Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2015 Contents A32
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, September 1, 2015
It was Sunday, and so I went like a good mid-
western consumer, to seek fulfilment in material
things. There was a bulb that needed to be replaced
in a lamp that I had recently purchased, to read
a book that I had just bought, in the studio apart-
ment that I had just rented. This was an unusual
quest for a former minimalist nomad, who for the
past few years had been living out of a suitcase
containing a total of 52 pounds of worldly belong-
My search took me first to the local big block
chain retail store, but no luck. Thankfully I emerged
before being hypnotised into buying a cart full of
school supplies like everyone else. Home Depot, the
big chain hardware outside of town seemed to be
the best place to find my bulb, and so I headed over
My quest for enlightenment was over. Satisfied
with my replacement bulb, I cruised like a carefree
enlightened person out through the chaos past a
congested checkout area, choked with frenzied shop-
pers and carts, towards the parking lot.
Emerging into the spacious sunshine, I was imme-
diately captivated by the presence of two people
crossing the street. There was an ineffable familiarity
about them that I could sense from the relaxed
boldness with which they crossed the street. What-
ever it was that gave them away, it was all the more
recognisable contrasted against the demeanour of
the agitated local shoppers with their surly expres-
They were a middle-aged east Indian couple,
which wasn't unusual in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And
then I recognised it, the sweet sound of good living
in our Trini accent. Now, I knew where they were
from, but to them I must have seemed like just
another random fair-skinned American at first
glance. But naturally, like a Trinidadian who recog-
nises a countryman in a foreign land I approached
them. "How allyuh enjoyin yuh visit?" I asked
politely. It's always a surprise, but needless to say
we hit it off.
They were from Mayaro, visiting their daughter
who was married to a local engineer. There was just
one degree of separation between us we had worked
out; small world. Aside from the close-knit swim-
ming community, I don't know anyone else here,
so it was with much delight that I accepted their
invitation for dinner later in the coming week.
The curry was delicious, especially the mango.
It blew my mind to be eating curried mango in
Michigan, outside, under pine trees next to a fire.
I had not had a taste of home since February. The
conversation that evening was unforced and familiar.
There is something about coming from a small
country that cultivates an outwardly looking per-
spective which makes for worldly and interesting
people. We shared anecdotes about various novel
experiences, and tried to give some insight to Amer-
icans into the unique way with which our very social
culture tends to approach life with our liming, our
Carnival and our incessant drive to maximise vitality
at every possible opportunity, even to the extent of
being labeled hedonistic.
Human beings crave novelty, it's an essential part
of what it means to be human. We are in love with
the concept of new. People want novelty in any way
that it can be obtained, which is usually in the form
of either new experiences or new things.
With the introduction of cable TV and con-
sumerism to T&T, things are starting to change,
but generally, our culture still seeks novelty in the
form of new experiences, which is why we are always
looking for a good time.
Unfortunately, in the midwestern United States
there are not many new experiences to be had,
especially without paying for them. Furthermore,
it's difficult to have novel experiences in a society
that culturally doesn't value them, but instead seeks
novelty in the form of things, to create consumers
and sustain an economy. Instead of going
out and enjoying experiences, people here
tend to work hard and then spend their
money on material possessions, having
basements, walk-in closets and storage con-
tainers full of old things.
I think that's part of why I am so good
at recognising other Trinis. Instead of hyp-
notised consumers, charging unfriendly
towards the entrance of the store, the Trinis
will be the relaxed ones who seem open to
the possibilities of life.
One might argue that if Midwestern
Americans were on holiday too, they would
probably adopt the same attitude. However
our cultural preference for life and expe-
rience over things keeps us living like we
are on holiday all the time with regular
river limes, cook-ups, beach limes, hikes,
fetes and the ocean activities.
This Sunday morning, I joined my fellow
Trini friends and their local connection for
a dose of pure vitality that was so good it
will surely keep me coming back for more.
While most American consumers headed
off to seek fulfilment in things, we drove
out to a hidden gem of a pristine spring-
fed lake in the countryside, and proceeded
to enjoy a lake lime, maximising vitality in
the practiced way that only Trinis can.
If God really is a Trini, he would have
surely been proud.
• Get more from George, follow him on
Doing it the Trini way
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