Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today in Port of Spain

In the wind today, dust, lots of brown, gritty dust. The cause, ducts dug into Frederick Street to facilitate, something. We're not quite sure what but pretty sure that someone will make a statement about it soon, if only to say, look we gave you "it".

Amidst the dust, carbon monoxide fumes and vagrant leavings, vendors, on every side street, in every possible nook and cranny. It is a dreadful comedown; Trini women, once the best dressed in the Caribbean with the largest proliferation of fabric stores at hand, have reduced themselves to buying cheap looking, badly made clothing from the far east. The ubiquitous uniform of clingy top made of out synthetic fabric, the better to sweat in under the blazing midday sun, jeans of varying cuts and shades of blue, and oh, horror of horrors, mashed up slippers. To a woman, they were all wearing the current fad of "glitzy" slippers, all looking beat up as if they had been rescued from a tip. The fabric stores have made way for cheap shoes, smelling of eau de plastic and we have been left with something less.

These clothes are available everywhere, each time you turn around you are slapped in the face by yet another store, with more of the same. And I have to ask, why in heck would you buy underwear on the pavement? There it is, spread out on stalls, right there next to the road, dust blowing, people checking you out as you pick out your red, lace stretch number. As if women didn't get enough snarky comments from the male population as it is.

The MInister of National Security should be proud. City policing was alive and well today. Two would be thieves were apprehended, not by the policemen mind you, but that's okay. The four on foot patrol quickly took charge of the miscreants and proceeded to march them down the middle of Queen Street. With on-coming traffic and dozens of people out trying to purchase lunch, school books, and maybe some pavement underwear or watches. Did I mention that they were unrestrained; the miscreants that is, not a handcuff or even restraining hand to prevent them from making a break for it, the officers were walking behind. Dare I say it was fear of being chased that kept them in check. Somehow I doubt it, let's hope they made the Police Station on St. Vincent Street.

The homeless population are out in full force today. Clutching at your bags or legs as you go buy, hands out. You smell them before you see them. The stench of unwashed, sometimes suppurating bodies competing with the drain. Crusted with dirt, matted hair, these, mostly, men are a pitiful sight. You look around at the towering buildings, the monuments to untold amounts of petro-dollars and you wonder at a country that still treats its people so badly. These souls litter the pavements forcing you to acknowledge them even as you avert your eyes and scurry past hoping that they do not touch you or that you don't step in the fecal matter left behind.

The colour and life that once was this city, where did it go? We don't look happy and we certainly spend a lot of time complaining about it. Despite the new buildings the city is careworn, hard used, like an aging alcoholic running to seed rapidly. It's unfair, you look up at the frilly wrought iron balconies that now grace only a few buildings when once they lined the street giving it an elegance and pleasing aesthetic.

Today I'm not writing as the person who once wrote masses of tourist literature, it is too close for comfort. And I wonder, what have we become. This my city and I walk the streets, reluctantly.

1 comment:

Wuzdescene said...

Hmmmmm .... haven't walked the streets of POS for a while now ... and after reading this ... I think it'll be a while longer ....

and yeah .... who does really buy underwear on de pavement??!!