Archive for the ‘Being Idle’ Category

Trust the academics:

The concept of liming encompasses any leisure activity entailing the sharing of food and drink, the exchange of tall stories, jokes and anecdotes etc., provided the activity has no explicit purpose beyond itself… But whereas idling and inactivity are frequently seen unequivocally as shameful and slightly immoral kinds of social situations, liming is in Trinidad acknowledged as a form of performing art; it is a kind of activity one wouldn’t hesitate to indulge in proudly.

In liming contexts, verbal improvisation, ingenuity and straightforward aimlessness are highly regarded, provided one follows the rules, which, however, are nearly all implicit.

Eriksen, Thomas Hylland(1990). “Liming in Trinidad: The art of doing nothing”, Folk, vol.
32, http://folk.uio.no/geirthe/Liming.html

(Thanks Rhoda)



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In the last days…

So someone with access to the parallel universe of ultra-knowledge, knowledge that transcends science, geography, lived reality, has prophesied that tomorrow will be the end. The world, as I heard it on radio, will collapse inwards. And after that cataclysmic event, (otherwise known as the Rapture), reducing the known world to nothingness, there will be a second coming. I do not want to get into that part.

Last night, Bobby advised with that louche gleam in his eye, that whatever Douglas liked to do, he should do all night because, well, that’s the last opportunity….. And today, I think it was Admiral Nelson (sorry Alex, the girls do touch that dial) who said that we should all make sure to go to the hereafter with our bills paid up.

Led me to wondering what I would do with this known limited time. But I am drawing a blank. Would I be sitting on the water’s edge in some fabulously scenic place with family and friends, smoking a cigarette (ah!)? Going for a run in that fabulously scenic place? Dancing to melodic soca? Eating black pudding, oil own, cream-filled confections? Giving it to politicians?

But none of this is fantasy thinking is it? The magic (forget the dread part) about living knowingly in the last day is that you may get to do the thing that you deeply wanted to do but perhaps because of social convention, caution, wisdom, long sightedness, you do not.

I need more time to come to a decision on what to do. Hopefully the immediate prophesy will be an error and I can plan for the next end of the world prediction. Is that in 2012?

BTW: To those who have called down the end of the world, I wonder what  will be their last thought, perhaps a satisfied, “ha, I told you so”.

Ah well.


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Every year Trinidadians congratulate themselves on their good fortune, foresight and creativity in maintaining their carnival. It is a festival almost on autopilot, everyone understanding the rhythm of the lead up and preparation, not to mention the wine and wind down.

Trinis say it with a sense of deepest self-content and even wonder, how ” is a real good thing that carnival come every year”, the implication being that without the release of song, steelpan and wining, well, who knows where all that pent up stress and dissatisfaction could reach. Ah mean to say.

As much as I identify with Trinidadians, I appreciate that I am not really a trini to d bone. How? Well I wonder whether there may be a year when Trinidadians say, you know, no carnival for us this year.  We have some serious things we want to pay attention to, and carnival is 2-3 months of distraction, right after Xmas, which is another month of  parang, pastelle and presents.

In the meantime as the Trinis reading this blog steups a long sustained contemptuous steups, I will go listen to Benjai and  Machel.

Here are my 2011 favourites:

Benjai: Trini

Machel: Bend Down

Benjai: Wind To the Side

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Happiest Words

If you like words and word play, I recommend Ben Schott in the New York Times. Sometime ago, he ran a competition on the happiest words.  Contenders include “Yes”, “I love you”, “the doctor can see you immediately”, “we have a cream for that”, “it’s benign”.

I know exactly what he means. There are words and phrases that send me  into something approaching rapture, the deepest content, leaving such an afterglow of joyful relief to last minutes, hours, days. Here are some more prosaic but really happy words:

The meeting has been cancelled (especially when to get there requires  air travel)

Yes, there is an earlier flight (home), with seat availability and no change fee (to swoon for)

I sent you some curry crab. It is in the freezer. (Georges , my hero!)

We have no lessons this Saturday.

We have it in stock at this store.

I see the problem and I can fix it.

What are your happy words?

BTW: The ultimate happiest noise is the sound of a steelband coming down the street at 6 in the morning, pulling you out of sleep.

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You can imagine my amazement.

It is hard to avoid thinking about American politics, so much of it affects us downstream, and not just in policies but as well in the ideological battles about the role of the state. And then, in its dramatic extremes of sense and insensibility, the way the debates swings  from erudition to absurdity, it can be fascinating, or alternatively despairing. Now though, I try to keep it peripheral. Too puzzling.

But there I was last night minding my business in REM world, talking to a colleague while on a bus to Bathesheba where we were going to do a workshop (yes I need more life), when out of nowhere, walking down a stairway to Paradise Beach,  (that’s the way with the dream transporter) I saw President Obama, solitarily stumble and nearly fall. Are you alright? Something about his ankle and we were off chatting about the perils of travel- cholera, typhoid, falling, that kind of thing. Strolling along Paradise Beach, Clinton turns up sun-burnt and happy, happy face (of course).  If I knew the dream was going to be that short, I would have got in a few good questions and given some advice too. You know.

Anyways, at dream’s end, I regretted not having a camera. They smiled pleasantly enough and looked at each other, like -well, we’ve dodged that bullet.

There is no escaping the American political landscape.

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Share with 12 Friends…or

Chain letters bring out the vengeful in me. The explicit emotional  blackmail offends- not only will I bring bad luck on myself for not  forwarding useless missives to friends, I am also messing with the fate of others, breaking a benign link of good will.

These email letters come in many forms. In my teenage days, the brass ring at the end of the pyramid/ponzi chain letter was, like, 100 handkerchiefs, one from every person in the chain. Truth is, the possibility of receiving delicate linen gave me pause. The thought of  6 inch squares of embroidered cloth would almost make me, almost, commit to transcribing the directed gooblygook 25 times.

In those days, because chain letters were hand written, in any one year there would be few chain letters, enough to make you feel a little special if you received one in the mail. (Not to mention if it were airmail!) The whole business was reliant on persons wasting wads of time in return for the promise of handkerchiefs and vague good luck. It took some work.

Now, in the virtual world, on a daily basis some well-meaning but idle friend or relative  will send, sorry, damn foolishness because it is just so easy to press forward, type in the first letter of a name and abracadabra, your inbox spammed with the menace of a chain letter.

The internet generation of chain letters do not offer too much by way of material inducements. No handkerchiefs or such like. There is another type of email for that- the request for bank account information to deposit inheritance from a foreign land. Rather the nowadays chains are about luck generation and ill luck avoidance. Like the one in which you have 9 minutes to forward some bon mots (like the Serenity Prayer) to 9 friends in exchange for the promise of being made to feel happy in that same time.

These letters annoy me because even when not given to superstition, they play, however momentarily, with the mind. Ignored or deleted chain emails can leave the residual sense of  being an ungrateful, crabby, take-self-too seriously person, unappreciative of the  thought sent your way by another friend wanting you to be your better self. Or otherwise, the action of trashing elicits vague unease at the threat of misfortune. Worse when the emails come wrapped in religiosity: “This prayer is so powerful. Pass this to 12 people. A blessing is coming to you in form of a new job, a house, marriage or financially. Do not break or ask questions.”

I take in front now though, over-compensating with particularly vigorous  delete action.

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He’s on a horse!

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