I arrived back in Trinidad in time to experience what Divali during the time of COVID is like here. In Trinidad, Diwali often gets spelled with a ‘v’ instead of a ‘w’. Deriving from the Sanskrit word dipavali, one could argue that the ‘v’ spelling is more correct. Then again, neither includes the ‘pa’.
Whatever! What’s truly important is that food always seems to come first in Trinidad. For real. Allow me to explain.
In America it would seem rude to go to someone’s house for dinner, especially for a special occasion, and eat right away. The polite thing to do is engage in chit chat for some time while waiting around ’til the host declares that it’s time to eat, no matter how much your stomach may be growling.
“Naw, I’m not hungry at all.” Yeah, right!
To the contrary. Here’s how it often goes in Trinidad: “Hello”, grab a plate, dish up, “are you going to eat, too?”, “no we already ate”, sit down, stuff your face, and somewhere in between bites ask, “so, how are ya anyway?”
It’s pleasant. No growling stomach while trying to keep manners in check. I believe it’s much easier to concentrate on what people are saying while happily munching on something delicious.
Dinner was awesome. Channa and potato curry, a savory pumpkin thing (I think it’s called Talkari), corn on the cob slices that were drop-dead spicy, fritters, and, best of all, plenty of Buss Up Shut. I initially thought they were saying Bust up Shot. Ha, ha. It’s actually pretty close in meaning as this type of roti is literally beaten until it resembles a busted up shirt. Hence, buss up shut. Endearing isn’t it?
Andy remembers having an uncle who used to make the buss up shut and would beat the roti as if he were beating the living hell out of it. I wish I had a video of that although I did find this one on YouTube. The entire video is entertaining (and makes me so ravenously hungry!) as it shows exactly how roti is made in local restaurants (many people prefer to buy it already made.) However, if you’re truly pressed for time you can forward to around 6:00 minutes. On camera you see the roti being beaten once but then you can hear more beating going on in the background throughout much of the video.
Please allow me to point out a few other interesting things. First, notice that the chef has the likeness of the Trinidad flag displayed on both shoulders. Nice touch, eh? Second, check out the way people speak. Trinidad is an English speaking country with this being the most common dialect. At first I found it so difficult to understand but I’ve been getting the hang of it.
Third, notice how they interact with one another: happy, joyful, laughing. This is quite common as well. As I’ve mentioned before I get conflicted about pointing out such things as the last thing I want is for Trinidad to become the next Hawaii or Fiji or Nantucket Island–people coming over in droves bringing along their entitlement to muck everything up. Noooo!
Ok, back to Divali. I attempted to get some nice photos of the numerous candles. My step-mother-in-law is an expert at lighting one candle and then using it to light the others. I tried this and nearly singed my fingers. Experience is everything.
Gathering in small groups is the norm due to stupid COVID but it was still a nice time. One neighbor blasted 70s and 80s music while another shot off fireworks (the neighborhood doggies were going nuts but everyone else loved it.) It was all too awesome until the fireworks knocked out power on the whole block. For real.
Impressive though how quickly the power company arrived with a boom truck and fixed it. I suppose they were well prepared for just such a thing to happen during Divali and not the least bit shocked.
Some neighborhood drama ensued with one set of neighbors marching down the street with purpose to confront another set of neighbors. Drama is fun, unless of course it’s your own. Ever notice that? Nothing much came of it though and no one was hurt, which would not have been cool.
Here’s a very unprofessional video, including when the boom truck arrived. I still forget that when I shoot videos I need to rotate the phone so that it’s in landscape mode.
Hope everyone has a great Sunday.