Broke Whine

My waist should have been broken from all that wining, not my brain…After all, Carnival has been finished for some time now.  Yet, I seem to have found myself in some sort of writing slump.

I have been reading much of what my fellow Trini bloggers (based here and abroad) have written during this period, but before today, I just could not get it together.

I do not think it is the post-Carnival blues. Yes – willingly spending several thousand dollars to play in a terribly disorganized band can do you that. Thanks I.P.!*

But the more that I consider it, something else has put me in a tailspin.

A former school-mate’s e-mail announcement of her appointment to a fairly prestigious post in the States.

I just might be jealous.

The question of why am I here / what purpose do I serve (something that I will usually only voluntarily consider on the eve of my birthday or the new year) has begun to plague me.

For the past few days I have been at a training workshop. In attendance are several information professionals, who, like me, have returned from state-sponsored study abroad to serve out a contracted period of repayment (a few years).

While it is always nice to meet up with your fellow peers, it is inevitable that the “catching up” factor also includes concerns about the job.

It is clear to me that my profession is facing a crisis of morale as the issues that confront us include: low pay (less than the Master’s degrees that we all possess, laughable sums when facing a loan officer),  underutilisation (routine tasks frequently outnumber those requiring critical thinking skills), few opportunities for professional advancement (which is strange given the fact that there is an acute shortage of our kind), limited access to the cutting-edge techniques and technology that our often pricey education exposed us to (bureaucracy can stifle creativity and innovation), and little recognition from our clients (as much of our tasks may be behind the scenes, most of them do not know what we do and often confuse us with our unqualified co-workers),

While some who live abroad fondly reminisce about and yearn for home, those of us who voluntarily chose to return might at times wonder why we ever did so in the first place…

But then again, I can’t lie. Last year, when I was still “up North”, freezing my butt off, all I could think and talk about was home (family, friends, food, climate, flora, fauna, music, language and the long list of all the things that I continue to give thanks for).

In the face of questions from family, friends and teachers who did not understand why, when I had experienced all that a “developed country” had to offer, would I be returning to Trinidad and Tobago, I confidently responded “Why not?,” expounded on the virtues of “giving back to one’s country” and casted aspersions on those who did not / were not going to do the same.

It felt so right at the time.

Now, I am here battling it all (we all know what that means, so I will not begin a list that I might not be able to end) and I ask myself if I were somewhere else, would I be better off (professionally, economically)?


I also ask myself if I were somewhere else, would I be truly wanted, would I belong (socially)?

In that regard, for me, there is still no place like home.

In times of occasional self (and country) doubt, that is what keeps me here.

But for how long?



* Will soon post my long overdue review of the I.P. Carnival experience.

~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on February 19, 2008.

2 Responses to “Broke Whine”

  1. Thinking now that the more open economies (no special considerations / preferential treatment for disadvantaged countries) become, the tighter the immigration laws.

    The new colonization is perpetrated by multi-national and trans-national corporations. Companies based in developed countries want to trade with developing nations on unequal terms (scales of production are not equitable across the board). They use our cheap labour and raw materials to make products that they sell to us at exorbitant “market” prices. It is no wonder that the (subservient) countries in these exploitative relationships are trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and poverty and their citizens look elsewhere for better living and working conditions.

    The so-called “war on terror,” the growing frequency of cultural and ethnic clashes (e.g. Paris, London in recent years) and the supposed burden on the state (employment, healthcare, housing, education) has created a climate of xenophobia and intolerance. In some way, the aforementioned considerations have all been used as justifications by recipient countries (e.g. North America and Europe) for “re-assessing” the policies that govern the granting of visas and citizenship.

    The revised requirements are usually onerous (time-consuming and costly) and “seem to be” particularly geared towards the person from the developing nation.

    Does the yellow, brown, or black professional / academic / skilled worker from a developing nation encounter any greater difficulty in the visa / citizenship process than his / her white counterpart from a developed nation?

    What happens if you are poor and unskilled?

    Are your migration chances better if your country is embroiled in civil strife or warfare?

    Troubling questions for trying times.

    Think these articles are worth a read:

    *Migration strains rich and poor
    By Steve Schifferes

    *UN predicts huge migration to rich countries
    By David Blair

  2. I am a Trinidadian living in the Netherlands about 6 months now.
    This post hits home. Almost everything you have described, freakishly mirror my experiences. In T&T I used to have a crappy dietician job, where I worked so hard and got back so little. I wouldn’t elaborate, you described it yourself. I detested it, so I was going to change that. I found another purpose. My Mphil proposal got accepted in UWI, and I was going to do research. Everything was in place already.

    Then my husband got the job. I quit my first job I had for only 4 months, ignored my acceptance letter, and moved here. I found a new purpose now – learn Dutch, get a job, maybe a not as a professional, but hey the euro is valuable, get on with life.

    You said “The question of why am I here / what purpose do I serve” is close to me. I am still trying to find it, over here. I am getting a lot of trouble with this.

    You said “While some who live abroad fondly reminisce about and yearn for home, those of us who voluntarily chose to return might at times wonder why we ever did so in the first place…”

    I am at a stage in my life you were once in. I am planning on going back to Trinidad, to live the poor, miserable student life once again, with an institution I detest. I KNOW huddled over a physics text and with nothing but bread and tea to eat I will be wondering why I ever came back. I am beginning to see it is not because I miss my friends, or the beach or the callaloo, but it is the only purpose I can find right now.

    You said “It felt so right at the time.” You were so sure then, but I am not, my mind is ripping two ways.

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