Home / Live Wire / Battle of the barra: Trinis get rowdy over doubles price increase

Battle of the barra: Trinis get rowdy over doubles price increase

It. Just. Got. Real.

The 48-year-old Mahase Kanhai, who, curiously, claims to have been a doubles vendor for the past 35 years, will be remembered for throwing the first blow.

“It was $4 but we had no choice but to increase the price (to $5),” Kanhai told the Trinidad Guardian. “We added the cost of everything and with the passing of the budget… Gas gone up so everything will also go up soon.”

Photo: Is there a doubles double standard?
Photo: Is there a doubles double standard?

It was the combination of simplistic economics and ruthless capitalism that has characterised local “businessmen” for time immemorial.

Kanhai’s reasoning was as sound as Jack Warner’s when, as Minister of Works and Transport, he gave Cabinet a quotation of $10,189,155 to tow a firetruck from a 60-foot trench in Blanchisseuse and eventually settled on a $6.8 million bill.

And Kanhai was on superior ground to Adolphus Daniel, who insisted he deserved and would hold on to a $34 million payment from Life Sport for a teaching job that never started.

But, if Trinidad and Tobago has its way, it will be Kanhai who is hung, quartered and audited by Friday night.

Of course, even at $5, doubles remains the cheapest way to simultaneously satisfy your appetite and clog your arteries in this country. But it is the principle of the thing.

And when Trinis suddenly start talking about “principled stands”, Mr Live Wire does bounce his car starter one time.

Photo: Former "Honourable" Government Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner have rarely been troubled by T&T's morals. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: Former “Honourable” Government Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner have rarely been troubled by T&T’s morals.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

There was no principled stance against Movie Towne, although they tore down the mangrove to erect it. None against TV6 for its shameful broadcast of ex-National Security Minister Martin Joseph’s lifeless body.

And no boycotts of Centre of Excellence although—despite building the venue with FIFA, CONCACAF and TTFA money—the facility manager refused to let one of the most gifted Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 football teams in recent memory train there, two years ago.

But let them only hold Kanhai! Who tell him not to have an expensive suit and a university degree, whether fake or otherwise, before he spoke his nonsense!

The rallying cries for the “Battle of the Barra”—copyright 868-er Vernal Cadogan—or, according to Kala Ramnath, #channaspring have so far been of debatable substance.

One poster suggested that Trinis buy fruit instead, as they are cheaper and healthier.

Will Trinis be asking for a beer and a banana on Friday night at the Dial?

Photo: Ask Ruffina's how much for a doubles dey?!
Photo: Ask Ruffina’s how much for a doubles dey?!

Live Wire won’t bet on it. First, fruit has always been cheaper than doubles. Second, anyone who thinks Trinidadians are looking for healthy eating options should probably get out more.

Another person suggested that people fried an egg instead. Someone else said make a sandwich.

If Kanhai was on Facebook this morning, he would have been laughing his head off.

“I shoulda hit them for 6, yes,” he may have muttered to himself.

Even more posters urged Inland Revenue to descend on doubles vendors immediately. But then there is more than a passing chance that increased taxes would also be passed on the customers.

Just like Kanhai is happy to relay the increased Budget-related costs that have not even taken hold yet.

But that does not mean it is smooth sailing for Kanhai and his “barra brothers.” Not by a long shot.

Somewhere in Trinidad, a super-sized Zorro with a ponytail and a cutlass is probably pulling on black gloves and listening to the theme music of “The Equaliser” with a crazy gleam in his eye.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and who knows what a disenfranchised people might resort to.

Photo: Old man's gotta be the old man. Fish has got to be the fish... And doubles has got to be $4!
Photo: Old man’s gotta be the old man. Fish has got to be the fish… And doubles has got to be $4!

If you still want to have a $4 doubles this weekend, Live Wire has two words to whisper to your vendor of choice that are bound to scare him straight:

Shane Gopeesingh.

Editor’s Note: Mr Live Wire cannot confirm that Shane Gopeesingh’s Facebook status now reads: “I promised that I would never go back to being that angry person… But when I heard about $5 doubles…”

About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. yes but same principle…goods and services eg. made of copper. Producers will look at the futures market to determine pricing.

  2. How stocks and commodities are priced cannot be compared to how goods and services are priced. Smh

  3. Bread raise, no problem. Flow deleted channels, no problem but the poor man try ah thing and now is a “battle”

  4. But stock players and futures traders do that all the time with commodities. Part of the capitalist system.

  5. and apart form that Sheila Rampersad…you raise your price because you expect raw materials will go up?! So this is an increase in anticipation?! Nah man….

  6. Petrol gone up by 15% and doubles by a whole dollar. How that making sense?

  7. Doubles could go to $20 I won’t be bothered…I don’t touch the stuff!

  8. who can tell me the price of an orange, a portugal, a pommcethyre. a coconut? I am a fruitaholic and I am hurting., Lasana.

    I liked this post and shared it.

  9. Something to really discuss:

    Supermarkets Association president:

    President of the Supermarkets Association of T&T Dr Yunus Ibrahim says a 2.5 per cent reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) can mean consumers will pay more for food.

    In an interview yesterday, Ibrahim explained t Government plans to review the list of zero-rated items and apply VAT to many of them. VAT was removed from 7,000 items under the last government.

    Once VAT is applied across the board, Ibrahim said, consumers could end up spending more as each customer’s VAT cost would depend on the goods in their baskets.

    He added: “First and foremost, it depends on what they (Government) put back on the VAT list. Then it is the consumers’ choice to go in between the other items and buy it or not. They said they are reducing the zero-rated items and luxury items after review. They are going to increase the amount of items that are ‘vatable’ but decrease the rate of VAT.

    “That itself is wonderful for electricity, water and other utilities because it is across the board but not as it applies to food. Remember your kilowatt rate an hour is not going up so your bill will come down but you are buying the same groceries.

    “If you have 100 items in your basket now and 15 are ‘vatable,’ imagine if they increase that figure from 15 to 35. Obviously even at 12.5 per cent what comes out of your pocket is going to be more in VAT and the net figure.”

    Ibrahim said consumers’ concern was whether the price of grocery items depended on whether the VAT reduction was passed onto them by the various suppliers.

    Although the cost of some products were initially reduced when the former People’s Partnership government removed VAT from 7,000 items, he said inflation caused the prices to increase.

    He added that T&T had a free market in terms of prices, saying the same items in a supermarket can cost more in other places.

    “What we can say is that if it is passed on to us by suppliers in this fierce competitive supermarket environment that exists in Trinidad and Tobago, trust me it is going to be passed on to the consumer.

    “The suppliers on the other hands are the ones who are at that mercy, not the supermarkets. We are a free market here. You will buy a juice that would be $2 more in a pharmacy, it is up to your where you buy it,” Ibrahim said.

    During Monday’s 2016 Budget presentation, Finance Minister Colm Imbert proposed to decrease VAT from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

    This would be done in tandem with reviewing and adjusting VAT exemptions and zero-rated items which, he sai., were associated with non-essential items and were not critically important to citizens’ livelihoods and basic cost of living. Together, he said, that was expected to yield $4 billion in tax revenue.’


  10. Another great one Lasana, with just a little pepper. By the dial indeed 😉
    And thanks for not talking about the long hand of “race” in every Trini action and reaction…because that would be stating the obvious.

  11. Gaiven Clairmont

    LMFAO real jones oui, the thing is this morning I got my doubles (in south) for $4 (Y) lol

  12. Hahahhahaha
    nice piece Lasana

  13. What happens to the small man has never made a millionaire tremble since the first dollar bill was printed.
    So I don’t share the belief that going after the doubles man will somehow get politicians and business sharks to fall in line eh.

  14. This is a boss piece, Lasana Liburd.

  15. But seriously though… I hope the Acting Police Commissioner was proactive and has a surveillance team outside Shane Gopeesingh house eh!!

  16. Is there a doubles vendors assoc? All vendors raise the price or just one? Plenty doubles not worth the paper they are served on so until I determine that MY vendor has raised MY doubles, I holding on.

  17. And we will pay $10 for doubles during all inclusive and carnival

  18. #channaspring
    🙂 Nice one Kala Ramnath!

  19. “It was the combination of simplistic economics and ruthless capitalism that has characterised local “businessmen” for time immemorial.” This is the new classic line

    • There is also a united supermarket chain of dividers, hit the pop where it hurts most, if you travel to the south, you will see the food prices differ, its much cheaper, its a hit below the belt for those who dont want to jump on ship, its careful organised and orchestrated in a timely manner, its been happening for a while, but citizens are not paying attention.

    • Everything is more expensive in tong PC, maybe you should ask why

  20. Phillip, Carnival is different to Bara, you know trini mad at carnival time, dont bother me none, ha ha, you going to get yourself in chubble with that one.

  21. Try stopping carnival and you will see!

  22. Lasana I hear you, but look and think deeper, its not about the Bara…most likely

  23. I am still shocked that doubles is even $4TTDs lol! Like really?

  24. Bago Man, a must read. The battle of the ‘barrah’ !!!

  25. its a good opportunity to put collective power in action. If successful, it’s a good warning to gov’ts and politicians that people will mobilize…very powerful.

  26. We did it recently with a grocery store playing politics, he bawl like a cow, and disassociated himself from the dirty ads

  27. Its ALL about “Country” who dont want to stand up for our country, boycott, talk done.

  28. Lasana??? The ending Hahahaha yea and Kanhai and his partners could keep their doubles

  29. Isn’t passing the buck a quintessential Trini past time? If you cut Kanhai, he bleeds red, black and white yes.
    It is a whole mindset we have to change not the price of doubles.

  30. Still too much grease even if home made. Well Kanhai forcing us to eat healthy.

  31. Make it yourselves, be patriots

  32. No trini eh like doubles more than me. I DONE! Ah makin meh own from Sunday. 🙂

  33. I dunno bout other people by my outrage is because of the REAL reason he raised his price..

  34. Cook your own food, its simple and exciting, make your own sauces, put the Shadow Beni with pepper etc in the Blender, get your own tamarind, it may taste even better, simple..

  35. Good one Lasana. I am truly of the eat more fruit and less junk food variety. Lest we forget, KFC seems to make most of its Caribbean if not latin American profits in the land of sudden boycotts and new fangled healthy eating principles. A nation happy to cruise in overpriced cars to overrated ‘posh’ watering holes and restaurants where we spend too much cash, when we anti-colonial folks are keeping plantation origin southern confederate gent, Col Sanders and his shareholder crew smiling 24/7/365. Hypocrisy much…

  36. Only if you want it to Candice, only if you want it to!

    • Every thing in this country is a nine days story, no matter how horrified or angry people get

    • Well its up to us to change that, what can we do about it? I tell you social media is a great avenue Twitter etc, we need to start using these tools for what they were designed for, we also have e mail we can flood the inboxes of our elected MP’s with our complaints or compliments when they do something worthy. Let’s do this let’s make a change in our mindset Candice Brathwaite! #TheTimeForChangeIsNow!

  37. Well yes! Shane Gopeesingh! This uproar will soon die just like that story and every will be acting normal

  38. Great piece Lasana. Shaking in my boots at the thought of bouncing up Shane Gopeesingh at a $5.00 doubles vendor. Lol.

  39. Again I will post This!

    Here is my recipe for Trinidad Doubles
    (adapted from a recipe in the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook)

    2 cups flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 teaspoon curry powder
    1 teaspoon gheera (cumin)
    1/2 tsp ground pepper
    1 teaspoon yeast
    1/3 cup warm water
    1/4 tsp sugar
    Oil for frying
    Filling (Curried Channa):
    1 14 oz channa, tinned
    1 tablespoon curry powder
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 onion, sliced
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    2 tsp ground geera (cumin)
    1 tsp Pepper sauce
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp black pepper
    Trinidad Doubles
    1. In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, curry powder and gheera.
    2. In a separate small bowl place the warm water, sugar and yeast and set to sponge for 5 minutes.
    3. To the flour, add the yeast mixture and enough water to make a slightly firm dough.
    4. Mix well, cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
    5. For the filling, heat the oil in a heavy skillet, add onion, garlic and 1 heaped tablespoon of curry powder mixed with 1/4 cup water.
    6. Sauté for a few minutes.

    7. Add the channa, stir to coat well and cook for five minutes.

    8. Add 1 cup water, gheera, salt and pepper; cover, lower heat and simmer until the peas are very soft (20-30 minutes).

    9. When the channa is finished it should be moist and soft.
    10. Add pepper sauce and season to taste with additional salt if desired.
    11. For the bara: The dough should be punched down and allowed to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

    12. To shape the bara, take 1 tablespoon of the dough and flatten to a round, 4 or 5 inches in diameter.

    NOTE: Pay particular attention to how thin, flat, and oily/sticky these rounds are. If your rounds are thicker, dryer or heavier than this they will -not- come out with the right texture
    13. Use oil to moisten palms of your hands so that the dough won’t stick to them
    smile emoticon

    14. Fry the baras in hot oil until puffy (about 15 seconds per side), turn once and drain on kitchen paper

    15. When all are cooked, fill with channa by placing a heaping tablespoon of the cooked filling on each bara, covering with another to form a sandwich.
    Trinidad Doubles
    Makes 6 servings

  40. Lol that plot twist at the end tho….haha

  41. “Gas gone up so everything will also go up soon.” They are, as we say, taking in front.

  42. I though you bounced yuh car yes…lol
    Principled to say the least…never mind the banks digging everyone’s eyes out too…coincides well with Jamela Khan’s post

  43. Hannibal Najjar

    At the end of it all, the lower income people must be better off… that’s all for me – yuh hear me Keith!

  44. If yuh over 30 and still buying doubles more than three or four times a year yuh have bigger problems than a price increase.

  45. Mr Liburd’, excellent article. Great work. Many thanks.