Mark your calendar, peeps! Next Monday, general elections are going down right here in sweet Trinidad and Tobago. Stop the presses, send your paparazzi, and get ready to have a fresh, new, improved T and T change your world.
On a more serious note, next week’s national elections may not mean huge changes in the long run, so I’m not going to get too excited about it–much like in African politics, a change in government here just means that “different people get to eat,” as the saying goes.
Before I get into my great hopes for what change will be–stated in the most facetious terms and as applies selfishly to me and my selfish little universe, no large-scale politicking here–a bit of background is in order.
The ruling party, the People’s National Movement (PNM), has been in power since 2005, when they took over from the United National Congress (UNC), after some pretty scandalous behavior from the UNC’s leader.
The PNM has followed that up with some just-as-scandalous behavior, which at the moment centers around building contracts for huge-scale contracts and magnificent modern skyscrapers and state-of-the-art buildings that remain either unfinished or unused–all of which were delivered over budget and, except for renovations to the Prime Minister’s grounds, VERY late. The buildings contract chief absconded to the US (after the PM tipped him off that maybe a permanent vacation in the Florida Keys was in order, before he got called up on charges of massive fraud et al) and a 2 million dollar T and T flag waves proudly as you enter Port of Spain–because yeah, we need fancy buildings and expensive flags more than we need sustainable water supplies, reliable food supplies, and controlled inflation rates.
So the parties have gone all over on their campaign business, plastering neighborhoods and highways with signage and slogans–that get chalked and erased, or hoisted/pasted up and changed, by competing parties on a daily basis– and incessant (often crudely-developed but sometimes hilarious) radio ads:
And political party truck caravans have been making the rounds of my neighborhood for two weeks, blasting soca, chutney, and calypso tunes taken over for political jingles–very catchy, I must say, but very wearying after two weeks:
What I want to know is, how will either party address my very important issues and needs pertaining to foodery, healthy living, and good sewing?
The foodery issue:
Inflation rates were 11% last year and about 17% the year before. Coupled with an utter disregard for the farming industry (which has been nixed in favor of the energy industry, namely oil and natural gas), that means my bundle of green beans that cost $3 TT now costs $8 TT at the market (and $10 TT at the supermarket.) Granted, it’s not a lot in USD terms, but it’s significant when ALL your food costs skyrocket–and needless to say, my green bean consumption has gone waaay down. Ditto lots of other vegetables, which are in short supply, no supply at all, or very expensive.
Doesn’t the government KNOW that I need plentiful scallions and cilantro? Come on now, candidates, hook me up with plentiful, sustainable, reasonably-priced veggies–because I don’t like choosing between eating green beans (and the like) and buying fabric. (Vanity usually wins.)
The water situation
Nothing is as aggravating as coming home and finding that no water is running out of your taps for the second or third time in a week. Nothing, that is, except coming home after a three-miler in the blazing 90+ F heat and finding no water running from your taps. The country loses over 50% of its water reserves in old piping that hasn’t been restored since the British left in 1962. I need that water to make myself presentable to others/earn a living without driving people away for sweatiness/cook my food. So does the rest of the population–and we need to get water regardless of rainy season or not.
So, candidates, get your water sorted, will ya?
The security situation
This one can’t be written about as glibly as the previous two, but it affects everything I do, including (and especially) the pursuit of waistaliciousness through running. I’ve had three bad scares in the two years I’ve lived here: I was followed home in a car, I saw bullets cut through my front yard and hit the neighbor’s car–and then there was the incident two weeks ago. Out on my morning run as usual, I was followed by a man on a bicycle who kept circling me and following me, staring at me, mouthing lewd comments–oh yeah, and then exposing himself to me THREE times. Scary business, no?
When I called the police to report the incident, they said I should take it up with the neighborhood security service, the same “security” service run by a private security firm and whose workers I see every day sleeping in their car (or in the park) and thiefing mangoes from any accesible neighborhood trees. I tried to file a report but was told it was pointless. I told the security guys and what did they say? “Oh gosh, we go give him real licks” (a beating). So basically, if something happens, I’m on my own.
Dear candidates, I’d be most grateful if you could bring in law and order so I could run/walk/come and go without hassle and without needing to rely on dubious “security” to take care of the matters that do, inevitably, arise. Surely your police will be rewarded by the sight of my bootiliciousness running down the streets–and I’ll wave and say hello nicely if I know you’re protecting me and everyone else.
Bet you can’t wait to see who wins–I can’t either! Let’s just say we may see a change of government, and that change of government may mark the first female Prime Minister in Trinidad’s history… Fingers crossed. But I am grateful that the PNM has paid for the rainy season to return–or wait, was that a UNC thing?
Election energy on my part was channeled into my fastest 3-miler ever–which I stupidly forgot to set the Nike+ for, to my chagrin–and an old-school lunchtime swim where I alternated swimming snail pace and killer crocodile pace for half an hour. Now both my arms and legs are jelly. Love that feeling!
Election hype also led to impetuous dining out, at Movietowne’s Chinese buffet–where quantities and offerings are NEVER affected by inflation, water shortages, or lewd men:
I’m now going to sleep–the political party trucks start rolling out at 7 am and a girl needs her beauty sleep as much as water, food, and law and order, even if no one is running on THAT platform.
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