrong side of the road (well at least to us Jamaicans anyway). My only purchase was a magazine for my future travels.

On the way back home included a stop at the local corner market/West Indian store for some fruits and fish. The rest of the day was spent sleeping and watching TV.

Friday was my first tour of the shopping district and I actually got a NY haircut. Not much else to report for Friday. Discovered a store called Bobby’s Department Store. I will equate it to a downtown Macy’s i.e. half the size but they sell everything just not with the Macy’s price tag.

Saturday was a trip to the Kings Mall. Huge and confusing and in some cases a disappointment since I spent so much time looking and not a lot of time buying. Tiredness didn’t help any and all I wanted to do was get home and sleep. Where did Saturday go? by the time I was out it was time to go back home. TV took the night and grateful sleep.

Sunday morning was to be an attendance at a wedding for my wife’s distant relative. The bride is the daughter of my wife’s cousin. The wedding was a joke by itself. My uncle in retrospect said that I went to a street dance and a wedding broke out. Well on the way out of the apartment, a car came speeding down the road and tried to take a sharp right turn and slammed into a parked BMW belonging to one of the other tennants. The driver tried to leave to no avail and was obviously disoriented from the crash which shattered her windscreen and messed up the car royally. Even if she had driven off she probably would not have made it to the bottom of the street.

The wedding was to be at 9:30a.m. at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Now in Jamaica weddings are an all day affair so starting one at 9:30 appeared to be overkill IMHO. WRONG again!!! When we got there the location chosen was obviously chosen to exclude any prying eyes…could we find the wedding :S After roaming for close to 20 minutes in this enormous place, a lady came to the top of the hill and called us over. I was in time to hear the pastor declare the couple husband and wife. A good laugh was had because apparently we were not the only ones who were lost and incidentally, I am the only one who actually witnessed the wedding of a couple that I only knew as family. My wife’s family who lived in NY and actually knew the couple were slow on the hill and so missed the entire thing. Lots of picture taking and chatting followed. What can vaguely pass as a reception followed at the family house. I have never seen people argue over food and place in the line when dealing with their own family. I’m sorry for the bride who will have to deal with her new “family” on an ongoing basis. The groom’s family was behaving so badly that we never even stayed for much of the reception.

On my return home it was time to prepare for my trip to New Jersey where I was to stay 4 days with my Uncle. I would be required to try out my new found public transportation skills. My niece dropped me at the train station and off I went armed with my metro card to Penn Station on NY’s dangerous subways (according to the movies). The ride was uneventfull and I actually got on the right train and found my way to Penn Station where I was met by my uncle. It was remarkably easy once you figure out the trains going to Manhattan and the Bronx are uptown and those going to Brooklyn are considered downtown.

The NJ transit train from Penn Station to Brick Church in NJ was equally uneventful. 

The next part of my story will be days 5-8 coming soon to a blog near you.    

September 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Back Like Crack

As a friend of mine from a much younger generation would say…Back like crack. I and I deh bout and still living. The vacation was well deserved and well taken. All my plans did not materialize but those that did were good. I will break up my story into many parts so here is the first.

My Departure

My vacation started with a visit from a unwanted and uninvited guest…Hurricane Dean. I left Jamaica on August 22, two days after the passage of hurricane Dean. The airport had re-opened on 21 August and I had confirmed tickets for the 22nd. The announcement was that only confirmed passengers would be checked in. I arrived at the airport at 10:30 a.m. Well since I was confirmed I figured OK maybe a few more minutes and I’d be checked….WRONG!!!  There were 20 people ahead of me but we waited and waited till about 12:30 p.m. when the flight info was posted on paper at the top of the line. Well only 20 people ahead so not too bad or so we thought. 

At about 1:00 p.m. a representative from Air Jamaica came down the line and checked to make sure that we were all confirmed on the plane. Then came the tedious and heart stirring movement up the queue which was neither demaked nor controlled by security personnel…avirtual free for all. Upon reaching the counter at about 3:00 p.m. and waiting and being bypassed by the ticket agent on several occasions in the 110 degree heat my blood begins to boil as the ticket agent announces that the flight is full. Between myself and the 50 or so passengers now behind we demand to know “full with who” because certainly 180 persons (the airplane capacity) have not been in the line (and we’ve been watching). Then it dawns on us, the security and the ticketing agents are working a scam. The ticket agents have a pile of passports in front of them and money is passing hands for spaces on the plane. One loud query to the supervisor on duty and the resonating calls for how can the plane be full when the line has literally not moved ends that escapade. The managers on duty begin to scurry to prevent an all out riot in the airport. Sharp looks pass when the ticket agent realizes that I know several of the managers who have come to sort out the mayhem. The managers try to explain but to no avail and after assessing the situation as potential for trouble promises are made for another plane and all the apologies in history. My voice added to the noise and trust me on this one I was being as vocal as the next man. The question still remains…if all the passengers in the line have confirmed seats then how can the plane be full? I threatened the agent that if he even glanced at the pile of passports beside him and ignored me one more time there would be devil to pay.

I was checked in and ushered to the departure lounge, where I had to change my now soaked shirt, to await the calling of the flight. Really didn’t matter that I had not eaten or had not gone to the bathroom in more than 7 hours. The flight was called at about 6:00 p.m. and knowing the scheme of the ticket agent I made my way hurriedly to the plane. Sure enough about 5 minutes after I sat down another passenger arrived with the same seat number which had been assigned to me. I simply presented my boarding pass and advised her to go check with the Air Jamaica counter since mine was printed and hers was hand written. A passenger arrives with seat 16K but the plane only has seats A to F so how comes her boarding pass says K?

After sorting out the many double booked seats and passengers sitting in the “nearest available seat” we departed Kingston at about 6:45 p.m.  I arrived at JFK airport at about 11:00 p.m.  New York time some 12 1/2 hours after starting my journey. Check out was simple and I was fingerprinted and eye scanned and my stamp of entry given and outside to await my niece. I arrived in Brooklyn some time after 1:00 a.m. on Thursday August 23rd. A new day had started and my 3 1/2 hour journey had taken more than half a day and all the self dignity that one possesses. Not to mention the onset of ulcers and tension headaches that go with it.

What amazes me is that we the passengers pay the airlines to be treated this way. Oh well….

End of part one…..

September 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 11 Comments