To The Waist In Bodily Waste

One of the singular joys of swimming in the ocean is that one is socially and hygienically allowed to urinate with one’s pants still on. Yeah, you read that right. There’s nothing quite like that liberating, naughty sensation of letting a stream go while floating in warm salt water.

So there was I was, yesterday afternoon, treading water in an isolated portion of one of Tobago’s paradisical beaches when I decided to indulge in this particular guilty pleasure. So I shut my eyes and concentrated for a few long moments, because it takes an effort of will to overcome the social conditioning that prevents one from urinating in the open. And then I revelled in that particular form of bodily anarchy.

I was awakened from my closed-eyed reveried by the words, “Have you seen a Spider-man?” I opened my eyes to find, inches from my nose, a very attractive young woman who was searching for her child’s lost Spider-man figurine.

“Err, no,” I said, loathe to tell her that she was now floating in my warm bodily waste. Then again, for all I know, I was also floating in hers!

We humans can be strange beasts.

Greetings from Toronto airport at 5:AM as I await my flight to Ottawa, having just arrived on an all-nighter from Trinidad & Tobago. My last couple of days in that country were quite the whirlwind, ending pleasurably with a sojourn to the tropical paradise of Tobago, land of pristine beaches, Afro-Caribbean culture and thick Napoleanic Era history.

But it was Tuesday that was really interesting. That day began with an 8:AM interview on “Radio Shakti”, where I was in way over my head, trying to discuss political issues in a country where I don’t fully understand the politics, and historical details in the presence of two men who were clearly better versed than I was. But I survived.

Next, I returned to my medical scientist persona, and gave my presentation on children’s mental health at the Caribbean Studies Association’s conference. Not much to say about that, except that it is curious that while I have no problem making improptu media appearances to discuss topics I’m only casually briefed on, the idea of presenting on topics which are actually within my professional field of scientific expertise continues to fill me with some dread. Probably has something to do with higher stakes, greater potential repercussions and a more judgemental forum.

But Tuesday night was the real kicker. I was quite honoured to be the featured speaker at the official Indian Arrival Day celebrations, hosted by Trinidad’s National Council on Indian Culture, which was televised live nationally. The event was jam-packed and was attended by a series of dignitaries, including representatives from the government, the Indian High Commissioner and a parliamentary contingent from the UK.

Ordinarily, none of that would be sufficient to make me nervous, since my love for the sound of my own voice usually overpowers any fear of ostensible authority figures. But my uncertainty about the nature of the Trinidadian audience, the appropriateness of my language and of the topics I’d be touching upon, made me quite uneasy about my impending speech.

But it went well, and I ended up improvising about a quarter of it. Now that some people have requested a transcript, however, I have to now struggle to recall exactly what I said. In the interests of establishing an archive, I will post its text in this space once I transcribe it from the illegible hand-written point-form notes I have on crumpled hotel notepaper.

Many many thanks to my hostess I. for having arranged every last detail of my trip, and for the generosity of both her and her family, all of whom opened their homes and hearts to me in true Caribbean style.

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