Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 24th 2013 Contents A34
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, December 24, 2013
From Page A33
"They had like a wining competition for something
like Christmas!" he said incredulously.
That was his first experience with the Caribbean
community in Shanghai. He tried the party again this
year, and to his absolute delight, as he entered the
room, Baron s It s Christmas blasted from the speakers,
which was all he could have wished for.
"As I went in, Oh, It s Christmas Again," he began
singing. "You cannot have Christmas without parang.
No words could describe that feeling. I felt great, I
felt like home. I will never forget that moment."
Jones said the DJ played two more parang songs,
but he was more than satisfied.
"I was just so happy. That was all I needed and
nothing more. That made Christmas for me right
As a bonus, Jones gushed about finally meeting two
other T&T nationals.
There will be no pastelles, no sorrel, and no ponche
de crème for Jones. Just that one soca parang.
His message for those of us who can easily engage
in Christmas activities in T&T: "Enjoy the food a little
bit more, for all the people who can t."
SAUDI ARABIA: Asgar and Zenobia Ali-Hosein
and their pet cat Marmalade migrated to Saudi Arabia
earlier this year because of a new job opportunity for
Asgar. It was a big move, and it is the first time they
were living in a country that did not observe Christ-
In fact, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha are celebrated
with great fanfare, as each occasion is celebrated
nationally, with four days off.
The Ali-Hoseins fully understood their decision to
move to the Middle East, and accepted the impending
changes that would impact certain traditions---like
putting up a Christmas tree or easily spending time
with loved ones.
As December approached, Zenobia said she was
not surprised there were no decorations in the malls,
and she has not tried to recreate the feeling of a Trini
Christmas in her home. The only aspect that was a
"must" was spending time with family. That s why
the couple planned to go to Dubai to be with their
children for the holiday itself.
In the run-up to Christmas, they have not decorated
their home either, and said they have not seen any
Christmas trees for sale in the malls.
"I don t think it s available," Asgar said. He said
Saudi Arabia was an Islamic state, and so there was
no recognition of the Christmas season in the country,
not even in the form of décor.
Asgar and Zenobia managed to stream T&T radio
stations live on the Internet to take in their dose of
Asgar, who previously worked at Petrotrin, said it
was a bit strange not to see or hear any of the familiar
signs that it was Christmas when venturing out of
"You feel strange not to be witnessing Christmas
being celebrated in the malls, but we know what to
expect when we go. So it does not surprise us," Asgar
said via a blurry Skype conversation, with a seven-
hour time difference.
They participated in Christmas while living in T&T,
with Asgar saying: "I always loved celebrating Christ-
mas...to enjoy the singing of carols, decorating the
trees in the yard and generally having a good time
with friends and family."
But the change has not been difficult for them. The
only aspect Asgar said would be missed was the day
off. December 25 is treated as a normal working day
in Saudi Arabia.
He said he loved his new home and going on adven-
tures with his wife, but it was not in his psyche to
work on Christmas Day.
"I am normally on vacation."
He said another cultural change along the same
lines was getting used to Sunday being the first working
day of the week.
"It took some effort, so instead of
going to Marabella market (on a Sunday)
and eating two doubles and drinking a
cold coconut, I go to work! The week-
ends are Fridays and Saturdays," Asgar
joked in an initial e-mail.
"We do miss our family and friends
back in Trinidad, but we knew that was
going to be the case too."
Asgar said while he enjoyed everything
about being home for the holidays, he
was thrilled to be on this exciting path.
"It s nice to experience other things.
And after 50-something years of expe-
riencing the Trini-Christmas, you know
what to expect," Asgar said, adding they
planned to visit Sri Lanka after Dubai.
"It s good to sample other cultures,
how they celebrate these times of the
So far, Asgar and Zenobia have not
met any other T&T nationals living there
too. "It gives us the opportunity to make
new friends and meet new people," Asgar
December 25 a normal day in Saudi Arabia
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