All creatures great and small

I awoke early one morning, with a vague sense of increasing unease, to the sharp, insistent barks of our first, feisty Antiguan Chihuahua mix, faintly audible in the deep gloom below the rumbling rains ramming the galvanised gabled roof. 

A brief Bret of relief

Under the stars, in the low scrub and up among the vegetation the occasional firefly flashed by, darting in the sweltering darkness as the warm waves rolled in with rare ferocity, crashing along the curving shore of the beautiful bay dotted with small boats and cool caves.

From Martin to Ms Marks

Guyana’s most famous poet Martin Carter wrote the immortal lines “but a mouth is always muzzled, by the food it eats to live” in 1969, and soon after, disillusioned and disgusted by his own short stint in the country’s authoritarian Government he finally resigned, remarking in a Sunday Graphic piece that he wished to live “simply as a poet, remaining with the people.” His single, succinct composition reportedly handed to veteran newsman then the private newspaper’s Chief Political Reporter, Rickey Singh and first published in the November 1970 anonymous article titled “Exit Carter with a poem,” movingly captures the predicament of free speech and paralysis in a time of censorship and what one critic calls a brooding and “somber silence.” Yet “A mouth is always muzzled” resonates across the decades and world’s borders, attaining renewed relevance in a modern technological age that has seen the immediate release of

Killing us softly

The long mournful wail of the conch shell would startle us awake on certain cold mornings, as the “Fish Man,” the first of the village peddlers arrived.

Mooning in Sunnyvale 

As carefree children dancing in the magical moonlight during hot nights of electricity blackouts, we would gaze up in wonder at the full glowing orb and compete to pinpoint the fabled “man on the moon.” This low-lying near side, the Procellarum is covered in craters crammed with dense, dark volcanic material that allowed us to trace the familiar face, and we would momentarily hold our breath barely daring to blink, as we watched for the visage to emerge as the rocky ball rose.

The stone of madness

The famous Dutch surrealist Hieronymus Bosch, “the creator of devils,” left behind only a small but genius body of deeply original work crammed with disturbing symbolism.

Rise of the rubble rousers

The touching tableau of six slender bronze statues with their simple ship bundles, envisioned by two of Guyana’s leading artists should have been standing in all of its shining glory a week ago to commemorate the historic May 5 1838 arrival of the first East Indian indentured immigrants.

The curious Curacao caper

With patches of rust scattered along the dull maroon waterline, ugly streaks on the small white cabin, and paint flaking off its faded black hull, the fishing trawler seemed a most unremarkable, dingy vessel that for years, slouched low in the open at its mooring, next to the stone walled ruins of the Curacao Trading Company complex.

The heart of the matter

The Tsimane or Chimane people are an isolated, indigenous tribe who maintain their tough, subsistence traditions in a remote area of Bolivia’s Amazonian lowlands, faithfully foraging and farming in small, rural settlements along the Maniqui River, like their ancient ancestors.

The kite fliers and dreamers

As the April sunshine blazed and the days grew drier, the boisterous north east trade winds swept in from the restless Atlantic and our schools closed with a sigh in a tired haze of dust.

Going bananas over suckers

For most of my early Guyana life, suckers were merely the plain, pointed side shoots that perennially popped up in a clump around the pseudostem of the banana and plantain trees which towered in many crowded backyards, providing cool green shade and sweet, filling provision.

Comma crimes and catastrophes

The Greek classical scholar, Aristophanes of Byzantium, is hailed as the patient father of punctuation for his pioneering efforts to sort out the complex comprehension and proper pronunciation of his native language 2200 years ago.

Facing the music

One fine Sunday evening, three months ago, Sri Lankan carolling churchgoers were stunned into sudden silence when they eagerly picked up their Christmas music sheets at one of the country’s biggest Catholic services, in preparation for reciting a beloved prayer.

The Spirit of the World

Gaping mouths and ghastly sockets scream silently of nothingness, as the phantom heads float high, trailing suckered tentacles in all ghostly white swathes, sardonic symbols of a post-apocalyptic grim world titled “Sailors on an Exotic Isle.” This year’s last minute Carnival creation of genius designer and veteran mas-maker, Peter Minshall, entirely hand-sewn from simple chicken wire, glue and plain cloth, “Spiritus Mundi” is a Latin term that means “Spirit” or “State of the World.”

Power and privilege

  “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is the famous quotation used by English Catholic peer John Dalberg-Acton, Lord Acton in an 1887 letter opposing the move to promulgate the doctrine of Papal infallibility.

Shame in the Warden City

The Mighty Sparrow complained bitterly “it’s a shame, it’s a shame” in his classic composition “Pay As You Earn (P.A.Y.E)” about the sudden imposition of income tax, lamenting, “but we have we self to blame, because we ask for new Government, now they’re taking every cent, cost of living is the same, it is really a burning shame,” While such expenses today are certainly far above that of 1958 when the double entendre piece was penned,

‘Mr. Big’ and the ‘Baccoos’

As a young child, I loved accompanying my stout father, “Mr. Big” to the city sea wall for his regular swim after a long, exhilarating walk along the Fort Groyne, a weathered, narrow concrete erosion barrier bolstered by great granite boulders, jutting out into the ocean like a giant index finger at the far end of breezy Kingston.

The Oil Men Cometh

Less than a fortnight ago, the new United States leader publicly repeated a startling phrase that had become common enough during his blunt and divisive campaign to reach the White House.

T- Rex and the Death Star

American journalist Steve Coll describes an illuminating exchange in 2001 between then President George Walker Bush and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A crater, cenotes and clay

A slim, greenish brown band in a layer of clay clearly separates two key geologic eras all over the world, showing abnormally high microscopic concentrations of iridium, a rare dense, brittle element that best resists corrosion and bears a beautiful silvery burnish.

Little Guyana, Big Apple

The Little Guyana strip of Queens, New York runs for about 25 vivid blocks, with the thriving storefronts a feast of wild colours, bustling with immigrants sporting a range of distinctive musical accents that mark their origins in faraway tropical villages with rather strange names ranging from Ankerville to Zeelugt.