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Words can hurt more than sticks and stones

Lifestyle - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 00:02

I’m known to have a sharp tongue. A hot-mouth is what they called me and so over the years I’ve laboured on maturing in that area and, well, I’m still enrolled.

I own books like Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall, Me and My Big Mouth by Joyce Meyer, When to Speak Up and When To Shut Up by Dr Michael Sedler, and many other titles in that genre of life-changing-through-tongue-taming literature for the filthy mouth.

Bible quotes such as James 3:8, “But the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil full of deadly poison” have been my daily prompt. And in the Proverbs, I’ve found an instructive one that says, “When words are many sin is not absent.”

My bend to change has come from personal convictions about my sometimes ungraciousness, but the hurt placed on me by the mouths of others has provided impetus. Very early I learned that the idiom “Sticks and stones may break my bones (but words will never hurt me)” is a lie, a ploy to get children to deflect hurtful criticism/slander. Words have hurt me more than lashes in this life. As an eight-year-old I was told by a classmate that I was “as poor as a ‘sursh’ (church) rat” (sic)” and, while I had not as yet recognised the abject poverty in which I lived, she ensured I appreciated her malevolence, telling me in the presence of laughing schoolmates, “You have no fwigze (sic), you eh hah no TV and yuh does iron on a coal pot.”

That really hurt and I think I would have preferred to fight and lose than to be smacked down with such an insult.

It seemed not our fault for being without those appliances—we had no electricity until 1978—but in an effort to understand my hurt, I went home and asked my mother if I was poor.

In her calmest voice she enquired why I wanted to know and I repeated the incident. Hmm. Lawd. If you only knew my mother’s pride level, eh! Her black face seemed a bluish purple as she leaned into me, and with a voice belying the cool demeanour of one minute before, she bellowed, “Yuh have somewhere to sleep? Yuh have clothes? You eat food today?”

I doubt if she heard my answers, but having responded to each question, she then declared, “Well then, you not poor. Go back and tell her that you have beauty and brains and that is all you need to carry you through life.”

My mother shielded me with her wisdom. Her uncomplicated philosophy has buoyed my entire life. But I learned children could be brutal and words cut deep.

Now, with a recovering mouth, and smarting from the punishing I’ve had from the mouths of others, I’m circumspect about the power of words. Words hurt more than sticks and stones and do irreparable damage. Whether it’s under the ruse of picong, gossip, salvo, or exposè, all words that are damaging cause long-term injury.

Those uttered publicly and particularly in politics and open forums, which are then repeated ad infinitum, I know, contribute to the instability in societies.

And, this place is steeped with abuses, which seem bent to character assassination and as we continue to underestimate the destructive power of words, in nursery-rhyme conjecture, London Bridge is falling down—and right on top of us.

It seems that slander, provoking accusations, and all manner of cruelty are the chosen paths of expression here, where, in the words of former US President Barack Obama, we “treat name-calling as reasoned debate” and infuse “suspicion and fear of those who appear different to us” either by class, ethnicity or partisanship.

The wilfulness of our intent in using words as weapon is to break each other’s back. This is a most unfortunate juncture in our affairs. But, now, who is going to help us heal? Who will lead my headless nation into the reintegration of community spirit where we can regain living in neighbourly repose, where kindness is worn as our garment of tolerance?

As I consider the health of our nation, as I look at the death and mayhem each morning on the news, I remember the words uttered here, on more than one occasion also, by high office holders and contenders, that “blood will flow.” As I consider my own experience recently where I overheard someone describe me as “ mental”; as I estimate the pain that such ignorance and bigotry can cause, I can only appeal to us to learn to suspend judgment especially the judgment that pronounces with hurtful words.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an edited version of a feature published as How do we recover from words that hurt? on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Categories: Entertainment News

Cozy evening at home for jazz

Lifestyle - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:53

On an otherwise socially busy Friday evening last week, the cozy Ethnic Jazz Club (EJC) studio in Woodbrook, home of jazz ensemble Moyenne, hosted a free “open session” for musicians before a small audience that mostly concluded it was the best place to be that evening.

EJC leader, keyboardist Chantal Esdelle, hopes for a better response from musicians next time around on July 6. However, there was no holding back from Moyenne regulars, bassist Douglas Redon and pannist Natasha Joseph who, along with Esdelle, fed a musically knowledgeable audience an eclectic menu of jazz standards and jazzy interpretations of calypso, Latin and pop hits.

Opening with Duke Ellington’s Caravan, at the request of Redon who wanted to start with a “bang,” the trio could not help but show off with energetic solos in delivering this timeless classic.

Then, following a largely faithful rendition of the melodic Besame Mucho, the trio dug into the calypso wonder-bag to find Lord Kitchener’s Sugar Bum Bum which restored the opening tempo on the evening.

The evening would not have been complete without an offering from the Clive Zanda playbook.

This time it was his Chip Down. The challenging task was left to Esdelle to lead the way on the keys. Zanda is himself an EJC regular.

There was some skillful improvisation on Tito Puente’s Oye Como Va and closure came with an inspired rendition of Autumn Leaves, the early French jazz standard popularised in the US in the 1950s by Nat King Cole.

The plan for these “open sessions” is to feature musicians who won’t mind rubbing shoulders with other accomplished colleagues on the first Friday of every month.

This will run for the rest of the year to help mark 20 years since the establishment of Moyenne as one of the country’s leading jazz bands.

The actual anniversary is June 25 and this will be specially marked by four shows on June 22 and 23—two sets per evening.

The other activity planned by EJC is to present Jazz Cuts comprising video “snippets” of past performances by Moyenne and other leading jazz artists on the Club’s Facebook page.

Last Friday, Esdelle related the story behind the modest facility at 51 Cornelio Street, Woodbrook, saying the proceeds from previous shows, along with contributions from supporters, had helped improve accommodations at the studio.

The EJC studio has come a long way since the cramped space was launched as a venue for first-class jazz offerings. It has hosted numerous sessions with leading local, regional and international jazz musicians.

“Join us as the newest configuration of Moyenne explores our classic originals with new sound and presents new originals with our classic sound,” Esdelle says of the upcoming sessions later this month.

She is also encouraging jazz lovers to join the group’s mailing list by contacting EJC at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment News

Celebrating East Indian Arts after Arrival Day

Lifestyle - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 00:52

The Indian Arrival Day holiday may have come and gone, but every day is a great day to celebrate a country’s cultural diversity and upbringing. The contribution of people of East Indian descent has greatly added to T&T’s identity as a nation, and what better way to continue commemorations, to keep the pages of our story turning, than with song and dance?

After a very successful 70th anniversary dance production last weekend, on Sunday, June 10, the Little Carib Theatre, Woodbrook will stage an intimate performance starring some of the country’s most prolific classical Indian dancers and choreographers, Susan Mohip and Mondira Balkaransingh and company.

Their rich backgrounds in the equally emotive and illustrative Kathak and Odissa dance styles respectively will serve to tell a story on the Woodbrook stage, continuing to fly the flag for age-old Indian traditions which have been embedded into T&T’s cultural fabric since 1845.

Dancing since the age of three, competing by age seven, “Baby Susan” Mohip has blossomed into her role as one of Trinidad’s leading creative and film dancers, as co-founder of the Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, director of the Susan Mohip Dance Company, and Classical Indian Dance instructor at the academy for the performing arts, University of T&T.

She has taken her passion for the poetic and rhythmically-rich movements of Kathak on extensive tours through the Caribbean, South America, Canada and India, even having performed for many foreign dignitaries including the Prime Minister of India, Prince of Wales and the President of Botswana.

The concert also honours the work of Nrityanjali Theatre’s Mondira Balkaransingh, who found her love for Odissa under the dedicated training of nationally awarded masters at India’s Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Odissi.

Odissa is a beautiful classical style steeped in Hindu mythology originating from the temples of the Eastern coastal state of Odisha in India, but finds its fit effortlessly on the stage in Trinidad under her masterful direction.

Given the title of a cultural icon by the T&T government in 1994, it’s no surprise that dance has taken her all over the world representing both the governments of T&T and India, and that her body of artistic work spans more than 40 productions and counting. Nrityanjali Theatre has a Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in part thanks to her, and Balkaransingh can even be credited for having written the Dance Curriculum for local secondary schools.

The concert is one of four productions the Little Carib will stage specially to celebrate 70 years as an institution in the city for Performing Arts, and completing the bill will be none other than internationally-renowned classical sitarist, Sharda Patasar, daughter to award-winning musician Mungal Patasar.

Showtime is 6 pm and tickets, costing $150 each, can be purchased at the venue. For bookings and further information, call 622 4644.

Categories: Entertainment News

Pandemonium apace at Pan Trinbago

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:21

Can there be pan without the demonium? Are there ‘demons’ ruling pan – roaming among the pan world hence the bacchanal and confusion from its embryo stage to adulthood, today?

This culture of destructive drama cannot continue to be marketed as integral to this angelic instrument called pan – “allyuh ent see anything with pan is confusion and bacchanal?” many assert.

The word pandemonium originated in the 17th century and comes from the Greek words “pan” meaning all, and “daemōn,” demons.

Prior to my introduction to playing the pan in 1974, the era when my uncle – the late George “Sonny” Goddard – was president of the then-called National Association of T&T Steelbandsmen Association (Natts) and prior to his tenure, every meeting (on pan) was embroiled in cuss-outs and ended with chair-flinging and walk-outs.

Cigarette-puffing, drink-in-hand, hot-tempered, boisterous individuals, had pan in the palm of their hands – their role: to ‘develop’ the fraternity, the art form, sweeten culture and promote the instrument.
Sad though, while the instrument was developed and is being further… meeting acceptance, awakening pleasure and gaining appreciation, globally, personal and key aspects of professional development – respect; confidentiality; professionalism; proper planning, organisational, communication and customer service skills; integrity, trustworthiness; and healthy team spirit – are still in the wings waiting to make its debut centre stage.

While one could boast of having gained relevant knowledge or training, the harsh reality is, the measurement that determines if these talents are effectual is not by simply stating they are our core values, we attended a course or got certified, but solely by the calibre to which self, others, tasks and the business itself are managed or lead – how many people in and out of the fold are satisfied; have we created/do we create ill-will or alienation…how many have fallen away; have we placed the establishment into disrepute; am I honest; what is the world saying; where are we on the success grid – the lyrical question: am I an asset or a liability?

In 2009, a man named Keith Diaz was appointed as President of the governing body for pan, Pan Trinbago Inc. He is admirably noted for having introduced and implemented a series of initiatives that would see movements shift laterally and vertically with a view, that the vertical lever would constantly spiral upward.

Almost 20 years in office nonetheless, the lever seems to have become rusted and falling apart, prompting vociferous calls internationally, for him and his Pan Trinbago band to demit office.

The raging, incessant confusion transpiring with financial accountability, the battle with the Ministry of Culture, the fall-outs with the overarching carnival body, NCC; the lack of receptiveness, objectivity and open-mindedness to advice for betterment, frustrated pan players, internal wrangling – mass turmoil – position the world to sit-up and take note that the “governing body for pan” in the ‘mecca of pan’ hasn’t gotten it right.

It’s not only, that “Everyone Listens” When Steel Talks according to the website, but everyone reacts.

‘Everyone’ isn’t only those currently-involved in pan, but too, those who are for the first time, seeking an investment in the art form.

Is this truly the modus operandi to continue?

For the mecca to make a bold and impressive statement, not only has it become necessary, but mandatory, to engage in a recovery, restructure and rescue program, ensuring those operating its business are self-aware, effectively knowledgeable, adept and able to execute, exemplarily.

Salvaging what good remains and rescuing the fraternity from whatever demons are plaguing, are now incumbent upon six Government Ministries – Culture, Tourism, Community Development, Trade and Industry, and Education – to offer guidelines and standards towards impressive brand and reputation.

There’s Pandemonium apace at Pan Trinbago.

In the May 29 Guardian column, “Three Pan chairmen want Diaz out,” in part it states “The trio are also ‘demanding’ that fresh elections be held….”

It should be strongly noted, to move forward and upward, the spirit of ‘rogue’ must be eliminated from the world of pan. Our national instrument is not (emphasise not) ‘gunta culture’.

The nation is already buckling under the effects of rogue and bullying elements, it need not continue to allow this type of conduct.

The Bible states: “Jesus was crucified. He died for our sins.”

In one of his statements, Diaz says, “he feels as though the nation is trying to crucify him.”

While it is unclear whose sins this crucifixion is going to represent, putting the contentious areas aside, there is still a moral compass of sorts that guides the nation, and it will be remiss of the people to not thank Pan Trinbago’s potential predecessors for the contributions they have made as they make their transition, and wish them well.

Categories: Entertainment News

The Right Kind of Wrong to have gala premiere

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:20

It’s definitely an event not to be missed. Truly a red carpet spectacle with spectacular glitz, glamour and of course couture.

A-Listers like former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam, ace cricketer Dwayne Bravo, famed hairdresser Bally and international model and photographer Calvin French among several other prominent people will all be in attendance at the biggest event of the season—the premier of the The Right Kind of Wrong.

An estimated 400 guests are expected to turn up at the premier gala at Central Bank Auditorium, Port-of-Spain on June 14 which begins at 7.15 pm, with the actual theatrical show beginning at 8.30 pm.

It’s an amazing play directed and reproduced by veteran actor and prominent playwright Fareid Carvalho.

And in true Carvalho style, he promises everything over the top, from the hors d’oeuvres and premium drinks to the production itself.

Carvalho, who has dominated children’s theatre for the past 17 years, is returning to adult theatre with a bang with the recent establishment of Carvalho Theatre.

In speaking about play he describes it as a farce comprising six cast members.

“It’s more than comedy. All patrons will not only get a fantastic comical show with superb acting but with many tasty hors d’oeuvres, exquisite drinks and of course free giveaways,” Carvalho promises.

It’s based on a Rico Suave character who is dating three flight attendants from three different airlines all at the same time but each having no knowledge of the other.

There’s also an obnoxious housekeeper who knows of his charades.

Then there is also Robert from Biche, played by Carvalho.

Robert, who is clumsy and nerdy, comes to Trincity for the first time, and gets enthralled in this comical but precarious situation.

“I was motivated to do the play because of the specific timing of a farce. It’s really about doors opening and closing very quickly.....so as one girl goes in one girl comes out. It actually has the audience aghast for breath,” Carvalho explained.

But moreso, the play signifies a triumphant achievement in Carvalho’s career as it’s the first time he will be in the director’s chair.

“After 17 years of hiring directors I wanted to challenge myself even more. I believe my personality is a rolling stone that gathers no moss.

“I’m always trying to push my creative envelop and to me acting, modelling, King of Carnival competitor, producer, creative director....to add this directing element will be the closure of doing all aspects of theatre.

I’m also a creative director so creatively the costumes and the set of the play are amazing,” Carvalho explained.

The main stars of the show are all men, a feature which Carvalho describes as significant.

His character, Carvalho added, also gives sound business advice.

This aspect triggered many treasured memories for the famed actor whose grandfather Manuel Carvalho, an Portuguese immigrant, came to T&T decades ago.

Manuel, who passed last year at 83, started off as a humble tradesman who quickly turned into a shrewd businessman, establishing Carvalho’s ice cream, Carvalho’s chicken and chips and owning the everpopular and iconic Green Corner in Port-of-Spain.

Manuel’s traits of hard work and determination as well as sound family values have been passed on to his grandson

“My grandfather taught me that family is the most important thing and that you could only trust family as they will go the distance for you.

“He also told me to ‘be alive when you’re alive’,” Carvalho said

The production runs from June 14 to June 17 at the Central Bank Auditorium and will include a blockbuster cast with the likes of Cecilia Salazar and Dese Simon.

And with June 17 being Father’s Day, “two for one specials” are being offered.

Carvalho Theatre is also geared towards igniting public conversations inspired by comical and fabulous characters and also help citizens explore where T&T is heading as a nation.

“There are also serious messages like who we are and where we came from,” Carvalho noted.

But he’s also using adult theatre to develop young upcoming actors by offering job opportunities and create platforms for rising starts to network and engage seasoned members of the theatre fraternity.

Categories: Entertainment News

Reward for outstanding policing in Matelot

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:17

Ag Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said the interest of people for each other in communities ensures their community is safe.

Matelot police station recorded the largest percentage of deduction in crime among all local police stations, with less than 20 serious crimes being recorded in Matelot Village in 2017. Because villagers look out for each other and work with the police, Matelot has declared itself as the safest community in Trinidad.

“Definitely Matelot is the safest community in the land,” said Ag CoP Williams in his address at Sangre Grande Regional Corporation function honouring Eastern Division Police held at the Chamber’s Hall.

The top CoP said there is a big lesson on how people live with each other and how well they relate to protect their community.

He added that he cannot package Matelot and sell it to other communities and commanders of TTPS, but they must learn and share to make T&T a better place.

Williams said when Eastern Division got nine awards as well Best Leader commendation there were grumblings, but reminded that Snr Supt Garth Nelson took up the challenge which led to success.

Williams added that the Eastern Division is monitored on a weekly basis on its progress and getting awards and being the best leader does not happen by accident but with good leadership and that’s why the Eastern Division won its awards last year.

Councillor for Matelot and Chairman of Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Terry Rondon expressed elation over the announcement and pledged the support of the corporation and Municipal police in assisting TTPS in crime fighting.

Rondon related his experience growing up in Matelot where his mother would send him to distribute food to the police officers stationed at Matelot, which developed a relationship with the police, villagers, especially parents and children.

Rondon called upon parents to develop a harmonious relationship with the police in their communities for a better and safer T&T.

He also congratulated Nelson, the 2017 top leader of TTPS and his officers with a plaque for outstanding dedication and commitment to duties in making Eastern Division Region, a safe place.

Also attending the event and making positive comments were Dianne Lakhan, Chief Executive Officer SGRC; ACP Mc Donald Jacob, ACP Municipal Police; Brian Headley; Insp Erica Prito; and, Councillor Anil Juteram who gave the vote of thanks.


Categories: Entertainment News

Beyond beauty

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:14

“It is our responsibility (collectively) to support what is ours and we must continue to be proud as a nation regardless of colour, creed and race.

We must stand together strong.” These were the words of Brian Gopaul in an interview with the Trinidad Guardian.

Gopaul is the new franchise holder of Miss World T&T (MWTT). He added that the pageant is a great opportunity and it is the country’s responsibility to ensure great representation on the international stage.

Who exactly is Brian Gopaul and why did he decide to bid for the franchise?

Gopaul, who studied Agriculture at ECIAF (Eastern Caribbean Institute of Agriculture and Forestry) was always a very creative child. He was extremely good at taking control of things and transforming it. As he grew older the boy became interested in pageantry and the age of 16, he held his first pageant ‘Miss Gasparillo Composite’ at the Gasparillo Composite School.

As he grew, so too did his passion for all things related to beauty and transformation. Thus, he ventured into Events Planning and Decorating eventually becoming one of the best in his field. Together with his business partner Reiaz Mohammed, he set up his business—Elite Planners Limited.

Almost 20 years later, Gopaul finally got the opportunity he always seemed to miss. “Past delegates of the MWTT pageant notified me that the franchise was available since they thought I would be ideal for the role. They were pushing me to bid. I did some research and spoke to well known people in the field and I decided to send in my application.”

Being awarded the franchise was no easy task for Gopaul. “The members of the MWTT Organisation was very particular since they wanted to ensure the franchise is well represented,” he explained. After the organisation checked the credibility of both Gopaul and Mohammed (who is now the codirector of MWTT), they were awarded the franchise.

So what does Gopaul hope to do with the franchise and what is his role and vision? To this question he answered:

“I want to ensure that our country is well represented on a national level and to ensure that the selection process is fair and that we are proud as country.”

Gopaul added that he hopes to restore the faith in the population in pageantry. “Somewhere along the line, we have lost faith. I think there is a breakdown in society and we need to attend to it. Sometimes all it takes is just one hand.”

The theme of the MWTT pageant is Beauty with a Purpose and Gopaul intends to use this platform to fulfil that purpose.

“We want to use this platform to raise awareness. It is not just for young women but we can use these women to share positive influence on children.

We are going to educate, improve and uplift the spirit of young people across the board. Additionally, we will use this platform for national building and as a national drive. We need national pride and we need to engage the public so everyone can realise their role in taking T&T out there.”

The franchise holder insisted that MWTT is the platform to promote tourism stating that it has the largest viewership across the board.

Gopaul has a lot of hope that these things will be accomplished since he has complete faith in his dynamic team which consists of well known professionals.

This pageant is more than beauty,” he said. “The training the girls will receive is second to none. It is more than just make-up. We want to ensure that these girls are well-equipped in things like International Affairs, Art, History and Culture, Protocol, Health and well-being, Social Media Education, Etiquette and Networking and so much more.”

The new franchise holder has high hopes for this competition and he admits that the support has been overwhelming. “People are looking forward to change” he said.

To the young women of Trinidad and Tobago Gopaul sent out this message: “Follow your dream. Every dream beings with a dreamer and always be the best you can possibly be. We always have personal work to do on ourselves.

It does not end with a pageant.”

Gopaul also requested the help of everyone including the Government and ministries.

He said, “MWTT has an ambassadorial role in representing T&T and at the end of the day it is all about representing the country and putting country first.”

The casting call for MWTT took place last weekend at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre. The ten successful candidates selected will be presented to the media soon.

Categories: Entertainment News

Raising funds through tea, music

Lifestyle - Mon, 06/04/2018 - 02:04

The JC Mac Donald Home for the Aged held its tea fund-raiser two Sundays ago at Naparima College, San Fernando.

Patrons enjoyed entertainment from Rikki Jai, Timothy Bally and Christopher, Ruby Pooransingh, the Sanctified Alliance gospel group, Bobby Ramdeen, and models from the House of Jacqui.

The chairman of the home, Dr Allan McKenzie, said funds acquired will go towards repairs to the home. Attending the event was Justice Anthony Lucky, judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Categories: Entertainment News


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