So It Go
Stabroek News this week carried a photograph by Arian Browne of a solitary minibus driving on the Seawall Road in broad daylight .
With much of Guyana undeveloped, and not even fully explored, the conditions of daily living in some of the country, particularly the interior, have produced some very tough individuals, with both the physical and mental strength to overcome adversity .
New Year resolutions and advice are upon us, and following the barometer of “goat ain’t bite me,” I offer a hand for coping with life in any year .
As the year winds down to find us surrounded by daily news of mankind apparently going downhill, both at home and abroad, one can easily begin to harbour feelings of despair .
Whales are not at home in shallow water .
It’s not nature’s topography; the complex pattern of waterways draining our coastland wasn’t always there .
Followers of this column will know I’m always preaching that we should, whenever possible, present both sides of the coin when we’re discussing issues in the homeland; that as we take time to rightfully criticize the shortcomings, we should also be pointing to the good news happenings as they occur .
Six years ago, within weeks of my return to live in Guyana, I was in conversation with a very well-known Guyanese – someone I admired but had never met – and he suddenly said to me, “Dave, what are you doing coming back to live in this godforsaken country?” I pointed out to him that he was also still here, and we both laughed over the remark .
It pops up constantly .
Hardly a week goes by without some reference in the media to the depressing statistics of the number of Guyanese who continue to migrate .
There will be disputations about this one, but I will stand my ground: overall, in a region of powerhouses, with many different island cultures competing, the Jamaican version today is probably the most dynamic of them all .
I enjoy writing these So it go columns partly because I’m free to pick my subjects (which annoys some columnists, but who’s stopping them from doing the same?) and partly because of the feedback from readers – in online comments, in phone calls, or in face-to-face encounters in town .
His name is actually Jerry Goveia, but folks refer to him as ‘Banks Jerry’ (he worked as a manager at Banks DIH for many years before his retirement) to differentiate him from the other guy, the pilot one, with the same-sounding name, and he actually came to mind recently after a column I wrote on flamboyant Guyanese from times past, not in the sense of being flamboyant but as one of those people who leave an impression on you that endures .
In the Cayman Islands, where I once lived, a part of the culture there, as in Guyana where I grew up, is a toy called ‘gigs’ (our word for it is ‘tops’) .
In the case of Guyana, we’re talking about two contrasting, even conflicting, sets of values and priorities for living, gradually formed and developed and ingrained, for over 150 years .
Punctuality is a big thing with me .
I don’t get golf, and never did .
I’m admitting it from the start: I am not a fisherman .
Like any poor country, Guyana is replete with occasions for despair about standards in everyday life .
In recent days, with the CPL centre stage in the Caribbean, concurrent with England/Sri Lanka Test matches in the UK, we are seeing quite a contrast in cricket compared to the sport most senior folks grew up with in the region reaching back to the Union Jack days .
Song-writers are essentially observers; that’s where the process begins; that’s where the ideas or interpretations or slants that song-writers present in a song originate .
Among human beings caught up in a hectic life, it is often the case that a thought will come across our mental screen, sometimes from a comment overheard, or a sign encountered, or even from a prolonged and heated public discussion, and the thought flits in and flits out and is gone .
God knows if I’ll ever finish it, but after several proddings from various quarters I have begun writing a book .
We have rock stars in the Caribbean; we don’t call them that, but, in the North American meaning of the term, that’s what they are .
The folks in tourism have it right when they talk about the Guyanese treasures we have, particularly in the interior, for visitors .
When I was a youngster growing up in West Demerara and going to Saints, we usually headed for the Pomeroon in the August school break .
In my early life, that stretch when Tradewinds began, a young man from Linden, living in Toronto, got very annoyed with me over a song .
The cliché about a picture being the descriptive equivalent of a thousand words remains relevant because like every cliché it conveys some essential truth .
Bert Carter is a national treasure; let’s start from there .
On a recent trip to Orlando I saw a comment by Sam Roberts, son of former Guyana Police Chief “Skip” Roberts, on the widespread Caribbean practice of pinning nicknames on people, especially males, and he noted the almost amiable nature of the practice in that, most of the time, nobody takes offence to the monikers even when they could be seen as disparaging .
About to conclude a column for So it go I am aborting it to write, instead, on a sudden impulse, about Helen Bartlett, a mother in Point Fortin,Trinidad, who is big in the news this week over a video of her beating her 12-year-old wayward daughter .
A letter in Kaieteur News this week, by Mr M Maxwell, made the trenchant point that our forefathers came to Guyana already imbued with the racial prejudices of their ancestral homelands; that those ethnic divides, while recognized and exploited by the British for their own advantage, were a pre-existing condition; it was certainly used but just as certainly not created by the colonialists .
For each of us there is the memory of a particular performance of a song at a particular time that stirred us deeply in some way, creating such an impact, for different reasons, that the memory stays and stays .
My very first visit to Trinidad in 1967, to try and launch Tradewinds in the Caribbean, was a whirlwind affair – a lot of hustle and hurry .
As Guyana continues the current tourism expansion push, persons in the industry must be encouraged by the number of interesting travel outreaches that have come to Guyana in recent times – cruise ship in Georgetown last year; birding groups in the Rupununi; visiting ocean-going yachts; a National Geographic cruise ship in the Essequibo, etc .
Memory is often not the best storehouse for trivial information – it’s an arbitrary process which often excludes something that turns out to be important – so I have developed this habit of jotting down, on a notebook or my computer, transient thoughts or reactions on a range of subjects .
For all of us, at whatever strata we live, episodes come along on our journey that transform us significantly purely from the realization or understanding those encounters generate .