Sunday, 20 July 2014

Rotaract District 7030 Conference, Day Three

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced”- John Keats

This here’s the third and final instalment in my Rotaract District 7030 Conference series of blogs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, who read until the very end. Your commitment and comments on Facebook and WhatsApp made my heart smile. Love abounds!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Rotaract District 7030 Conference, Day Two

“Nothing becomes real till it is experienced”- John Keats


Welcome to the second instalment in my three-part blog series that chronicles my experience at the Rotaract District 7030 Conference in Paramaribo, Suriname. Below is a summary of Day One:

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rotaract District 7030 Conference, Day One

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced” - John Keats


For three glorious days, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Rotaract District 7030 Conference in Paramaribo, Suriname. I had heard about the annual meeting of Rotaractors in the District two months into my probationary period with the Sangre Grande Central club, and I was eager to participate.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Acceptance Pending


“You see I study art
The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot”

-Macklemore, Ten Thousand Hours

In January, I wrote a blog post about my struggle with self doubt. If you read it, you may have remembered that it left me wondering if pursuing a Masters’ in Creative Writing was a step in the right direction. What you may not know is that I eventually decided to apply.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

In Between Jobs

Just a fancy way of saying that I'm unemployed...

Hello, blog-o-sphere! About 7-months ago, I updated my Facebook status, announcing to the world that I was unemployed. I was frustrated and angry, and simply needed to vent a bit. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when a job offer came my way the following day. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity as I needed a pay cheque and it’s not every day that your FB status lands you a job. Seemingly overnight, I became a Research Assistant, and the rest is history.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

First Time J'ouvert

“Ah wanna wine, wine, wine, wine
Ah wanna grind, grind, grind, grind
With meh bumpa ‘bout
And meh foot cock out
Cuz it feels like the first time”
-          Destra Garcia, First Time

The idea of playing J’ouvert never appealed to me. For starters, I like being clean and there was nothing clean about dancing in downtown Port- of- Spain in the wee hours of the morning, covered in mud and oil, rubbing shoulders with smelly people. Witnessing the revelry as a teenager, only served to cement my belief in how disgusting an affair it was. I don’t remember the reason why I changed my mind, but as soon as the Carnival 2014 season started, I expressed an interest in playing J’ouvert. My friends were initially unenthused by the idea, but a month before Carnival Monday, they came around. 

What followed was a mad Internet search to find an appropriate band. The first one that came to mind was Red Ants, but I was greeted by a “Sold Out” stamp on their Facebook profile photo. Next, I looked up Chocolate City. However, I was put off by the ghetto vibe and rumours that the chocolate smelt like sh*t by 8AM. I went through about five or six bands, until I found out about, Jus’ Paint. The band promised premium drinks, breakfast, a 40 foot music truck, tight security, and an on board medic service, all for the price of $400. Plus, some liming buddies of ours were playing with them. It was no surprise that two days later, I purchased three packages. 

A few stuff from the package
On J'ouvert morning, the traffic started at Morvant junction. Initially, we- my mother, my best friend, the driver and I- took everything in stride. We talked amongst ourselves, shared anecdotes and some laughs, and sang along to the radio.  After 45 minutes spent in more or less the same spot, the light hearted atmosphere became one of dour silences, grunting and restless shifting in seats. I spent the time muttering reassurances, berating myself for not having left home earlier, reading, jogging the driver awake, and being assaulted by the pungent aroma of The Beetham Landfill. 

We had spent over an hour, sitting in traffic, only to be ushered through the checkpoint with the flick of a wrist, along with a lot of other vehicles. Basically, the roadblock was pointless and stupid. We made haste to St. James as the city came alive around us. Revellers were making their way to their bands, clad in colourful T-shirts and short shorts, whistles and/or cups hanging unceremoniously from their necks. The pulsating rhythms of the music truck pushed us along a street, lined on either side with food stalls. Patrons waited in line or sat on the pavement, having breakfast, while the cloying smell of oil and grease permeated the air.

The streets of St. James were home to a host of people; from the movers and shakers to those in between to the gunthas and ghetto Barbies. They were in varying stages of undress, sporting paint, mud, oil or abeer. For all the people present, there was no one from our band, like... anywhere. We tried calling our acquaintances, but no one answered, which was understandable. It wasn’t until we were close to Long Circular Mall that luck favoured us. Our band had been spotted!

A man, decked out in his Jus' Paint T-shirt, a pair of Superman-inspired boxers and rubber boots, welcomed us to the band by admonishing us for our cleanliness. This was followed by a proper dousing of paint and a blow of a whistle. The first order of business was getting something to drink, which proved difficult. Not only were the drinks situated on a mini truck that lurched forward at regular and unexpected intervals, leaving us in its wake, but we had to shout our orders over the boom boxes. I remembered being appalled at having to run behind a vehicle for a beverage, but you know what they say, “When in Rome...”

With my vodka and orange juice firmly in my grasp, I found a spot behind the truck. I wasn't worried because I had on my glasses, which meant that I would be able to judge the distance between myself and the truck's crushing wheels. Paint splatter be damned! The more I got into the groove, the more I realised that chipping in time to the music was no easy feat and required coordination that I lacked. Oh, and it’s OK to wine in front of a church, once you make the sign of the cross.

Getting in the groove; obviously, I'm very excited
Slowly but surely, the music invaded my soul, and I was gripped by this unyielding sense of euphoria. I wanted to climb on walls, jump and touch the clouds, and wine on every surface imaginable. What manner of sorcery was this? With all thought, worries and self consciousness gone, I gave into the sensations. I blew my whistle, yelled and screamed, hugged and wined on strangers, and sang at the top of my lungs. All of a sudden, running on the side of the mini truck to replenish my drink was exhilarating. I peed in a bamboo patch. And spoke Spanish... at random... to myself. I was even scolded by security for letting go in the middle of the street, hands outstretched, oblivious to oncoming vehicles. My crowning achievement was that I was able to do all that without a speck of paint landing on my glasses or face. 

As the final beats of 'Ministry of Road (M.O.R.)' petered out and we made our way to the breakfast area, I found that I was wholly satisfied with how the morning had turned out. Although we had only gotten two of the scheduled four hours of play, it was time well spent. In the breakfast area, we were met with the poor conduct of some patrons. There was shoving, line jumping, swearing cussing and pleas for order. One committee member was having none of it and stormed off. The doubles man put his hand on his head, equal parts frustrated and flustered. One woman tried to use her feminine wiles to get ahead. Another complained of how hungry she was and how long she had been waiting, her complaints beautifully decorated with different versions of the word, 'f*ck'. For all her hunger, she only took one doubles with slight. It was all hilarious to me.

Clean faced, fed, tipsy, and exhausted
With the excitement of the morning’s activities dying down around us, my crew and I sat on the pavement to eat our doubles, which turned out to be tasteless. I was still high off of the music and alcohol and vibes, which served me well on my trek to City Gate. I hadn’t realised how tired I was until I got home and went straight to sleep, without bathing. 'Low meh nah, all yuh!

Overall, it was a great first experience, and I can't wait for J'ouvert 2015. Until the next post! 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Back To Basic

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” - Ernest Hemingway 

For two long, agonizing days, there was no water in Sangre Grande. To survive, we had to depend on our tanks, bottles stored under our sinks, or a neighbour’s good grace to get by. Everything that required the use of water was a task in itself. I can’t begin to count the number of trips I made to and from the tank, hauling buckets of water to different parts of the house.

During one of my trips, I commented on how difficult it must have been when a pipe borne water supply in these parts was virtually non-existent. When I asked my Granny, she wove an interesting tale about walking three to four blocks from their house to get water, and having to wait in line, peradventure their neighbours had gotten there first. She recalled that, although she was disgusted by the people she would see brushing their teeth and spitting under the standpipe, she would have to return to the same standpipe to bathe, under the watchful eye of her mother.

To me, it seemed horrendous, but the smile on her face and the mischievous glint in her eye made me realise that she didn't see it as such. She must have had happy memories of that time. Her story, coupled with the lack of water, got me thinking about Trinidad Rio’s calypso, Back to Basic. While the idea of digging a latrine appalled me, I wondered how my life would be if I were to simplify some aspects. I'm referring, in part, to my writing.   

My last blog post detailed my struggle with the pesky, Self Doubt, and its effect on my writing. In trying to overcome it, I would spend hours on websites, obsessively reading articles on writing, and the history and length of the short story. In doing so, I was complicating my writing process by focusing too much on technicalities, which meant that little to no actual writing was done, and if I did write, I was wholly unsatisfied. 

I’m not saying that the technical aspects are not important; I’m sure that I’ll be learning about most of them, eventually. But, as of right now, I need to follow my passion. I must write again with reckless abandon, letting my creativity and captivating ideas guide me. 

Basically, I want to go back to basic, that is, back to what made me want to write in the first place, and the things I did that made writing fun. I'll start off by resurrecting my notebook and pencil, since inspiration can come, and go at the drop of a hat. Then, I want to rejoin the library and do more reading. I've found that reading nourishes your talent, and helps you to see how it's done, or not done, in some cases. Finally, I'm going to return to writing in the serenity of my backyard. 

I feel like my way forward is a little clearer.

Until the next post!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Self Doubt

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt”- Sylvia Plath

The New Year is off to a slow, depressing start for yours truly. My old friend, Self Doubt, has returned to piss all over my manuscript that will determine whether or not I am accepted to the Masters’ programme in Creative Writing.

Do you know what it’s like to be your own worst enemy? How about getting up every day, with the intention of writing a page, only to have your creativity flounder? What about feeling as though every word, sentence and paragraph you write is pointless shitty? Or that the dream of being a writer that has captivated you for the better part of two years was a passing fancy? Garvin, the Writer? Ha!

I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment that this debilitating disease crept into my life. I have a great support system. I've won prizes. I've been chosen to travel to Colombia, twice. I was the Head Boy in Sixth Form for crying out loud! All these moments and more have proven that I’m more than capable of doing anything. So, I have every reason to be confident in, not only myself, but my abilities. Except, I’m not!

Maybe, it happened during the “bullying phase”, when I was made to feel that I wasn't good enough as a boy? No, that can’t be it! I could just be afraid of opening myself up and exposing my creativity to constructive criticism. I’m very sensitive, and often misinterpret constructive criticism for malice. Plus, I've read that the path to being a writer is not an easy one. I must be mentally sabotaging myself in the hopes of avoiding the incoming bumps in the road. That makes sense, right?

How do I get over this? I have tried everything. I've re-read my past blog posts, only to find faults. I've gone over all the compliments I've gotten about my writing, but if I don’t believe in myself, what use are they? I've forced myself to write, but end up being even more frustrated than before. Sigh! What’s the point? I can’t just sit around, wallowing in self pity, watching old episodes of “Wilfred” as the deadline draws closer. I would hate to be rushing at the last minute in a daring “Make It Work” moment. I should just throw in the towel from the get-go, and apply for a “safe” Masters in Cultural Studies.

Maybe, all hope isn't lost; I did just write a blog post. Then again, I might read this tomorrow, and think it’s a load of shit...

Until the next one!