Faculty member David McCullough Jr. delivers his commencement speech at Welleseley High School.
Another day another blog entry. Make that several days but I have begun to think it is better to build up something to say rather than just saying things for the sake of filling space on servers. There are a few things that have been on my mind lately and they really have no connection to each other. I am still very perturbed that Ms Talma is still being held by her kidnappers. This is the first time this year ( to my recollection) anyone has been held for more than 2 days. While being held for 2 days is horrifying enough I can only imagine what trauma the poor woman must be enduring after almost a week. It stands to reason that the sort of scum that would perpetrate such an act are probably not exactly concerned about her comfort. Her kids and the rest of her family have probably not had a night’s sleep since the ordeal began. The police are doing their usual thing arresting people and releasing them but as far as I can gather have made little progress in her recovery. I am sure we can expect the usual twaddle from the ersatz National Security Minister at some point as he explains that this is just another minor glitch and the country is, in fact, safer now as we implement his “crime plan”. If I am ever held by unspeakable elements and Joseph is in charge I think my best bet would be to pray for a cyanide pill.
I have spoken to a number of people and the consensus ( if 100% counts as a consensus) is that were they a minister with his track record the PM wouldn’t have to fire them as they would step down in shame. Then again, the PM put him there and seems perfectly content with his performance despite an out of control murder rate, kidnappings and the fact it is much easier to get drugs than water in many parts of the country. I imagine the idea of stepping down in shame is fairly meaningless when those in
question seem to have a limited quantity of that particular commodity.
Rather than let me blood pressure reach clinically dangerous levels I have been trying to think about other subjects for the last few days. A few of these, however, have also had a deleterious effect on my BP. The government recently announced it was stopping live broadcasts of the Joint Select Committee meetings. These meetings/hearings were designed to ensure that there is oversight in the operations of certain state corporations. Seeing the heads of these corporations such as Calder Hart of UDECOTT being questioned about how they spend our money was an excellent example of a healthy democracy. Apparently, though, the discomfort of some of these officials in being grilled has been deemed more important than the public’s right to see accountability in action. Sure, the media is ( apparently) still allowed to cover the events but the live broadcasts allowed the public to see the proceedings without having it filtered through the media first. If someone is being paid a handsome salary from the public purse and is spending a lot of tax money in order to do something on our behalf they should certainly expect to be asked questions in full view of the public. This is a great step backwards in transparency and not a good sign for the future. I am not sure what precedent there is for a government allowing proceedings to be public and then changing the rules of the game but I would love to know.
On a different note, I went to the gym today, ostensibly to do a little cardio but really because I was running low on Haagen Dazs Chocolate, Chocolate Chip ice cream and MetroMint Water, and I was marvelling at the ethnic mixtures in this country. Of course there are people of African descent and Indian descent but it was the mixtures that really caught my attention. Men and women with unusual and often beautiful features whose ethnicity would be almost impossible to guess. I certainly tried to see if I could figure some of them out but given the sheer number of groups in T&T the possibilities left me totally frustrated. The best I could manage was “well African and maybe Spanish..but there might also be a hint of Chinese or Carib in there”. It is amazing the things one does to ignore the fact one is running like mad and not actually getting anywhere – allegedly in the name of health. After a couple of post-gym cigarettes I was much better able to handle my inability to make definitive guesses.
And since I mentioned shopping I have been examining my food shopping habits of late. As someone who has grown up..as they say..elsewhere…I tend to go to ridiculous lengths and spend far too much money to get certain things that I consider essential. The other day I found myself spending the equivalent of $9 US to buy two parsnips. To be honest they weren’t even healthy specimens but they are so rare here that I felt it a reasonable price to pay. Never mind the fact I could have bought a bushel of them in Toronto for that price I just knew I had to have them and , frankly, the aroma of them boiling brought back so many memories it was well worth the price. Somewhere I also developed an obsession for Metromint Water ( www.metromint.com) . This is something I cannot explain. The good people who make it describe it as “pure. Simple. Mintwater” as if it is something that occurs in nature and they just harvested it from a mint spring that emerged from some vast underground mint water aquifer. Basically it is purified water with a bit of natural mint ( or spearmint ) flavour added. It is beautifully packaged in a tall cylindrical bottle but it also costs twice as much as the local bottled water or even Gatorade. For some reason I cannot get enough of the stuff which is only sold in a few shops here ( and only one in Port of Spain). I have been known to grab the entire stock on the shelf and gleefully rush to the cash register waving my debit card. It has reached the point where visiting friends express concern about the row upon row of mintwater in my fridge and even my gym trainer is wondering if it has some narcotic properties I am not telling him about. I suppose there are far less healthy taste obsessions to have.
As mentioned in an earlier entry this evening I ventured into the world of culture as Robin and I headed to Queen’s Hall (which is all of 2 minutes from my home ) to see Hamare Taal the latest offering from Sat Balkaransingh. I love dance but I confess I had never sat through an entire evening of kathak dancing. I am happy to support Sat, though, and after Robin reminded me that we were going i made it home in time to don something respectful and allow him to drive us to the venue.
The event was fairly well attended considering that it is Plymouth “Jazz” Festival weekend and I was sorry I didn’t think to wear an Indian outfit as much of the crowd had opted for that approach. I really must find some occasions other than Divali to wear the getup as I think I am able to pull it off quite well. I was pleased to see Sat’s wife Mondira who is an incredible talent herself and also a genuinely lovely and intelligent person so we exchanged a few words before the show started. Before I even get to the show I feel a few venting words are in order. Why do people feel it necessary to have conversations with each other during performances? Is it that they wish the cover of darkness for the exchange of inanities or are they deliberately flirting with the prospect of me leaping out of my seat and doing them bodily harm? For that matter, why do people, after being told to turn off their cell phones insist of having them on and using the screen to read during the performance under the incorrect assumption that the light does not distract others around them? As I sat there fuming I decided that it is either stupidity or unspeakable uncouthness that leads to such behaviour but it may well be a combination of both. If people spend a long time rehearsing and creating the least you can do is shut the hell up and turn off your damned mobile…face it.. you really aren’t that popular and important anyhow.
I am not a dance critic and Robin is even less so but in general there were parts of the evening that i really liked. The music under the direction of Mungal Patesar was exceptional and the I found the rhythmic jingling of the gunghru ( ankle bells..I had to look it up) captivating . There were some performances during the evening that I thought to be pure magic but others were a bit less so. I commend Sat for trying to fuse other forms of dance such as tap and the traditional Trinidad Bele dance into the evening but I am not entirely sure it worked. The other dancers were good – even very good – but I never felt they contributed anything to the overall show. As I told Robin I love Pernod and I love Scotch but i don’t really want them mixed in the same glass. I say this as someone who can hardly be accused of being a purist when it comes to Indian dance but given my enjoyment of the kathak dancing I saw I wish I had been able to absorb it without tap dancers throwing in their efforts. I laud Sat for his effort to tie together the ribbons of Trinidad culture but I feel sometimes individual ribbons are best when left alone. The other rather odd touch was the protracted explanatory narration between segments. This consisted of not just a description of the meaning of what was to come but also detailed information about each performer and what seemed like their entire working and academic history. These long talking bits tended to destroy whatever narrative existed to tie all the performances together. Perhaps it would suffice to just leave such information in the programme. With that being said I enjoyed the evening and I am glad I made the effort to see something that expanded my cultural horizons a little bit.
After the show Robin and I ended up at Alvin’s bar/lounge since I was not driving and Robin is fairly easy to convince when I set my mind to it. We basically just chatted with Alvin for a couple of hours as he worked the door but it was fun and I even got to collect cover charges for a bit ( though i was a wee bit overdressed). At some point during our chit chats the guy who washes Alvie’s car showed up and i asked him if he could wash mine if he is available during the week..to which he readily consented. I mention him only because he stayed chatting for a bit and it is startling how well spoken he is. We are dealing with someone who is articulate, well groomed and clearly intelligent who spends his days hustling odd jobs and his nights sleeping heaven knows where. I learned that drugs are at play in this scenario but it is really sad that someone who speaks better than the average working person in Trinidad ends up like this. I have never been addicted to illegal drugs but I think it is a cautionary tale for us all. I guess I was naive enough to think that someone heavily into crack (or whatever it is they use nowadays) should look and sound like my idea of a drug addict…as they say…you live and you learn..even at my age.
( published on other blog – Apr. 22, 2008 )
I have used the time since the last blog post to enjoy the luxury of thinking. Things have not been bad at all, in fact, work and otherwise, my life has been rather good. Despite some family troubles that seems to be sorting itself out in ( or because) of my absence I have had the chance to catch up on a bit of culture, revel in music and even read a bit. As is usually the case the reflection has been productive.
I have known some turbulence in my life both inner and outer and it is good to be at a place where I can calmly look at myself and the world without worrying about the sky falling. I refuse to let myself fall into too much of a rut no matter how comfortable it is so that has concerned me of late. Frequently, at such crossroads in our lives we find ourselves presented with opportunities – or perhaps we notice opportunities that were always lurking just outside our sight. I find myself now noticing such possibilities for improvement or , at the very least, a slight change of course. Now I find myself wrestling with the usual demons of doubt that always urge me to stay the safer course and who I have a great habit of ignoring. The great thing about being of sound health, unattached and with a searching mind is that I am free to change direction like a rogue ship. Once the direction is changed it is just a matter of fighting the swells and avoiding any icebergs. The joy of life for me has always been the voyage rather than the destination.
With that said I am not sure where HMS Vern will head in the near future but knowing myself to some degree I am sure the trip will keep me alert and interested. To paraphrase my beloved Oscar Wilde…only the shallow truly know themselves.
Despite having serious problems getting video from our team in Guyana yesterday we managed to get a report today. A 19 year old man has been charged with 11 counts of murder. The video is hosted on my alternative site. Click here to see it at: Guyana Report
ieNews is sending a crew to Guyana to report on the massacre they should be departing shortly.Our latest news coming from the area indicates that the attack was especially brutal. During their attack on the police station in Bartica policemen hiding in cupboards to escape their attackers were shot in the head. Once the gunmen stole the police vehicle and drove through town they fired randomly at civilians. One man was placed in a freezer and then shot in the head. Police are still trying to get the names of the civilian victims. The attackers wore uniforms and face coverings so no eyewitnesses have been able to provide a description to police. Police believe ,based on the pattern of the killings and the number of men involved, that this latest attack is also the work of Rondel Rawlins. Rawlins has claimed responsibility for the Lusignan Massacre in which 11 people died. He is still on the run. After the Lusignan Guyanese security forces locked down several communities in the East of the country so Bartica, which is outside the high security area, may have been an easier target. Police believe millions in gold may have also been stolen by the gunmen. Bartica is a gateway to the gold producing areas of Guyana.Further to follow.
UPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.
Our sources in Guyana are now at the airport waiting for the bodies to arrive for transportation to Georgetown. Bartica is located up the Essequibo river and the bodies must be transported by boat and then small plane to get to Timheri Airport, the closest point to Georgetown.More to follow.
UPDATES HAVE BEEN ADDED SINCE THIS POST. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RECENT ENTRIES LIST ON THE RIGHT OF THIS POST.
Most of the big bands will not pass in front of our building till later this afternoon but I managed to capture some of the sights and sounds thus far at the following link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/globewriter
Woke up with clear signs of the flu which was not the best start to my day. I had an interview with Rosemary Hezekiah of Trinidadtunes.com but mercifully that was at 3pm so i was able to take my time getting ready. God I hate makeup. It went well as Roses and I are old acquaintances so it was a very easy interview and I think they are on to a good thing doing a download service for local music. Pity that most people will still chose to just download for free thus depriving local artists of money they desperately need.I am now sitting staring at this screen and trying to not let the fever make me write some sort of Coleridge tome. I should have interesting dreams tonight as I always do when I am feverish. I am still in my strange mental place but I am trying to get out of it by analyzing my life. As far as I can tell my work life is great so it is my personal life that needs attention. I suppose being without my own car for a month has had a psychological effect on me…but thank god I work for a company that lets me use its car for so long with no argument.I suspect i will come out of this place soon. It is a new year and some interesting people have come into my life so it may make a difference. Maybe a great difference..I will keep my fingers crossed. I will constantly remind myself that i am a really good and decent person and deserve a good life.
It was the best of times it was the worst of times…now I have that out of my system. It was really a day of realizing how totally inefficient transport in Trinidad and Tobago is in 2007. From traffic to bad airlinks in the region to more annoying traffic it is a miracle anything gets done at all in T & T. Now that I am unwinding with Peter times 2, Robin and Naz all is well. It is amazing what great friends can do to your system. We settled into the villa quickly and, after making a huge mess of escargot, we wandered to a restaurant to eat some more. To be honest I had already met my fat quota for the day but Sheppard needed to eat and the trip was necessary.
I know I can be a harsh judge of food and it seems my friends are less judgmental but when i see prices for entrees starting at $25 USD I expect something more than a passable meal. To me a fish broth, even when it is accompanied by the restauranteur giving an extended explanation of what kind of fish was used and where it was caught, should be full of large chunks of identifiable fish and not cornstarch. That makes it a bad chowder. Also, when i order a grilled romaine salad with hearts of palm and sun dried tomatoes and some etc I expect to see hearts of palm on my plate. I really shouldn’t have to walk to the open kitchen and enquire as to the whereabouts of my HOP.
Despite these minor setbacks it has been very relaxing thus far and with such close friends I expect it will continue that way. The matter of using 56k dial-up, on the other hand, is a different matter entirely. I feel I have been dropped into the dark ages. Sheppard, God bless his heart, was heard telling a friend on the phone that he “doesn’t know how people survive on dial-up”. I agree. I think broadband has become as indispensable as cable…screw that..I can live without cable but not without my broadband.
Omar has been housesitting for me and a quick check sounds like things are in order. Friends are a great thing.