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Monday 11 November 2019
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What it means to be ‘ah Trini’

I always thought I was a “Trini to de bone,” but after living in this country as an adult for the last four years, I realise that I am a fake Trini–a big fat fraud.

I thought that by retaining my authentic sing-song Trini accent and loving Carnival, roti and soca music as much as I do, my Trini status could never be revoked, but I was sorely mistaken.

After carefully observing the other citizens of this country, it is clear that I honestly have no clue as to what it means to be Trini. Which is why, to this day, I struggle with assimilating back into the culture that raised me for the first 15 years of my life.

So now that I have admitted my flaws, the rest of this column discusses the list of things all fake Trinis need to do in order to become real Trinis.

The first criterion for being “ah Trini” is not giving a damn about Trinidad and Tobago. This trait of a Trini involves corruption, importing drugs and guns, and above all things, littering every and anywhere.

Americans wave flags, and the Brits love their trademark tea; true Trinis represent the red, white and black by throwing a KFC box of the same colour out of a moving car on the highway.

A true Trini will never consume a meal or drink and properly dispose of garbage, so if someone chooses to return home with that silly idea of putting trash in bins, they should have their passports revoked and be deported to whence they came, forthwith.

The second criterion is being docile and willing to accept, as the Gospel truth, everything and anything that is said by someone who is supposedly in a powerful position in society; a “Trini to de bone” would never question authority.

For example, Sandals all-inclusive hotel in Tobago is a good economic decision says the Prime Minister; real Trinis wouldn’t dare challenge that asininity. Police station in Enterprise to suppress crime – Trini politicians and police think it’s the best idea of the century.

Thirdly, every real Trini must have low expectations, so they don’t complain about anything; fake Trinis like myself need plenty patience for dealing with nonsense. It starts at the airport because as soon as you touch down, you will be greeted by airport staff, and Immigration and Customs officers who seem to lack basic manners and people skills. And trust me, the last thing you want to do is flash your foreign passport for them because you’ll be there all night answering ridiculously irrelevant questions.

And if you’re a fake Trini like me and you leave the airport to grab a bite, patience is also essential for dealing with the rudeness that passes as customer service in Trinidad. In other countries, you might expect that at fast food establishments only, but here, you get it at every government agency, ministry and all those “high end” restaurants you’ve heard so much about.

Low expectations prepare you for stuff like “yuh geh-in troo?” when you enter a business place; it’s apparently the standard greeting now; “Hi, can I help you?” is now an ancient relic. Don’t forget to tip!

Fourthly, no real Trini bothers with road rules, laws and regulations. Breaking laws is intrinsically Trini but you don’t deserve a TT passport if you haven’t driven in the wrong lane under the speed limit, driven on the shoulder, high-beamed the entire oncoming traffic at night, and stopped abruptly to turn or switch lanes without indicating.

Fifthly, and very importantly, if you’re a young professional or returning student with a wealth of knowledge and ideas, no one wants to hear about that crap. You see that critical and independent thinking that fostered a contumacious mentality while studying at your foreign university; leave it over there. True Trinis don’t try to change anything; they don’t upend the cart or challenge the status quo. Trinidad is not the place for innovative ideas, modern thinking and advanced learning. No sah!

Lastly, the sixth criterion for being a real Trini is speech. Standard English only appears on exams. Only the fake Trinis try speaking it; all the other real Trinis speak Trinidad English Creole... apparently.

I am sure my sarcasm was not lost on anyone and it is quite sad that this is how Trinis actually express their love for our country (Tobagonians are a bit different).

Celebrating the day we gained independence while at the same time losing control of our country is a wonderful time for me because the national colours and flags covering buildings everywhere mask the filth and fake patriotism for at least a couple weeks.

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