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.
It is part of the fulminations of life that nothing happens in isolation.
Getting inside a culture and unravelling it for someone is tough enough if you’re from that culture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There was a time – and not so long ago at that – when the mass distribution of a personal opinion was a very restricted process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since I first saw Mashramani in 1968, the festival has had an uneven history.
Some music fans just enjoy the music and let you know, and that’s it.
I’m driving up to a house on a side road up the East Coast.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
When I was youngster I worked for about three years at Atkinson Field (now Timehri) which was originally an American base.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These columns I produce every week for Stabroek News are fun to write and fun, also, for the feedback they generate.
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.
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.
Most of the time, people appear in your life almost as in a passing parade, they come and they go.
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.
Visitors getting into a car in Guyana for the first time are often left shocked, perhaps even stunned, by our driving habits.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.