Hair technician Marvin Gibbs works at his business Boom International Unisex Barbershop in Maraval earlier this year. The lockdown is affording him the opportunity to spend quality time with his children.


bobie-lee.dixon @guardian.co.tt

The pandemic has undeniably altered the way socialising is done, especially in a culture that’s physically expressive like T&T’s.

With strict health protocols in place to assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19, friends and families have had to find new and innovative ways to stay connected. Many have opted to celebrate special occasions virtually, while in some instances, the lockdown has forced families to bond—a positive effect of staying inside, they say.

Guardian Media spoke with a few families who shared how they have been dealing with “locked down life.”

For 47-year-old hair technician and barbershop owner Marvin Gibbs, the lockdown has been harsh on his daily revenue. But he told Guardian Media getting the opportunity to spend more quality time with his children was priceless.

“It has also brought me closer to my kids, doing things that I’m not accustomed to doing. I’m accustomed to leaving home first on a morning, now I stay with them; I do a little YouTube with them. My eldest son and my daughters have the online classes going on,” he said.

The father of seven also expressed the joy of having technology to achieve some of these tasks, describing it as a blessing.

“In terms of the restrictions, everything is more or less virtual. So if we have gatherings, it will be virtual and everything else. But we are still keeping in connection with technology. Thank God, technology has blessed us with the opportunity to talk and do birthdays and everything from home. So we’re coping,” Gibbs said.

Life in the ‘liming zone’ was how security expert Lyndon De Gannes often enjoyed spending time with family and friends. But now, the ‘true Trini lime’ lover has resorted to catching up with loved ones through virtual gatherings and WhatsApp chats, with conversations becoming more socially conscious.

“We have created a chat room, whereby we will discuss issues, current issues as it relates to the COVID-19. Global issues, you know locally as well. Also, we created what they call a Zoom call, where we meet virtually via video meetings, De Gannes revealed.

“We meet probably every week or so. And on occasions for birthdays, anniversaries and any special occasion where we can celebrate as a family, raise a toast…raise a glass or cut a cake, we have been doing it virtually to still maintain the family unit.”

Meanwhile, it was WhatsApp hugs and karaoke for the artist Caitleen Brown. The mother of one celebrated her 50th birthday in fine virtual style.

“I invited all my friends via WhatsApp and everybody connected with me. And my husband and I, we bought wine and we had the wine glasses and all the snacks and we set up everything in the gallery and people called in and they made their request and I played the music that they wanted to hear because I had my set up and it was fun. That’s how we have been doing things,” Brown explained.

“We also reached out to families on social media who spoke of how they were passing the time.”

Ursula Gaskin wrote: “We are getting stuff done on the house like home renovations, throwing away unwanted stuff and playing with our pet more. We could not have done this because we were always working.

“We are helping the kids more with school, making lots of homemade snacks which we would have normally buy since we were always busy, spending more time in each other’s presence and bonding. Our family time even better than before.”

For Latoya Lynch-Reece, she said the lockdown was helping her family save more money.

“My kids act like hermits, especially my big son. My second son gets bored. I’m glad for the family time and we save money by making things at home. It’s more time with family. Appreciate the living now!”