Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Some people

May 27, 2010

It’s hard being ‘some people’. I’m not referring to anyone in particular. Rather I’m referring to the ‘some people’ we all talk about; the some people who  always seem to have stuff going on in their lives; things are always happening to them, or to people they know. They go through a lot. They deal with situations that we say (as we sit around in the comfort of our own uneventful lives) ‘no one should have to deal with’. When we say this, more often than not, we mean, ‘thank God, that’s never happened to me’.  At the backs of our minds, we think, ‘they must have done something wrong to have to deal with this’. Hardly do we ever consider that Providence is no respecter  of persons. If it happened to them, it could easily happen to you. Well, last week , ‘it’ happened to my family.

We found ourselves in a situation, that did not creep up on us, but rather it just jumped out at us  from behind a wall as we strolled along in the comfortableness of being us; same effect, just different method of delivery. One moment we were happily dreaming dreams and planning plans, and the next moment we were in a completely alien situation. By the end of the week, we had become ‘some people’. We were in the ever so popular ‘situation’, one that we never imagined we would ever be in. But here we were; some people.

Being some people gives one a whole new perspective though. You go from being the “called upon” to the ones calling and relying on others. You move from that place where you (sometimes with a ‘can’t you call someone else’ sigh) find yourself lending a helping hand wherever you can, to a place where you are reaching for that helping hand. Being some people is a humbling experience. If you ever start feeling a little bit full of yourself and start thinking that you don’t need anybody else, try being some people for a minute.

I know this all sounds like being some people is the worse thing that can happen to you, but it’s not all bad. I will admit that, oftentimes the thing that catapults you into ‘somepeopleville’, is not exactly the most thrilling experience and certainly not something you would want to repeat, nevertheless, it opens up a whole new world.

In this new world, despite how we got there, we made some very interesting discoveries. Our ‘arrival’ inadvertently allowed us to ‘test’ some of our relationships. Test is probably not the right word, because it suggests some level of uncertainty to begin with, which is definitely not the case.  The reality of relationships though, is that you never really know what kind of relationship you have with someone until something not so good happens; until the rubber hits the road; until walks must be walked instead of talk being talked.

There are lots of stories about the moral erosion of our society. I want to believe though that there are exponentially more examples of people helping people. We are, however so preoccupied with sensationalism today, that we prefer to dwell on the not so nice aspects of human behavior. Being some people though allowed us to experience the much more noble aspects of humanity.

This post, therefore, is a thank you of sorts, to those who have helped when we needed it most. To the much-loved “aunty” who stepped in and took care of the munchkin, so that we could be fully focused on  the situation at hand. To special friends, who just said yes even before questions were asked. People who dropped everything and came running; who just asked, ‘what do you need?’ To those who shifted plans and worked through the night so that they could be there for us. To the co-worker who offered to drive miles if we needed her to. To the friend back home who made international calls just to encourage us and to make sue that we were ok. To the anonymous ones who did not need specifics to petition on our behalf in prayer. Thanks is often difficult to say, moreso because although it is the ‘right thing to do’  often it falls way short of conveying the depth of our gratitude. How does one articulate what it feels like, when you truly do not have to worry because you know someone’s ‘got your back’.

Yeah, it’s hard being some people. You don’t want to be a bother to anyone, or interrupt their lives, but one thing I’ve learnt about some people is that their situations, more often than not, cannot be helped. They don’t choose to have stuff happen to them. I told a friend that we were probably being tested; her response,” just sounds like life to me”. Maybe it IS just life. After all, we are not the first ones this thing has happened to, and I’m sure we won’t be the last. There are many things happening to many people every second of every day. The way these are resolved depends to a great extent on the quality of the network. If it is a network of the proverbial fair weather friends, then things may not turn out so well. If the network is “genuine” then the outcome is likely to be brighter, and even if it isn’t, you at least know that you’re not alone.  Truth is, everybody needs somebody, so in some sense ………we are all some people.

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Play that funky music

April 19, 2010

One of  the things  few people know about me, is that I like music. I like it a lot. I listen to pretty much anything. There are, some types I do not listen to, but generally speaking, my musical taste can be reliably described as eclectic.  My wife no longer gives me funny looks when she hears some bangra, or Chinese pop music, emanating from my computer.  The presets on my car stereo range from country to hip-hop.  There are very few times when the radio is not on in my car, and this is where I encounter one of my biggest peeves.

Like I said, I like MUSIC, not commercials, not radio personalities, not strange people who call those radio personalities and divulge stuff they really should keep secret…..very secret, just music. Unfortunatley, however, it often takes me a good ten minutes from when I get into my car and drive off to when I hear the first song played.  It’s a little bit ridiculous.

There is one station I listen to that claims commercial free music for an hour and change. The first time I heard this, I thought I had struck gold. I was like “yeah, this will definitely take me home”.  I reacted like this because I’m naive. I took them at their word. After all, this is radio, this is being broadcast to thousands of people. They would not  be so brazen (or like my mother-in-law would say “brass face”) to lie to all those people. It’s not like they’re politicians or something.  Imagine my surprise when after about two songs, I hear the DJ saying “thanks to the kind folks at …… for allowing us to bring you commercial free music ” Are you serious?  So just because it wasn’t an entire 30 seconds or it did not specify a product, you think that’s not an ad? An ad does not need 30 seconds to make its point and everybody knows those guys only sell coffee so you didn’t even need to mention the product.  Turns out all the boasting  about commercial free was just “crapuccino”.

In addition, to playing as little music as possible, it turns out that apparently “DJ school” today is all about  the personalities and only the personalities.  You don’t even need a distinctive voice anymore, as long as you can speak, you’re in. You listen to the radio these days, and I swear some stations have two DJs…one male, one female. They all sound alike, they all play the exact same songs, they all have the exact same lack of knowledge of music and performers. One thing they have going for them though, is that they all have the uncanny ability to locate some of the most inane and inconsequential information  the internet has to offer. This is where they really shine. Some of them even have assistants to do this for them, because, of course, they need to keep focused on pressing the button to play all the commercials. So basically, you can get free radio, but you “pay” for it by having to listen to tons of commercials and juvenile chatter, or you can not get commercials and “pay” a subscription for satellite radio ( you can’t escape the juvenile chatter though). It’s like we’re caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

When they’re not not playing music,  they’re trying to get all profound and have really insightful discussions about the day’s popular topics like, relationship issues, “how many of you slept with the stripper at your best friend’s bachelor party ?” Really tasteful stuff like that.  Then listeners use them as private investigators.  They get the DJ people to call the guy and get him to admit that he didn’t “really” sleep with the stripper (besides she kissed him, he didn’t kiss her….technically). All this is taking place while wifey (unbeknownst to Casanova) is listening in. Then she makes her presence known.We don’t get too much from here on in because there is a lot of “bleeping” taking place. It gets even better when DJ guy gets in the mix (and I am not referring to music because there isn’t too much of that taking place)  and getting all upset and everything.

All I want is to be able to turn on my radio and hear some music. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Apparently though, it’s a whole lot more than the radio stations are willing to offer.  Sigh………I guess I’ll have to be patient. I’m sure I’ll get some music……after the break.

Sense & Sensibilities

March 16, 2010

Caribbean people have a reputation for being friendly and very personable, especially to foreigners. We are very welcoming and would generally go all out to make strangers comfortable. There are, however, a few things that rub us the wrong way. We get “vex too bad”.

One is when people ignore the diversity that is the diaspora resident in the Caribbean Islands…”oh I just love your accent, I went to school with a girl from St. Lucia, and she sounded EXACTLY LIKE YOU”, says the foreigner to the Barbadian. Ummmmm………..no she didn’t.Or when they exhibit their own ignorance by asking silly questions…..”So how do you all get around? Do you have cars?”…..naah, we typically swing on vines. Much cheaper that way, and you don’t have to worry about finding parking under the trees.Or the ever so popular “Do you speak english where you come from?”……well to be quite frank, after talking with you for the past half hour, I’m beginning to wonder the same thing.

But one of the things that really really irk us is when they “discover” things that we’ve known about in the Caribbean since, “rock of ages was a pebble” and turn around and wonder if we would be able “appreciate” these “new advances”. Friend of mine in Canada, for example met this lady who was doing some research for an import and export business…organic teas she said. Knowing my friend was from “the islands” (wherever that is), she was wondering if there were any pockets of people there who would appreciate organic tea……….can someone say bush tea!!! To add insult to injury she goes on to say that the more affluent the individuals the more attuned they are to general health and well being. So not only are we ignorant as to the “newly discovered” benefits of bush tea, we are too poor to even know that we don’t know. Never mind that, for the most part, in the early days (when bush tea was invented), it was the selfsame less affluent ones who used the stuff because they could not afford to pay to be killed by all the fancy medicine.

Its not her fault though. Her attitude is representative of the inward looking nature of many people who have become so used to their current environment, that they forget it wasn’t always that way. They forget that the thing which is now so much a part of their present is also part of someone else’s past. They forget that they are reaping the benefits of the experiences of others.

It takes all kinds to make this world the place that it is though and sometimes it is best to not let incidents like this get under your skin. Just say what my father said when he encountered a particularly silly state of affairs…………STEEUUUPPPPSSS!!!


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