Monday, May 30, 2011

Indian Arrival Day 2011

Today as my American friends remember those who sacrificed their lives in wars gone by and those still going on, here in Trinidad and Tobago, the East Indian community is celebrating Indian Arrival Day.  A very happy Arrival Day to my Indian friends.

Indian Arrival Day commemorates the arrival of the first Indian Indentured labourers from India to Trinidad, in May1845, on the ship Fatel Razack. While this momentous event has been celebrated among the East Indian community in Trinidad and Tobago for many years, it was only in 1994 that it was made an official public holiday. It was called Arrival Day. In 1995 it was re-named Indian Arrival Day.
Indian Immigration to Trinidad spanned the period 1845-1917. During this period over 140,000 Indians were transported to the island. The journey was long and arduous and living conditions were deplorable. The Indians were subjected to abuse, poor food, and dangerous weather conditions. Nevertheless these adverse conditions enabled them to form a bond which overcame their differences of language, caste and regionalism.
After disembarking at Nelson Island, the arrivals were fed and rested for a couple weeks and then sent to the various estates that had requested them previously.
When the Fatel Razack sailed into the Gulf of Paria in 1845, it brought not only a new labour force, but also a new culture, because the Indians brought with them their food, dress, language, music, dance, religion and customs.

 Buss-up-shut (paratha), dhal  and pumpkin (photograph Vegan in the Sun) 

Indian wear

Tassa Drummers

Shiv Shakti Dancers (photo Newsday Newspapers)

Temple in the Sea at Waterloo

Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple

Mohammed Jinnah Memorial Mosque, St Joseph (Photo Flikr)



 Jhandis (Prayer Flags)


Divali in Felicity, Trinidad

Divali Deyas 

The Fatel Razack brought not only a new labour force to assist in the economic development of Trinidad, but also a new people with a new culture.  Indian Arrival Day commemorates this momentous occasion and the event is celebrated by staging a re-enactment of the arrival of the Fatel Razack at various beaches, as well as with music and dance ceremonies. Outstanding members of the community are also honoured for their contributions to society.
NCIC. Conference on "Challenge and Change: the Indian Diaspora in its Historical and Contemporary Contexts" Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Arrival of Indian Indentured Labourers in Trinidad. August 11-18, 1995.

For those who are interested in reading more, I wrote a more detailed blog on Indian Arrival Day last year which you can find here.

Memorial Day Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Let us never forget those who gave their lives in WW1 and all the wars that have followed.  And let us ensure that our children know their history and never be allowed to forget.
I wish all my American friends a trully blessed Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recipe for Disaster

This post should probably be in Bee's Upfront and Serious.

Growing up in a military family, I was taught that there are two things that were never discussed publicly - politics and religion.  One's political affiliations were private and personal and others only knew your religion by which church you went to.  All military and formal church services were held in the Anglican Church on camp.

It is only in the last few years that I have opened up to discussing both topics and even though I know I should know better, I have become embroiled on more than one occasion in both topics on another site.  Every time I do it, I promise myself I will never do it again because I cannot bear the hostility and bashing that comes with what is supposed to be a debate.  Non believers don't discuss - they insult and use sarcasm as a tool in their so called arguments. They are arrogant and incapable of making a comment without throwing in a personal insult.  They tell you you are stupid, uneducated, ignorant, that you are a puppet, go on to discuss you with other parties and before you know it, they gang up as it were.

The political topics are much the same.  Don't even attempt to enter a discussion whereby you may believe that Obama is right about going back to the 1967 lines dividing Israel and Palestine. Don't point out that whilst he is the President, he has a Cabinet which takes part in the decision making process.   People are biased and are not open to discussion.  I have said over and over again that everyone is entitled to an opinion but when those opinions are not based on a person's politics and policies but rather his ethnicity, I have a problem.

Sugar coat it how you want, the truth will always out.  There will always be arm chair critics but whether the discussion is about religion or politics, mutual respect and good manners are called for.

Maybe the military had it right when religion and politics were taboo subjects.  We may have come a long way in that we have the freedom to discuss anything we want to but in doing so, I have found aggression takes a front seat and that we really aren't very nice to each other.

It's no wonder the world is in such a mess.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ne'er a Thought

MAG 67

Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid.

Banquet Scene with a Lute Player by Nicolas Tournier, 1625

'Tis typical of men
Each concentrating
On whatever his fancy
Not one of these dandies
Seated around me
Didst  think to ask
If a 
Vegetarian I be

Barbara M Lake
May 2011
Trinidad WI

Friday, May 20, 2011

When I Grow Up

Mag 66

Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

Memories of a library
So long ago
On three walls
Rows and rows  of
Book lined shelves

A very young girl
Is invited in
And spellbound
Wanders around the
Curtain drawn room

There is a comfort
In being there
The smell of
Tobacco mixed with
Age old leather

The little girl knows
That here is special
And makes a vow
That one day she
Too will read

Barbara M Lake
May 2011
Trinidad WI

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Plant a Man!

Do you ever get angry with your other half  no matter how much you love him???  

I am so upset and furious - my husband in his enthusiasm for gardening has just massacred a much loved plant of mine that has taken so long to nurture.  I cannot believe it.  I cannot believe that knowing how I feel about greenery, he did this now saying that it will grow again 'much better'.  There was nothing wrong with the blasted thing although he's now sulking and trying to tell me it was dead.  DEAD?? DEAD??  Of all the stupid things to do - he is now hiding from me because I totally lost it.

This is one time when I am convinced that men are from Mars.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Gentle Reminder?

 Mag 65

 Photograph courtesy Tess Kinkaid, Magpie Tales

 I hesitated in writing this because it is so very personal but after much thought, I decided that I would share my experience and let you make of it what you will.

It was May 2005  when a friend asked me to speak to a friend of hers who was going to have surgery.  We will call my friend Jenny and we will call her friend Bernadette.   I had never met Bernadette but because Jenny had asked me to speak to her pre-surgery, I did.  She was somewhat on edge and rather afraid but I could tell from her voice that she was a gentle and unassuming soul.  Jenny had told me some time earlier that Bernadette had been blessed with extraordinary gifts.  The fact that I was rather skepical of this did not stop me from talking to her as asked and also finding out some information she needed regarding her child's education.

In early June 2005 I travelled to Rochester, New York with my then boss who was to conduct a four night Mission in the Diocese. We were accompanied by a husband and wife who were to provide the music, and their two young daughters.  We had a fantastic trip - the Mission was a success, I shopped at  o'clock in the morning and wondered if people had nothing better to do than be in the supermarkets at that hour(!), had my first and only taste of Walmart, met some fantastic people and spent the last free day at Niagara Falls.  The priest in whose home we stayed  and was to become a dear friend, was deliciously hospitable and the night before we left to fly back to Trinidad, he gave me a gift.  It was a beautiful mosaic plaque and the central figure was St Francis of Assisi.   Back in Trinidad I hung it on the wall over the computer desk.

Fast forward a few weeks.

I am now going to share notes I made at the time which I then sent as an attachment in an e mail  to my daughter who had gone to England for a few weeks to work in a friend's London Art GalleryThe names will remain as Jenny and Bernadette.

The notes:

Some weeks ago - end of May - I was involved in doing something for Bernadette, a visionary who was to have surgery.  I have never met her but spoke to her on the phone prior to surgery.

Friday 15 July 2005  - pm  call from Jenny - she had been to see Bernadette (the visionary) who had the following message for me:

1)   I was on a high spiritual level - could have said very -  cannot recall                

2)   I was to pray to Our Lady more

3)   Who is the saint that wears a brown gown that I pray to or should be praying to?

I do not know - thought perhaps it was St Joseph as I have been praying to him recently as  the    Patron Saint of Workers  -  job for......... (name given) on advice of ............(name given)

Saturday 16 July 2005 - 5.00pm Mass - Santa Rosa  - opened  my Missal and the page fell open where I have a picture of St Francis of Assisi .  I wondered if this was the saint I should be praying to.

Monday 18 July 2005 am - call at work from Jenny who had been to see Bernadette and there was a message for me.

1)   The saint wears a brown habit with a cord around his waist
2)   He is waiting for me and will help me
3)   I am to light a candle to him and pray to him
4)   He has sent signs but I have not picked them up.  Is happy that I now have and he is willing to 
5)   I am prayerful
6)   I suffer from tiredness and am very, very tired at the moment.  Have to be careful as I live in   
      a state of constant anxiety
7)   I work very hard and do not make time for myself


Fr ........(the priest in Rochester)  gave me a gift on my departure - a mosaic plaque depicting St Francis of Assisi and asked when I thanked him, if I realized it was St Francis.

On my return received an e mail from Fr........ (Rochester).  Told me he was going on a Retreat with some of the admin members of the Diocese and that he would be taking St Francis's Bros Sun Canticle to de-stress.  I went on line to check out the Canticle.

Saturday 16 July - Missal fell open at the page showing St Francis

End of notes *****************

After all of the above happened, without telling my priest friend what had taken place, I asked him why he had given me the plaque of that particular saint.  His reply was "Because your spirit reminds me so much of his".

As the months and years went by, I lapsed.  In August 2009 my boss was leaving and his parting gift to me was a beautiful 36" x 14" poster of - you guessed it - St Francis.  A gentle reminder?  It sits in my office waiting to be framed.

I have had more 'gentle reminders'  and I'm asking myself why I don't listen.  I think this Magpie was another little push to get me thinking


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Today as my American friends celebrate Mother's Day let us remember and give thanks for all mothers - those who are with us and those who no longer are.  And let's also remember the fathers who are both mother and father to their children - in my book, they deserve a bouquet as well.

Mothers Day

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Long Wait

 MAG 64

Smoldering Fires, Clarence Holbrook Carter, 1904-2000
Columbus Museum of Art
Photograph courtesy of Tess Kinkaid, for Magpie Tales

I could not bring myself to run
To the head of the mine 
When  I heard the roar that signified
The dreaded explosion 

I could not bring myself to go
To the door of the mine
Where mothers, wives and daughters
Wept and prayed  

I could not bring myself to face head on
At the opening of the mine 
That you may well be one of those
Trapped deep within

I could not bring myself to up and leave 
The security of my home
Where the only sure being in my life is
Our beloved child 

I cannot bring myself  to run and throw
My aching arms around you
For I am weary having lost all hope
Of  your survival 

Barbara M Lake ©
May 2011

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