Diaspora Diaries, Chapter 5

I’m sitting on the train writing this. My noisy stomach unnoticed with the dancehall playing audibly through someone’s headphones. I always get insanely hungry when there is caffeine in me, and that giant cup of Matcha has me buzzed. I’m on my way back from a meeting with a designer client, where we sat and planned her lookbook shoot.

It took me a 15 minute walk, 2 metro trains, 1 overground railway train and a short sprint in the rain to get to this coffee shop, midway between us. Almost 2 hours for a 20 minute meeting. I do miss my car.

In Trinidad I’m a driver. If you follow my IG stories, you know this. Most of the clips are of me singing along to the radio, or complaining about the misogynistic announcers. (Seriously, how do they actually get those jobs?) In New York, like most people, I’m riding that metro like a prostitute on a millionaire’s lap. It’s something to get used to.

There are definitely advantages and moments of satisfaction. Express trains are the equivalent of getting every green light on the Churchill Roosevelt highway, eastbound, when you’re heading home from liming in town.

Today I’m in a white short raincoat, a colorful crocheted sweater, oversized culottes and sneakers because of the weather. I forgot my umbrella. There are two things I hear New Yorkers talking about all the time: money and the weather.

Every day is a new season it seems. One day it’s hot and clear, the next it’s snowing. Back home, it was sunshine all day. If it rained, meh. I was indoors all the time anyway. And I was driving to where I needed to be. All rain did was cause traffic and make you late. Here, rain affects your entire being.

I left all my high heels in Trinidad.  My sister is happy we have the same size feet. Heels would make no sense here. Not super high ones anyway. So I’m getting used to being not just short, but now a hobbit. I walk so much now that I have corns. How am I going to find a lover with corns on my feet?! On the plus side, my ass looks great from all the stairs in the subway. My jeans barely fit, but this is a problem I graciously welcome.

Problematic problems would be the smells and the paranoia over dirty hands. I try not to imagine what colonies of bacteria and whatever else have made homes on my clothes as I sit on a seat that a few thousand dirty strangers have shared. When (if ever) was it last cleaned? I’m dirty too, but my germs are mine, you know? I refuse to hold onto the pole when I’m standing, so I contract my abdomen and practice a yoga Tree pose of sorts, to keep me from falling over. The person who touched it before could have just scratched their butt! Ok, I need to stop thinking about it because I’m leaning next to one and I can almost feel the diseases conspiring to attack me. Dramatic much? I’m a Cancer.

Moral of the story Trinis, don’t don’t take our transportation culture for granted. We complain a lot about not having a reliable train system, but it’s not the fairy godmother of convenience you imagine it is. Appreciate our cheap gas and ease of owning a car. Appreciate free roadside parking.

For those on foot, be thankful that it takes just a couple TT dollars to hop a taxi anywhere. On the flip side, you could have spent ten times that, to get on a train you waited on for 8 mins, only to realise it’s going the wrong direction, and you’re now 45 mins late.

True story.

Stephanie Ramlogan

Stephanie Ramlogan is a NYC based Trinidadian Fashion Stylist and Writer, mostly known for her wildly popular blog NoMoreFashionVictims.com. You can reach her at writeme@stephanieramlogan.com or check her out at StephanieRamlogan.com.

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