Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ode to Carnival

It’s that time of year in T&T. The festive season we Trinis look forward to. For me it means random teenagers taking over my house (“Hello Auntie!”) and glitter covered bed sheets by Ash Wednesday.

Carnival is the season of fashion disasters. The fashion police take a vacation while otherwise sane individuals wear outfits they would normally be jailed for. The sartorially challenged are in their glee. For them Carnival is an invitation to test the limits of spandex and colour combinations that would make Lady Gaga cringe.  Men seize the opportunity to tackle women who would normally repel them with mace; women throw inhibitions (and sometime panties) aside.

As Carnival approaches we willingly part with large sums to wear very little. Women in particular engage in activities they would not dream of doing at any other time of the year – chip miles through the streets of Port of Spain half naked. Cover their bodies in oil, mud and paint under cover of darkness.  Risk dog bite and broken bones to wine on a wall in Woodbrook; and squat furtively behind a parked car in the wee hours of Carnival Monday morning when no other option is available.

A popular saying in Trinidad is ‘Carnival can be enjoyed by everyone at their level’. The truth of the matter is Carnival is an expensive business. The average bikini and beads costume is a snip at a cool US$600. And don’t talk about the all inclusive fetes. Tickets for Lime at the Hyatt this year were a nifty US$300. And you still had to line up for food. Frankly, for that kind of money I want half naked pretty boys following me around with caviar and champagne while I wine on Daniel Craig.

Carnival is as much about survival of the fattest wallet as it is about stamina. The average all inclusive fete will set you back the equivalent of a car payment. Apart from the overpriced ticket, there are all the “must-haves” which complete the fete experience.  Outfit – $700. New shoes – $600. Mani Pedi – $300. Weave – $800. And that’s just the men. Women spend twice as much.

My fete experience this year was limited to the Prince of Port of Spain’s annual shindig on Chancellor Hill. As I observed the steady stream of partygoers making the trek up the hill I marvelled at the amazing number of people who don’t have mirrors in their homes. Ladies if your hair is four colours and two of those colours are yellow and blue – do not leave your house. That is not a hairstyle. That’s a parrot.

I found myself explaining the free bumper concept to English visitors on Carnival Sunday night. Carnival is the one time of the year when men have license to wine on any bam bam with abandon. Men are on a mission – grab, grip and grind. Many women enjoy the random encounter aka tiefing a wine from a complete stranger. Especially if the guy is hot.  If however your bottom is the recipient of some unwelcome zipper attention, take Benjai’s advice and wine to the side. Even Prophet Benjamin can’t throw wine on a hip. As a friend pointed out – best not to turn around because then you have to make a judgement call.

This year the band left without me. Literally. I decided to forego the mas experience (crazy, right?) after a particularly expensive year. House renovations deprived me of fun as well as funds.

Today I found myself in the unusual and unwelcome role of Carnival taxi driver, dropping Mini Me and her posse in Port of Spain. Looking at masqueraders hustling through the streets to find their band was torture. How could I be in Trinidad and NOT play mas? If I can’t play it, I don’t want to see it. Please – do not call me after you read this and tell me what a great time you had playing mas. I will cut you. If I didn’t have reports to complete, I would have been on the road. (I have to constantly remind people that I work for a living. It’s not all Vampire Diaries and Twitter).

They say absence make the heart grow fonder. I don’t know about that, but next year? Try keeping me out of the action. Save me a wine.


It’s A Family Affair

Cue Sly and the Family Stone.

This post is neither a recap nor a review of The Vampire Diaries Episode 313 Bringing Out The Dead. Rather it is a commentary on questions raised during the episode and my thoughts on them.

Bringing Out The Dead was a treat for TVD fans on many levels. Visually it was a  hunkfest with the slickest dinner party guests ever.

Originals and Salvatores – Oh My!

We learnt  more about the origins of the Originals, and were introduced to two new OVs. Caroline broke our hearts (again) and the mystery of who’s attacking the Council members deepened. It turns out Elena’s prints were on the murder weapon used to attack Bill Forbes.

How does the Mystic Falls PD even HAVE her fingerprints?? And Meredith conveniently had an alibi for the attack on Alaric.

Something doesn’t add up here. Meredith claims she discharged Daddy Forbes to shut him up, but Bill told Caroline someone jumped him when he was trying to sneak out of the hospital. Either Meredith is lying or….well I don’t know or what. I just don’t trust her. And did anyone else notice the look Matt gave Elena when they walked into her kitchen? (Seriously, haven’t these kids seen Scream?)

This is Mystic Falls and as far as I’m concerned, everyone is a suspect. Could the evil Katherine be involved somehow?

The dinner party illustrated yet more parallels between the Original and Salvatore Brothers. Klaus’s commentary on Elena’s future with the Salvatores was cruelly accurate and struck a chord with Damon at least.

Damon  began to realise that maybe –  just maybe – neither he nor Stefan  is the best man for Elena. Later on in the episode Stefan admitted he still loves Elena (shocked!), displaying another crack in his douchebag persona.

Klaus was the perfect host though, and entertained his guests with  delectable  fare of the culinary and human variety before indulging in a little after dinner drink.

Klaus’s reaction to Kol’s undaggering was interesting:

Why was Klaus so afraid of Kol? He seemed just as thrilled to see Finn:

But it was the arrival of  Mama Esther which struck  real terror into Klaus’s unbeating heart:

For the first time we saw a truly terrified – and cowering – Klaus, convinced he had literally met his maker.

Just what is Original Mama up to? Team Elijah appeared delighted to see her (not). What does she possess or know that can kill Klaus; and more importantly – who else knows about this? Katherine goaded Stefan into stealing the coffins for a reason. Our Kathy only acts out of self interest – what does she know about Mama O?

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what Mama O is. We know she isn’t a vampire, but is she a manifested ghost a la Anna and Vicki? Could her ultimate goal be to un-vamp the Originals with Rebekkah’s help (two generations, blood knot – natch). Yes I know Evil Blood Slut isn’t a witch, but even Klaus noted she has supernatural gifts beyond vampirism.

We are meant to believe that Esther emerged from her casket, KO’d the Bennet babes and legged it ASAP to the Klaus Haus.

Story lines are rarely that simple on TVD. I can’t help thinking something or someone else was in that coffin. I’m probably completely wrong but … it’s fun to speculate.

So many questions! I need answers! But enough from me. What do you think? Agree/disagree? Sound off in the comments below.

Da Yaee Ghana

Time has moved on since my last blog. I’ve had four days to soak in a bit of Accra and get acquainted with the new client system. (FYI I’m on maximum strength Nexium. Taking in front…) My hotel is fine and I have no complaints except for the abundance of slim, pretty women working here. This is nature’s way of reminding me that there is no way in HELL I’ll have a Bliss costume-ready body by February 20th. But seriously, when did Ghana get all these gorgeous women? I forbid my husband to come here again.

My Ghanaian hosts were gracious, helpful and extremely pleased to have me with them. I had three productive and extremely busy days. It’s very detailed work, and the sort of stuff I love to do. They are trying to inveigle me to help them with a host of organisational issues. I’ve committed to visiting Ghana next month and we‘re discussing additional projects.

Whenever I visit any country where football, cricket or both are popular I inevitably get asked about Trinbago’s most famous sporting icons, and Ghana is no exception. What – we all know each other? The place is so small? Canny observers who pick up on my surname often follow up with “Are you related to…?” And then I have to concede that the country IS indeed that small and half of Buccoo and Patience Hill share my DNA. But there are benefits to living in a pimple on the South American continent – topics to be explored in future blog posts, perhaps.

Things I learned about Ghana:

Fact – Ghana had the world’s fastest  growing economy in 2011 according to the International Monetary Fund – a ridiculous 20.15% in the first half of 2011.

Fact – The traffic in Accra makes Bangkok look like a kiddies’ bumper car circuit.  Everyone drives like a Crystal Stream maxi-taxi driver. But on Wednesday night the roads were exceptionally clear. The Africa Cup of Nations is on and Ghana played Guinea last night. By 6pm every man, woman and stray dog was gathered around a TV.  Huge screens set up in Accra’s commercial district pulled large crowds. Ghana drew 1-1 with Guinea, putting them through to the quarter finals.

Fact – The Ghanaian Cedi is 1.66 to the US dollar. Sheesh – even if you reverse the numbers it’s still worth more than the Trini dollar. And we feel we’re so great.

Fact – Ghana is one of the most religious countries in the world; 90% of the population belong to an organised religion and believe in a higher being. What was it T&T is famous for again? Oh yeah – feting and bobol.

On Wednesday afternoon I got the opportunity to see beyond my hotel and the client’s building. I met up with some Trinis working here (we’re like Bruno Mars and salt – in everything) and they took me on a tour of the city.

Accra is a huge place (population 2.3M). Lonely Planet describes it as “Africa for Beginners” – a mixture of the modern and the traditional, with sufficient comforts to appease a Western palate. The people are friendly and despite what I read on the internet, the incidence of crime against foreigners is relatively low. Busy, dusty streets are packed with traffic, people and commerce. A visual smorgasbord of poverty, prosperity, religion, art and culture; all impatiently jostling for attention. I visited the Independence Square, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (what’s the deal with African leaders and HUGE mausoleums?) and bought a few artefacts at the Art Center. I apologise for the poor quality pics – I was in a moving car, after all. Hopefully I’ll have more time to explore on my next visit.

Similar to Trinidad, hawkers converge on cars at traffic lights offering a variety of goods. Unlike Trinidad, the items for sale are somewhat…unusual. I’m used to people vending fruit, vegetables, even the odd As Seen On TV item. But fake Pringles chips (yes, fake Pringles), toilet paper, Scrabble games? SMH.

I spent my last night in Ghana at the Trini posse’s house (which was spectacular) watching the football and chilling out before trekking to the airport. I don’t know what I enjoyed more – the lime or watching the intense expression on their Ghanaian colleague’s face as he concentrated on the match.

All too soon my Ghanaian adventure was over and I was boarding a United Airlines flight bound for the USA. BTW – anybody reading this remember what Piarco airport was like 25 years ago? THAT is Accra’s airport today. Nuff said.

So now I’m sitting in Washington Dulles airport passing time before my next flight. New blog posts will appear on Sunday evening/Monday morning depending on your time zone. Have an opinion on this post? Sound off in the comments below. Ta ta for now!

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