It’s not nature’s topography; the complex pattern of waterways draining our coastland wasn’t always there. Guyanese built it. The Dutch and the British laid it out, but our ancestors did the back-breaking work that created this astonishing network of canals and trenches and four-foots and drains and dams and conservancies that makes it possible for us to live and work and play in an area generally 6 feet below sea level.
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. It never truly goes away. This week, it came at me again in an email from my friend Ken Corsbie, living in North Carolina, as he relayed a collection of complaints from folks in his generation; their problem was dissatisfaction with the state of popular music today, and the language was on the strong side.
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.
I don’t get golf, and never did. People say that’s because I never played the game. They say that to be out there in those beautiful settings, facing the challenge of this most unnatural of sports (hitting a ball into a hole with a stick), learning the subtle techniques involved, generates a passion for the activity that stays with people all their lives.
I’m admitting it from the start: I am not a fisherman. I never was. Even if I had any inclination that way, I was cured of it in Canada when Guyanese musician Andy Niccols, a fishing fanatic, took me fishing one afternoon on Rice Lake in Ontario.
Like any poor country, Guyana is replete with occasions for despair about standards in everyday life. We can see the list in its various forms constantly in the news media, and it is a lengthy and well-known one – no need to replicate it here.
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.