I had heard of the fabled Caribana parade. I had heard of the Mas dancers in their colourful costumes and extravagant head gear. And ever since my recent addiction to photography, nothing could keep me away this year.
The advantage of being a part of the media, as I had discovered to my delight, is that you can be in the midst of the action. You can tread in areas that are forbidden to the general public. Having covered the Pride Parade earlier in July, I was ready for my Caribana Parade coverage this year.
July 31st dawns bright and early. I can barely contain my excitement as I make my way across the CNE grounds at the Exhibition Place, flashing my media pass in the faces of the security.
The ribbon cutting ceremony takes off a little past 10 am with the Honourable
Margarett Best, Minister of Health Promotion. The ceremony also has the Mayor David Miller in a colourful shirt with a grin and words of cheer for the attendees and the participants. There is anticipation tinting the already charged atmosphere.
I am excited for the main parade glancing at the time every two minutes, making mental notes of where I should position myself for some good shots.
As soon as the parade starts though, I find myself being rudely ushered behind an enclosure with the rest of the media photographers and videographers. I shake my head at the security, “No, there must be some misunderstanding. I am with the media.” I point to my media pass.
Glaring at me, he says, “No. No. You are supposed to be behind the fence.” Say what again?
I distinctly remember being assured by the organizers that ALL media would have access to ALL restricted areas. I know this to be true, having had complete freedom of movement at the Pride Parade less than a month ago.
Clearly, there has been some miscommunication among the organizers. To add to the confusion, the security guards are intent on displaying their power, rather than using common sense or polite language.
Glancing at the angry faces of all the other media people already forced behind the bars like chickens in a coup, I keep my mouth shut and concentrate on locating a good spot in the circumstances.
Sandwiched between an independent photographer and a videographer from a news channel, I feel like screaming. It is a nightmare. I can barely move. And to make matters worse, a fight erupts between some members of the media and one of the organizers. As if the day wasn’t hot enough.
The march starts with ensuing crowds cheering in the background, while grumbles of the many photographers reach my ears now and then. The independent photographer glances at my camera and says, “An 18-55mm huh? I can’t even get a good close up with my 200mm. “ He is referring to our camera lenses.
“You know, this is bullsh*t. How am I supposed to get some good shots if I am restricted to one spot?” he continues. I nod, missing the freedom of even moving my arms.
Soon after, I am too busy focusing on the parade to pay attention to my numbing feet. The advantage of being a short person- let me tell you- is that others are mindful of stepping on your toes. However, after nearly four hours of taking restricted photography, as well as, sweating freely, I decide to call it quits.
As I head back towards the streetcar that would take me home (and secretly hoping that I had managed to get some decent shots), I am glad to get away from the noise and the drama, certain that this is probably the last time I would cover or attend the Caribana parade.
Photographs: Copyright Sanchari Sur