Archive for February 16th, 2008

February 16, 2008

Free at last, Free at last

Finally, at exactly 2:22pm today I finished the Curacao chapter of Fodor’s 2009 and uploaded the file for my editor. I also sent off the invoice immediately even though there is some smaller stuff left to do such as the planners and maps. Finally, an end to feeling guilty every evening and ending up hunkered down till all hours trying to make a dent. Not to say I will suddenly have a wild and crazy social life it is a few years too late for that but at least I could if I wanted to. 

I had to drive around a bit today to get my taillight bulb changed and to have my car inspected so it can get reinsured next week when the insurance expires. I did this not out of any concern for safety on the roads or my own personal safety but purely because the insurance company asked me to do it. The requirement for an inspection certificate, like so many things in this country, is a system that is only half finished and stuck in limbo. The necessary legislation to add any consequences has never been passed properly and thus if you are pulled over with a car that has an inspection sticker for..ooohhh..let’s say 2004… there is no penalty. The police officer can glance at your jalopy but there isn’t a single thing he can do. Why do these things end up half done? It may have to do with the national tendency to want to start things and then run off to do something else. A culture of distraction. More likely, it could be just a case of incompetent legislators who are unable to handle the strain of multitasking. So my car, which is in tip-top shape now has a sticker saying it is okay till 2010. In the interim my brakes could go wonky, my exhaust might develop a hacking cough and my wipers may stop working…but it is fine I have my useless and toothless sticker. 

This is just one of probably hundreds of bits of well-intentioned legislation that have been introduced in T&T which have failed to reach the stage of full implementation. The most egregious offenses in this area are probably the never ending ( and I mean years) struggle to introduce both the breathalyser and traffic radar. In a country where road fatalities are well over 200 annually these would seem to be no-brainers but, in fact, that description seems better applied to those responsible for passing the necessary legislation and actually obtaining the required equipment. Every so often we get a little glimmer of hope such as late last year when Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert assured all and sundry that the breathalyser would be in place in time for Carnival 2008. Of course, Carnival came and went with many a driver weaving on the road steering with one hand and  hoisting a glass of Johnny Black with the other. Good luck with the radar if they ever get around to it as the traffic officer is sure to be mowed down by one of the dozens of motorists racing on the shoulder. As I look at downtown Port of Spain and the rush to erect tall buildings as some sort of simpleminded attempt to create a developed country on the surface when the reality is otherwise, I wonder about the misplacement of priorities.

 Since I am on facebook I suffer the usual deluge of invitations to join this or that group not to mention the slew of inane quiz invitations. While it is easy to dismiss the Blank wants you to take the test ”what kind of furry marsupial are you?” there are a few that genuinely grab my interest. Today, for example, I noticed Peter Sheppard had  joined the “save the Boissiere House” group. The Boissiere House is a miraculous little gingerbread gem of a home located around the Queen’s Park Savannah at the top of Cipriani Boulevard. It never fails to capture my eye as I drive by it every day on the way to work mainly because, as they say, they just don’t make them like that anymore. Unfortunately the prevailing culture of this country is that old things are bad and tall and shiny things are good. It is, to be sure, a childish mentality that somehow dismisses the national heritage as a colonial travesty that is best erased. I have written about this before and observed that Barbados and Jamaica have a more mature mentality about older buildings recognizing them as part of the built heritage and, therefore, important. I am glad to see that people such as Nicholas Laughlin and Georgia Popplewell are working to change the status quo.

I also noticed that three of my friends joined a group called “Same sex tolerance in T&T”. I am not so sure about that one. I know T&T has laws that date to the Victorian era and proscribe any sort of male-male same sex activity a fact that is beyond comprehension to anyone living in the developed world. It is a situation that is beyond silly and positively reprehensible to anyone with a brain but it is a reality. The Government ( whichever one it happens to be) will continue to bend to the perceived or real pressure placed on it by the religious hypocrites and nothing will change in the foreseeable future.  I am a realist but I truly hope that this will not be the case. Besides that, though, I really don’t see how much impact a Facebook group will have in effecting change. Perhaps it is more of a support group. 

 

 

 I have a concern with the use of the word “tolerance”. In any aspect of my life I would prefer to be hated outright than tolerated. We tolerate the fact our neighbour is an out of control drug user or  we tolerate the screaming brat in the coffee shop. On the other hand we accept other races and we accept the fact the all have different opinions. The fact is there are a lot of gay people in Trinidad, and presumably Tobago, and, by and large, the community is tolerated. Thankfully we didn’t see the Black Community in the US marching to Washington in the 1960s loudly chanting they wanted to be tolerated. They marched so the larger society would come to terms with and accept them as part of normal American life and deserving of rights.  In the case of that Facebook group it reeks of that antiquated bit of religious twaddle one hears from time to time , “love the sinner, hate the sin” .Funny how some things get me riled.

 Off to bed with my little riled self now.

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