So I was sitting there the other day wondering whither goeth my plans to take over the world, when I get a call.
It’s a dude called Kerry, a young publisher doing some positive things.
Next thing you know I’m in his office and I’m planning a national student newspaper to come on stream next month.
That was last week.
Then this week I get a call from Gayelle. And next thing you know I’m sitting down planning to do New Voices with Indira. We go live from this Monday, September 11. That being a suspicious occasion, we’re going to be having what will no doubt be a hot discussion. Really looking forward to it! Going to check out the fabulous Canals to provide me with some gear from their Revolution t-shirt series.
The world. Is mine.
(psychotic fits of laughter echo across the Northern Range)
I was talking to my sistren Binghi Nya about this very same thing last night. We trod through some rough times in Babylon-don together, but good times, plenty good times! She’s coming home to get married in October and we were just reflecting on the twists and turns our lives have taken in the past few months. I can’t believe that a few short months ago I was ready to pack up and go back to Zurich, maybe learn German, have some babies and take up skiing. Be in love and find my place in some other space and time. I still look at pix of that time, me frolicking on the alps with the ex-bf who has, from all indications moved on from the indecisive dread girl with the funny accent. I feel a few light years away from that place that was ‘us’ myself, although I suppose there is some part of my mind that wonders what could have been if I hadn’t come home when I did. It’s a funny thing about relationships, someone always has to compromise and I wonder at how easy it was for me to willingly give up my home for one man. I guess I’m still questioning the notion of love and how much of it is heart and how much of it is a power struggle.
The things I’ve experienced in the past six months, the transformations I’ve undergone and been a part of…I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. No coincidences here. What is to is must is. Everything right on time. In a timing. A rhythm of my own making.
So the Quality of Living Index is out and apparently Zurich is rated as the best city to live in.
I can’t tell a lie, it is a pretty cool city. Beautiful, clean with a great cultural scene and a perfect blend of artsy fartsy sorts and uptight investment bankers. I spent many a day wandering the narrow Niederdorfstrasse and then there was the fateful climbing of the Grossmunster cathedral tower with my old school friend Dr. Joan Jet.
I guess seeing this just brought back lovely memories of falling in lurve, it was all very cheesy, totally unlike me. Funnily enough it would have been me and the ex-bf’s first anniversary this week. It must have had something to do with the just arriving spring. I remember it was warm enough for us to have dinner outside at this cute little lakeside restaurant. Poor fella, I don’t think he’d ever been out with a vegan before so he had to do extensive negotiations with the chef so that I could get something to eat.
In those first two weeks in Zurich I guess I fell in love with more than just a sweet, funny boy, I fell for the city and the people too. For icy mountains and cool evenings by the lake. The Swiss get a bad rap for being uptight and humourless. But that was not my experience at all. Even in Zurich the people are warm and welcoming and I never felt like an outsider, even when I wasn’t with the bf.
I spoke with the ex-boo yesterday and he was telling me that it’s still snowing. Snow in spring. I guess that’s a little like what my heart feels.
It’s been a rather hectic couple of days. Hectic but chilled. We drove to Bern on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised that I was really feeling the city. There was a big market, selling alongside the typically Swiss cheese, sausage and brot, an eclectic cross section of world food. Big South American community. It’s a much less uptight place than Zurich. All the money’s made the Zurchers a little bit pretentious…
It was really nice to be on a crowded street with noise noise noise and people jamming in every direction. that’s how a city should be. It reminded me of Spitalfields, one of my favourite London Sunday markets. I think if there’s anything I’ll miss about London, it would be the markets. I had a short stint working at Spitalfields with a sistren of mine earlier this year and it was really wicked. market people are the best and they come from all walks of life.
But I digress…Street performers, buskers, there was one band playing what I can only describe as gypsy jazz, a kind of unholy but uber cool communion of traditional Euro-Yiddish style – accordion, violin and I think a clarinet and then added to that a djembe drum a saxophone and a bass guitar. I think the dreads in the band were expecting me to come and buss some moves but I was ravenous and not feeling to oblige.
We also found this amazing record store, and when I say records, I mean vinyl..they had some beautiful rare Miles records. I had a headache for a while but decided against splashing out with my pennies and after the power book surprise declined any offers from the bf to bolster my jazz collection.
We didn’t stick around Bern for too long sadly…headed back on the autobahn for home sweet home then down to the Langstrasse for dinner at Switzerland’s first Indian restaurant. Food was okay, although I was pissed off that they didn’t have any peshwari naan and the sag aloo had less than no spinach.
My patience wore thin with the company…call me a snob if you must, but I can’t bear people who talk about fuck all for too long. I think there’s something slightly unnatural about a complete lack of interest in what’s going on in the wider world. But they were pleasant enough and I do like them as people. But the next time I go out with them, maybe I can pass out some cards with suggested topics of discussion…
One of the tief headingest things about living in Europe for me is how you can live next door to people and never be quite sure if they’re alive or not.
You come out of the door and close it behind you and any sound of a life you were living behind that door is lost. I can barely hear the Trane getting on bad two steps out of the door. This really disturbs me. Yeah yeah, I know all the shite about noise pollution and everyone having a right to peace in their homes, but I’ve always felt that it’s not what you keep out that’s going to do you harm.
In London I lived in Chelsea and Brixton, two absolute polar opposites in terms of people and noise levels. I’d take Brixton any day. The yardies blasting rockers till 6 in the morning. The mad prostitute accosting me on the way back from a run in Brockwell Park. At least I knew my neighbours were alive. On the other hand, I got up one morning in Chelsea to a trail of blood on the steps and not a clue where it had come from.
When I first came to the bf’s new flat, I constantly asked him if the neighbours were away. Their lights were frequently off, no sound of life at all coming from their flats. No, they were there. On rare occasions I spotted them on the stairways. Or coming home. Sometimes they would peep furtively at me sunning myself on the balcony during summer and I’d always have a big wave at the ready.
I mean, I have no idea what kind of music the bf’s neighbours like, with the exception of the guy with the funny beard downstairs who stays home all day practicing mournful tunes on a horn instrument that I pray for the sake of John Coltrane’s ghost, is not a saxophone.
I mean some neighbours in Trini take it a little far. Like the ones living opposite my mother who set up shop (I mean they take off the lights and have drinks out) in their verandah every time my mother’s having one of her arty farty parties.
The other thing that struck me is that none of the three other ‘families’ here have children. They all seem to be in their forties, so at least they should have teenagers lurking sulkily around somewhere. Not a one. I guess that’s a real indication of how little population growth there is here. I hear the German government is even thinking about paying older women to have children. I guess that’s also what comes with affluence. Who needs children when you can have a plush new BMW and matching motorbikes to take off on for the weekend without having to worry about babysitters and children trashing your nice lake view flat.
I’d take noisy children any day. In fact I’ve been plotting endless outings with my niece and nephews in my head since last week. If anything I’m looking forward to going back to a noisy house with children, dogs, music blaring, the works.
And as soon as I’ve figured stop spinning like a fowl who have egg to lay, I’ll settle down and have some of my own babies so I can stop borrowing my sisters’.
I’d love to hear the occasional cussout here. A slamming door or a plate being smashed against a wall. A bedpost rhythmically hitting the wall. Something! Not that I like bacchanal or anything. But it freaks me out that the people next door can be killing each other, taking part in cult rituals or simply being living empty meaningless silent lives and I didn’t reach out to help.
So there I was, walking along Niederdorfstrasse and what do I see but a big blue cow over a restaurant.
The Swiss, I can now safely say, are a strange bunch of people. In the nicest possible way do I mean that. The place has grown on me, to the extent that I didn’t even feel put out by the blue cow on the balcony.
What I didn’t appreciate was that the cow is over a restaurant that sells fondue and raclet. These are cheesy dishes, that I think smell like week old toe jam. I also mean this in the nicest possible way. The bf got very defensive when I said the toe jam thing. He says that’s his culture. Well babes, hate to break it to ya, but your culture smells like unwashed feet!
Shite, should not have said that so close to bedtime.
It’s Thursday again and all around there is great panic and consternation as yet again I am stuck.
Thursday’s the day I’m supposed to submit copy for my weekly column with the Trinidad Guardian and as usual I’ve been sitting here all day staring at a blank file. Actually sometimes I’m okay. Usually this happens when the Prime Minister does something so spectacularly stupid that the venom flows quite freely.
I guess liming in Zurich makes me feel a lot more out of touch with what is going on in Trinidad and by extension the world, than usual. I haven’t really written about my Zurich adventures in my column, I guess because at heart I find it all rather, um, not me. Of course exactly who ‘me’ is, that’s a discussion for another time when I’m a little further on in the process of figuring it out.
A lot of it is still a deep seated fear that readers couldn’t give two shakes of a rat’s backside what I have to say. In Trinidad we don’t really have a culture of revolutionary journalism. There have been writers who have touched me in the newspapers, but to say that we have real voices that stand for something consistently , well I’d be really hard pressed to find an example of such.
Too besides, being a columnist has the potential to descend into a kind of public wank that I hate. Kind of like blogging. I guess here I have a lot more carte blanche… i can say what I really feel, most of which is outside of the Guardian’s style rules.
But I am grateful for the space and I can see how my writing has evolved in the three years since I first got the gig. Back then I think I was one of the youngest columnists in the main newspaper, as opposed to being one of those cheesy youth speak out kind of boxes that they usually try to stick young people in. And I do say some pretty outlandish things in a newspaper that has the reputation for being the most conservative in Trinidad. Which is not saying very much really. Because Trinis for the most part are quite conservative but like to give the impression of being leggo beasts.
Hmmm, I actually feel kind of inspired now…
Packing is a bloody pain. It is not one of the things I am good at. one would have thought my skills would have improved by now, considering I’ve been doing the designer vagrant thing for the past few years. Alas, it is not to be so.
I’m trying to achieve the minimalist packer aesthetic but I am a shameless hoarder of abjectly pointless things.
I’ve been trying this weekend to be brutal and throw away all the asolute un-necessities I have amassed in three years of living in babylon-don. But it’s hard because so many things have sentimental value. Books, posters, postcards etc etc etc.
It would be easier if I could ship everything I own to one definite location.
But as of now I guess my spirit feels homeless. I’m off to Zurich for a bit, then I’ll be off to Trinidad for a bit. And at some point I’ll probably want to come back to London. But my level of fedupcy at living out of a suitcase is growing daily. I want to do things like buy a lamp. Own some cheesy unbreakable plates and cups. An iron even.
A question I’ve taken to asking myself rather a lot of late. Is it the fact that I’ve been away from Trinidad for almost a whole year? That I’ve had a roller coaster time from the beginning of 2005? That I am, as we speak on an extended vacation in Zurich with a man I met and mysteriously fell in lurve with five months ago?
Since coming here almost three weeks ago, I’ve been spending my days in an alarmingly un-busy state. Not leaving the flat except to go running, to the grocery or to dinner with the BFG which, in this case stands for the Beautiful Funny Gschwend (yes he has one of those strange swiss-german last names).
I’ve been thinking a lot about Babylon-don, about Trinidad, about everything and everywhere and everybody really. What better place to do it though. It’s beautiful here and maybe the universe has conspired for me to be in a beautiful place so I can have a harder time of making simple decisions about where my life goes next. Aaaargh.
Trying to write. Being distracted by birds on the balcony and the colour of the mountains at dusk.
Insomnia. I’ve been getting up every morning at 4.30. Watching the lights shimmering on the lake. What will another day bring?
Relief. Going back to bed and it is full and warm with the BFG. What’s his role in all of this? Tis all fun and holding hands at this point. What happens when the lovey dovey spiel wears thin and we have to decide if this thing is for real?
Happy. But as I asked Sunshine today, is there such a thing as too much happiness? Or is the happiness supposed to radiate outwards and infect other people. If depression stops you dead in your tracks, then surely happiness motivates you to do all the things that you don’t have the energy to do when you’re down in the pits?
So where do I start? And how do I get involved in the (r)evolution at home, if I’m playing happy homes on the other side of the world?