Sunday, February 7, 2016

Carnival 2016 and What Recession??

We are moving into Carnival proper here in Trinidad . The Soca Monarch Finals in the Dimanche Gras Show are taking place as I write and the parties continue.  All of this  leads us into J'ouvert which starts at 4am tomorrow morning (Monday) followed by the start of the 'greatest show on earth', the street party that is Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

J'ouvert is the raw heart of Trinidad Carnival. It is a massive, night-time street party and procession which crystallizes in central Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades. Really it is a continuation of the season’s 'fetes', parties, of the night before as tens of thousands of revellers spill out onto the streets from about two o'clock looking for more fun. They dance till dawn and beyond - J'ouvert (pronounced jouvay) is a creole corruption of the French jour ouvert meaning day break or morning and signals the start of the bacchanalia that is Carnival.

J’ouvert is full of symbols of culture and heritage. It is steeped in tradition and playing mud Mas involves participants known as Jab Jabs covering themselves from head to toe and others in paint, chocolate, mud, white powder or just about anything that sticks. It is J’ouvert custom that no one is clean and a common sight is a being hugged by a muddy revelers. 

This traditional part of Carnival starts at around four in the morning and finishes after sunrise. Calypso, Pan and Soca music are the dominating sounds of J’ouvert in Trinidad and the mass of revellers take the street party wining and chipping their way to the Savannah in Port of Spain in the early hours of Lundi Gras, before the daytime carnival parades.

The roots of J’ouvert in Trinidad go back 200 years, with the arrival of French plantation owners. The French never colonised Trinidad, however elements of their culture remained. J’Ouvert evolved from the Canboulay festivals in the 1800’s, which were night time celebrations where the landowners dressed up and imitated the negres jardins (garden slaves). Following emancipation, the newly freed slaves took over Canboulay, now imitating their former masters imitating them. 

Canboulay revellers, who carried lighted cane torches, were seen as a potential risk by the authorities and the tension mounted leading to the Canboulay riots. It was eventually banned, and then was re established as J’ouvert. The Canboulay Riots are now acted out in the streets during the week leading up to Carnival. The spectacular costumes represent characters and events from the history and folklore. Moko Jumbie Bats, Bookmen, Baby dolls, jab molassie, devil mas are all traditional Carnival characters that capture the elements of the past, and continue to tell the story.

So here we go again, when crime will be at an all time low between Monday and Tuesday, when people have spent, although we are in a recession,  thousands of dollars on costumes they can't afford, when there will be integration of all the races that make up Trinidad and Tobago without any trouble (by Ash Wednesday they will be ignoring or fighting with one another again!), when non-stop music will fill the air, when visitors from all over the world will come and spend their US dollars, UK pounds and Euro dollars.  And we really do need the foreign exchange!

It is a lovely time and the only thing that threatens to spoil it at the moment is the strong possibility of rain!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Birthday, Mortality and Forgiveness!

I wrote this a few minutes ago on Face Book so would like to share it here.

I am copying and pasting (because it's easier and late in the day) so there will undoubtedly be a white background.  That is the least of my worries.  It's the message I want to get across!!

Over the last two weeks, many of us friends here in Trinidad (and probably further afield) have unexpectedly lost family, friends and acquaintances which has more than shocked us. For me, especially as I have a birthday tomorrow, it has made me realize once again, my own mortality. I normally manage to put that to the back of my mind but today, as I have been doing for the last several weeks, I am facing it head on because the one certain thing in this life is that death is inevitable. No one can get around it and bargaining with the man upstairs doesn't actually cut it!
No there is nothing wrong with me - I am not ill (maybe a little off my rocker at times and for those of you who follow me, know I fall alot!!) but I have decided to put certain things that I thought I had overcome and obviously had not, behind me. I am extending my hand in friendship to those who have hurt me and to those I have hurt. You know, at the end of the day, we can either be forgiving or remain remain hard hearted. I have seen what hard heartedness does and it's not pleasant. It manifests in so many unsuspecting ways, including physical illness. Me? I want peace and harmony and wish the same for the people in my life, be they family or friends. Extending the olive branch is never a sign of weakness.
Life is not a rehearsal people! Decide today what you want out of the rest of yours! With love xxx

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our House - Of Sneezes and Panda Eyes

So yesterday morning whilst on my way to work, completely out of the blue, I had an attack of the sneezes.  Not one, not two but many, many atishoos!  It seemed to go on forever and I could feel very wet eyes.

We are stationary at a traffic light. I turn to husband:
Me: Is my face black?
Husband: Black?
Why nine times out of ten does he answer a question with a question??
Me: Yes, black!
Husband: What do you mean?
Me: Do I have black on my face?
Husband: Where?
Exasperated now!
Me: Do I have smudged eyes or mascara running down my face?
Husband: No.
Me with watering eyes thinks to self  'he didn't look'.
Get into office, look in mirror and guess what! 
Yup - got it in one! Panda eyes!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our House: A Sky in the Cloud?

( I have absolutely no idea why there is a white background to my post!!)

Heard on the way home from work. Talking about computers. Yes apart all day and talking computers:
Me: The desk top is going to give in any time now. I need to back it up.
Husband: Huh?
Me: Well it's on its last legs so better done now.
Husband: There's nothing on it.
Me: Photos, files...
Husband: That's true. Put them on an external hard drive.
Me: You've seen the price of an external hard drive?
Mentions cost of one I bought for the office.
Husband: Well you can put them in the sky.
Me: Pardon???
Husband: In the sky.
Me: Sky?
Husband: That thing you're always talking about in the sky.
Silence. Followed by total silence.
Me: You mean cloud?
Husband: Whatever..... I knew it had something to do with the sky.
And this from a man who computer literate, insisted we had computers in our house in the mid 80s, long before they were as common as they are today and long before lap tops.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Shubh Divali 2015!

Tomorrow, Tuesday 10 November our Hindu brothers and sisters celebrate Divali, the Festival of Lights.  I have always been fascinated by the different spelling of this day.  I suppose it depends on where you live as to whether it's Divali or Diwali.  I notice in South Africa, it's Diwali whereas here in Trinidad, it's Divali.  No matter.  It is a wonderful feast depicting light over darkness.  No matter what one's religious belief, light over darkness, good over evil seems like an extremely good idea to me.

Divali was brought to Trinidad by the first indentured labourers in 1845.  It is an eight day festival and the word Divali itself  means  'row of lights'.  During the festival, homes are cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of richness, opulence and overall wealth. .Lamps known as deyas are lit in greeting, gifts are given and  wonderful, festive meals are prepared.

The climax of Divali is the lighting of the deyas after sundown.  Deyas are normally made from clay with a cotton wick which has been dipped in ghee.  They are to be seen in Hindu households  and non Hindu households: in gardens, open spaces, windows and porches.  The explanation of deyas which are lit in their thousands,  is here:,109229.html

Deyas are also placed in public - on bamboo stalks and in predominantly Hindu villages here in Trinidad, it is common to see entire streets decorated in this way.

Bamboo bending is an art.  Not any old bamboo will do.  The bamboo has to chosen carefully.  It is important op have long bamboo that is not very wide in width as it has to be split into eight pieces.

Celebrating Divali in Trinidad is unique.  We are a nation that takes the customs and traditions of every faith very seriously and that goes a long way to making us special.  Nowhere else in the world do non Hindus and non Indians actively take part in the lighting of over ten  million deyas in a single night of the year.  At times like this we are truly a united nation and Divali is the one defining event that marks Trinidad as a multi religious,multi ethnic society.  Whilst Divali is a Hindu festival, people of all faiths actively join in celebrating the light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.  At times such as this, the local mantra of  'all ah we is one" could never be more appropriate.

For more in depth reading on the Festival go to: That is only one of my previosu Divali posts.

To my many Hindu friends celebrating this beautiful festival, Shubh Divali.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Birthday Wishes and All Souls 2015

It's All Souls today and my husband's birthday!  I have posted about All Souls and Richard's birthday several times  over the years so  if you want the history of both, here you go!

Happy, Happy  Birthday to my husband who many of you may know from my Our House series here on Blogspot!

We have just had a lovely impromptu Chinese supper at home with our daughter and her boyfriend and our son.  Much discussion, opinions, laughter and love over the table. I love it when family comes together.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Magic Exposed!


photo Elaine Usdin
Photo courtesy Tess Kinkaind, Magpie Tales on Blogger

So you think you can
Surprise us
Producing a rabbit

Not a hat in sight
Which is
The magician's trick

The boxy floral short shorts 
Cannot hide
The hutch in

Barbara M Lake
Trinidad WI
November 2015
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