It is 12:26 on Wednesday and the windows of my office building are shaking in time to the music coming from Woodford Square. We are close and high up enough to experience the full blast of “B Square”, a series of free concerts put on by a mobile provider every lunchtime this week for office workers. Every day features another hot “star” of the Trinidad Soca scene. Today it is the King of Soca Machel Montano, from early droves of workers filed up the road to the Square. Trinidadians routinely call in sick etc when it rains, they can’t come to work. Despite the overcast skies with intermittent rain, armed with their umbrellas they’re all out there.
It is a testament to Mr. Montano’s popularity that he can command the numbers that throng the Square today. More power to him and his crew. A visiting foreigner could be forgiven for thinking that we had a civil protest given the proximity to the Parliament Building and Hall of Justice. But no, it is not. Even while we see the news images of the protests in the Middle East, the dismantling of dictator states, the ending of 30 years of a state of emergency in Egypt and 19 years in Tunisia; even as we commiserate with our fellow man in New Zealand, and even as we rail against the vicissitudes of crime, pay issues etc here at home, it is apparent, nothing will stop the Carnival.
It is instructive that Trinidadians were putting up black squares on their Facebook and BBM profiles in mourning for Daniel Guerra, the eight year old who was abducted on his way home from the shop, were every news outlet, social networking site etc was filled with outraged comments from persons from all walks of life and yet, the hot story was the Ravi B, a soca chutney performer, was a “sore loser” after his behaviour at the Chutney Soca Monarch Competition. While one thing has very little to do with the other, our sense of proportion is unbelievably lacking. Yes, his behaviour was egregious, but it is sign of how farcical most of these so-called competitions are, is it warranting the level of attention, you can judge.
While I have nothing against the concerts in the Square, I was once a participant, it just underlines what our priorities are and it certainly is that we can party hearty! We would never have a situation like that in Egypt, Trini would grumble, get vex and then hit a rum shop/bar/pub or wherever else and say, “later for dat”. I almost hope that the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism holds fast to his promise to tax imported Carnival costumes just to see whether all those people who vex now going to refuse the inflated prices next year; my guess, not at all. The cost of fete tickets have been escalating every year, looking at the pictures, there does not seem to be any fall off in attendance and judging from the amount of calls from people looking for tickets, well, nuff said.
In two weeks this will all be over, the remnants of costumes swept up, the glitter packed away, the soca stars will go on to their next destination, the sheds around the Savannah dismantled and what will we be left with?