Archive for December, 2007

December 31, 2007

A Happy 2008 to All

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Ok…no griping…no bitching…no poignant  observations (well maybe one or two.)..Just a heartfelt Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. While I do not truly believe there is any logical reason for expecting that the world will be any different a second after midnight tonight I suppose it is as good a time as any for reflection on the ups, downs and accomplishments we have experienced.

For my part I can’t say it was an annnus horribilis as it was a good year for me at work and I certainly added some dear new friends to my small circle. Some friends have drifted away and I jettisoned a couple in the early part of the year to maintain my sanity. This is all part of life and is normal. As my therapist once told me it is fine to say “It has been nice knowing you and it will be even nicer not knowing you”….or as Madonna sang… The Power of Goodbye. I suppose i have learned a little more over the past 365 and I am now more certain than ever that we have a short time on this blue marble and we should try and make the best of it.

I was happy this year that climate change finally began to be taken seriously around the world and happy that Al Gore got to share in the Nobel. In 2008 we can all look forward to the fact that George Dubya will be counting down the days before he has to leave the halls of power in the US and the rest of the world will have a really good reason to celebrate 2009. The killing of Benazir Bhutto was a sad development to end the year on and I fear for her son who plans to run in her stead..politics is a nasty business and even deadly in some countries.

There are a few less earthshaking things about 2007 for me..here comes the list of things i learnt….


  • Giselle is one of the funniest people I have ever met.
  • Steve is a clown but he is a reliable and good clown to have around.
  • Peter & Naz throw great house parties.
  • Robin is incapable of fixing his internet connection without me around.
  • Peter Police is getting better at decorating and keeping a clean house.
  • Alvin will always be Alvin.
  • Binky really thought that a mouse could survive in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Omar is scary competitive
  • I am awful..just godawful.. at keeping in touch with family.
  • In a pinch, Alka Seltzer lemon lime can mix very well with gin thank you very much.
  • Mondeos are expensive to fix.

My only resolutions this year are to make more of an effort with my close friends and to try and use less hair gel. So dear reader, wherever you may be, a happy 2008 and may all your dreams come true..or at least a goodly handful.

December 30, 2007

Urban Decay

Not much to report today except i had an altercation in the bookshop when i tried to hide two Rachel Ray books under a pile of cardboard. It wasn’t my fault, I swear, I walked into the bookstore all cheerful planning to buy Khaled Hosseini’s new book at 30% off when i was confronted by her grinning visage as I entered. To make matters worse they had placed her next to Bourdain’s new book..something had to be done. At any rate no charges were pressed and I managed to get them to move her book away from Bourdain’s as I convinced them it would affect his sales. Interestingly, my Fodor’s Caribbean 2008 book was only 3 feet away from his book..so I was quite chuffed.

I managed to survive another trip to the drugstore without too much financial damage today as well. I enjoyed asking the girl at the makeup counter to help me find my perfect match though, this being Toronto, she didn;t seem to surprised at the request. I eventually mentioned that it had to be able to hold up to studio lights which, along with me not shopping for dazzle eyeshadow may have  removed any fleeting thoughts she might have had. She was a pretty Indian girl and I have noticed a lot more Indians in the city this time around. I guess it is inevitable as India exerts its powerful presence around the world. Much of the software we use…well Windows users use…is created by Indian engineers and the cultural and technological influence of India is increasing rapidly.

What I also found interesting, and I realize this is subjective, is that the best looking people I have seen here..both male and female..have been Indian. It may be that my tastes have adjusted to Trinidad standards..but I don’t think so. There is something about that combination of aquiline features, jet black hair and almond eyes that makes people look good. Also the fact that they are not usually obese helps too.

Tomorrow is my penultimate day in TO and I am suspecting I will have to spend Midnight with Victor at a redneck place called Billy Bob’s replete with peanut shells on the floor. If you know me at all..you know that is not my normal milieu. I am sure I will survive as I always do. Right now my thoughts are for my friends and ieTV colleagues to enjoy the last day of 2007 and that we all have a wonderfully unpredictable 2008. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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December 30, 2007

Blue Sky Mine

Today was quite good by my standards. I stumbled outside into the usual Arctic temperatures for a ciggy this morning but, for the first time since i got here, I actually saw blue sky on the horizon. I had no idea that seeing the sky was so important to me but apparently it is. On second thought I think I have a thing for the sky. I remember my first night in Nairobi looking up and thinking the African sky is somehow magical and so different from anything I had seen before. It was at that point I realized what a horrible lie the whole “Dark Continent” thing was…the sky showed a land of mystery and wonder that was beckoning. One day if I am lucky I will explore Africa more…not the South…that leaves me cold…but central Africa and the North seem to be calling me. I think I need to see the Congo and walk the streets of other places.  The weirdest thing was I felt completely at home in Kenya from the second I arrived. Yes, there was an ugly incident involving me and a taxi driver that the police got involved in..but I handled it like a pro…including a lot of cursing.


Today I cheerfully walked the streets of Toronto ( that I can get around blindfolded still) and, having seen the sky, I had a little pep in my step. I went to the DVD store downtown to get an Absolutely Fabulous DVD that I know will have Omar and Astrid in stitches, I bought a couple of CDs that Astrid wanted but could not find in Trinidad and I took a few pics. The pic taking was a bit difficult since it was really cold and my hands were shaking but I managed. I think I am addicted to photography. I was looking at cameras today and though there are new cameras with more megapixels for what I do my Z612 is still my fave…I will keep her for quite a while.


In other contacts today I heard from Omar..aka..Grommit who is in the Grenadines but amazingly has wireless access though no phone credit, I heard from Peter Police via Skype and I chatted with Gal Pal Astrid who has now been christened Iggy ( for It Girl..thus IG…and Iggy). Better still…my 2nd cuz ( I think) Shivani is now on my facebook list of friends. In her case..being Peggy’s daughter…I am hoping the breadfruit didn’t fall too far from the tree..which I already know it didn’t. So I have many interesting conversations in my future.


Yes, there was more family drama with Vic involving Police reports and his wife ripping the lock off the basement door…am I worried..nope..I saw the sky today and the world is a better place.

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December 28, 2007

Belonging

It is raining now in Toronto which, given the weather of late, is something I actually find somewhat comforting. I was walking back from a fairly fruitless expedition to Future Shop ( if their name is any indication forget Blade Runner, the future will be filled with disinterested store clerks and loud noise) when I got to musing about life in this part of the world. It used to be my life but now I can look at it from an outsider’s perspective. As I dodged ice patches on the sidewalk, and battled against a fierce cold wind in near darkness at 4:30pm I thought to myself the closest analogue to this is a freezer. The temperature is the same and it sees about as much light in a 24 hour period. I know I did it for a large part of my life but really i don;t see what sort of existence this is. The average person wakes up, turns up the thermostat, gets ready for work, warms the car up, gets in it and drives to work risking slipping and sliding to certain death on the 10 lane highways, works for a company that doesn;t give a hoot about them, heads to the mall to buy self-worth and then goes home to start the cycle again. As Bruce mentioned in his comment yesterday the human interaction and being regarded as a valuable person even by strangers is totally missing.

I am not quite sure why I am feeling this way this trip perhaps it is the Victor/Melanie fiasco, or maybe I am missing people I have become attached to or maybe it is just my mental state but the dreariness of it all is really getting to me. And it isn’t just winter as I can assure you if you dropped me in London or Paris right now i would be in a much cheerier state. I have trouble with a combination of awful weather and a society that runs almost entirely on materialism. I like to think there is a point to life…even if only to see what comes next…and here and now I am confronted with a society whose whole point seems to  be to amass things…great hordes of things. When I was at Future Shop to get my camera battery i went looking at the new iPods and the newest Macs and I thought ..how lovely…they are probably more feature rich than mine and certainly faster…but do I need to toss out the ones i have that are running fine…Nope! It is very easily to be caught up in the “latest and greatest” mindset here. When I get back home I know I will be working and using my remaining time to relax and spend time with the people I care about. Will a faster gadget enhance that experience in any way? The answer is clearly no.

I was also thinking of my patterns in Trinidad and imagining exactly what would be happening right now if I were back there and all the other players were in place. During the day I would have been at work screaming about the year in review and joking with Gis, Mel, Wong, Ria and Steve. I would undoubtedly talk to Peter Police three times on the phone, Omar at least twice, Alvie and Binky twice each, Robin once and Peter Sheppard once. I might even have thrown Astrid some shade on facebook. Then I would have gone home and started working  on cleaning up my Fodor’s chapters and, depending if Omar was popping in for a Wii match with or without Astrid in tow en route to a party, I might fix a small dinner. At which point I would make up Astrid’s room. At some point Peter Police would call to check in and then Binky would call from Sky Bar to find out how I was doing and I would fill him in on the latest developments. After that I might be convinced to go out with O & A or just stay home in my shorts on the chaise with the cascade night breeze keeping me cool. This is not earthshaking stuff I realize but it is very human stuff. I don’t just work I work at a company that i KNOW likes me and appreciates me, I don;t just make polite conversation with the crew we genuinely enjoy each other, when I talk to my friends these are not faux friends they are real friends and when I sign off with Binky I often say “Love ya Binks” and he always responds with “Love ya too Rocco” ( don’t ask..he invented it). We interact as people are supposed to. Oh sure, when I say “Love ya Alvie” or “Muz” depending on my mood there is a good chance he will respond with “Yeah, yeah…whatever” but that is part of the fun of knowing each other so well.

There is a truism in news that we usually call “First World always trumps Third World” meaning that given a choice of two headline stories one being 1,500 killed in Bangladesh floods or 4 killed in elevator accident in Manhattan…the elevator always wins.  I think it is true to say in my view right now…sometimes the Third World trumps the First World handily.

Think of it this way. If you are thrown outside wearing only your D&G underwear in Trinidad in January you might be a bit hot and possibly embarrassed ( depending on how you look in them) but if it were to happen to you here in Toronto..You Die!

Happy thoughts.

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December 28, 2007

Shiny Things

What a day. It started with the usual coffee and cigarettes and as I gradually regained consciousness it started to be filled with family drama. I don’t mind dealing with problems but when they have been going on for years, as is the case with my brother, my brain starts to shut down. I can only do so much and if after years of advice about his relationship he continues to put up with nonsense that would have had me using a few choice words and telling the other person to get the hell out of my house…then my sympathy evaporates. At that point it becomes co-dependency and the sickness and derangement applies to both parties, though not equally. I am amazed that I am the “normal” sibling…even my Mum now says she never expected that I would be the one she considers the sanest in the family. I may have my little dramas but I keep them away from my family and take measures to deal with them.

I had a bit of shopping to do so I ventured into downtown and the Eaton Centre. I now realize how much I hate crowds. Why is it that people tend to wander about aimlessly, stop suddenly while walking, turn for no reason whatsoever and hesitate while walking? It drives me to distraction. When I walk I know where I am going and I move like Alexander heading to war. Having to dodge rubes, mentally challenged people, suburbanites and tourists only raises my blood pressure. Am I the only person who plans a shopping trip with surgical precision ( no offense Kirby)? I found my attempt to get to Aldo Shoes ( how I love them), the Apple store, Buffalo ( by David Bitton), and Mexx stymied at every turn by fools who were apparently dosed with 20 mils of Valium.

At some point on the expedition I realized that the distorted world of the mall can cause the mind to switch into a strange mode of buying for gratification. Maybe it is the awful Canadian winters with their bleakness and grey vistas that makes indoor shopping so hypnotizing but I want you all to know I stoutly resisted. Even after playing with the iPod Touch in the Apple store and  surfing the net I did not plop down $329 for the pleasure. In Trinidad I only have WiFi at home and since I use my main computers there what really would be the point? Than being said I made sure to buy more memory for my Samsung D900 and I am not entirely convinced I do not need a new iPod Nano.

On the way home on the subway I looked at the people around me – all carefully not making eye contact – and i was reminded of my high school English teacher saying that North Americans were zombies following some strange predetermined path in their lives. He may have had a point. In Trinidad we look at each other, we talk, we ( so I hear) make dates and generally enjoy being human. In Toronto it is a rather different matter. I am not simply saying this because I was out on my own as I have been out with Trini friends in Toronto before and we noticed exactly the same thing. There are benefits to being in a polite society where things just work but right now I will pick my disorganized society where people talk about you and bad mouth you…but also care about you.

I am a bit depressed for several reasons. I haven’t made a dent in my shopping for friends and I will be missing several key friends when I return. Alvin and Binky are in London/Paris/Barcelona, and Omar is sailing in some crazy place in the Caribbean . Alvie and Binky have called checked on me a few times from London already and Omar has been extremely good and called me several times a day. Thankfully Robin, Peter 1, Naz, Peter II and Astrid will be in Trinidad when I return. I assume I will be immersed in work so maybe my ieTV family will distract me. I doubt it though…Muz and Binky and Omar are quite important in the great scheme of things.

Hopefully there will be no snow tomorrow and I can make a dent.

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December 26, 2007

It was a kind of weird day today. I learnt that my cuz Peggy was on facebook which took me a while to figure out until I realized her daughter Shivani is in the US now at university. I also learnt that I now hate the cold after getting used to the tropics.I ventured to Bloor Street earlier with Mum and after she abandoned me I discovered that after purchasing $130 CAn in hair products and some asparagus I was cold and exhausted so I returned to base.


Somehow I also bought a groovy Roots sling bag…but I love it so I am happy I did. I came back home to hear of more family drama which I ignored. When you have a ton of hair products and clever vegetables how can one even think about family drama? it is amazing how one adjusts to the place considered home. Today I spoke to Omar, Astrid, Binky and Muz ( who was actually pleasant because he is in London)…I longed for that connection to Trinidad. I immediately felt connected to my home base and the world was normal again. I must contemplate this concept of belonging in another blog. I know for sure that there are several types of family most obviously the one you are born into and the one you adopt. I think I have the best adopted family in the world.


Tomorrow I will venture into downtown and see what I can get for the family back home ( never thought i would refer to Trinidad as home).  I have a serious shopping trip ahead of me as I bought nothing for anyone for Xmas and birthdays included Omar, Robin, Giselle and Astrid is around the corner. Must remember to stop for a martini tomorrow.

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December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays

Best wishes to all today as I drop my cynicism for a nanosecond. Xmas arrived on a predictably bleak and depressing Toronto day with unbroken cloud cover and piles of dirty snow all over the place. I awoke…muttered at my folks and proceeded to down several cups of  coffee and brave the lovely outdoors to have a few drags – all in order to get myself into a civilized state. After this ritual I was able to wish a Merry Xmas to anyone within earshot. My cell, at this point, had scads of text messages from well-meaning folks who seem unaware of the great quicksand field that is mobile roaming. It must be the exuberance of the season that people would assume I would be awake at 8am to get their expressions of holiday cheer. By this time it was around 11am Toronto time the phone and Skype calls started and i got to chat with Peter Police and Omar..which was fine despite my aversion to telephones…both calls were under 3 minutes. Then it dawned on me that I had been elected to do dinner and I had food to deal with so downstairs to the kitchen I went.

Somewhere along my trip to the kitchen I learnt that my brother was sleeping in the basement and that all was not well in married town…a cook cannot be daunted by such distractions. I proceeded to appraise the Australian lamb leg, the ham and other items with a gimlet eye. Given that it would most likely be only 4 of us eating and Mum is basically a vegetarian the quantity of flesh seemed a bit excessive but I formulated my plan of action and moved to the next step. This would normally be assembling the ingredients but it turned out my next step was realizing that my cooking gene does not come from my mother. There was a paucity of what i consider basics and enough counter space to possibly fold a small napkin on but little else. My quick assessment of the fridge and the pantry revealed: no garlic, no rosemary, no balsamic, no cream, no onions, no shallots, no chives, no balsamic, no cilantro..well..you get the picture. So, like an actor who has had his script blown away when someone opened the stage door…I improvised. I had left a few strange things behind from my last visit so the lamb leg was eventually scored and rubbed with olive oil, pickled sushi ginger, mint leaves and dijon. Don’t knock it…it worked quite well thank you. The ham got a bath in dark soy, diet coke and sugar. Mum volunteered that the neighbour had left two organic acorn squash with her when she went on vacation so those were split, seeded, brushed with olive oil and placed in the oven to caramelize. There wasn’t a fresh vegetable in the house and with Mum consoling me by telling me that frozen veg has the same nutritional value or better than fresh I was only able to gently mutter “but the texture sucks”. I settled on her frozen cauliflower figuring if I under cooked it slightly and bathed it in a cheese sauce it might be passable. There was a brief moment when I asked for a cheese grater and one could not be located that Mum fled upstairs in tears..but I was able to deal with that by pointing out that with our family… a missing cheese grater was the least of our worries. Thank god I didn’t ask her for a nutmeg grater! The potatoes available were small Yukon Gold so mashing was out of the question…so I boiled the suckers…then split them, tossed them in olive oil, sprinkled some ( shudder) dried parsley on them tossed them in the oven to brown. The caramelized squash was mashed with butter. All in all not my best work but given the resources it came out rather well.

Vic eventually emerged looking forlorn made a few cell calls and sat around until he announced that the kids were being readied and would be here by 6pm. This quite naturally caused a general panic since Quinlan at least can be a handful and my nerves and kids are not good flatmates. So as he drove off to collect his progeny the remaining three of us quickly chowed down aware that eating with two kids running around made a family dinner impossible. It was a good plan because he eventually returned with the kids and the rest is a blur to me. I had an instant headache and consumed a goodly portion of wine and cigarettes on the porch just to stay sane. There was wrapping paper everywhere, lots of demanding and a general lack of the peace and quiet that fuels my life. By the end of it Mum, Karl and I barely escaped with our lives and higher brain functions intact.

What was good about today? A few things that I am grateful for.

I heard from people I truly care about.

Bruce called this evening from Yarmouth fresh from his trip to St. Martin.

I heard Mum on the phone to about 5 people saying my iPhoto hardcover book was the best present she ever got.

One shop was open on Bloor Street today and I got Diet Coke.

I spoke to the office and it was like ET calling home because I got Giselle.

I lived to tell about it.

There was no plethora of gifts today as Mum is too busy dealing with Karl ‘s health problems and Victor’s ongoing drama and Karl is basically blind and cannot move around very well since his toe amputation…that was fine with me…I am really not into gifts at this stage of my life.

A few random thoughts now. Thank goodness for Skype. I miss my alternative family of Alvin, Binky, Peter, Naz, Peter Police and Robin a lot. I am really glad I don’t have to deal with Toronto winters. Who knew that Omar would develop a fondness for D&G underwear? I am now on facebook.com but is it just me or is seeing that my new gal pal Astrid has been “Super poking” sound just a little bit off colour? It is probably just me.

Merry Xmas to all and to all a good night.

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December 24, 2007

From stove to freezer

Yes, I know I am wearing the same shirt as I wore in the previous blog but it was at the function yesterday so I have an excuse. I promise this will be the last pic of me for a while..I just have so few of me that I wanted to show I actually exist and having shots taken of me over Xmas proves the perfect opportunity.


I am now in Toronto after crawling out of bed this morning and hurling things into my suitcase it was off to the airport for my Caribbean Airlines flight that was scheduled to leave at 12:35 so I was at Piarco by 10am…in mortal dread of long queues. As it turns out the airport was very quiet and the lovely young lady at the First Class counter called me over and cheerfully checked me in. Duty free..which was to be my substitute for Xmas shopping was mercifully free of crowds and i was seated in the departure lounge in  no time. More amazingly still we boarded early and took off ahead of schedule. It was a completely uneventful flight and after a few bumps, some not bad airplane food and about 15 pieces of Nicorette Gum I was in the frozen tundra that is Toronto in December. My brother Victor was there to meet me which ruined my Xmas tradition of arguing with limousine drivers saying I will only be driven in a Lincoln and get that damned Caddy away from me…I don’t care if you are the next driver in line…one has to have SOME class.


So here I am sitting with Karl chatting  as Mum has gone to bed. I swear she didn’t stop talking to me from before I even stepped into the house until her bedroom door closed. Must be pent up information. Apparently i am cooking tomorrow…what a shock. Mum was absolutely thrilled with the Apple iPhoto book I had made and sent to the house in advance…of course it led to much sobbing and hugging…precisely the anticipated effect.


Enough obligatory blogging for now…there is a vanilla vodka martini with my name on it that i will need to consume before stepping outside into sub zero for a ciggy.

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December 23, 2007

Winding down.

My last day at work before I head of to freezing Toronto for a week to spend Xmas with the family. Funny, as much as I love Mum and Karl the thought of getting on a plane in the middle of Xmas rush gives me that sinking feeling already. I hate crowds with an intense passion. There is also something about modern air travel that i find especially dehumanizing so I am pensive about that too. Surprisingly we were well stocked with stories today and even with the reporters running out to  take care of shopping and raise the shares of KFC things got done quite efficiently.


It truly is amazing the talks we have in the office. If we actually broadcast our office ramblings I am sure we would have the highest rated TV show in Trinidad. Yesterday there was much discussion by the staff on what size was acceptable ( if you know what i mean)  and the best ploys for beating a hasty exit should the revealed object fail to meet their stated minimum . For those interested the preferred approach is to feign being suddenly overcome with guilt that things got that far and then leave….saying “ I am a good girl..I don’t know what came over me”.


Today the topic was who had the best Gaydar…which is always good for a laugh. Giselle swears hers is highly tuned and frequently gives her take on members of other media houses and public figures. Normally they consult me for backup on such opinions and I sagely give my take on the person in question. The one fly in our smugly confident ointment is a certain cameraman who we shall call Steve…oh wait…never mind…anyhow…he sets off everyone’s gaydar faster than a bearded man with ticking baggage raises alarms at Heathrow. Everything about him seems to point  to the fact he can tell fuchsia from magenta and yet he is completely straight. I suppose there will always be anomalies. What amazes me the most is that some people have no gaydar whatsoever. Surely, one would think, that Liza Minnelli of all people should have had a couple of bells ring when she noticed her ex husband spent more time on his eyebrows than she does? And Terry “Stella” McMillan must have been suffering from sunstroke to not at least suspect her new husband  probably knew a thing or two about decor.Honestly love or desperation can blind us to reality sometimes.


Heading off after work to a little Xmas get-together at Ft. George and then I should have enough time to go home and pack for my trip.

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December 23, 2007

Scrunting for Xmas

Trinidad has a lovely word that is frequently used by all and sundry it is “scrunting”. It basically means having nothing. With this in mind I can now say, with a fair chance of being understood, we were scrunting for news today. Xmas may have a lot of fun things associated with it but news events are not in that number. Today we had a couple of murders and a traffic accident in which no one died. Hardly enough to fill half an hour even with all the padding of a business expense account.

I love news but when there is nothing of substance to get things going it becomes a desperate chore. Thankfully Giselle and Melissa were there to rummage up enough to keep some semblance of a newscast together. Compared to the other local stations we are always harder pressed because we have a lot more local news than they do. Whereas we have at least 23 minutes of local news each cast they frequently have 12-15 and pad the rest with regional and international. If only life were so easy for us. I will say we managed to pull it all together and as I read the newscast with only one…we apologize we will have that story later ( editors weren’t finished yet..blame the Director for not asking me to skip)..we filled the time well.

Xmas in T&T is interesting involving lots of traffic and massive lines for everything. I took a break from the news today to spend my Dollar Value vouchers from the company. After a brief drive ( well not so brief) I ended up buying several items of useful things and when I realized they amounted to a blip on the radar on the cash register I was forced..forced I say…to purchase silly amounts of liquor to use up my vouchers. Most of it involved pointing at the shelf and  saying…ummm….and a bottle of that. Suffice to say I have a well stocked bar now.

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