Archive for April 26th, 2008

April 26, 2008

Rhythm is a dancer


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 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.


April 26, 2008

Outcasts always mourn


(published on April 25, 2008 )

I have just  spent the last few hours rearranging furniture and generally beating out any trace of dust in my place. There is something about cleaning house that is enormously satisfying even though in a few days things will be pretty much back to the way they were…Swiffer Wet Jet or not. It seems our illustrious PM also decided to change around his political house a bit by casting his Minister of Trade, Dr. Keith Rowley onto the ever growing pile of  victims of his wrath. According to the PM in his Post Cabinet briefing today he took the action because Dr. Rowley behaved in an indecorous manner during a recent meeting with other ministers and the head of UDEcoTT, Mr. Calder Hart. The PM was not at the meeting himself but several little birds apparently chirped the details in his ear. Dr. Rowley, no stranger to outbursts but usually always quick to admit to them immediately thereafter, denies any such behaviour on his part and is calling on his accusers to have the decency to make their accusations in public. 


I am no fan of politicians but I have always had a grudging respect for Dr. Rowley. He tends to operate like a crazed steamroller driver in an effort to get things done and is normally unapologetic  if a few feet get run over in his quest. I would agree with most that he could stand a few lessons in the finesse department  but I would also say that unlike the majority of his former colleagues he tends to get things done and rather efficiently at that. I am not the only person who thinks that had Dr. Rowley been given the National Security portfolio we would most likely not be in the mess we are in today as a result of the ineffective and bumbling current minister. Frankly, were I a person with criminal ideas on my mind I would think thrice about doing anything knowing Rowley was going to come after me.


What happened to Rowley is just another symptom of the PM’s unwillingness to countenance anyone around him who does not follow his leadership with few or no questions. In the particular matter that apparently got Dr. Rowley into the hot water, he dared to question the actions of Mr. Calder Hart who is the PM’s point man for implementing all his grandiose construction schemes. Many of these projects are undertaken with little scrutiny and often using foreign contractors and labour ( primarily Chinese ). Mr. Hart apparently washed up on these shores a few years ago from Canada and nobody is quite sure about his bona fides. Despite many reasonable questions about his credentials the man’s background remains a closely guarded secret. Everyone is entitled to their  secrets, of course, but when the person in question is spending billions of dollars of tax money and getting a salary that a Saudi Crown Prince would be reasonably happy with – the matter is somewhat different. My gut feeling is that Dr. Rowley’s dismissal has more to do with him questioning the spending and methods of Calder Hart and daring to upset the PM’s blue eyed boy than any outburst he may or may not have engaged in during a meeting. Whereas Brown and Blair   managed to distrust each other and engage in numerous backroom disagreements our elected leader tends to have adopted a more Peronist approach…sans blood.


Whatever my problems..and depending who you listen to..they are myriad..I feel somewhat relieved knowing that I am unlikely to be cast into the political wilderness.


April 26, 2008



( 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.