Spendthrift

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This was an issue during the last elections and is and issue in the current one: the proliferation of advertisements (in all forms of media) by ministries, statutory bodies, state enterprises and entities.

Just because something is not illegal does not mean that it is ethical (and vice versa I suppose…).

My humble suggestion, as soon as the date for elections is announced, all advertising (not already committed / officially booked) by state concerns should cease, with the exception of those promoting essential services.

Use the party’s campaign funds to promote the party, not taxpayers’ money.

Steups!!!

Mango

Rescue Me

•April 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So you can probably tell from the nature of this blog that I am not a fan of the People’s National Movement (PNM).

However, I am not so far gone in my dislike for the party that I am unable to acknowledge that in its many years (in total) at the helm of Trinidad and Tobago’s Government that some good has been done – laudable initiatives, legislation, policies, projects and programmes.

I am not so far gone in my dislike for the party that I am unable to acknowledge that in its many years (in total) at the helm of Trinidad and Tobago’s Government, that there were several noteworthy PNM-ites (Ministers and the like) who were genuinely individuals of integrity, who did good by our country and our people.

I am not so far gone in my dislike for the party that I am unable to acknowledge that in its many years in existence, the party has a certain (admirable?) level of organisation and efficiency.

As I come from a long line (paternal) of anti-PNM voters, I am glad that I have not lost all perspective, that I can still be fairly critical-thinking.

Notwithstanding, there are two (2) major things that I dislike about the party:

i) The blind loyalty and faith that it has engendered in its members and followers.

The “moderate rebel” in me worries about the “PNM ’til ah dead” mentality, the “I born an’ will dead a PNM” attitude. It seems almost like a religion, “opium for the masses.” It does not matter what ills or transgressions this party and its leaders have (or may have / proposed to have) committed against Trinidad and Tobago and its peoples, PNM members and followers (especially of a particular socio-economic grouping) just will not budge, not even an inch. I am more than a little concerned when elected members of Parliament ignore their responsibilities to their constituents and countrymen to support the “party line” (initiatives, legislation, policies, projects and programmes that are clearly not for the greater good but are in the party leadership’s interest).

I just cannot see myself surrendering my identity to form part of such a group, even an organised one like that.

ii) The personal leadership qualities of Patrick Manning.

I do not like him, “my blood cyah take him.” It has reached the stage where I cannot  even listen to him / hear him speak (and I could listen to / hear most members of his recent Cabinet…).

I just cannot see myself voting for any party candidate that has Manning (or a Manning-type) as a leader.

So the questions I ask myself are:

i) After the many years (in total) of a PNM-led Trinidad and Tobago Government, am I satisfied with where our country is at and where we are going (initiatives, legislation, policies, projects and programmes)?

ii) Is there any political party that is as organised as / can become as organised as the PNM?

iii) Is there any political party leader out there that I like / could like?

iv) If I am not satisfied with where our country is at and where we are going (i), but I do not have affirmative answers for (ii) and (iii), come May 24th, would I be willing to take a chance?

I am thinking yes.

Mango

P.S. I am trying to get my hands on this article:

  • Primary Group Influence on Party Loyalty, by Herbert McClosky and Harold E. Dahlgren, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Sep., 1959), pp. 757-776

Although dated, it looks like a good read.

Double Take

•April 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mosquito and I started this blog during the last elections because we felt that we had something to say.

In the intervening years (mere months really), professional, academic and personal commitments have prevented us from posting as often as we would like, but here we are again…

What has changed from then to now?

On our way home, we still see the same graffiti that was put up last time around: “Remove PNM Blight” (and next to it “Vote UNC A”)…

Mango

The Barrel that Lives on St. Vincent Street : an Interview

•March 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

Since late 2008, I have noticed this barrel (see photo below) on St. Vincent Street., Port-of-Spain.

The Barrel that Lives on St. Vincent Street

Curious about its attachment to that particular location, I decided to interview it.

The text of my interview is as follows:


~


Mango: Can I get your name for the record?

Barrel: Barrel Jr. or Junior.  Pa was much bigger than me. A Port barrel (or drum as he preferred to be called!).


Mango: How did you end up on St. Vincent Street and how long have you been there?

Barrel: Hmmm. I know I was here for the Summit of the Americas, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and at least two Carnivals. I get some real good wine…


Mango: What’s your job? Are you covering a hole in the pavement? Do you hold some secret but useful contents?

Barrel: Job? I just there. Chillin’. Taking it all in.


Mango: Don’t you wish that you could be in another location?

Barrel:  Why would I want to move? I in a real good spot! I can check out the road-side action from the Magistrate’s Court, Attorney General’s Office and even the Red House!


Mango: So you don’t feel that you’re in the way there?

Barrel:  In the way? Hmmm. People have to get out of MY way, not the other way around, if that’s what you mean. The young, the old, the differently-abled… When the pavement real busy, they have to step out into the road. Dat is power! What I don’ t like is getting confused for a bin or a toilet. People feel just because I there, they can rest garbage on top of me, urinate near to me (dogs too!).


Mango: Is there anything you would like to say to the authorities?

Barrel: Fix the pavement. Those dam cracks wear down my base! Put up signage around me so that people will know to get out of my way (I don’t like being jostled!), to not use me as a bin, to not pee on me. Oh yes – and bring a lady barrel for me. It gets lonely out here.


Mango: Thank you Barrel for taking the time to chat with me.

Barrel: No probs. Stop by any time.


~


Authorities, as lovely as the barrel may seem (at least in my imaginary interview), it does not belong on the the pavement! It is an obstruction and an eyesore. Port-of-Spain, “Athens of the Caribbean,” its inhabitants and visitors, deserve better.

Mango

Tief Head: What I am Worth

•February 28, 2010 • 4 Comments

This entry is a continuation of Tief Head. Read it when you get the chance and you will understand why my posts tapered of in early 2009.

Life in the Public Service has been sucking me dry.

What could have provoked me into blogging again?  Earthquakes and tsunamis? RATT? KamJack? Property tax? Mystery church behind God’s back?

Nah…

Money!

What else?!

Contending with the work-ethic and accountability issues is one thing.

[Absences without adequate notice; three-day work weeks; 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. arrivals; breakfast; hour and a half lunches for shopping and beauty treatments; KFC eating after the hour and a half lunches; eyes glued to pc screen checking out YouTube and Facebook; ears stuck to office telephone for convos with boo, ma, cuz, bff; radio blaring; three weeks to complete three-day tasks; need to leave office to do “sumting”; days spent completing home-work, community work, second wuk, not work work; 2:30 p.m. departures; refusal to sign in / out on attendance book].

However, when I discover that after over a year of changing jobs (from supervising no one and dealing with a potential client-base of less than 35 persons, to supervising 3-4 persons and dealing with a potential client-base of more than 1000 persons) that all I get is a lousy $1500 increase (that is taken up by tax anyway!), I have to ask myself what is the point?

Money is not everything, but it certainly takes the sting out of dealing with certain work-place shenanigans.

If I do not get adequate monetary compensation, will I eventually resort to deriving my compensation in kind (flexi-hours, flexi-resources, flexi-work)?

I hope not.

I remain yours truly, committed to excellence (motivated by doing a job well done, not by money),

Mango

Note:

~ The work-ethic and accountability issues (bad-behaviour!) described cannot be attributed to all employees in the Public Service. However, in my own lil Department, I have witnessed all of them.

~ I enjoy my job (I just do not enjoy…)

Naina dat Rum

•April 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

All this talk about the lack of adequate representation of the diversity of Indo-Trinidadian culture in the  showcase at the Fifth Summit of the Americas’ opening ceremony, has had me thinking about what it means to be a Trinidadian of East Indian descent.

Let me preface my commentary by writing (once again) that I am a Trinidadian of primarily East Indian descent.

My concept of the Indian-ness of others has been formed largely by my encounters with family, at school (primary through tertiary level), at work and of course, by the media. Those have been my points of comparison.

Remember that stereotypical forward “You Know You’re a Trinidadian When”? I’ll phrase my general observations in that fashion:

  • You are Hindu, Muslim, Presbyterian (or recently Born Again).
  • You, your Ma or some immediate blood-relative can make roti and sweets.
  • You have access to home-made curry 3-5 times a week and have eaten on more than one special  occasion with your hands from a leaf.
  • You know what are same and curry leaves and can distinguish amchar from kuchela, dabla from puchara.
  • You enjoy ZeeTV, Bollywood movies and listening to local “Indo” radio (classical, chutney, tassa music).
  • You own formal Indian wear (and women: you know how the sari, salwar kameez and garara differ).
  • You follow cricket.
  • You have been on a river lime.

Now all of these things can obviously be known / shared / enjoyed by Trinbagonians (or even non-Trinbagonians), regardless of race or heritage.

But what if you are “Indo-Trinidadian” and respond in the negative to all or most of those  oversimplified assertions?  Are you any less “Indian”?  Should you find out the answers to those questions / fake it before someone calls you on it?  Can you stake as strong a claim on that Indo-Trinidadian label due to a common history, appearance,  or origin of family name? Are there other intangible things attached to the notion of Indian-ness?  The concept of the family, certain morals, ethics, codes of conduct?

Hmmm. I don’t think so.

If not those things, then what?  There is no answer?  It is a fluid concept?

So, the issues surrounding the cultural presentation speak more about diversity and identity than anything else. I did notice the dominance of certain themes throughout the presentation, but as Mosquito said, if Indo-Trinidadians took umbrage at their comparatively small cultural presence in the showcase, what about the groups of people who were not even represented? Given Trinidad and Tobago’s diversity (race, culture…), would it have been possible to adequately represent everyone as how they perceive themselves?

If I do not strongly identify with tassa music or Indian dancing, but recognize those things as broad threads in the colourful, complex tapestry that typifies Indo-Trinidadian culture, would I have just been satisfied to see more persons who look like me?

Or here is this for logic that is not so logical, should such performances be divided according to population statistics, (region and race), span of history?  A percentage for Trinidad, a percentage for Tobago?  However much for those of African, Indian, mixed…heritage?  A chunk of time for the indigenous peoples who were here long before us and less time for the newcomers?

Artistic license aside, the organizers of such showcases need to ask themselves, how do we want the culture of Trinidad and Tobago, to be represented to the rest of the world? Can we identify the  unique elements and artefacts created here?  Is there a national culture in Trinidad and Tobago?

As far as I can see, dominant groups still seem to be holding on to the possibly unifying fusion aspects that exist here.

To make matters even more complicated, I have no doubt that the concept of the Caribbean person, the West Indian, needs further clarification on the international stage.  Have you ever tried to fill out an official form overseas and find yourself confronted with the designations of Caribbean / West Indian (as if that were a race) along with the usual Caucasian, African, Asian…?

What do you choose?  Is the Caribbean an acknowledgement of our diverse populations? Or does it refer to one group as opposed to the other?  If so, why?

Today I am Trinidadian, tomorrow Trinidadian of East Indian descent, the next day Trinidadian of mixed descent.

Most of the time, I just feel like I am the Other.

Can any one group advocate on my behalf?

Mango

P.S.  Things that got lost (deliberately so) in the fire of the draft entry:

I omitted references to political affiliation.

It just muddies already murky waters. Just this week I was having a discussion about local politics with my significant other and soon, at the losing end of the argument (he will disagree!), my race-politics connection was called into play.  Now that can make me see red!

I also left out the alcohol issue.

I am concerned for the image of Indo-Trinidadian males with all these songs on the air-waves about rum-drinking.  It is another stereotype that I do not care for, even if perpetuated by the same.  I have been trying to get others to not dance to those songs, but when a good riddim takes them, there is no holding back …

The Greatest Show on Earth: Redux

•April 19, 2009 • 1 Comment

Continuing with my Trini Carnival – Summit of the Americas parallel…

Here are some other familiar themes that I observed:

Imagination

  • Caught a story on one of the local news channels about how the Charlotte Street Market vendors were disappointed that the wives of the visiting leaders did not stop by their stalls as part of their tour of the island.  The logic of my fellow citizens never ceases to amaze me.  Why on earth would people who are not voluntarily engaged in the rough guide tour of T&T want to go there?  Downtown POS is not all that fab (just being real), but Charlotte Street, least of all…  Hopefully all that yam did not spoil in the hot sun.  Nothing like heavy root vegetable to quell those economic hunger pangs.

Resistance

  • In spite of the best efforts of the authorities to stifle the voices of the people, the unions and their supporters came out in small numbers in POS for a peaceful protest.  Forces (fatty bullies) in full costume (in riot gear) outnumbered the protesters.  Check out the news story and accompanying photo here.
  • Environmentalists, musicians, performers and members of various interest groups turned out at the  Drummit 2 Summit at the St. James Amphitheater to make known their views on the Summit and current issues of interest.  Drama ensued (permission granted, permission revoked, speakers on, speakers off), with the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) coming out.  Had no idea that we had taken a step back in time, that we had come full circle to a point where the authorities and drummers would find themselves in conflict.  Check out the news story and accompanying photo here.

Masking (related to Masquerade/r below)

  • The authorities and Summit organizers succeeded in completely hiding the real Trinidad and Tobago.  According to household media monitor, Pa (he has been glued to TV all weekend), visitors complained about being shuttled from official point to point with little opportunity to interact with the people of T&T.
  • Due to the suppression of protest action by the authorities, the population of T&T, a vociferous people by nature, were rendered (or depending on your take, allowed themselves to be rendered) relatively voiceless.  Compared to the actions by the local populations at other regional and international meetings, our passivity has been conspicuous, our silence deafening, our identities masked.

Inefficiency

  • Like the Dimanche Gras shows of the past, the Fifth Summit of the Americas was plagued by snafus of one sort or the other (accreditation delays, Ortega’s three-hour wait, scuffle with Kirchner detail).  Read the Associated Press’ take here. I suppose all of this will eventually be attributed to the teething problems associated with hosting a meeting of this scale for the first time, co-ordinating efforts across mutiple agencies.  I hope that the  post-mortem analysis of the Summit is critical but productive and that those involved in planning the CHOGM later this year, learn from the mistakes made.


My grade for the Summit:

B- / C+ . Improvement needed (in terms of planning, execution, communication with the people, freedom of expression of the people).

Still heard too much about Latin America and the US and not enough about the Caribbean  (with the exception of Cuba). Think that future bi-lateral meetings (e.g.  Canada-CARICOM) will be more beneficial.

Not that I am all for conflict, but Ortega’s speech at the opening ceremony, Chavez’s book exchange  and Morales’ comments were the only interesting moments of the whole affair.  All those fiery personalities  seemed to have boiled down like bhaji…

Was happy to see / hear the name Trinidad and Tobago in the international news.  But we were merely a venue.  Do not know if the viewing public learned anything much about us.

My opinions aside, the visiting leaders used words like change, co-operation, openness and optimism to describe the Summit.  Consensus as opposed to unanimity to describe the Declaration of Port-of-Spain.

Waiting for those words to become deeds.

Mango

P.S. As it is T&T’s most important production, terms / themes associated with Carnival are used in my discussion of the Fifth Summit of the Americas as a point of departure, not as source of disparagement.

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.