The Trinbagonian Dream: Simple or Materialistic?

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Every Trinbagonian dreams of winning the Lotto, telling the Government “F U” when they mess up (almost weekly), and seeing doubles sell for one dollar again. Wait, that latter one might just be me. Still. There are certain things that almost every Trinbagonian wants.
I got to thinking about this when a friend told me about a jokey status she saw on Facebook the other day, which went like this: “I’m living the Trinidadian dream! Ah have ah Government wuk… ah car… and ah livin’ by meh mudda!” I laughed, but it got me thinking. We’re always hearing about “The American Dream”, so what’s “The Trinbagonian Dream”?
Basically, “The American Dream” is based on the philosophy that every person has a shot at prosperity and success, as long as they work hard. The essential idea is that “all men are created equal”, and they all have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
Now, all of this sounds idealistic, especially in a world where equality is the only thing that hasn’t been shared equally. In Trinidad and Tobago, our anthem tells us “here every creed and race find an equal place”. Ask several people that, and they’ll guffaw (Nizam Mohammed, recently fired Chairman of the Police Service Commission, might guffaw the loudest). Some will tell you that the only way to ‘move on up’ in our society is to have contacts and know the ‘right’ people.
However, regardless of stature and personal circumstances, I think there are certain things that most Trinis would feel satisfied about having, because for the most part, we’re simple people, who are easily pleased. So even if we can’t afford an expensive vacation every year or be a manager or the CEO of a company, there are some things that will keep us from pelting flambeaux and starting a full-scale, civil unrest… like:
Secure employment
Employment is a definite must-have for many. Some would say it’s even better if you can get a wuk in the public service, ‘cause yuh cyah get fired, and yuh pension fix. Well, if you’re not on contract.
Whether you have a public service or private sector wuk, life would also be better if you had a ‘big’ salary. For some, their dream involves taking home at least $10,000 after tax. For others it’s $15,000, and so it goes depending on how deep they want their pockets to be.
Now, if you’re self-employed, your dream involves getting some ‘big’ contracts or projects here and there to help you through the dry spells that always pop up. Your financial security may be a bit rocky, but then your dream is more about freedom from corporate slavery, than the money, right?
Liming without fear of not affording a beer
All Trinis might not like Carnival, but all Trinis love to lime. It doesn’t matter whether it’s liming on de Avenue, at home, at the beach, or on the steps outside yuh wuk. So, life without liming is definitely every Trinbagonian’s nightmare. And don’t tell me, yuh ain’t no big limer, or you don’t drink, so you’re immune to such a possibility. De old talk with yuh frens on a Friday night over ice cream and DVDs? That’s a lime. Whatever it is that you like to have for even the simplest of limes, it matters, because you and I know that if you couldn’t afford a ten-dollar cup of ice cream, you’d be very depressed.
We live in a land, where we can get a public holiday out of nowhere, so this liming culture has been governmentally enabled. Even Trinis who live abroad and claim they can’t come back home to live, because “it eh ha plenty to do”, get jealous every time a holiday comes around. That’s why we rub it in their face! We mightn’t have Broadway, bowling alleys, or lots of fancy clubs, but we can lime like there’s no tomorrow… and not get fired, if we don’t show up to work the day after a holiday.
Affording a mas costume
This one seems very obvious for all the Carnival addicts. What? Can’t afford to play mas? The only thing that will keep you from slitting your wrist is being able to afford at least three or four good fetes for the season.
Getting a house
On the more serious side of life, most of us also want a house to call our own. Does it matter if it’s an HDC house or a private home you built or bought from someone? Depends on your taste. However, acquiring a home is a dream for many, as 1. You feel a sense of achievement, 2. It means you can tell your landlord/lady to haul his/ her @ss, and 3. It just might give you a better shot at getting your US visa.
Yes, in our culture we can live in our parents’ homes until we’re old and grey, but, as comfortable, as we may be at home, the idea of having a deed in your name does sound good.
P.S.: That visa might be on some people’s dream list.
Safe surroundings
The only unfortunate part of all of this is that along with the house, you also have to think about burglar proofing, pit bulls, and electric gates that electrocute trespassers. As Shabba says, “is jes reality”. The crime rate has gotten way too high for us to ignore safety in everything we do. So the safety we once took for granted also makes the list.
Get a car
It could be a ten-year-old Civic or a B14, we’re all happy to get our first car, and build up to a blinged-out Hilux, a zorced-out Subaru, or a classic Audi, as we ‘move on up’. Despite the fact that our traffic can make you cuss another driver in the middle of listening to a Gospel tune (I’m so guilty, Father forgive me), having a car means protection from rain, not having to beg for a ride to a party, not getting man handled by commuters in City Gate or Sando, and not having sweaty people who stick up under you, when you finally get a seat in a maxi. Having your own ride isn’t just dreamy; it’s a must.
Going to the beach every weekend or breaking biche at Maracas
There’s a stereotype about Caribbean people, where foreigners feel that we all live five minutes away from the beach, and go to the beach frequently. However, most of us feel lucky if we make it to the beach at least three times a year. Then there’s the joy of running away from work to go Maracas Beach for a bake and shark, being able to afford it (because I doh know ‘bout you, but it hella expensive now), and more importantly, if you go to a popular vendor like Richard, getting served within ten minutes. A long weekend in Tobago is also undoubtedly the icing on the cake, because we all know that Tobago has way better beaches than Trinidad.
So you see… having a wuk, a house, a car, and the ability to lime are essential to the Trinbagonian dream. Being ridiculously rich isn’t. Outside of this simplistic outlook on life are the agitations of social ills and issues that make us steups every day. However, when it comes to making a Trinbagonian happy, on a personal level, through material gain and pleasantries, you don’t have to look too far. Still, what might be just enough for someone else, mightn’t cut it for you. So what’s your Trinbagonian dream?

trinidreamEvery Trinbagonian dreams of winning the Lotto, telling the Government “F U” when they mess up (almost weekly), and seeing doubles sell for one dollar again. Wait, that latter one might just be me. Still. There are certain things that almost every Trinbagonian wants.

I got to thinking about this when a friend told me about a jokey status she saw on Facebook the other day, which went like this: “I’m living the Trinidadian dream! Ah have ah Government wuk… ah car… and ah livin’ by meh mudda!” I laughed, but it got me thinking. We’re always hearing about “The American Dream”, so what’s “The Trinbagonian Dream”? 

Basically, “The American Dream” is based on the philosophy that every person has a shot at prosperity and success, as long as they work hard. The essential idea is that “all men are created equal”, and they all have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Now, all of this sounds idealistic, especially in a world where equality is the only thing that hasn’t been shared equally. In Trinidad and Tobago, our anthem tells us “here every creed and race find an equal place”. Ask several people that, and they’ll guffaw (Nizam Mohammed, recently fired Chairman of the Police Service Commission, might guffaw the loudest). Some will tell you that the only way to ‘move on up’ in our society is to have contacts and know the ‘right’ people.


However, regardless of stature and personal circumstances, I think there are certain things that most Trinis would feel satisfied about having, because for the most part, we’re simple people, who are easily pleased. So even if we can’t afford an expensive vacation every year or be a manager or the CEO of a company, there are some things that will keep us from pelting flambeaux and starting a full-scale, civil unrest… like:

 

Secure employment

Employment is a definite must-have for many. Some would say it’s even better if you can get a wuk in the public service, ‘cause yuh cyah get fired, and yuh pension fix. Well, if you’re not on contract. 

Whether you have a public service or private sector wuk, life would also be better if you had a ‘big’ salary. For some, their dream involves taking home at least $10,000 after tax. For others it’s $15,000, and so it goes depending on how deep they want their pockets to be.

Now, if you’re self-employed, your dream involves getting some ‘big’ contracts or projects here and there to help you through the dry spells that always pop up. Your financial security may be a bit rocky, but then your dream is more about freedom from corporate slavery, than the money, right?

 

Liming without fear of not affording a beer

All Trinis might not like Carnival, but all Trinis love to lime. It doesn’t matter whether it’s liming on de Avenue, at home, at the beach, or on the steps outside yuh wuk. So, life without liming is definitely every Trinbagonian’s nightmare. And don’t tell me, yuh ain’t no big limer, or you don’t drink, so you’re immune to such a possibility. De old talk with yuh frens on a Friday night over ice cream and DVDs? That’s a lime. Whatever it is that you like to have for even the simplest of limes, it matters, because you and I know that if you couldn’t afford a ten-dollar cup of ice cream, you’d be very depressed. 

We live in a land, where we can get a public holiday out of nowhere, so this liming culture has been governmentally enabled. Even Trinis who live abroad and claim they can’t come back home to live, because “it eh ha plenty to do”, get jealous every time a holiday comes around. That’s why we rub it in their face! We mightn’t have Broadway, bowling alleys, or lots of fancy clubs, but we can lime like there’s no tomorrow… and not get fired, if we don’t show up to work the day after a holiday.

 

Affording a mas costume

This one seems very obvious for all the Carnival addicts. What? Can’t afford to play mas? The only thing that will keep you from slitting your wrist is being able to afford at least three or four good fetes for the season. 

 

Getting a house

On the more serious side of life, most of us also want a house to call our own. Does it matter if it’s an HDC house or a private home you built or bought from someone? Depends on your taste. However, acquiring a home is a dream for many, as 1. You feel a sense of achievement, 2. It means you can tell your landlord/lady to haul his/ her @ss, and 3. It just might give you a better shot at getting your US visa. 

Yes, in our culture we can live in our parents’ homes until we’re old and grey, but, as comfortable, as we may be at home, the idea of having a deed in your name does sound good. 

P.S.: That visa might be on some people’s dream list. 

 

Safe surroundings

The only unfortunate part of all of this is that along with the house, you also have to think about burglar proofing, pit bulls, and electric gates that electrocute trespassers. As Shabba says, “is jes reality”. The crime rate has gotten way too high for us to ignore safety in everything we do. So the safety we once took for granted also makes the list.

 

Get a car

It could be a ten-year-old Civic or a B14, we’re all happy to get our first car, and build up to a blinged-out Hilux, a zorced-out Subaru, or a classic Audi, as we ‘move on up’. Despite the fact that our traffic can make you cuss another driver in the middle of listening to a Gospel tune (I’m so guilty, Father forgive me), having a car means protection from rain, not having to beg for a ride to a party, not getting man handled by commuters in City Gate or Sando, and not having sweaty people who stick up under you, when you finally get a seat in a maxi. Having your own ride isn’t just dreamy; it’s a must.

 

Going to the beach every weekend or breaking biche at Maracas

There’s a stereotype about Caribbean people, where foreigners feel that we all live five minutes away from the beach, and go to the beach frequently. However, most of us feel lucky if we make it to the beach at least three times a year. Then there’s the joy of running away from work to go Maracas Beach for a bake and shark, being able to afford it (because I doh know ‘bout you, but it hella expensive now), and more importantly, if you go to a popular vendor like Richard, getting served within ten minutes. A long weekend in Tobago is also undoubtedly the icing on the cake, because we all know that Tobago has way better beaches than Trinidad.

So you see… having a wuk, a house, a car, and the ability to lime are essential to the Trinbagonian dream. Being ridiculously rich isn’t. Outside of this simplistic outlook on life are the agitations of social ills and issues that make us steups every day. However, when it comes to making a Trinbagonian happy, on a personal level, through material gain and pleasantries, you don’t have to look too far. Still, what might be just enough for someone else, mightn’t cut it for you. So what’s your Trinbagonian dream?

 

Check out the rest of this week’s issue (11/04/11; Issue 52):

Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday!

 

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