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From Barbados

I feel odd, not having been able to be online whenever I want, sending email, blogging, chatting, downloading stuff (stuff that shall remain nameless lest the wrong people think I am breaking laws of some kind…;-)) So, my last night in the hotel (or at least this hotel!) here I am. No meeting tomorrow, so no pressure to get any work done.

I have been in Barbados since Tuesday evening, but it’s not feeling like I am quite here yet. I have no stalkers, no fresh taxi-drivers and I haven’t hopped on a Z-van (or ZR-van, ‘Z’pronounced ZED). I haven’t been late for a morning class, ‘running’ down the hill fresh from the shower with no breakfast. I haven’t been counting any of those $1 coins to see if I can meander over to the cafeteria and buy a flying fish sandwich, or take a ZR into Bridgetown on a whim. Or lugging laundry down and uphill to campus machines since landlords in Barbados figured all students liked to handwash. Or walked down the hill (the ONLY hilly area in Barbados and it has to be where the campus is – with private student housing located UPHILL of campus) to “the Esso” where I had my first Bajan fishcake. I haven’t been walking much to anywhere at all. New buildings and developments. A PriceSmart! This certainly isn’t Barbados as a student. Nothing’s really familiar.

Scratch that. Apparently I was oblivious, but walking through the parking lot of a shopping centre, my 2 colleagues (Jamaican and Trini) also posted here for the period, suddenly started laughing, and said, “well girl, you making waves in this place – everybody stopping to look at you!” That is indeed familiar. Maybe Bajans are no more familiar with the hijab than they were 10 years ago. A certain person likes to tell how she was so paranoid in those days, thinking to herself that people were staring at her wherever we went- why didn’t Bajans like her? Until she mentioned it to me, and I pointed out that maybe they were staring at me. It wasn’t a big deal to her, so it never occurred to her that the hijab was a point of interest and consternation with other people. That’s one of the 100 reasons we’re still friends after so many years.

I never really notice the staring anymore, although years and years ago when I was younger I felt very self conscious, but back then I was self conscious about EVERYTHING. In T&T and Guyana it’s familiar enough that no one really notices. In Trinidad in particular you see hijabis all over, working everywhere, in schools etc, part of normal life. I only pay attention when I am at a meeting for work with outside people. Traveling in the past year through these regional airports made me realise that up the islands, the hijab isn’t something that people expect to see. They’re used to the sunburnt tourists. A Muslim? In the airport? What do we do?? Antigua in particular, seems to freak out when I pass through VC Bird International, devising different ways to scan me every time (always polite, but still you can see that it is a big thing for their security!). I hope that with my frequent travel I am part of their learning process. They finally understand the concept of search in a private area, females only. But it was still a very polite, multi-person production. I tried very hard and did NOT laugh. Traveling with work colleagues is fun though. They are so used to my hijab that they don’t realise I may fall into a category that requires “special attention”. They’ve left me behind at security unknowing so many times, assuming I was right behind them :-)

But having people notice you isn’t always bad. People tend to remember me. It got me waved into a secure building this morning though. The guard recognised me from the days before and told my other colleague (the 4th of the team and the one in charge) “don’t worry, you can follow her, she’s been here before”. Even though we’d ALL been there the 2 days before 😀

Now I must sleep. For it doesn’t look like I shall be any more constant in Barbados than I was in Guyana. At least next week I get to spend a few days in Trinidad!!

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13 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. you’se a hijabi :) i did wonder 😀 silly bajans 😀

    1. The TriniGourmet on January 5th, 2007 at 11:34 pm
  2. Mom will say take a pricesmart card.
    Also, the guy at the comic store used to know me well enough to say yeah she was here and she was wearing bright yellow.

    *sigh*

    2. Lilandra on January 5th, 2007 at 11:36 pm
  3. why you wearing yello? :)

    3. The TriniGourmet on January 5th, 2007 at 11:57 pm
  4. I don’t mind yellow. I was wearing a bright yellow hijab so when my friend was trying to find my and my other friend at cinemark and she wandered into the comic store luckily…well he knew me and i was wearing bright yellow and told her i was wearing bright yellow so it was easy to find me in the massive crowds

    and then we decided to not see a movie anymore. i wonder what we did…

    4. Lilandra on January 6th, 2007 at 1:27 am
  5. :) sunflower baby :)

    5. The TriniGourmet on January 6th, 2007 at 2:00 am
  6. Wow. It almost sounds like you’re on vacation. A forced vacation, but nonetheless…. 😉

    I’m jealous. G left this morning for a week – Las Vegas convention. Sigh. Alone with Mr Hyperactive-know-it-all.

    6. ewe_are_here on January 6th, 2007 at 4:19 am
  7. @ TriniGourmet -yup, hijabi here :-) Lilandra also goes for the bright orange. She must have a lot of people looking for her in crowds;-)

    @ ewe Nothing is a vacation unless I can sleep late. :-) And I didn’t take a single picture. I’ll try to rectify that next week. Vegas huh? Isn’t that close to your former locales?

    7. chennette on January 6th, 2007 at 6:06 am
  8. I wear anything I have.
    I haven’t worn bright colours in ages.
    I have never been to Vegas.
    I hate my job.

    8. Lilandra on January 6th, 2007 at 6:29 am
  9. I’ve never actually been to Vegas either, believe it or not. Reno, Carson City, Tahoe, yes; Vegas, no. Probably because I’m not a gambler, save buying a lottery ticket here or there. (Hey- 55 million pound lotto draw last night! No. Probably not holding the winning ticket.)

    Does this sound like fun – the high tech convention story:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/06/technology/06electronics.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5094&en=268ad86936e8e03b&hp&ex=1168146000&partner=homepage

    9. ewe_are_here on January 6th, 2007 at 8:40 am
  10. Oh, and MF luuurrrvvves yellow and orange. 😉

    10. ewe_are_here on January 6th, 2007 at 8:41 am
  11. Yellow and orange are good colours.
    The story is trying to load…

    is that where he’s going??

    11. Lilandra on January 6th, 2007 at 6:17 pm
  12. Do you feel safer in Guyana?

    12. wingsfree on January 9th, 2007 at 5:55 pm
  13. wingsfree – do you mean general safety, or as a Muslim? Guyana has its stresses and dangers, particularly approaching elections – many houses in Georgetown have guards. But students in Barbados were always prey to criminals of the worst kind (probably true of all UWI campuses). Everywhere has its risks, I suppose.

    13. chennette on January 9th, 2007 at 6:31 pm

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