So It Go

By Dave Martins

From time to time I notice something, or experience something that leaves me wondering in a kind of bemused or intrigued way about it.  Most of the time they are really whimsical things that don’t really have a concrete answer. In effect, they are simply musings – I put them in a category I call ‘just asking’ – but if by chance you have an answer to any of these, send me a note.

Dave Martins
Dave Martins

For example: My good friend Vic Fernandes, who is a guru in Barbadian radio, and writes a very funny and incisive column called ‘The Market Vendor,’ mentioned recently the phenomenon of dentists talking to you while they work.  Your dentist will have you almost flat on your back, with your jaws expanded; he has his two hands and some fierce dental tool inside your mouth, your tongue is looking for some corner to hide, and in the middle of that he will ask your opinion on the latest climate change controversy, or the nuclear weapon situation in Iran. All you can muster is a few “huh huh huhs” or a quizzical “ah hah” or two from the back of your throat, but the man seems to consider this meaningful conversation because he then brings up West Indies cricket, the Single Market, and the price of gold – some of which is probably going into your mouth.  Are dentists complete dolts, or is this just an exercise in humiliation? I’m just asking.

Last week I saw a programme on US television concerning the US military presence in Afghanistan. In it, the new US Army boss there (a name like McCarthy) is proclaiming that a new shift in tactics is required, after 8 years of war, for success to be achieved. Instead of focusing on fighting the insurgents, said the general, the emphasis from now on should be on winning the support of the Afghan people.  You mean to tell me that with the best US military brains involved, it took 8 years for them to realize they can’t win in Afghanistan if the Afghan people are against them?  Eight years, banna?  I’m just asking.

If you drive the seawall road coming into town from the East Coast, you’ve seen this one: It’s a very prominent right-turn arrow, neatly painted on the road at one of the stop lights. It’s huge. You can’t miss it.  However, immediately past the striking right-turn arrow, are the words, NO RIGHT TURN.  Now I suspect there may be an explanation, but if you’re going to tell me “no right turn” why are you first showing me a right-turn symbol?  Isn’t that confusing? I’m just asking.

I wrote a column recently on the controversy surrounding the attempted banning of reggae star Mavado performing in Guyana, and later in the week an intense gentleman on Regent Street criticized me for not giving an opinion in the article. In fact, I gave several: I said censorship is a very difficult subject to contain because it is highly subjective. I pointed out that popular music is just that – popular, so people want to hear it. In closing, in fact, I stated that cultures choose what they want, and that, in my opinion, if you object to something that is popular in a culture (gunplay music; lewd soca dancing; chutney rum-drinking songs, etc) you should understand that your objection may have no effect on that popularity. I gave all those opinions clearly in the article. You think maybe the Regent Street gentleman hadn’t actually read it?  Just asking.

Some of you may have seen this: World class tennis champion Serena Williams, was called for a foot fault by a diminutive lineswoman at championship point in the recent US Open. Serena blew a gasket; a huge one. It was an incredible display.

To see Serena, who is an imposing physical specimen, towering over this tiny Asian woman, clenching her fist, spewing four-letter words, and threatening to imbed her racquet somewhere in the lady’s esophagus, was shocking.  The tirade ended, Serena returned to the base line to serve, suddenly changed her mind and launched another assault. She was subsequently fined US$10,000 (pin money for her) but was allowed to continue on the circuit.  Given her prominence in the sport, and the extent of her behaviour, shouldn’t she have been suspended for at least a few weeks or a few tournaments?  I’m just asking.

I mentioned this before, but it’s worth another crack. Georgetown is a city of  (how should I put this delicately?) unusually striking odours, but what assails you from the Lamaha Street trench is especially pungent.  A friend of mine insists the nature of the smell there suggests that it must be a result of raw sewage finding its way into the canal, but I don’t see any broken pipes anywhere so I’m dubious.  I try to avoid driving that area, but on behalf of my friend, whose four-letter fuse is considerably shorter than mine, I am asking, “Wha goin’ on dung deh, bannas?”  I’m looking for an answer before my friend blows a gasket, or threatens somebody with a tennis racquet.

Last week, my exuberant pal Allan Fenty, of ‘Frankly Speaking’ fame, had a very strongly-worded piece in Stabroek News outlining some of the things about Guyana that pain him, certainly mentally but perhaps even physically.  It was a generally balanced presentation; not much you could argue with.
But in the middle of it, it struck me that the article in question merited another one by Allan explaining, in the face of all that trauma and disarray, what it is about Guyana that keeps him here.  To put it plainly: I know how fiercely this man loves his country – so intensely that he almost stammers about it at times – and while it’s certainly interesting to hear what bothers him about the homeland, I would be even more interested to hear why he stays, and I wonder if he would consider writing about that more expansively some time?

I’m just asking.

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