Archive for October, 2007

October 21, 2007

Rainy days and Mondays.

Back in Port of Spain now after the grueling 2.5 hour drive from Toco on Trinidad’s North Eastern  coast. It was a good plan in essence, skip town on Saturday afternoon, have Robin drive to Toco in his new comfy twin cab Hi-Lux 4X4 and then come back rejuvenated and relaxed on Sunday having eaten Kay’s curried crayfish, sat on a beach and taken some great pics for the blog. Sadly, things conspired against me. Kay had no crayfish by the time we got there at 8:30pm though I was able to indulge in one of my guilty Trinidad pleasures – Souse. This delightful dish is really pig’s trotters soused in lime juice, cucumber, pepper and other spices. Some people seem to have a problem with eating pig’s feet and I have no idea why. What is the difference between eating any other part of the pig and eating its feet? That being said I must admit to a certain hypocrisy on my part in that there exists a version of souse made with chicken feet that I refuse to eat. I suspect that the sight of chicken toes sticking out of a cup is too much for my sensibilities whereas a pig is…well….pork..and as we all know there is nothing better than pork. My only sadness about pork is that health concerns prevent me from eating it rare which is my preferred way to cook meat. While on the subject I must disagree with my friend Kay who has made a great business out of selling food from her little roadside eatery and has now opened a hotel a few yards away built from the sweat of her brow and that of her companion Arthur who runs the attached rum shop. She maintains that souse does not require a lot of cucumber and she outrightly refuses to add watercress that I know adds a peppery taste that seals the deal on a great souse. Perhaps I can convince her one day of the wrongness of her ways.

Upon arrival at Robin’s house and introductions to his friend Marina’s two young family members who also made the trek , the heavens opened up and rain came in ample proportions. Marina is one of Robin’s lovely friends who is fun and completely unpretentious ( other than her aversion to souse) and she brought with her a niece and young man who is related to her niece. I must say ,given her niece is 16 and the young man in his early twenties ,they both had impeccable manners. I may have to reappraise my view that all young people are uncouth and unpleasant to be around. Despite this pleasant revelation it rained and rained to the point I briefly thought of looking for cubits of wood. We chatted, flirted with the idea of playing the Desperate Housewives board game, had a few cocktails, read a bit and halfway watched Mapp and Lucia on my Powerbook. Everyone went to bed with me staying up a bit later to watch episodes of Futurama before retiring.

The next morning was replete with shattering thunderclaps and biblical rain. Marina and her crew gamely made efforts to go out and ventured out to watch the young man surfing but basically it was an indoor day. I missed breakfast as mine consists of coffee and cigarettes but there apparently was a hearty one. I whipped out beef in red wine with caramelized onions in red win, a salad and parsley potatoes for our 4 pm lunch which was almost finished as the gas ran out. I must confess that I browned the beef steaks in bacon fat before simmering them as, to my mind, everything is better with pork and fat and if you can actually have pork fat…it is heaven itself.

Basically, to get a bit of relaxation, I left Cascade, spent 6 hours on the road, cooked, slept, and spent the rest of the time in a house. Can anyone explain what would have been different from simply staying at home? I suppose the difference was spending time with Robin and other friends. I am not really a social animal but I love my friends and I admit 24 hours with friends is probably better than 24 hours relaxing by myself.

One good thing about the weekend I haven’t mentioned is I managed to get some more reading of Peggy’s manuscript “Jahajin” and also started reading LeRoy Clarke’s new book ( he very nicely dropped for me at work) “De Distance is Here”. Peggy’s work continues to be magical..and I apologize to her that my time constraints prevent me from devoting a full day to completing it….and I am also quite impressed with LeRoy’s book which is primarily poetry. He is an incredible local artist and poet who I honestly admire. His book is giving me an insight into his paintings that I didn’t expect. This country has talent that is staggering. Everyone knows Naipaul but the unexplored sea of literature and visual art is truly amazing.

I will write more on the subject of T&T’s creativity soon – as I think it merits discussion. One last note, in my culinary discussion with Kay she asked both Robin and I which chain restaurant we would choose as the best. Robin…though pained to make a choice..eventually settled on Ruby Tuesday. I told Kay I consider chain restaurants a travesty and refuse to pick any as the best of the lot. She agreed but admitted she would pick TGI Fridays. What has the world come to? Chain restaurants are a bad idea and prey on the inexplicable preference of lazy people to choose rubber stamped food over real food.

Thanks to Rob for a rainy but extraordinarily enjoyable weekend.



October 20, 2007

Silly season starts to bloom in full.

Just a short blog today as I am planning to get away to Toco tonight to partake of Robin’s largesse and best of all he is driving. I can almost taste the curried crayfish at  Kay’s Pot restaurant in Rampanalgas already.

Here in the office we often get to enjoy the truly great raw footage the public never gets to see. Today there were a couple of great examples that had us in stitches. In one instance a candidate was campaigning in a rural area and arranged for a truckload of material to be delivered to help them fix the road which was in a deplorable state. After the repairs he lined up a number of residents to tell the camera how much he he has done for them. So we are treated to a few of these coached testimonials until , for reasons only he can possibly understand, he pulls a blind man forward to tell the camera how much his life has improved since the candidate arranged for streetlights. When the cameraman asks the man how long he has been without streetlights he pauses…says ummmmm..and seems confused until the candidate helpfully shouts the answer to him.

In the other example our cameraman went to a depressed area called “The Beetham” to get shots of bad flooding they had over the last few days. The area is populated primarily by people of African descent and is overwhelmingly in support of the ruling party despite seeing little improvement in their lot over many decades. With water everywhere and people’s homes under feet of water the footage we have shows representatives from all three parties engaged in a huge shouting match. The PNM candidate is having his say when all of a sudden the UNC candidate, Juliet Davy springs into camera range and launches into an all out high-decibel tirade. She shouts “tell dem wat allyuh do for de las’ 6 years…telll dem nah….nuttin” to which he responds at 110 decibels “we do plenty” to which she responds at 130 decibels “yuh lie..yuh damn lie!”. This went on for quite some time as those of us in the newsroom laughed our heads off at the antics. The poor COP man who seemed far too measured and cool to be in the fray tried to get his 2 cents in but even as he spoke the voices of the other two were being heard full blast off camera.

You gotta love this job. To paraphrase Art Linkletter, politicians say the darndest things.



October 19, 2007

The eyes of the beholder

It was a long and tiring day today but one of the most satisfying ones I have had in a while. We finally made the transition to a virtual news set and the difference for the newscasts was amazing. The entire staff was grinning from ear to ear as they left work this evening at the end of our 7:30 newscast.

I was the news producer today in addition to doing the usual interview thing. For some reason we were overflowing with news today ( 17 local stories) which was confusing enough and I spent much of the day running up and down stairs to Tony’s office, the control room to look at the set being fine tuned and checking on the progress of the editors. As the news started it was one of those adrenaline moments as I wondered if my lead story was going to make it on time as I heard the switcher shouting “it’s comiing in, it’s coming,it’s coming, it’s here!”…time left to go? One second. This happens a lot with late stories and it is always agony standing there and complete ecstasy when the clip makes it in time. The few times when it does not usually results in my going slightly ballistic.  Then our set came up in all its virtual glory and I felt I was in that Disney movie with the bluebird on my shoulder.

For the few that don’t know,a virtual set, as the name implies , is completely created in computer software . The news anchor sits in an all green ( in our case) studio with specially set-up lighting and  chroma key ( or colour-separation overlay as it is called in Britain) is used to superimpose whatever computer generated image of a studio we want. The effect can be seen in the picture at the top of this page. As you can see by keying out the green we are able to put Melissa in a virtual set complete with a CGI desk, with a CGI glass of water on it complete with a reflection of the images from the virtual screen in the virtual water. I think of it as a video version of Photoshop™ combined with a really advanced playstation™. Best of all, despite a few hiccups more related to too many stories and some switching glitches our newscast suddenly looks better than any other in Trinidad. The excitement and sheer joy of the staff was palpable. None of this would have happened had Tony not pulled out all the stops, spent a lot of money, completely rebuilt our existing news studio, and literally sweated moving stuff around along with the ieTV and Video Associates staff. We may be a small family-style company but to my mind that is precisely what makes us better. We have something the other stations lack – loyalty and a sense of belonging to a small unit of people that can make things happen.

The world is full of opinion and there is currently a blog that looks at Trinidad media and makes criticisms and commendations about various stations. The blogger seems to be happy hiding behind the veil of anonymity but has no problem making very personal remarks about individuals in our local media houses. I have no problem with expressing opinions as I am doing so myself right now but I do not do so from behind a digital screen. That smacks of cowardice. I have not personally been the victim of any criticism or praise but my station has been mentioned many times…some complimentary and some critical. The most recent mention asked why we have the same reporter’s voices all the time ( though omitting at least two of our reporters on the invisible bloggers list). Ummmm …we are a smaller station with fewer but higher quality reporters who are capable of doing more than one or two stories a day. Also, as part of being a smaller station we often send out a cameraman alone and a reporter looks over the video and writes and voices the story when the video comes back.Why people insist on judging a smaller and more nimble station by the standards of a larger one I will never know. The fact is, and it is supported by ample evidence from the movers and shakers who watch us, we put on a good newscast that has more local stories than any of our competitors…without exception. The local cable system went down this week for an hour impinging on the first few minutes of our news and we were deluged with phone calls. People have many choices in this country and many of them choose our news over the others to the point they will call us to complain rather than just switching. I fielded several calls myself and at least 3 viewers said they would rather watch static on Channel 1 than switch. Happily we came back on a few minutes later.

In other news, I am still waiting for the Mondeo to come back….it has been buffed and polished…but 4 days on it has not been re-tinted and there is still the minor problem of the side mirrors. One retracts as intended and the other goes in an opposing direction which was not the case before I sent her for the body job. The bush mechanic/ body person I paid seems a bit challenged on the matter…thankfully I still have the company vehicle with its manual transmission…I still feel like a lesbian…note to self…Vern invest in some Birkenstocks™.



October 18, 2007

This and that.

Another long day and I am exhausted – it is now 11pm and i only got in around 20 minutes ago from doing the radio programme with Tony. Speaking of whom, where the heck does he get his energy from? The man has a few years on me and yet arrives at work at 6am usually, works at the station and then joins me for the 8-10pm show! What’s worse is it makes it impossible to complain about my hours of work as he is working even longer hours. Dammit! Actually, as I have mentioned before I love my work and I consider working with Tony on his programme to be both a privilege and a great learning experience.

I got to the radio station about half an hour early as traffic was light and decided to traipse through the supermarket next door ( also owned by my company..but then again what isn’t here) and perused the vegetable aisle. To my utter surprise there were imported fresh brussels sprouts in little mesh bags. The price suggested they were meant for some sort of medical transplant at $25.99 a pound, but with star filled eyes and a careful failure to remember my budget I purchased their green layered goodness and placed them in the car for my return home. I just microwaved a potato and had it with some of my little treasures for my dinner. Pure bliss. Yes i know i wrote a tribute to our local produce a while back…but we are talking brussels sprouts here!

Earlier today I interviewed Prakash Ramadhar for my television programme and I must say I was impressed with him. He is the COP candidate for Caroni Central and is one member of the powerful trio of young legal eagles that opted to join that party. He has the good looks that seem to help politicans get votes, he has a great legal track record, is a family man and comes across as being profoundly concerned about the interests of the country in a way that only someone who is new to politics can. What I also like about him is the interesting counterpoint he makes to my friend Anand Ramlogan. Whereas Anand is brash, loud and eager to get your attention, Prakash is very soft spoken and yet gets  his point across loud and clear. There is much to be said for those who can convey ideas in a gentle but effective way. I can’t say how he will fare in the election but I think he will fight a good fight and will be a welcome addition to the political scene.

We had a cancellation for the radio programme so after much scrambling Tony arranged for Sadiq Baksh to be our guest. Mr. Baksh was a Minister and strategist for the UNC before leaving with Winston Dookeran to form the COP. He now serves as their campaign manager and is basically an army general disguised as a small, white haired simple guy. He knows politics like you and I know how to tie our shoelaces ( though I tend to wear loafers). He brought a party activist along with him who , we subsequently learned, was also in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best limbo dancer in the world. I swear I have the best job if only because of the people I meet. The interview was as expected with Baksh explaining the party’s yet to be released manifesto which he had with him. Towards the end of the interview he dropped something of a bombshell which I will have to give a bit of background on. A few years ago Mr. Baksh was in the news when police say, acting on a tip, they found a large quantity of cocaine and weaponry wrapped in plastic and hidden in a water tank behind his house. He denied any connection with the find vehemently and said he was being framed in a rather clumsy fashion. Following police investigations it was basically found that there wasn’t enough evidence to connect him with any wrongdoing but the case is still open and he has yet to get an apology or even a day in court. At the end of our programme he shocked both Tony and I by saying our current National Security Minister is a crook and is connected with the incident. He then said he was aware he was not covered by parliamentary privilege and dared the Minster to sue him. Strong stuff.

The full details of his allegation will be, he says, revealed on the platform this Friday. After the programme, as is often the case, I hung around to be part of the inevitable post programme Tony Zone chat and he explained the evidence he has at his disposal. I am not at liberty to divulge what he said but it certainly was interesting. He also said, and I think I can safely say this, he is prepared to submit to a polygraph test asking him if he ever had illegal materials or hid them on his property and wants the Minister to submit to the same test asking him if he had any connection to the incident. Interesting times.



October 17, 2007

The perdition trail.

I should really post an empty blog simply stating “This space courtesy Apple” as I wrote a 1500 word piece that was lost on uploading courtesy my Apple computer seizing up..aka crashing. I can tolerate many things but not having auto save and having the computer that never crashes crashing can push me to the edge of sanity. All I can say is Mr. Jobs…for my recent loss I pray your nether regions experience an unpleasant violation. I now have to reconstruct, as best I can…after midnight…when I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow…my previous entry..which will now, for reasons of me being exhausted, be curtailed.

In addition to my other activities today I had two interviews one for radio and one for TV. My television interview was with Captain Gary Griffith and my radio interview was with Kennedy Swaratsingh a former priest who is now running for office on a PNM ticket. The two represent a study in the dichotomy of souls that get involved in politics. Griffith is a former army captain who radiates that swagger that seems to accompany military sorts the world over. Swaratsingh is a quiet sort who is full of that cherry pink optimist thing that radiates from all neophytes to politics.

Prior to his TV interview with me, Griffith had hosted a press conference to respond to a newspaper ad showing his election manager shaking hands with the Chairman of the UNC Alliance and saying she had an epiphany and decided to go back to her party of choice. In the conference and in my interview, Griffith maintained the young lady in question had been offered a bribe by a financier of the UNC-A and it was gutter politics at its worst. He also maintained the woman in question had told him the financier had told her he was planning to give money to the COP ( Griffith’s party) and she had arranged a meeting and was not aware that her handshaking was being photographed. After the interview we received correspondence from the lady in question that we verified was from her, that he was “flirting with a lawsuit”. According to her she was being defamed and, as a former local government candidate for the UNC she didn’t require money to lure her back to her party. In the release she maintains she found the COP to be too “middle class” based and reserves the right to pursue legal action against Griffith should he continue to defame her. Such is the nature of Trinidad politics. Clearly, one person is telling the truth and the other is either lying or misinformed. I can only say one thing…only one party is threatening legal action.

Swaratsingh , on the other hand, is a totally different animal. He is a former priest and watching him, with my keen eye for bullshit, I truly believe him. He is possessed of that great skin, earnest eyes, perfectly shaved look that begs me to ask him what his face products are. He seems to believe everything he says including his admiration of our PM ( which was a bit of a stretch for me) but I believed him. I know, from my experience, that people like him are ruined by the political machine. He means well but ultimately he will be destroyed by the party system. I have seen good people like him enter politics full of good intentions and then either been spat out on the pavement or transformed into Calibans who forget where they came from.

Idealists transform the world. I believe in them and I truly hope one day they will rule the world but sadly that will not happen soon. This is one of the reasons I hate the grinder of politics – it takes good people like him, crushes them and spits them out. May god, if there is a god, have mercy on his soul.



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.


October 15, 2007

Beware of flying mud.

Having just got home from doing Tony’s Platform radio programme which runs till 10pm so, needless to say, i am cranky and tired. Better still I have to interview former Prime Minister and frequent court visitor Basdeo Panday tomorrow so I have to mentally prepare.

Politics in Trinidad and Tobago is a soap opera in every conceivable way. We have love, hate, betrayals, prodigals, pariahs, nefarious plots and allegations of sexual impropriety. Our guest tonight was Anand Ramlogan, who I mentioned in a previous entry and who has decided to throw his cap in the ring for the Congress of the People – the COP. Presumably, the two opposition parties are there to put the ruling party out of power and should, by all logic, concentrate on convincing the voters of the necessity of achieving this goal. Dear readers, you would be most wrong if you assume this is the case in our little looking glass land. Consider, if you will, young ( well..35 year old) Mr. Ramlogan. A successful rottweiler of a lawyer he has been assigned the task of winning the constituency of Tabaquite for the area currently held by the UNC which is contesting the election under the umbrella of the new UNC – Alliance.

I will have to pause a moment here and give a little background. The UNC is a complicated organization and, though it actually assumed power in the form of the NAR and again in 2000 but to see all the complications I suggest you click here. Now Dr. Adesh  Nanan was the UNC MP for Tabaquite but guess what….he has been now removed and replaced with Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj to contest Tabaquite. This is the same Ramesh who was called ( in Hindi) an ungrateful bastard by Basdeo Panday. Confused? So are we all. The strategy, ignoring the fact he has been welcomed back by Panday..the leader whose government he caused to that if you must frustrate a hotshot lawyer put an older respected lawyer.

So, once we absorb the concept of the welcoming back of a “betrayer” by Panday …and I should say the betrayal involved serious allegations of corruption from Ramesh…we are left with the strange situation of Panday adopting him as his favourite son. But it doesn’t end here – Panday, whose main lawyer, in at least one case, was Anand Ramlogan ,has not taken this COP defection well. In today’s papers ( and ieTV)  we see that Panday ( and presumably RLM) plans to “crush him”.

It doesn’t end here though. In an effort to “crush” Anand we are hearing some strange allegations being leveled against him. As he said on the programme he has been told he has been caught in compromising situations with men, a group of women, a group of women and men and ( my favourite) a ruminant ( though not an evil one…sadly). I am certain that it would be near impossible for anyone to actually manage such a busy sexual schedule. I am saddened that such depths must be plumbed in an election campaign. What do any of these accusations have to do with the issues involved in an election? Nothing. It is mud slinging at its lowest level. Tragically, this is the state of Trinidad politics. Surely, as a country, we deserve a bit better than this sorry excuse for politics?

My question is….. if ..according to the government..we are headed towards developed country status by 2020 ( a boring and stolen plan) why can we not have a simple national televised debate between the leaders?  Our company has offered..others have offered…the answer is always “no”.  The day I see a legitimate public debate on television is the day I say we have a real contest. Maybe then we will see a debate on issues and not on race or fears. I am not optimistic.

More long hours tomorrow and until November 5th…stay tuned and wish me luck.



October 14, 2007

On the face of it

I work in a business that seems obsessed with looks, so how I snuck in there is anyone’s guess. I guess substance must count for something. In any case, Ursula, happily my version of Old Faithful ,talked about looks in her comments on my last entry so I think we will gloss over the superficial subject in this veneer-thin entry.

Trinidad ( less so Tobago) is blessed with a rich combination of ethnicities that frequently combine resulting in some often stunningly attractive people. Perhaps it is the magic of the exotic but I think it is more than that. Different races ( if we can still use that rather archaic term) often have specific visual differences . Indians, for example,  are often singled out for their trademark almond eyes, though I would guess it is only a fairly small percentage who actually have such peepers. Here in Trinidad it is not unusual to see someone with almond eyes,  striking African warrior cheekbones, a Roman nose and jet black Asian hair. I am proud to say I have been told on several occasions the reporters of ieTV are by far the best looking in the country.

I read on the BBC site a while back that good looks can help people do better in most aspects of life which should come as a surprise to no one. In the work world it seems obvious that if a boss is choosing between two people of equal talent and experience the better looking one would probably have the edge – especially if it is a business that involves interacting with the public. And I guess in the world of personal relationships the advantages of looking hot speaks for itself. According to the article, as I recall, good looking people are also assumed to be more honest ( perhaps that explains the TV thing). Ultimately, all these things are utter nonsense, of course, looks have nothing to do with your ability to do a job well, the qualities that make a good mate come from inside and given the WWII pilot appearance of most used car salesmen – honesty is not related to looks.

I will admit, despite my beliefs, I am as influenced by looks as most people but I hope my better judgment prevails in most cases.  My mother is a guiding force in my life and growing up she was regarded by most as a very beautiful woman. She knew this and paid considerable attention to her looks. In the late 1970s , following a family dispute and my father’s usual penchant for drama, my mother, father, brother and myself were involved in a particularly bad car accident. The accident that resulted in my mother hitting the windshield face on, and me flying over her from the back seat and ending up on the car bonnet. No seat belts in those days in Ford Cortinas . My face still bears the scars on my nose and forehead and up to last week I had a shard of glass working its way through my skin. My poor mother had her face basically ripped off.  Her teeth were knocked out, her nose was ripped from her face and she had her face severely lacerated. Many reconstructive surgeries over the years later and she still does not look as she did before the accident – but she is still the most beautiful woman in the world in my eyes. She told me once that the good thing she learned from the experience was that she valued looks too much and now she knows true beauty is not a superficial thing. As usual ( except for me being a lawyer)  – she is right. Whenever I find myself thinking someone attractive is a better choice I now ask myself “are they better inside”?

I have heard the joke “beauty is only skin deep but ugly is to the bone” and i agree there are people who are ugly to the bone – but for different reasons. Some of the ugliest people I know are externally beautiful.We may all slip but I say judge by the person inside.

And Ursula – thanks for the inspiration.



October 13, 2007

A lazy blog entry on Sheppard’s show

Finished the news and rushed off, on pain of execution, to see my friend Peter Sheppard’s latest exhibition at the 101 Art Gallery here in Port of Spain. I remember when Peter first started thinking about art as a career but was holding on to his travel agency job because he wasn’t sure if he could make it. That was a long time ago and now his work is usually snapped up immediately at high prices. His art portrays an imaginary ideal of Trinidad where rustic charm prevails and village life and our local landscapes are celebrated. Interestingly, in a vaguely political move, one of his latest paintings has villagers protesting with signs saying “we want water” and “fix the bridge”. That is certainly a first for him. I am proud , as I would be for any of my friends, that Peter has done so well.

On a side note, as I don’t have a chance to go out much anymore so it was interesting to be in a social setting. The gallery drew the usual glitterati of Trinidad society and quite a lot of people I know who I haven’t seen in a very long time. It is interesting to watch people aging, either badly or well, as if in time-lapse photography. I will say, though, it seems money certainly helps in the aging process based on my observations.



October 12, 2007

The TV wasteland

I work in television and i basically lack much resembling a social life of late so I am generally in front of the medium at home and at work. While I can say with certainty I find working in television engaging and highly rewarding I can’t say the same for what faces me when i watch it at home.

I have digital cable from Flow here which seems to offer about 200 channels most of which are so stultifying as to render me almost comatose. Firstly, I have to rule out the sport channels as they are of no interest to me. The sheer number of them amazes me though. I wonder what it is about most people that watching neanderthals running after a ball or plonking a ball back and forth on a court  gets them excited? I sure don’t get it. I also have to ignore the swash of children’s channels, though I will admit watching Teletubbies immediately throws my brain into neutral. That programme seems to have been thought up by a seriously demented mind – I say bravo!

We now move on to the seemingly endless selection of “women’s” programming. I have no idea what this means as I always thought women had the same minds as the rest of the human race. According to my few glances at these channels , women are exclusively interested in choosing handbags, setting “tablescapes” ( don’t ask and I won’t tell), looking 5 years younger and finding the perfect dress for that upcoming cocktail party. Programming executives seem to be stuck in some 1950s movie mode. I write these channels off as well as I do any channel that features that dreary stater of the obvious Dr. Phil.  The targeted ethnic programmes must also be ruled out for the obvious reason i don’t speak Punjabi, Arabic or German. There are also far too many hablo hablo ( Spanish) channels for my liking given that 99% of the population doesn’t speak much more than “no tengo dinero”.

So what do I watch? I have found a small selection of channels I tend to watch about 95% of the time. At the risk of boring you I shall do a quick list.

  1. 1. The Food Network. I love cooking and once I ignore Ms RR, the Stepford Wife who does “Semi-Homemade” , and Emerill it is generally quite good.

  2. 2.BBC World – I need say no more.

  3. 3.CNN International – I find their morning hosts quite congenial and I like the mix of various international accents their hosts have.

  4. 4.Discovery Travel and Living – for Bourdain and Globetrekker ( which I believe used to be Lonely Planet).

  5. 5. The Discovery Channel – I am totally addicted to Mythbusters.

  6. 6.CNN ( for which I pay extra only to see what Anderson Cooper has to say in 360).

  7. 7. The movie channels namely Showtime, HBO, CineMax, TMC , TNT and Starz ( because I love film).

Welcome to my small but well chosen world. I can now relax for a few seconds and watch the rest of The Devil Wears Prada.