Archive for October 16th, 2007

October 16, 2007

Woman is boss.

We’ll get to the main topic in a second – I promise – but today I had to interview Former Prime Minister, UNC Political Leader and Co-leader of the UNC Alliance, Mr. Basdeo Panday. Whenever I interview him, and I have many times over the years, I am amazed watching a true politician at work. The man has several court cases pending, more party confusion under his belt than Andy Warhol at his height and yet he always  comes across as though he were speaking from Whitehall ( our current seat of government). He is coated with the political equivalent of Teflon™ . No matter what you ask him he is able to deflect it to his opponents, paint it in a good light or grasp it and put a great spin on it. I asked questions that touched on every controversy I could think of and, like Bjorn Borg at the top of his game, he happily swatted them back over the net. No matter what people may think of the man that sort of prowess is not to be sniffed at but with over 40 years of political experience under his belt it is hardly surprising. Most surprisingly, our jaded staff came into the studio after the interview was over looking for  autographs, photos and handshakes from Mr. Panday. Despite his ups and downs the man is undeniably a celebrity here in Trinidad & Tobago.

Onward to the subject at hand. My strongest life influences have been female and I see nothing whatsoever wrong with that. My mother has her own strengths that she manifests in various ways, not the least of which was leaving my father with my brother and I in tow while she walked with crutches and a face that still bore the stitch marks. Every word I write, every story I edit at work is thanks to Ida. She used to write a column for the Trinidad Express that was widely loved and contributed several stories to a textbook that was a standard here called Backfire. As a young man I remember Mum reading me all her stories and columns asking me what I thought of them….there is little reason to ask why I ended up in the career I did. I learnt the importance of manners, etiquette and was introduced to many of my favourite books by my Auntie Bunty. There are things I remember to this day that she told me and holding the wrong fork at a dinner table is impossible for me because of her. My maternal grandmother was a powerful force matched only by a tsunami – and my paternal grandmother also exerted a powerful force that has made me the person I am. My cousin Peggy showed me that being a free spirit and following your heart is not a bad thing but rather something to be celebrated. In short, women have played a powerful influence in my life.

I have never thought of women as the inferior sex or something to be exploited – to me women are to be admired for qualities too numerous to mention. Men don’t hold families together – women do. Here in T&T the home of “de chile mudda” this is even more amplified. Women have shaped the Caribbean in a way that cannot be easily imagined by those living outside the region. They are the ones who pass on history, culture, values, morals and, in essence, the very nature of what it means to be a Caribbean person. While men are frequently absent the mothers are always there – inescapable and inevitable… the glue that holds the Caribbean together. In a sense, I think women are the glue that holds societies the world over together. And yet women still struggle to get paid the same wage as men holding the same position. I am not sure where this comes from but if I were a woman I would threaten to bring civilization to its knees.

The newsroom where I work is overwhelmingly female ( as pictured above) and I love every minute of every day I spend in it. We have a staff that runs after news like no other I know. More importantly, and this is the key to how ieTV operates, we have fun and love our jobs. We chat incessantly and poke fun at every news story but we get them done. I credit Anthony Maharaj for insisting that working with the team is the paramount consideration. When he hired me his first concern was that I be able to feel part of the existing team – I hope and am pretty sure I am. News people are hard-nosed, cynical and supposed to be inured to unpleasant things…my crew are that and more…and yet they have a sense of team second to none. It says a lot that when other media houses try and lure our staff our people say they are very happy where they are and ie ( as we call ourselves) is home. I can say with complete honesty that Vashtee Achibar,Giselle McIntyre, Melissa Williams, Melissa Wong, Robin Morais, Ria Rambally and  Nadine Hackett ( Rene Murren is moving to the radio division soon) are the team to beat. I value them all intensely, regard them as family,  and they all bring something to this company we love that makes us stronger.  You may note that we only have one male in our lineup and his strength is sports and the environment.

Am I happy with my team? Hell yes! And I would add my Programme Assistant Heidi is a force to be reckoned with. Without her I would have no interviews. She is the bulldog with the ability to break down any defense a potential guest may have amassed. I have watched Heidi develop from a timid person into a force of nature. She will call and call until there is no retreat. When Heidi tells me “don’t worry they will be there” I believe her. Thus far, I have never been disappointed.

My life is ruled by women…do I complain? Nope..I say more power to them and I hope, one day, women rule the world. At least then it would be sensible.