Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 25th 2018 Contents B8 xx
Sunday, March 25, 2018
I anxiously stood by the door, listening
to him thumping up the stairs. I left it
ajar and stood creepily on the other
side. A little more and I would have met
him a few oors down, but I didn't want
to look completely desperate (though I
He was a little guy, even shorter than I
am. I heard him take a break from the
stair climb somewhere around the third
ight, and seeing this tiny human in
front of me, weighed down in a bulky
pu er coat, I could tell why he needed
a breather. He smiled when he saw me,
seeming almost happier than I was to
"You Indian?!" He excitedly asked.
"Well, Trinidadian. But I have Indian
He handed me my Tandoori take out,
and turned around to head to his next
delivery. He wasn't interested in hearing
about my ancestry.
A similar run-in happened last year in
Jersey City. I sat in a chair getting my
eyebrows threaded. I never quite got
how these threading people talk while
balancing yarn in their mouth, ripping
out people's facial hair from the root.
"Where you from? What's
your background? " she asked
"Trinidad. But I'm East Indian"
"You're not Indian"
"Well my great grandparents are from
"You're not Indian. You don't look
"Well in Trinidad, they consider me
"But you're not Indian."
Indian people in New York City look
at me like I'm an alien. I could feel the
stares, and I see them whispering to each
other when I walk by. They won't claim
me. Everyone's trying to gure me out.
In Trinidad, I had grown so accustomed
with identifying as "Indian" that I never
really thought of myself as something
else, but these disappointed "Actual
Indian People" or "Authentic Indian
People" (shall we call them AIPs?) made
me very aware that I am Trinibagonian.
The way I dress; my loud lipstick and
impractical stay-warm ensembles, are
nothing like theirs. My hair is wild and
short. I talk loudly and animatedly on my
phone while overtaking slow-walkers. I
say "Hi" to people I walk by, even though
I know they won't reply. It's just not the
A pending identity crisis, I rst thought
of it. On so many forms here, you have
to tick the Race box. I tick "Asian" for
lack of a better option, when there is no
"Other". I am so not Asian though! But
am I an "Other"? Eek. People are always
asking me about my ethnic background.
It forced me to look at the unique
qualities that make me Trinbagonian.
What does it mean to be West Indian?
And more speci cally, what does it
mean to be West Indian in the US? We
often hear about the experiences of
Mexicans or Middle Easterners, but who
is a Trini here?
At a party a couple weekends ago, my
Trini/Bajan friend from back home was
visiting. We got into the venue, soca
performers on stage, and a girl says to
my friend that she is being very West
Indian by keeping her jacket on inside!
If the struggles with the climate are any
indication, we are warm people and we
thrive on connection.
I met a stylist from St. Croix at a weekend
short course at FIT last year. She
remains one of my best friends in NYC.
We connected literally based around
the fact that we were from the islands.
She heard my accent and her eyes lit up.
We've been inseparable ever since.
Same goes with a Trinidadian fellow,
who for months has become my go-to
compadre for everything. He's fun to
lime with I'm sure, but I'm his friend
primarily because of the accent. It feels
Trinidad-born Knitwear Designer Aisling
Camps and I have laughed hyena-cally
over our Caribbean phrases. We both
were having a ridiculously stressful week,
but one night, sitting on the oor at my
then furniture-free apartment, over
several cups of tea, we laughed man. We
laughed so hard, digging into Trini slang,
and basking in the nostalgia of how we
speak. Her New Yorker friend sat across
from us, watching us like we were crazy.
He was right.
We are such a pelau of colours and
cultures, but at the end of the day, we're
Trini! Within our tiny twin islands, we
use titles and wealth to divide us into
segments. We stereotype people into
categories like "The 1%", "people past
the lighthouse" and "West Accents". We
do so much to di erentiate between
ourselves, when to the rest of the world,
we are one.
If only we could see ourselves that
way too. It is only when we bounce up
somewhere foreign that we like each
other so much more. You never miss the
water til the well run dry!
So for a minute, I didn't even know how
to respond when they asked my ethnic
story. Now I just say I'm Trini.
"But you look Indian"
Here we go again.
Stephanie Ramlogan is a NYC based
Trinidadian Fashion Stylist and
Writer, mostly known for her wildly
popular blog NoMoreFashionVictims.
com. You can reach her at writeme@
stephanieramlogan.com or check her
out at StephanieRamlogan.com
Links Archive March 24th 2018 March 26th 2018 Navigation Previous Page Next Page