By now, so many of you have caught my HHI episode when it first aired last fall!!! But JUST IN CASE you wanted to check it out (again!)…… I’m finally making it available! 🙂 Here I am with my friends from Brooklyn, Spain and Dubai on one of the greatest adventures I’ve had to date!!! ★♥★
Last night was such an exciting moment in my life, and for those I got to share it with, when my House Hunters International episode, “When Ajman Loves A Woman,” aired on HGTV! It was completely surreal watching the edited snippets that comprised the thirty minute episode! What you didn’t see, however, were the REAL moments that made up this total experience!
So, over the course of filming the episode scenes in NYC, I stressed to the production team how much I wanted my adopted neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant (and Stuyvesant Heights, specifically) to be shown in all of its urban beauty! As a result, the home featured in the Brooklyn scenes was the beautiful brownstone of classical and jazz trumpeter Antonio Dangerfield and his lovely wife, my close friend, Khadhyjah.
The reason we filmed at Chez Dangerfield is because I had already moved out of my beautiful apartment on Stuyvesant Avenue and Chauncey. See the white windowsill? That was my Stuy-Hei home for years! I have, however, spent as much time at the Dangerfields as I spent at home, so! It was a real blessing to document our friendship in this way!
The night before filming, as well as after we wrapped taping, the talented Dangerfields (who are some of my favorite people on the planet) created a wonderful feast of Spanish inspired paella and tasty cocktails! The two of them are gourmet chefs, if I’ve ever met any! It was great that a number of friends (including opera soprano, Janinah Burnett, and music producer, Byron Johnson) stopped by for our impromptu party/jam session, which ended up being featured in the episode!
BUT all of that was late in the game, in terms of the one day NYC shoot! What I was REALLY hoping they’d feature in the episode (but totally did not) were the local business in the Stuy that we were so diligent to include in the filming. One such local business was The Little Red Boutique on Lewis and Halsey, and the other was Khadi’s and my favorite wine shop, Bed Vyne Wine on Thompkins and Putnam.
I want to give a special shout out to Micheal, Peter, Ayo, and especially Rotimi, the co-owners of Bed Vyne, for allowing us to come in and shoot, though the scenes with Rotimi, Khadi, Janinah and myself are not shown in the episode… Check out this video to get a feel of the shop and brewery that has become a staple in our neighborhood.
A lot of people have been asking me about the HATS I wore in the episode! One of them, the brown one with the brim was purchased here at the Little Red Boutique (where you see Khadi and I browsing through clothes in the beginning of the episode) and Josie the owner was so helpful in allowing us to film in the store. I’d definitely encourage you to check out their elegant and diva style fashion choices if you’re in the neighborhood!
Once I was in the UAE, I had a few opportunities to rock that hat with a TRUE BK stylish vibe to it!!! I will definitely stop by the LRB to add to my collection.
Overall, it was a masterfully orchestrated whirlwind of filming and I felt like a whirlybird because I had a flight later that night…………………. but I am sooo glad to share this part of the story as well!! There’s more to share on the UAE side, coming up!!!!
Since my apartment building is literally across the street from the Corniche Sea, I started a new tradition today! FRIDAY BEACH DAY! I mean, it’s in my front yard, right! Considering the fact that it’ll soon be too hot to come out and laze in the sun, I want to savor each flavor of these current beach days! Believe it or not, December, January and February were all a bit too chilly and windy to spend leisurely afternoons on the waterfront. Certainly, if I wanted to put on a heavy jacket and pants, I could’ve spent time out there, but I opted to catch the view in passing on my way to or from work. But, now! With my sunscreen, books and magazines, BB, iPod and Subway sandwich (I have a standing order with the Subway in my lobby which I have on speed dial!), I am happy to sit out there for hours and even get in the water if I feel like taking a dip!
Making friends at the beach with Gulia from Uzbekistan!
Imagine my surprise when three women in abayas approached my general area holding up a camera and filming. Initially I was a bit uncomfortable, I mean, REALLY?!?!!! You’re just gonna take video and pics of me without even asking?? But I decided to pump the brakes on my defenses and see what they were all about. One woman seemed like the ringleader! She was the most aggressive out of her two homegirls when they started taking the pictures. Since moving here, I’ve been trying to get used to the fact that people in Ajman specifically constantly stare, not knowing who I am or where I’m from. Factor in the fact that I’m Black and have locs, and you get a whole other dimension of pointing and staring that takes place. It can be unnerving in certain moments if you aren’t willing to rationalize where they are coming from. On this particular day my locs were braided into two Mochahontas plaits, as I like to call them! So I know I must’ve been a sight to these women. Culture shock is a real thing.
I greeted them with a hearty, WAIT A MINUTE! But when they gave me the thumbs up with huge gold-toothed grins, I couldn’t help but say, what the heck and smile for the camera! ♥ I asked the ringleader’s name and she said Gulia. When I asked where she was from, she didn’t really understand, so I said “Me, AH-MEH-REEE-KAH! … You?? WHERE??” (I’ve realized if you speak slowly and say AMERICA, people get what you’re asking, whether they speak or understand English clearly or not.) “Ahhhh!! You Ah-meh-ree-kah!! Me, UuuuZ-BEK-ISTAN!” I laughed and motioned for her to come and take a photo with me! “If you’re gonna have a pic of me, I gotta have a pic of you!!” Her gold-toothy grin had no idea what I was saying! But she came close and gave a modest smile. I shook her hand and said, “Pleasure to meet you Gulia from Uzbekistan!” And the three of them pranced off, still filming their little beach afternoon excursion!
What I love about this Uzbekistani crew of women is how innocent and school girlish they seem although they were easily in their forties or fifties. After our brief encounter, they went off to play in the water having the time of their lives, still covered in abayas, shoes left by the shells and sand. There was a girlish charm about the way they screamed and laughed, splashing one another through the waves. I wondered if they were here with their husbands and families on vacation, or even if they lived in the area and were taking a break from the stress’n’strain of daily living. Whatever the case, they were fully vibing in the moment, alive and well. When the Baywatch team came over to tell them that the waves were too high for swimming, the three Uzbekistanis sat down not to far from me and chatted in a way that only the closest of girlfriends can while their clothes dried in the sun and sea breeze.
When they initially came up and started taking my picture I could’ve gotten upset and I was ready to put my guard up. But they really exhibited a friendly love that trumped their overbearing curiosity. It seemed like a very lovely afternoon they were having. I don’t know what allowed our paths to cross on this beach today, but I’m glad I was a part of it for a few fleeting moments. ♥