Friday, 30 November 2012

Birth Night!

Go Garvin, it's your BIRTHDAY!

On Thursday, October 4th, 2012, I celebrated my 23rd birthday. I thanked God for life, and spent the majority of the day reflecting on the year that was and what I hoped to achieve this year. When I wasn't reflecting, I was being showered with birthday greetings, well wishes, and kisses from students and staff alike. My family and best friends called me, my favourite class sang me "Happy Birthday", and the teachers invited me to dinner. While all this was happening, my Facebook wall was alive with more birthday greetings from close friends, associates, and those who were reminded by the social networking site. Overall, by my standards, it was a quiet day. This fact didn't bother me because I knew that the next night, I was going to unleash my inner bacchanalist.

It was Friday, October 5th, 2012, the time was 9:30PM, and I was on the back of a motorcycle for the umpteenth time. I was on my way to a friend's house to await the taxi cab that would take us to Club Zouk. You see, my friend is also a Libra, and decided to invite me to an event that her friend was hosting. The idea was that we would celebrate our birthdays together; my ticket had been bought, so I thought, "Why not?" We would be joined by her boyfriend, some of his friends, and her friend who was supposed to be my date for the night. Eventually, we were on our merry way, trying to convince the cab driver to come back for us at sunrise.

As soon as the cab dropped us off at Zouk, I found myself wishing that he could come back in ten minutes instead of at sunrise. I mean, this disco had to be the shabbiest dance club in Neiva, and this judgment was based on just seeing the car park; the unpaved, muddy, and potholed car park. My imagination, forever running wild, gave me an image of the inside looking like an abandoned warehouse, with peeling paint, rats, more potholes, and Dr. Lizard. By the time, we were actually ready to enter the club; I had steeled myself to expect the worse.  Thankfully, there was no Dr. Lizard on the inside, but the most elegant décor I had ever seen- hanging chandeliers, comfy, white leather couches, cute shot glasses with the word "ZOUK" stamped on them, and snazzy, silver tables. I actually felt like drinking from a small cup with my pinky finger aloft, laughing like I owned the world.

Aside from the elegant décor, something else occurred to me: in addition to the staff and promoters, we were the only people there. I did the only thing that seemed plausible: I started laughing scandalously while everyone (10 people) looked at me like I was crazy. How embarrassing to have put all your blood, sweat and tears into the planning of an event, and have only four people attend! I would have died! Luckily, my laughter and sympathy were not necessary as within 30 minutes of our arrival, other people started coming, and it seemed that everyone in Neiva had come out. And when I write that everyone came out, I mean, EVERYONE! There were a lot of mature people, and not my parents kind of mature, but older, like my Granny. One woman was actually escorted to her seat by her son, put to sit down, and hastened to cover her eyes from the strobe lights. Sure, we all need to get out of the house, but I'm sure that there is a lot of age appropriate entertainment ma'am, like bridge or bingo. Would this be considered ageism? Moving on…

Whenever I venture out to a club, I can never start dancing right away. I have to sit, sip on my Redd's, and wait for the right song to play. You know, that one song that seems to reverberate in your head and causes a sense of delirium to travel from the mole of your head to the soul of your feet, and you feel like screaming, "WOI!" You CANNOT control yourself, and the only thing left for you to do is shake what your momma gave ya! Luckily, my momma gave me A LOT, and once I heard this song, I was ready to go. It was all uphill from there as every song that played, no matter the genre; I just had to shake a leg. Within 45 minutes, I was sweating, hoarse from all the screaming, and aching all over after wining down low, repeatedly. Sigh, my bones aren't what they used to be! But, like a true Trini, the vibes cyah done!

After about three hours of dancing, it was time for the specially invited guest to perform. He was a DJ from "La Escuela de David Guetta", and seemed to be well known by the patrons, judging by the screams and wolf whistles. Initially, I was intrigued by what he had to offer, but once I discovered that his set was 45 minutes of techno music, I became disinterested. I decided to sit and watch everyone react to the pulsating, repetitive electronic music. Boy oh boy, did they react! People started going CRAZY; one guy was jumping on the couch in either glee or demon possession, a man and woman were dancing like chickens in one corner while another couple were gyrating and humping each other like worms in heat. I just had to laugh and shake my head.

Sometime during my 45 minute rest, I realised that I was really tired since I had danced non-stop for close to three hours. It was about time to leave; I needed my beauty rest. We gathered our things, and were just about to leave when I realised that I didn't have a souvenir from the night's experience. You see, I like taking something home with me to remind me of where I had been, especially if I had had a good time. I opted to take one of the shot glasses, and quickly deposited it in my pocket like a thief. I proudly posted a photo below:

Hee hee hee! Until the next post... CHAO!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012



When I found out that I was going to live and work in Neiva for ten months, one of the few concerns I had was where I was going to have my hair cut. Having spent ten months in Bogotá, and experiencing two horrible haircuts at the hands of the scalp-rapist, Omar, I had reason to worry. You see, most barbers in Colombia don't know how to cut my hair. To me, hair is hair, but for whatever reason, the cut would look uneven, and the mark would be all over the place. If it took me two months to find a barber in metropolitan Bogotá, I imagined that I would return home as a "congo bongo, natty dread" after my year in Neiva. So, I was pleasantly surprised when within three weeks of being in Neiva, I was in a cab on my way to the barbershop. As soon as I realized that the barber was black, I knew that my prayers were answered. Here goes...

The day was Tuesday, August 15th, 2012, the time was 10:00AM, and I was shaking my head and tapping my feet to salsa music. I was, also, watching a guy have his hair cut and styled into the most ridiculous Mohawk ever! Appropriately named, Los Niches, the barbershop was located in, what appeared to me, a poor part of town, judging by the houses and the dirt track I had to cross to get to the shop. The walls of the barbershop were plastered with the usual crap like, the Wahl Style Guide, a poster of Bob Marley and the Lion of Judah, and advertisements for events, past and future. What was particularly disturbing to me was the fact that Chris Brown was included on a poster of the "Top 20 Rappers of the 21st Century". Yes, Chris Brown!

The barber was a short, energetic man who had either just decided to grow a ras, or had a ras that refused to grow. He moved quickly as he put the finishing touches on that horrid Mohawk, and spoke emphatically about life, girls, and the Olympics. I noticed that he had a certain flare about him. He would flick his wrists dramatically as he cut, randomly start dancing, stick his tongue out while he thought about the best place to put his designs, and once finished, he would remove the smock in a flurry of black as he signaled the next patron.

The next patron was not yours truly though, but a young guy who seemed kind of ghetto to me. He was dressed in really tight jeans, a striped T-shirt with solid coloured sleeves, and a shoe that was too big for him. Added to that, he had his hair styled in these ludicrous, gel filled spikes, and was playing the radio from his telephone. G-H-E-T-T-O! I had to wait longer than usual for Papi to cut his hair because he had to wash all the gel from his hair before he could get started. While he was doing all that, I noticed that there was a fraternity that existed amongst the barber's clients. Not only were they all different shades of black, but they all seemed to get along well with each other. When someone arrived at the shop, he would greet the barber, and then, go on to shake hands and exchange greetings with everyone. This one guy even bought us all something to drink. It felt like I was with my extended family from Neiva.

Finally, after what seemed like an epoch, it was my turn. I excitedly sat in the chair, and told the barber what I wanted, which was a tad difficult. No matter how hard I tried, he could not understand that I wanted a fade. When my friend eventually intervened, and expressed what I wanted, Mr. Barber started laughing, and told me the style was called, the sombrero. Go figure! With our little language barrier demolished, my haircut commenced, and my excitement faded, like my hairstyle, and gave way to annoyance. He was so rough in the way he cut my hair; he would dig the machine into my scalp, pull my head to and fro, and pass a coarse, pink sponge through my hair for reasons unbeknownst to me. Eventually, I had to ask him to be gentler- I have feelings, you know! Sadly, it didn't make much of a difference.

As was expected, he asked me where I was from, and why I was in Neiva. After telling him that I was from Cali, and having him scowl at me, I told him that I was from the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago. His eyes lit up, he turned off the machine, and ran to his laptop, exclaiming that he had music from my country. I couldn't believe it, and I was right not to because he started playing reggae music. Sigh! I was, therefore, compelled to let him know that reggae music is synonymous with Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago had its own forms of traditional music, like calypso, soca and chutney. He seemed genuinely interested, so I decided to take out my flash drive and play some good, ole soca for him. Let's just say, MADNESS ENSUED! He started dancing, jumping, shouting, and stating emphatically how good the music was. In that moment, I felt proud to be a Trini.

Eventually, my time at the barber was over. I was quite pleased after I looked at myself in the mirror. I have been to said barbershop a total of six times, and aside from him giving me a puma one time, all my hair cuts have been great. Until the next post!