Jorge Milanes’s Diary

Experienced Cuban Teacher Publishes Piano Playing Manual

August 25, 2014 | No Comments »

We hadn’t seen one another in several years. I ran into him on Obispo street in Old Havana as I was coming out of work. We started talking after the initial surprise wore off. We talked for two hours. Among other things, he told me he’d been giving piano lessons to young people in Boyeros for ten years.

Street Tragedies in Havana

August 18, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“You son of a bitch!” the young man yells, lunging at the other fellow at the crowded bus stop. “You’re the one who’s been peeping at my wife through the bathroom window for days now!” He raises a fist, ready to pound the other man’s face with all his pent-up fury.

“He Made Me Swear I Wouldn’t Tell”

August 9, 2014 | 3 comments

“I have a secret I can’t tell anyone.” Saying this, Katy looks at my niece – her friend – knowingly. They are both 10. What is it?” asks Carla, trying to clear up the mystery. “No, I can’t. He made swear I wouldn’t say anything.”

Cuba: The Experiences of Someone My Color

August 5, 2014 | 6 comments

When I was a teenager, I used to hear people repeat that there was no racism in Cuba. At school, teachers would insist we all had the rights, duties and opportunities. This is what I believed when I studied at the tourism entertainment school, graduated and started working.

Cuba: Hunting for Offerings

July 30, 2014 | No Comments »

In the distance, I make out the shadow of someone holding a sack over his shoulder, walking slowly between the sea and river. Is it a tired man? From time to time, he places the load on the ground and crouches. He seems to be looking for something, but what?

On Cuba’s “New” Fashion Trends

July 16, 2014 | 3 comments

“Leandro, I want you to iron-out my hair and give me a haircut like yours. And don’t worry, I have money.” The person addressed, on hearing the word “money”, began taking out the gear. My neighbor then asked: “Can you do it?”

Searching for Cuba’s Cows

June 16, 2014 | 3 comments

“Look mom, a big ram!” yelled a kid at the top of his lungs, thrilled at seeing the animal through the bus window. He was going to Pinar del Rio’s Viñales valley for a daytrip with his family. His comment made some passengers laugh.

Pennyless in Havana: The Story of Gregorio

June 11, 2014 | 19 comments

Gregorio has no money, not even enough to put food on his table. This is reflected in his mood. That’s why he never goes out; so that people won’t notice the dire financial straits he is in. This is one of the many sad situations we see today of people who worked their whole lives.

On the Origins of a Cuban Idiom

May 5, 2014 | 2 comments

Many people in Cuba dislike the popular frase echar un palo (“to throw someone a stick”). In their view, this idiom – which all of us understand – is a rather vulgar way of referring to the sexual act. Recently, I had a chat with Paula, a cultural journalist, and we tried to get to the bottom of the said phrase.

Cuba’s Outrageous Cell Phone Offers

April 29, 2014 | 5 comments

The promotional message which ETECSA sent to mobile users recently illustrates why I don’t own a cell phone. The message read, verbatim: “If you add 20 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) of credit to your line from April 15 to 19, you will receive 40 CUC of credit.”