Chasing Caribbean fruits

A friend of mine living outside, Alex Neptune, recently sent me a photo of the Caribbean fruits and vegetables he grows in his backyard in New York and remarked on the number of fruits we have in the region, and that we appear to have lost some.

Lessons in Caribana

I was living in Toronto, 44 years ago, playing music full time with the Tradewinds band, when the annual Caribbean festival in Toronto known as Caribana was born. 

You’re in the Caribbean

I sometimes play this game where I ask persons to complete the following sentence: “You know you’re in the Caribbean when…”  You get some delightful responses and often surprises; you should try it some time.


My Caymanian daughter mentioned to me recently that she had not paid much attention to dogs growing up (we had several), but that now they’re a joy in her life.


There are athletes who naturally impress us with their magnificent physical achievements of power and style that leave us gaping at the display, but the ones whom we take into our hearts, the ones we come to feel affection for, are the ones who also show us their excellence as people. 

The seawall goes to France

In recent weeks I have heard vehemently from several persons, here and abroad, about the need for Guyana, in the midst of all the bad news, to be shouting about the positive stories that are around.

Go breadfruit

Joe Brown, the original bass player of the Caribbean Tradewinds band, would not eat breadfruit because it was “slave food.”  Joe came out of the steelband movement in Trinidad and had been the leader of a Laventille steelband; he could be a very principled guy on certain issues, and he was right about breadfruit.

Follow the chicken hawk

A beautiful chicken hawk patrols the area behind our house. A vigorous flyer –you know the species – it surveys the territory from a perch high up on a GT&T telephone wire, swooping down occasionally to snatch a kreketeh or some other delicacy.

When is it going to stop?

Among the frustrations in modern life are things so ridiculous, so patently illogical, that when you run into them you are propelled to ask, “When are we going to stop this?” I have heard from several motorcar owners here of the local traffic police practice of pouncing on drivers who overtake on a double line.

Why is that?

We all do this.  We see something or hear something – it could be in a brief moment, or it could be a long enduring condition – and in the absurdity of it, a momentary query, along the lines of “why is that going on?” passes through the mind. 

No game like cricket

In recent years, with so many lacklustre Caribbean cricket teams frustrating us with their poor play, and particularly with the sad state of the once supreme regional team, you lose some enthusiasm for cricket, and even end up not watching some games at all.

The bang of the dialect

So It Go

It’s the middle of the day. A quite sophisticated Georgetown lady is parked in her car on Church Street, waiting for a friend, with the doors locked and windows up.

Disagreement without rancour

So It Go

Visiting a country for short spells, no matter how frequently they occur, can leave you unsure if a social behaviour or condition in that society is entrenched or not.

Getting out of the crouch

So It Go

Given the fractured and dislocated conditions of our history in this region, Caribbean people have had a hard climb up the ladder of self-worth.

Uniquely Caribbean

So It Go

I hate souse.  I really don’t know how people enjoy that stuff. Before you start in on me, be assured that this is not a hasty conclusion. 

You’re supposed to know

So It Go

Early in my reacquaintance with driving in Guyana, I was introduced to a phrase, numbingly illogical, that will become very familiar very quickly to anyone coming to grips with the traffic rules in the country. 

A new disease

So It Go

Let me take you back about 10 years.  I was living in Grand Cayman, with my Pomeroon background, out in the country on a big piece of land, and I would often take a break from my fruit trees to watch West Indies cricket.

Ah wha gwan

So It Go

I love dialects. An Irishman in full cry, particularly under some drink, can be a pure joy, even though we may not understand half of what he’s saying; it’s a musical experience.

Pure bunkum

Some of the worst advice you can ever get in life often comes immediately after the expression, “Let me give you some advice.” Many of these pronouncements, frequently given with

Sweet discoveries

So It Go

One of the most substantial planks in the structure of life is that of blind discovery – that sudden encounter with something so delightful that almost always the consequent thought is “Why didn’t I know about this before?” These new awarenesses come to us like a gift, adding small enhancements or significant ones to the fabric of our lives.

Caribbean nutrition news

So It Go

When I was youngster I worked for about three years at Atkinson Field (now Timehri) which was originally an American base.

The elusive collective voice


When I first went to live in a big city in North America, my almost immediate impression was the astonishing level of order in the place.

How good we once were


I had completely forgotten that almost 15 years ago, living in Grand Cayman, I had sent my friend Colin Cholmondeley (then living in Jamaica) a short column from Wisden Cricket Monthly by BBC broadcaster and writer John Arlott on the West Indies cricket tour of England in 1950.

The absence of repose


When I returned to Guyana in 1968, after a gap of some 12 years, I was standing in my aunts’ shop at Hague Front, talking with a rice farmer from Hague Back who had known me from a boy.

Keeping us safe in the air

I am going to assume that you haven’t been living in a truli hut in the Amazon, and you know that since the terrorism upsurge the airlines have these restrictions designed to keep us safe in the air.

Relay the praise

In the song “Angels Wings”, dedicated to Caribbean mothers, I am actually singing about the life of my own mother, Zepherina Barcellos, who left many impressions on me. 

People in a grip

These columns I produce every week for Stabroek News are fun to write and fun, also, for the feedback they generate.

It’s not just us

Some days, in fact most days, the barrage of distressing news on the pages of our daily newspapers is enough to cause despair if not clinical depression.

Away and back

I love mutton curry. From the first time I sampled it at an Indian wedding on the East Coast donkey years ago, I was hooked; you can keep your chicken and even your hassar.

Our habits divide us

Ignore all the corny Confucius jokes in fractured English; this was really a man with a startlingly brilliant mind about the human condition. 

So It Go: Coming and Going

Recently I spent two days in Florida, two days in New Jersey and five days in Maine, mostly just travelling about, noticing Uncle Sam’s ways, reflecting on back home ways, eating some good food, checking out the fall colours in the leaves – in other words, essentially down time.

So It Go: Musical gems

Ideas for ‘So It Go’ columns come from anywhere and everywhere. Recently, for example, I met Bernard Fernandes, a musician/teacher, born in Guyana, raised in Trinidad, now based in Canada, and in the course of several email exchanges, he was curious about what would be some of my favourite calypsos.

So It Go: Returning home

It’s probably impossible to start with a digression – a digression means you’re departing from something that has already begun – but allow me to infuriate somebody by starting with a digression anyway (creative licence), and here it is: I hate the term ‘remigrant’; it sounds like a concept in a sociology paper, or some species of wandering fish.

So It Go: Keep the gaff going

Last week, in a column entitled ‘Knowing the Fine Fine,’ I made the point that to know any society, including this one, you had to remain imbedded in it for a long time, and that therefore when resident Guyanese tell expatriate Guyanese that they “don’t understand Guyana,” the comment is accurate.

So It Go: Knowing all the fine fine

Usually it’s clear where I’m going when I start off one of these columns, but sometimes I start out one place which leads to somewhere else; today is one of the latter.

Better than 20/20

Sometimes you meet a person, and you mesh instantly.  It was like that with a man named Ormand Panton I met in Grand Cayman many years ago.

Vreed-en-Hoop then and now

I was born at Hague and spent the very early part of my life there, but in my teenage years the Martins family lived at New Road, Vreed-en-Hoop.

Visitors will avoid us

I lived for more than 25 years in the Cayman Islands where tourism is almost 50% of the economy.

The Foo phenomenon

In a recent column, where I referred to some of the differences between living in Guyana and living outside, space limitations prevented me from mentioning an importance difference – marketing.

Gaffing with Kraws

I call him “Kraws” but you know him as Ken Corsbie, Guyana’s premier storyteller/comedian who celebrated his 80th birthday recently, and I’m touched that so many of you got in touch with him on that occasion.