About Me

Living in the Caribbean is probably like living anywhere else, with the same ups and downs. But it does have its own vibe and flavour and gives me a unique perspective on most things. I'm often sarcastic, mostly funny, always looking for a new adventure. I have not boxed myself into any one category of life. I love a lot of things and dislike a lot more. I write about them all.

Gone way too soon

Trichelle Campbell-Dean, 28yrs old. RIP.
Sitting in London at 5 minutes to 1 in the morning. At 15 minutes to 12, I got the call from my mother that Trichelle had been found. It was not the call I wanted to get. Not the news you want to hear. It is a nightmare. Sleep is now impossible.

What can you do for a friend who has lost her sister and her best friend? For a family who nurtured a daughter and a sister for 28 years, only to have her life cut short violently and by someone she loved and trusted? For two little babies - ages 2 and 1 - who will grow up not knowing their mother, and are too young to remember her? What can you do sitting from a bedroom on the other side of the Atlantic when your best friend is hurting, knowing your tears cannot begin to compare with the tears being released from wounded hearts in that home tonight?

The senselessness is outweighed by the callousness of a person who sat back all week, feigning concern, but always knowing that he had cut her life short since the beginning. Five days of agony for her parents, her sister, her brothers, and all who loved her - when you knew that you had placed her body in a shallow grave even before she was reported missing.  My heart is heavy with the grief that such a beautiful person has been taken away from her loved ones at such a young age. But I am also damn vex that a lack of control, care, thought, consideration and conscience brought about a tragedy that could have been prevented simply by walking away. Angry that a coward has ripped the heart out of a tightly knit family - why? What was the motive? How did he sleep at night over the last 5 days knowing so many people were praying she was safe and alive? I am so angry.

Senseless. But in the midst of the senselessness and the millions of questions, still remains the aftermath - a family in tears tonight, and a beautiful life stolen. It is so incredibly sad and I cannot even begin to imagine what this family endures tonight - a father having to identify the decomposing corpse in a shallow grave as his angel. Nah. Senseless.

Hold your loved ones close and never take a moment of life for granted. My love and prayers to the family. They need our love and prayers tonight and beyond.

How prayer saved my day and what you can do to save Trichelle

I have some girls who form the core of personal support and love in my life and for whom I would do anything, and vice versa. Beautiful, strong women who have been in my life for years and years. Earlier this week, I received the horrible news that my friend's sister is missing. It surely has to be every person's worst nightmare - to turn around and not know where your loved one is and whether they are safe, scared or alone.

It has been weighing heavily on my mind and being away from home makes one feel a bit hopeless but then we all feel that way. So while the police carry out their investigations, we wait. All any of us can do now is sit, wait, and pray for her safe return and pray for her family, who undoubtedly need all the support they can get at this time. This could be any one of us, sadly so no thought, no prayer is too small. Thanks to everyone who circulated the photos to friends and lifted the family up in prayer. Hoping for good news soon.

This being said, I have not been the sharpest tack in the drawer this week, and it took me all week to scramble some words together on a page to send to my dissertation supervisor. Not my best work but when I finally sent it off today, I decided that I also needed to eat, having not eaten a proper meal in days. So I did the whole nine yards with the cooking, rustling up a fantastic curry to go with my contraband dhalpuri roti (luckily UK Customs did not feel the need to seize this as they did my NZ cheddar). Hungry and tired, I doled out a serving of this Trini culinary goodness, set it on the table, cleaned up and then went out to put out the trash - a 15 second exercise. In less than 10 seconds, the sound no pyjama clad, fluffy socks and fluffy slippers wearing, bad hair day woman wants to hear, echoed in my ear sockets - the sound of a slamming door, automatically locking me out, while the keys jangled in the lock and mocked me from the inside. F#@^ me!

Luckily for me, two things were in my favour - 1. the neighbours were home and while #2 was the main reason I was in this predicament, with the wind from this source being the reason the door slammed behind me, still, 2. the back door was open.

This is where I put my acrobatic skills to work and for those who know what my university hall name was, this would be funny. The neighbour got out his old rickety ladder, and leaned it against the fence so I could climb up and clamber over. If you know anything about British fences, and guttering, you would know that they are basically shit. If you know anything about me, you would know that I am a true Caribbean woman with an ass and meat on the bones. To say this exercise of climbing over this fence which could barely take the weight of a Barbie doll, and praying I did not break down the entire thing was a challenge, would be an understatement. I looked for something on which to hold on to, and the guttering was as fragile as the fence so I had to hold on to the neighbour, and pray for dear life. I whispered a prayer asking first for personal safety - I did not want to have to tell my mother over Skype that I had broken anything, and also I prayed for the fence cause I am not in a financial position to help pay to repair a broken fence.

Well, I am here typing this, and the fence still stands and the curry was excellent. It just goes to show that prayer is great. Faith is powerful, no matter what the challenge - no matter how big or small, trite or life changing.

My friend's family is going through a situation I wish on noone. Please say a prayer for Trichelle and let's bring her home.

Day Tripping to Rye and Hastings

A warm gingerbread man cookie
in Rye to warm the blood
I am not sure what is going on with English weather but when I opened my eyes yesterday at 5.35am, it felt like the jaws of winter were hovering over my warm Caribbean body. Despite putting on a couple layers last night, I was freezing. It was no surprise that when I got home last night, the heater was on. This after a day out, where despite the ball of light in the blue sky, surrounded by fluffy white clouds, it was cold and terribly windy. Between the biting cold winds eating into my brown chocolatey warmth and whipping my hair into a mad "hot mess" frenzy, it was not fun being outdoors.

Except in some sick, twisted way, it was fun. I took a bit of a day trip out of London, as part of my "Get out of London" tour on a budget, and headed to a town called Rye in East Sussex, followed by a quick stop in Hastings.

Rye was pretty cool. Very English. Loved the cobblestoned streets and the buildings which were steeped in history. Loved the intimacy of the town and the storybook perfection. Very white bread. At first I thought I surely was one of the few young people in the town. Then upon closer inspection, I realised I was the only black person in the place. After an entire morning, and part of the afternoon, and despite my eyes being peeled for blackness, I was still the only visible black person in good ole Rye. lol. Still, Rye had its moments.


Lovely old bar and lodge in Rye, East Sussex


Ypres Tower from its grounds

The most memorable Rye moment was lunch. So we stopped in at a local pub where the menu seemed above average for pub fare and from the outside the place looked decent. I am not a fan of pub food, but I had already made travel buddy switch eating places a couple times - picky and fussy eater I am - so when we opened the door and I saw the interior of this place, I was loathe to ask to move a third time for fear of being labelled picky and fussy. But the first thing that greeted me was the cute, albeit four legged creature, outstretched on a couch in the pub. Now while I love dogs, I don't want them in the place where I am about to eat food. The mere presence of Lassie or whatever her name was, was enough to send me in a panic. lol. But I rallied. The place was pretty run down and that did not endear me to stay either but again...PICKY...FUSSY...flashing through my mind.

The food got there and it looked like mess - the accompanying sauce for my meat bathed everything else on the plate and it was a virtual swimming pool on a plate. But the crowning moment of it all was after my third bite of the drowned pork, I noticed a long, straight strand of hair sitting very impolitely on my meat. Fork down, knife down, appetite lost.

The management were nice enough to refund us our money for my meal after I decided I did not need to venture into trying a replacement dish. I saw the dog trot off behind the waiter, probably about to sink her teeth into some hairy pork loin. Good for her.

Hastings was fun - also cold and windy though. We made a trip up the hill via a funicular railway which gave us fantastic views of the seaside town.


The view of the hill from the base of the funicular railway in Hastings


The view of the seaside town of Hastings from the top of the hill

It was here I had a lovely Italian lunch, minus dogs and minus human hair, and a lovely chocolate gelato sundae for dessert. It was great to escape London and fingers crossed, I can get some work done today on my dissertation which is a nightmare on so many levels.

Have you "liked" me yet on Facebook? No. Like me here. Yaay.

Review: Revlon CustomEyes Mascara

Revlon's CustomEyes Mascara
So after an awesome 3 weeks in Trinidad and Tobago, I am back in the land of fish and chips and I was excited to find my latest package on the table - eagerly awaiting its new mistress. My new CustomEyes mascara courtesy the great people at RevlonUK. As I had mentioned before, one of my fashion must haves is mascara, and now after a few uses, I can give my take on my new best friend.

So what's so special about this mascara you ask? Well, it has a customisable wand, which gives you two options for eyelash porn. With the twist of the cap, you can create length and drama, or length and definition. I have to admit, I tried the mascara without a primer and I was not that thrilled at first. I thought the formula itself was a bit clumpier than I am used to, but I am patient.  I was happy that RevlonUK sent me the Blackest Black mascara for my dark skin and eyes, and after a coat of my primer, it really worked for me. The length it gives really is fabulous and the definition and drama are commendable as well. If this mascara came with a primer, it would be perfect.

The brush is made of plastic though, and since I had never used a plastic mascara brush before, it took me a while to adjust to that harder texture on my lashes. I read other reviews that said they found the mascara flaked after long wear. I personally did not have this problem but I always use primer on my lashes as well so not sure if this contributed to my personal eyelash success.

All in all, I like the mascara - my first Revlon mascara at that. I still like my Maybelline XXL mascara though, and my Clinique, and I felt I got a better result with this Revlon mascara after a coat of primer as well. But all in all, not bad. I still think Revlon are the kings of nail polish though and to my great disappointment, I still cannot find my bottle of Plum Seduction (hint hint).

Confessions of a Trini Food-Loving Shopaholic

Photo courtesy: Bang Bang
I was eyeing this little bumble bee number
but I would be a fat bumble bee
Shopping. One of my favourite activities. Student life does not really augur well for shopping but today, I shopped. Like a real person. I just did not care that the money could have gone towards food or a flash drive (a flash drive? really??? lol) In my estimation, a new blouse and my hot new maxi dress and the rest of my awesome haul are investments in my happiness. One of my favourite local stores is Bang Bang and they really banged a dent into my student wallet. But oh, how could I leave the dress and the cute blouse and the hot belt to suffer on the rack? Swiping my card at the checkout was both exhilirating and frightening but it's done now!!! No turning back.

My time at home is coming to a close. By Thursday morning, after 10 hrs in the air, I would be back in London - back to academic torment, back to ready meals, back to student life.

Speaking of ready meals, being home has been great for my tastebuds (but not my waistline). While London is a gastronomic mecca, there is nothing quite like a home cooked meal of red beans, rice, stewed pork and macaroni pie or a nice hot chicken roti with plenty kuchela. It's even better when you can share such delights with friends. Friday night, after a long battle with public transportation, I met up with the girls for a small lime. I left with stomach pains, not from the food, but from the laughter and good times. Ever laughed so hard that your stomach hurt and you had to get up and try to walk off the laugh? That is the type of thing I am talking about. It was great. Our waitress provided much of the entertainment (sweet girl but wow...special!), but dining outdoors on a cool Caribbean night, with the natives out in their numbers also was a bonus.

What I love about Trinidad, is that it is so far removed from the stereotype of a Caribbean island, especially in terms of its fashion. Tobago being more laid back and more touristy is vulnerable to more casual getups, but Trinidad is the fashion rockstar! I remarked during the evening, as we scoped out the patrons on our virtual runway, that women get dressed up to go almost anywhere - even to come out and eat chicken wings. Whether some of the women were dressed according to their body structure is a whole different entry but the myriad of maxi and mini dresses, sexy blouses and especially the wide variety of high heels that passed by was enough to be described as entertaining.

What was left of my French Vanilla ice cream with
oodles and oodles of waffle pieces - my regular order
And is it just me or is there anyone else who eats stuff like, say, oh, ice cream, really slowly, with the fake assumption that eating it slowly somehow reduces one's calorie intake? I will definitely miss my Cold Stone Creamery primetime sessions.

It has been awesome being home but I need to finish this degree once and for all. So I am putting my heels and platforms back in storage and heading back to a flat shoe kinda life. It's back to long nights and rolling off the bed, tired and bitchy. Back to Tesco and Sainsbury's ready meals and no lazy tv nights in bed. Oh, I will miss the lazy tv nights - me, the remote and my ice cream! Still, I go back to London with great expectations for a great term - despite the obvious and harrowing trials of my Master's dissertation at every turn. I already have dinner and drinks lined up for the weekend, so yaaay me.

Transportation Diva - That's Me

Maxi taxis - not fun!
Trinidad has a chronic traffic problem. When my daily life was more heels than flip flops, aka, when I was employed and part of the corporate rat race, I would be forced to wake up at ungodly hours (3.30am!) to get ready to hit the highway and avoid the morning frustration known as bumper to bumper traffic. If you were to ask me what I valued most, after the requisite family and friends answer, it would have been my car. This can explain the reason the roads are just oversubscribed by private motorists cause I suspect many people feel the same way. Why? Public transportation sucks.

I am not a fan of public transportation. In London, it is better than many places but still, I leave early to avoid what I call the armpit crush of London, i.e. having to stand on a crammed train with someone's armpit against my face, or if I am lucky to have gotten a seat, having to sit with someone's ass against my face.

Public transportation on my little rock though - abysmal. For most of the mini-vacation, I have had use of a car to go on my adventures, but I have had the moments of madness where I had to brave the streets by hand, i.e. sticking my hand out to flag down a taxi or maxi.

Last Sunday, I decided to exercise my rights as a poor student and refuse to fork out the ghastly $345 fare from Piarco to home. Instead I chose to maxi/taxi it all the way home - a ride that involved 2 taxis and 2 maxis. First, it was the maxi ride from Arouca with the driver who probably never heard of Colgate, flossing or mouth wash and who clearly did not realise that his breath was so heinous that my Japanese titanium glasses frames almost melted everytime he opened his mouth. This dude kept talking and talking and my eyes kept watering. Then there was the taxi ride from Curepe to San Fernando where this swami looking character or as he called himself, a spiritual counsellor, decided he would pass out flyers promoting his services as a counsellor to the soul. Nothing wrong with that. What I did not appreciate was him putting his hand in my handbag as he tried to push this flyer into my bag, and maybe help himself to some money (?). Needless to say, I did not use swami like language to make my point that he needed to not be all up in mih so and so bag!

Friday was the worst as I decided I would take the public bus home and everytime I asked the bus terminal attendant for an ETA on my bus, he responded "5 minutes babes...5 minutes". It was the longest 5 minutes of my life and after an hour I still saw no bus and was forced to pocket my ticket and walk to the taxi stand. That was another drama cause by this time I am fuming and brother man decides to take a back road, pick up some woman with bundles that could not fit in the truck thus displacing me from my comfy seat in the back and asking me to sit next to Mr Not-so-Delicious in the front. Then the smells from the man in the maxi from San Fernando to home.

Yesterday was another winner as I got a taxi driver who clearly thinks he is God's gift to women - greasy face, body odour and all. Just a side note: Trinidad is a damn hot place and being a taxi driver is bound to be a heated experience. Please...invest in a tried and tested roll on, and some mouthwash for good measure. And also wash your clothes after one wash - dried sweat smells, okay?

Anyway, he decides to make some phone calls, despite the fact that it is illegal to drive and talk on the phone, especially when going at least 40km over the speed limit. The first call went something like this:

Wha yuh cook?...Nutten?...I doh wanna buy food. I fed up eat Chinee food and roti. I passin' just now. Make sure it have food there when I pass.

What a charmer. But then he makes another call, to another woman. Trust me when I say the fact that he even had ONE woman was shocking to me, but two???

Babes, I brokes. Buy a phone card for mih nah. A Digi....What? Yuh cyah do that for your man? $10? That cyah call nobody! Buy it and text mih the number, right? .... Yeah, yuh know I love yuh.

Knight in shining armour! And all this time his eyes are sometimes on the road and sometimes on the chest of the cute lady in pink in the front passenger seat. I also had to ensure I had the exact fare cause he kept picking his nose and I did not want to hand him a $10 bill and have him finger my change with that hand, so I dug around desperately praying I had the $7 I needed to escape that fate.

Private transportation also has its own challenges as I learnt last night when we were locked out of the car and had to call the troops and enlist the assistance of strange men to assist. However, being the germophobe, hygiene anal diva that I am, it beats any challenge public transportation can ever hope to offer. If hating the smells and sounds of public transportation make me some kind of diva, then I am a rabid, ball busting diva!

Yearning for customer service heaven in TnT

Bad customer service makes my blood boil!
Being back home has been great and also amusing. There are just so many aspects of Trini life that are entertaining in various ways. Let's talk about customer service or in my case, the lack thereof.

While customer service in London is not stellar when compared to that of the US, it is still better than customer service in Trinidad and Tobago. I call US customer service people smurfs - cause it's like they drink smurfberry juice or are totally loaded on pot or some other type of "upper". Noone can be that bubbly and smiley as these Americans. It's just NOT normal! They scare me.

The Brits are not anywhere near as bubbly. They approach customer service with a bit of trepidation - not rude, but there is no warm, fuzziness about it either; no drug-induced glee. While not as scary as the Americans, they can be droll.

Trinis on the other hand - you're lucky if you get a smile and if they don't answer back. I always use Pennywise as the prime example of the worst of local customer service. I beg anyone to argue with me that this place has the WORST customer service known to man. I went in there last week to replenish my stocks and excuse me for interrupting the reps' conversation and asking for a bottle of shampoo to be handed to me. It was like I was begging for the shampoo and not purchasing it. All the free or discounted makeup in the world cannot hide the sourness and the lack of courtesy on the faces of these girls.

Grouchy Smurf ain't have nothing
on some of these reps
Let's not even talk about Tobago. Heinous! Unless you're white and have a non-Trini accent, you are shit. The taxi driver at the airport looked at me as though I got off the banana boat and was curt and dismissive as I tried to give him directions. I concluded that I was too black to warrant a smile and a positive attitude! I just handed him the phone to avoid making a scene cause I cannot handle rudeness especially where my money is anticipated to leave my hands and be transferred to the rude party.

I did manage excellent customer service at various eating establishments in Trinidad, where I guess, the tip is king and everyone wants a good tip. I don't mind tipping for great service and I got the same waitress last week on the two occasions I patronised one restaurant and on both occasions she got a nice tip cause she was stellar. On the other hand, I did not feel the love at my coffee shop on Monday as Sour Sally was loathe to redeem my loyalty points and give me my free coffee, which I had earned! I had to ask whether they had onion bagels about 6 times as she was busy having a conversation with the girls in the back - a non-coffee, non-customer, non-trininista-the-customer related conversation. And this after I had to pound the counter to get her attention in the first place after waiting for someone to acknowledge my presence at the counter, even after they saw me walk up. I mean...I am not invisible and I was in a dazzling sunny kinda outfit so I was not blending in with the walls either.

I swear, it's like these people feel yuh begging!!! But just to let you know, there are many instances of EXCELLENT customer service as well but somehow they seem to be overshadowed by the men and women who feel that an upside down smile is where it's at!

Flip Flop Adventures

Sunny flip flops for the beaches of Tobago
Though I feel lazy to blog, it is one of the most relaxing times of my day. Another relaxing time is sitting on a beach, letting the sun bathe you in its heat. That was part of my weekend, in sweet Tobago. I had not been to Tobago since my friend had gotten married about 2 years ago. Shameful I know. But when you have been stuck in the cold for months and sunshine is a luxury, Tobago is no longer a weekend luxury but a necessity. So off I went, flip flops in hand...or in this case, on feet, and 20mins later, my plane was sitting on the hot runway of Crown Point International and an hour later, I was walking to Pigeon Point beach where I spent the rest of the afternoon, eating cheese paste sandwiches, lolling around in the clear warm water and gaping at the various shapes and sizes of the white people, while shaking my head at the fake accents of the black Tobago men trying to impress the white people. It's amusing as well being back in the land of the funny catcalls, which never fail to make me laugh.

It's been a good visit home so far - between the running up and down in Trinidad and the bummin' in Tobago with friends, it has been lovely. The weather has also held up pretty well. That may be an understatement. The weather is great but it comes with an intense heat that not even people born and bred in the tropics can tolerate. One exception was the day we drove up to Mount St Benedict, when it rained and cooled the place down just a bit, but it made for some interesting views like this one.


View from Mount Sr Benedict: The dark blues of the rain clouds coupled with the mist - dark and gorgeous

And zen is watching the sun going down on the beach in Tobago, after a great day.

The view from my beach chair in Pigeon Point, Tobago

Move Your Body

Dusted off the sneakers and the fitness ball this morning
The one year anniversary of this blog comes up on Saturday and my very first entry was about my long awaited return to fitness and ultimately to the gym, in the face of fat fever. It seems almost poetic that this morning, I again made a daring return to fitness, after 7 months of no gym, no jogging, nothing except chasing trains and buses, running up train station ramps and running from Nigerian men. lol. I had planned to wake up this morning and hit the slopes, but always easier said than done. When I opened my eyes at 4.53am and saw it was still dark, I convinced myself that there was some murderer waiting on the hill to kill me, so it would be better to stay in bed where it was safe. Then I smelled saltfish, as Daddy started on breakfast way too early, and I thought, wouldn't you feel better having that fried bake and saltfish AFTER a workout? Still nothing.

Five minutes later, by sheer will, and after thinking that even if I lost half a pound, it would be half a pound less to hide under a sarong when I hit the white sands of Pigeon Point beach this weekend, I was dressed and looking for the Workout folder on my MP3 player - a folder that clearly needs some updating. I thought I would pass out after 7 months of limited activity, especially on the steep inclines which make up my neighbourhood, but I surprised myself. I guess chasing London red double decker buses can now be classified as exercise and I am vindicated! The power walk/jog, coupled with some stability ball and free weights love made for a great wakeup call. I had a great workout but there is no better workout than the one that I will be engaging in later - in the mall, with a credit card. HEY!

In honour of my ass, and my determination to keep it bootyful, and in honour of style, here is Ms B's ode to fitness as part of Mrs O's fight against childhood obesity. Adding it to my Workout folder. If I could get a DVD with the choreography, life would be golden!

Zen: That's Where I am at

Even my dog Fidel found the blazing sun too much
So in case you missed the memo, I am not in London at the moment, but in South Trinidad. Back home. It has been a very relaxing first week, with me spending time with friends and family, especially my nephew who was fighting tooth and nail to not know this stranger in the green t-shirt. But by the end of the weekend, he was my buddy, and we were playing and eating yogurt. He also has his aunt's love for dogs, and we sat in the porch together, watching the dogs play.

It has also been a gastronomic triumph, as I have been going through my "What I Must Have" food list like a true champion. All the Trini food I have missed out on over the past 7 months.

It is hot here in the Caribbean. I don't mean let's go play football in the savannah hot. I mean let's take 4 or more showers and drink loads of water, while sitting in the a/c all day hot. Over the weekend I consciously made the decision to go out in the early evening, rather than during the day, to beat the heat. And it is not a case of Trini in London so she cyah take sun now either. The place is just damn hot! Not complaining though - it has its perks. One word - BEACH! I hope this blazing heat holds for when I jet across to Tobago for some much desired beach rest. However, with my luck, I will be sitting on the beach with an umbrella - and I don't mean a beach umbrella either.

p.s. I just looked outside and it is raining. This is great for today but let's not make this a trend!

It has been good to sleep in my own bed, in my own room with my own tv - no football blaring all day. Spending time with the 'rents and catching up with friends, cause I have missed so much. Great to not have to take public transport - huge deal for me, as I jump in the car and zoom around the countryside - just me and my music and my singing. No school work. No nonsense. I am just very much in a state of zen.

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