A Spanish Affair in Raleigh

nopal salad, mexican food

nopal salad, mexican food

Sliced Mango with pepper in one hand, baby corn with pepper, butter and cheese in the other hand. I looked around and couldn’t help but marvel at the vast array of colors around me.

I was standing in the Spanish open flea market on a sultry Saturday afternoon in Raleigh,  trying to make a decision on which one to dig into first. A cacophonous medley of sound provided the backdrop to the bright hues of the wares being sold. In the middle of the market, stood a  tent with rows of fresh produced at unbelievable bargain prices waited to picked.

The market I am referring to is officially referred to as the

cornmeal products such as tortillas and taco s...

Spanish Delicacies one can enjoy in the Market

Raleigh Flea Market Mall 1924 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, NC 27604 and before you get to thinking you have speak Spanish to enjoy this experience, think again. This is purely a pleasure for anyone wanting to experience something new and is not afraid to be surrounded by Spanish speaking dialects.

If you can say, ” How much? ” in Spanish, you are good. The first time I went there, I spent my first hour asking, “Cuanto?” and later realized the prices were taped underneath the vegetables. Two weeks worth of vegetables cost me $14 add in a $1 bounce till you get tired-bounce house where my son spent jiggling and bouncing until he couldn’t take the fun anymore, a $6 lunch from one of the Spanish fusion food trucks for the whole family, and I was sure I had happened on the a gem right smack in the middle of Raleigh.

From googling (yes, it’s a term), I found that it used to be the old location for IBM and later the building was converted to a flea market. I ventured inside to take a good look and found a hodgepodge of stores selling everything from fake sports paraphernalia to used furniture. The inside flea market was lackluster and didn’t hold come close to being as exciting as the outside.

The dominant clientele is Spanish but it was encouraging to see a smattering of  ethnicities who had braved this Spanish world.The market not only offered vegetables, but a car wash and all manner of household goods.

There is one word though, I am sure everyone would understand and might help you get any reservations  about making your way to this gem of a Spanish market with its Spanish themed food trucks, and its:



Non-English Speakers look foward to fewer Rights in North Carolina

In the United States, a person who is going to...

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act demands that a person may not be discriminated against.

At least that’s what it looks like.

North Carolina has been violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice determined. 

In a puzzling series of  negligent policy decision making  by law makers of which the result may have even been longer sentences for  non-English speakers,  which of course overburdened Carolinians have to pay for  in the  long run in form of taxes. A nominal cost  (on 0.3% of the $463.8 million budget) of offering translators would have been an easy solution.

What has not been mentioned is what now?

Now that North Carolina has been found to be violating Title VI, what consequences will the agency have to experience?

A little known fact is that Title VI continues to state that

If an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency may lose its federal funding.

Now as upsetting as this all is, I would hate to imagine that  cushy $463.8 million being taken away.

If our law makers cannot abide by the law when enforcing  the law, exactly who is getting served by the law in question?



North Carolina Corruption Report Card Is Here

North Carolina Welcome Sign.

North Carolina Welcome Sign. (Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn)

A nationwide study on the level of corruption in states was released today. North Carolina received an overall grade of C- and ranked 18th on the list.


North Carolina outperformed cities such as Minnesota, New York and even Alaska. The grades were based on ethical decisions made by leaders and how people felt about the impact of policies affecting the populace of the state.

North Carolina received an F for public access to information and as a new transplant to North Carolina, I know this to be true. You cannot find information consolidated anywhere and the entire state is rife with different organizations all doing somewhat the same thing but none which seem to have a common link.

Perhaps there is hope yet for North Carolina.





Celebrate Your Otherness

African Americans Allowed to Vote

The word Diaspora comes from a Greek word that means to “sow or scatter seeds.” A group of Diaspora has the special characteristic of attempting to preserve their culture and religious beliefs.

It’s this “otherness” within us that constantly attempts to recreate experiences validating pieces of ourselves carried from the past.  When I traverse North Carolina experiencing different cultural events I can’t help but marvel at the rich tapestry of varying cultural experiences responsible for the unique qualities making up North Carolina.

The amazing experience of seeing the Black Mambazo group in Clayton,NC  was surreal at best. Here was lil O’l me,  far away from my birth country experiencing a performance that was a symbol of hope. The group started spreading  the message of love when apartheid was the order of the day in South Africa. Now 52 years later and a bunch of Grammy awards  under their belt, the group still continues delivering  beaming smiles, lively songs interspersed with gravity defying leaps left everyone awash with gratitude at this once in a lifetime experiences.

Black Mambazo In Clayton, NC

An Immigrant’s Allegory of Running

The morning chill threatens to frost my lungs as I cut a  steady path through the tree line. Defiantly, I ignore the plea from my feet as they will themselves to stop.  I am reminded of how many challenges I have had to overcome to be where I am today. Like when I left my birth country 12 years ago  to go to school and didn’t know what I would find on the other side of the world. How I had to remind myself all would be well even if I didn’t know when I would see my parents next.

kenyans. beating ass.

No that's not me.. Its what I wish I looked like when I run

Looking around when I run, I am reminded I am just a piece in the puzzle of the big picture of life.  Awed by the raw beauty of tall pines towering over me, I find myself marveling at just how small I am and how much I really don’t have control over things. I know as I run that there is a bigger hand at work.

The pitter patter of my rubber soles as they have a personal conversation with the paved trail drum a rhythm on the blacktop. The ebb and flow of the rhythm is a direct reflection of the highs and lows of my life. Times when I have been pleased with how things are going like when I finally went back to see my parents after 10 years and lows like when I lost my job or that late night..uhh…. ‘conversation’ I once had with the boys in blue.

Excruciating pain from complaining muscles cut through my senses and for a moment all I can do is be with the pain until it is gone. Just like I had to somehow exist within the uncertainty that is life as an immigrant. When I didn’t know how I would pay for my rent, or school fees. When the fast talking accents of the deep south seemed to spew out a garbled array of sound that passed for English. As I forced my tongue to lighten and my mouth to ‘enunciate’ so I could be heard.  Struggling at first, and accepting finally that the different me would ultimately have to do. In the pain of running, I am reminded every time- that everything passes. Instead of resisting, I embrace it. I know it’s here for a while and it too shall pass. So I push on and after a while it’s gone and I am back to the place when I began, where I was hopeful yet uncertain. I am back to the beginning when I was full of dreams and I am convinced that I will continue trying and pushing on.

When I run, I am reminded of how human I am. It’s my way of getting in touch with my weaknesses and my strengths. Through running, I am reminded that I am on a journey. I am only a small piece of a bigger picture. That as everything comes to pass, I too will be gone one day and I can only participate as much or as little as I can.


North Carolina House Meeting on Immigration Reform: Making Room for Change

A special House meeting was held on Wednesday January 25th, 2012 on how to deal with the ‘immigration problem’ in North Carolina. Discussions hovered around how to get to the heart of the problem which seemed to be illegal employment. It seems the problem is how to go about enforcing immigration reforms which won’t hurt the North Carolina Economy as is the case with the Arizona reforms.

Illegal Immigrant rights protest in the US/Mex...

Latino Protesters

Immigration reforms trigger ‘immigrant flight’.   Distribution of immigrants across North Carolina is somewhat blurred but it is obvious that Hispanic Immigrants (the largest immigrant population) favor rural areas. Immigration reforms will most certainly impact the agricultural sector.  Prompted by economic opportunities and policy mandates, ‘Immigrant flight’ has not to do with choice but more to do with survival. As more stringent immigration policies are considered and passed, immigrants will be forced to move to friendlier territories where they can enjoy economic opportunities.

After the meeting, a group of people held a rally outside the Legislative building protesting the immigration reforms being considered. It will be interesting to see how North Carolina approaches the immigrant question. Sweeping reforms could lead to a mass exodus of immigrants the impact of which might be severe on the North Carolina economy. For now it seems, North Carolina is carefully watching what happens in Arizona before jumping in and adopting similar reforms.

10 Super Cheap Things to do In the Triangle


Living in the Triangle has its moments. Proximity to Raleigh, Durham and Cary means that there are choices galore of things to do.  The choices however are easily narrowed down when one factor’s in cost. Cost is prohibitive, if like me money or lack thereof plays a role in determining your family entertainment.  Since I am determined to get out with my family, I have been working hard to find free family entertainment that is not cost prohibitive.  This week’s list of 10 things is based on all free activities that I found to attend with family and friends. Well, almost free but which is as close as one can get  in our great Capitalist society.

  1. Occupy Raleigh or Occupy Durham– We wanted to attend this free event, but stopped short when we realized that we didn’t really relish the idea of getting arrested and then having to ante up precious $$ to get out. So in the spirit of free speech and down with Corporate greed , I say “ Go Occupiers! Go Occupiers! If I wasn’t a jobless immigrant scared of getting arrested, I’d be out there with you!”  Watch this video as arrests are made in Raleigh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d44nW5yQhaw
  2. State Fair– I am glad we went to this almost free event. I refuse to feel guilty about what I ate there. The funnel cakes were amazing…and that was only desert.  We lumbered down the maze of paths stopping frequently for an endless variety of entertainment. Great job NC State fair!
  3. Diwali Festival– We decided to be Indian for a day and went to the local Diwali Festival. The Indian culture was vibrant in this absolutely free festival that celebrated Indian New Year. Festivities included an Indian Dancing Group from Russia (huh?) who performed in authentic Indian costumes and kept the crowd enthralled with their fancy footwork and constant twirls.  I wonder……would anyone notice if I bought one of those outfits and wore them in the street? The event culminate with an amazing firework display.
  4. Halloween Festival in Cary– Cary did not disappoint. Friends and family came out for the Cary fest at the Herb Young Community Center. As with any free event of this magnitude, we (the parents) spent majority of our time lining up and administering veiled threats to keep kids in place. At least we were rewarded with a hayride through down town Cary.
  5. Trick or Treating at the Cary Town Mall– Greatest idea ever! All in one place. One stop shop. Although a wee bit too crowded, this was a wonderful idea considering it had been raining outside.  Some of the stores like ‘The Children’s Place’ managed to stay true to the economic times by tricking the kids and treating the parents. In true corporate fashion, they didn’t buy candy but opted for the lame discount coupons that they handed out with a sticker stapled on the back of it. I will never forget the  dismayed expression of my son who somehow managed  a hollow “thank you” and scuttled for other hopeful prospects.
  6. The trails in Apex- Apex Community Park has a gorgeous 50 acre lake surrounded with trails. All free for family entertainment.  Running in these trails puts you in a peaceful state of mind that sets the tone for your day. I highly recommend this free activity. Next stop fishing.
  7. Great for Picnicking Walnut Street ParkRecently upgraded the playground offers padded surfaces for little tykes to tumble safely and approximately 1 mile of mulched trail. It looks nice and new. Great for Picnicking while taking in the fall colors.
  8. MeetUp– Its getting colder and a great way to get of the house is to figure out what it is you are interested in and go meet others like you who have the same interest. The Triangle has a lot of meetup groups. It has so many in fact, that I have to find time to sort through the sheer volumes of spam that I now get as a result of joining them.  It looks like there are hundreds of people in the Triangle, wanting to meet and not go broke doing so.
  9. A Good Book never led you astray– The libraries in Wake County have been proving to be full of surprises. With lots of workshops, seminars and guest talks, we have found plenty to keep us busy on the odd evening when we just want to get out for an hour or so without too much prep work involved. I have my favorites but for different reasons. The Eva Perry Library is grand and gives that  libary’ish feel, the Cary Library is great for my son because all the kids books are in one area that is easily accessible and Cameron Village Library serves a dual purpose for when I should be working but want to buy coffee and people watch at the same time.
  10. Volunteering– I can’t say enough on this topic. I volunteer quite a bit and feel that the best way to be a critic of anything is to actually get involved in the process of changing the ‘thing’ that you want to see change in the first place. So get out and volunteer If you can. Make your mark in the world.

There is plenty of inexpensive things to do.  I know that members of the Diaspora have tremendous challenges to face while trying to adjust in the society they have found themselves and I hope  that will list of 10 Super Cheap Things to do, you too can find a way to get out into the community and be part of it without feeling like there is a financial barrier.