Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa – The Airbnb Super Host

There is no debate that travel is back with sold out flights, high occupancy rates at hotels and a mayhem of delays at airports. Tourists have been locked away for far too long and the travel bug has definitely started to catch on. Noticeably, there is something different in the travel behavior of the new tourist. They yearn to travel like a local, to stay longer, to sometimes travel in groups and they seek authenticity. After living vicariously through everyone else’s social media reels for two years they have decided to create their own travel stories. Enter Airbnb, the travel accommodation solution that is surpassing travel expectations everywhere including the twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Airbnb platform provides incredible options that best suits the traveler’s preference in design, budget, amenities, facilities, environment and even experience.  The site serves major design inspiration for design aficionados who benefit from an Airbnb stay that is more than “Architectural Digest” worthy. Airbnb has it all from condos to penthouse suites to studios, treehouses to villas, beachfront apartments to homes and rooms. For the traveler that is looking to live like a local, they can enjoy a longer stay at a price point that matches their budget. They can immerse themselves in the immediate culture and environment that surrounds them. They can explore and indulge when they shop, eat and mingle with the locals.

Although an Airbnb offers the comfort of home with its household amenities and facilities, it does not compromise on uniqueness of experience. This only enhances the stay for the traveling pandemic tourist by providing grounding in the familiarity of home. Light routine tasks help to manifest comfort and safety of home for example doing light laundry or cooking a meal with a group of friends or family on the odd occasion.  Grounding and a sense of security is something much appreciated by all tourists who continue to wear their pandemic battle scars of anxiety and trauma and carry their healing with them wherever they go.

Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa is a super host on the Airbnb site that has quickly become the trendiest “must stay” Airbnb in the sister isle of Tobago. There are many reasons why this property and the island is popular; its warmth and hospitality, a UNESCO world heritage site located at the oldest protected forest reserve in the western hemisphere, The Main Ridge, The Mystery Tombstone in Plymouth, a buzzing island nightlife, adventure sports like surfing and underwater diving, insatiable culinary delights like the national dish of curried crab and dumpling, catamaran cruises, cocoa estate tours and the Tobago Heritage Festival among many others. The Airbnb Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa is also the highlight of any guest’s stay. It is an architecturally designed modern, contemporary luxury villa tucked away in the quiet and idyllic community of Black Rock. The property sits on 6,000+ square feet of residence with skylights, 12 feet high ceilings, a chef’s kitchen, 4 well-appointed bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, a poolside cabana bar and a saltwater pool. The property can comfortably accommodate a party of eight persons.

Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa has taken their brand a step further with the embodiment of their namesake, Nirvana; a space predisposed to helping travelers in their journey to achieve an eternal state of bliss. They have included a self-guided retreat with their Return to Love group package. A group of besties, co-workers, family and or friends can travel with the purpose of healing at Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa. Although each of them are on their separate paths in this life, they are bonded by their strength to get through anything and everything together. In their own time and space guests can sit with themselves to relax, reconnect and recharge at Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa. They can opt for a private chef to cater their healthy meals and choose from the many wellness activities the island has to offer that also complements their retreat experience such as yoga or equestrian therapy like Healing with Horses. Travelers can rest assured that the quality of the Return to Love experience has been curated in tandem with an internationally accredited Colour Life Coach who provides the group with a guided journal during their stay and a live follow up session post retreat.

Without a doubt, the new normal translates to a world that will never be the same. The travel and lifestyle industry recognizes this and considers the inherent physical, emotional and mental transition of the travelling pandemic tourist. Tourists can relax knowing that the travel and lifestyle industry cares for and listens to their demands just as much as tourists care for and anticipate their future travel plans. Their relationship is a beautiful symbiosis that is becoming universal. Trinidad and Tobago supports and welcomes this ethos. Travelers interested in venturing to the most southern tip of the Caribbean can also look to visiting Trinidad and taking a trip to the sister isle, Tobago. They can stay at Airbnb’s like Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa and upgrade to the Return to Love self-guided retreat.

Contact Nirvana Tobago Luxury Villa

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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.

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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.

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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

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(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

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Phone: 1.868.707.2800   Email: info@nehakarina.com

A Guide for the Travelling Pandemic Tourist this Divali

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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.

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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.

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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 Chambray Shirt – An Impetus For Change

Style Inspo: Football legend, David Beckham dresses up his chambray shirt with matching sports coat and trousers for H & M Modern Essentials  campaign photo shoot.                (Photo Credit: E-Online )

Historians have traced chambray’s origins to the mid 1500’s. The plain weave cotton chambray is often mistaken for denim. Chambray is not denim because it is woven differently. Unlike denim it is softer, lighter and thinner in its fabric construction. These characteristics make chambray an excellent addition to any wardrobe despite being more suited for persons living in climates prone to arid conditions and humidity. The advantage of chambray’s finely woven texture is its high thread count which accounts for a more breathable and longer lasting fabric. This is guaranteed to keep its wearer stylish and literally cool. It is yet another reason why it is considered a staple especially in designing shirt collections for men. However, there is more to this fabric than its physical aesthetic. Astoundingly, chambray transcends all generations with a relatable message that is familiar to all travelers who experience this journey called life.  Chambray’s story is steeped in a tale about a revolutionary past, a thought provoking present and a vision of hope for the future.

Style Guide: Chambray Shirt + Chino Shorts in Light Gray + Men's Braided Laced Up Loafers in Gray + Watch + Wallet + Aviators in silver accents and tones.                                          Shop RGG Denim Co. Island Chambray Shirt (click to shop your 'must have' chambray shirt)

Intriguingly, the name Chambray is derived from the English spelling of the French word “Cambrai”. Cambrai was a French town associated with a lightweight and plain weave fabric similar to chambray. The chambray shirt became popular in the early twentieth century among the American labourers who donned chambray shirts and denim trousers to work. The indigo dyed fabric became a favourite for plant operators, drillers, miners and other skilled workers of the blue collar class because it did a better job at masking the grime and dirt that soiled their clothing due to their working environment and conditions. It is this moment in history that also birthed the name “blue collar” earmarking the skilled labourers by the blue collar chambray shirts which they wore in the manual and industrial fields of work in contrast to the “white collars” of office and managerial workers.  The chambray shirt became the premier choice for the U.S. Navy’s uniform in 1901 until World War II because of its durability, practicality and rugged aesthetic. Nevertheless, America was not alone in adopting the chambray shirt and its blue collar identity. Australia also became a living testament of this distinction between worker stereotypes.

Style Inspo: Style icon, David Beckham in long sleeve chambray shirt, black chinos and chelsea boots. (Photo Credit : Pinterest)

Globally, the classification of workers based on the new collar classification sparked an unwavering interest from groups who could no longer turn a blind eye to the exponential growth of unjustified working terms and conditions for the blue collar workers. Europe, Britain, Australia and America saw the establishment and the rise of labour movements and trade unions that challenged employers, advocated and fought for the blue collar workers who toiled in hazardous conditions. Trinidad was not exempted from this movement as trade unions mediated the biggest women led industrial strike in its history. In 1939, The Reknown Factory owned by Phillipa Mahanna Haddaway and her husband ceased operations due to an industrial strike led by women only garment workers. The trade union that represented them demanded a 12.5% increase for the underpriced and overworked women garment workers. Workers from shirt factories such as Sabga’s Shirt Factory, Briks and Chizer and Straumwaser also joined the strike in solidarity with the women.

Style Guide: Chambray Shirt + Checked Wool-Silk Jacket + Wool Trousers in Gray + Brown Oxfords + Leather Backpack + Belt + Watch Shop RGG Denim Co. Island Chambray Shirt (click to shop and style your chambray shirt)

Traditionally, chambray fabric was used to create shirts. It was only after World War II that it served as a muse for fashion. When the war ended the chambray shirt became an inspiration for Hollywood actors and actresses. Soon the trend caught on and the chambray fabric became a flexible way to get creative in styling the denim look without the additional weight and features of the denim fabric. Today, chambray shirts are still worn by both men and women but it is no longer designated for the workplace nor a certain classification of workers. The chambray shirt continues to dominate the fashion scene. It is stylists’ leading choice in building a foundation wardrobe for men. Stylists fancy the chambray shirt because it is an essential and versatile men’s shirt. It transitions exceptionally well from daytime to nighttime.

Style Inspo: International Celebrity, David Beckham in semi buttoned down, monogrammed chambray shirt, black chinos and signature white t-shirt at a former FIFA World Cup event. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

The sartorial features of the chambray shirt reveal that it’s an ideal choice for travel. The chambray shirt is not a seasonal item which means it can be worn all year round. Men who are travelling for business or leisure and love to pack light can enjoy more than one look from the same shirt regardless of the destination’s climate. They can layer it with coats, jackets and sweaters or  dress it up for an evening out. Likewise, they can opt to dress it down by wearing it on its own and pairing it with the right wash, fit and length of tailored chinos, jeans or trousers. The chambray shirt is a "must have" article of clothing for men who are ready to transition from their college “frat boy” lifestyle and graduate to the gentlemen’s club.

Trinidad has not been excluded from the chambray shirt affair. The chambray shirt is more than a trend in styling menswear locally. It is a reminder of the resolve to continue to contend for the rights of others. Trinidadian designer, Jessel Brizan is the beautiful mind behind The Jessel Brizan Design Group (JBDG) and the commemoration of the Island Chambray Shirt under his label RGG Denim Co. In addition to being the founder of JBDG, he is an educator, distinguished fashion professional, published author, mentor and philanthropist. Brizan has almost a decade of combined international and regional experience and expertise in fashion which has proven to be instrumental in transforming the local fashion industry. He has committed his concept and philosophy in business to philanthropy through fashion in a move to nurture a culture of giving in all aspects of life and business.

Style Inspo: Football icon, menswear guru and entrepreneur extraordinaire, David Beckham is wearing rolled sleeves with his chambray shirt, white chinos and sneakers.      (Photo Credit: PopSugar)

It is no surprise that this class act designer has added the chambray shirt to his collection. He is able to espouse the history of the people of this world and their concerted victories whilst continuing to bring awareness to the battle for human rights, fair trade and ethics with the chambray shirt. Brizan understands that the person who wears the chambray shirt is not only making a home for an essential piece in building their basic collection. The wearer is also making a conscious decision to make a statement by wearing a symbol of the strength and the resilience of a global people and their continued wager for the restitution of workers’ rights worldwide.  The Island Chambray Shirt from the RGG Denim Co. label is currently in stock and available for order online for anyone to access and be part of the movement. Undeniably, an informed decision to wear a chambray shirt for travel and lifestyle is a decision to live with intention and the conviction of purpose. Chambray is more than an essential shirt; it signifies the impetus for change.

Light and Colour by Antonio Figuero

Antonio Figuero Artist Biography                     (click the link to read artist bio)

Light and Colour By Antonio Figuero

25th October, 2021: Inspiration comes in a number of ways, but for oil painter Antonio Figuero, light reigns supreme. 

This is evident throughout his works, often set in the outdoors - or plein air - with scenes and captures of fleeting moments at different times of day. For many of us, such moments would pass us by, insignificant and unmemorable, but Figuero’s work has a way of making one pause, reflecting on the nostalgia of a similar memory in one’s own life, perhaps. There lies a story in the stillness of the landscape or the magnificence of the sunset, characters and creatures scattered or hidden throughout the scene that bring that stillness to life before the moment passes. It’s in the way the light hits the water, or perhaps in how it highlights an easily overlooked detail at a very specific time of day as he drives past on his way home, causing him to stop and take it all in. This, he says, is how he creates.

Figuero’s signature style is evident in his latest offering, a solo exhibition aptly entitled Light and Colour, opening at Arnim’s Art Galleria, 27 Tragarete Road, Port of Spain on November 1st and running until November 13th.  Light and Colour is a display of several months of quiet observation of a variety of locations across Trinidad, from landscapes to rural settings, truly solidifying this artist’s mastery of plein air painting. 

Visitors can look forward to seeing the island and all its hidden glory, musing over the stories and interactions unfolding before their eyes. While some of the pieces are purely an appreciation for the way light works to create colour, such as the piece Glory, others are significant contributions to the cultural and historical landscape, like The Graveyard Shift in the Moonlight series, which is the last painting of the famous Powergen stacks, recorded on canvas just days before they were taken down once and for all. This display of works follows the release of Figuero’s first book Diaries of An Artist earlier this year, where viewers were invited to indulge in the stories behind the paintings and learn more about how they came to be, from a personal, historical and cultural perspective. 

Light and Colour promises to be a treat for art lovers, new and seasoned alike, with pieces to suit every taste, including the reveal of Figuero’s largest oil painting to date.

Gallery hours are: 

Opening day, Monday 1st November: 12pm to 7pm 

Monday to Friday: 9am to 6pm 

Saturday: 9am to 4pm

Admission is free. 

All COVID safety protocols are in effect.

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For further information, please contact

Antonio Figuero, Fine Artist

Official Facebook Event : Light and Colour Art Exhibition

(instagram): @antoniofiguerofineart

(facebook): Antonio Figuero Fine Art

(email): antoniofiguerofineart@gmail.com

12 by Rishi – A Culinary Tourism Adventure

12 by Rishi
“The Blessing”
Goat Cheese Tiramisu Panna Cotta with a Cracked Pepper Cassava Pone Biscotti with a Roasted Ripe Fig and Pepper Chocolate Mousse
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Worldwide, food is fast becoming a popular motivating and defining factor for the new tourist’s final decision in travel destination choices. Culinary tourism, gastronomic tourism or food tourism is quickly ascending into the role of storyteller for any and every destination. The immersive experience of visiting specific locations for food and beverage, food festivals and participation in food activities distinguishes destinations’ cultural identities from each other. If developed and promoted effectively, this niche can serve as a sustainable model for destinations going full throttle behind culinary tourism. There is infinite potential for revenue generation with multiplier and economic trickle-down effect for communities. Overall, national policy makers and planners should strive to include clustering of industry sectors and show economic infrastructural support for small micro and medium enterprises.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Gold Plated Shrimp Pholourie with Tamarind Sauce Foam
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

In Trinidad and Tobago, we have changed so many hands of ownership that our food is now a reflection of our history. It gets a bit more complex than that, as what we eat, where we eat, how we eat and why we eat are interlinked and juxtaposed to provide any outsider with a first hand intrinsic view of our people. We celebrate Christmas with an array of dishes paying homage to our Spanish influences. Similarly, Divali, Eid, Indian Arrival Day and Chinese Double Ten Anniversary are earmarked by delicacies from our ancestors from the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. Strikingly, these recipes are not untouched ancient relics but modernized and innovatively curated to suit the West Indian palate which gave birth to Trinbagonian Cuisine.  Iconic and emerging chefs have risen to the occasion and challenged themselves as the game changers and champions for development and promotion of this niche tourism; culinary tourism.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Pholourie Tempura Pepper Roti with a Mother in Law pickled Morai/Carrot Slaw
Woubles with Cucumber Chow Slaw
Aloo Pie Pizelli topped with Creamed Aloo Pie Filling
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Trinidad and Tobago is keeping up with the demands of the new tourist with the supply of culinary tourism. One such professional who is shaking up the local culinary scene is Chef Rishi Ramoutar. He is a true son of the soil hailing from Arima in East Trinidad. His work compels the viewer to wonder what a walk through his creative mind would look like. One can only imagine it would be far from complacent or boring. Chef Rishi grew up in a space where his immediate environment exposed him to the seeds of hard work, entrepreneurship, customer service excellence, humility and consistency. Of course, the love for food and helping his parents in their local roti shop also sparked his culinary interest.

12 by Rishi
“Palate Cleanser”
Mother in Law Frozen Sorbet
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

Chef Rishi saw his parents labour in love for the community and environs through their passion but the young chef was a picky eater. Often, he was found experimenting and creating his own culinary masterpieces in his makeshift home kitchen lab. However, he understood and adopted a zero wastage policy in his kitchen. Whenever there were leftovers he found a way to use them to innovate a new culinary creation. Little did he know that when your intentions are pure in heart and you are desirous of pursuing a particular path the universe listens and conspires to get you just what you asked for. Chef Rishi continued to create and share his passion for food with friends and family at events and social gatherings from beach limes to river limes just to name a few. His social circle realized his potential, talent, creativity and skill and supported his culinary quests.

12 by Rishi
“The Salad”
Ham cured Beets with Honey and Rum Whipped Goat Cheese and Burnt Garlic Powder
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Chef Rishi’s unwavering food inquisition and innovations backed by support from his loved ones led him to enrol in Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (one of the top culinary schools in the region). There, he honed his skill and talents and grew thankful for his culinary mentors one of which includes the icon, Chef Khalid Mohammed. In due time, Chef Rishi graduated and took over his parents’ business; C & J Roti Shop otherwise known as C& J Restaurant and Bar. Notwithstanding, his culinary adventure did not stop there. The advent of social media began to bridge a gap with the overwhelming desire of domestic tourists to experience Trinidad differently. People found themselves living vicariously through Chef Rishi’s mind blowing culinary creations and explosive food fusions on various social media platforms.

12 by Rishi
Mini Lion Fish served on Callaloo Taco Shells with a Blistered Salsa (Scorpion Pepper Oil)
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

If only there was a way to bring people together to experience such creativity and culinary expertise. In 2019, there was a major “light bulb” moment and Chef Rishi decided to bring the supper table dining experience to Trinidad and Tobago. A supper table is somewhat like a supper club where persons socially gather to dine at a specific location. It can also be referenced to Chef’s Table. The dining experience is called,”12 by Rishi”. Chef Rishi has already hosted several events for this year with his competent and experienced team. Together, they aim to host “12 by Rishi” twice per month. The supper club has been well received by food adventurers locally. This is not a surprise as the more Chef Rishi creates the more creative he becomes and the more he works in tandem with the universe to live his purpose during his time with us. Patrons who miss the event may have to join a waiting list because “12 by Rishi” seats only twelve guests. Once the event is advertised on social media it is usually booked and sold out within a few days. The cost of attending “12 by Rishi” is affordable and on par with the quality, taste, service, food diversity, attention to detail and presentation.

12 by Rishi
BBQ Shrimp and Cou Cou Creme Brulee
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

A creative dining experience such as “12 by Rishi” elevates niche tourism, in this case culinary tourism. It creates a sense of pride for nationals that this is a home grown event. Chef Rishi uses local, fresh, home-made and high quality produce that satiates the senses and makes tourists taste the difference. He buys from local farmers and suppliers lending support to sustainable best practice. When Chef Rishi shares his passion through his purpose he directly and indirectly inspires others to do the same. His work is tastefully and artfully crafted to the point that it engages learning interface through conversation over food. This instinctively provokes the mind of the food adventurer to think creatively. The food explorer discovers Chef Rishi’s concepts, his creative process of ideation to execution which includes problem solving. These food tourists are now subconsciously nurtured to apply creative thinking to their own lives to design and apply problem solving there.

12 by Rishi
Crix, Market Cheese and Kutchella Stuffed Chicken Breast “atomized” with a shot of Chardonnay
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

” 12 by Rishi”, a modern, authentic, creative and culturally sustainable initiative is a step in the right direction for culinary tourism. The event diversifies the domestic tourism product in Trinidad and Tobago. It makes the destination even more attractive. So next time domestic tourists feel the need to escape they should stay to getaway and enjoy one of the best culinary experiences this island has to offer. As our nation’s motto boasts, ” Together we as aspire, Together we achieve”, we should band together to support local and buy local because when one of us is victorious, we all share in the victory of being Trinbagonian.

12 by Rishi
“The Offering of Love”
Parsad Beignets with Cardamom Pastry Cream Powdered Yogurt and a Roasted Grape Salad and an Apple Chip
Photo Credit: Antony Scully


Avid food explorers and culinary enthusiasts can discover more about the supper club, ” 12 by Rishi” from the listed contact information below:

Instagram: chef_rishi_ramoutar

Instagram: 12_by_rishi

Facebook: Cooking With Rishi

Youtube: Cooking with Rishi

Phone #: 643.2189 or 384 – 2200

Location: C & J Roti Shop

#6 Paradise Lane, Tumpuna Road, Arima

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.

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/