|Category: Trinidad Society
||Date: 08 Dec 03
can tell how fiercely New Yorkers love their city – a recent Time Out
New York which lists the thousands of ways you can entertain yourself
weekly and where asks: “Are you a true New Yorker? Readers identified
118 essential NYC activities attributes and attitudes.” I thought well,
if there’s one thing we have in common with our crazy paced friends in
New York it is passion for our well, Trinidad’s as big as a City init?
are some good ones to which I have made up our own version of “Are you a
True Trini?” (we’ll handle Tobago another time – The Tobagonians
identity is so unique it cannot be sullied by a Trinis Psyche.)
New Yorker: “Say to somebody, without irony, “waddayagonnado?”
– this is our version of “I feel your pain”. In the Midwest,
they say, “What can you do? But that seems a little passive to us.
We like to think we can control things. Asking what someone is going
to do implies we have the power to change the situation – although
at the same time were saying, “Hey, we’re not actually going to
get involved with your problems.”
Trini: we have two responses to people’s pain depending on whether
or not we like them. If we like them we attack the source of their
problems immediately even if we’ve never met them – (be it a
straying spouse, a manager who gives you a hard time at work, a car
dealer who is ripping you off) – “He is an Ass” with emphasis on
Ass. Your friendship is so great that their enemy is your enemy.
That’s the Trini Way. If you don’t like them you bound over to
them, barely containing your smiles “I hear you get
horned/fired/bankrupt/kidnapped. Is true?” Just to let them know you
know they’re down and out and you’re glad. And the best way to
bring yourself up, feel good about yourself, is to drag someone down
to your level. That’s also the Trini way.
New Yorker: Give a car a good kick after it nearly runs you down at a
busy intersection. New York’s pedestrians deserve respect: We
don’t pollute the atmosphere and we aren’t plastered in faux
patriotic deals. So when that cab or obnoxious Chevy Tahoe impatiently
noses into our path on a right-hand turn and risks reducing us to
crosswalk road kill, its our solemn right to give him the glare of
death and maybe issue forth with a hearty kick to the right fender.
He’s piloting a three-ton carnage machine, we’re wearing Keds-
this walk signal is our moment to shine.
Trini: The pedestrian is all powerful, and deserves respect because we
are so bad minded that we would rather die and get you in trouble for
man-slaughter than cross when the light is red. We lock eyes with car
thieves, murderous looking maxi taxi drivers who otherwise own the
streets and know no traffic law. We take out all our rage on drivers
of vehicles. Our mantra is “Bounce me Na”.
New Yorker: Walk your parents through the Gay Pride Parade without
mentioning anything out of the ordinary is happening. While a man
wearing a giant chicken head and hot pants giddily waves a sign that
says “I love C--k, you point out the lovely summer foliage of a West
Village rooftop garden. As Dykes on Bikes roar past you suggest that
perhaps Dad might enjoy an ice cream. Gay Pride. Why, is it that time
of year already?
Trini: When it comes to Gays and Lesbians our policy is to will them
into a state of non-existence, and when we do come across them or hear
about them our men will guffaw and call them Bull--- crack bawdy and
crude jokes to reduce every gay and lesbian to a laughing stock, a
drag queen, a fruitcake, a woman who cant get a man, (or hasn’t met
the right man) a wimp and a ninny. Naturally all the time calling
attention to their own powerful masculinity and potential sexual
prowess, Of course point out to the Trini man that the statistics show
that almost every man has at some point in his life has been attracted
to a man and he will turn openly hostile and want to fight you. Still,
it makes you wonder, if all this latent sexuality is repressed, what
do all those sports where men fall upon one another in a panting
sweaty frenzy over a football really mean? Is that where the spillage
New Yorker: A tiger could be loose in Harlem, Long Island could have
floated out to sea, a blackout could have just engulfed the city –
but you go to a party and talk about nothing but apartment rents.
Trini: A coup could be taking place, insurgents holding a gun to the
Prime Ministers mouth, people could be felled, murdered, kidnapped
around us, the illiterate, the poor swarm around us, with no hope, but
every time we get together we will talk about the next party we are
going to, the carnival that’s coming, always the carnival that is
New Yorker: Feel a great sense of relief when your plane flies into
JFK or La Guardia. Take us off our turn for more than, say a week and
we start to Jones for the urban homestead. So when your return flight
begins its descent and you catch a glimpse of that familiar skyline
through the airplane window, a wave of relief washes over.
Trini: Turns into a poet at the sight of the Northern Range, the
savannah, the Caroni river, as the plane swoops across the ocean and
prepares to land. For a brief moment the Trini is overpowered with the
sweetness of a deep longing that is about to be fulfilled whether he
has been away a day or 20 years - the doubles vendor, the leaves
glistening with rain, the carpet of poui, pilao, curried crab, diving
under a strong salty wave, the Savannah decorated by coconut vendors,
the oval, the secret dialect we all share with its wry wit and warmth
and boldless. It crushes together like the rarest of perfumes and like
those drunk with love we raise our eyes to the hills, and thank God
for whatever bits of paradise still intact on these islands.