The lighter side as vacation ends

-Hinterland Airstrips, Another Plea

For some, their minds, psyches and vocabulary heavily influenced by foreign lifestyles and development, the Guyana “summer” is at an end.

For me the “school children’s” long July – August “holidays” is about over.

I observed how that long vacation was spending as compared to my own generation’s rather innocent, primal and relatively healthy pursuits during our Augusts. Today the Guyanese young did go on outings and camps but now they travel overseas; they participate in anniversary observances and Festivals and, of course, they spend much – too much (?) of their vacation using the new telecommunication technology at their disposal – video-games, cell phones, laptops, I-pods, I-pads and all the rest I know precious little about.

I suppose that is as it should be.  My great worry is that the parents, adults, care-givers fall short of providing balance in the youngsters’ lives.  Alongside the impersonal technology, children should be taught to do simple mathematical sums and calculations without a calculator!  They’ll understand what the calculator does much better.  The youth must “download music” sure but must be taught the joys – and necessity – of reading and writing – besides just texting.

Before I appear to be way past “the times” let me use the foregoing to present what I do every three years or so: record a few of life’s lighter side. Simply because I do feel that both you and I deserve a respite from the daily menu of horrors – murders, traffic fatalities, corrupt practices by officialdom, utility breakdowns, cost-of-living blues and Guyana’s Narcotic realities – served up by newspapers.  Even this one I prefer, but which would claim that the front and middle pages actually reflect our everyday society.  Try to enjoy.

Politics of fun …

We in Guyana seem still to be in some pre-election season.  Campaigns are yet mild and friendly.  Frankly Speaking, I like it that way. So here are a few political jokes and excerpts from what I relayed from the 2007 Trinidad-and-Tobago General Elections.

“In Guyana the racial context sometimes accommodated the political conditioning and preference of the two major ethnic groups.  Look, in 1962, a twelve-year-old Afro-Guyanese little fellow was in dire pain one morning.  He had spent a painful sleepless night because of an excruciating agonizing reaction brought about by an infected molar. Serious toothache.

The fellow’s whole family had been completely PNC from the time of its split from the mother-party, the PPP in 1955. The meetings, the Burnham posters, the party mass rallies, voting in ’57 and ’61 – all the little fellow knew was “Burnham and PNC”.  So when his grannie declared: “Boy you kyan stand dat toothache pain no mo.  It gat to come out! I taking you to Jagan”, the fearful, confused lad blurted out in response: No – No grannie, not no Jagan, don’t take me to Jagan carry me to Burnham”.  (You might conclude that he wasn’t being “racial” about Dr Sirpaul Jagan a great dentist like Cheddi, but the boy was being “political”.  He had a political preference – for Forbes Burnham to pull his tooth.  Again others may opine that Burnham was to execute a lot of “extractions” in later life.

And after reading the oft-quoted jibe that politicians are like baby diapers; they should both be changed – often for the same reasons!”. Now note that I did not write (the modern day) pampers; I understand you dispose of pampers, for good”.

“Next Monday the Trinis and Tobagonians will choose another government to run their lives and their oil-friendly country as part of the democratic tradition they had never lost.

The more than a million voters will choose from Patrick Manning’s PNM – People’s National Movement; the Panday-Warner UNC-A – The United National Congress/Alliance and the “newer” Dookeran-led Congress of the People (COP), the latter being the spoiler from both of the two larger groups, not unlike our own Alliance For Change (AFC) here.  Indeed one independent-type candidate has asked: “What has drinking from the Nile and the Ganges brought you?” (Read African for Nile and Indian for Ganges.)

Bacchanal elections!

But it is the lighter side of the campaign that gets to me.  (Always searching for “stress-relief” you want to avoid the elections-related violence.)  The PNM wears red and the UNC-A orange.  The Jamaican Reggae star sang at a PNM concert but the UNC-A also had a mammoth concert-rally where Rum – and Roti, or pelau and a Jersey were there for the giving and the taking.

Ramesh Maharaj, who loves to change his colours apparently revealed a PM  Manning’s house in Germany and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner took Bas Panday to meet Nelson Mandela.  Mandela won’t make it to Port-of-Spain though.  UNC-A is warning voters not to allow the PNM to COP their voters – meaning don’t allow the new COP to split the vote.  UNC-A also says PNM now means Patrick No More!”

Airstrips for life

Read into this caption the fact that I – and you – must regard hinterland areodromes and airstrips as facilities to ensure our hinterland development whereby local aviation benefits from the utmost safety to protect passengers’ lives during take-offs and landings.

Recent mishaps involving our local airlines are not to be regarded merely as “regrettable” but as indications to government (and airlines) to pursue immediate programmes of rehabilitation of the interior airstrips. Or build a few new necessary ones!

I know that budgetary priorities – and restraints – dictate some government programmes, but who can argue against hinterland airstrip safety?

I quote two excerpts from a March 2011 Stabroek Business Opinion that need repetition and endorsement.

“Though communication with and access to these interior communities depend to a considerable extent on air transportation, one issue which government rarely if ever discusses publicly, is the state of our interior airstrips. On the basis of the available evidence, the reason why little is ever spoken about this issue is obvious.  Our record in this area is, quite simply, poor, to say the least.

Discourses on the subject invariably take place among the Guyana Aircraft Owners Association, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.  Over the years, the discussions have not borne much fruit. Properly managing and maintaining interior airstrips as part of its pursuit of a broader hinterland development programme does not appear to be particularly high on the government’s agenda. Aircraft owners appear to have chosen the approach of quiet negotiations despite the patent absence of any real evidence of meaningful progress.

Take interior airstrip maintenance, for example.  We are told that a number of airstrips – it may be as many as 19 or 20 – serving interior communities which are important for one or another of the aforementioned reasons, are in urgent need of resurfacing, rehabilitation, repairs or minor maintenance and that this has been the case for some time.  These airstrips, one should add, are  not simply lying disused, waiting for some good day when the authorities choose to attend to their defects; they continue to be used, on a daily basis in some if not most cases, increasing the risk of mishaps.  Fortunately, despite these difficulties, Guyana continues to have a good record in terms of domestic aircraft mishaps.”

What is wrong with certain “authorities” in this land?  Including Aircraft Operators! Must only fatalities influence action?


*1)  Very soon …  I”ll share my frustrations with the national blight that affects our capital Georgetown.

Why?  Because after “touring” neighbouring Paramaribo last week-end, I’m convinced that we have/had a champion town now ravaged by the politics of mismanagement and deficient pride!  I’m so upset.

‘Til next week!

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