Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Curfew Almost Got Me!

I'm too cute for jail!

It was Friday, August 26th, 2011, the time was 8:15PM and I was on the bus route, in a maxi taxi freaking out. I'm accustomed to finding myself in these situations but this time around, it started with a good intention. Earlier that day, I realised that the following week would have been my last week at work and that I had a lot of newspapers to archive. Being the suck up that I am, I decided to stay back after work to archive some of the articles. Admittedly, the SoE and the curfew that my dear Aunty Kamla called upon the country were the furthest things from my mind; I live in a "cold spot" so, if I am in Sangre Grande after 9PM, the police can't lock me up. Back to the story... there I was, listening to Adele (AWESOME) and chatting with a co-worker as we sorted and archived the newspaper articles. On two occasions, he told that I should go home but I shrugged him off and boldly told him with the slightest hint of an attitude, "Ahm... I, unlike you, don't live in a "hot spot". It will have Grande maxis in City Gate. Doh worry!" Little did I know that thirty minutes later, I would be eating those words.

I have a problem when it comes to leaving somewhere, in that, I tend to do unnecessary things or 'spin' before I leave. Thus, I didn't leave the Ministry until 7:25PM because I had to 'sexify', making sure that I looked presentable to face the world beyond the ministerial walls. As I walked unto the pavement on South Quay, I knew that something was wrong; aside from the pungent, Beetham- esque scent that permeated the air, there were a lot of people waiting for transportation. Men, women and children were all standing, looking agitated and/ or anxious as they clutched shopping bags that contained merchandise from their trip to downtown Port- of- Spain. A black "taxi" pulled up and it was immediately pounced upon by the people who had tapped into their animalistic side. Only four people got in; the others walked away, heads bowed in rejection as they resumed their previous positions. I quickened my pace to City Gate as my heart started racing and my palms started sweating.

Looking down at the maxi taxi lanes from the second floor in City Gate did nothing to alleviate my nerves. There were so much people and little or NO maxi taxis; I was truly alarmed by now and stupidly sent a text to my Mom reading, "It have no maxis in City Gate. I dunno what to do?" I was so nonplussed that when my mother called to buff me for my obviously stupid decision to stay that late after work, I couldn't string two sentences together. I had to calm myself and at least, try to think rationally and figure out my alternatives. Since I couldn't teleport or turn into a soucouyant and fly to Sangre Grande, I decided my best bet was to go to Arima and hope to God that I could get a taxi to Grande BEFORE 9PM. When I relayed this to my mother, she agreed and said that she would call me back. Now that I had a possible solution, another problem presented itself- I, Garvin Tafari Parsons, would have to- wait for it- RUSH for a maxi taxi. *FAINTS* Anyone who has travelled with me knows that I RARELY rush for maxi taxis. There is something wholly uncivilized and belittling about it so, I refrain from such activities. As I was pondering my latest predicament, a maxi pulled up and the driver pushed his head out the window and bellowed, "ARIMA, ARIMA!" It was a split second decision and I could be seen a split second later, running with 20 or more people to get a seat on the 24-seater maxi taxi. It was embarrassing, interesting and fulfilling all at the same time; I mean, I beat like eight people to get into the maxi before the last four seats were occupied. *cups hand to ear* Do I hear applause?

I thought that having gotten a seat in the maxi that my nerves would have settled but, I seemed more nettled than ever and the occupants in the maxi didn't really help improve my mental state. There was this woman who kept talking to her friend in the seat behind her in one of the loudest, most obnoxious voices I have ever heard. Then, there was the guy sitting in the seat in front of me who thought it necessary to play music in the maxi as though anyone cared that he had an extensive Kartel playlist on his Blackberry. I tried to ignore them and pray as the time changed from 8:05PM to 8:06PM on the maxi clock and the maxi stopped SIX times between Port- of- Spain and San Juan. My mother continued calling me to see where I was and I kept on assuring her that I could get a taxi in Arima before 9PM. My assurances, however, did nothing to alleviate the knots in my stomach and it was only after the guy in the front seat answered his phone and spoke to his friend that I grasped the gravity of my situation. Following is an abridged version of the conversation well, the part that I heard anyway.

Guy: "Yeah hoss, I just pass San Juan!"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Wheys, Arima almost empty? So, no car to go Grande or wha'?"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Wait! People walkin' to the end of Arima to escape the curfew?"
Friend answers.
Guy: "Well, I go hadda do that too yes! I doh know nobody down here really."

After hearing that one-sided conversation, several memories and scenarios started running through my mind. I remembered two friends, telling me of instances where their friends were seen in Arima after 9PM and taken to the police station to spend the night. I remembered a radio broadcast earlier that day which said that persons caught in a "hot spot" after the curfew hours could be held for up to FIFTEEN days under some Anti- Gang Act. I mean, have you seen ME? I AM TOO CUTE FOR JAIL! A scenario started to play out in my head, one where I was the 'bitch' of some burly, tattooed prison inmate named Spider. He would spank me and rub my bald head before he fondled with my boy parts and penetrated me! Hell to the NO! I, unlike the guy in the front seat, knew people down on that side so, I texted a friend asking him if I could spend the night. I could have called but I didn't want everyone to know my business. Naturally, he said yes and relief flooded my insides and I hastily pressed the bell, signaling to the driver that I would take it at Curepe Junction; I all but RAN from that maxi taxi.

It was 8:30PM and I was walking into a friend's house, counting my blessings and laughing at my predicament. I learned several things that night: 1) it pays to have a friend that lives close to the bus route and by extension, Port- of- Spain, 2) always, always walk with extra money, 3) I should start to put a kit in my school bag with all my toiletries and extra underwear because with this SoE and curfew business, one NEVER knows where they'll end up and 4) although I live in a "cold spot", I still have to pass through a "hot spot" to get home so, I should hasten home nontheless.

Until the next post!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

People of the Maxi Taxi


The maxi taxi is a popular means of transportation on the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. They can come in different colours and sizes and can be seen all over the country. The maxi taxi is a place where you can encounter the strangest, most sickening people especially if you travel the Sangre Grande- Port- of- Spain route- yes, I'm biased! Having been away for a year, I forgot just how annoying and disgusting some people can be while travelling so much so that I was sometimes appalled by the behaviour of these people. This blog will highlight all the types of people I've met and I'm pretty sure that you've encountered some of them yourself.

1) The Sleeper

There's something about travelling in a comfortable, air- conditioned maxi that just puts me to sleep. I can be asleep and no one knows unless of course, you look at me and notice that my eyes are closed. The same cannot be said for The Sleeper. The Sleeper can be male or female, big or small, black or white but they all have something in common, that is, the disturbing and disruptive way in which they sleep. They're the ones who sit in the front, heads back with mouth agape, snoring for the whole world to hear. They're the ones who sit next to you and have the audacity to sleep on your shoulder with their gel or grease filled heads, sullying your well- ironed shirt. Don't you dare shrug the Sleeper off because they will watch you 'cut eye' and/ or 'steups' because your shoulder is a substitution for their pillow at home. On the rare occasion that the Sleeper collides with one of those uncomfortable side seats, it can make for an interesting ride. The acrobatics that you see are sometimes mind boggling and hilarious, as their heads go swinging from side to side or their bodies double over on the seat. Ah yes!

2) The Talker

I thought I was talkative that is, until I met the Talker. The Talker feels the need to have uncomfortable, unnecessary and personal conversations on their cell phones for everyone in the maxi taxi to hear. I remember sitting in front of a Talker as she told her friend about her 'man' problems. Apparently, she done wid she man because he cyah cook, he does cuss she and he does only tickle she in the night. Her friend, confused by the concept of a man tickling her friend at night probably asked, "Buh, wha' you talkin' bout girl?" At which point, her charming, graceful friend answered, "Oh gosh gyul, he prick small!" and laughed scandalously. I wasn't the only one that was appalled by her behaviour, the maxi taxi driver looked at her from his mirror and shook his head whilst an old lady pursed her lips, tutted and mumbled something about 'the young people these days'. On another occasion, a young lady was sitting next to me, talking about some nasty (her words, not mine) relative of hers who loved to borrow money from her and re-pay when she wanted to. If the Talker, however, were to borrow money from the relative, she wouldn't hear the end of it. She went on to talk about her relative's lack of work, how she was seen ironing a shirt that morning as though she was going to look for work and how she, the Talker, was going to cancel her FCB online banking because the relative knew the password. TMI much? I mentioned two female versions of the Talker but please note that there is a male version out there. His modus operandi- M.O. for you simple minds- is a bit different; he sits next to you and on hearing some tidbit on the news or seeing something interesting outside, he taps you on the foot and mutters something weird while you laugh awkwardly so as not to hurt his feelings. I try putting on my 'guntha' face but it never works because I seem to have a sunny disposition. Oh joy!

3) The Farter

Air- conditioned maxis, once fully operational, are a God send given the uncharacteristically (whoa, that's a long word) hot days that we've been having lately. I just love sitting back with my eyes closed allowing the cold breeze to wash over me. It's usually when I'm most relaxed that the Farter strikes! He/ she is impeccably dressed; their nice clothes covering the stink that resides within. The fart confuses you at first then, your nose starts burning and you feel the urge to climb over the other passengers and claw your way to the nearest window; escape your only motive. I detest the Farters the most because they're disgusting and you never know who they are! Can't you simply hold it in? - I assure you, it won't kill ya! Can't you take regular purge packs from the pharmacy? - They're only $3.00! Something MUST be wrong in this region *signals emphatically to his stomach* because no human should be able to produce those life threatening odours. I think that: 1) farting in air-conditioned maxis should be a CRIMINAL OFFENCE, punishable by DEATH and 2) when someone farts in a maxi, their face should light up in a fluorescent shade of green or pink while a whistling sound emits from their ears or a loud voice yells, "FARTER, FARTER!" and a BIG, SHINY arrow appears overhead, pointing down at him/her. You know what? I blasted VEX! I need some Chai tea or whatever tea calms you down. STEUPS!

4) The Stinker

I remember when I was younger, before I had discovered the joys of wearing deodorant; I had a small odour problem. On noticing this, my father sent me to the bathroom and came in with a lime with the intention of rubbing it under my arm to 'cut the scent'. I was EMBARRASSED and I VOWED to never let that happen to me again. From then, "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness" became one of my mantras. The Stinker has never heard that mantra nor has he/she had a father like mine. The most unnatural scents seem to emerge from their armpits or possibly, other orifices of their body. If not, they're sweaty from walking to City Gate in the afternoon sun and sit next to you, rubbing their sweaty selves on you. Ewwww!

Did I forget any people of the maxi taxi? Let me know in your comments. Until the next post!