Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude, it begins with two heartfelt and meaningful words, thank you or the shorter one, thanks. To give thanks is to receive and to receive is to accept the gift of life. For some, actualizing gratitude is like meditation, a mindful practice that comes from a clean, conscious, open and untouched space of infinite love. Then, there are many who have jumped on the gratitude train. They live under the premise that the on trend thing to do is to update their social media as proof and validation of participation and a sense of belonging to the global gratitude campaign. Moments later, after their fleeting rants and posts they return to their regularly scheduled ungrateful selves. Last but certainly not least there is the yes man/woman who gives way to social conditioning and brainwashing. They affirm that gratitude is the display of attitude that corresponds with a space of being thankful for the good things and good vibes only. But for those quiet enough to still their racing mind and heart, to settle their spirit and mind and to realize that the paradox of light and dark, good and bad, positive and negative coexist in an almost mutually exclusive dynamic, they operate out of a space of giving thanks for the good and the bad experiences which have pivoted them to appreciate and enjoy an improved experience of life.

It is not a myth but a fact that the attitude of gratitude is becoming essential for health and wellness. Harvard Health supports this where a study was conducted with three groups of people over a period of time. One group wrote about things they were grateful for during the week, another group wrote about the things that aggravated them during the week and the other group wrote about the things that transpired during the week with neither effect nor correlation to gratitude and irritation. After some time, the results indicated that the group who wrote about what they were grateful for experienced more optimism, felt better about their lives, exercised more and had less frequent visits to their physician. Virginia Commonwealth University also showed interest in this area of research. After conducting their own studies, they discovered that thankfulness predisposed a lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence and drug abuse in their group. Psychologist Laurie Santos who also teaches on the science of well-being and happiness at Yale University recognizes the ongoing body of research and the upward trend for the practice of gratitude.  She notes that the research has been able to show findings such as improved sleep, lower stress, improvements in interpersonal relationships as well as decreased materialism whilst reinforcing generosity among teens. A study of high school students also reported healthier eating after keeping a gratitude journal.

Although Santos found measurable improvement in the well-being of her students who are asked to keep a gratitude journal, she is keen on the fact that accessing and expressing gratitude is different for everyone. She offers that keeping gratitude journals and even writing a gratitude list can help access the aforementioned benefits of gratitude but asserts that these are not mandatory to unlocking the power of gratitude. The decision to habituate gratitude is within the decision making power of the individual and it remains there for them to decide to keep their practice private or if they wish to share it with others. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at The University of California Riverside studies happiness and gratitude. She advocates for the same, offering to find the best method of accessing and expressing gratitude by doing what feels right, natural and or meaningful to the individual. Sonja offers useful insight into the emotion of gratitude as a complicated one. She reiterates that expressing gratitude is not as clear cut as encountering pleasant feelings but that it can bring about feelings of humility, embarrassment and indebtedness. Her studies brought some interesting findings to light. Participants who practiced gratitude by counting their blessings once a week noticed an uptick in their happiness but this was not the case when they continued doing this for more than three times during the week. On another note, the professor mentions that careful consideration must be given to those adopting the attitude of gratitude into behavior therapy especially if they suffer from clinical depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. More often than not these people may find it challenging to identify what they are grateful for and  feelings of guilt may resonate for not being able to reciprocate.

In order to adopt an attitude of gratitude in its purest form it may require one to remove their rose coloured glasses, to unlearn the dogma perpetuated and vicariously learned, to put down the pretty Kool Aid they were avariciously drinking from, to open one’s guarded heart and to awaken their consciousness to what lies ahead. Transformative power lies within, it begins and ends with the decision that precedes the individual to take back their life, to lead and live it on their own terms and to choose to bring out the best in themselves. An attitude of gratitude may not be for the faint of heart but for the heart that refuses to give in or give up on fighting for themselves. The differentiating factor between the two is the will to try, to practice, to make gratitude a habit and to eventually adopt an attitude of gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian Foster Breaks the Bias

Universally, society has finitely socialized global citizens to accept ethnic, gender, socio-economic class and other arbitrary labels as the absolute definition of self. In October, the twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago joins India, the Indian diaspora and the world to celebrate the festival of light over darkness, Divali. It is worth noting that the ancestry of the Trinbagonian began epic years ago and emerged through genealogy blending from some Amerindian, European, Indian, Chinese, African and Asian bloodlines. Some might even say that the complexity of our diversity identifies the national citizen as “TBC - Trinidad Born and Confused.” The East Indians arrived to this country as indentured labourers in 1845 on the Fatel Razack (Fath Al Razack), the first ship to bring the Indian immigrants to the island from India. As part and parcel of their contribution to this state, the East Indians brought their style of dress, traditions, customs and lifestyle. They joined other nationalities on the island who were ripped from their respective motherlands and would meet many more before their new home became an independent state where they would be now known as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

Today, the ‘TBC’ identity crisis is real for the Trinbagonian who feels neither here nor there. They may experience fear of failure to fit in with a specific group(s) or stand out. All hope is not lost because as the Trinbagonians continue their evolution they have become conscious and undeterred in their mission to unlearn the age old, social conditioning by stereotype. They understand that the diversity and complexity of the Trinbagonian lineage represents to the world that which The House of Angostura's rum is renowned for; aged and blended to perfection. Trinbagonians are finding their way to hold their own and to redefine their authenticity of self as per their own terms. Fashion designer, Adrian Foster is just one of the many breaking the bias and this reverberates in his creative work and the extension of self, especially in his most recent contribution, the Indo-fusion sari top and shirt dress.

adrian foster sari shirt dress style guide
adrian foster moodboard

Adrian Foster’s design aesthetic can be described as modern minimalism that’s thoughtfully designed. His instagram biography speaks of him as, “a lover of all things beautiful.” (If you have ever worked with Adrian Foster you would understand that his biography speaks to his creative and energetic being as well. He is an unapologetically beautiful person.) Adrian, a darker toned Trinbagonian of mixed parentage is also openly gay. Foster, a creative entrepreneur leads by example through education in his art form and design through his thoughtfully designed collections. Adrian chooses to celebrate his uniqueness and embrace the blessing of mixed lineages which empowers him to tap into these connections between self and ancestry to inspire design.

Adrian tells a story in his design of the sari shirt dress. He has reimagined the history of the East Indian arrival to our country. His narrative posits the question about a young Indian voyager who is about to set sail in 1845 aboard the Fatel Razack instead she time travels to Trinidad and Tobago in the year 2021, "what would her life look like?" His vision for the sari shirt dress represents the beginning of the  young Indian voyager’s time travel transition. Although she has to adapt to a new way of life, the essence of her roots will continue to journey along with her. Undeniably, one can expect that she feels disoriented and displaced existing in a space and time that has some semblance to her homeland but is stark different. She now has to rely on her instinct and intuition to adjust to this new life. Adrian Foster empathizes with the young voyager and visualizes that her clothing becomes modern and practical; her traditional sari is now a cropped day-dress, her half-slip transitions into an asymmetric pencil skirt. She develops a taste for colour as she begins to immerse herself in the rich, cultural vibrancy of the island which identifies with her clothing. She is a modern day Caribbean woman.

adrian foster designer quote
adrian foster wrap crop top

Furthermore, Adrian expounds on the young voyager’s story in modern day Trinidad and Tobago with the fusion of design details. He makes it possible to explore the sari shirt dress as gender neutral, a true depiction of sexual orientation in the present day society.  He extracts this design detail with the mandarin collar from the traditional Indian wear for men, the kurta. His design fusion makes its mark when he lowers the neckline at the front and cuts the collar on the bias for a far from subtle but gentle drape along the neck. The sari shirt dress is complete with Adrian’s addition of a pleated shawl to be dressed over the shoulder or head respecting tradition by way of resonating with the form and function of Indian heritage, rituals and affairs.

Indian clothing has survived to be worn at rituals, celebrations and festivities with ornate designs to more contemporary east meets west fusion styles. It has become part of the Trinbagonian lifestyle and culture to celebrate and represent diversity and inclusion through clothing, food and festivity. Indian wear is worn by anyone in Trinidad and Tobago regardless of social class, sexual orientation and race. Adrian Foster’s asymmetrical wrapped crop top is yet another design that the young voyager would be donning in her new life. Subject to interpretation, the asymmetry gives her the freedom of choice to pair her crop top with articles of clothing other than the sari such as pants. It sanctions her to be whoever she wants to be without the religious, racial and socio-political confines of her past.

adrian foster young voyager style guide
adrian foster inspo

This Divali, Trinidad and Tobago stands (sits/limes) united to set aside our difference of opinions (disbeliefs and all other nuances of fallacy that make us human) to share with each other our interpretations of Indian influenced culture. If you choose to support local and wear Adrian Foster’s sari shirt dress and or wrapped crop top by pairing and accessorizing them to create your own signature look then that is a fashionably bold and representative choice. Remember that our freedom of choice as citizens of an independent and democratic twin island state is a privilege we get to actualize and enjoy. May we be privy to knowledge that every action and inaction just as every word said and unsaid becomes our responsibility to own. May we value our ability to choose and our better human quality to be mindful in our choices. May we choose to respect each other's differences. May we choose peace in times of conflict. May we choose hope and courage in times of struggle and strife. Above all else may we choose light over darkness.

Shop Adrian Foster this Divali

Instagram  Facebook

(Ph): 1.868.472.0948   (M): Af.adrianfoster@gmail.com

Neha Karina – Fashion that Empowers

Travel is back this October with Divali celebrations underway in Trinidad. Just a few shy miles off the coast of South America, this southernmost twin island state in the West Indies offers you the world wrapped up in the gift of fashion. An ocean away from the capitals of fashion and the debutants of fashion week, Trinidad holds its own when it comes to fashion. Due to Trinidadians’ insatiable appetite for all things deep fried, rum spiced and rum spiked, it is safe to say that we welcome all sizes. The Divine designed the Caribbean woman with infinite love in mind. Neha Dawar of Neha Karina World is one such fashion designer creating and styling gorgeous looks indiscriminately. This year, we invite you to travel with no regrets, come for Divali, stay for the fashion, shop that look and buy that dreamy lehenga, kaftan or regal kurta that was designed just for you.

Today, the fashion, hospitality and travel industry must meet the demand of experiential travelers seeking immersive and authentic experiences where they can be their true selves. Amid the incessant desire to nip, tuck and Photoshop for the travelgram, tourists interested in traveling deeper are fast realizing that real life experience is what happens when you are busy making other plans for the perfect photo opportunity. Fashion is the creative medium that disrupts this divide. Neha Karina World is one such fashion brand known for effecting change through fashion. The brand is owned by Neha Dawar, one of the most sought after ethnic wear designers on the island. Conveniently located at the shops of Hilton hotel in Trinidad, tourists can opt to stay in and shop local.

 

Born in India but raised in Trinidad, Neha celebrates the cosmopolitan Trinidadian identity in her designs. The beauty of the culture is obvious in the intricate beading, embroidery details, silhouettes, colours and choice of fabrics. Each piece is handcrafted and custom made to flatter any shape, size, ethnicity and gender profile. Neha’s design aesthetic is a mix of modern, contemporary glam with a twist on the Indian classics. She designs for the Desi bride, bridegroom, bridal party, guests and anyone interested in ethnic wear.  Travelers who shop Neha Karina World come in all sizes and geographic origins making her brand international. Neha is a true creative and proves that she can apply and assert herself in any design field that she enters. She is trained in the art form of makeup artistry, Indian classical dance and sits on the committee for Miss India pageantry. Her diverse background helps her to understand the dynamics of cross cultural exchange which is reflected in her design.

Her signature style is her ability to use her platform of fashion for empowerment. Fashion becomes more than form and function for Neha and the person shopping the Neha Karina brand. Her design effects sociological and psychological change. This can be likened to betrothal to an enhanced awareness of self where one feels grounded in love yet strong enough to seize the day and fierce enough to lead from an intentional space of love. Neha Karina becomes the regal armor for anyone donning her ensemble. They are clothed in garments that support their cause and that are beside them in their public and private lives.  When designers create from concept to material manifestation, they create with their life force energy and from an indescribable magical space influenced by their years of life experience, formal education in design and their creative intuition. The end result is a look that has been styled to emulate a vibe forged from their labour of love.

Shop Neha Karina World

Facebook   Website   Instagram

Phone: 1.868.707.2800   Email: info@nehakarina.com

A Guide for the Travelling Pandemic Tourist this Divali

travel quote

This October, tourists are visiting Trinidad and Tobago for the festival of Divali. To date the country has waived the pandemic requirements for proof of antigen test results but are keeping the mask mandate for arriving passengers. The demographic that comprises the incoming travel group includes the diaspora that returns to celebrate with family and friends, return tourists who are active players in the business of the festival such as proprietors in food, fashion, home and entertainment, tourists eager to experience the booming gastronomy of Indo-Trinidadian fusion food and the spiritual pilgrims who join the practicing Hindus in the ceremonial traditions of the festival. Regardless of tourist profiling, they all share the human experience of being grounded in isolation for the last two years. As if this were not enough, their ongoing mental, physical health and overall wellbeing have become more than mere thoughts for review and reconsideration. The way in which the tourist experiences travel has changed forever.

We can expect that the incoming visitors experience anxiety; a complex cocktail of unhealed trauma, a dash of pandemic phobia garnished with a sprig of travel worry. The new normal for tourists resembles their mirrored image of trauma, the circus act of managing diet and lifestyle disease abroad, fear of losing luggage, missing flights, delayed travel, getting sick in a foreign destination and the ever popular angst over not being physically present in the event that everything goes awry in the home country.

Alternative to this is the recognition by pandemic travellers that something is amiss in their lives and that they can take action by confronting their anxiety. According to neuroscientist, anxiety physician and MD Russell Kennedy, it is key to investigate strategies that not only help but heal anxiety. He believes in identifying the root cause of the anxiety pain, its repressed location in the body and focusing on connecting the trauma and associated alarm of the patient’s past. (The anxiety doctor treats anxiety with a combination of EMDR, hypnosis, mindfulness and CBT in addressing anxiety. Find him here for more information  https://www.instagram.com/theanxietymd/ )

The road to recovery is one that prioritizes progress over perfection. It will take longer than a 3 hour flight to and from Trinidad, even all the time spent the night before departure (trying to pack and fit all the Divali sweets, roti, murtani, colourful bangles and lehengas whilst desperately trying to close the suitcase and hoping that everything arrives safely to your return destination).  Not even an overnight layover can account for the quantification of time in healing from anxiety. In the interim, research and preparation for destination travel secures a travel pass for the travelling pandemic tourist.

travel quote 2
Here’s a guide to help you with your destination travel to Trinidad for Divali celebrated on the 24th October 2022.
Official festival activities at the Divali Nagar site take place from 15th - 23rd October 2022.

1.Before arriving create a packing list. Try to pack at least 3 days in advance include your prescriptions, travel and allergy meds, tech gear, clothing etc.

2. Create a list of all the things you need to get done before you leave like arranging a house/pet/plant sitter. Don’t forget to include activities such as locking up, unplugging electric devices and freezing or sharing perishable food.

3. Inform the necessary persons like your employer, family and friends that you will not be around and leave a copy of travel itinerary and emergency contact with someone you trust.

4. Sort travel documents including travel, medical insurance and coverage during your trip.

5. Arrange for foreign exchange and budget your expenditure for the trip.

6. Research shopping in the destination to find local Indian fusion wear designers and support local.

7. Clear the bills to be paid in advance and arrange for a hold on your mail or have someone you trust keep it until your return.

8. Create a checklist and research Trinidad before arriving for festivity. Learn about the Divali Nagar, UNESCO World Heritage Site where the festival is held for the public. For instance, it is located on the Narsaloo Ramaya Marg Road Endeavor Chaguanas in Central Trinidad. There are major commercial centers for shopping in the surrounding area.

9. Keep abreast of the calendar of events so you know which activities will interest you. Find out the peak traffic times if traffic and crowds make you uneasy so you can visit the site and feel more comfortable to participate in the festivities.

10. Before arriving download, a weather app to track the weather forecast so you can be clothed appropriately when arriving, departing and during your days out (unless you want to throw caution to the wind and be a Bollywood prince/princess and dance in the rain throughout your stay, then power to you).

11. Discover the foods that are traditionally served during the festival and those that are sold especially if you are managing a lifestyle disease such as diabetes. Although there is a tremendous amount of deep fried gluten on the menu to satisfy your insatiable appetite, balance is key so know your limits and try not to put yourself in harm’s way. Identify food apps and locations for food that suits your diet such as organic and gluten free shops that provide for enjoying the festival on a diet like Moy’s Gluten Free, she sells gluten free roti that can be pre-ordered for pick up.

12. Research the health and safety protocols of the destination and also set your own boundaries for health and safety. Lighting of oil lamps also known as deyas are the custom for Diwali night as well as firecrackers so the night has the potential to get loud for tourists who are introverted.

13. Motion sickness and anxiety or force of habit may prevent you from eating before travel. Manage this by scheduling a light workout session to get those feel good  hormones active and fuel this with an equally light but healthy meal before you travel. It is useful to try to book accommodation with gym facilities or close proximity to fitness centers or be disciplined in your workout during your stay to keep motivated, to help you to feel your best and to be fully present to enjoy your experience.

14. Writing about your experience in the destination by keeping a journal can help you to channel your feelings and practice mindfulness everyday. By being kind to your mind and expressing yourself you escape your fear and worry for the future by being conscious of the present moment, activity, experience and interaction.

15. Check in with your trusted friends or family at home as this will help to ground you.

16. Set up activities for you to do during your transit and stay which will give you a sense of comfort and make you feel safe such as your music playlist, favorite movies, meditation apps, podcasts, art and craft, snacks and favourite sweater.

17. Research driver apps available if you need to get around the country and account for this expenditure in your budget.

ncic divali nagar

Last but certainly not least, whilst you can prepare and organize all you want the universe tends to give you experiences that you need rather than those that you want. You can try to control, influence, limit and manage expectations for the trip of a lifetime but travel is a capricious journey of ebb and flow. You owe it to yourself  to know when to own the pilot's seat and when to return to the passenger's. Be open to new experiences and say yes to new adventures because when you step out of your travel bubble only then will you truly discover how to travel deeper.

 

The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception

This year I met with some tourists from Virginia U.S.A.  They were also well travelled global citizens who remarked how much Trinidad reminded them of Hawaii. Something about our chill island vibe, the beaches and the abundance of readily available roadside fruit made them feel this way. They also compared us to Saudi Arabia because our oil and gas refinery nightscape resembled one of the many nights during their stay in the Middle East. However, the one thing that stood out to them was our architecture and the disregard for segmentation in geographic development.  By this I mean there is little separation between residential and commercial areas. Now I am not saying that we absolutely do not have separation or zoning because in some areas we do. However, more often than not one is met with fancy dining restaurants smack in the middle of an industrial or manufacturing sector with residential and commercial plots within walking distance from each other. Needless to say they all coexist in harmony.

Quite interestingly one can travel to any other destination and easily identify the architecture and the zone in which a specific type of design style belongs. We have been privy to many influences and the architecture that thrived during the reign of each passing era and the change of hands of ownership. Diversity does not stop there as those who survived the post emancipation period were able to build and design their own homes and businesses using knowledge, skill not forgetting design from their own cultural backgrounds. Hence the result todal is a multifaceted island designer collection of architecture and interior design. The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception is one of those relics that has survived to depict this tale. It sits in the capital city, Port of Spain, a bustling district that is also not exempt from (my aforementioned rambling about) lack of zoning. The Cathedral beams magnificence in plain sight. She graces us with her poise and beauty. She is an emblem of hope for the future signifying the strength and power of a nation that has been through a lot but still stands today.

(Photo Credit: “Part 1 The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception,” Trinidad Guardian)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception was the first Catholic Church in Port of Spain. It was built by the then Spanish Governor in 1781 and at that time it was not yet a cathedral. An English Governor decided that there was a need for a bigger and better church to accommodate the growing catholic population. In 1816 the foundation stone was set. The shape of the building took the form of a cross. The materials used to build this church included blue metal and limestone sourced from the Laventille quarries. However, iron framework was imported from England for the doors and windows. It was not  until 1822 that this church became a Cathedral. In 1851 Pope Pius IX ranked the church as a Minor Basilica.

(Photo Credit: The Front View of The Cathedral of  the Immaculate Conception , Pinterest)

The design of the Cathedral is heavily Gothic Revival which borrows some features from the gothic era (1150- 1400). There is no surprise that the cathedral’s design was inspired by this style.  Aptly, the timing of design and construction coincided with the gothic revival movement that took place whilst the English Governor was in Trinidad. The gothic revival was a movement that began in England in the second half of the 18th century. This style of design reveals a pious mood, one of righteousness and high minded thinking evident in most religious and scholarly institutions. We owe the architects of that era our gratitude. At that time they used creative thinking and design management in technological advancement to conceptualize and execute their design theories. The end result were a few marvelous design solutions to reduce building mass whilst trying to increase space and light in this gothic revival style.

(Photo Credit: The Inside View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Fidelity Electronics Limited)

 The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception maintains pointed arches which take the weight off the ceiling to balance an overall irregular structure of the building. Yet, it keeps a common ceiling area. There are pinnacles, spires and lots of window tracery. There are ribbed vaults with thinner walls to increase space in the cathedral.  The flying buttresses act as a form of support for the walls and ceiling. They take the weight off the walls and transfer them to the ground. This meant more space was used for window installation. Thus more natural light can enter the cathedral. The overall emphasis throughout the design style is vertical. Amidst the beige colour scheme going on for the cathedral’s exterior there was the incorporation of artistic and decorative elements  with bursts of colour on the interior. There are statues inside the building as well as a prominent virtuous lady on the upper exterior of the building.

(Photo Credit: The Side View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Wikimedia)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is listed as a heritage site at  #31 Independence Square Port of Spain. She has been given much care to maintain her structure and stature. If you live in this destination you should definitely find your way to the capital to see what all the hype is about. If you intend on visiting Trinidad, our citizens would love to host you and they eagerly await your arrival. I guarantee you that we are second to none in our cuisine, culture and lifestyle. You just have to experience it to believe it!

 

 

 

Cocobel Chocolate

Sometimes I feel like we live in a magical place. Look at our geographic space, we are located away from the hurricane belt, the tectonic plate shifting incidents rarely affect us  and there is an abundance of chocolate. We love chocolate so much that we even use it to play mas’ during our j’ouvert celebrations at Carnival. I am not describing  the substandard sugar loaded candy bars today but the immaculate cocoa finery which takes you to heights of the northern, central and southern range combined. You figure out the math because the numbers will just drive me more insane than the eclectic skills of local architect turned chocolatier, Isobel Brash otherwise known as Cocobel.

(The building that hosts Cocobel & Medulla Art Gallery)

Photo Credit: Medulla Art Gallery

Yet again I am raving about another architect who is female and making those bold moves right here in Trinidad. Can you imagine the scope of creativity when you take an architect’s experience, knowledge and mindset to chocolate innovation?! The possibilities are endless!!! Think about the elements and principles of design fused with Isobel’s passion for Trinidad and Tobago’s culture. The results are always decadent masterpieces depicting and reflecting her architectural expertise in functionality, design and the diverse palate of local ethnic delight!

(The stairs leading to the porch of the Cocobel studio)

Cocobel translates to the meaning of Cocoa Queen and this is the brand name of Isabel’s chocolates. She is the queen who sources local cocoa beans from her brother’s estate in South Trinidad at Rancho Quemado and makes magic with them at her space on #37 Fitt Street in Woodbrook. The space is shared with The Medulla Art Gallery. (How cool is that?!  You get to discover what’s going on in the local art scene when you go chocolate shopping. Who’s says you can’t have your chocolate and eat it too!!!). Cocoa trees greet you upon entering the gates of the Cocobel premises. As you sashay up the staircase the rustling of leaves and the island breeze catches your face with sheer joy.  Craftsman furniture pieces with artisan stools and the glamorous doorway to chocolate heaven are less than a few feet away. But the porch beckons you to stay and bask in your storybook feelings. Yes, if we had to write an island fairytale this house would definitely be on the illustrator’s pages sharing a glimpse of happiness with the reader; an untamed energy so pure and perfect, hopeful yet unanimously ingenuous.

(The accent wall in the Cocobel studio)

I am not an architect but my design senses tell me that this building appears to be a mix of architectural styles. I see a bit of the Edwardian era, the less ornate Victorian era with plant inspired motifs and some stencil work . It also looks like the arts and crafts era made an impact too. I say this because of the simpler and handmade furniture pieces on the porch, the apt natural beauty of  the unpainted wood grain, wood carvings, the floors and the leather work on the upholstered chairs inside. The geometric forms on the gates , the use of metal indicate some use of art deco design.  Upon entering the studio there is sense of modernism and minimalism with a hint of Moorish style (the domed at the top of the framed windows). There are a few pieces of furniture, a sensual glass coffee table, paintings on the walls to the left, a great piano to the right end just where a staircase descends to the art gallery and an accent wall inebriated with scribblings about the Cocobel brand. In front of the accent wall is a simple crafted table bearing all the chocolate bounty for the consumer’s eyes to devour. The principles and elements of design unite in a harmony to echo throughout the exterior and interior spaces of Cocobel.

(The seating area in the Cocobel studio)

 

(The stairs that spiral to the Medulla Art Gallery)

A simple set up on the inside is all anyone needs to convince them that this is the real deal. There are truffles, barks, bon bons with fillings, chocolate covered cocoa and coffee beans. Isabel infuses local fruit, spices and herbs in her chocolate making. But this is no monkey business as each piece is carefully crafted leaving a  balance which is any designer/architect’s purpose when they set out on a project.  Albeit Isabel’s Cocobel is for chocolate lovers, foodie enthusiasts, dessert connoisseurs and persons who are open to trying new things. The brand is highly supportive and reflective of local culture. It is consistent with being diverse with its offering and it does not compromise on high quality production. There is little to no generation gap with Isabel’s chocolate market. It is the quintessential gift for special occasions from weddings, birthdays, anniversaries to “just because”days.  Cocobel’s brand hinges on cocoa innovation. There is consistent progressive creative thought in the brand development which is quite evident in the product lines. In April, Isobel experimented with the seasonal grapefruit bark. The tangy and sweet combination was delectable and it was made right here in Trinidad. During the Easter holidays the children and artisans in all of us were not exempt from her chocolate love affair as Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs were superbly designed and decorated for purchase.  As if these were not enough chocolate innovation look out for her Fresh Baked Fridays, a chocolate lover’s dream. The chocolate studio is transformed into a chocolate bakery with complimentary hot cocoa and lots of chocolate desserts and pastries to choose from!

(Cocobel Chocolates)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

(Cocobel Chocolate Bars)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

(Fresh Baked Fridays)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

Anyone interested in discovering more about Isabel can get on to her social media pages to be updated on future sales, new products, services and the next fresh baked event.

Website: http://www.cocobelchocolate.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cocobel-Chocolate-253083854729802/

Instagram: cocobelchocolate

Email: cocobel@cocobelchocolate.com

Contact: (868) 622-1196

The National Aquatic Centre

I have developed a very acquired sense of creative design. It has become so odd that when I experience a designed space, fashion or art piece my mind discerns it’s creative value immediately. My brain literally screams “WOW!” in that fleeting moment of first impression (provided that I am impressed). I have also discovered that my brain’s interpretation of what makes something uniquely creative is heavily associated with the impact of how the designed space or thing makes me feel (I mean to say that the designed space or thing evokes some type of emotion rather it moves me).  Moreover,  the designer’s ability to manifest differentiation via harmonious alignment of the elements and the principles of design is a major contributing factor.  The National Aquatic Centre is a recently designed space that catches my attention in Balmain, Trinidad. Here are my casual design thoughts below.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The vision for this facility fell nothing short of creating an opportunity to develop the swimming potential of athletes to perform at national and international competitions, to support a high performance sport, to host  competitions at national and international levels, to promote sport tourism by offering training programs for international swim teams during winter months, to generate income and revenue for maintenance and upkeep of the facility. The  National Aquatic Centre has a seating capacity of 700 persons. It features a 50 meter swimming pool, a 50 meter warm up pool and a 25 meter diving pool. Additionally, there is an aqua gym, Turkish baths, a fitness room, a sauna, a cold water pool, concession outlets, ticket booths, VIP/Official, media, public seating and multipurpose rooms for event organizers. There is even an aqua park.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

There is a lot of use of glass, concrete and steel. There is an apparent mix of what may be modern, contemporary and  feng shui styles. Albeit the designers were faced with the task of creating a space that is kid friendly, slip and mildew resistant not to mention durable yet suitable for accommodating huge crowds of varying backgrounds. The facility is in a shade of reddish orange that is strong, warm, passionate and vibrant. This is the welcoming hue used on the exterior walls of the facility. The interiors like the lobby are kept more on the monochromatic and achromatic colour schemes. There is a viewing area here where one can see the tournaments through huge glass windows. The ceiling in the lobby has textured straight lines adorned with curves that include lighting systems. The seating arrangement in here does not feel static allowing guests to converse without feeling too formal. It is easy to enter spectator stands to view  and the view is not bad at all. The concession area and bathrooms are also close by. There is ample parking and security is available.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The building has rhythm and flow. The proportion and scale used is appropriate. There is use of symmetry. I like the  striking balance between vertical, horizontal and curved lines which soften any stark macho vibes from the concrete facility. The tall columns help to create an illusion of grandeur but the horizontal columns keeps the overall look grounded. The open air concept is modern but suitable for this tropical location. Visitors can bask in the natural backdrop of a lush green environment and the refreshing sight and sound of  divers splashing water as they take off to meet each other at the finish line. This ambience is quite therapeutic and invigorating at the same time for athletes getting in their frame of mind before plunging in the pool. There is a certain magic in the air where premeditated design philosophy and execution collide. The diagonal lines that form triangles add a transformational quality to this international water stage. It appears to be setting up a scene for athletes to journey into another phase of their swimming game.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

 Already the centre has hosted national tournaments. This gives the secondary school circuit an empowering outlet for local students to thrive in another area not previously accessible at this caliber of competition. This year seven swim teams from North America have chosen this location to begin their winter based training camp. The Centre is doing exceptionally well however I have a few pet peeves with the design of this facility. On tournament days patrons may find themselves parking at more available parking spots which are further away from the facility.  I would suggest installation of a covered walkway because rain is not very scarce in Trinidad.  I would recommend installing some sort of screen or acrylic window treatments to keep the rain out from spectator stands. Rain  is often accompanied by wind (I do not know if it falls differently anywhere else?!). The pools are covered by a roof but the open concept design does not cater for the wind blowing in the rain to the stands or pools. If you are seated in public stands the rain will shower you with infinite blessings from every direction that our Caribbean breezes decide to blow their kisses (walk with a sweater, a rain coat and or a towel).

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The National Aquatic Centre is an interestingly created space with a significant contribution to the design culture and architectural history of Trinidad and Tobago.  I can’t say enough how much I love the impact of design. I have already seen the way this created space has been a beacon of hope for the youth in Trinidad and Tobago as a place they can be proud of and one they can call their own. They are able to project themselves in a trajectory that is triumphant of building physically stronger, mutually respectful and team spirited young men and women in this nation. It is my only wish that the facility is thoroughly engaged to serve its purpose and that it is continuously maintained in the future. If you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago you should definitely visit and experience a swimming tournament here.

The T-Room Review

Have you been to the T-Room at Hotel Normandie located at Nook Avenue in St. Ann’s Trinidad?!  Peep their work on their social media sites. The T-Room is not a tea room so don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s a salon run by Tanja Banduwong, a German and her powerhouse creative team. Germany among other nations has understood creative culture and the value of it for their society. They have done exceptionally well in providing innovative contributions to the world in the past decades. They have taken the time to value learning about creative culture and design management and teaching this to their own citizens via various institutions in their society. Their whole creative thinking process, their mindset to progressive culture and education seem to be constantly evaluated and improved upon. They understand the critical success factors of creative culture to their country’s national development and diversification. This is one of the reasons I like the T-Room among others because here lies the most honest and authentic example of the birth and growth of a creative culture in a stable and eponymous field of hair styling.

 

Photo Credit:  The T-room Squad

https://www.facebook.com/pg/HairbyTanja/about/?ref=page_internal

Tanja is a qualified and skilled professional in hair and makeup styling. Although she is an educator in this field she has her fair share of stripes and stars to prove that she has the caliber of experience to take salon style in Trinidad to the next level. Her leadership style is open and collaborative without compromising respect among her team. She has managed to foster a work ethic and creative culture that is second to none in Trinidad. Although Tanja is the girl boss here she is far from being the stereotypical aloof “manager” as she is also on the floor “working it” with her squad. The team is constantly learning and expanding their skills. The squad is professional and the family type of camaraderie she has fostered with her staff is reflected in how they treat each other and  their clients. Tanja took the ladies of the T-Room to  Italy for training and development and creative culture immersion last year. A great experience in one of the more established fashion destinations in the world!  The ladies at the T- Room set the bar high as one of the few examples I have seen of women supporting and advocating for each other to be and do their best in the creative field. The T-Room is a fun and exciting salon where their love for what they do emanates from their A-class  haircuts, colour treatments, corrections, keratin treatments and styling services for men and women (and of course their overall aura and vibes).

Photo Credit: Pastel Hair

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Undercut

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Bridal Hairstyle (On Location)

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Every detail of design has been accounted for at the T-Room.  The logo is pretty cool too with strong lettering enclosed by a wreath like crown.  The salon even has a  mascot, his name is Chino. He is a well behaved groomed family member of the T-Room. The staff members come in all shapes and sizes with so much soul and passion for their job. They usually wear black but there is so much flexibility and personality that they get to play with outfitting and expressing themselves without the confines of a uniform. The interior design of the salon is another major appreciation factor about this creative space. People underestimate the role that design plays in our lives. For instance you may wear a particular silhouette, style, colour or fabric because it makes you feel some type of way. You may love a salon or spa because it makes you feel special. In these instances people neglect to ask themselves that one question, “why?”  Why do I like this space? What is it about this shirt or this hairstyle that makes me feel this way? Why do I want to cut or colour my hair? Why did I choose this cut or colour? Some of us are not even conscious of the power behind “wearapy” and design therapy which is a “must have” for any thriving creative lifestyle and culture.

Photo Credit: The T-Room Squad at Milan Fashion Week

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 The interior design for the T-Room was done by Christy Maingot, a local interior designer of CMID in Trinidad. The T-Room looks like a combination of modern, contemporary styles and a bit of glam. This is no easy task for an interior designer to acquire the skill of mixing styles. Christy’s management of elements and principles of design in this space is magically harmonious. Although the salon works by appointment only, the spatial planning is sensible, on point with proportion and scale, rhythm and flow for easy breezy functioning during peak times.  The colour scheme looks more monochromatic as the shades of white, cream, brown, gold and bronze are well placed throughout the T-Room. The space is perceptually bigger with the application of vanity mirrors, white washed walls and the obvious reflection of light from the artificial light sources on the smooth and shiny surfaces. There is open and closed storage with shelving which makes the perfect balance in a room that is neither too warm nor too cold. The salon has a huge glass window so the positioning of a window bench with the view of the hotel lobby was an ideal use of space. The throw pillows are nice additions as their textures and patterns soften and accentuate the style and vibe in the salon without emasculating it. The use of leather (if not leather like upholstery) for salon chairs and benches appeals to the sleek modernist in all of us whilst being easy to maintain and durable.  Intriguingly, the flooring has a wood grain finish appearance and the ceiling hints to subtle industrial vibes. Another example of style mixing is seen here. The dynamic diagonal lines on the ceiling beams are painted in white to blend in but still stand out by creating some transformational, directional and exciting energy in the room. These diagonal lines form triangles which pair up with the geometric shapes of the overhead rectangle lighting to manage earthly grounded feelings.

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 I love that this space is a haven where anyone, any age can feel safe to put themselves in the hands of internationally trained professionals. The T-Room squad allow their clients; to explore and experiment, to challenge style status quos, to redefine, to reclaim and redeem an unprofessed love and care for themselves that has been long overdue and often resonates in the mantra, “I am beautiful and I am ready to take on the world, now hear me roar.”

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

The T-Room gets my 5 stars for excellent customer service, professionalism and creativity.

Keep up the fabulous work ladies !!!

To see more of T-Room

Visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HairbyTanja/

Visit their Instagram Page : https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Book an appointment: 1.868.235.3679

Email: tbanduwong@gmail.com

 

 

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen – The Review

If you are as selective as I am with what you expose your mind, your heart, your eyes and your taste buds to the world can still be a fabulous place, especially the world of culinary adventures. I have never really been a fan of Indian cuisine but I must admit that it has been something I grew to love over the last few years. I mean I am Trinidadian and us locals, we love to add a bit of heat to our food. Yet the difference in our palette may concern itself with adding pepper rather than flavour. In these instances we burn off our tongues so much that if we eat another bite we would be torturing ourselves. Yet still some of us  do it for the “thrill” I guess. However, Indian food has these spice infusions that play twister with our taste buds but still allows us to satiate our craving and return for seconds.  I found Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen at One Woodbrook Place. It’s a mini trip to modern India without leaving home sweet home, Trinidad.

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen Logo

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook Page

Svaada is the sweetest mix of modern and traditional interior design styles. The symmetrical balance in this space is impeccable. The use of natural and artificial light give birth to a warmth that beckons the “foodie” to curl up on their chair and dive into comfort. There are circle lights that rim the perimeter of the ceiling. There are incredible pendant lights that look lotus flowers which hang over the tables adorning and serving their due purpose. Rectangles and squares keep this space feeling stable, secure and the infiniteness of the circles evoke feelings of commitment, completeness with graceful, nurturing and soothing effects. The vertical lines make this kitchen appear taller. Effective horizontal lines broaden the space whilst drawing the lines of sight down to be restful and at ease for one to enjoy this cuisine experience.

The use of pops of colour amid the monochromatic colour scheme is quintessential. Red is fiery and full of love and passion. It is also a dominant colour used to stimulate the appetite. The setup of the furniture is a seating arrangement for families and groups to not only dine together but to engage in conversation more. Most of the materials used are wood, metal and glass. The surfaces are smooth and glossy as well as matte. The floor is smooth and feels like polished stone in a dark hue consistent with a dark ceiling which contrasts in texture with its matte finish.  The walls are off white and reign the bold red with the purity and innocence of this cream shade. The table tops are dark brown and match with the wooden chairs. Brown is often associated with stability and security hence its use here. The chrome and plastic chairs match up with the floor as well as the glass/steel combination of doors and windows.

An outsider’s view of the Svadda  Gourmet Indian Kitchen

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook

Colours, lighting fixtures, furniture is repeated throughout the space provoking an ebb and flow to be pure rhythm. The view from the glass doors and windows are the main focus points as are the kitchen and the kitchen island. Yes there is a kitchen island that happens to be a condiment station! The flavours range from sweet to tangy to spicy. They are quite intriguing and are anything but limitless. The proportion and scale to the design in this space works well the open plan concept.  Any room for negative space is avoided with proper placement of food culture photography on these walls. There is even a hot towel station (can you imagine my excitement at this little luxury?!).

Svaada’s staff members are attentive, polite and knowledgeable about their menu. The food is affordable and the wait time is not very long. Usually, one places their order and takes a seat. Then the staff wheels in your order if you are dining in and not taking out. You can have a hot towel to wipe your hands clean. Your meal will be served in traditional styled Indian wares that make a sumptuous picture for all of you “insta” foodie bloggers. I am in love with their naan bread particularly their aloo and cheese (I am pescetarian so I don’t eat meat).  Their naan is so soft and fluffy and really make you feel all warm and cosy. I have relished in their paneer as well which happens to be an exceptionally prepared dish. If you ever consider ordering from Svaada there is a complimentary bread that is served as an appetizer whilst you wait for your food (if you are Trinidadian and you are familiar with shrimp crackers it is basically the same texture except bigger without the shrimp flavour).

Chicken Tikka Masala, Chilli Paneer, Complimentary Bread, Aloo Naan, Cheese Naan

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen may be the closest thing we have to a modern Mumbai Café. It is not overdone. The focus is on the quality of food, customer service and managing that “soon come” factor. This means their customers  are literally in a position where they almost indefinitely crave to return to try more of this “foodie experience”. They are open from Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. On occasion they are open on Sundays. Parking is on the ground floor. Dining is casual so there is no need to get bothered to be fancy unless “being extra” is your specialty (then get on with your “extra” self hunny). They accept walk in customers and they are highly recommended for groups.  Their contact number is 1.868.628.5674. Also you can write to them at geevans@hotmail.com. You can follow them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Svaadagourmetindiankitchen/

Sanianitos Style – Not just the Bohemian Destination Bride

Photo Credit: Melvern Issac

The Bohemian is often considered the outsider to society and conventional norms. Although not a hippie this identity strikes a chord with lifestyles earmarked by tendencies to revolutionize thinking adopted by knowledge seekers and dreamers with soulful purposes. Usually, they occupy roles in the field of art, music, literature, dance, fashion to name a few than filling orthodox titles in the world of work. Generally, the destination bride who identifies with some if not all of these qualities can be defined as the Bohemian Destination Bride. Trinidad is so multicultural that there is even space for the Bohemian Destination Bride. Moreover, the designer who works on Bohemian accessories for the destination bride is also a Bohemian at heart. Her name is Sanian Lewis and her label Sanianitos is a Bohemian Destination Bride’s dream come true.

Photo Credit: Nnella Stella

Sanian Lewis’ journey took her on a path that commanded her open mind and an open heart. Most Bohemians tend to believe that they have to fulfill their calling in life and so did Sanian. Her challenge to find herself took her from accomplished tennis player to the U.S.A as a student. She pursued studies in Psychology but eventually made a U turn to head for Trinidad to feverishly extinguish the burning desire to live her passion for fashion at Caribbean Academy for Fashion and Design. After some time Sanian would complete her academics and end her tenure working at a boutique. Backed by an understanding of people, retail concepts, styling, design and a desire to create from the bubbling ideas swirling around in her mind Sanian Lewis was ready to start her niche contemporary label of accessories featuring her aesthetic of Trinbagonian Bohemian jewelry, flower crowns and sunglasses (including other eyewear).

Photo Credit: Shaista

It’s been almost four years since Sanian has launched her brand Sanianitos. It is safe to say the brand is well received and Sanian has managed to fill a demand by a growing community of Bohemians locally and internationally especially the destination bride. Sanian describes her accessories as unique, bold and unforgettable. She mentions that each island or person, though similar in some ways, has a perspective all their own. Similarly, attention to detail, innovation and interest are applied to each creation without compromising its individual aesthetic. The brand hinges on its foundation; consciousness of local inspirations and consistency in producing high quality Trinbago Bohemian products that reflect the environment’s wealth of culture.

Photo Credit: Sanianitos Instagram

Destination brides who identify with this Bohemian vibe and look should invest in Sanianitos for several reasons. The aesthetic is second to none. Choose from an array of designs for flower crowns, jewelry and “sunnies”. Bridal accessories can also be customized to your preference. The accessory will be produced in Trinidad and Tobago. The bride literally takes away a souvenir that she can actually use on more than one occasion in the future. The bride takes the responsibility of making positive contributions to the destination’s economy by supporting a small business. These versatile pieces can be used for the destination bride’s engagement or on the wedding day (and are picturesque) and they also pair well with resort wear for the bride’s honeymoon. Sanian has also done a more futuristic concept for eyewear with her tinted rosette rimmed sunglasses.

Photo Credit: Crystal Ivy London Instagram

Sanianitos is an exceptional bohemian brand to enlist on the details card for the destination bride’s wedding. This way the bride can select or create a flower crown and note this as the designated design guests can purchase to fit in with the bohemian theme. The bride can go as far as gifting her bridesmaids these items to be worn on the wedding day and many times after. These items would definitely not be left as dust collecting mementos. Flower crowns and sunglasses can be worn in spring, summer and fall if not winter. There are infinite festivals, themed parties and outfits waiting to be styled with these pieces in the owner’s wardrobe. Sanianitos jewelry may have even more adaptability and functionality with the wearer incorporating these pieces year round. Overall, the Sanianitos brand stands as a reminder of the labour of love, soulful attachment and the story of how a fearless woman found the courage to not only listen but act upon her instinct and make her dream a reality.

Photo Credit: Sanianitos Instagram

With jewelry, Sanianitos is combining precious metal clay medium and goldsmith techniques currently in production. The new collection is the first of an AnceStory trilogy. The first story is called The Uli. “Uli” is a feminine art form and a form of communication by the Igbo women of West Africa.  The Igbo considered beauty in-tandem with morality and the women used this traditional art form to enhance and define it, whether on the body as walking canvases, or on houses. It is hoped that the collection empowers and uplifts those who buy them.

Photo Credit: Sanian Lewis

Photo Credit: Sanian Lewis

Photo Credit: Sanian Lewis

The Bohemian Destination Bride can make her Sanianitos purchase at Meiling at #6 Carlos Street in Woodbrook. You can also message on Instagram or send an email to info@sanianitos.com. Soon brides and guests will be able to shop online as the brand will look to carve its space on the e-commerce market.

Instagram: www.instagram.com/sanianitos

Email:  info@sanianitos.com

Website: sanianitos.tumblr.com

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save