Every society has certain social norms that are unique to them. In especially cosmopolitan areas such as New York City for instance, the dense mix of cultures, nationalities, and religious beliefs meld together to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
Trinbago's dense mix of races and cultures combined with its geographic isolation as an island has also created something special. It's hard to miss the trini in any setting, whether black, white, east indian, asian, syrian, etc, we project a national identity that transcends that of our racial makeup. But to say that racial identity has been lost within Trinbago society would be misleading. With few exceptions, each ethnic group has been free to practice and promote their own histories, cultures, religious and culinary traditions.
Which brings me to today's discussion. Despite the trini national identity that we love to tout, some habits had historically been (notice I said "had") race specific. Sailing, deep sea fishing, watersports, etc.......Westmoorings folk. Sea bath, beating pan.....afro-trinis.
River lime, curry duck.......take a wild guess.
During a recent conversation with an old friend (whom I previously thought to be) an indo-Trinbagonian, the topic of doing a river lime here in Atlanta came up. Naturally I offered to buy the duck, to which he responded with five words I didn't understand:
" I don't like curry duck."
"because meh hair straight and ah look dougla yuh figure I must have curry duck to lime?"
It occurred to me right then that trinbago culture was greater than the sum of its parts. It is part of the reason why the indo-trini or afro-trini don't exist, why Holi is celebrated by all, or why each trini family has their own Divali tradition, why an African would be equally at home beating a tassa drum as he would the congo and why (incidentally) an East Indian would be entirely free to skip the curry duck at a river lime. (despite how foreign a concept this may seem in my mind).
It's because we barely have a race culture anymore (despite what our politics might portray). It's because rather than being indo-trini or afro-trini, etc, we very proudly proclaim TRINI.....unabridged, undiluted, unadulterated Trinbagonian.
P.S. I've yet to determine the exact race of this dougla-looking bredren of mine. I'm convinced he's pulling my leg but now I'm not so sure.
This circumstance isn't isolated at all, I have another friend I'd assumed to be black till the day she showed me her great grandmother's original indentureship card. Sensing confusion, she also produced the travel documents for said grandmother's trip aboard the S.S. Ganges' last trip to Trinidad in 1917.
The S.S. Ganges as you might imagine, did not make a stop anywhere on Africa's West Coast during that time.