Monthly Archives: February 2009

Doubles or Nothing

Not to get too personal or anything but I have had a stomach ache since I was 11. The first doctor laughed, the second and third doctors thought it was stress or my imagination, a few other doctors told me to keep a food diary, doctors 6 and 7 tested me for Celiac’s disease and one told me to drink fennel and peppermint tea. Finally as I near that rather large threshold that rhymes with “haughty”, I decided to do something about it. The most recent doctor, seen in London, in a large and airy office in Harley Street with fresh plants and art work on the walls, told me to give up wheat for 6 weeks. Now I have always suspected that wheat might be the culprit, but who wants to voluntarily give up pizza, pasta, roti, doubles, cake, cookies, scones, cereal, toast, crackers, Kit-kats, Twixes, and cookie-dough ice-cream? I am now on day 22 of my no-wheat diet and guess what? No stomach ache, No bloating, and most remarkably, No craving for the very things I can’t have.  The hardest thing about all this is all the Trini food that I love to eat.

First, Bake and Shark. (Although I always have Bake and Cheese and Never Shark.) Bake is a fried bread that is stuffed with shark or shrimp or cheese and a multitude of toppings including pineapple, tamarind sauce, shado beni ( coriander), salad, garlic sauce and thousand island dressing, making it the best sandwich in the world. Call Gayle on Oprah! It’s true.

Second, Roti. This is a soft bread lined with channa (  crushed chick peas) and filled with goat, chicken (boned or un-boned)or vegetables. I always take the vegetables and it is warm and delicious and filling and so so good.

Third, Doubles. Doubles are simply a double portion of soft fried bread filled with a channa (chick pea) sauce and served with pepper, cucumbers and shado beni. They are to eaten standing up in front of the Doubles stand where the Doubles man only makes Doubles in the morning. By 11 am, there is a dearth of Doubles around as everybody has eaten Doubles for breakfast. I had just moved from a regular to a slight (a bit hot) to a pepper Doubles and now I have given them up.

I am just going to the mirror to look at my flatter, happy stomach. I am trying not to think about the Doubles.



Filed under How old am I?, Trinidad & Tobago

Just luvin’ that Carnival feeling

The streets are being swept today and most of the city is back to normal but there is a glow in everyone’s eyes and the memories of Carnival can be felt in the facebook videos, comments and pictures, the smile of a waitress, the front of the paper. Photos are being poured over and everyone is excited to relive the day. So in that merry vein I am posting more photos from yesterday.










The photo below is by my 9 year old, daughter. Good huh?




She loved those costumes!


Filed under Family Stuff, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

A Carnival lime

It is going to take more than one post to showcase Carnival Tuesday here in Port of Spain. Our day started early; we were downtown, parked and already on a street corner taking photographs by 8am and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Early in the morning, before too much rum has sunk in and too much loud Soca has driven the masses wild, Carnival is still about the beauty of costume, the celebration of dance and freedom. By 3pm (judging by what we saw on TV and the stories we heard) things had turned a funny shade of wild.

Carnival is divided into Mas Bands, and each Band has a different theme ranging from Africa, China, Birds of a Feather and Persia. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and while I am still glad that I didn’t play in a band, I am so happy that we had the occasion to see, feel and experience a little of what is Carnival. It is an extraordinary display of frenzied dancing, music so loud your heart thumps along, and all encompassing joy.  People of all shapes, sizes and age put their lives on hold and dance joy into every fibre of their bodies.











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Filed under Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

Feathers, twinkles and ear plugs

Let me introduce to you the Carnival costume that I will Not be wearing on Monday and Tuesday.


And just in case you are curious, I won’t be wearing this one either.



Carnival has come around again. This time last year we were heading off to Bequia but this time we are staying put. However, I am still not keen on adorning myself in feathers and sequins and rubbing myself all over strange men, and I don’t like Rum and I don’t have ear plugs deep enough to drown out the loud Soca and I just am not into the whole gyrating in a bikini for two days sort of thang. Call me mad, and many do, but I am going to stand on the sidelines and photograph the event and report back to you here. The convenient thing about being a photographer is that I am secure in my position of Observer.
I did manage to get in my own little Fete at school where some well known Soca stars came over to jump up and down on the stage and cause the little ‘uns to put fingers in their ears and the big ‘uns to go crazy for some guy called Kes who is apparently SO HOT. Even the teachers were shaking hips and waving bandanas and generally having a great time. It was a truly Trini School event.



The following day was Jump Up which means the whole school danced in a field to loud music and drummed up Carnival spirit in anticipation of the Carnival break. Each Elementary and Middle school class had its own band which involved sparkles and face paint, blue bodies, fairy wings and in some occasions, silver high heeled boots.



We were also lucky enough to have a member of Kiddie Carnival which is when children get professionally dolled up in extraordinary costumes.  





Carnival kicks of Sunday evening with J’ouvert ( from the French, J’ouvert, which means, I open.) and that is an all night, paint splattering kind of event. Monday morning is the first day to go “chippin'” down the road but Tuesday is the Main Event when all the bands will be judged for smallest, sparkliest and most exquisite costumes.

I will be there, camera in hand, but the only sparkle I will wear will be my new silver sparkle eyeliner.

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Filed under Miss Teacher, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

MR. Mom and the dog ear cleaner

It is not a common occurrence that a mother leaves the roost in the capable hands of the father for 10 days, but I did just that. I have been home a week now and I have observed some small but significant changes.
First, they managed so splendidly without me that I have been made aware that I am no longer indispensable. My role, while of course still crucial, has shifted somewhat. For example, the only thing that went even slightly wrong in my absence is that during the transfer from one lemon car to another, a lovely beach chair was lost. This had nothing to do with parenting and everything to do with the tendency that handsome husband has to lose something every few months.
Second, MR. Mom has moved in. When my daughter needs ear drops, it is MR. Mom to the rescue. When a yummy Saturday lunch is wanted, once again it is MR. Mom to the rescue. When I arrived back from the London cold, coughing and spluttering it was MR. Mom who handed me a fizzy vitamin C drink every morning.
Third, MR. Mom has learnt a very important fact. Not only did he realize that he can survive so well without me, but that he can actually do it better! A Delicious meal incorporating ALL 5 food groups? Ask MR. Mom. Valentines Day pancakes with maple syrup? Ask MR. Mom. Chocolates for the valentine’s daughters? Ask MR. Mom. 

I think tonight he is making Risotto. Luckily, the fact that I have no Penis prevents me from feeling emasculated.
When asked what exactly my purpose was, now that finer dining, Band-Aids, nail cutting and reading with young ones has been taken over, I was handed Dog Ear Cleaning and Giver of Kisses.
Kiss, Kiss.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Might be funny

17 years


17 years ago today my handsome husband and I moved our facebook status from “single” to “in a relationship”. Woops. That doesn’t work; there was no facebook back then. In fact I can’t believe it has been 17 years considering I don’t feel much older than 22.  How did 17 years pass by so quickly? Although, if you think about it, an awful lot has happened in the last 17 years, but thinking about that too much makes me feel old. Now when two people who love each other want to make it official, they just click a few keys and Facebook announces it to the world; back then, in the dinosaur years I think we just sent an email letter home and told everyone about this great guy/girl we met and wow! Actually if my 22 year old daughter wrote me an letter email telling me all about this guy she met on a beach in Egypt I would probably gulp, try hard not to panic and remember that I did exactly the same thing.

We did meet on a beach in Egypt, Dahab, in fact, back in the days when there were no hotels in Dahab and it was still a Bedouin village where travelers and hippies congregated for a few weeks days facing the red sea, climbing Mt Sinai, playing tons of backgammon and enjoying the local herbs pita. I was travelling with my close friend from university, Charis, and we had started our round the world trip in Cairo. In fact, to begin at the beginning the person who is truly responsible for this adventure was a great travel agent at STA. When posed with the proposed itinerary of Israel, India and the USA she suggested (thank God!) that it would be far cheaper to fly to Cairo, overland it to Israel and then fly on from Cairo to Bombay. We hadn’t even considered a trip to Egypt in our plans but jumped at the chance to add another country to our post university, pre responsibility round the world trip.

Once in Cairo, where we arrived on January 16th 1992, we met two very handsome guys biking around Egypt. Regaled with tails of sleeping in desert tents and escaping from packs of hyenas, we followed this Swedish and Scottish pair all over Cairo. With promises to meet them in Dahab we left Cairo after one week and headed to a very cold and expensive Jerusalem. In fact, Israel, however wonderful it was, proved too cold and costly for us and we headed to Dahab anxiously awaiting the arrival of our two intrepid cyclists. As often happens when travelers meet and make grand plans, they didn’t turn up but Francois did. We met at sunset on some worn and shabby sofas overlooking the red sea. The sea was pink, the sky was pink, the sand was pink; it was all very rosy. 



We met on January 31st and two days later on 2,2,’92 we climbed Mt. Sinai.  A group of us decided to climb up, sleep the night there (although there was barely in sleeping accomplished in the freezing stone hut) and wake to see the sun rise from the top of Moses’ mountain. It was beautiful beyond words.  At that time, we were simply friends; in fact it was my friend, Charis who had her eye on him. I was busy being determined NOT to fall in love on this trip. However by the time we reached Aswan on February 13th love was all I had in my mind.

We had delayed our departure for India until the 22nd of February so that the three of us could sail the Nile in a Faluka, visit the Valley of the Kings and Queens, cycle to the Aswan Dam and generally explore Egypt together. It was an auspicious and remarkable start to our relationship. When it was time to bid farewell (Charis and I went to India and he was going to Europe)  we were windblown, sun kissed and cupid shot to the extreme.

We would not see each other until May 2nd when he drove down from Montreal to meet me for a few days in Cape Cod. Then it was another separation until September when we moved to France together. In our 4 months apart, while I was in London and he was in Montreal, trans-Atlantic phone calls were extortionate and there was no email, facebook, twitter, blogging or texting to keep us connected. Unfortunately he was not handy with a stamp but we managed with our weekly Friday phone calls to keep the fires burning. 

 17 years later I am thinking back to that night in Aswan, a full moon throwing her light into the room, our first kiss, the beginning of an incredible life together that has taken us from Egypt to France to Montreal to Winnipeg back to Montreal to Trinidad and now looking towards Uganda. It is a story that surely gave my parents some sleepless nights.

“What! You met some French Canadian guy on HOLIDAY and you are moving where with him??”

Yet it is a story that lives in us and in our two daughters and one that echoes with every step that we take.






Filed under Family Stuff, How old am I?, personal, Travel

And the winner is…

I went to London for the purpose of attending a job fair. It was not all chocolate truffles and snowflakes. The fair itself was slightly surreal, lines of people waiting to meet other lines of people waiting to decide if they would like to interview these brave and sparky teachers.  A teacher roaming the fair trying to find a job with a “trailing” spouse, two children and 1 dog is a hard sell but I shined my shoes and put my bravest and best foot forward. Mere days ago I didn’t know where we would be in 6 months and now, finally we have an answer.


Finger the envelope, pull out the thick card inside, open it gingerly, peek… and the winner is… Uganda. Uganda, “pearl of Africa” according to Winston Churchill, birth of the Nile, home of coffee, roses and gorillas, seat of Kampala, the city of hills and potholes, future home of intrepid adventurers; my family. Uganda was never on the cards a week ago and now it is our future home.  I will be teaching at the Kamapala International School and they are thrilled to have me, handsome husband and two girls. 

On July 1st we will bid farewell to sweet Trinidad and set sail of the heart of Africa. In the meantime we will squeeze the pips out of Trinidad and enjoy the rest of our time here.  3 limes will set sail on this new adventure and report from deepest Africa!

Uganda. I need to let this one settle for awhile.



Filed under Family Stuff, personal, Travel

London, my love.

London is a transport jungle. I have crisscrossed this city by bus, tube and car so many times in the past week and I have barely covered more than 8 square miles.  I will always know these streets as my own, having walked them countless times, but I now know for certain that big city living is not for me. Having said that, my Trini existence tends to operate within 100 steps either side of my house and that is too narrow a life for this city girl.  I was raised on concrete not grass and my feet crave the steady pounding of a city street.  Those feet have tracked many steps here in London, steps that have been surprised by snow, ancient cobbled streets, slick marble, gentle carpet and rooms filled with history. 


I love London. Its walls that whisper as we pass, its sophistication, the cabs with drivers listening to interviews with their mayor, coffee shops that you need to squeeze through to get served, boutiques selling the softest cashmere beside the coldest stone, the temptations of shoes, silk, art and chocolate, the sounds of any languages except English, heard on a double decker bus. It is an enormous bulging noisy thriving crowded and often dirty and frustrating place. It is familiar but foreign, forever changing yet staying true to my memories. It is frankly too large. I have had a broken fountain pen in need of care for 10 years but the shop is just too far to get it fixed. By the end of the week, I am too tired of traipsing around, and too cross that I haven’t yet seen a single painting. I had let down friends and relatives for not seeing them more often, if at all, and yet I have enjoyed the warmth of my sister’s kitchen, visited doctors, book shops, the shrine of Marks&Spencers and got myself a job.


Every time I come home the love affair continues. A love affair filled with anger, lust, frustration, nostalgia, heartbreak, disappointment, inspiration and sadness.  London lives in my heart.

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London Calling. Day 3.

Just in case the powers that be think that I may be missing the Canadian Arctic, the biggest snow storm in 18 years has descended on London.

Schools are closed, trains, buses, flights and even the tube are suspended or delayed. However it is very pretty.





Filed under Photography

London calling. Day 2.

Time to get a coffee in Trinidad: 12 minutes.

Time to get a coffee at Pret a Manger, London: 30 seconds.

The shock continued as we approached Selfridges food hall. Some people think this is simply a place to purchase fine food. They are wrong. What it is, in fact, is Food Porn. I walked about with open mouth, drool dripping on the fine polished marble, smudging the glass encased food displays, wanting, wanting, wanting…


Was it always this amazing? I am just seeing it with new eyes?


Cheese counter. (swoon.)

When I thought the sight of food couldn’t get much more exciting, the porn was yet to continue as I stepped down a small flight of stairs into the candy section. Or perhaps it was just a movie set? A simulation of sugar coated fancy simply set up to drive me crazy. But then I was offered a sample. Samples are one of the delights of shopping in Selfridges. Gladly I took one and then another, especially since the box to purchase said pink balls of bliss was $30. For a small box. I kid you not.


See those pink balls? (yum.)

I then pranced about on a small sugar high twirling my magic wand in the direction of $400 sunglasses. After a pleasant half an hour of pretending I was part of “lifestyles of the rich and famous” the sound of my wallet crying in my handbag pulled me to my senses. When I woke up I was standing on the street looking bewildered.

Money spent in reality: negligible.

Money spent in my dreams: obscene.

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Filed under Might be funny, observations, Travel