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Stabroek News

Strange ways of preparing for Gustav
published: Thursday | August 28, 2008

Customers doing last-minute shopping before a hurricane. - Ian Allen/StaffPhotographer

There's a storm a-brewing in the seas of the Caribbean and Easton Leslie from Red Hills, St Andrew, has journeyed to the community supermarket to stock up on essentials. You know, cigarettes, bottles of rum, the must-haves for any storm.

"Den mi nuh must have mi likkle whites, man? Suppose light gone fi all a week? Mi haffi mek sure seh mi have mi likkle whites," said the 60-something-year-old, holding the rum bottle up to his face, with a smile. The supermarket was buzzing with activity and Easton hastened to join the line at the cashier.

Meanwhile, Pamella Jones, a tall, plump woman with rosy cheeks and a mole on her chin, was scanning the aisles for some baking powder. "Cho! Dem nuh have di one weh mi want. Mi nah use nuh edda brand. Come pickney, mek wi go someweh else," she said to a little girl holding on to her skirt. The girl looked tired and seemed rather annoyed by the prospect of having to go somewhere else. "Mummy, mi nuh waan go nowhere else, mi tired," the little girl complained.

"Hush up pickney!" the woman hollered. "Yuh know nothing bout baking powder? All yuh know fi do is eat. Kip quiet and nuh badda try mi patience today!" Pamela said. The girl just pouted and whispered something under her breath.

Not in a rush

I walked up to Pamela and introduced myself. "Hello please," she said, dryly. I asked her if she was stocking up on supplies because of the impending storm.

"Storm? Cho! Every day yuh hear seh storm or hurricane a come and everybody run go buy dis and dat and den nothing nuh happen. It nuh mek sense. It just as cheap mi nuh badda buy nothing and just see wah happen," she said, tugging on the little girl's arm to keep her from squirming. "Mi just deh yah a do mi regular shopping, for a summer now and dis pickney belly nuh have nuh bottom," Pamela said, tugging on the girl's arm again.

"Anyway, mi gone leave yuh, for dis pickney a go mad mi," she said and walked off, pulling the girl behind her.

Learned from experience

I noticed an elderly man wearing a white shirt and short pants not very far from where I was standing. He had on knee-high brown socks, and had a leather case for his spectacles sticking out of his shirt pocket. He was holding the hand of an equally old woman in a floral dress and tennis shoes. I walked over to them and asked if they were preparing for the storm.

"Yes man!" the man said. "Yuh haffi mek preparations. Mi old now yuh know, so mi know what it is like. From Charlie days and den Gilbert. Mi know what it is like," he added. The woman, who was with him, nodded in agreement. "Dem young people nowadays ah tek dis ting fi joke! Ah true dem nuh know how water walk go a pumpkin belly. We did haffi shelter under guinep tree inna Gilbert. A true dem nuh know," she said. The supermarket was getting crowded now and people were shuffling by the elderly couple. "Anyway massa, we gone, for wi nuh waan di candle dem done pan wi," the man said, and the couple shuffled off.

Plans to 'run a boat'

It was here that a short man who called himself Leyland walked up to me. "Boss, beg yuh mek mi up fi buy one bag a flour," he said holding some coins in his palm. "Mi only need $20," said he. I gave it to him and asked if he knew about the approaching storm. "Yeah man! Dat's why mi a buy di likkle food stuff. Mi and mi bredrin dem a plan fi run a boat inna di rain deh and teck it easy." Leyland said. "Wi ah go meck some flour and saltfish, man. Even if hurricane come, wid food like dat, everyting all right," he shouted.

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