Ah Bajan-Trini T’ing

Every Sunday found me liming with them, eating stew peas and laughing at Johan as he fretted over burning curry and the prospect of being ‘a failed Indian’ should it not come out right.
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Everyone thinks that Bajans and Trinis don’t like each other. But I beg to differ. I suppose, in theory we should not like them for real. They deprive us of our flying fish. They talk funny. They dare insinuate and even boldly argue that Carib is better than Banks. And yes, they probably do quite deserve the label of ‘Tricky-dadians’.

But still, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. In fact, I’ll go further and shamefully confess… I love Trinis. There, I said it!

It wasn’t always so. Please, let me explain my downfall. To be honest, I blame Mona – that’s not another Trini, that’s UWI.

I went through my first year there pretty much impervious to the charms of those oily people from the southern Caribbean. But then in my second year and again in my third, hordes of them descended upon UWI – to do geology, to do mass com, to do actuarial science… but most of all to brainwash good Bajans like myself.

It started off fairly innocently enough – we were first truly thrown together by UWI Carnival – after all, who better to show soca-suspicious Jamaicans how to play mas than Bajans and Trinis? As head of my hall’s Carnival band, it would have been nigh on impossible to put together a half-decent band without them- simply because most Jamaicans were still ignorant of the delights of wukking up in the midday sun clad in a bikini and beads. Despite their dancehall culture, Jamaicans had a tremendous shyness about carnival costumes- more correctly the sentiment was “mi nah walk a road in no bikini…not a backside!”

So it was up to Trinis and Bajans to carry the day – people like Lynn, born and raised around the legendary Poison band and who gets weak at the sight of anything shiny, and Janelle who fashioned a gorgeous Queen of the band costume from two yards of linoleum in just one night.

In the feel-good spirit of this Eastern-Caribbean unity, the BSAJ (Barbados Students Association of Jamaica) and TTSA (Trinidad and Tobago Students Association) decided to have a small joint soca fete. It just barely broke even, but it had a much more insidious effect.

Suddenly, it seemed Trinis were everywhere in our lives. In the next year, my final one, the BSAJ and TTSA may as well have been one, such was the love-fest between us. The BSAJ held a pre-Independence day lime- complete with dominoes, fishcakes, smuggled Mount Gay and Malibu and…Trinis who declared while knocking back our rum:

“But eh-eh allyuh cyan hold a lime widout we!”

No fete during Jamaican or UWI Carnival was spared the antics of a united bunch of Bajan and Trini students (with the odd Vincy thrown in) jumping up and hailing Inga’s call of “Small Is-laaaand Posseeeee!” with wild cries of “Baaap! Baaap! Baaaap!”

But it was the BSAJ day trip that made me realise how far gone we all were. When I sleepily stepped on the bus that fateful early morning in 2003, I was greeted with a chirpy chorus of:

“Eeeey gyuuul! Yuh reach!”

Confused at such an early hour, I was truly convinced I had boarded the wrong bus- that the TTSA was also having a trip that day. I stepped back. Peered blearily outside- nope, it was the only bus at Irvine Hall.

We had truly reached the point of no return. And so I gave in. Didn’t hit a fete without my Trini crew- let Tricia show me how to wine down to the ground with a cup of rum balanced on my head. Learned the difference and the rivalry between SAGS girls and Convent girls. Every Sunday found me liming with them, eating stew peas and laughing at Johan as he fretted over burning curry and the prospect of being ‘a failed Indian’ should it not come out right. Weekdays found me raiding Jeunanne and Ronald’s freezers for roti skins and frozen containers of curried chicken, duck and beef (compliments of Mrs. Alkins and Mrs. Seecharan!). Cricket season found me at Sabina Park with Avalon or Gabby, sipping Malibu, nursing a hangover and arguing about Brian Lara.

Even now, three years later, their effect has not rubbed off- not a day goes by that I don’t chat to one or two of my scattered Trini brethren and sistren online. Not a Crop-Over can pass without RTFs (random Trini friends) showing up at my house- I feel my mother must wonder if I didn’t meet any Jamaicans in Jamaica!

And so, the shameful truth is this- ah love allyuh!

With love to Avalon, Anthony, Lynn, Johan, Gabby, Bubbles, Matthew, Tricia, Adanna, Ayanna, Pin, Kwane, Inga, Ronald, Mario, Chanelle, Hasina, Tiffany, Licorish, Geoffrey, Wanika, Sasha and our very own ‘Bajan-Trini ting’ Arianne!