Saturday, March 28, 2009

Latin America

Despite sitting snugly on the cusp of the South American mainland, most people in Trinidad and Tobago know little about those countries between Mexico and Argentina. They are names that feature in geography class and not much else. Maybe it's because traditionally we have looked first to the former "motherland" Great Britain and then to the USA since we share a language, English. We, who have been independent for more than forty years fail to embrace our neighbours for the most part. But maybe we should pay more attention.

This is not a blog about the Summit taking place here, enough has been ventilated about that topic by all and sundry. Having nominally been looking at Latin American politics recently it appears much has changed from the old picture of dictatorships and military juntas every week. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvamade is my hero this week. On a visit to Downing Street he is quoted as saying, "This is a crisis that was caused by white people with blue eyes. And before the crisis, they looked as if they knew everything about economics." Incidentally, President Lula is white, well as white as one from our part of the world can be. Lula is making quite a name for himself as is Argentina's Christina Kirchner and Chile's Michelle Bacchelet to name but two. What's even more amazing is the lack of apology, they have unabashedly declared themselves. Lula is head of a sovereign nation of millions, why should he be apologetic. he's right, the rest of us to some degree are paying for the arrogance of nations run by those blue eyed folk. If you look carefully, the economy in India has taken a beating but didn't crumble. Brazil took a beating but largely is rebounding. There must be something to this.

Nope, I'm not racist, quite the contrary. However when you look at the consumer driven values of successive Republican President's and the patterns established by those so called developed nations you have to wonder how no one could have noticed the crap that was going on.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to the visit by President Lula next month. If nothing else, it will be very instructive.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The troublesome offspring...

Think Louis de Bernieres, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam et al, and you might understand why I haven';t been blogging of late. They would do much more justice to my current situation because there are surely days when I feel as though this is either an episode of Yes Minister or a Monty Python skit.

This should explain why at 5:00 am I logged into YouTube trawling things like Love is in the Air, anything by Journey and other camp standards of the music scene of the late seventies and early eighties. Surely I have lost my mind because nothing could be so bad that you would listen to Time Life's best of Disco Hits. These were awful when they were first released and time has not changed that at all. Which brings me to late night television. Amazing those infomertials they run in the wee hours of the morning. All those inept women with fake nails disgustedly trying to saw through vegetables or stitch a hem with, gasp, needle and thread! Seemingly capable people unable to ply a simple potato peeler and in black and white no less, as though to imply that the methods that they are using are old fashioned fifties torture tools. And then the light dawns (we switch to colour here) and the latest handy dandy device As Seen On TV is revealed so that you can "set it and forget it" or have a knife that saws through wood but is gentle enough to peel a tomato.

That I know any of this is surprising in itself, that people actually watch these things and worse, get out their credit cards and hustle to the phone because "operators are standing by" is a sad indictment to the state of our lives in the early twenty first century. Have we really so little to do or is it that we have lost all perspective? Whatever, there must be a better way. It used to be that when I couldn't sleep my panacea was a trusty book that would lull me into a sense of security, now I'm so tired that I can't sleep. I'm reduced to trawling YouTube and listening to Love is in the Air. I love that cheesy 70's video with the pull frame shot, as the singer is silhouetted against the pinpoints of the overhead fill light. John Paul Young looked so cute then in those early pre-Final Cut Pro days. Then is was all tape to tape editing on Umatic formats and the camera man had to create the magic because we hand't yet figured out digital imaging. Many crimes against video were committed in those days when music videos were shot and edited as though everyone was having a psychedelic flashback.

Have I made my case yet, if this does not convince my boss that I am dire need of a real vacation...hmm.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And then again

You meet someone who makes you think, hmm, maybe there might be more to life than just being yoked to the wheel called work. Maybe you should go bravely and put yourself out there again. You remember what it might be like to have someone, you free that energy, the frisson, attraction. He made me smile. And even though you don't do anything, you know that you're still alive and that those feelings you bury deep are still there. No pressure to do anything or to make things happen. You just know.....something.

Or even if you don't, accept the moment, it is what it is. Tomorrow is another day and who knows what might happen....but you just never know right.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


From early on I was pretty sure of two things, I wouldn't do well in a regular job and Trinidad was probably not the best place for me.

For the last month or so we've had some very cool, windy nights and the early mornings are that cool almost cold that make you want to snuggle further under the covers for as long as possible. Wound up from the day, some nights I lie awake listening to the wind rattle the loose galvanise, that low moaning sound as it sweeps down off the surrounding hills; the curtains are always tangled, like a woman's dress removed too quickly and then flung in a corner by an impatient man. Into this, the processor in the back of my mind keeps whirling, going round and round, trying to sort out everything, too much. And yet, there is something haunting, beautiful about that wind, without the usual accompanying rain, a lullaby to soothe you into sleep until relentless pawing by the hound wakes you up again.

It is these relatively quiet moments while the rest of the world outside sleeps that allow me to understand the reasons I stayed here and that continuing to stay, is compounding the fact that I probably need to leave for my own peace of mind. The last five years have been spent, yoked to a job, that while satisfying in some ways, is also extremely challenging and dare I say it, sometimes soul destroying leaving room for little else. The compromises I make every day means I give up a little more of me until I wonder how much is left. Talking to Styles, aka Danielle the other night, we revisited our early days in television when we all had so little money that flip flops and sandals, shorts and t-shirts weren't a fashion statement. that's all we had to wear. She marvels at that I can stomach squeezing myself into four inch heels and a, gulp, suit, every day and I envy that she can pretty much wear the kind of clothes that I'd like to, free and unfettered and that though difficult, she continues to do what she loves in a country that does not appreciate her.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about having a job, it pays the bills and gives me some room to breathe unlike the consulting days when I had to beg, harangue or threaten clients with legal action to get paid for work that I'd done. In these early windy mornings that for me get as close to the feeling I get when I'm in the sea, I clearly understand that a country is the sum of it's people. If we have no manners, if we consistently treat each other badly, if we continue to put ourselves down and see only with blinkers, then even those among us who try to do better will be constantly overwhelmed by the non-conscious mass. Every day now as I go to work, I wonder more and more, why?

Two days ago I was sickened by a letter to the newspaper about the treatment meted out to a security dog that was killed. I won't go into the graphic details but it was horrible. But then, we are country that treat our women and children badly far less for our animals, Every day you read in the paper about missing children and missing young women. Is it any wonder we respond so quickly to the rumour of a container found on the docks with children. It was that knee jerk reaction that comes from fear that what we have all been thinking might just be true. These two constituent groups, young women and children are among the most vulnerable and yet we get no answers. Maybe instead of demanding answers of the news media as to why they carried the story so avidly, the powers that be might have given more thought to the feelings of powerlessness of young and not so young women and talked about investigating disappearances. The blame game is easy, now put your money where your mouth is.

I wonder too if we understand what developed nation status is, it's not about all those tall buildings down by the dock that are reminiscent of Miami Beach. Again, I'm not against buildings but we must also understand that developed nation status means that we honour those declarations and international treaties that we are signatories to, like extended maternity leave for those who have medical issues or the right to equal pay. Mahatma Ghandi said, "the greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated". Well, we all know about that one right. In developed nations, laws are consistently applied, not just the ones that suit the COP on a given day.

In the now there is little any one person can do but still, in the cool of these mornings as I try to sleep I know that as long as I can, that other Ghandi truism will continue to be my mantra, "be the change you want to see in the world." Until the cries to leave get too loud in my head and I too give up the fight and move on.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Coffeewallah is..

Yes, I'm still here.

Yes, still writing, just not right this minute.

The tendency to be negative too strong, have to step back from the edge.

Until later....