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Check out the crowd funding page to help get the full movie made!
I love movies. I loved going to the theatre. My boyfriend and I used to go to the movies twice and three times a week. It was our escape.
At TT$55.00 a ticket and TT$45.00 for a cardboard box of potato and a giant cup of liquid sugar, on average my partner and I would spend roughly TT$200.00 per visit, almost TT$600.00 a week at MovieTowne. That’s more than TT$2,000.00 / US$370.00 of our money, every month spent at MovieTowne. As a couple, we thought that was a sizeable investment in MovieTowne and considered ourselves loyal customers.
However, MovieTowne had other ideas about that expenditure.
I don’t remember when exactly it began. I imagine it was subtle at first. The couple six rows up, chatting quietly between themselves all through the movie. Then the cell phones and tablets being checked and the bright jarring glare in the dark of the theatre almost convincing you that you may even have died and should perhaps get up and walk towards it.
And then there was the walking, because somehow, in the middle of the movie people would need to get up several times to walk outside, squeezing between the tiny, almost airline-sized spaces of our knees and the chair in front of us.
The parents started bringing their children to watch movies. I went to see a few movies once with my parents, way back when cinema was a double show and a break between for snacks. If I so much as breathed heavily, my mother would reign down all hell on me, because everyone around us would reign down all hell on her. A few weeks ago, a mother was walking her child up and down the isle during The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Her child was wearing shoes that light up, bright electric red strobe lights when he walked. The MovieTowne attendants watched it and went back to chatting on their phones.
A few months prior to that, a man sat down next to us with his cellphone head set on and while he chatted through the entire movie, the bright blue strobe light on his headset flashed and drove everyone in our row, right down to the very end, insane.
My boyfriend and I went to see Ex Machina and had to leave in the first quarter, because the group of people sitting directly above us, kept shouting out their versions of the movie’s dialogue to the point where we couldn’t actually focus on what was being said in the movie. The MovieTowne attendants were standing at the bottom of the isle and said nothing, did nothing, even as patrons began to complain loudly about the groups behavior.
As a result, my partner and I started avoiding the prime time shows. It was simply impossible to enjoy a movie after four o’clock in the afternoon at MovieTowne. Determined to not give up on one of our few recreational options, we started going to 11am shows because we’re both self employed and can run away. Naturally, we started to cut back on how often we would go, because running away from work, three times a week wasn’t feasible.
But MovieTowne was determined to get rid of us, altogether.
Yesterday, my boyfriend and I went to see The Martian. It was the 1:15pm show. The theatre was fairly empty. We took our seat in a row occupied only by a group of three young girls who were all the way to the very end of the row. We felt safe. We were so utterly wrong.
It wasn’t merely that these young ladies chattered non-stop through the entire first hour of the show and I mean non-stop because I don’t think they were actually watching the movie. It wasn’t even that after two complaints had been made against them, and an usher had come and asked them to be quiet and then another complaint had been filed by us and the usher took almost 20 minutes to even come again. No. That was not what was infuriating. What was infuriating about the matter, was that after this man, employed by MovieTowne held a long second conversation, even louder than the girl’s chatter, for more than a few minutes, disturbing the entire theatre, he then proceeded to walk up to us and tell us how we should just deal with it because there is no law stating that people can’t talk in the cinema DURING THE MOVIE. When my boyfriend asked him to move from directly in front of us where he had positioned himself to provide us with this pointless misinformation, he shouted, “No,” and continued to attempt to educate us on why we should tolerate this kind of behavior in MovieTowne.
By this time, the entire cinema was no longer watching the movie. We got up and left, along with several other patrons. MovieTowne did not refund us our money and we did not want a refund.
Because, as far as I’m concerned, this is the message that MovieTowne sent to us yesterday. MovieTowne condones people talking during our movie experience. In fact, MovieTowne staff will support the people who talk through your movie. Movietowne is not a place where civilized people should go for relaxation. MovieTowne, to me, is a zoo, where animals are welcomed and our movie experience means nothing to them.
So MovieTowne will never again get a single dollar of my money.
This is not a new issue. The decline of the cinema is a global business model that is failing. It is failing because people no longer want to spend the exorbitant amounts of money being asked by these businesses like MovieTowne, to be subjected to low-class, incivility and to feel victimized by the institutions into which they are pouring their hard-earned money. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the regular movie-goers who love film and are prepared to spend TT$2,000 a month on your business, will instead spend money on home entertainment. Like we plan to do.
A childhood friend stays into my thirties and sometimes it feels like he is here to remind me of all the stories I have forgotten. Stories I should remember, stories that have seeped from me or perhaps were never stored to begin with. This night we sit at a lacquered table at the V & J Brauhaus sipping our German beers from tall mugs while he tells a story of us being robbed at knife-point. In his story, I am there but in my mind I am silently searching for this memory. Nothing he says triggers the familiar. I am lost to myself, I think. My stories are leaving me and I am lost to a past that has formed every inch of my conscience but one that I cannot touch my finger to and call into mind in order to address it face to face.
And it needs addressing. The hurt needs addressing but I cannot remember the moments. The abandonment needs addressing but I do not know when to look. The ultimatums need to be reconciled but there are no notes. And my parents need to be spoken to and held accountable but they are incapable of conceding. I am alone in resolving my pain and I suppose in reality we all are.
Two weeks have passed since that conversation and I am finding myself more and more desperate now to seek all the things I am imagining up that have been given away to absence. They resist me and I pry into everything to find them.
Another friend tells a story about her father and the wisdom he has instilled in her, flooding memories and the changes they create in the ways that she perceives her relationship with him. I want for these memories of my own, some moment where my father reached out with words of solace. Instead I have emails where he blames a seventeen-year-old version of myself for emotions neither he nor my mother taught me how to cope with, emotions they rubbed raw with their own fingers. His neglect sits at the table with these friends, and in place of sage words I find resentment festering to a virtual boil under my skin. The words, “I hate him,” slither back and forth across my teeth and fight to wriggle out. He does not belong at this table with other fathers who have sacrificed for their children’s love, for their children’s betterment. My parents do not belong at this table where love does not cast out children in anger, but reaches for them through it.
I have been told that in cases of severe depression, sudden shock or prolonged emotional trauma, the mind protects itself by not remembering the pain. Is it then, that I spent so many of my teenage years and twenties in such pain, that even faces have become muddled for me. I remember a moment, but not how I met someone, not how we grew apart. I see myself in a situation, but I don’t know the place, the time, the reason I’m there has left me. It is an insanely disorienting realization. And I wonder, if I forgot these people, these places, these memories that I took from myself, like a burden I tossed away, perhaps they do not belong to who I am now. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to remember.
But how can I tell stories when I don’t even remember all of mine.
In its devastation, I feel more alone than I have ever felt. I feel emptied of memories. An absent love, a desperate need and a vitriolic hate, have all turned my old stories to dust. I am like a stranger I must now get to know from scratch, like a foreign language I have no ear for, after so long.
The Whatsapp group is formed, I am added along with a bunch of people that have become the usual suspects for the Friday Night social. The instructions were, “Meeting at Shakers Bar for 8pm and onwards to Chill & Grill or Buzz and then to Katalyst or Paprika,” and I fade away into last week’s memory of sitting at a table of maybe ten people and saying very little while the banter went around of surface conversations about Carnival costumes and trips away and the next big party plans and the round of drinks we are about to order and how much money everyone needs to contribute to throw a big bram and… fade to black.
Silence. A strange silence has drifted over me the last few months. An awkward understanding of my disillusion, my disconnect, my distance from all these things. I am the stranger at the table that no one sees anymore. I am no one’s friend and no one thinks of me as more than a warm silhouette occupying a sliver of space here at this table. We are all silhouettes here. I’m not really all that different, except perhaps that my silhouettedness bothers me, makes me feel insignificant and wasted. It is the wastedness that bothers me the most. It is the desire to not be wasted that drives me further into my seat at the table and then suddenly, I have slipped through the rattan backing of the chair, dripped slowly down the back legs and trickled away.
But no one notices, because at these tables, in the shadows of loud, mindless music and superficial conversation, no one cares about each other enough to ask how we feel, are we happy with our lives, with our careers, with our families. No one cares about the other person’s personal growth or mental health. No one really notices anything.
So I disappeared quietly and have not been missed. In fact my absence has gone so unnoticed that I am still on the Whatsapp groups and the Facebook Event invitations. And in theory, I’m still someone’s friend and I’m still somewhere around. But there is no love here among these babbling strangers. And the waste has become insurmountable.
I see potential in contact now more than ever. I think of conversations and the intoxicating drift of knowledge and experience and life, from one person to the other and then I look for it at these tables and find it absent and myself even, not present here, and it feels like waste.
So I’ve let it go. The Friday night scene, the running after silhouettes of friends who vanish into shadows of old friendships, only to reappear when drunk, for brief moments and then they slip away again into the cacophony of silence. I’ve let go of my need to connect to old relationships, to try and persuade these strangers into something I can relate to again. It’s gone and what is left is sadness at the loss.
But also, there is growth. There is new space in me, for dance classes on a Monday night with interesting people and theatre lessons and time to read books and time to spend with those who actually ask me how I feel and give me the chance to actually answer honestly. There is room for new conversations and new emotions – there’s room for emotion – period. I feel myself changing into something curious and adventurous and experience-seeking. I feel myself growing. And it feels wonderful.
Because ever-so-often we need to re-pot the plant – give it new soil – for it to thrive.
I was never interested in what everybody else was interested in. I was very interiorized. I always felt kind of sad. – Tim Burton
To live a creative life, one must be prepared to look at ordinary things with an extraordinary eye, to challenge the self to seek out wonderment in the world. Took this photo at my Write Club meeting this morning. When I poured the milk into my coffee, I saw Tim Burton at work on my imagination. Cheers to feeling creative!
A sweet and wonderful idea: I know that this is a sort of chain-mail idea but at the end of it, having another blogger nominate you or list you as one of seven blogs that they particularly enjoy – is still a big deal for little old me. With this in mind, I conclude that there can be no harm in passing that feeling of being appreciated onto a few other bloggers like myself. So allow me to introduce you to the LIEBSTER AWARD.
The Liebster Award Rules:
Here I go then:
Thank you so much Planted In The Sky for nominating Poui Season.
Head over to this blog, my fellow readers and writers, and enjoy sweet posts about the adventures of moving to and living in Italy. It’s a blog about travelling, settling down, not settling down and discovering ourselves and others.
11 Facts About Myself:
11 Questions From My Nominees:
11 Questions For My Nominees:
The Blogs That I Nominate:
A few years ago my mother, acutely tuned into my taste in reading material, gifted me Little Bee by Chris Cleave. If that book had come with a straw it simply would not be on my bookshelf today. I would have slurped it down in giant gulps. Even without the straw I felt like I had inhaled that book into my very veins. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed at one point, so unhinged and so emotionally invested in the characters, in the beautiful melodic and tragic but strong voice of Little Bee, and in the guilt-riddled narrative of a British woman’s struggle with her own failures, that I forgot momentarily to lean back, to relax, that it was just a story. More surprisingly, it was only at the end of the book that I took a moment to consider that a man had written these two extremely compelling female voices. One Nigerian and one European. The characters are so extremely different, yet they are both two powerful female heroines in their extremely heart-rending lives. A story of human compassion, dislocation and desolation, I cried continuously. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.
A few months later, still reeling from the experience of Little Bee, I slunk into a local bookshop and promptly slunk out with a copy of Incendiary, desperate again, to climb up into bed and become consumed inside the pages of this man’s fictional landscapes. And BOOM (pun intended), as expected, off I went.
So I developed this habit of comparing current things I’ve enjoyed reading to the literary fiction prowess of Chris Cleave on a regular basis and so my boyfriend gifted me Gold last year. It sat in my pile of books to be read under The Book Thief.
Perhaps this did it a small injustice, because I read The Book Thief before I read Gold. And possibly because Little Bee and Incendiary had left such an indelible mark on me.
It just seemed like Gold didn’t quite resonate with all the awesomeness (yes, I just used that word seriously) that his first two books had captured so effortlessly.
Now this is not to say that the writing was not excellent because it was, and that the characters and story were not interesting. They certainly were those things. Sophia wrenches at your heartstrings with every Star Wars reference to ratify a young girls battle with a life threatening disease. You rally with her and want to whisper into the ears of her parents constantly. Kate seems like a sucker for punishment and has a capacity for empathy that borders on almost superhuman. While Zoe seems to take the road most travelled, one of blind self-gratification and instant satisfaction, she also vibrates with a certain humanity that is present in all of us. They are certainly extremely human characters in extremely real and difficult situations.
So why do I feel like this is the least of Chris Cleaves apostles?
My ex had read Little Bee and had come back to me in the end, with the words, “I don’t see the point of this book. There was just so much suffering. It felt like torture.”
I know quite a few people who share the feeling that, “If it’s not rainbows and happy endings, then I don’t want to read it.” Truth be told, I think I’m the complete opposite of this. I enjoy the agonies of human struggle and I feel like failures are part of life. It textures in more reality to me, more honesty.
Like Nabokov said, “Some people—and I am one of them—hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically.” This is particularly so for me when the ending feels almost forced into a happy conclusion.
And perhaps this is why Gold felt almost anti-climatic as it wound down. The conclusion (and I don’t want to give away any spoilers) feels almost absurdly fair. Is real life really that just? Or did someone say to Chris Cleave, “Well your last two books were so dark, maybe you should write something a little happier,” and thus we got this mildly cliché ending, that while I smiled and bounced out of bed after reading, didn’t leave me with any profound sense of life in earnest.
Then again, this is just my opinion, and I still gave the book four stars, and I’m absolutely still going to purchase his upcoming book.
If yuh nah get wing, nah ah guh a bird sport.
That’s a good old-fashioned Guyanese proverb for you. I heard it all through my school days and plenty often after, and in all those years it fell on deaf ears. Like many of my generation, I was educated in the British system of things and raised by at least one parent who had been educated outside of Guyana and so slangs and creole language were completely lost on me. We spoke proper English in my house, particularly at the dining table and especially around my mother. It was only long after leaving my homeland that I came across that saying again, in a magazine and with it, the meaning that had eluded me for all my childhood.
It means that if you do not belong somewhere, then you should not go there.
If you know anything about Guyanese you would immediately find that saying ironic and humorous. There are approximately 700,000 people living in Guyana today. Rumor has it that more than another 700,000 Guyanese live all over the world, scattered across the many continents.
I am one of them.
I am a first generation Guyanese living in Trinidad and Tobago for the past decade as a CARICOM Resident. While I did not venture very far from home and while I know Guyanese living in Hong Kong, Botswana, India and Australia, and while this little twin-isle Republic shares many of the same cultural, historical and climatic features of my home, I am still an immigrant here.
I did not like that word, immigrant.
Once it only had meaning through the VSO and Peace Corp and YCG friends that I’d made while living in Guyana. I listened intently, though numbly, to their conversations about cultural gaps and the feelings of disillusion that came with leaving their homes and living, even for a brief time in another country. They spoke of these feelings with such passion, with such genuine concern and with a sort of ache in their eyes that meant nothing to me in those days. They spoke of Guyana as poor and tragic and while she was those things, I felt the urge to defend her to these foreigners. They also said things like, “The people are so genuine. So kind. So warm.” Sometimes it made me proud. At others, it felt like they were patting us on the heads like children. I sat in judgment of these strangers to my homeland, these people with their first-world ideas come to save us from our downtrodden-ness. But some of them were my friends. I loved some of these people and so I felt torn between their words and their love for me. I did not understand because I was young. And because I had never been an immigrant.
It was not long after moving to Trinidad that my eyes began to ache with the same disconnect and my voice quivered when I had something to say about politicians and the country’s economy. I did not say things like, “It’s my right to vote,” or “I’m Trini to de bone.” I’d stand silent for that line in the song at Carnival, with my hips still swaying because the songs were in my bones but the lyrics were not for me. I ate doubles on the roadsides and licked the chow from my finger tips like a Trini would, savoring every last drop of sauce but I was not a Trinidadian. I was an immigrant and that was a state of limbo that sometimes stole the words (or the pepper sauce) right off the lips. It made me crack awkward and self-deprecating jokes like “What are three words in Guyanese: Ail (oil), Arange (orange) and Ambrella (umbrella)” – words I’d never spoken as a Guyanese until I started telling that joke here in Trinidad, a way of ‘taking front’ after having had that famous question thrown down at my feet, the ultimate mockery of my Guyanese heritage, “How do you guys say it? Sea wAAAll?”
You see, as a Guyanese, it had been hammered home all my life that our country was poor. Our politicians were corrupt. Our economy was struggling. Our government was socialist. Our language was inept. And so, like many others, I developed a keen sense of inadequacy. I had not traveled. I probably wouldn’t be granted a visa even if I wanted to travel. If I did travel, chances were that immigration would profile me as a drug trafficker or a potential flight risk. I became, like many of my fellow Guyanese, the pack mule that carried the weight of an entire nation’s perceived inferiority tightly wrapped around my twenty-year old spine.
So when I moved to Trinidad, with all those chips on my shoulders, I walked down the streets hunched under their burdens. I applied for my CARICOM Residence, was granted it, opened my own company here, and promptly proceeded to loathe home as was the suitable thing to do when living off of another country’s grace. It seemed like gratitude, to me. It seemed like loyalty to a place that had afforded me an education, a career and more than my fair share of comforts and social opportunities. It seemed only right but it was terribly wrong.
And it was not enough. That word immigrant still festered inside me, sat with me in my office and took showers with me in the evenings and it didn’t matter how hard I scrubbed or how long I stood under that scalding water. I could not wash away the fact that my passport still said Guyanese. The immigration officers still treated me like a criminal. A co-worker once said to my boyfriend that he should be careful about dating me because it was her opinion that Guyanese were not good people. The humiliation was always front and centre and so I began to hate the word immigrant.
Hate is a dreadful emotion. To hate anything is to deprive one’s self of any beauty that thing may possess. Worst of all was that I was hating myself. It didn’t seem so at the time, but every innocent Guyanese joke filleted me, took skin off my back. Every adventure to a foreign place was tarred with the brush of shame. I had become a victim of self-loathing and it took me years to recognize the disadvantage that I had set for myself. Not only had I empowered the handful of genuinely discriminating people (and there were hardly any really) but I had disempowered myself. I found it hard to think of my beautiful home without resentment and I found it harder to think of Trinidad without desperation. It felt like being lost in an endless ocean of loneliness. In the end, my friends retrieved me from the waters of my own discontent. Trinidadian friends, to boot. People I had gathered along the way like beautiful sea shells you couldn’t help but put in your pocket, and they had gathered me, strangers who didn’t care that I was Guyanese. People who teased me out of love, not mockery, and called me their official adopted Trini. People who considered me family.
They made it acceptable for me to be both from one place and still belong to another. They introduced me to people as Guyanese, as Trinidadian, as smart, as talented, as a good person. And over time, I found myself feeling less like someone from a place and more simply, just someone. It drew to my attention that to some extent acceptance is something we bring to ourselves but it is also something we build from others. It made me kinder to strangers and eager to share myself with them in the hope that something in my struggle could something in theirs.
It has been more than a decade for us, Trinidad and I, and like every long-term relationship, we’ve had our falling-outs, our tiffs, our love-hate-on-again-off-again-sometimes-I-miss-my-ex-and-sometimes-you’re-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-me moments. But now that I’m older and wiser, now that I’ve dated others, like Canada, England, India, now that I’ve been around the block a few times, I have perspective. I have seen the world, at least some small portion of it and now I know that every place has her shortcomings and that every home has her beauty.
That old schoolyard, Guyanese proverb isn’t about not going to new places. It’s about a feeling of belonging, and while I may never truly belong to any one place completely, ever again, I have made wonderful friends of every nationality, I have fallen madly in love more than once, I have seen remarkable places and done phenomenal things and it all belongs to me and I, to them, like Trinidad and like Guyana. I am an immigrant and that means that I have stretched my wings and gone to new places.
I am, more importantly however, a permanent resident of the human race and no matter where I go, I’d like to think that I will always belong.
Sometimes it rains so gently that even the flowers don’t know they’re being nourished. At other times the rain can crush everything it touches.
Such is life too… gentle at times and cruel at others.
People as well.
Another little except from my novel, on which I’m currently working…
“Kal is one word in Hindi that means both yesterday and tomorrow. In so many ways it is an iconic symbol of all that is wrong and all that is right with this country, it is the very definition of India, of both her decay and her inherent potential. It is also an irony that while we scoff at a single word for two such utterly different spaces in time, that we should also have to acknowledge that they are both, yesterday and tomorrow, absolutely the same place in time. All human failure exists almost entirely in a past we cannot amend or in a future we are too terrified to sculpt. Regret and fear, yesterday and tomorrow, kal.”
A short except from my novel, on which I’m currently working…
“More likely, she thought, she’d hang the very next corner and find the Devil himself, standing at some street side roti shop with a bag full of battered souls in one hand and a lassi in the other, sipping to his heart’s content. What devil would not be content in a place where there were so many people dying everyday, that the living stepped over them on the street-sides like bricks slipped out of the wall, just sitting there waiting for you to stub your toes on them, just lying there with frozen faces, wickedly waiting to trap a foot, a hem, a glimmer of remorse, a sliver of empathy.”