I know allyuh from foreign going and reach just now. So in addition to the red mango, Mabel's mauby and roti allyuh carrying back up the road I thought I would share with you some of my favourite Trinidad Souvenir Books. Aye, I was a tourist for four years while I was in school in the States so I know!!I went with all these items when I left and came back with them!
Well my all time favourite is the book "Cote Ci, Cote La" by John Mendes. An article in yesterday's Trinidad Guardian announced the relaunch of the book which was not available for some time in bookstores.If they say so but I can't understand that cause my mother buy a new "Millenium Edition" last month. (see pic).The book is a Dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago. It has definitions of words and phrases and the whole language used by us everyday that for some reason only other Trinis understand. Let me tell you, anyone who is a Trini or who wants to share their culture with another person HAS to own this book. Not only is it hilarious but it is informative.For instance Cote ci Cote La definies the word "Frouzy" as smelly,unkempt,unwashed or stale.and "Brokodong" as broken down/ dilapadated. If you were not sure about the differnce between "Eh-Heh" and "Eh-Eh"..this book will clear it up for you. Maybe all these criminals in Trini should remember 'God doh sleep'. You get the idea. What I like about this book is that the new millienium edition has a lot of extra history and explainations of Trinidad in between. It has sections with just French Creole words and Indian words.It is also in full colour with lots of pictures and illustrations. I feel from now on I go give a word of the day yes, this shit is too funny.There is also an entire section devoted to Carnival. Unfortunately, Dragon is not mentioned although it is clearly a character in Ole Mas. But Jumbie is!! It is defined as a spirit or ghost.Mischievous or malevont spirit,creature or person. Pan jumbie is defined as a lover of pan.So you know what that makes me...So this book can be purchased online for those who eh get it in local books stores...check the link.The ISBN is 9789768193662 if you want to search online.
Ok doh laugh! This is my pic of the next tourist must have! The ORIGINAL Naparima Girls Cook Book. Oh gosh I sure everybody have one in their house. It have every Trini dish that you could ever think of cooking. When yuh living in foreign without mummy..this is a lifesaver!!! I believe there is a new edition on sale currently. So it doh look like this now. But we eh get around to updating this like we update the Cote Ci Cote La. I don't know if the new edition has a ISBN or not but the old edition does not. The book was literally created as a celebration of the school's Diamond Jubilee.
This next one has been entertaining me since I was a child. I love reading this book over and over.Its called 'Folklore and Legends of Trinidad and Tobago" by Gerard Besson. Its an absolute must have for the full history and legends behind all of our local folklore tales which is our Trini "Ghost Stories". I am sure it have at least one story in here that you never heard of before. It is also filled with colour illustrations and some other background on local traditons eg. stick fighting. My favourites are the La Diablesse and the Soucouyant. The best part aboutthis book is that it tells you how to avoid or free yourself from teh clutches ofthese creatures should you ever come across them. Doh laugh!! I have a friend who SWEAR he see a La Diablesse by Diego Martin KFC!So if you think you might meet one on your way home from party you have to take off all your clothes, turn them inside out and put them on again. And yuh safe! LOLOL. I love this country! The Guardian actually had a series of "Ghost Stories" where they investigated several old and modern day tales. One modern one would be about that ladyin white on the highway in south near the cremation site by the sea. She like to jump on peopel car and cause them to run off the road. The area is notorious for bouncidents and ppl again will SWEAR they see her. I for one will not be driving south in the night in my life again.This book also does not have an ISBN but I actually saw a used copy selling on amazon.com for $65 US!! ahmmm I think I pay like $20TT but that was a few years back. It definitely is not that expensive in Trinidad cause its only like 40 pages with big print.
You should also look into "The Book of Trinidad and Tobago" by the same author which is a fabulous coffee table book for any proud Trini.It is a big hardcover book with a full history of the country. I was pleasantly suprised to find record of my family name in the book.Thats kinda cool! I however have been sticking to buy the damn thing for ages. Right now its like $300 TT!! I am sure it may have gone up since I last check...must buy it soon!!
I am really plugging these few selections here because I would hate to see the history and culture of our ancestors just fade out with the modern age. My granny was fluent in french creole, my mom used to speak it as a child...yuh think I know anything more than 1 or two common words??? noooooooo! I saw an article in the Guardian (ok yeah, I does real read papers) about the lost language ofteh people of Santa Cruz. And basically they were saying the same thing, there are people in Trinidad who are very old and DON'T speak English as a first language. They speak creole and people don't understand them and the language is not passed on from parent to child. Then it just evaporates.
I had a long conversation with some friends in Jamaica and they were literally astonished about all the folklore stories I could tell. I telling them about Papa Bois and the Duenes in detail and they were like WTF! In their (the same as mine)generation the history has already been lost.My friend's dad was also telling me that although he knows of a few stories that their generation was at fault for not passing on traditions. You would only find such rich history among the Maroons of Jamaica.Trinidadians are by FAR one of the more superstitious countries of the Caribbean and it is partly because we have all grown up with at least one of the stories. I would like to keep our culture alive with tradition and its history for nothing else than to preserve it for generations to come.
p.s Fresh water Yankee: A person who recently migrated to the U.S.A and back home for a visit, who now speaks with an affected American accent.Originally one who acquired the 'Yankee' accent without leaving freshwater,(Not even crossing the seas) or by simply visiting the U.S Base at Chaguaramas, or the U.S Embassy!*
* yuh went Piarco for doubles and come back with an accent