My name is Angelo Bissessarsingh and I curate the Virtual Museum of T&T.Folks assume "Sando boy" since I went to Naparima College, but I'm a born and bred Siparia man. Siparia is far enough down under for us Siparians to vote in Venezuelan elections.I am the eldest of three children, very close with my parents and extended family. I was the first grandchild and both sides quarrelled about who was hogging the grandchile time. I don't have a family myself. My quirks do not make it easier for companions.
My brother and I lived in Trincity; kinda disconcerting, relocating to a house with barely ten feet space on all sides. A middle-aged maxi driver used to brawl at 5 am with his 19-year-old chirren-mother until the senior policeman across the street come out and threaten to lock up everybody. I was happy to move back to Siparia where neighbours were far enough away for their worries to not become mine.
At UWI, I remember raiding a grove of Field Station guava trees with a sign reading, "NO PICKING." And gobbling down the most succulent guavas ever, before realising the very ripe fruit were being used to seed whitefly maggots for observation. Protein content, oui!
My great-great-grandfather was a pioneer in the 19th-century Presbyterian missions. However, my immediate family are atheists. I do not believe in an afterlife that promises reward or retribution. As an amateur archaeologist, I've toyed with human remains at archaeological sites. A handful of crumbling bones...nothing more. That is what we are.I don't have an actual favourite colour per se. But if, somehow, a racing-green Jaguar came into the picture, that might change
I am a real bibliophile. No, no...that just means I like books.I have one word for relaxation: TOBAGO. I feel the stress being shed before the plane hits Crown Point. Everything excites me still, from the overpriced accommodation to the awesome heritage preservation and respect for nature we seem to have lost in Trinidad.
Asking me if I like to read is like asking the Cookie Monster if he loves Oreos. I have a particular affinity for Alexandre Dumas and Charles Dickens–but I also had a ball reading some old Boris Karloff horror comics. I loved JRR Tolkien LONG before it became nerdy-cool to like LOTR.To the layman Fr Anthony De Verteuil's prose is a little heavy. But his amazing research and the detail he pours into every volume is beyond value both to me and posterity.
I used to like cinemas of old, where you could take in a double flick, eat a large popcorn and drink a coke for $20. The places used to smell like urine and ganja smoke but the experience was priceless. Especially the commentary. Trinis could outdo Roger Ebert for being hard on movies they doh like.I never lost a fight I was in. Never.
The panama hat is a gift from my sister Carmelita. She lugged it from Panama itself. And then I read it was originated in Ecuador. I wear it to most every public engagement now with a steampunk-style pocket watch, worn as a necklace. People seem baffled by it.
When I was, like, 12 my aunt, Prof Ann Marie Bissessar, gave me two rare books which jump-started a passion. I collected a mountain of research and ephemera, from photos to handwritten journals and antiquities. Facebook came along and offered a massive platform for sharing my passion in real time, and the Virtual Museum was born in 2009.The VMOTT has about 10,000 daily users from every corner of the globe. Including Antarctica. Yes, at a research station at the South Pole.
I've got zero state financial support. And not for want of appealing either. I have been coldly ignored. Every single aspect of the VMOTT has been funded from my personal resources. The writing gig I have now with the T&T Guardian has been the only real paying spinoff of the VMOTT. The government has zero interest in heritage issues and historical preservation period.
The greatest thing about VMOTT is the people. The worst thing is I [put] my personal phone numbers online. People call in the dead of night to ask about Christopher Columbus.Trinis are a unique people who should every day remember just how special we are.I draw strength and inspiration from our stories past and the throbbing life around me every day. I will never turn my back on T&T and its people.
�2Read a much longer version of this feature at www.BCRaw.com