Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 10th 2013 Contents A11
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My name is Angelo Bissessarsingh
and I curate the Virtual Museum of
Folks assume "Sando boy" since I
went to Naparima College, but I m a
born and bred Siparia man. Siparia is
far enough down under for us Siparians
to vote in Venezuelan elections.
I am the eldest of three children,
very close with my parents and
extended family. I was the first grand-
child and both sides quarrelled about
who was hogging the grandchile time.
I don t have a family myself. My quirks
do not make it easier for companions.
My brother and I lived in Trincity;
kinda disconcerting, relocating to a
house with barely ten feet space on
all sides. A middle-aged maxi driver
used to brawl at 5 am with his 19-year-
old chirren-mother until the senior
policeman across the street come out
and threaten to lock up everybody. I
was happy to move back to Siparia
where neighbours were far enough
away for their worries to not become
At UWI, I remember raiding a
grove of Field Station guava trees
with a sign reading, "NO PICKING."
And gobbling down the most succulent
guavas ever, before realising the very
ripe fruit were being used to seed
whitefly maggots for observation. Pro-
tein content, oui!
My great-great-grandfather was a
pioneer in the 19th-century Presby-
terian missions. However, my imme-
diate family are atheists. I do not
believe in an afterlife that promises
reward or retribution. As an amateur
archaeologist, I ve toyed with human
remains at archaeological sites. A hand-
ful of crumbling bones...nothing more.
That is what we are.
I don t have an actual favourite
colour per se. But if, somehow, a rac-
ing-green Jaguar came into the picture,
that might change
I am a real bibliophile. No, no...that
just means I like books.
I have one word for relaxation:
TOBAGO. I feel the stress being shed
before the plane hits Crown Point.
Everything excites me still, from the
overpriced accommodation to the awe-
some heritage preservation and respect
for nature we seem to have lost in
Asking me if I like to read is like
asking the Cookie Monster if he loves
Oreos. I have a particular affinity for
Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dick-
TRINI TO D BONE
As Told to BC Pires
ens---but I also had a ball reading
some old Boris Karloff horror
comics. I loved JRR Tolkien LONG
before it became nerdy-cool to like
To the layman Fr Anthony De
Verteuil s prose is a little heavy.
But his amazing research and the
detail he pours into every volume
is beyond value both to me and
I used to like cinemas of old,
where you could take in a double
flick, eat a large popcorn and
drink a coke for $20. The places
used to smell like urine and ganja
smoke but the experience was
priceless. Especially the commen-
tary. Trinis could outdo Roger Ebert
for being hard on movies they doh
I never lost a fight I was in.
The panama hat is a gift from
my sister Carmelita. She lugged
it from Panama itself. And then
I read it was originated in Ecuador.
I wear it to most every public
engagement now with a steam-
punk-style pocket watch, worn as
a necklace. People seem baffled
When I was, like, 12 my aunt,
Prof Ann Marie Bissessar, gave
me two rare books which jump-
started a passion. I collected a
mountain of research and
ephemera, from photos to hand-
written journals and antiquities.
Facebook came along and offered
a massive platform for sharing my
passion in real time, and the Virtual
Museum was born in 2009.
The VMOTT has about 10,000
daily users from every corner of
the globe. Including Antarctica.
Yes, at a research station at the
I ve got zero state financial sup-
port. And not for want of appeal-
ing either. I have been coldly
ignored. Every single aspect of the
VMOTT has been funded from my
personal resources. The writing
gig I have now with the T&T
Guardian has been the only real
paying spinoff of the VMOTT. The
government has zero interest in
heritage issues and historical
The greatest thing about
VMOTT is the people. The worst
thing is I [put] my personal phone
numbers online. People call in the
dead of night to ask about Christo-
Trinis are a unique people who
should every day remember just
how special we are.
I draw strength and inspiration
from our stories past and the
throbbing life around me every
day. I will never turn my back on
T&T and its people.
Read a much longer version
of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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