Saturday, August 19, 2017

Obesity is a global epidemic

Five takeaways from a giant study on an epidemic governments can't ignore. It is hard to ignore the statistics and not worry about our future. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

IELTS Trinidad and Tobago

I recently had a friend who went through this process and I wanted to share their experience.

IELTS is an exam which tests your English language ability. It is required for many migration and student applications. Test centres are only set up in certain countries and Trinidad is one of them. The centre is located at the Centre for language Learning (CLL) in the University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus. Website -

There is one test at every month end assuming there are enough candidates for the program. Most times you would get a date for an exam two or more months away because of the high enrollment. The cost is $2000TTD and is not refundable. Basically if you miss the exam you have to pay again unless you have extreme circumstances such as illness, bereavement, trauma, military service or natural disasters. You have the option of paying a penalty to take only the verbal component on a different day if you miss the appointment.

The exam consists of four parts which test your English proficiency in four areas- speaking, writing, reading, listening. The speaking component takes part typically on the Thursday or Friday before the Saturday of the other exams. The writing, reading, listening are all done together on a single day.

In order to sign up, you first make an appointment online and this tells you the next available test date. You will get instructions and a deadline to make your payment at UWI. The office which you must visit in order to register is in the same building in which the exams take place. After payment you will get confirmation and instructions for your exams. You should check that your schedule is the same 48 hours before the exam because it may change. Candidates from other countries are advised to arrive well before exam days because flight or boat delays are not grounds for a refund if you miss the exam.

After you register you are given 30 hours of access to official training material for all the componants. You will also find many other free tips online. If you are not a native English speaker this can be difficult so you should be as comfortable as you can before taking the exam. Different countries/universities have different requirements for the minimum score they require. The country's immigration website of the university's website would have official details, be wary of advice from forums and other sites. Youtube has many examples of Band 9 (max score) spoken exams which show how exactly how the interview is conducted. Try to practice all components because for some people it may have been a while since they have sat or concentrated for such a long time for an exam.

There is an elevator once you are inside the building. The exam rooms are not on the same floor.

Try to reach early for your exams because one of the warnings is that traffic can be bad and parking may be difficult to find close by. During exams you are given a key for a locker which could hold a small backpack or medium sized purse easily. You must have the same ID which you registered with in order to enter the exams. Typical exam conditions apply during exams. You will be given writing paper, a pen, pencil and eraser so you do not need to bring your own. The building can be cold because of the air conditioning so you should bring a jacket. The only item you are allowed to bring is a clear bottle of water with the label removed. Bathroom breaks are taken out of your exam time and you are not given breaks between exams on Saturday. You are not allowed to leave during the listening portion because this would distract too many candidates and the recording is only played once.

Results are available 13 days (or two Fridays) after the exam day. If you do not collect it then it will be mailed for free to your registered address through regular post while may take a couple weeks to be delivered. You can also pay for expedited mailing.

The staff is very professional and helpful, however you should not try to be too friendly with them as requested in the guidelines.

Topics: English test for migration out of Trinidad and Tobago, leaving trinidad, studying abroad, exam to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK
IELTS UWI Trinidad
IELTS UWI Caribbean

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Great things in Trinidad and Tobago

Here are a few things in no particular order that I think are well worth your time.

Theater shows- There are shows from the full spectrum of genres but the are some that are consistently great
DC Shell Theater plays -
These are clean and for the whole family. They are usually based on a fairy tale with a trini slant.

Joel John music -
This guy has massive talent and does a lot of good work for the community. He usually has an annual concert but also performs during the year.

Kafta Grill -
My favourite thing is the beef burger but the whole menu is delicious.

M Ramrattan Tyres - Address:39-41 Southern Main Road, Marabella, Trinidad, Phone:(868) 653-3124 . 
Good prices and service on rims, tyres, batteries and other accessories.

City Wok- Cipero Road, San Fernando -
Good food and service

Best things in Tnt
Great things in Trinidad and Tobago

Monday, June 19, 2017

Emergency Shelters

The picture shows a list and map of the emergency shelters in Trinidad. Shelters in Tobago and a lot more emergency information can be found on the ODPM's site 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Business internet packages

I wanted to do a brief comparison of some options for internet for corporate businesses. This is just a general idea of what you can expect because as you can see a lot of info is missing. I do not represent any company. You must contact them directly for accurate prices for all packages they offer and full details. 

Digicel Fibre 50 down /15 up $499/month, 150/ $699, 200/100 $1299 - 399-9999 or 299-6600

CW/Flow DSL 60 down /15 up $618, 120/20 $866, free static IP, installation is $469 - 224-2388 

Bmobile, DSL 2 down/0.768 up, $374,  4/0.768 $419,  6/0.768 $599 , installation is $350+vat - 824-8788 or 800 4848 

Updated June 16th 2017

Topics: Best internet plan for businesses Trinidad and Tobago

Compare corporate internet packages
Prices for corporate wired internet plans
Flow vs Digicel vs Blink Bmobile internet for companies

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Certificates from Ministry of legal affairs

September 2017 -
The new polymer birth papers with an online request number required 4 hours (7.45am to 11.45am) to be received at San Fernando. The online needs a lot of work still since you still have to wait a long time for the certificate, though it is a shorter/different line.

The online request was made the night before via and the receipt number had to be noted before exiting the final page. The site asks for an email but does not actually send an email out with your confirmation number. I actually had to repeat the process because I did not make a note of the request number the first time I tried to register. It is free to create as many requests as you need. You pay $25ttd for each of the copies you request when you go into the office, cash only.

If you try to collect anything in addition to the birth certificate you need to join a different line which may require you to take a number. During lunch time the CSRs staggered their break times so there was always at least one working. I have heard there is a limit to the total number of prints a person can have but I was able to get 14 prints.

Original post:
I recently (March 2017) had to go to the Ministry of legal affairs (MLA). This is my personal account along with another person who went to the Port of Spain (POS) and San Fernando offices. These experiences should not be taken as typical and I am not responsible for your experience or issues encountered.

I tried calling the POS office but their PBX system is out of order and no operator answers. I called San Fernando and got no answer there either. Someone answered at Arima and I was able to get an extension for a department in the POS office. When I called that extension I was fortunate enough to get a very helpful guy who checked my case and said I could come in and advised that I go in early to get a number and that the cashier closes at 3.00pm.

I parked in the parkade (Edward Street) at around 6.40am. Then I walked to the Port of Spain MLA office and got there around 6.55am. At the main door I had to pass through security. There were 2 steps to climb to get into the entrance. I did not see a wheelchair ramp. Security was pleasant and gave directions to go to the waiting room at the back. They gave me a number chit and after I asked and did some calculations I was about number 60. You did not need a number if you applied online for a birth certificate.

There were a couple benches along the way to the waiting room. The room itself is approximately 15 feet by 30 feet. It is carpeted and has about 50 black padded chairs. Most of the chairs were fabric and some were a leather material. All of them were stained. The front of the room had a table and chairs with forms for different requests. Each form was a different shape and size. No pens were provided. There were two AC units that were coated in black dust. When people walked in and out I could smell the dust being kicked up. The man next to me said he lined up on the pavement outside at 5.15am and he was the fourth person. At around 6.30am he asked the guard what time the doors open and was told 7.00am. He then decided to go across the road to get something to eat. One minute after he left, the doors opened and he lost his spot and got the number thirty chit.

Around 8.00am an official came and asked a batch of numbers to line up in the order of the chits received. She then checked that the correct forms were filled out and that people had all the necessary documents (like authorization letters, affidavits, ID cards, receipt booking numbers etc) for their particular request. That batch was taken out of the room. Anyone who applied for a birth certificate online was also called up.

A little after 9.00am my batch of about 20 people were then taken to another area with less than 20 chairs. This area was right next to a male and female washroom. The washrooms were in decent condition. There was a screen here showing the numbers that were being announced. On the wall was a poster saying that service dogs were allowed in the building. I overheard people that got numbers over 200 for the day being told to come back after 2.00pm.

Around 10.00am a batch of about 15 were taken to another seating area with less than 15 chairs. Here we saw numbered counters and people queued up to some of them. A few minutes later my number was called. At the counter I presented my forms. The lady reviewed them and gave me a slip as well as told me the amount to pay at the cashier counter. You can get multiple copies of any of these certificates. There is a total limit of five documents(certificates) per person. I know one person who was conducting business for her whole family and was lucky enough to talk their way past this limit.

At the cashier counter were signs saying 'no cards' and 'cash only'. After the cashier finished his chat with his coworker I paid and got a receipt. My total was $50 but I gave him $110 and got $60 change since he did not have any $10 bills. A birth paper or a marriage or death certificate is $25ttd each. I thought that there should be a price list posted online as well as a notice outside the front door saying cash only so people will know how much cash to walk with.

I then presented my receipt to the collections counter. After a few clicks my certificates were printed out and handed to me and I left the building. 

The experience was very similar at San Fernando except that the numbering system was only applied to some people and some were called in without numbers. This was total chaos as you can imagine that some people were extremely upset that people arriving after them were called in before. Parking for the San Fernando office is along the side streets so be considerate not to block driveways and obey no parking signs.

- Numbers are provided in the morning because the offices can only handle so many people per day. If you go early in the morning and collect a number you can leave and come back later but there is no guarantee you will be allowed back in because they may be very crowded that day. Only numbers given out in the morning are valid for a given day, so if you go back another day you will need a new number.
- Carry authorization letters from anybody (spouse, parent, child, sibling etc.) you are conducting business on behalf of other wise you will not be allowed to.
- Explain your request to the guards who are able to give some guidance but ask as many questions to any officers you see. Do not be shy because you may not have the right forms or be in the right line and can end up wasting your time. All the officials dealt with were courteous and helpful.
- You do not need to carry the original birth certificate in order to get the polymer one. The info will be the same as on your previous certificate, unless you are making a change. The 'blue' birth paper will continue to be valid.
- Hindu and Muslim marriage certificates will not show any info for the bride's address and occupation. It currently takes about 3 months after your request is submitted to be able to get the marriage certificate.
- Carry an envelope to keep your certificates in because one will not be provided.
- Carry a pen to complete your forms.
- You are allowed to leave and re-enter the buildings as much as you like but you should pay attention to the batches of numbers being called forward.

More information can be found on the MLA and ttconnect websites -

Apply for birth certificate here -

Updated September 6th 2017.

How to get birth paper certificate
How to get death certificate
How to get marriage certificate
Where to get name changed on birth paper
How much for new polymer birth paper
How long does it take to get marriage certificate
Register for new birth paper online