18 Stories and happy Jamaican
By Asadullah Khan
The word “story”, for journalists, works like a powerful magnet and stimulates the curiosity faculty of the brain. Extraordinary personality and behavioral changes occur with the mere mention of the word, “story”. One can witness this weird phenomenon in Newsrooms anywhere in the world (with the exception of Fox News maybe).
So what happens when a reporter sitting on his desk in a quite newsroom complaining about the weather, whether it’s rainy, it’s cold, it’s hot or it’s humid in a docile voice, sipping over a cup of a now cold beverage or going through social media like a tired, near retirement bank clerk, suddenly hears the word “Story”?
This group of lazy human beings who, a few moments ago looked like would-be victims from the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, suddenly change into a pack of wolves on the scent of a prey. Their voice levels go up, and whole body goes through a surge of adrenaline. Phone calls start going out and coming in at a frantic pace. Cameraperson and reporters run outside regardless of whether it’s rainy, cold, hot or humid outside.
For better part of my life, I have been a member of this wolf pack through thick and thin, for better or for worse, covering numerous stories and travelling across continents in search of other stories, in rainfall or snowstorms and have had my fair share of insightful experiences.
One of many experiences in my life as a broadcast journalist is learning to eat whatever is available for human consumption wherever I may be. Whether it’s gulping down humus rolled in pita bread while you’re running away from falling bombs in Beirut or eating chapli kebab rolled into tandoori roti sitting in the back of open Toyota truck on a rather bumpy road to Kabul.
However, there are some relaxing, even happy stories and occasions when one doesn’t have to chomp on a make shift sandwich. Like the one in November 2008 in Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
It was a Pakistan vs West Indies ODI cricket match and Pakistan had won the match regardless of a thrashing by the left handed, Jamaican all rounder of West Indies Chris Gayle who had made a century and gave the greens a real tough time.
One of the privileges of being a journalist was that one could get into places which are usually out of bounds for most of the people. Using that privilege, I walked into the West Indian camp that evening and saw Chris Gayle eating a huge sandwich with a shine in his eyes that is usually witnessed in a cricketer after a victory.
But because they had lost the match, my journalistic curiosity forced me to ask Chris, “Umar Gul didn’t bother you too much, did he?”
He smiled, and without replying continued to indulge in his sandwich. Someone around me offered me a plate of a similar looking huge sandwich. Upon my inquiry, I was told that this is Jamaica’s best sandwich and contained chicken with Jamaican jerk sauce, caramelized pineapples, topped with a fried egg. I took a bite and I fell in love with its divine taste immediately.
I looked at Chris again and was reminded me of smiling Buddha statue I saw somewhere in a far eastern country. Thus I decided to name the sandwich “The Happy Jamaican”.
In my “18 Stories Kitchen” I have tried to recreate different sandwiches I happened to have eaten in different parts of the world during my experience as a journalist and found tasty and interesting enough to share with all of you.
Each sandwich is a “STORY”.