Helping the Bahamas

It’s strange to be out on a sea as smooth as glass, cruising on a boat toward the back of Ginger Island, when more than 900 miles away another island country is getting slammed by Category 5 hurricane — the very same storm that passed the Virgin Islands with minimal damage days ago. The images and social media posts of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas are no doubt triggering for many VI residents, in whose minds memories of Hurricane Irma are still fresh. This is all exacerbated by the lack of communication — too often accompanied by rampant misinformation — adding to the anxiety of those overseas not knowing the fates of friends and loved ones. It’s pleasing to see that so many VI residents have risen to the challenge to donate money and supplies, even though they know as well as anyone the challenging logistics of transporting anything after such a large-scale disaster. The Beaconite herself, who was brand-new to the VI when Irma hit, recalls the kindness and generosity of neighbours, volunteers and many others, both from here and abroad, who willingly offered what help they could in the trying weeks and months after the storm. It’s good to know that spirit is still alive here.

 

You can’t predict the weather

Last week, as (then) Tropical Storm Dorian suddenly veered towards the Virgin Islands, becoming a Category 1 hurricane along the way, a Beaconite had to assist his colleagues in quickly putting together a story about the storm’s development and the path it had already traveled. So, with rain and wind banging against his windows, he got out his iPhone (he had left his laptop charger in the office, which at the time didn’t seem like a big deal, as he figured he could just grab it in the morning) and scrambled to find the requisite information before the power cut out. News alerts popped up from all sorts of social media platforms — from Facebook to WhatsApp to Twitter — and from all sorts of people, some the Beaconite knew and some he didn’t. As he and his colleagues compiled the story, he noticed that almost all of the information being shared by a multitude of people and through a multitude of mediums originated from a single source: the National Hurricane Center, a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States. When he wanted to see where the storm was headed next, he found an article in the Orlando Sentinel that quoted the same section of the NHC’s report as one of his Facebook friend’s status updates. It was fascinating to see in real time how far and how fast information travels.

 

Roti v. roti

 

Roti, also known as chapatti, is a round flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent and eaten in Southeast Asian countries including Bangladesh. There, it’s typically made of stoneground wholemeal flour known as “atta,” which is combined with water to make the dough. The food was brought to the Caribbean long ago by indentured servants from the Indian subcontinent. The traditional way to eat roti is to break it by hand and pick up meat and curry. Here in the Caribbean, however, the roti — which is often made with chick peas, or chana — is folded around meat and curry in a wrap. When this reporter first came here and tried rotis, she was surprised at the stark contrast in taste and style than what she was used to back home. Her mother, who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, had a reputation in Bangladesh for making the best and quickest rotis in the entire family. The reporter has grown up on those rotis, and can’t imagine anything better. She’ll have to start making Bangladeshi rotis and dishes here; maybe they’ll catch on too.


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