Thursday, August 30, 2007

WE Culture - Leave Me and My Mas Alone

By Antoinette Ifill

I have always been of the opinion that each one of us has an irrational necessity, the one thing that brings us no tangible value but satisfies our emotional and psychological desires. For some, it is outfitting their car with the latest in music, rims and accessories. Other people prefer to spend their money on travel, visiting different countries, and immersing themselves in other’s cultures, but at the end of the day all you have to remember your adventures by are a bunch of photographs still on your digital camera. For me, my irresistible passion, among others, is Carnival. Now, I know many people who do not share my devotion to mas, but there is one thing that irks me about those self righteous people who look down at those of us who do; the fact that they believe Carnival is a big waste of money and lecture me on all the other ways that they think my money should be better spent.

One of the most common rhetoric I have heard is “Why don’t people use their money to visit someplace else besides Trinidad for Carnival?” What these “financial experts” fail to realize is that for many, many people, both expatriate Trinidadians and foreigners alike, coming to Trinidad for Carnival is considered a vacation. It may not be a quiet, restful vacation, but nonetheless Carnival is the single event in Trinidad that attracts thousands of visitors, so there must be something about Carnival that keeps them coming. Count me among those who choose to support a festival that draws thousands of visitors, all coming to enjoy the music, food, parade and fetes, rather than supporting another country’s tourism at that time.

Not everyone who spends money on a costume is trite with finances; in fact many people make allowances to budget for their costume and Carnival expenses monthly establishing a “Carnival fund”. One of my friends has a standing order so that a portion of her salary goes towards savings for carnival monthly. With band launchings in Trinidad starting as early as July, it gives ample time to put your finances in order. The reality of the situation is that we can budget, we can save, we can take loans all for Carnival and nothing is wrong with it as long as we are not stealing, defaulting on payments such as mortgage or going bankrupt on Ash Wednesday. With anything else in life, priorities should be met before spending on “fun” activities.

My purpose is not to convince anyone to try and understand what Carnival means to me and I have no problem with people choosing not to participate or spending their money otherwise but I do take offense when they try to lecture me on my love for Carnival, branding it a ‘waste of money’. I don’t look at people who spend thousands of dollars on video games as being idiots, if they want to spend their waking hours immobile behind a Play Station or Xbox, then that is their prerogative. I do not think it is a waste of money to spend thousands of dollars upgrading computer equipment, which ultimately becomes obsolete. Fact is, I can go around in circles pointing out many mindless pursuits that we as humans spend our money on for no other reason that it gives us pleasure.

To me each of us has the power to spend our money as we see fit, after all we do live in a democracy. And for all those pointing fingers at us mas players, get off your soap box, take a good look at yourself and be honest; unless you are hoarding every dollar you work for there are things in your life that you have “wasted” thousands of dollars on so give me a break if I choose to play my mas! Get a life!

1 comment:

S said...

Well said !! I agree... I am one of those Carnival 'addicts'

Leave me and my mas alone !!