Many of these blogs are born from a filtering of information from a range of sources. Some arrive whilst in conversation with friends and family. The below is a hybrid of both. A large thank you to my sister Edwina and Ms. Amarpreet Ajji who both steered me through a number of tough realisations.
Hooch is well known as a legal and illegal alcoholic drink. In America – pruno is the colloquial equivalent. Moonshine is another name of illegally produced malted alcoholic beverages. Why am I writing about illegal liquor one might be inclined to ask? “Adversity is the mother of all invention”. My mum was fond of saying. This is my offering.
Having worked at over 10 prisons in the UK, and witnessed the ingenuity persons in prison extend themselves to – brewing alcohol illegally, there is a truth to my mum’s saying above, that I wanted to explore here. The common experience of hardship creating solution. If there wasn’t difficulty, poverty or war, would development of the advances that exist in the world currently be with us?
Living in Canada I am unable to be employed. My migrant status is under review. My ‘In Country’ application has been in process for over a year. In that time I have had chance to volunteer my support as a psychotherapist for True Roots as a panelist, and also as a co facilitator of their men’s monthly check in and chats series, ACCA as a volunteer co-ordinator for the organisation’s Individual and Family support programme, and most recently as a member of the St. Leonard’s Society of Hamilton that support individuals with rehabilitation after a custodial sentence. There is also a piece of work at McMaster University in Autumn I am looking forward to be involved with. I haven’t stopped engaging in purposeful activities it looks different at the moment.
The sloth of my application currently being processed by Canada’s immigration service is at the centre of my reasoning for Hooch. My ability to work and contribute, as in the UK, is hampered by slow processing. A low-grade frustration builds like a storm cloud. Similar to the lazy afternoon pull and erasure of dry wipe marks from a board that once held the allure of valuable information. The teacher oblivious, uncaring or both. Queue the classroom explosion.
Hooch is a bi-product of ingenuity meeting boredom, opportunity and time. The blogs are my attempt to produce something potent and as therapeutic in a collection of words as hooch are for those behind ‘the wall’. Offering a taste of freedom. By writing I ease the storm cloud’s weight. If each letter were a droplet of rain, perhaps by the end of this year the rain cloud could become like cirrus – light as wisps of steam caught in rarefied air.
Existing as a non-entity has perils: unaffordable health care, costly health and car insurance, inability to join the labour force, nonexistent credit rating, poor social mobility or cultural capital. Confidence repeatedly dashed against the rocks of doubt ‘Will this ever…?’ I am not alone in sensing the vacuum. A hoovering up of all that was known about a temporaneous life before the move is common for an immigrant.
Whole communities have travelled from one country into another, and sometimes into yet more. Some – held in an infernal holding pattern such as Tom Hanks in the film Terminal, knowing the turmoil of life in absentia. And more living with the daily concerns: imminent threat of permanent removal re. ICE, deportation holding centres, dashed plans to reunite with family, job prospects and hopes of starting to live once more, following the global lockdown – held just beyond reach. An added sting of not knowing reasons for the omnipresent delay.
As a former sourdough bread baker and investigator of the subtle art of Kimchi (Sauerkraut restores gut health too) I wonder about the end of my waiting experience. I recognise that there is a fermentation taking place. A general awareness of developments I am not involved with. The experience – maddening and wildly frustrating. Space is taken to think a little, and share some of my thoughts with you. For me the sharing is the main point of writing these truncated missives – fermentation’s produce – Hooch.
The ACCA links to the Afro Caribbean Canadian Association’s website, where you can find out a little bit more about the organisation is achieving in Hamilton.
St Leonard’s takes readers to the SLSH website, one can take a look at all that this inspiring organisation does.
Sourdough takes you to the almost fool proof method of creating and crafting a sourdough bread by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall.
I am yet to make Kimchi. When I do I will follow Sue’s recipe. There are a range of studies that introduce the concept of our guts being our 2nd brain.
Sean Brock is another find on Netflix who has an interesting take on flavour, pickling and fermentation.
The article by Sandor Katz looks at fermentation’s power to transform cooking/baking. I enjoyed reading their interpretation of brewing cultures to transform ingredients for a diners culinary pleasure.
A House Divided by Code Switch introduces a family that reside in the US under different policies of immigration. A number of complexities arise from their differing legal status.
My Lying Eyes by This American Life explores the complex experiences of migrants to the US. Some appear to be allowed quick safe passage whilst others are left with a complex and dangerous route.
Bassem Youssef introduces a number of important reflections about civil unrest, seeking justice and being an immigrant.
The Stoop’s excellent coverage of Black life introduced a micro tear in the fabric of being othered outside of North America.
Code Switch A House Divided
This American Life My Lying Eyes
Pod Save The World – Bassem Youssef
The Stoop – I’m Black and I’m Jameela
Title photo Butterflies by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash
1st photo Transform Wounds by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
2nd photo Waterfall by Blake Verdoorn on Unsplash
3rd photo Explosive Fire by Christopher Burns on Unsplash
4th photo Blue Beach by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash