Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Returning on a jet plane

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on June 15, 2006

I’ve been trying for a while to come up with a way to respond to Laurie’s post about returning home. Problem is, I don’t have that much to add to what he said. I suppose that his descriptions of Trinidad are somewhat romanticized, but fundamentally, he feels the same way I do. Whenever I think about Trinidad, I get this odd mix of anger, frustration, and a tiny bit of optimism (along with a certain amount of warm & fuzzy nostalgia). I’m sure you can all figure out what inspires which feelings. Sure, I fantasize about returning, getting a cabal of smart folks together, and fixing everything overnight. I feel an obligation to help fellow Trinidadians. I frequently ask myself why I’m here in New York helping to build the American economy, rather than back home where my help is needed more. Plus, the weather here is frightful and the rent is too damn high.

On the other hand, my life here is quite comfortable. I’m not saying that my life in Trinidad would be miserable or anything, but, well, let’s just say that every time I’m home, there seems to be a major problem with some utility or the other. There’s a blackout. There’s no water. And so on. I suppose that I could get used to that sort of thing again, but I can’t say that I’d look forward to it. And it’s not just a reliable supply of electricity that’s spoiled me, it’s a number of things — the great public transit, the relative safety of New York, the absurdly good food and, well, the money. I like the culture — I don’t feel stifled by anti-intellectualism the way I did back home, and while that’s a terribly pretentious thing to say, it’s the truth.

I’m also just not convinced that I could do much if I returned. Part of that is simply that my ambitions aren’t matched by political skills. I dislike small talk and networking, and I doubt that I could ever pretend to be a very authentic Trini (I don’t know what that is, but I’m fairly certain that I’m not it). I’m quite liberal, so my views would be quite unpopular, which wouldn’t help. Let’s say I didn’t get into politics — what else would I do? Trinidadian business has never struck me as being particularly meritorcratic, and seems rife with ageism (please correct if I’m wrong). Would I just work for a local bank and make less money to do (more than likely) less interesting work that what I do now? What’s the point of that? Who would I be helping then? Perhaps I’ll meet someone who’d be a fantastic leader, in which case I’d be happy to machinate behind the scenes. Until my Prime Minister Charming comes along, though, I just don’t see Trinidad as having much to offer me, nor I as having much to offer it.

So, like Laurie, I’d like to help. I’d like to raise a family there. I’d like to not have to deal with snow. The problem is, I’m not seeing that as an option, at least for a while. Maybe things will change.

You know what I’d like to hear, though? I want to hear from some of the folks who stayed. Nicholas? Jonathan?


6 Responses to “Returning on a jet plane”

  1. Yoni said

    The weather up there may be frightful but the fire inside is delightful

  2. Colin said

    Trini weather ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I continue to believe that the political process is not the only, or even the most effective way to achieve change. In a global village, physical presence means less and less. And what’s all this talk about starting families? Slow down, people!

  3. Laurie said

    The problem is that “authentic Trini” for the purposes of election seems to mean “never left Trinidad”. None of us, by default, qualify — which is ridiculous, since what Trinidad really needs is a bunch of excellently educated people to take over.

    Colin — what on earth could we do from outside Trinidad to change it? Invest?

  4. kris said

    its hot
    but snow is a real PITA
    downtown fits in about a quarter of a manhattan block.
    stay. there’s more to walk around there for 😀

  5. admin said

    I don’t think that’s true, Laurie. Williams, Panday, ANR Robinson and (I think) Manning all went to university abroad, and some of them lived abroad for certain periods of time. Come to think of it, I don’t think any of them is really an “authentic trini” either, so maybe that’s not a necessary part of the equation.

    To Colin’s point, it’s possible to invest from outside, but pouring your money into a badly mismanaged country is stressful. I can tell you that from experience. Moreover, if you want to do anything more involved than buying real estate or stocks (say, opening a business,) you will need someone you trust to be present to run the business.

  6. I know what you mean. If you’ve lived abroad for a while and then cam eback to Trinidad, you see all T&T’s error as glaring. It’s not that you don’t like it anymore but you are disappointed with it. Some things that hit me were hoe absolutely dirty Trinidad. People litter here without conscience. And yes, the lack of intellectualism which was actually the most disappointing part of it all. Nobody wants to think or take apart their prejudices. It’s sad.

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