Thursday, 20 January 2011

That Is Damn Rudeness!

All the praise I got for my patience in the last post is going to disappear after this one.

Nothing pisses me off more than little children who are rude and disrespectful to their elders. On a daily basis, I experience incidents like these with my 11 year old cousin who challenges your authority by screwing her face, sucking her teeth or else displaying all the general signs of rudeness when you talk to her. Usually I scold her, letting her know that rudeness in children is both disgusting and unappealing and that I don’t intend to take no shit from an 11 year old (plain talk, bad manners). I have never found it fitting to scold other children for rudeness because 1) it's not my place, 2) I don't see the need to raise my pressure for other people children and 3) it have some REALLY immature parents out here who are woefully ignorant when it comes to other people disciplining their children. However, I found myself shelving all these rules and peppering a little boy in a pharmacy for his rudeness.

It was 10:10AM on Thursday, January 20th, 2010 and I was standing in front of Payless in Arima waiting for my friend with whom I had some errands to run. As I was waiting I realised that my awesome, pink and luscious lips were drying out under the blazing, Trinidadian sun. I immediately dipped into my pocket for my ever faithful Chapstick to moisturize my awesomeness only to realise that I had left it on my bed. Great, just GREAT! I definitely needed to buy another one so, I crossed the street and went into a pharmacy. Sadly, this pharmacy only had Blistex (really good brand) that cost $26.95- RIDICULOUS, I know! Being POOR with following directions and not knowing Arima that well, I had to wait for my friend who agreed to take me to another pharmacy.

I can't remember the name of the pharmacy but I remembered it being after Subway and KFC, opposite a gas station and within walking distance from the Sangre Grande Taxi Stand. The pharmacy was virtually empty when I entered except for two customers and three people I assumed were the 'employees'. I became pretty annoyed because there was no one behind the counters. Suddenly, 'it' appeared behind a counter and I realised that he was going to attend to me.

"How much for the Chapstick?” I asked.
"Six dollars, sir!” he responded.

I registered the fact that he spoke in a mocking voice and used the word 'sir' as though mocking my use of the Standard English and the weird accent that comes with it. I brushed it off as me being hasty and 'it' trying to be adorable. I told 'it' that I would like to buy the Chapstick and he proceeded to take it off the holder thingy. While I got my wallet, 'it' started attending to an old lady and I noticed that 'it' started peeling off the protective seal from MY Chapstick, obviously 'it' was not supposed to do that!

"Why are you opening it?” I asked gently.
'It' looked at me and boldly asked, "Wha' yuh mean wha' ah opening it for?"
"Buh what the ASS is this?", I thought to myself, feeling my patience, rules and general pleasantness evaporate as I stood before this vile, prepubescent, dougla, rude THING staring at me like he is a 'test'. Well, 'it' chose the wrong person today.

"Excuse me?” I asked.
'It' had the gall to repeat, "Wha' yuh mean wha' ah opening it for?"
"Well, when someone BUYS something that is SEALED you're NOT supposed to open it!” I replied and for good measure I added, "I want another one please!"
"Why I must give you another one?" 'it' enquired obviously trying to aggravate me even more.
"We all went through this, I WANT a sealed Chapstick. I'll be by the cashier!” I said dismissing 'it'.
"Why you does talk so?” he finished as I started walking away.
"Because that's how I speak!” I answered rather angrily because I was over his rudeness and wanted to leave as soon as possible.

As I was waiting by the cashier, I heard that 'thing' telling my friend and the old lady that the Chapstick belonged to him and he couldn't understand why I was acting like that. This frivolous comment just ran off my back like water on a dasheen bush leaf. It was the Old Lady's comment that fired me up once more. Big, hard back, 'sensible' woman like she would say: "Yeah, he didn't have to act like that!"

I spun around, looked her in the eye and said, "HE is a little boy and HE is supposed to know his place. HE is supposed to have RESPECT for people that come into the store and more so, his elders. HE TOO DAMN RUDE!" I wanted to berate Granny further by letting her know that she was on REAL SHIT for condoning 'it's' behaviour, no wonder the majority of youths today are IN A MESS and spiraling OUT OF CONTROL. I stopped myself from yelling these words at her because I noticed that she was clutching a bottle of CoQ10, a medicine typically used amongst patients that suffer from heart- related diseases and I didn't want to distress Granny further. The 'thing' wasn't finished with me. While cashing my Chapstick he kept staring at me, employing his best imitation of a gangster lean as though sizing ME up. Luckily, I had experience with this kind of thing so I just sucked my teeth, shook my head, tapped the counter and asked that 'it' hurried up because I had other things to do. 'It's' last attempt at rudeness was flinging my change on the counter. I had to use my best calming techniques to turn around and walk out that store.

As we were walking out my friend would tell me that I shouldn't have let 'it' get to me like that. I said I knew but I detested rudeness in children and ‘it’ needed to be scolded. Little thing like that giving ME rudeness, ah Lord... thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Catering Job


Caterer One and Two have always loved cooking and I suppose that no one was surprised when they turned their passion into a flourishing catering business. Last Sunday, they had to cater for an event in Mayaro and they asked if I would come out for a day's work. Given the fact that I came from Colombia with no money and I need to go back soon, I decided that the money would come in handy so I accepted. Plus, I had never done a catering job so I figured that it would be an interesting, learning experience. I would later learn that I was absolutely right on both counts.

The day arrived and I have to admit that I was excited. My mom and I got up early and were in Mayaro by 8AM. We were greeted by Caterer One (CO) and the smell of callaloo, bubbling away on the stove. Before we started working, CO gave us a list of what we would be cooking and my excitement evaporated immediately for two reasons; 1) the menu included dhalpourie, curried chicken, pelau, curried duck, spinach rice, callaloo, pigeon peas, lappe, manicou, cascadura, baked salmon stuffed with spinach and creamed cheese, yam, dasheen and sweet potato and 2) CO had only hired four people for the cooking of the food; three of which could actually COOK. I started off peeling carrots and washing seasoning ingredients but I eventually graduated to washing massive pots in a small sink with the world's most retarded pot scrub. On top of that CO kept saying, "Come nah Fari, quick is the word, quick is the word!" In turn, I wanted to sardonically ask him if he realised that there was food stuck to the side of the pots, food that needed to be removed so that the pot can be used again. For some reason, I found myself keeping comments to myself. Usually I would have told him what was on my mind. I suppose I saw myself as an employee, CO was my boss and I had to do what was asked of me without complaining. So I kept it all in which further augmented my stress levels and made me really frustrated. As the evening progressed I would become very emotionally unstable. Two hours into cooking, CO seemed to realise that he would need more people if he wanted to finish on time. DUH!!! I could have told him that; the five year old boys playing in the court yard could have told him that! CO called two of his relatives who came across to help. Eventually, everything was cooked, boxed or else placed in those snazzy, silver catering containers to be served to the V.V.I.P.

Whilst everyone else was in charge of washing up and cleaning the kitchen, I was delegated the task of 'running'. As a 'runner', I had to ensure that whenever the food finished on the 'line', it was replenished until everyone was served. As simple as it sounds, in this case it was a tough, physically demanding job. The event was held obliquely opposite to the place where the food was cooked. As such, I had to walk from the kitchen, down three steps, across the yard, through a gate, across the street, through the Savannah entrance, across some disgusting gravel path, through another entrance and into the V.V.I.P section. By the time I had done this trip six times between my shoulders started aching, my arms were experiencing muscle spasms, my toes felt like they were walked upon, my head was throbbing and my throat was sore from yelling over the speakers, trying to get the stupid, no chupid, V.V.I.P to move outta my way because they seemed to overlook the fact that I was toting heavy no ass, silver containers back and forth. Finally, everything was served and I was SO relieved.

My relief lasted all but five minutes when I realised that I would have to help bring back the stuff to the kitchen. At the beginning it was a group effort with the girls CO had hired to serve, CO and myself working as a team. Over time I noticed that I was toting more stuff in comparison to the girls who were sitting down one by one, apparently tired. I heard one of them say, "Let the boy move the thing and them, I tired!" Mind you, I had been working since 8AM! Surprisingly, I didn't tell her anything, I just mentally referred to her as a 'dumb, hard- faced girl who would amount to nothing' and went about my business; my repressed ire making the vein on the side of my head throb violently. The night's unfairness continued when I noticed that CO had left and could be seen mingling in the crowd, drink in hand while I continued to trek tirelessly back and forth, this time carrying ten plates at a time because the plate crate (hey, that rhymes!) was too heavy for me to carry, please note that there were 250 plates. I had probably done six trips when my self control started to ebb away and my anger, frustration, hurt and helplessness started seeping to the surface. I was stomping the ground when I walked, "steupsing" at random intervals and snapping at people. My mother, knowing me so well, noticed my distaste and asked me if everything was OK. Well, I suppose it was now or never, everything came out as I yelled, "YES! Yes ah vex, everybody sitting down and liming while I walking up and down toting plate like ah CLAT!" It felt so good to let everything out although I was on the verge of tears and my mother looked at me, puzzled at my use of the word clat. CO suddenly appeared out of nowhere and busied himself helping me with the plate crates. Within ten minutes we were finished and I was getting waiting on the Mayaro stand for a car to Grande.

It was a very emotionally and physically demanding day. I re- learned that sometimes you have to let people know when they on shit and taking advantage of you. Plus, you can't bottle up your emotions, it's unhealthy and you might end up in St. Ann's. Furthermore, I will DEFINITELY be adding catering to my list of undesirable jobs. Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day!

NB: I got paid!

Monday, 10 January 2011

What I DON'T Want To Be When I Grow Up

Relative asks, "So Fari, what do you want to be once you're finished with UWI?"
I answer, "I honestly don't know!"

Lately I've noticed that a lot of people, my Aunt included have been asking me what I want to be when I grow up, that is, leave UWI and I have not been able to answer them. They seem to be under the delusion that I entered UWI knowing what career path I wanted to follow. The thing is I'm really spontaneous which makes me a lousy planner and I entered UWI knowing vaguely that my dream job would be one where I could speak Spanish on a daily basis, travel the world, interact with people and become a well- cultured individual. Keeping these criteria of my perfect job in mind, I've been able to decide on those jobs and/or career paths that I really have NO intention of pursuing. This blog highlights those undesirable jobs.

1) The Military: When I was eleven years old, I signed up to join the Cadet Force at my Secondary School. It was another one of those spontaneous decisions and I thought that joining up would outfit me with discipline and all those character traits the Cadets promise to help you develop. During my first meeting, I kept on mixing up my right and left feet (I've always had a problem with directions) and thus, my marching was an EPIC FAIL. The Drill Sergeant decided to stop the training session in order to embarrass me by screaming at me for my incoordination. Now, my own mother never spoke to me the way this man was speaking to me and more so, she never spat on me. Furthermore, this man's name was neither Dexter nor Emergine Parsons meaning that he had no right to speak to me that way. I told my father about it seeing that he was a Police Officer and he told me that what Mr. DS did was totally normal in the Military. Well, yours truly left the Cadet Force and vowed to NEVER, EVER, EVER join the Military. I HATE people screaming at me, I have a problem with authority, I'm a pacifist and I'm very emotional. Recently, my Dad has been preoccupied with the issue about University graduates being unable to find employment owing to lack of experience and what not. Ever since I entered UWI, he's been hinting that I could enter the Military with a First Degree and become like this semi- important person. Whilst it would be fun to boss people around, my early Cadet memory has scarred me for life and I boldly told my Dad that I had NO intention of joining ANY branch of the Military.

2) Manual Labour: There are two things that I've been sure about since the age of 13; I'm an academic and I DETEST doing any form of manual labour in the blazing sun. My Dad has always instilled a sense of pride in my brother and I, a sense of pride that included yourself and by extension your surroundings. For as long as I can remember every three weeks, on a Saturday or Sunday, my brother, my father and I would be seen outside cutting the grass, weeding, raking leaves, pruning the fig trees and caring for the plants. Now, I have no problem cleaning my yard but I must admit that I started to detest it after a while. Eventually, this hatred extended to all forms of manual labour like construction, masonry, wall scrubbing, painting... EVERYTHING. There were a lot of reasons; I hate getting dirty, I'm deathly afraid of insects, I don't like being in the sun if I can avoid it and I really like my soft hands. Unfortunately, my Grandpa always wants to rope me into odd jobs like helping him lay tiles and what not. His reasoning is that as a man you should know these things so that when you hire people to do them for you when you're older, they can't "dig out yuh eye". I suppose he's right but I prefer to learn these things at home, at least that way I can procrastinate.

3) Teaching: I have a great respect for teachers, they've helped to mould me into the young adult that I am today and they work REALLY hard, something I learned once I became an English Language Assistant. Another thing I learned from being an assistant is that I DON'T want to be a teacher. The major reasons are that I have no patience to deal with other people's children and I have a temper which is sure to manifest itself when I become impatient. I also feel that teaching is not much of a challenge for me; it bores me to the core of my being with its repetitive nature. I need to feel challenged on an everyday basis, learning new things everyday and keeping things interesting. In this way, boredom would not affect me and I would not feel the need to strangle someone. However, I have a feeling that teaching lies somewhere in my future, hopefully by then I would have had plenty interesting, challenging jobs to sustain me.

I have no idea how to conclude this blog. I suppose I'll have to settle for a resounding: TOODLES!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Colombian Strip Club Experience

“Goodbye, innocence!”

My initial reaction to finding myself at the Colombian version of the famous Red Light District was shock, quickly followed by fear at what my parents would say if they knew where I was.

Then, I felt a sense of awe that this lifestyle existed; it looked so different from what I had seen on T.V. There were strip clubs everywhere with neon lights flashing, luring men and women of all ages and backgrounds. On our way to the first strip club, my Colombian tour guides and I were heckled by scantily clad women, who were wondering if we wanted to taste them.

Strip Club Número Uno had no cover charge and looked downright derelict to me. I was pretty sure that a sign that read, “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK” would greet us at the door. But, there was only the perverted door man with the beady eyes.

Inside, the club was fit to burst with male construction workers. They seemed to have just finished a ten days, were starved sexually at home, and were content to stare avidly at vaginas.

Suddenly, a dancer jumped unto the bar, and I must say that she was quite lean and good-looking, although she had some suspicious red marks on her inner thigh. For some reason, her marks made me think of the door man...

She started to do her little dance routine, which involved splits, head twirls, pole dancing, gyrating, hair flipping, breast licking, stripping, and pushing her hairless vagina in the overjoyed faces of the patrons. Her signature move was one where she lay on her side, one leg going up to her head- think an open pencil compass from a Geometry Set- and shook her little money-maker for all it was worth.

Her little routine was undoubtedly fascinating, but the fact that it was danced to the ultimate break-up song, ‘Don’t Speak’ by No Doubt, left me unsettled and confused. The others probably felt the same because we left soon afterwards.

Strip Club Número Dos had a little more class. It must have been home to business types, judging by the Mercedes Benzes in the parking lot and flashiness of the lights. There was a runway-like structure in the middle of the club, where the women would dance and entice the men. The women there were either asserting their dominance over men or desperate for a little cash. They brazenly squeaked my butt, brushed my nose, pinched my cheeks or winked at me from afar. One of them boldly latched onto my friend’s wrist, and stated, “Let's go now! $20,000 pesos for half an hour, anything you want!” She stormed off in a rage when he politely declined her offer. Ha!

We were treated to one of the night’s entertainment segments, Culo A Cara. Basically, the men paid $5000 pesos for the pleasure of having a girl's surgically- enhanced buttocks in their faces. There was something disturbingly funny about seeing grown men, my father's age, acting like Neanderthals. They were basically getting off on having their faces planted in a butt crack. I imagined all the things that could possibly go wrong, like an accidental fart. The poor girls probably had spit-stained thongs by the end of the night. It was too much, and I was elated when my guides announced that it was time to go. 

I acknowledged a strange sense of pride when I lay in bed that night. I had just passed some male rite of passage, right? I chuckled to myself at the thought. 

Until the next post. 

Coming In From The Cold

In this life, in this life, in this life,
In this, oh sweet life,
We're coming in from the cold.

Bob Marley

*Music continues as I type this post*

Hello, my wonderful readers and a Happy New Year! Finally, after all the hecticities (not an actual word) of the Christmas season, I got a chance to settle down and blog. As many of you may not know, seeing that it was a last minute decision, I came back to Trinidad to spend Christmas with my family and friends. The thing is that whilst I've only been in Bogota for five months, coming back to Trinidad and being the 'new' me was so weird. Thus, this post will speak about all the things I found weird in Trinidad, and in myself after spending five months in foreign.

I suppose that after five months of hearing Colombian- Spanish accents, two different types of Trinidadian accents and a bunch of Jamaican accents, one tends to become accustomed to these types of accents and anything else sounds really weird. There I was on the tarmac of a Panamanian airport waiting on a bus that would eventually take us to the plane. Suddenly, I heard this woman talking to her husband. It was obviously English but her South Trinidadian accent had me stumped, it was just WEIRD. On the plane from Panama to Trinidad I found myself struggling to understand what the other Trinidadians on the plane were saying owing to the different accents on board; there was the black woman from the outskirts of Port of Spain screaming at her child, the fresh water Yankee Trini, the retired school principal with her "bouge" accent, the cool Grandpa from Diego Martin flirting with the woman sitting next to him and the classic Trini "wajang" accent. Sigh, poor me!

I think the colour of my house could induce photosensitive epilepsy (Google it) in some people. I mean, my gallery is painted bright yellow, my living room walls are the colour of a ripe paw paw, my bathroom is painted yellow and green and my tiles are peachy looking. Basically, my house is a world of bright colours and has made me the happy, optimistic person that I am today. The thing is that after five months of living in an apartment with white walls and black and white tiles coming home to an advertisement for Sisson's Paints' "Colour Explosion" was mind blowing. It took my eyes about three days to become accustomed to my world of colour.

I'm really extroverted and energetic, I'm usually the loudest person in a group and everyone knows that Garvin is there. I have a high voice, I don't walk with a "bounce", I take good care of my skin and good care of myself in general, some may say I'm metro sexual. Throughout my life I've been called every gay- related term in the book and whilst, it doesn't bother me now, back then I was a MESS. I started to change my personality, to be more "manly" (whatever that means) so as to conform to societal norms and seem less "girly" in the eyes of the masses. Going to Colombia has really helped me to be myself so much so that I feel so uninhibited in Trinidad. I walk how I want; talk how I want, act how I want and I don't worry about what the close minded Trinidadians have to say. This new sense of confidence is a little weird for me but I love every minute of it. Being I is so satisfyingly blissful.

I've always prided myself on having a good grasp of both the Standard and Trinidadian Creole English. Thus, I found it easy to speak and teach in the Standard and switch to Creole whenever I was with my friends. Now that I'm in Trinidad I can't seem to "turn off" the Standard. On the night I returned to Trinidad, I was talking to my family in perfect, perfect English. I didn't realise it until my brother said, "Boy, why yuh talking like yuh just come from England? Steupssss!" Ever since my brother's subtle exclamation, I've become really aware of the way I'm speaking these days; it's more articulate and grammatically correct with the slightest trace of an accent, its origins unknown. I've also noticed that I'm more attuned to the grammatical errors that many a Trinidadian makes when they speak. Now I'm destined to become one of those people that constantly correct people when they speak, this is NOT good.

More or less, these are the weirdest things I've noticed since I've been back and I think they'll get even weirder because I'm returning to Colombia on the 25th. I must say that coming home for Christmas has showed me that I can indeed live in Colombia with regular visits to my homeland. So who knows where life would take me, if it decides to take me to a life in Colombia so be it. At least, I can come in from the cold ever so often.