The 2 Qualities People Who Win Their 20s Have In Common

You have no idea how much I need this right now.

Thought Catalog

Life in your 20s is widely considered to be one long, vivid, Kierkegaardian horror in which you must answer a series of questions pertaining to who you are, what you are, and how the hell you’re supposed to pay back the student loan debt you were tricked into assuming by old people while also affording things like new underwear and food before you turn 30 then 40 then 50 then die. Or something.

But eff that noise. You can win this thing!

Last time, we took a first cut at some basics: don’t love people who don’t love you back, because that shit is distracting as hell and also I’m embarrassed for you; nobody cares about your college degree, so stop talking about it and do something cool; if the rules are unfair, play by your own rules.

But the philosophy of winning the shit out of your twenties, your…

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trinidad noir

I’m a bookworm. No. I’m a gourmet bookworm. I browse, I sniff, I skim. I get a taste of the book that I’m perusing. That I’m courting. When I’m satisfied, I get it. Hard copy, soft copy, it doesn’t matter. When I get one from an author I already admire and collect, I’m happy. I get a new book, from a completely new author I’m excited. When I’m not satisfied, I put it back. I feel a certain level of sadness at the loss of potential. Or worse, I drop it in disgust, all the while feeling a niggle of guilt for mistreating the poor, hopeful product of a neglectful parent-author.

I’ve looked at authors old and established, and new and upcoming. But hardly ever have I looked at books from Caribbean authors. Even more scarcely, would I look at books from Trinidadian authors. I see little need to. Or it hadn’t even crossed my mind to. Or some other pathetic reason not to.

Whatever the reason, I’ve found the one book that cemented this idea of looking for Trinidad’s own literary collection outside the literature classroom. After all, I was one of the few who actually appreciated them for being more than textbooks. And I still peruse the novels, whether in my mind, or when I feel the need to read something a little more substantial than I usually do.

trinidad noir is that one book that convinced me of the potential blooming from this little island that I call home. It’s another instalment of the Akashic Books’ Noir series. Like the other books it provides a deeper, darker, more meaningful look into the society of the island. And possibly of the country. As many people know, Tobago has its fair share of morbid tales, despite its cheery bedside manner.

Divided into two parts – Country and Town – these authors have taken it on themselves to cast a different sort of spotlight. Not necessarily one we, as inhabitants of the island, care to acknowledge – or maybe we do. Because, think about it. This is the society we all know about. This is the society that we all try to ignore. Men get raped, too. That respectable father has many lovers, a fact known to all but them. A woman’s level of manipulation is revealed only too late. Sometimes, Trinidad is the one place you can go home to and refresh. Sometimes it’s the one place you have to leave to find peace. These are the things we want to explore, but are afraid to, for whatever reason. But here, Trinis can read and nod, because they understand.

And they look to the foreigners, those stateside, or in Europe, wherever. After reading this book, this is how you’ll see us. Dangerous? Perhaps. But at the same time. You’ll see the desperation. The humanity. The inhumanity. The reality of our people. The TDC only have eyes for foreign. They not gonna show this bit. Sun, sea and sand for them. Tourism. That’s what they’re about.

But this works just as well. Dark draws people as much as Light does. 

So you read it. Then come. But don’t just be a tourist. Don’t just see the sights. See the people that make this island great. 


Signs You Grew Up In An Indian Household

So, scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, I stumbled on this article from ThoughtCatalog. Bijal Patel, from what I can gather is a second generation Indian living in the States, probably the first gen to actually be born there. I dunno, I’m assuming. But growing up in a household with Caribbean-based, Indian-descended parents, I thought why the hell not? Technically, I have lived in and continue to live in an Indian household. And lo and behold, from Ms. Patel’s list, at least 10 and a half things are true for me. I say “a half”, and I will explain it. But the purpose of this post comes from thinking about it a little more than I usually would. As I said, I do technically come from an Indian Household and am both a third generation and fourth generation to be born in Trinidad. Third from my father – the youngest of 14 – and fourth from my mother – eldest of three. I could continue in this train, but quite frankly I’d get confused and this is not the purpose of this post.

Right. So. Taking the similarities from Ms. Patel’s list you get the following.

1. More people lived in your house than you knew what to do with.

This is true, and it became worse around birthdays and holidays. From as far back as I could remember, until I was in form three, so about 13 years old, we lived with my grandmother, my uncle and his family, my aunt before she got married, and later when my other uncle got divorced he took his sister’s old space. So on an everyday basis, it was always full of people, (which I didn’t like) but with lots of room between them (which was a respite for me). When the holidays came around, I came out long enough to say hi to everyone and retreated not so subtly to our mini-apartment and sat  in front of the TV. PEOPLE take a lot out of me. Luckily it was always over pretty soon and everyone went home to their houses and hardly stayed the night.

2. Your name was often mispronounced.

Not so much mispronounced, but misspelled. The cousins all had a mix of Indian and English (I say English, but-) names. So saying them was never an issue. But  because my name was (at the time) so very uncommon, spelling it was difficult for people.

3. Your parents never used the dishwasher to wash dishes.

In Trinidad this is an island-wide practice, not Indian alone. I used to think this was bad, but some of my best thoughts, philosophies and games have come from the time spent washing dishes.

4. You never used the dryer for clothes.

Here’s the half that I counted before. Because we use the dryer and hang up our clothes to dry. I also got my parents to buy a concrete tub so I could handwash my clothes. I don’t fully trust the delicate setting for my softer clothes and would rather I get the stains out myself.

5. Swiffer? Mop? Try old, raggedy clothing.

This is also true. But I wonder if this had anything to do with a preference for rags over the mop, or the general laziness of our household to go outside and look for the mop to clean up any mess.

6. You always brushed your teeth before breakfast

This was probably because my mother’s thing against germs had gotten to me though. But I do know that my great-grandmother, who raised her, was an old Indian woman, so she would have grown my mother up in some very Indian ways. Whether my mother stuck to them or not is another story. (She didn’t. Mostly.) Some things had to stick though, and I’m guessing this was one of them.

7. You willingly put oil in your hair

Not willingly, and not always oil, but my hair demands it. Much to my chagrin. Seriously, in this household, we pride ourselves in not being Indian – or being not-Indian, whichever – and we just rock our ability to detach ourselves from the chutney, rum, Bryan Adams, Sharoukh Khan, Rohit whoever, Bollywood, dance – things. But sometimes our ancestry catches us. My hair is one such example. It’s like it feels the need to be neat only when greased up, or oiled down. Luckily, I could get way with it for a day or two, but no more. Tomorrow, I’ll have to go through this process again. And it has to be oil, too. Cream moisturisers just won’t do.

8. Your doctor visits were minimal.

Again, not sure of this is an Indian thing or a Household thing. With the exception of necessary medicals for school and work and whatnot, my siblings and father will not go. My mother on the other hand will take advantage of the family’s medical plan and go and get what she needs.

9. Your family would often tell you that you were “too dark.”

Well, not really. As I said, we pride ourselves on being not-Indian, but the issue of skin colour and status among Indians do tend to crop up from time to time. My mother’s family didn’t want her to marry my father despite his ability to provide what little he could for her – and he was willing – because he was too dark. But to thumb my nose at them, she did and he does – got a steady, big time one too, has for years. So where is your status symbol now?

But once more, Indian culture comes up. There was this one incident between my friend and me during our first year at University together. We had been in the same class since form 5 and were now doing the same thing at Uni. Her aunt or somebody had seen us together and she had warned my friend against me, for fear that I’d drag her down or steal her chances or whatever, because I was too dark. Because I was too dark, the woman thought I couldn’t be trusted around my friend.

I had nothing against the woman or my friend, mainly because she didn’t know me, and my friend – she’s my friend. I’m extremely loyal to my friends. If I thought I was hurting them, I’d back off. Hurting my friends is the last thing on my mind.

But I did feel disturbed about the whole deal. How messed up is this whole issue of skin colour that people would need to be warned against others simply for pigmentation’s sake? I understand some parts as to why, but it still befuddles me.

10. You would bathe using a step stool and a bucket.

I love showers. They’re refreshing, invigorating, and calming all at once. But there’s something purposeful and efficient about bathing like this. I’d done it as a child and have started back like this. It still works.

11. You recycled before it was cool.

Again, not sure if Trinidadian or exclusively Trini-Indian.

12. There was a stash of Taco Bell hot sauce in your house.

Well, not Taco Bell, since we don’t have that here (yet *-°) and not exclusively hot sauce. Sometimes ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, whatever, wherever we could get it. And this could also be an all- Trini thing too…..

13. You referred to any elder as “Uncle” or “Auntie.”

Well, yes, this is an Indian thing. In Trinidad, like it doesn’t matter race, colour, whatever. It’s just a matter of relationship, age and gender. And sometimes not even relationship. The old taxi driver that you will never see once he stops for a fare is an uncle. The old tantie taking forever crossing the road will be out of your mind as soon as you cross the next junction.

14. Your friends’ interest in “going out for Indian food” left you nonplussed.

Not going-out, but getting invited for prayers and food.

If, like me, you live in an Indian-predominant village, it’s “prayers food”. every major event means prayers food. Paratha, anchar, pumpkin, channa, kharhi, pholourie, barfi (Which I will demolish by myself if given the chance), kachourie, bhaiganie, whatever you could think of, it will be there and there will be plenty of it. To hear all my friends get excited around Divali because of the promise of food just gets me sick, knowing that that same week, we’ll be invited for at least 6 different prayers and that the curry overload will be too much for the fridge and our stomachs.

So now you know that there are some International things that show the Indian in your family.

So winding down from someone else’s observations, I want to start on my own things.

From what Bijal and I can show in these posts of ours is that the Indian influence is strong in us. There are some things we can try to ignore but these things are all in us, whether we want them or not, whether we’re aware if it or not.

And as for me coming from a Caribbean-based family, and having the ability to stop and think and analyse there are so many things that the Indian has been able to keep and maintain and pass on for generations, no matter where our ancestors came from, or where our descendants are going.

And I wonder, if we’re so lucky to have it just so, what would have happened if others introduced to the Caribbean had been allowed to keep their own cultures. What would have been maintained willingly? What would survive? And what would the consequences be afterwards?

A Continuation of Exam Culture

Basically everywhere you go you see signs for lessons  for students. Forms 4 to 6 – understood, because of the impending threat of CXC’s CSEC examinations followed directly by CAPE I and CAPE II. Eh! could be ignored except for do you really need lessons on Communications studies, when it’s pretty much straightforward? At least, it’s not at the level of Communications Studies at tertiary, where you might as well start your undergrad thesis at first year, or so it seemed to me, looking on at my friends who did do Comms studies at the University of the West Indies. I didn’t,so, hehe.

But more to the point – lessons for form 3 -NCSE examinations are new, and right around the corner. Lessons for form 2, okay NCSE. Lessons for form 1 – um… can’t you take a break you just came out of Lessons for Std. 4/5 for SEA.

But, what is this?! Lessons for Std 1! What, did they fail sleeping? Did they not understand the rhyme by rote? – A is for Apple, B is for Bat, C is for Cat and so on and so on.

I’m in awe.

I mean there are buildings – BUILDINGS – designated for lessons, which means, in the Trinidad parent’s mind pertaining to Their Child’s Guaranteed Success Story, that, yes, lessons equals success, because success is passing all your exams, but with no actual proof that you learned anything. I got a distinction (A grade I and all A’s in the profile)  in Maths, but so many things I’ve been faced with Mathematically since then, and I’m lost.

This Caribbean need to excel in Academia is far flung in our history. So many people saw the need to excel in school so they could go away and get what they perceive to be the Better Educational Route. And in Trinidad, to get level of “foreign educational success” it’s all grades on paper. Unfortunately, what is there is often not equivalent to what they actually learned.

The assessment process is also to blame. From what I remember of the past papers, like for Spanish and French, many things are repeated. Not one question repeated after 5 or 10 years. Rather a question from last year, or two years ago would appear. Many learned the language by Rote!  The same applies to the sciences, and the history. Can’t speak for any other one, but, I do know that much for what I did study.

So The question remains, why do we have a thriving lessons culture, if we aren’t learning? And when people are actually exposed to learning, how will they cope?

Idealistically, we can rid the country of this culture and actually teach and give the children a proper chance in academia.

Realistically, yeah, as someone who went through it and sees people go through it, it’s hard to come to any conclusion than to exploit it.

Optimistically, by embracing it, and using it and fighting the system like a well-meaning virus, we can eradicate it.

Pessimistically, the evil-antibodies will destroy all attempts, and assimilate us, like Cybermen, rather than the Roman Empire.

My question is, how do we do this without becoming like the rest of them?

Peggie Parsons in Trinidad and Tobago

Language Blag

Peggie Parsons

Frances Parsons, known to friends around the world as Peggie, was hit by a car and died yesterday. Peggie’s life was long and remarkable: she was instrumental in establishing the Deaf Peace Corps, she travelled around the world many times teaching and promoting deaf education, wrote several books and worked for many years at Gallaudet University.

Peggie first visited Trinidad in 1975 to teach American Sign Language, signed English and Total Communication, an approach to deaf education which emphasizes the use of all possible methods of communication, including speech, lipreading and, crucially, sign language. Before her visit, teaching at the schools for the Deaf was strictly oralist, that is, the deaf children were forced to try to speak and make use of their residual hearing, and signing was banned. This approach was failing deaf children badly, and denying them access to education in an accessible, visual language

Her trip…

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Bucket lists

Tomorrow a couple of friends of mine from university are going on a trek around the country, and getting a head start on their bucket lists.

It’s a good idea, and one that I’ve considered for myself and my old friends from primary and secondary school. But it seems that that’s near impossible to do since life and anti-synchronicity. And yeah I could probably put off my Christmas baking and head down with  my uni friends and have a fun time. But all in all, I’d rather not. It wasn’t my idea, and I feel like I’d be intruding, so…. No.

But it is a good idea. It’s got me thinking about my own to-do-before-I-can’t-anymore list.

What would I like to do before life and/or death hits me and moots the whole thing?  

Well first things first, I’d just like to take my car, my phone and my camera on a drive up and down my island’s highways and see the sights that I’ve never seen and those that I haven’t seen in years. All by myself. And since Trinidad isn’t too big, it’ll be done in a day. Part 2 of 2, I’d take the ferry to Tobago and do the same thing. A 2-day solo insta-drive. Peace, quiet and solitude all for me.

I’d like to gather four of my closest girl friends, pick a beach and camp/rent a house for a night and just do that. Beach things- swim, sand castles, cook-out, exploring and pick up driftwood just cuz we can.

Visit at least one Caribbean island and check out the languages, history, society. Compare it with Trinidad and Tobago and see how close this community is.

Do the same to a Latin-American country. Maybe Mexico, or Venezuela. Argentina or Chile when it’s not so cold. And if any of the latter, maybe check out Easter island?

Spend a week in New York in the fall. Take lots of cliché city pics.

Do an epic airport photoshoot.

Head over to the British Isles and feed my fandoms. Get started on figuring out the phonology of different regions and apply the data to Harry Potter charms and transfiguration spells. Also, see if any natural Irish or Welsh speakers are still around or not. Spazz in either case.

Get a Fabergé egg and a Matryoshka doll set.

Attend an opera.

Veg for 2 days on a couch after completing a self-satisfying  project.

Learn a signed language.

Attend a U2  concert. Spazz.

Spend a week in a country by myself. Do other week with my brother.

Help save an endangered language.

Spend a day in a cross-country book-hunt.

Do something I both regret and enjoy.

San Diego Comic Con. ‘Nuff said.

Have a ludicrous business idea and see it through.

Spend a week home, playing the entire Kingdom Hearts series. This means epic investment on game consoles for this sole purpose.

And this is what I could come up with now. But I think I could feel fulfilled with this. 🙂

– Kaye

It’s always Santa.

The other day, we were supposed to go to the Christmas Village, but things happened and we didn’t go. Which was fine, we did other things, had meaningful talks, went to the beach to kill the time, normal stuff.

Aunty Irene told me and mommy about this house in St. Joseph village that is super lit-up, and it’s supposed to be the Most Lit-Up House in the village. And believe me when I tell you, that that title is pretty much legit. It’s called Santa’s Wonderland. They decorated everything outside the house with a Santa’s Workshop theme, with presents, funky reindeer, I guess  you’d call them animatronic balloons? among other things. The tree was huge! Like a skyscraper in the middle of Port-of-Spain. Not New York, we’re not that far yet.

It’s a great thing to carry your children to see. Shiny lights, moving things, Santa everywhere. But, that’s just it, I think. Nothing else really interested me. (Although, I did spend a lot of time by the trainset. I really like the idea of a snow globe Christmas town, complete with trainset running along the edges. It’s really perfect.) Still, all in all, it was a good idea. And totally free. The owners aren’t profiting from this at all. Personally, if I’d opened my house to the public I’d charge them, but that’s just me.

Share the Christmas spirit, make people happy, please the eye, make no profit from it.

Idealistically, people get to, briefly, feel like they’re in a Christmas movie.

Practically, I could see the faults – invasion of privacy, any and everybody coming at all hours of the night, no money coming in after all that, and the light bill will be plenty.

Personally, if it were my house, I’d never have bothered with all of that. To me it seems like a waste of money, and a waste of time. Many people will disagree, I’m sure, but that’s the wonderful thing about opinions- we all have them.  But then again, maybe the house was up for grabs and it was a move by a real estate  agency or something. But again, I dunno. Possibilities, and it’s not my concern really.

Apart from that, Sunday when we went, I wasn’t sure about it. Strangers and all kinds will be entering on private property.  Is this a good idea? And it’s true. This man, I dunno if he was drunk, or what, started cursing the security guard when he was refused admission. Which, I think was a good move on the officer’s part, since that sort of behaviour isn’t appropriate when children are around. And that whole attraction was ultimately for the children, so why expose them to that sort of thing when they just want to see Santa?

And I keep coming back to that light bill.

I swear, it seems when you have money you need to show it off. Such is the society in Trinidad. Madness, oui.

Also, maybe it’s cuz we haven’t been feeling the superficial, commercial falling off Christmas for a while now. Maybe it’s because we’ve been more involved in church in the past couple years. Maybe because after we decided to leave the Christmas Village we had a mini prayer service thing going. Whatever it was, or is, I didn’t feel the usual happiness/excitement/whatever that we usually do. I just felt sort of sad. It’s all Santa. All commercialised. No remembrance of the reason behind the celebration. No Christ in Christmas.

And I hear the world gasp.

Hear me out. Hindus for Divali – so many preparations, so many prayers, so much cleaning – they are allowed to show the significance of the festival. Yes it’s somewhat commercialised, but it’s not seen. It’s more for the goddess than it is for the money. Eid-ul-Fitr – Muslims take it seriously – quite obviously. A month of prayer and fasting, and abstinence. The same things can be seen in each of these festivals in Trinidad – cleaning, buying new clothes and dressing for houses, for food, but should Christians actually do things for Christmas and Christ we’re treated to passive-aggressive attitudes.

Okay that sounds bitter, and a little hypocritical, since I’m pretty slack church-wise.

But we do get to the heart of the matter here. Among the biblical scholars there is the idea of the end of days. It’s coming, it’s near, and we are seeing it, even though most people, including those who grew up in the church, don’t recognise it, whether genuinely or by choice. The reclaiming of the nation of Israel, and the movement of Jews worldwide to Israel; the movement of some Jews from Judaism to Christianity; the movement of children of the church to the world – where they prefer to forsake teachings of the church – both those seen as controversial and everything else.

And Christmas is one area where this is seen.  Yes peace on earth goodwill to all men. But does this mean anything anymore? What does this even mean anymore? The carols that everyone sings – do you even know why the lyrics are what they are? Did you think about it? Do you think about that? How long before the lyrics are changed to reflect something other than God?

I’m usually the first one to try to stop my mother when she goes on a verbal holy crusade, but I do see what’s happening, and when I find out about anything happening, I try to find connections to the end of days – not blindly. If it’s there, there it is, of not, move on.

And these days too much concern is on prep, cleaning, presents, trees, Santa, dresses and outfits…. Blah blah blah.

I dunno. I’m ranting here, maybe it doesn’t make sense, maybe there’s nothing here that I’m grasping at, maybe I’m wasting a couple hours here doing this up. I don’t think so. But I think we do celebrate for a reason. But most people don’t know it, and the rest of us forget it.

It’s not Santa, I know that much.

– Kaye