On being Guyanese: Dianne Inniss’ love affair with her country

If Dianne Inniss is one of those Guyanese domiciled abroad who may not yet be quite ready to pack her traps and return home ‘lock, stock and barrel’, she is determined that after spending almost forty years in the United States she must find a way of re-attaching to the land of her birth and besides that, making her presence felt in a manner that ‘gives back’ to her country. 

Nor is she driven by such opportunities as might be afforded by the imminent ‘arrival’ of oil and gas. Hers is a much more fundamental desire to reach her countrymen and women, particularly those whose lives have not been touched in the same ways as hers. So that over the last three to four years the 49-year-old qualified nurse has, along with an older sister, Roxanne, invested in two modest but attractive businesses at home.

The first, Party Castle, is a 256 Forshaw Street, Queenstown showroom that shows off an impressive range of the finest accoutrements associated with up market entertainment-related events, from high-browed formal dinners to elaborate wedding receptions. She may have made a career in nursing but, she says, showing off a sense of style is her passion.

The other enterprise which she runs is the tiny but tasteful 35 King Street sweet shop named Candy Express. Even without checking it would probably be safe to hazard a guess that Candy Castle boasts the most elaborate range of confectionery in Guyana. 

These days Dianne leads an itinerant life, chasing her dream to putting down roots here and of finding ways of impacting the lives of underprivileged children.

 When you engage her she talks incessantly about the Albouystown that she grew up in never really thinking of the community as the slum that it is so often made out to be. She comes from a family of seven siblings and left Guyana at the age of 8 to live at 40th and Church in Brooklyn with her mother whose migration had preceded hers. There she learnt that success was about application and did well in that stream of nursing that had to do with Care for the Elderly.

‘Back home’ is usually never far from the forefront of the minds of many Guyanese living abroad and Dianne and Roxanne are kindred spirits in that regard. After the two had decided that they wanted to make an entrepreneurial mark in Guyana they had embarked on a sort of a shopping ‘binge,’ and Roxanne says, before long they had accumulated “a garage full of stuff.”

These days, if she still favours the itinerant life the responsibilities of owning two businesses in Guyana keeps her ‘anchored’ here for lengthy periods. Candy Express is the more manageable of the two. She employs two young women there and accepts that honing their skills to the service standards that she seeks is a work in progress. The Party Castle, she says, is a bigger challenge. The rental of supplies for high-browed events has become a competitive sector in Guyana and Dianne is still on the hunt for a capable manager who can aggressively ‘sell’ the enterprise. In a sense she is seeking a clone of her own ‘go getter’ self and that she is finding it difficult to find.

When she met with Stabroek Business a few days ago her thought process was shifting from an event at Linden to which she had taken a sweet display and, she said, benefitted from the privilege of presenting a bottle of sweets to President David Granger to worrying over whether she would find a suitable Manager for the Party Castle. She wants someone who can not only serve as a profound presence amidst her ‘pretty things’ but also someone who can ‘sell’ the Party Castle to Guyana.

Her preoccupation at this time is with what she hopes will be the successful execution of a ‘special event’ for one hundred underprivileged Guyanese children. “I want the President there,” she says. I have watched his concern for children and I want him to be part of this. She intends to write to him in this regard.

 There remains a restless spirit in Dianne. She loves to travel, to ‘live it up’ and to embrace what life has to offer. Guyana, however, can rest assured that it will never lose this bubbly busybody incurably ‘afflicted’ as she is with the ‘malady’ of being Guyanese.