Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lingering Doubts - Crime

As had been mentioned in my previous post, moving home sounds like a great idea. It's a nice thing to think about until you realize that you're thinking about it while sitting at home in your centrally heated/cooled dwelling place, watching your HD programming on your 60" LED tv, browsing the internet on a 22 mb/sec data connection while not being chewed to pieces by a million plus Raid resistant fucking hell spawn mosquitoes........but I digress.

Move back where?

There are still things to be considered first. Last time I touched on a couple of those issues namely public service and the lack of the most basic principles of customer service. Well today I have a few more issues to discuss: crime, cleanliness and creature comforts, conduct on the roads all come to mind though I'll probably just touch on crime alone today.


Let's talk about crime shall we? Honestly people get affected by villainy and skullduggery everywhere. I myself, having never been robbed or burglarized, had my apartment in Atlanta broken into just earlier this year...........twice. But for the love of God, Trinbago is taking this crime thing to another level. You know something has to be wrong when you pack only your shittiest pairs of shoes while leaving all your jewelry safely in the USA.

Seriously, I didn't bring a single piece of jewelry home with me during my last trip just last month. I packed 3 pairs of sneakers that I didn't mind having stolen if it really came down to it and I brought two watches (from a 14-piece collection). My beloved Samsung Galaxy S phone and my Galaxy Tab 7 tablet never made it out of the carry-on bag after leaving the airport; both seeing the light of day only once we landed safely in Miami on the way back.

It's not really that bad is it? You're exaggerating a bit.

I used to make it my business to at least peruse the Express, Guardian and Newsday newspaper websites on a daily basis, but there is only so much stabbing, chopping, shooting, raping, kidnapping, "dead body found in cane field" type news stories a man can take in one lifetime. Not to mention the horrific car accident reports. Trinis don't seem to get into fender benders anymore, the general mantra seems to be that if the car isn't crushed, mangled, torn in two or have had the roof torn off, you're not doing it right. It appears to be crash hard or don't bother.

You think I'm exaggerating about how rough things are crime-wise? I wasn't even home a good 4 days before witnessing a young lady getting robbed on the corner of Park Street and Charlotte Street in town. Now to be fair to the robber, it was 4 in the morning............what exactly was the would-be victim doing on Charlotte Street (of all places) at that time of the night? Looking to get robbed apparently.

As we're driving down Charlotte Street, we noticed a middle-aged man and a what seemed like an older teen-aged girl (18 or 19 maybe) scuffling on the ground in the middle of the road.

Apparently the young lady was standing on the pavement talking on her phone and the asshole passed and snatched it from her, attempting to run off with it. The brave (or slightly wacko) girl grabs him and they fight. He eventually breaks free of her in an attempt to run away. Dummy runs after him (what is wrong with this girl?) and in response, he turns around and smashes the phone into her face before running off down Piccadilly Street.......WHAT THE FUCK?!

How's that for exaggerating?

I can ignore many things because after all, T&T is my home, but I must admit, the crime thing gives me pause. When I can't walk the street without wondering not if, but when someone is going to come snatch my laptop/phone/etc. When I can't even walk up St. Paul Street anymore or even lime too late at my grandparents' homes in Picton anymore, something is terribly wrong, and for that, I may as well park my ass right where it is and stay in Atlanta.

Monday, December 12, 2011

To Stay or Not To Stay

Yeah I get it, I'm a trini.

By all accounts, I belong in Trinidad, plain and simple.

It's just that the very concept of moving back, always seems to invoke a mixed bag of emotions for me. There's the obvious excitement at getting back to the familiar (friends, family, food), but I almost always experience a slight sense of dread when giving it serious thought. Many of us talk fondly of going back, but seriously, who are we kidding? Why is it so hard to repatriate? We all have our own reasons but here a few of mine which I suspect will resonate with many of you "homesick but not so much" folks out there.

Public Services - Jeebus Cribes, why is renewing a drivers license an all day affair? Why are they going to lunch all at the same time? Why are the lines so long in the damn bank? Furthermore, a year and a half for a passport appointment? Really?!?! Call me spoiled, but I am used to things happening quickly here in the US. Drivers license, 30 minutes tops, half the damn time I can renew it online and have it come in the mail anyway. Trips to the bank, 10 minutes.

Which brings me to my next point.......what the hell is a home branch? Why is it that if I'm in Gasparillo, should I have to inquire at my home branch on Independence Square for certain services? A bank is a bank, this isn't a damn franchise, if I want to change my address, phone number, etc, a trip to the home branch for such a mundane task should not be necessary.

Service in general - Customer service in Trinidad has always been poor; so poor in fact, you'd think it was a part of the culture or something. During my most recent trip, things had obviously improved tremendously since the time I'd been there previously but still. Retailers at home, seemed to always behave as though they were doing you a favour by having you shop at their store. Have you ever had to wait for service while the mook behind the counter talks on the phone, only to give you attitude if you steups?

Oh Lord, don't even get me started on returns (or lack thereof).

Have you ever tried to return anything to a store in T&T? No, of course not, you're not stupid, who'd want to willingly subject themselves to that sort of experience. Point blank, trini retailers don't believe in returns.

 It was broken in the box when you got home? Tough, you should have checked it before you left the store. 

What's that? The product doesn't work as advertised? You probably didn't read the ad properly then.

To illustrate my point, I had an experience over the weekend at a Pizza Hut here in Atlanta. I had called ahead to order my pizza so that in the time it took me to get from Stone Mountain to Norcross, the damn thing would have been ready. By the time I got there, it turns out that not only was the pizza not ready, they hadn't even given the order to the cooks to prepare. I ended up sitting patiently while the manager lost his mind but 30 minutes later, I had a free pizza, and a $20 credit for two additional pizzas the next time I came.

Do you think that would happen at home? Don't make me laugh.

I have numerous other points of course but I won't burden you with them today. The fact of the matter is that Trinidad & Tobago is my home, I'd love to move back there at some point, but seriously, some things have to change.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I'm not a bad guy, honestly. I've done my fair share of sin but I like to think that my good deeds outweigh the bad. So when my neighbour came to me last Wednesday with his tale of woe, naturally I said "no problem."

I knew the guy (at least I thought I did); I'd only been living in the complex a month, but throughout that month, I interacted with the character almost daily. He lived with his sister, some cousins, nephews  and nieces in the apartment unit just above me. I've played with the kids, I'd even been invited over to dinner one time so I felt that they were pretty okay people.

Well as the story goes, the dude had an argument with his sister and she put him job, no money and only been in Georgia a couple months. A day later I found him wandering in the parking lot, heard his story and took him in. Many of you reading this are probably thinking......"Oh hell no".....I know you are, and frankly, I don't blame you.

I'd like to think that if I'm down on my luck, no food, no shelter, no money, and only the clothes on my back, that someone would find it in their hearts to help me. I provided the guy a warm bed, shared what little food I had available with him, even (stupidly) bought him "black and milds." As it turns out, my good deed didn't end well for me. The wonderful example of a human being stayed with me Wednesday and Thursday but disappeared mysteriously on Friday afternoon.

But he didn't leave empty handed, the little fuck managed to pick up a few souvenirs during his stay at Casa de Johnson......namely, every piece of jewelry I owned in addition to a watch or two sprinkled in for good measure.

Yup, I was robbed....the same asshole that had no food, no money, no family or friends, no place to stay, had the audacity to steal from me after I stuck my neck out for him. The real funny thing is that he's currently being held in Gwinnett County Jail on a different charge, assault. He'd beaten some youngster and got booked.

But it's fine, Gwinnett County PD is working hard and  there is a slight chance that I may get all my stuff back. And don't you dare feel sorry for me (on account of my stupidity or naivety), you ought to feel sorry for the next smuck that comes around looking for help..........they'll be getting the Jehovah's Witness treatment.

see the asshole here if you're interested:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Planning to move back? maybe.....maybe not

You know what I'm talking about, that constant, droning, nagging thought at the back of your mind. You want to move back home don't you? You're just about tired of the rat race, the taxes, the po po and if you had to face another winter you'd lose your mind wouldn't you? Right now I bet you're thinking of shoving that green card so far up Uncle Sam ass, he'd taste the plastic on his tongue ent? Yeah well I've been thinking the same thing.

I'm approaching my 9th year on US soil and every year as my anniversary (July 31st) approaches, I grow homesick. Trinidadians have grown post happy as of late so my torment is greatly amplified by Facebook streams filled with fete/party pictures, beach/river limes and debates on whether or not chicken is an appropriate choice for modifying the doubles formula. I WANT TO GO HOME NOW!!!

Sorry, I really had to get that out of my system.  here is my list of the Top Ten reasons to move back T&T (feel free to add in any of your own reasons in the comments):

  1. Food 
  2. Family 
  3. Beach
  4. Tobago
  5. Carnival 
  6. Christmas 
  7. Public Holidays
  8. Limin
  9. Cost of Car repairs
  10. Church

Allow me to elaborate:

Food - yes the one thing I miss the most is some good home food. Even though we do get some of the local creature comforts here in the US, I still miss getting a hot doubles fresh in Curepe junction, cow heel soup round de savannah  or a hot bake an shark from Richards. I miss eating pomerac, dous dous, starch, julie and calabash mango; I want a good five finger and some sapodilla. I am tired of using spinach to make callalloo, I just want a good fish broth, some oil down and a little pig foot that too much to ask?

Family - It certainly does not help that 97% of my family still lives in T&T. When I left in '02, many cousins weren't even ten, now many of them are 18, 21 and older, voices broken in, getting people pregnant/getting pregnant, etc. I now have a string of second cousins that I really don't know. This is tough on a person especially when coming from a family as close knit as mine. As cousins, we did everything together, party, work, lime, through thick an thin and with all that, the separation is especially taxing.

Beach - well this one is obvious. People at home often ask "what, dey doh have no beach in de States?" Why yes there are beaches here which is cool and all as long as you cool with driving 4 hours to get there. The nearest real beach (we have several artificial ones here in Atlanta) is on Tybee Island in Savannah, GA (4 hours away). There's Charlston, South Carolina (5 hours), Panama City Beach (6 hours), Myrtle Beach (5 hours) or South Beach in Miami (10 hours). You could imagine how tough it is to plan a beach lime.  

Tobago - Do I really need to say any more?

Carnival - it has been nine long, agonizing years since my last Trinidad Carnival. The Carnivals in Atlanta, DC, Houston, Miami, etc are fun distractions but there really is no substitution for the real thing. I miss Soca Monarch and Brass Festival (gone but not forgotten), Pier 1 Cooler fete, Insomnia, Glow. I miss wining my dutty mud buttom on people car J'ouvert morning and I miss storming Harts with the boys on Carnival Tuesday.

Christmas - One of the best times of year to be a trini is Christmas time. That special time of year when the black cake that's been soaking since August finally sees the light of day, when the pastelles and paime finally come out and the sweet bread with a tall glass of sorrel or ginger beer. But aside from the food, I really miss paranging in Paramin or the parang festival in Maracas in October. Few words can properly convey what a trini Christmas is like, but for those of us that experienced it, there is nothing better.

*for my first trip back home in nearly 7 years, I am still contemplating whether to go home for Christmas this year or Carnival 2012; some tough choices ahead.

Public Holidays - As a member of the slave labour force employed here in the US, I get 7 public days off per year:

New Years Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labour Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Yeah, shameful isn't it?

I can't think of very many months in the year that Trinbagonians don't have at least one day off. I swear anytime I pick up the phone to call somebody back home they're at home.....again. And don't let it be football or Olympics, cricket, Ms. World/Ms. Universe or something random like that. I remember getting half days off from school to allow students to go support the West Indies playing in the Queens Park Oval or the Soca Warriors (Strike Squad back in the day) playing in the National Stadium.

Limin - Wow trinis could lime. Club Coconuts Wednesday night, Base Thursday, Brian Lara Promenade Friday night, Saturday we shooting pool down in Couva, Sunday Morning beers after church (yeah), you get the picture. You have to wonder how people find time for work, family, church, etc.....good thing we have all those public holidays.

Cost of Car repairs - okay so the catalytic converter is gone, what do you mean USD$1,500?! I know you not telling me USD$400 to replace some damn brakes. Why is it that I never had this problem at home? Oh right, everybody and dey grandmother was a mechanic plus trinis  always have the Bamboo to go to for parts. foreign-used transmission? No problem....shocks and struts? small ting. But up here, mechanics charge an arm and a leg for labour sometimes $125 to $200 an hour. One time I recall it cost me $400 to put in a $40 part, that's not right.

Church - I haven't seen the inside of a church in years (aside from weddings and funerals) but this is odd considering that I averaged 2 masses per weekend (senior altar server) while at home. To be fair, Catholics aren't known for having the most spirited of masses but to be honest, some were pretty hype. And even if you weren't Catholic, you were still somehow impacted anyway whether it be Parish harvest, sports and family day, intra parish football tournaments, etc. Whether you liked it or not, church played an important part in the community and I felt like I was part of something.

I honestly tried to go to church my first few years here, but mass always felt like those big masses you see on EWTN at the Vatican: long, boring and apparently in another language. I miss my guitar, cuatro, chac chac and the african drums playing along with the choir made up of Miss Mabel and Tanty Euclelin. I miss the bake sales after church with the homemade cupcakes, bake an smoke herring or bake an buljol (yes I like to eat, see the first point).

Wrapping it up........
I wouldn't exactly say that life in the US has been hard (it has) but I will say that it never quite fully felt like home. Thanks to all the importers working hard to bring that taste of home to us, you hard work is not for naught but I no longer want a taste of home, I want home.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fantastic Friday cometh

Well here we are folks, it's the week before Carnival and sadly, for the 8th year in a row, I cannot attend. But that's not to say I'm not going to have a damn good time this weekend though. Thanks to the the world wide web, we are now able to experience all the bachannal vicariously over the internet.

Here are just a couple sites that I know you can stream live fetes from:

I personally used the livestream link last Monday night to watch the Machel Monday fete which was damn good except for the bewildering foreign pop, R&B segment with Pitbull, Aaron Fresh and Mohambu (or whatever his name is). Personally, I tend to like a lot more SOCA in my carnival streams thank you very much.

Though I didn't particularly like his contribution at the Machel show, I must applaud Aaron Fresh for repping T&T as hard as he does on the international pop circuit. Maybe we've finally found our Rihanna.

moving right along..............


Yes, Soca Monarch is this Friday

Yes, it will probably be ram

Yes, Machel is performing

Yes, the stream is probably going to fuck up (during Machel's perfomance no doubt)

Machel's appearance at Soca Monarch after so many years is indeed historic but it's probably not a coincidence seeing that the prize this year is two million damn dollars. The cash prize, whilst historic in its own right, seems to have led to a virtual arms race among the big name soca stars young and old.

Think about it, didn't you find it odd to see All Rounder and Denise Plummer singing again? Denise Plummer song in particular I really like. The last time she had a hit, I was probably in Form 2 ('95/'96 for all you fass people). Don't sleep on All Rounder either though, his song is pretty catchy. And speaking of history in the making, I have heard that All Rounder is now officially the oldest calypsonian ever to make an appearance at Soca

Personally, I think the prize should be at least this much every single year because the quality of soca for 2011 is absolutely outstanding; I almost broke my office chair (don't ask) the first time I heard "Advantage." The quality of the music of course makes it all the more tragic that some of us just can't make it home. But no matter, I have a plan.


  1. Web capable tv and or blu ray player
  2. Broadband internet connection
  3. Surround Sound Stereo System
  4. Duck, curry, iron pot, etc
  5. Your poison of choice (babash, puncheon, Old Oak, Hennessey, etc)
  6. Tolerant neighbours
and voila........instant Soca Monarch fete; and you didn't even have to buy a plane ticket.

Personally I think I'll be streaming Dimanche Gras and Carnival Monday and Tuesday as well......*cough I think *cough I feel some sick days *cough cough coming on early *cough next week. *cough


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

US Carnival Guide - Part 1

Buh wha de?! June hawse?!

Ah mean, my intention was to take a mini blogging break but no posts since June 2010 is outrageous.....even for me. But alas, now that the creative juices are flowing again, it's the ideal time of year to talk about something near and dear to my heart......Carnival.

Now those of you looking for a Trinidad Carnival how-to, I invite you to stop reading right about now because that's not what this post is about. Did we forget already? Or maybe I hadn't mentioned it before but for the time being, I am stuck in the States (mind yuh damn business) and I haven't seen a trini carnival in 9 years (yuh eh hear meh or wha? Doh ask). This post is for people like me who for one reason or the other, are stuck here, can't go home (yet) but still seem to be possessed by a carnival jumbie.

Whey yuh want we tuh party den?!

It is often said that imitation is just a subtle form of flattery. At home, Carnival is often referred to as the "Greatest Show on Earth" and as such, it has spawned a great number of mini carnivals across the globe patterned after our own. Outside of the Caribbean, no region is host to a greater number of mini Carnivals than the United States (great place to get stuck eh?). All you need to know now is where you need to be, and when you need to get there.

Please bear in mind that I won't be listing all of the US carnivals, only the more popular ones that occur on or near the east coast.

Atlanta Carnival
Dates: Memorial Weekend - May 27th - May 30th 2011

No, I am not being intentionally biased by mentioning Atlanta Carnival first simply because I live here. It just so happens that Atlanta's Carnival is the first major carnival to occur in any given year. Memorial weekend, which is always the last weekend in May, plays host to not one but two separate carnivals.

Back in 2005, several disgruntled band leaders split with the main carnival band authority and formed their own separate carnival in Decatur, a smaller City that lies east of Atlanta. Despite the discord, Atlanta has managed to attract its fair share of big name performers which include regulars like Iwer George, Bunji and Fay Ann, Benjai, Denise Belfon, Destra, Burning Flames among others as well as a staggering number of "small island" bands.

Washington DC Carnival
Dates: June 25th - 27th 2011

After Atlanta in late May, the next logical destination should always be DC carnival in late June. I haven't been to DC  in years but at the time, I had begun to get the feeling that this particular carnival was no longer worth my time. The fetes were shutting down by 2:00 am and if the fete didn't close at that time, their bars certainly did thus leaving you truly "tusty" whenever Machel decided to grace the stage (about 3 hours later). I'm not kidding when I say that the bars in these fetes closed down completely at 2; you couldn't even buy a bottle of water.I hear that things have improved much over the last 5 years and DC should now be back on your list of "not to be missed" US Caribbean carnivals.

You have to think of DC as more of a liming carnival; you run up there with a few of the boys (remember, take no sand to the beach), breeze through a few fetes and then show up bright and early Saturday morning for mud mas. Oh yeah....hell yeah!! DC has one of the best J'ouvert-like experiences outside of T&T. Sure you can go play pretty mas in one of the other bands but if you really want to have a good time, trust me, join the mud mas; it's not hard to all the way down to the last band in the parade (dodging all the clean clothes people running the other way)

Then it's all downhill from here...............

Houston Caribfest
Dates: 4th of July weekend (aka USA Independence Day) July 1st - July 4th 2011

Now to be honest, I've had my fair share of fun and good times at Houston Caribfest but to be honest, as a "big islander," I felt a little out of place. it's almost like a hurricane blew over the Lesser Antilles and dumped everyone in Houston, Texas. Houston has a crazy amount of "small islanders" which is cool and all but there's only so much jab jab music a brother can take. But I must give credit where credit is due, Caribfest also has a very damn good J'Ouvert and if you happen to be a wajang like me, a J'Ouvert can make a break a carnival experience.

You know what else can break a carnival experience? HEAT.......HOUSTON TEXAS IS HOT! When people are bathing with the Dasani instead of drinking it, you know you have a problem. I know what you're thinking......we're from the Caribbean, we could deal with heat. No bredren, this is not regular heat......this is the fire and brimstone that your pastors have been warning you about; this is the burning at the back of your skull when the wife vex with you!! No other island in the Caribbean is closer to the Equator that Trinidad is so trust me, when a trini says it's is damn hot.

There are quite a few more notables to mention so check me back next week.

To be continued................