Who is Madeleine Kando?
Who is Madeleine Kando?
I began my immigrant career at the age of four when my family moved to Paris, France from Budapest, Hungary, right before the Iron Curtain closed off many of the countries of Eastern Europe and made them satellite states of the Soviet Union.
A child of a mixed marriage between a Jew and a Gentile, born among the rubble of World War II, I became a political refugee and grew up in Paris and Amsterdam. You couldn’t ask for a better apprenticeship if you are an aspiring immigrant.
Childhood – Paris
Aged eleven, I safely tucked my French past at the bottom of my backpack, along with my newly acquired French accent, as we moved from Paris to Amsterdam.
At the age of 18, I packed my bags and began to travel. Those were liberating times. Working in London, I discovered the exhilaration of anonymity. My soul and I could disappear in this vast, beautiful city. Thirsty for more adventure I hitchhiked to Spain.
I settled in Madrid. Being young, tall, and blue-eyed I got so much male attention that I acquired the habit of walking with a rolled-up newspaper and use it as a fly swatter whenever an overzealous caballero made a move to invade my personal space.
I was in search of a place that would accommodate all my conflicting stories but Spain under Franco was as unforgiving of mutts like me as my previously adopted countries.
Extending my search beyond Europe, I left for America. The shock to my system driving through Harlem was so great that I wondered if I had landed in a war-torn country. I saw a big black man with only one shoe on, cross the street, barely able to keep his balance, the piles of uncollected garbage, the beat-up cars, the dirty streets.. but all this is for another story.
I consider myself lucky to have had the privilege of living my life where several cultures meet. Maybe because of my gypsy roots, I have always felt a sense of adventure by moving about and living in new places. There was a childish excitement brewing in me, especially when I came to America. It was huge, wild, and seemed to fit my disorderly and chaotic nature.
America, with all its ugliness, its beauty, has accepted me and all my pasts. I was able to safely unpack them all, lay them out for everyone to see. Everyone here is openly rummaging through their multiple pasts. Everyone is like me, a mutt.