Going in I admit I’m frequently complaining about things wrong in Guyana, and I make no apologies for that; we have many things wrong and we should do more complaining – me included. But it’s also true that we get so cranked up about one shocker or the other on the negative list, that we often don’t stop to see the things around that we should be thankful for, or as the purists would want us to word it, “the things around for which we should be grateful.” (You tussle with the purists, if you’re so inclined; I stopped wasting my time on them long ago.)
The things we should be grateful for, because of their very nature, will vary widely from person to person, so you may very well disagree with what I put in that category, but here are a few things, just this week, that left me thinking “thanks for that.”
This may be a small one to you, but for me, driving the East Coast road every day, there is a very pronounced ridge in the asphalt as you approach the bridge over the Ogle koker trench. It’s there eastbound and westbound, and your car’s suspension gets quite a bang as you go over the ridge. Road users have learned that if you veer hard left approaching the bridge that the bump is not as severe, but you still get a jolt. In some vehicles, like my wife’s car, it feels almost as if you bounced a dried coconut. Well, that was yesterday. As of today, as the Trinis say, “Padna, de bump gone, oui.” Some good folks in the Roads Department have come along in the night, with some remedial asphalt, and now the approach is almost as smooth as the road outside the Convention Centre, and you know how smooth that is.
So Roads Department, take a bow. I suspect my wife may be sending you flowers, but just in case (she’s somewhat forgetful) I’m saying thanks for that. I mean the newly-painted bridge is also appreciated, but the removal of that bump – that’s a real treat, going east or west.
Our roads people also deserve a nod for the recently improved road markings. Yes, I hear you: the paint isn’t first grade and will soon fade, but at least for a while we will know where the centre line is and the difference between the turn lane and straight ahead will be clear. On that basis it’s an improvement, and thanks. Now if we can only get the traffic police to improve their rate of catching people running red lights.
I had planned to call up Jerrie Bacchus about this next one, but a public thanks is better following his recent notice in the newspaper where he advertised job openings at his restaurant but emphasized “no phone calls; applications in person only”. In a classy touch, the bottom of Jerrie’s ad reads, “If you mout lang an yuh face sowa and yuh lazy, doan come.” Classy because of the sweet use of the dialect, and classy because at least one establishment is speaking out on the often arrogant attitude of some folks serving the public here who seem to think their function is to drive away customers rather than court them. Jerrie made the point, using aspects of the culture we’re all familiar with, and made us laugh and wince at the same time.
It created quite an internet stir; I received copies from Toronto and New
York, if you please.
In this next mention of an outstanding meal I had eating out here recently, you may say why am I making a big fuss about a restaurant in Guyana serving great food – that’s what they’re supposed to do. You can say that, but knowing the restaurant scene here as I do, I will simply ignore you. The background is this: I made a last-minute dinner rush to the Grand Coastal Restaurant a few weeks back, ordered beef curry, and was blown away. It was the best curry I’ve had in ages, and I eat a lot of curry, so I made it a point of asking the waiter to tell the chef how delighted I was. That’s not all. This week, I decided to revisit the curry, but I was frankly dubious I would find the same ambrosia the second time around. I was wrong. The curry was exactly the same, mouth-watering – I’m not a scraper when I eat out, but this time I was – and I repeated this story to the waitress and asked her to be sure to pass on the praise to the chef who, I found out, is Sharima “Baby” Ramnauth.
There are several gardeners and handymen in the area where I live, and I’m accustomed to the friendly waves and greetings as I drive the neighbourhood.
This week, one of them flagged me down as I went by. With a slightly embarrassed look on his face, he said, “I have to tell you, you know. I got some of your CDs and, man, every Sunday afternoon, I play them songs and, well, I really enjoy them, you know. How you come up with these things, man? I just wanted to tell you thanks.” You see how this thing works? Here is a man taking time out from his chores (he was holding a rake and a huge bundle of clippings and grass as we chatted) to speak to me in a way that had me telling him thanks for telling me thanks. I know the man’s name, and I’m friends with the guy he works for, but I’m not naming names. It was a private moment. The gardener who spoke to me; he knows what I’m referring to. Thanks, banna.
Wrapping up, I note that there are some weeks when the “thanks for that” scenarios can be very scarce or even non-existent, so that you pick up the daily newspaper often bracing yourself for the latest violence of one human being upon another. But sometimes you get a brace. For example, I opened the newspaper this morning and guess what…there was no report of anybody killing anybody. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought for a second we were back in the socialism years and the paper had run out of newsprint, but the paper was the usual size. I looked all over the newspaper; in fact, I checked two (you know which two), and it was the same story – no overnight murders to report. You have to stop for a moment for it to sink in, and then say to whoever directs the world,
“Thanks for that.” When I was growing up at Hague in a Catholic family we would sometimes kneel down before a lit votive candle at night and give thanks for something good that had come our way. I don’t use that format any more. Sorry Father Boase, I don’t. But today, I put down the newspaper and looked out the window at the coconut trees framing the blue sky on a day in which the Guyana media had no killing to report, and I mouthed a silent, “Thanks for that.”