de moment de plane land at Mahal Airport, dat used to be Piarco,
ah notice de change. Everything paint in white! De terminal building
and all de airport vehicles paint in white. Even the airport personnel
dressup in white! At de Immigration counter, ah make ah joke wid
de officer and arkse he if dey run out ah color in Trinidad and
is he who tell me dat the Government pass a law dat declare all
Public buildings, including buildings used by the public, had
to be painted in white! Also all vehicles used by the public,
or operated by a Government Dept. had to be painted white. He
went on to tell me dat dere was also restriction on certain colors
and dat certain colors was banned entirely! Ah was wondering....how
dis is possible? An' I come dong for Carnaval ....an' Carnaval
should be COLOR! Wat strike me funny was, dat even de people who
wasn't working in de Airport, was also dressup in white.
Anodder ting ah notice strange was dat ALL de women an' dem was
wearing dresses with skirts, which were long, almost touchin'
de floor. Yuh could imagine mih surprise after ah leave Customs......
after ah whole hour, an' ah walk outside! Is a whole sea ah people
dressup in white, waiting to pickup we, multicolored dressed,
tourists! ......All de taxi an' dem paint in white! De whole scene
remind me ah one ah dem Black and White postcard dey uses to have
On de way from de Airport, de taxi-driver brought me up to date
wid wat was goin' on. Apparently, since de drop in oil prices,
de new Government, in trying to save hard currency and to balance
de budget, make ah study of all de unnecessary tings dey using
in de country and dey come up wid a negative list, of tings dat
de public could do widdout. De fus' ting dey come up wid is dis
idea, dat if dey limit de choice of colors, de country could save
money by importin' less dye. Dey even prove dat white paint and
white cloth cheaper dan other colors. So dey pass dis law making
white the color of choice for de Nation! Dey even change de colors
of the National flag, to White, Green and Yellow ..... White for
purity, Green for nature and Yellow for wealth! As ah incentive,
de government give ah tax write off to everybody to paint over
dey house or car. De taxi driver went on to explain, dat certain
colors was banned totally, like red, and black, because de Prime
Minister feel dat de less colors we see, better for everybody;
besides, dere was enough black around, wid all de asphalt roads
and people. He explained dat because of the confusion de word
'black' carried wid it, de government was even thinking to ban
de use of de word entirely wid reference to people.
" Dey suggesting dat people be just referred to as 'people.' I
tink is ah good idea," the taxidriver said.
all de blackboards in de schools had to be replaced by whiteboards
and he explained that at the start, it caused a lot of problems
"Just imagine, wid all dem white cars how much problem it was
to find yuh car, after yuh park it...All the newspapers protested
because everything was printed in black ink.....in vain, dey all
had to use green ink. So yuh could just imagine all dem fancy
color printer in dem print shop and offices was useless in no
time. The people protested especially de 'black people' because
dey felt offended and ah lot of dem walked off their jobs, but
wen sufficient ah dem lost their jobs for taking action an' wen
dey find out dey ent have no recourse, dey give up protestin'.
But ah hear dat dey taking it up wid the Human Rites Court," he
All de while driving from de Airport ah kept looking at de passing
scenery through the car window. Almost ALL the houses paintup
in white, in true and we pass few cars that were not white! Most
everybody walkin' on de street dressup in white and so ah arkse
about this. De driver explained, dat most of the businessmen support
de idea so dey give de people little choice. Another thing he
said was, dat de Government also passed a law dat women had to
dress like women an' dey couldn't wear pants, .....long, short
or odderwise. And all skirts an' dresses had to be at least six
inches from de ground. He say dis was wen people get real mad.
All dem women protest, he say, black, white, brown an' yellow,
all protes', because all Trini women like dey poom-poom shorts
and dey tite pants. But like everyting else, wen dey arrest ah
few ah dem, everyting die dong. Now everybody jump in de brew,
wearin' dey long skirt. De lates' style, he say, was ah sari kinda
dress, because all yuh had to do was buy de cloth .....yuh didn't
have to sew notten. He say, all dem seamstress bawlin'. Now a
lot ah de men complainin' because dey cyar check out dem women
bum-bum no more, so dey buyin' cat in bag. De one good ting come
out of dis though, was to cut out all dem limers, every evening,
on Frederick Street because dey ent have anyting to look at now. Ah
siddong listenin' and ah cyar believe mih ears.. Dis cyar happen
in Trinilan'. Trinis , who like dey freedom, variety and action.
nex' day, ah decide to take ah stroll downtown, to see wid mih
own eye wat really goin' on. Well ah nearly drop dong dead! All
de building an' dem downtown, paint in white and is ah sea ah
white, walkin' on de sidewalk! Is like everybody just make fus'
communion. De only bit ah color yuh could make out is de traffic
lites and de new National flags flyin'. Annoder ting ah notice
is how quiet everybody was. Nobody was talkin' on de street and
everybody face serious, serious, as if dey mudder dead or someting.
Trinis who always talkin' and larfing. Long time uses to have
a lot a peddlars on de street, selling all kinda ting. Well, all
de peddlars were selling local fruits .... an' most ah dem was
sellin' boil corn, out of a cooking oil pan on a coal pot.
"Ah put mih PAN DEY an ' de Police move it... Ah pay for mih boil
corn lisence..Why dey cyar lef' mih pan in peace? Ah wodda put
up ah sine, 'LEAVE PAN DEY!' but dese days because ah all de damm
Environment Laws yuh cyar put up ah sine!", one of the vendors
" Yuh know very well yuh cyar leave yuh PAN DEY, unattended.
So anytime we come arong an' find yuh PAN DEY wid nobody looking
at it we go move it! ", explained a Policeman.
Suddenly ah realise, ah wasn't hearin' music an' it was so close
to Carnaval, not ah calypso playin! Wid mih farseness, ah went
an' arkse de policeman wat happen to de music on Frederick Street.
"Yuh come from foreign? Yuh doan know it against de law to play
music in public to disturb de peace? If yuh want to lissen to
music in public yuh have to use ah earphone! Dat is de law!,"
de Policeman replied, "an'
someting else, as ah touris' yuh have 48 hours to get ah change
of white clothes!"
Better ah did stay in Canada, ah thought .Now ah have to buy white
" So yuh mean for Carnaval dey cyar play music in de streets?"
" Dis Carnaval is de last one wid music on de street.
Next year all de carnival will be in de Savannah. Dey goin' to
build a wall arong de Savannah to keep de people in, so dat dey
don't disturb dose who don't like Carnival. Who want to jump up,
will have to pay to go in. Also dis is de last Carnival wid all
dem colors. From next year is white, green and yellow bands,"
Thank God I came this year, I thought.
" How come so much people sellin' boil corn?" I asked de Policeman.
" Is how long yuh leave Trinidad, man? Yuh doh know is corn season
now? Besides, since de Government put hot dog, all kinda sausage,
ham and beef on de negative list, almost everybody gone vegetarian...."
" Yuh mean de people ent protest?" I asked.
"Protest what! All de Rasta boys support it! Ah nevah know dat
Trinidad had so much Rasta ..... an' yuh know, dey does only eat
liv-ers. So ah lot ah dem fas' food place close dong and so all
yuh could get now is, doubles, vegetarian roti, boil corn, pewah,
chataigne, peanuts and plenty fruits," de policeman said, " besides,
if yuh like meat, yuh could still get chicken or duck, if dey
doh have ah shortage. De Health Department say dat since de people
eatin' less meat, de population healthier."
"So wat odder changes it have in de country?" I asked, " any change
for dis Carnival?"
"Well dis Carnival will be de fus' Carnival widdout Calypso ......
De Government put a ban on piccong in Calypso, someting to do
wid Human Rites ......all de kaisomen protest, so dey ent release
any new calypso....all de tent close dong dis year...."
" Buh how dey go have Carnival widdout calypso?" I
" Yuh tink people care? Dey playin' reggae, rap an'
plenty tassa! If dey look sharp dey go ban Kaiso for good! Mister,
Trinidad change up a lot...We even have de Yankees back. Dey open
a big base up in Toco and dey buildin' ah port up dey. Look ah
have to go...dat PAN DEY, unattended! "
As he walked away, I thought, "What a job! Controlling
PANS!.....and in North America dey worried about Big Brother watchin
Dat nite ah decided to go to ah Carnival fete. Ah never
see so much people masqueradin' in sailor an' jamet woman costume,
yet! Any stranger to de place wodda get ah bad impression. De
place was packed wid people ........ standin' room only. De steelband
dat had to play, went on strike, in sympathy wid de Kaisomen,
so de only music was ah Tassa side. Is den ah realise Trinis will
dance to anyting, as long as is fete. Ah nevah know dat it had
so much variation to dancin' to Tassa drummin'. De people was
chippin', prancin', winin' and even doing de new dance craze called
de 'Barrackpore Crab' to Tassa. De Tassa group couldn't stop drumming
as the crowd kept calling for more. De fete stop dead at 12 o'clock
sharp! Is den ah fine out about annoder new law de Government
pass. No selling of alcohol and loud music after midnite. Police
appear from nowhere and start controlling everyting to make sure
dat everyting close dong. Even de roadside corn vendors, now doing
a busy 'after fete' trade, had to close up shop. Ah policeman
wid a bullhorn announced, "ALL DE PAN DEY HAVE TO MOVE!.... OR
WE GO HAVE TO MOVE DEM!"
What was dis obsession did de Police have wid dese
PANS, I thought. De answer to dis ah would find out de nex' day
at de Savannah at Panorama.
Everybody know dat Trinis doh make joke wid dey Panorama.
Panorama is de time Trinis does look forward to explashiate dey
musical creativity on PAN ........from de time one Panorama done,
dey does start to plan de nex' one. Panorama is an annual family
outing ....is like a Woodstock festival, Trini style. People come
from all over de islan' an' gravitate to de Queen's Park Savannah
wid dey food, drinks and whatever dey need to make dey self comfortable
at the FESTIVAL. Only dis year, it was different. Dis year, de
bands wasn't playin' no kaiso and people couldn't bring food and
drinks because of de new laws. Also, de new color restrictions
took a difinite toll on de spirit of de crowd. It was like if
you was in ah open air Revival Church Meetin' for nuns. To start
wid, de programme start late ....instead of startin' at four o'clock,
it start at six. By dis time, everybody fustrated and dey bottom
sore, because it ent easy to siddong in de Nort Stand on dem hard
bench, wid no music playin'.
Despers was de fust band to appear and wen dey did come out on
de stage, every body start to clap. De ting is, nobody had an
idea wat dey was goin' to play, because all de bands agree at
de last minute to support de Kalypsonian strike. So a big HUSH
come over de crowd ....... Every year, Despers would have ah winer
girl, dressed in poom-poom shorts, wavin' dey flag. Dis year,
ah magga, bacra-johnny looking fella, dressup in a sailor costume,
came out, wid ah little white flag in he han' ......he turned
to de Gran' Stan' an' bow dong .....den he turned to de Nort Stan'
an' he bow again .... den he turned to de band , raise he han'
an' signal dem to start. All of ah sudden, all de panmen drop
dey steelpans to de floor and from the middle of the steelband
group, a Tassa group come out, beating dey drums. For a moment
de crowd went tootoolbay .... Despers ketch everybody wid dey
pants down! Den everybody start to boo dem.
"WE WANT PAN!" dey shouted.
People started to throw paper cups and plates on de stage, den
plastic bottles.....den somebody throw a real bottle, den anodder,
den plenty more! In no time de place was full ah Police, wavin'
dey batons an' beatin' people tail! PAN-DEMONIUM! De crowd scatter,
people running in all direction, trampling over each odder, trying
to evade de Police batons. Me? I run outa dey so fast, not even
Ato Boldon couldda ketch me! So dat was de end ah Panorama.
De nex' day, de Guardian Newspaper headline read, ' CARNIVAL ON
HOLD! DESPERS LEAVE PAN DEY!'
next thing I knew, my wife was shaking me awake,
"ALLOY, WAKE UP! WAKE UP! Yuh talking in yuh sleep about 'Everyting
So White!' WELL......YUH HAVE TWO FEET OF WHITE SNOW TO SHOVEL
OFF DE DRIVEWAY!!!!! "