Monday, July 20, 2009

Penpal of the Week #6

Hello dear blog readers! This week, let's welcome Shivanee from Trinidad and Tobago! I asked her to be the Penpal of the Week because she seemed fascinating to me. And she is!

1. Please tell us about you!

I'm Shivanee, and I'm a twenty-two year old Caribbean girl. I'm a final year B.A. Literature and Spanish university student. I've lived on the island of Trinidad all my life, but I am certain it's not the place I'll live forever. (My wanderlust is a force with which to be reckoned, and I aspire to be a global traveller.) I currently live alone, in an apartment near my university, but I visit my family regularly on weekends. I dream of owning a delightfully serious little daschund some day soon! I have a boyfriend of more than two years, a fellow quirky uni. student.

Here's a random collection of my pursuits, interests and passions, all tangled up: old 'Frasier' episodes, uncommon languages, early morning strolls through dewy countryside, dreams of the impeccable Austenian hero, colourful parties, getting lost in bookstores and libraries, earnest talks with old and new friends, frog memorabilia, art appreciation, live performances, dancing in heels while giddy with laughter, dusk, exotic makeup, calligraphy, independent cinema, chai lattes, spirited female vocalists, reading poetry aloud, hugging my mother.

My e-mail address is My user name on Interpals is LadySiva, where you can find my prolific, possibly exhausting, hopefully entertaining profile in full. Congratulations to you if you read it all!

Me, circa mid-2007, England, with a recently acquired stash of novels - I adore bookhunting, and pursue it fervently, much to the detriment of my funds!

2. Describe your personality in 10 words!

Opinionated * Esoteric * Odd * Introspective * Gregarious * Bookish * Unconventional * Feisty * Proud * Liberal *

A testament to my writerly vanity - a stylized quill, inked near my left collarbone.

3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!

I've been writing letters since I was 11 or 12, possibly younger. My first penpal was a lovely girl named Elena, a few years older than me. She attended the school at which my mother taught, and I remember our letters being filled with secrets, confidences, private reassurances and fond, fond memories. Sadly, we lost touch several years ago. Whenever I think of her, it is with a vague sense of regret.

4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?

The penpals I have now are a motley assortment of bright, funny, engaging women from all around the world. They hail from various states of North America, as well as Canada, Mexico, my own country of Trinidad and Tobago, England, France, Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium. All told, I have ten to fifteen regular, faithful penfriends. These ladies inspire me, make me smile, laugh and think. I consider them all to be no less than my genuine friends, including the ones I am just beginning to know.

A cross-section of letters from friends around the globe!

5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?

I like talking about things that matter to people in my letters - it's reprehensible to think that I could write about only those pursuits which interested me! I might as well have a conversation with myself, or post myself letters, if that were the case. Therefore, you can expect to find topics ranging from politics, art, economics, natural science, astrology, mass media, religion, to the delightful minutiae of everyday life, including weather, family life, one's surroundings, personal plans, goals, ambitions, dreams, hopes and fears. I am comfortable with the idea of being able to discuss 'life, the universe, and everything'!

6. What are you looking for in a penpal?

I actively seek out lovers of words and self-expression, those who have much to say, and those who do not stop thinking or abhor thought, to write with me. I adore correspondences with the literarily minded, or the brazen adventurers, those unafraid to live their lives to the highest powers.

I am not interested in writing with those who will only spew out lukewarm comments on the most mundane of things, those who do not take letter writing seriously, or those who are only interested in some generic, poorly thought out idea of 'cultural exchange' with absolutely no personal interface. Please, don't misunderstand... I am a firm supporter in fostering cultural appreciation and awareness... but if you only wish to hear about the size of my island, the warmth of the beaches, or the idyllic, stereotyped paradise island life, then I kindly suggest you consult a travel brochure.

Sitting on a sunny rock near the sea, scribbling thoughts in a journal, in the company of my cousin, Elysia.

7. What do you like the most about penpalling?

The tangible feel of a heavy, stuffed envelope in one's hands, brimming with news meant just for your eyes, is heaven in a small slice, don't you agree? :) Penpalling brings me close to people with whom I would otherwise be disconnected and oblivious. That in itself is a minor miracle, and one I do not take for granted.

8. In what language(s) do you correspond?

English is my native language. I can also correspond in Spanish, which I speak fluently, and I have competent control of French. I'm currently learning Arabic.

A sample of my handwriting, up-close, from a letter to a new penpal - Elena's name comes up.

9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?

I love writing letters at my big wooden desk at home, surrounded by my arsenal of stationery, stamps, stickers, envelopes, glue, fancy-edged scissors and all the other paraphernalia that usually goes into producing a well thought-out letter to a friend (including the active participation of my mind and hands, of course!) I try to respond to the letters I receive in a timely fashion, and I always alert my penpals if there's to be a legitimate delay in my responses. No one likes to wait for ages on a letter, but sometimes there are valid reasons to justify the wait, in which case, I don't mind at all.

10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?

I once received a letter from a friendly lady in the States (United). Upon opening the envelope, an assortment of beautiful, perfectly-prepared stamps fell out. As a stamp collector, I was thrilled! However, upon reading the letter, it dawned on me slowly that it was a none too subtle letter of conversion! She was attempting to draw me into the 'salvation' of her faith, regarded by many as a cult. What a combination of the beautiful (stamps) and the overbearing (pushy, preachy attempts to indoctrinate me)!

11. Have you met any of your penpals?

Sadly, I have not yet met any of my penpals, except for Elena of my youth. I spent several evenings in her company, actually, since my father would give her a lift back to her country cottage before driving us home. It really is quite the bittersweet story, or at least, it's how my memory renders it to me now.

I'm hoping to meet my current local penpal sooner than later - perhaps before the year's out. It ought to be very cool, indeed. I'm making it my mission to meet up with my penpals once I start travelling again! It would be lovely to share physical space with those people with whom one has shared so much else.

Caught on film in the process of penning a love letter to an old beau.

12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?

I am open to the delightful idea of more, long-letter-loving, chatty, independent thinking writers and daydreamers! Feel free to get in touch with me through e-mail or Interpals.

As an ending note, I'd like to thank Julie profusely for nominating me as Penpal of the Week. I was flattered, and I hope I did the exercise justice! I've had a lot of fun sharing this glimpse of myself with all of you.

Yes, thank you Shivanee, you were absolutely perfect as Penpal of the Week! :D

Julie xox


  1. Hi
    It was a very interesting interview. I really had a good time reading it. :)
    Mag (aka Feeez)

  2. I loved Shivanne's profile till death! I would love to have a penfriend like her, I mean I have great penfriends, but I guess she is must be a great one too.

    Have a nice day


  3. You really look like a great person :D