Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Tuesday, April 22, 2003  

A post about a post about a post

Damien over at Indiawest responds (no direct link to the post, my permalinks are still on the lam) to a post from Edward at Free Trinidad, and a reply by Seldo, on being expatriates. The economist that he is, Damien focuses on Edward's and Seldo's comments about the economic opportunities afforded them abroad, unavailable here in Trinidad.

Yet quite apart from the brain drain issue is a cultural issue, one that Seldo touches on but that Damien doesn't, though I'm sure he agrees with it:

"The other more general cultural factor is the insular nature of Trinidadian society. Now, this is not Trinidad's fault. All nations, no matter what size, regard matters within their own country as being of disproportionate importance to those outside. However, this effect is magnified by the size of Trinidad's population. In Trinidad, I would never be judged solely on my merits: I would always be the son of X, nephew of Y who had an outside child with Z. I can never meet a stranger in Trinidad -- they will always know someone who knows me, or my parents, or my brothers. There's no escaping it, and no cure. It's claustrophobic, and I don't want to live like that."

As much as I deplore the lack of truly fulfilling professional outlets for creativity in this country, what frustrates me, on a personal level, more than anything else is the fact that no matter where you go, it's the same people, incestuously doing the same things (and with the same people), over and over and over. One quickly exhausts (and is exhausted by) the social and cultural circles.

As Seldo says, this is not Trinidad's fault. Yet I can't but think of those years spent as a student in London, when one could (and so often did) just pick up one's self and take the bus, the Tube, and go. There'd always be something new waiting to be explored, people to meet, experiences to be had. And while there's much of Trinidad I'm yet to see, no matter where I go here, there is always something to remind me of this island's limitations, of its limiting nature.

Again, this is no one's fault, and I'm not making a complaint against anything or anyone (except perhaps myself, but that's another matter entirely). Many of the limiting factors, such as size, are of course permanent, but there are things that can change. Therein lies the challenge, for those of us who are here: to accept the things we cannot change, and, as Sisyphean a task as it might seem, to do something about the things we can.

posted by Jonathan | 1:32 PM 0 comments


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