Life from a caffeine hyped point of view

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I’ve been blogging exclusively over at my other site for the last few months, it’s too draining to write all the time. Or so I thought until the realisation hit that it wasn’t tiredness caused by creativity, more of being drained by the vicissitudes and allowing myself to become reactive as opposed to practising non-reaction which is my ideal. 

This year I’m missing several friends, Andrea who was fighting her second battle with cancer, haven’t heard anything from her  in months and while fearing the worst am hoping for the best. Veda who has been battling his own demons, I hope you win my friend, I’m rooting for you! 

Today’s blog in the other site was pretty harsh and awful, but it needed to be said, in the interest of balance, it’s not uncharacteristic, you guys just don’t get to see this side often; it might be hokey but I wanted to share this with you. It might make a difference too. 

Desiderata

— written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s — 
Not “Found in Old St. Paul’s Church”! — see below

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, 
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, 
be on good terms with all persons. 
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; 
and listen to others, 
even to the dull and the ignorant; 
they too have their story. 
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; 
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, 
you may become vain or bitter, 
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. 
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; 
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, 
for the world is full of trickery. 
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; 
many persons strive for high ideals, 
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. 
Neither be cynical about love, 
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, 
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, 
gracefully surrendering the things of youth. 
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. 
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. 
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, 
be gentle with yourself. 
You are a child of the universe 
no less than the trees and the stars; 
you have a right to be here. 
And whether or not it is clear to you, 
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, 
whatever you conceive Him to be. 
And whatever your labors and aspirations, 
in the noisy confusion of life, 
keep peace in your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, 
it is still a beautiful world. 
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Written by coffeewallah

December 14, 2008 at 2:18 pm

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Hurricane Season

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First there was Gustav, then Hanna and now Ike. To be glib, they sound like a sixties doo wop band, unfortunately they are not. These are hurricanes, some of the worst to hit the region or so we keep saying. Every year we talk about the worst hurricanes, how they get more and more powerful, the havoc they wreak greater than the last.  Have we wondered why the hurricanes are getting worse, because this does not seem like an accident of nature. Or if it is, what might be causing this “accident”. 

Scientists have been tracking weather phenomenon for centuries, from all evidence, it would appear that the world’s weather patterns are changing, as a result of man’s incursions on the environment. Seems Mother Nature isn’t as forgiving as well all hoped.  And that’s the rub. 

Poorer nations will always pay the price for the ambitions of the more powerful. And so, while Florida battens down, Haiti is still suffering. The Turks and Caicos are reeling, most of the houses on Grand Turk damaged.  Cuba, still being pounded as I write this. We in Trinidad are lucky, we’ve not been hit by a major hurricane, but we too feel the effects. The flooding, the high winds and trees falling down, blocked roads, loss of power and water.  But still, we don’t suffer as our neighbours do. 

So tonight, as we all say thanks to the Universe that we are okay in Trinidad, spare a thought to our Caribbean brothers and sisters who are trying to pick up their lives after the onslaught of the hurricanes. The season still has several months to run, and we are all still at risks so be prepared for anything. And remember too, our responsibility to the environment or else the environment might remind us in a big way.

Written by coffeewallah

September 7, 2008 at 11:52 pm

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After a long day

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Like most of my peers, my hours are long, often leaving home early to return late, after dark. In addition to long hours, the job requires a lot of energy and often leaves me drained. Unlike many of my colleagues, there are no children to be considered or spouse, which actually makes it easier to be taken advantage of, no reason to go home so why not stay on and work?  It can be a lonely life, filled with challenging situations and no release. My solace often, those tired evenings after the long trek home in the now familiar late evening traffic, is the wet nose that greets my hand as I try to open the security gate.

The house is usually in darkness inside with only the illumination from the bulb over the door. The dog is patiently waiting to be let out for his evening run. The joy is apparent in every line of his doggy body, he makes me smile no matter how exasperated I might be. Even when my hip and knee hurt so bad that taking him walkies is a chore. He is happy and he makes me happy.

I wonder then about my friends who have children and how hard it must be for them to leave each day, entrust their children to sitters and caregivers, at least the ones pre-school. And the friends who have to wake their children in the wee hours of the morning to get them to school, who barely see their children when they get home from work. They are growing up without us. Husbands who barely see their wives other than to ask briefly where dinner is or what is happening tomorrow. Wives who feel guilty about how little time they have and try to be superwomen and do it all, burning themselves out. I used to be one of them once. Is it worth it you think?

We all ask, where did the time go? I know the days are getting shorter again, because the setting sun comes through the window of my office earlier now. The year has sped past, soon it will be Christmas again. We find all kinds of ways to complicate our lives. We must do this or have that. But at what cost? Is it better to send your child to a “prestige” school where they spend half their life on the road, having interviewed several kids from so-called prestige schools recently for a vacancy in the department, I was struck by how badly they spoke. It was eye opening. I wonder now what the big deal was and still is. 

As I traverse the highway, making for home that is really a hotel, a place to sleep because I am too tired to do more, there is lots of time to contemplate life.

Written by coffeewallah

September 4, 2008 at 9:22 pm

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Making lists or the perils of getting older

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I make lists all the time. Grocery lists, to-do lists, to go lists, completed work, uncompleted work, bills paid, bills unpaid; lots of lists. It constantly amazes me this list writing, I used to be able to keep all this stuff in my head. And then, for a while, being re-assimilated into the corporate culture, I went to all this training, we learnt to document, make lists, plan. It seems now like a symptom, a dumbing down. All these things that we knew, reduced to lines on a page. Encouraged not to dream, but to acutalise our dreams by committing them to concrete planning to make them a reality.

Shudder. Because you see, the purpose of my dreaming is to gain respite from this moment. I don’t necessarily want to DO some of the things I dream about, if I did, I would. My philosophy in the last few  years, live in the moment. That does not mean not plan or have long term goals, it is the acceptance that yesterday is a memory and tomorrow is a dream, today is all you have. Instead of constantly being dissatisfied, ever waiting, appreciate the now for what it is. 

And this is what is starting to bother me about all these lists. They are everywhere. I find them in my notebooks, on the microwave, in my handbag, on my computer. My day is constantly being organised around a list, the delineations of time where every moment is planned for. They are reminders, of what might be, what I should or could be doing.  Isn’t it terrible, to be afraid of something as banal as letters/words on a piece of paper or computer screen?

Written by coffeewallah

August 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm

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Lightening BOLT!

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Did you see it? You must have been watching. When I wrote the post below earlier I knew there was a good chance that Usain Bolt was going to go home with the gold. Watching him float down the track, thirty metres from the finish line when he realised he was out in front by a mile, he just cruised home. No one could catch him though Richard Thompson did give him a run in the middle.

As for Richard, you go boy! We know everyone is suddenly going to take credit for your achievement, but boy, you really did it.  It’s been thirty two years since Montreal and Hasely Crawford but I’m pretty sure Crawfie, sitting up in the stands had the hugest smile on his face, genuinely pleased to see another Caribbean boy on the podium.

Written by coffeewallah

August 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm

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Caribbean cook-up

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If you live in the Caribbean or are a part of the Caribbean disapora, at 8:10 am there was good possibility that you were chewing your nails, wringing your hands or whatever it is you do to mitigate stress. As the Caribbean hopes came to the starting line, it did not matter if you were from Ocho Rios or Sangre Grande, eyes were trained on the Beijing Olympics. The Caribbean made an impressive showing, we were everywhere. Truthfully, we were all rooting for our own countrymen but really, it doesn’t matter. They all have all captured our imaginations and our hearts.

Bolt, Burns, Powell, Thompson, Collins, Atkins, Frater and Martina, out of sixteen men starting, eight of them from the Caribbean. We may not realise the significance of this achievement, what does it mean? That in the WHOLE WORLD, the Caribbean, with a combined population less than some large US city, had eight men in the semi finals of the men’s 100m, six of whom are going to be running in the final later today. To all those politicians who fail to see that the Caribbean community must come together in order to have some parity in the world, put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

And it is not only our men who are out there pursing the dream for the Caribbean, Chandra Sturrup, Kelli Ann Baptiste, Sherone Simpson, Semoy Hackett and everybody else I forgot to mention, Caribbean born and bred. They are all uniting us because they are us. 

When the Soca Warriors went to Germany for the 2004 World Cup the entire Caribbean was singing, “win or lose I am a fighter”. We’ve “rallied round the West Indies” no matter how many times they break our hearts, we hope that they’ll get past it and go back to the days of the mighty West Indies Cricket Team.  

So, whatever happens this morning, someone from the Caribbean is going to take home a medal, but we’re all going to rejoice in their achievement.

Written by coffeewallah

August 16, 2008 at 12:53 pm

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July 27

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Where were you on July 27th 1990?

It was a Friday. Tobago Heritage festival was in full swing. The Banyan crew was packing to leave on Saturday. Before lunch I’d tracked Raoul Pantin down to TTT for a story we were working on, he was editing. I left beat it out of town to take up my bar shift, working in television wasn’t paying. It was month end, kids were on vacation, the mall was crammed with people. 

The bar was packed that day, everybody blowing steam, the regulars huddled at the bar staving off the incursions of the recently arrived. Kids back from university, mall staff ducking in to get lunch even though it was closer to dinnertime.

The three tv’s were on overhead as we leaned into the bottle coolers for endless beer and cold glasses. People jostled, you could barely hear yourself, us three bartenders swinging in  unison, singing along to whatever we were playing on the system. It was Friday, while we wouldn’t get paid until the next day we had enough money left and planned to go out and party ourselves.

That all came to a halt around 6:00 p.m. The first we realised something was wrong was when a customer came in and mentioned that there had been a report on the radio of some sort of disturbance at the Red House. And then, Ronald sitting at the bar, pointed to the TV. It looked like Play of the Month. A man in long robes with a gun, talking. We turned up the sound as high as it would go and slowly everyone stopped talking, fighting to hear what was going on. 

That was the beginning. Mall security was coming around to each place. Mall management had gotten a call from the Army, shut the place down. In a matter of minutes people streamed out as we frantically rang up bills and packed up uneaten food. What was important was to go home. We battened down as much as possible not knowing what would come next. None of us knowing when we’d see each other again. Locking away the supplies, taking out the garbage, necessary if we weren’t going to be back for days.

Days turned into weeks, dawn to dusk curfew, broadcasts from army headquarters, Allyson Hennessey and Dennis McComie. The phone still worked, relatives from abroad trying to get through, watching on CNN. The crew at Banyan caught in the crossfire being stuck there for three days until allowed out by the army.  Friends in Woodbrook calling to see, hearing the shots being fired in the back ground. Out east we sat tight. Went to the supermarket when it briefly opened for business. Police and army patrols, stories about American marines landing – true, at Piarco.

Coup, again. Under the guise of holy war but really not. My second. The first in 1970, memories of my mother running up Frederick St. with me in her arms, to my father’s office next to Royal Castle.  Breaking windows, the smell of smoke, people everywhere. The trek over the Lady Young to get home to Granny. My Grandad was, ironically, stuck out in Sierra Leone where there was also a coup. He holed up there, we, the uncles, my great grand parents and granny hunkered down, opening the side door of the shop to sell essentials to village people. 

Twenty years later here we were again. Those days holed up at home with the folks, climbing the walls. Everyone serious, news being passed, neighbours sharing whatever they had. All in all we didn’t have it that bad. Later we were to learn about the events, the Police Station bombing, storming of the Red House, TTT. My colleagues at the station brutalised, traumatised; Jones P and Raoul both of whom I’d spoken to earlier that fateful day. Weeks of curfew and the slow return to normal life. Going to Port of Spain for the first time after. Wreckage, carnage, burnt out hulks of buildings, the smell, you couldn’t get away from it. 

Back at work we shot, no pun intended, around curfew and restrictions. Tobago Heritage Festival abandoned for the commentary that we made our name on. Those terrible times and the loss of life pushed into the background. In the bar we somberly served drinks and traded stories with the people who came by. 

Twenty eight years later we still ask why and how. For some the memories are still a dark place that has never been adequately addressed, for others, no reference at all. What’s the old chestnut? Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Written by coffeewallah

July 28, 2008 at 7:51 pm

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