Thursday, February 22, 2018

Stranger to this Carnival

DURING A casual walk around the Queen's Park Savannah on Carnival Monday, shortly after Jouvert, I saw the reality of today's Carnival up close and present. And I gaped!

I hadn't been in "town" for many a Carnival, and wasn't quite prepared for the several big trucks posing as bar/ kitchen/restroom and any other relief to the desire of revellers. 

I mean, all this military-style precision: all the vehicles (including the ones blasting music) rigidly assembled, attendants or road managers of the various bands in stiff security/quasi-military garb, and stiffer still in manner and countenance, and the ubiquitous rope being lassoed around the band members left no discussion as to who is welcome!

Now, I am aware that the organisers of these bands have to deliver value for money, but the extent of the seriousness and the rigidity, the kind of symmetry (even the positioning of the trucks and the three-wheeler carts all along the southern side of the Queen's Park Savannah left me wondering about the joy, the spontaneity, the all-encompassing festival that should prevail.

In spite of the pulsating music and the muted "colours" there was no warmth and excitement. But, most sadly, was the total absence (at that location) of the indigenous roadside huckster, the vendor with homemade sweet savouries on a tray, fruit punches and mauby and ginger beer and the like. And don't tell me about being from another time...Carnival is a timeless festival and for everyone!

I really missed that real, live aspect of our Carnival. It seems like today's Carnival "business" caters not for the indigenous, the creative, home-made sweet-hand foods and other delicacies that made up the overall scene. No more income for granny and tanty along the parade routes. How sad.

There should be a serious symposium involving sociologists and others about this situation, if only to put the issue into perspective and to determine whether our Carnival should revert to the original, spontaneous outpouring of verve and energy with everyone taking part, or have the parades in an enclosed arena for a limited few.

Michael Coryat