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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Another T&T is possible


I might not agree 100% with the Rights Action Group, a local organization that is behind Trinidad and Tobago's involvement in the World Social Forum's Global Day of Action 2008, but I stand with them on the key and critical point - that Another T&T is Possible!

It's possible for the people to decide to represent themselves rather than be used by those with their own agendas. [Link]

It's possible for the country to see sustainable development beyond oil and gas, but only if the people get up and become industrious so that the Government doesn't have to look to industrialize.

It's entirely possible that we can get the health sector to work for the people and not against them. [Link]

It's possible that crime can be brought into check if the people would work with the security forces rather than condemn them.

It's possible that the Judiciary can actually be fixed under an administrator who will has the time and relative youthful energy to deal with its issues. [Link]

It's possible, though sadly not probable, that the eye-dig-outers that want to move the Carnival could all be struck by lightning on Ash Wednesday morning. [Link]

It's possible that we could go back to the days when you can tell what the name of somebody's section is by looking at the costume. [Same link as the last]

It's possible that Brass Festival, a Tico Skinner-style free-co on the Barataria Savannah, and real calypso could all make a comeback some day.

It's possible that Trinidad and Tobago could be taken back for the people and wrested from the grip of the Global and Local Money Men.

Anything is possible... Are you willing to help to make it happen?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Remembering Mary...

Mary Samuel is a woman larger than her considerable stature, larger than life, an institution in her own right. She has lived long and touched many, and we owe her much.

For as long as I have been in and around the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, Mary had been the proprietress of the Small Caf. The grand old dame always worked hard to make sure that we were fed and watered, opening her cafe even during the August vacation to support those who had supplementals, people in the Summer Programme and the odd exchange student.

She gamely survived competition from the Big Caf, Yvette and her station wagon, the arrival of franchised fried chicken, the construction of the SAC, and the ingress of all of the other newcomers that now scatter the campus.

It was Mary alone at one point that gave us nutritional variety, all affordable on a student's budget - hot breakfast in the morning, something different for lunch every day, and the grill remained warm all evening to heat up her special recipe hamburgers. And then there were her special treats. There's never been a better meal on campus than her curry crab and big thick cow-tongue dumplings, served hot from 3:00pm on a Friday with crisp fresh crestle.

It was in the year that I served on the Students' Guild executive council though that I got to know the lady a lot better.

Brusque but personable, a formidable woman of Tobagonian stock, she was mother to all of us, but Mammy to those many whom she held dear. I often found myself in her office, chatting over food or a cup of cold tin juice about school, cooking, the price of commercial kitchen equipment, the agony of keeping her prices reasonable, or life in general. She always encouraged us to do more, to do better, and she always had a good word for you, even when things weren't well with her.

I saw her more recently. Her Caf had changed considerably. Open air seating was now enclosed and occupied by a local coffee house chain. Her location had shifted and was smaller but spruced up, in keeping with the new surroundings. But she was the same old Mary. Bright eyes, big smile, that raucous laugh, dressed to the nines, and still always with a good word...

We say good bye and fare thee well to Mary today. Services for her will be held at the Tunapuna Open Bible Church from 2:00pm. She will be interred thereafter at the Tunapuna Cemetery.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Move de mas?!

Ah siddong quiet-quiet dis mornin' to take in a lil' papers before ah make some breakfas', only to see a piece o' patent foolishness in print about movin' we Carnival to de firs' week o' April... De eye-digger-outers at it again! And dey so fullashit (my new word) dis time dat dey cork threatenin' to pop!

Now if dey did come right out an' say how dey find de season too short and dey ent have enough time dis year to mash up we pocket fine like chillibibi as always, den dat is one t'ing. But to come an' talk all kinda dotishness about logistics... Steups! Doan try to mamaguay we nah man!

We might look chupid because we effectively payin' a hundred dollars for a doubles in ah all-inclusive and de rise o' de costume price inversely proportional to de size and quality o' de costume... But have a conscience nuh! Yuh want three whole months to mash we up?!

Fellow Trini blogger Georgia Popplewell has already thought the whole thing through and presents "Five reasons the idea of moving the date of Carnival is patently dotish*", including a link to the Trini Dictionary for those who aren't sure what "dotish" means.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The BBC cited me!

The local papers fill out their international pages with stories from international press agencies like Reuters, the Associated Press and the BBC. I was thumbing through the Guardian today and ran across an article on one of my pet topics: local music.

Under the title, "Trinidad's music pirates of the Caribbean", BBC business reporter Robert Plummer writes some about the state of the local music industry, COTT and prevalence of piracy. Imagine my surprise when I see that Plummer ends the piece with:
As one Trini blogger puts it: "The cry when you hear a good song is no longer, 'flash up unno lighter!' It has become: 'Turn on yuh Bluetooth! Ah ha' to get dat tune!'"
Remember this post from last year around this time? A citation or a link back to the post would have been nice... but it feels good just to know that I've been read by the international press.

Same complaint though... Ah still cyah find dis year's music from any legitimate sources!

PS: Thanks Alicia!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Wish List for 2008 and Beyond...

It could be construed as pie in the sky but all I want in the new year, other than my individual requirements of course, is a greater sense of social conscience and civic responsibility in my people.

I want the defence attorneys that seek actively to frustrate the legal system to quit their shenanigans and allow justice to run its course. I want them to remember that the defendant whose case they get thrown out could be the one who interferes with their family or friends at a later time.

I want the entrepreneur to realise that he can maintain and possibly increase profit margins by improving internal efficiencies rather than increasing the cost to the consumer. I want them to remember that the sense of entitlement they feel in digging out people's eyes is the same sense of entitlement that the bandit feels when he's sticking people up.

I want that driver (that damned driver!) to realise that when he rolls into the intersection and cuts off traffic going the other way, the two feet he's gained by pushing forward is not doing him or anybody any good. I want him to remember that if the traffic has stopped flowing right around the block, he could be his own reason for not being able to move forward.

I want the administrators and politicians to stop playing games with the public good, and start working to properly and responsibly represent their constituents. I want them to remember that "minister" is not a synonym for "Lord" but for "servant", and "representative" means that you're not sitting in the House looking into your own interests.

I want the mass media to start looking for good news for a change, recognising that they are partly responsible for the nation's morale. I want them to see that if they continue to paint a negative picture of the nation that their image imposes itself forcefully on our reality. And when I say good news, I don't mean pictures of the "pretty people" partying in their designer clothes and drinking champagne.

I want financial sector employees to start telling people that really they can't afford that high interest, no collateral loan. Besides, the statistics for number of loans closed looks fantastic, but that counts for squat if the financial institution can only get back 60-70% of the principal value from the borrower.

I want my Trini people to stop being so affluent. You didn't need to buy 25 pounds (yes, I said "pounds") of new curtain and change all your furniture just because it's Christmas. And you don't need to go to all of the all-inclusives, especially if you're not sure how you're going to make it through February and March. Fasting for Lent doesn't really count if it's not a choice but an imposition because yuh buss yuh pocket. In fact, everybody go read Anthony Wilson's article in the Business Guardian of January 3rd.

I want my people to stop taking basket from other people and THINK before they parrot what they hear, especially when what is being spouted is based on an obvious logical stretch. We did Comprehension in primary school for a reason. Reasoning is a critical life skill. My people need to stop swallowing everything that people hand them without questioning, no matter how bright they feel the speakers are. Nobody has a monopoly on thought. Not even me.

Happy new year, everyone. May the good Lord provide for your needs and bless you with your desires in the days ahead.

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