As a boy living on small islands in the British Commonwealth Caribbean in the late 1960-1980s, I was exposed only to cars from Japan and Europe.

My love of cars did not start until after graduate school when Acura released the 1994 Acura Integra GS-R. I couldn't afford one at the time, not with the need to pay off student loans, so I instead bought a fifth-generation Honda Civic. A few years later, after that car was destroyed in an accident, I purchased a pre-owned Acura Integra GS-R, a flick-your-wrist-with-a-wide-grin five-speed manual transmission rush of adrenaline painted in Milano Red. I bought the car in 1996 from a then-middle-aged golfer in New Jersey's well-to-do town of Clinton. In the two years he had owned it, the owner had driven it over 45,000 miles, and I drove it for another 120,000 miles. It wasn’t the fastest or most powerful, but for me, it was the most fun drive I have ever had. I drove it until 2006, when Bhavna insisted I trade in my impractical two-door sports car for a more practical four-door "responsible dad" sedan, e.g., a 2006 Honda Accord EX-L V6.

Milano Red 1994 Acura Integra GS-R | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2

The Integra GS-R had a DOHC 1.8-litre VTEC four-cylinder engine providing 170 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, the highest output-per-litre of any naturally aspirated engine at that time.

As a boy growing up on small islands in the British West Indies in the mid-196os to mid-1980s, I was mainly exposed to cars from Japan and Europe, especially the United Kingdom (UK). At that time, the West Indies was an aftermarket for used (pre-owned?) Japanese and British cars. The Morris, Triumph, Datsun, Toyota, Honda, Isuzu, Daihatsu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki brands are all familiar. Similar to Japan, all of the islands of the former British Commonwealth Caribbean drive on the left side of the road. American car companies didn't (wouldn't) make right-hand drive cars. They were too large and used too much fuel.

Milano Red 1994 Acura Integra GS-R | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2

My dad had a Morris Mini, which, when we lived on the island of Bequia, served as the family car until his third son, my youngest brother, was born. While my dad was not a sports car driver, some of his friends took to rally racing Mini Coopers around a course near the Arnos Vale airport in the then British Overseas Territory of St. Vincent & The Grenadines.

Shortly after that, Morris introduced the Mini Moke, a no-door, no side-panel death trap, which one of my uncles thought was the perfect low-maintenance vehicle for puttering around the narrow pot-holed and cliff-lined coastline of Bequia. One uncle owned a Triumph 1300 while another uncle owned a Morris Marina.

Acura Integra GS-R | Pentax P3 | SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2

Dad also had a UK version of the Volkswagen Beetle, his last European car purchase. By the early 70s’ cheaper Japanese vehicles had entered the Caribbean market. Mom bought a Toyota Starlet hatchback when she started driving. Dad purchased a Datsun and then a Toyota Carona. Toyota was his brand of choice until Mazda entered the market, but in later years, he drove Hondas.

That was a long-winded way of saying I know a lot about Japanese cars and a little about British cars. I know very little about American cars.

Not Mama’s Breakfast

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, perhaps because it is associated with fond memories of my maternal grandmother. All the grandkids called her Mama. I’m not sure how that came about, but it’s what we called her. Anyway, I'm feeling nostalgia and decided to write a short post.

Mama made the most delicious breakfast that, to this date, has never been surpassed. It was a simple breakfast of fresh-baked bread, sliced thick and slathered with salted yellow butter, fried jackfish, fried ham, which is almost like a form of Canadian bacon. The smell of the ham cooking was sort of a hint that breakfast was almost ready. Fresh eggs from the chicken coop and sometimes, if I was lucky, Mama fried up thick slices of cou-cou or bakes.

I would devour my breakfast as fast as I could. Every bite was like a warm all-engulfing hug from Mama. She would always ask, “You want bush tea or cocoa tea”. Either one was heaven in a mug.

An old photo of my grandmother, Mary Marguerite Ollivierre.

The breakfast I eat now is far removed from the love that Mama cooked up in her charcoal-fired stove and oven in her outdoor kitchen. Turkey bacon and English muffins and grits are a poor substitute. It was while making this morning's breakfast that memories of my grandmother came flooding in. I miss her.

Eggs and bacon | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 32.1 mm | f/4.0 | ISO 10000


The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography. #fpj-photo-challenge

This week's challenge was challenging for me. I was looking up the definition of nostalgia.

a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I was born and raised in the former British West Indies. The culture, food, buildings and beaches are not duplicated in anything that can be found in New Jersey. Or anywhere else on the East Coast. Or the United States. I spent my youth living in St. Vincent, Bequia, St. Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua.

The family home and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea are thousands of miles away. I spent my early years living upstairs in the old Barclays Bank in Princeton Margaret beach in Bequia. The entrance to the building was about 200 meters from the beach. This is where I spent a lot of time with my brothers and friends. We played beach cricket with tennis balls and bats improvised from the dead branches of coconut trees. Sometimes we played intense games of marbles "for keeps". I don't remember the rules of marble games, but I know the games were hotly contested. Sometimes we just ran up and down the beach as fast as possible. I was always the fastest.


Sometimes my Mom would take us to visit our grandparents at their home on Monkey Hill. I loved helping my grandmother gather eggs from the chickens. Less enjoyable was moving the goats from one pasture to another. Goats can be difficult. If I was lucky, Mama1 would take me with her to pick sapodilla and sugar apples and we would climb all the way to the very top of Monkey Hill. There was always a good breeze, and I could see everything down to the coast below.

Grandmother, Me, Mom | Thursday 6 August 1998

Those were good times.

I have no access to any of that, and in the thirty-two years I have lived in the United States, I can’t think of anything I have experienced in the USA that evokes those memories. The Jersey Shore beach water is brown. The ocean air does not smell the same. The food is American. It doesn’t feel the same.

I don't have old photos to share. My parents either didn't own a camera at that time, or my mom has them in some precious album of her own. My mom lives in Florida, but right now is on holiday in St. Vincent.

I drove over to a shop in Hopewell, Twine, looking for inspiration. Twine sells various items; wooden boxes, old painted stools, flashcards, pencils, scrabble tiles, labels, books, etc. My daughter came with me. The only thing that seemed nostalgically familiar was the stack of marbles. I bought a handful.

Next door was an antique store, Tomato Factory. I saw a few things — vintage oil lanterns — that reminded me of my early life in the British West Indies, but ultimately there was nothing that I could take home. Photography in the store was not allowed.

This marbles photo does not include boys in khaki pants, beach sand or sunsets.

I was saddened while I was writing this. All this thinking about my past had made me acutely nostalgic. I realise how much I have lost.

The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers to share both new and old photography. This week's theme is nostalgia.

  1. All the grandchildren called her “mama”. ?