It is 7:15 a.m. I am in Scarborough early, to get easy parking uptown. While waiting for the cloth store to open, I bide time by walking around.
Passing near to the Methodist church, I put my hand out to graze along the top of an orange bougainvillea hedge. A loose clump of about five flowered stems comes off in my hand. Holding the small bunch, I walk back down to the square to wait in front of the cloth store.
Ahead of me, at the corner, a car stops and an older man gets out from the back. As I approach, he sees the orange flowers in my hand, laughs and says: "You selling flowers or wha'?"
I stop, pick two from the bunch and give to him.
"For me?" he says, surprised. "Sharing! That's nice. The world needs more sharing."
I agree and wish him a good day.
"You have a good day too."
Glancing back, I see him waiting to cross the road to the bank, holding his orange bougainvillea flowers.
Later ... It is now 3:30 p.m. and I am in Bon Accord, across the road from Stumpy's Hardware, sitting on a stool under a tent, surrounded by Valentine's Day paraphernalia. Out of curiosity, I have come to chat with Bev, the woman who has set up this Valentine's table for the second consecutive year.
No one is here but us. I ask: "Do lots of people come to buy?"
"Tobago people laid back," Bev explains with a slight American accent. She has lived in the States for many years. "They will come and watch first and wouldn't buy yet ... but you wouldn't like to see here on the day! Dem man an' dem who ent get nothing yet, dey scrambling!"
Bev is an excellent saleswoman. I end up buying four small $5 bags of little beads called Bio Gel" ... " or Water Babies as they call them here," Bev informs. The coloured beads swell into translucent marble-sized balls when soaked for a few hours in water.
Bev shows me the "hit item" known as the "Love Thermometer", which I hold in my hand to test. "Ooooooh, girl! You gotta lotta Love!" Bev exclaims as the red liquid rapidly rises, filling the heart above.
She gives me a tour of the vast array of Love gizmos, amazingly priced from $5 minimum to $100 maximum because "I give you nice at a pocket price": straw Love-hamper baskets filled with romantic trinkets, hanging hearts, stuffed teddies, large gift bags covered with hearts, ring boxes ("For that person who may want to propose on the day itself"), a red rose that's actually a thong, a rose that lights up and says "I love you" when pressed, a teddy bear that does the same ... and (Bev shows me a small plastic rose bud in clear wrapping): "Two of these roses for $5, because it's the thought that counts."
Anyone seeking Valentine's gifts like these would definitely strike a treasure trove at "Bev's Everything".
The wind flutters red tinsel hearts hanging from the edges of the sales tent. Cars crawl by. Pedestrians amble along the sidewalk, not really glancing our way. I wish someone would stop to buy something while I'm here. I'm curious to see which item(s) they would choose. But, hardly likely this will happen now, judging from the fact that "dem man an dem" scramble on "the day itself." But why wait until February 14th?
Every day is "the day itself" ... and doesn't have to cost a thing.
February 2014 marks a year since Table for Two made for Youofficially opened its doors to welcome loving diners from all over the world. As of today we are #7 out of 78 restaurants in Tobago (according to Tripadvisor).
In this year, TFT, has been and seen a flow of love given and received. The location has changed, the essence has evolved and new growth and learning occur every day.
Thank you to all who have come and to those who are yet to come.
Thank you to all, seen and unseen, known and unknown, who have assisted in any way in enabling TFT to be what it is.
(Tobago Peeps article from last Monday. This is actually an abridged version of a blog post written a few years ago, documenting the following experience ...)
One Valentine’s Day, mainly out of curiosity, I had offered to help out in a friend’s flower shop at Gulf City Mall, San Fernando . Apart from Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day was the busiest day in my friend’s establishment, so he was glad when I had asked if I could assist. Next week I’ll write about it from a Tobago perspective, but this is what I learned in Trinidad.
I spent that day-into-night surrounded by hundreds of red roses and different flowers (lilies, tulips, chrysahthemums, etc) witnessing with up-close fascination the frenzied commercial mass phenomenon which is promoted as being 'romantic'.
Mainly men came in to buy flowers. Their expressions ranged from stressed, confused, scared, embarassed ... to innocent, hopeful, eager, cassanova-ish.
Some would come in and mumble something quickly under their breath, forming an entire sentence into one incomprehensible word:
... seemingly embarassed to be buying flowers ... akin to going to a supermarket to buy tampons or sanitary pads for "their woman".
Most of the men had interesting ways of asking for flowers. One man came in and said simply: "Ah want flowers."
One man came in, cast a swift glance around, pointed to rose bouquets awaiting collection in a corner and said: "Gimme one ah dem ting like dat."
One man came in, pointed to some helium balloons and said: "Gimme wanna dem."
(N.B. I'm only highlighting the ones I found were funny. Some were regular, politely asking for advice on what to get).
Some of them didn't know what to write on the little gift cards. They got people in the store to come up with words and write their messages for them. I wondered: what does a man say when "his woman" gushes over a beautiful message that he knows he didn't write? Some of them wrote their own simple messages, like: "To (Woman's name) From: (Their name)" ... and some would add something extra like "With Love". One man stated that he had to go away and think about his message, but he knew "some Brian McKnight songs so would put in some of those lyrics."
I observed people (mainly couples) streaming past the shop door, along one of the main corridors of the mall, like robots programmed to buy. I noted many women walking confidently ahead, determined to buy (or be bought for) ... with 'their man' slowly trailing behind, looking unenthused and submissive, as if to say:"Is Valentine Day. If ah eh come wit she and buy she ting ah go be in trouble."
One man, who came in later in the afternoon to buy roses, said: "Gorm! Ah already get cuss!" I asked him: "Why? Because you didn't get her anything?" His response: "No! Ah order de ting! Look it dey! But ah now comin' to collec! She cussing because she ent get it yet!!"
Skip forward to four years later and I am living in Tobago, a much simpler, less commercial society than Trinidad. As Valentine's Day approaches, how many people here slip into the I-have-to-buy-something-or-else mode? Are flower shops overflowing with men scrambling to purchase blooms? Are jewelry shops splitting at the seams with lovers who don't care if they have to break the piggy bank to appease the loved one with an expensive purchase?
In the month of February 2014, I am gathering 108 written offerings which will be a part of one of the paintings in my upcoming FIREHORSE exhibition.
I am therefore asking you to submit an original written offering (a prayer, wish, statement, whatever you choose to call it) inspired by (and only if you really feel & want this) the desire for TT, the place and the people, to experience positive transformation and healing on all levels asap.
Please use your own words, not an existing prayer, quote, mantra, etc. The mission is to be yourself, to project a positive beam from the heart, through original written words, in line with the very specific desire/intention stated above.
You can email your written offering to me, send as a private message on Facebook or (if in Tobago) deposit a hard copy into the special FIREHORSE box which will be at the HWH Love & Magic Centre, Lambeau, Tobago (on the grounds of Shore Things Cafe).
If you know others who also want to participate, please pass on the info to them.
(Image shows a mala, which has 108 beads. This is a part of the piece/painting).
Preparing for tomorrow's Table for Two ... A Swedish couple. A night full of clues ... What they seek they shall find.
The Treasure awaits ...
Preparing from at least the day before involves conceptualizing the experience, creating the elements of it and chopping ingredients so I can begin making the various courses. Tomorrow's dining experience will have five parts/courses.
Looking forward to providing the opportunity for them to have a very memorable night.
I am Elspeth Duncan (Multimedia Artist): writer/columnist, musician, photographer, film maker, interactive conceptual artist, owner of 'Table for Two Made for You', Kundalini Yoga instructor living in Tobago. I create artistic works, productions and experiences to uplift, inspire, shift perspectives and raise awareness in Self and Others. Thank you for being here. Please use the links in the side bar to explore further.
Click here to e-mail me.