Archive for ‘Jahajin’

June 6, 2008

Happy Together

 

 

It has been an interesting week thus far culminating with me sitting here nursing a sore throat and a fever. I don’t handle illness well and I tend to take a strange approach to handling it. When I woke up this morning convinced that someone had forced me to swallow a tennis ball coated with glass shards I went into my normal mode of action. I downed as many pills as I could drank several cups of coffee and headed to the shops. I bought every medication known to man, several gallons of gatorade and a slim volume of poetry by Rimbaud. My solution to such health dilemmas is to follow my Mum’s advice….over medicate and read something interesting. If this entry is a bit disjointed you can either blame it on medication or Rimbaud…much the same in the long run.

 

Wednesday I hosted a little soiree for Peggy which turned out rather well. I decided that I was not going to stress myself with elaborate plans and thus even the cooking was approached with little or no plan. I had purchased about $1,000 worth of stuff for the party the day before and basically tossed the whole plan out the window. Peggy and Steve arrived early and we simply engaged in excellent conversation ignoring the arrival of others. At some point Peggy managed to make a Rajasthan beef dish and I cobbled together a quick tiger shrimp and mussels balti and some basmati rice. It also learned that my cousin Satu Ramcharan was also coming over in addition to Alvin, Binky and Kavir. All I know was that the evening turned out to be a lot of fun with Peggy and Satu keeping everyone entertained. I had never spent any time with Satu before but apparently the gene thing makes for great company so the three half caste cousins fitted together perfectly. Things were so animated I never actually got around to serving the Haagen Dazs. Who knew that Steve would be so interested in  politics that he and Satu would almost have to step outside to have it out? I tell you he might be my friend but he is also a cameraman and they are a strange breed.

On Thursday, with my fever beginning to start I had my old friend Monique Tosello-Pace over with Peter and Naz for another smaller soiree. She is here from France and sadly my state of health and burn out from the previous night resulted in us just having roast beef and watching Hitchcock’s The Birds . Still, it was good seeing Monique again if only for a brief time. At least we managed to consume the Haagen Dazs that was unused the previous night.

 

Back to the murders tomorrow as I have to work ( I believe we have had 10 since I last wrote) but there may be changes in my work situation coming around the corner. I know that I will have to have both Peggy and Satu over again soon and, if I am lucky, perhaps I can have Peg do a short reading from Jahajin for us. I have said many times in this blog that I am not a family kind of guy (except for my immediate family) but having known for decades that Peggy was something special I am now wondering how I could have not noticed Satu. Are there other interesting half-castes in my family ( and we all are) that I could have overlooked? 

 

The final good but not surprising news is that when I bought the Rimbaud I asked the sales clerk how Jahajin is selling and she said “really well”. Apparently certain people in this country can still have great taste.

 

June 2, 2008

Pretty in Pink

 

Amazingly, it really doesn’t feel like a full week since my last blog entry but the calendar doesn’t lie I suppose. It has been a busy week and , despite the two public holidays, I have been working 7 days a week but the end is in sight so I am un-frying my mind to upload a quickie here. Not much point talking about the latest in homicide as the murder count keeps shooting upwards and we are now well over 200. There was a disturbing development over the past week involving 8 year old Hope Arismandez. She went missing and upon interrogating her mother’s boyfriend he confessed to killing her and led police to her body. The tragedy is sufficient to not require comment from me. One wonders what was going on in the mind of Sunil Ali that would have led to the event. I may lose my temper from time to time but I tend not to give in to my more unpleasant instincts which explains why members of parliament do not have bruises on the backs of their heads.

 

The aberrant mind is largely a mystery to the rest of us and sometimes there is at least some good to be gleaned from such incidents in that we are able to get valuable clues to help us protect society in the future. Sometimes, of course, there are no clues to be had and no lessons learned but there is always the hope for some insight however vague. In the case of Mr. Ali we will never know. He was charged  and placed in a cell under a suicide watch but was found dead less than 24 hrs later. The details seem to vary from one source to the next with one newspaper saying he hanged himself with a clothesline that was ( conveniently) in the cell in addition to slashing his wrists with a razor blade. Our sources at ieTV suggest that , while he had some lacerations on his wrists indicating he tried to cut himself he actually hanged himself with bed sheets. The papers were, naturally, replete with headlines about him taking “the easy way out” but I think any sensible person must be led to ask some questions. Ignoring , for a moment, my complete lack of comprehension about how suicide could possibly be an easy way out of anything one wonders what sort of fools we have working in the prison system. If someone is on a suicide watch I assumed they were to be supervised constantly and not given access to anything they could use to do themselves in. Now if we are to assume that the custodians of our prisons are not complete imbeciles then we can only conclude that someone decided he should be either given the means of killing himself and conveniently allowed to do so or else his demise was somehow assisted. Neither possibility sits well with me. We have an inefficient justice system in this country but it is still there for a purpose. People are entitled to their day in court and, presumably, justice prevails. When incompetence or some sort of warped vigilantism supplants the law then we have a serious problem. 

 

The prisons have announced that an investigation will take place but I would bet top dollar that nothing will be forthcoming. As is usual here the perverting of justice will be swept under the carpet and everything will go back to looking glass normal. This is not about defending an apparent killer…it is about due process and about lessons that could have been learnt to prevent such incidents in the future. Of course the same idiots who keep electing idiots of various parties are the ones now telling the TV cameras..” He saved us the trouble..I’m glad he did it”. I can only shake my head and hope that the next generation is a little more circumspect. Mind you it may be a misplaced hope since as far as I can gather many UWI and UTT graduates cannot even spell “circumspect”.

 

In other more pleasant developments Peggy’s interviews on my programme got a lot of very good feedback and quite a few calls asking when we are going to air them again. She has been busy using her time to explore the Trinidad she has missed for 10 years and, no doubt, collecting more fodder for her next literary foray.  I am hoping to have her over on Wednesday night to meet some of my friends and there has been something of a demand for invitations. I will try not to break my rule to never entertain more than 6 people for dinner as I find anything more than that prevents good conversation. I may not be Sir Noel Coward but I will look for a cigarette holder and try my best.

 

It would be remiss of me not to mention that I also attended one of the strangest events of the year on Thursday night – Peter’s Pink Party. Peter Sheppard, having turned a certain age, decided to hold a party for himself a month after the actual event. The only rule was that everyone wear pink t-shirts emblazoned with the logo of the party on them which he thoughtfully provided via special delivery. It was the usual fun combination of people and Naz pulled all the culinary bits together well ( though much of the food was made by the excellent Wings Restaurant)  including such thoughtful touches as pineapple chow and pink champagne. The diversity of their friends never ceases to amaze me and yet everyone gets along perfectly. I am sure if crabby old me had such a party I would be safe with my six person limit…in fact even that might be a stretch.

 

May 25, 2008

Time Capsule

 

Well it was another day of mayhem in Trinidad with five more overnight murders and ( by our count) 194 murders for the year. Between those killings and the latest reactions by the PM to acquiesce to the demands of most of the population for a Commission of Inquiry into UDeCOTT it was a pretty full newscast. After work I made my way home to drop off some groceries I had amassed earlier and then picked up Robin in order to venture beyond the pale to the land beyond the Port of Spain lighthouse. The reason for the trip was to see my cousin Peggy and her daughter Shivani who are staying at my Uncle Clifford’s house and are here for the launch of Peggy’s book Jahajin on Wednesday. Robin was necessary for company and for directions since I am not the best night driver and anything outside of Port of Spain is likely to inspire me with a high level of confusion.

 

As much as I dreaded the drive it was interesting to see my uncle Clifford again as I hadn’t seen him in decades despite the fact i have carried his fine dental skills in my mouth for most of my life. It is lovely to see someone after such a long time and to realize their personality and charm can remain intact despite the passage of years. Peggy was her usual ebullient self and shortly after arriving and the requisite hug and kiss from her and Shivani she was engaged in an animated chat with my Uncle discussing ancestors I never knew I had. I get lost after first cousins and the fact my Great Grandfather had four siblings was news to me. After about 10 names I had never heard of I was completely at sea but I was pleased to see that Shivani shared my bewilderment and she sweetly assured me that she couldn’t keep up either. I will say, though, I was endlessly bemused to hear that two of my family members were named Stalin and Lenny. Apparently a sense of humour is not a rare event in my family history.

 

A little later on we braved the crowds at Movietowne to get something to eat at an odd, loud and garishly lit place called Zanzibar. Normally, any place that seeks to explain its raison d’être via an entire page on the menu would be shunned like a blackened banana in the supermarket but it was 10pm and we didn’t have much choice. The food wasn’t bad. With Peggy flagging and Shivani resigned to having to return at a reasonable hour we made a quick pit stop at Sky Bar to see Alvin ,who also hadn’t seen either of our visitors for a decade, had a quick beverage and then headed past the lighthouse once again to drop them home.

 

I am not known for making forays outside my normal zone – especially after a day at work – but it was an entirely pleasant experience. Peggy may have seen a few years fly by but she is still her usual irascible and insightful self and Shivani is turning out to be quite an amazing young woman. So for the next little while the author and the up and coming industrial designer will be gracing our fair shores and I suspect my life will be all the more interesting . I am looking forward to the local launch of Jahajin on Wednesday.

 

April 8, 2008

Jahajin Arrives

 

After much gnashing on teeth across several oceans the hard copies of Peggy’s book were finally located by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I now have them at home with me. I think the story is magical and layered but there was something in me that longed to actually hold the word in my hand. Funny how a digitally inclined  person like me can still feel the need for actual paper. This is not the first time this urge has happened to me and I cannot count the number of times I have clicked on that Amazon “one click” button to get a copy of a book that I have lost somewhere in the lending labyrinth. Even stranger. just as is the case with Peggy’s book, I sometimes have a digital copy of a book and have the need to possess a physical copy. My most recent obsession in that regard was a book of poems by Mallarme that i felt i could not live properly without having it on my shelf. human nature is a strange thing and I truly apologize to Al Gore for causing another tree assassination.

 

In any case now that i have my physical copy of Jahajin ( and a number of other copies I have to distribute) I think I may well sit down and reread it with my feet propped up on the couch. Say what you will about digital editions but propping a laptop or even..God help them..a Kindle..is not the same thing as flipping a page or holding a book against your chest as you ponder the words just read.

 

Off to bed now as I have a marathon day of interviews tomorrow including a Minister, an activist and an actor. Let’s hope i don’t get the questions or the approaches mixed up.

 

February 17, 2008

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas.


Given that the whole point of this blog is for me to just put down my random thoughts it is rather strange that someone as hyperactive as myself can actually sit here without having any focussed thoughts. The key word being “focussed” as I have many thoughts going through my mind now.

We spent much time at work today engaged in an animated discussion about Democratic race in the US. Inevitably, the subject also turned to race.  I am not a US citizen, thankfully, so I can sit happily with my Irish and Canadian passports and feel no responsibility for the numerous stupid things they have done. I do, however, have my preferences in terms of what I would like to see happen in the upcoming US elections. I would prefer Hillary  Clinton to be the democratic candidate for president and I would also like the Republicans to be kicked into the political cellar. Any party that chooses a leader who can say the words “I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully” deserves whatever it gets.

I do not share the enthusiasm of my colleagues for Barack Obama who they see as the ideal choice. Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t recall Obama saying one thing of substance so far in his campaign. Sure he is slick and articulate but I really don’t think talk is what the US needs now. Hillary has proven herself to be a tough contender and I vividly recall her brave but failed attempt to implement drastic changes in the US health care system when Bill was in office. The fact she stood her ground and remained stoic in public through the ridiculous Lewinsky episode says volumes. Also, and this is a bit on the petty side, Obama strikes me as a bit glib and his eyes are just a wee bit too shifty for my liking. What puzzles me is the insistence of my colleagues that my views are based on the fact that Obama is black. When I ventured to observe, that like me, most of my family, and Tiger Woods, he is decidedly mixed I was quickly informed that the fact he looks black makes him black. Who knew?  My dislike for Obama is more than skin deep I can assure them. There is that strange divide in even Trinidad society that even i feel uncomfortable crossing – the racial divide. I don’t think twice about race but apparently it means a lot in terms of group identification to a lot of people. Given my penchant for speaking my mind I often have to  flee certain discussions knowing I would probably be beaten to death for my none-too-subtle views.

Turning my thoughts to other things now I want to talk about a comment my Cousin Peggy ( author of Jahajin) left on my blog entry yesterday which provides food for thought.  Because I maintain two versions of this blog I will include the comment here:

“ The dislike of gays is one of those irrational things that prove that people are still beasts at heart.  The same people who howl about the world becoming overpopulated can have a serious problem with the existence of ingenious souls who have found a way to live happily every after at the top of the food chain without adding to world problems (and without feeling deprived either). It seems to me that gayness is one of the kindest options Mother Nature and Evolution have supplied us with.And not all that different from those of us boring straights who have only one child (or none at all).  There comes a point, when we are done with the mindless struggle for existence, when we should turn our minds to being a little bit imaginative.And that would include wondering about one’s orientation.  How many people live straight lives because they have never really thought about what they wanted in a relationship?The word ‘tolerance’ is bad in a slogan, but it is at the root of the struggle for Human Rights.  That is, you don’t have to LIKE the other guy, but you must refrain from killing him, or beating him up, or denying him a job.  Face it, most of us are not likeable…”

Peggy is not someone who thinks on a standard level and I always value her take on things. I don’t have a fundamental problem with anything in her comment and, maybe it is in the genes, I generally find I agree with her. Typical me that I will concentrate on the last bit of her last sentence.

It is true that most of us, those rats who refuse to follow the piper are definitely not likeable. I have long ago come to terms that my personality is such that people either appreciate me ( an estimated 10%) or want to avoid me like a politician would a polygraph ( 80%). The remainder tend to regard me the way we regard crocodiles in a zoo…with a mixture of fascination and revulsion. I am generally happy with this situation as I figure it weeds out undesirables. Of course, I am also painfully aware  that it may also weed out some desirables but such is life. We are all both the beneficiaries and victims of our own personalities.

I cannot count the times that someone has come up to me and said “but I always thought you were such a jerk” or “when i was first introduced to you I thought you were so standoffish and distant”. It is the eternal story of first encounters and how we protect ourselves. I tend to hide shyness around new people with an armour of  silence and disinterest. It is hardly a surprise that some take this for elitism or arrogance. There is some consolation to be had from knowing that I cannot possibly be the only person thus afflicted.Sometimes I wonder if my tendencies in that area have alienated people who might have been important parts of my life or even THE important part. There must be a whole slew of us who wonder if we have sailed past possibly  important people simply because our inherent character traits pushed them away in our wake.

On the good side, those same people could also have been the iceberg to our Titanic. 100_4449.jpg

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