Guyana is an oasis of sorts

Dear Editor,

I’ve been in Guyana a month now, and have had a superb time with family and friends in the beautiful land of our birth.

From the newspaper reports and famous scribes’ daily missives, I was expecting a hell-hole of a country heading into the eternal abyss. The naysayers and prophets of doom have painted a picture of Guyana as a virtual hell – tormented by perpetual fire and brimstone. What I re-discovered, however, was a paradise or sorts. I do realize that my perceptions of life in Guyana are skewed by the fact that I have not been residing in the country for long. However, what I’ve experienced so far has been an oasis of sorts.

For now, let’s forget the myriad problems that plague the country – politics, crime, noise pollution, corruption, high cost-of-living, styrofoam and plastic bottles clogging the drains of Georgetown and elsewhere, the threat of chickungunya, dangerous driving – we can go on and on. For the moment, let us appreciate the beauty and blessings of the people and country – and be thankful.

The second day I arrived, I saw a kiskadee and a blue saki in my friend’s backyard. I love the tropical flowers and plants in Guyana. I am amazed at the increased standard of living of the typical Guyanese. Guyanese seem to be eating, writing, speaking and living better compared to five years ago. I love eating the cook-up, metagee, dhal and rice and coconut chokha. I particularly loved the opportunity to saa-neh (the last dish) in a popular Georgetown restaurant (and cha-ha-te) my fingers with the left-over dhal.

It is refreshing to see how Guyanese have come a long way in the harmony and respect that they have with each other. Guyanese offer support to those in need, irrespective of ethnic differences. It is truly beautiful to see how the ethnic plurality of the country plays out in the day-to-day life of Guyanese. I was at a ‘wake’ this past week, and it was touching to see the genuine love and support given to the bereaved.

For the four weeks I’ve been here, I’ve only experienced black-outs about 4 times during the night, lasting between 10 to 30 minutes. (I wish it had lasted longer; all the neighbours’ and ‘wedding-house’ booming music came to a sudden stop; the peace that ensued was just too short!)

The weather has been great; the sea breeze refreshing, and it is therapeutic to behold the mango and coconut trees side by side.

I wish all my fellow Guyanese ‘Merry Christmas’ and a terrific New Year.

Yours faithfully,

Devanand Bhagwan

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