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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 05 Mar 00


A Trinidad Diary Series -Part III

 

Sunday February 27

Will never ever drink in life again namely because I had no idea of the one tequila, two tequilas, three tequilas, floor truism. It’s an ugly vile habit that can kill people. First have to get over dislike of people who have beatific smiles on their faces and say they don’t need to drink to have a good time. How else can you get over the boredom of seeing the same faces over and over and over again, bursting your eardrums with songs about sapodillas and nine inch bananas?

 

Monday February 28

Asked the gentle-looking baby faced waiter in a restaurant tonight what he thought of women who got drunk. His oily face hardened and sounding like a Bin Laden faithful, he says with mindless fervour: “Women who drink are disgusting. Women should always be pleasant and carry themselves with dignity” like an inert smiling passive spineless puppet. “They should not cheapen themselves with alcohol or cigarettes.”

“What about men who smoke and drink?” I asked.

“It’s not so bad. “ He replied.

 

Double standards prevail. Men buy Playboys, empty video shops of pornography, and swerve into curbs while staring at the curve of a hip and thigh, but the women they “respect” have to be Mother Theresa. They will be ogling at the naked female bodies while they play mas but will, in some corner of their brain, also censure them.

 

Tuesday February 29

Just another day in paradise. A “passenger bandit” slits a taxi drivers throat especially after the victim pleaded with his bandit to take everything but spare his life. And a middle-aged man gets shot point blank on Broome Street while his six-year-old son watches. Another three tourists go home after armed men rob them on their way to Glencoe from Piarco.

 

Bad mind, poison, the colour of blood and the textures of bile flows throughout our streets from Toco to St Clair. No one wants to listen when Minshall says that Carnival is an equaliser, it magnifies our social and economic stratifications  - We have “ mostly white” bands and “mostly Indian people bands” and “mostly black people bands” and “mostly upper class bands”, the “artsy bands’, and so on, and the amount of protection you receive is related to how much you pay.

 

The only antidote to the poison is to pour back some of the taxes, and riches to the people who need it the most - towards alleviating poverty but I guess it is more important to have a paved savannah and a new airport and run the private sector without any labour laws - long hours, and pittance wages. Let the gap widen. Let them eat cake. Let them slit throats randomly. It’s related.

 

Wednesday March 1

Nostalgia - Dusty golden twilight. The breeze carries lime and jasmine perfume into the conversation on the porch. The big man - (in the ways that it counts - heart, depth and a generous spirit) was saying there are three things he will never change - his religion, his mas (Berkley) and his steel band (All Stars).

 

“The steel bands were named after the famous movies of our day: Casablanca, Renegades, Desperadoes. Each section in the bands would practice their part with feathers so they wouldn’t detune the pan - (that was before they started chroming them)- and just before they were ready to push the pans out on the streets the band would hear their tune together for the first time.

“Carnival was watching All Stars panmen stack the bottom half of their steelpans with empty bottles and cover it with leaves waiting to block Invaders at Frederick and Oxford. Listening to Pierrot Grenades, French puppets who would challenge each other Shakespeare, and historical figures, with their gun talk.

"The swish swish swish of the boots of a thousand strong army band, and seeing them fellers crawl commando style through Independence Square and the year pan shook when Despers came out with their big guns, giving pans a wider, deeper range; chipping, to Handels’ Messiah in between kaiso tunes at las lap.”

 

The lady who said if she wasn’t playing Berkley she wasn’t playing mas says she fell in love with his band after Paradise Lost. Her words tumbled out the years in a rapidly unfolding bolt of cloth. “The “Secrets of the Sky” was her favorite, moon, stars, rainbows, rain, sunshine, and there was the “Titanic” with the enormous bottle of champagne on the bow, the chandelier, engine room and ballroom sections, and “Le Bijou;” as she spoke I could see her imagination and her heart rising higher and higher into the evening sky.

 

 

Thursday March 2

 

Expectation for some, exodus for others. The woman making roti swivels as she rolls her dough; people chip, not cross streets.

 

 

Friday March 3

 

Mas camps, costumes, tailors, vital supplies at groceries, raised heartbeats.

 

 

Saturday March 4 

 

Fete, leave or dig a hole and stay there till Tuesday

 

 

Sunday March 5

 

Let the Lord of Bacchus bless us. 

 

Amen

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur