Trini Phrase: Bus Carbide


While growing up in Mayaro, my grandparents neighbour was a welder by trade. His children frequently used to bus carbide during the holiday season.

Bus carbide (phrase) – A way of making loud explosive noises, usually to commemorate the coming of Divali and Christmas, with calcium carbide. Bus carbide is not to be confused with bus bamboo.

  • A piece of carbide is placed inside a tin with a replaceable lid, and a hole made in the bottom, or inside a length of bamboo with joints at ends. The carbide piece is spat on to produce fumes, the container sealed tightly, and then a flame put to the hole.

Busin’ Carbide Trinidad

  • Within recent years some nationals have queried the custom of children and youths in rural and semi-urban districts, to burst bamboo and Carbide at Christmas time.
  • People does still buss carbide and bamboo. For Divali, Eid and Christmas I does be hearing dem ting bussing all around Kelly Village and Curepe. These days though people get sophisticated and buying fireworks from stores instead.

How To Make A Carbide Canon

Bus Carbide Historical Context

I couldn’t find any research on the history of when busin carbide became a thing in Trinidad. Still, I suspect it became popular during Diwali and Christmas because back in the day Trinidadians either couldn’t afford fireworks or fireworks wasn’t widely available on the island.

Trini Phrases

Various words and phrases from Trinidad & Tobago can be traced back to English, French, African, Hindi, and Spanish origins. For instance, growing up in Trinidad and Tobago is fascinating because the slangs can change over time. I have lived in the United States for 20+ years now, and every time I travel back to Trinidad and Tobago, I have to reacquaint myself with the words and phrases that have emerged.

Oral Traditions

Trini folklore such as Papa Bois is an oral tradition meant to pass on the stories to the next generation. Other Trini phrases in the vernacular are Ganga Channa, Bad John, Goat-Mouth, Quito-Quito and Under Bamboo.

Click here now for other Trini expressions and leave us a comment below of phrases you have heard.

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