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Proud to be in the Trini Mix
My name is Paula Latchman and I’m the proprietor of a junction rumshop in the West. It’s a fancy rumshop, but it’s a rumshop. I went to Mucurapo Girls’ RC and then Providence in Belmont. I’m a Catholic girl. Go to church every Saturday. I’m formerly Singh. My family is small. My husband’s family is extremely big. I have two brothers and two sisters. I’m the last child. I am the baby but not the spoiled child. I’m spoiled now, by my husband, Elton Leonard. We have three children, Taurean, Leeanne and Lorenzo.
I loved school and would have furthered my education but, what happen, I got pregnant at the age of 17. My eldest child is 27 years old. I got five passes but never had the motivation to go back to Providence when they call for me. I just became a grandma. Taurean’s baby, Lauri, is five months! I’m proud to be a grandma. I would have really liked to be a doctor. I know a lot about medicine and sickness. I read up a lot on the Net. And I simply know a lot. Lorenzo wants to be a doctor. He following in the footsteps I woulda like to accomplish. Taurean is an extremely gifted interior designer. He did the inside of the bar for me. Leeanne likes journalism.
I love to take challenges, to take risks. I took a lot of chances, doing over the entire bar. And I just put in an outdoor patio. I always go with my own flow. I don’t let anybody keep me back from doing anything. That is just how I am. I love soca music and steelband. I don’t know why people stop playing soca after Carnival. I promote it all year long in our bar. I can’t go nowhere and nobody don’t know me. They always pointing at me. And nobody does believe my age, either. I was married already when I got my first tattoo, on my back, at the age of thirty-something. And then I did the one in the front about four years ago. It’s hurt when they doing the outlining but you don’t feel the shading.
I couldn’t say why I put on tattoos. Probably was just the fashion. I get comments about them all the time. They love the tattoos! I never missed playing mas once in the last 23 years. Make babies, pack them up, and go play mas. I’ve played with Barbarosa, Raoul Garib, Poison. Last couple years with Tribe. They cannot take Carnival away from us. I like it more than Christmas. I will pay my $700 to go to the all-inclusives. Because is a more mature crowd. I can’t take on the ragamuffins in them other kinda fetes. The health sector in Trinidad is extremely good. You don’t have to run away from here to get treatment. They just like to bring down the country.
Being in a rumshop environment, you learn to understand and appreciate people as individuals. At the end of the day, is the poor people support us. So I don’t condemn nobody. Trinis go any part of the world and fit in. Our rumshop has been in existence since Independence. It’s a landmark. I never met Don. He died in 86, I married Leonard in ’88. Being as they know Leonard, I get a lot of respect in the rumshop. The fools will come in though, and you have to know how to deal with them. I deal with them by calling Leonard and telling him to deal with them. You could ask anyone of my customers and they will tell you they come to the rumshop because I treat people really, really good. I talk my mind but I respect everybody.
In the neighbourhood, life is associated with the bar. In the last 11 years, we have upgraded and it’s a very fancy rumshop. But is still a rumshop. A Trini is a free-spirited, strong-minded individual with a warm soul, who embraces their flaws and loves being themselves. A real Trini will lime with the poorest man to the richest, without passing judgement. I see it in the bar. One of the most beautiful things about my country is seeing all the interracial couples. This is where all our beauty originates from: the mixture. Trinidad & Tobago may be small but we got it all. From sports to fashion, we’ve surely accomplished enough to put us on the map big-time.
• Read a longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com
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