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Trinbagologue - First impressions - Geography and anthropology

To the average Indian, the terms Carribbean or West Indies conjures images of predominantly African people, beaches, hot weather with the odd gale-force winds, coconut and palm trees and everything at-sea-level.

And so, it came as a rude shock to me when I saw that Trinidad is actually full of hills and is rather Kerala-like in the greenery and denseness of its vegetation. The same hilly terrain, narrow winding roads, with brooks and streams aplenty (they call them rivers here though, snigger: in their defence, they do acknowledge that their rivers are no Ganga. Supremacy of Indian rivers established, we move on :P).

Being an Island, there are bound to be quite a few beaches but there are some rather spectacular cliffs and waterfalls too. I am used to both types of geographical features but Trinidad is probably one of the few places where you would see both hilly, and occasionally mountainous, terrain and a huge sea/ocean body nestled so close to each other.

The weather is Mumbai-like hot/warm all through the year and woollenwear sellers are advised to stay away from venturing into the region in the false hope of business development.

The interesting, and totally unique, phenomenon though, is the rain. It comes down hard and literally soaks the entire nation when it does. However, it does so very conveniently on weekends only ! Rain on weekdays is very rare while no-rain on weekends is rarer !

There are delightful little brooks running crazy all over the landscape and being in close proximity to the sea all the time means you have that salty aroma all around you, anywhere you go.

This place is very close to the South American mainland, in fact I even saw what was apparently, a mountain in Venezuela from the western-most point of Trinidad. Yayy !

Coming to the people, the population is divided into three groups, the africans, the Indians (yeah, we are there too!) and the white-skinned folks (of probably Spanish, Venezuelan and English descent). The first two groups appear to be in a majority here but the white people are not insignificant in number either.

At first glance, it seems like the white people are relatively prosperous, going by the total absence of any of them in the rather lower-paid jobs. Neither do I see anyone of them living in shanties or as vagabonds. The African community, on the other hand, have a very diverse mix with representation among the poorest class, the relatively-modest-but-steady income group as well as the rich. The Indian community is fairly broad-based too but seems to have very few people among the poorest. I also hear about a relatively recent influx of Chinese people, most migrant labour, which is beginning to alter the anthropological and cultural landscape of the land, most evident in the sprouting of the ubuquitous chinese food outlets. However, I haven't seen enough of them to form a firm impression about this. I might be totally wrong but this is how it appears to my rather untrained and unsophisticated eye.

All in all, a fairly small country in size, with a very interesting mix of races and cultures. Certainly a place where anybody from anywhere in the world can blend and settle in.

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