Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wikileaks Guyana

No great revelations, just the usual speculation and a fairly balanced view from one of the US Ambassadors about the lack of Interest in the fledgling Guyana Stock market due to lack of Transparency in financial matters, starting with one of the Biggest Companies -  ironically, the one started by a vehemently anti-PPP pro-business guy coming from the privileged class, who hated that upstart Jagan for daring to suggest that the working conditions be a bit more humane for the exploited workers back in the '50s. Makes you wonder if all the Bullshit they teach in business classes work as the world of business seems to turn on 'who you know', exploitation and persuading the unsophisticated people to buy things they don't need?
I sometimes wonder how this small nation of less than 1 million people occupied with petty in-fighting must seem to the rest of the World, who must in turn wonder why we can't seem to get it right-- starting with the basics. So, in the usual Guyanese tradition of avoiding financial scrutiny, a mysterious fire conveniently burnt down all the records! The other companies not faring any better, eking out small dividends while advertising new markets and products-- mmm. The only company actually giving something back to their Shareholders being the tobacco company, but did I really want to benefit from promoting  something I KNOW is bad and exploiting the ignorant? As was noted, the natural result of Guyanese voting with their feet, thus causing 'the local stock market ...(to be) “handicapped” by low trading volume and regulatory problems'.
So back to the non-revelation that we've been infiltrated by the druggies-- well duh!! As our Putin-like president said : we didn't need the Americans to tell us that -- so what's his solution-- well he felt as the drugs were heading North it was their problem?!  Very mature and responsible, Champion of the Earth!  Not having a good system for gathering Stats or shrouded in secrecy, there seems to be only anecdotal feelings that the local drug problem is increasing particularly amongst the youngsters, having had a family member screw his life up - a story I think most Guyanese with even tenuous family ties can concur-- that they 'know' someone who is/was addicted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Karmic?

So the Looting and instances of Arson have rightly been condemned as criminal on the streets of London/Britain, therefore was dismayed that pictures of Gadhafi's Compound being looted was triumphantly being shown on the Media.  Reminiscent of those images of Baghdad being looted and the anguish of the curators of the National Museum while the Americans chose that moment to say it was nothing to do with them and stood idly by.
It's almost as if the Criminal Elements of those countries are encouraged to destroy the country's status quo and intimidate those who would take charge...
The estimates that 2000 people have been injured in Tripoli is a statistic that is not well publicised though I obviously heard it on the the said Media and I wondered how the Americans and Europeans (British had a taste) would cope if their social barriers were broken down-- though the National Guard did prevent widespread Looting fairly quickly during Katrina and most people behaved admirably during the 9-11 attacks. Talking of which-- I see the Afghanis have taken to celebrating significant malevolent anniversaries, using that flimsy excuse to attack the British in Kabul a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Opium of the Masses -2

So certain sectors of the population are disappointed that Shilpa Shetty who was advertised as 'tonnes of surprises' sat on Stage for half of the 45minutes she was on-stage and didn't do much for the other half. Ha ha - and what pray tell were they expecting- a beautiful woman who married well to do what exactly? As a B-actress it wasn't like she was reknown for her singing or dancing or holding any strong beliefs about the world - her claim to fame being a Poster Child for the patriarchial system.
Guyana's attempt to ape the Celebrity Culture ended up in shambles and I do not think it is necessarily a bad thing, likewise with a certain group trying to promote the Indian ideal of beauty as fair skin and light eyes. This imposition and homogenisation of Beauty and what it is good for ought to be examined, coming from the school of thought 'Handsome is as handsome does'.
So then, this Show provided a Forum where people could dress up in their over-priced (for the average Guyanese) Indian costumes and meet others. Who would be the winners here-- the promoters and the Dress shops; who are the suckers and as one man commented-- he used the $3000 for a better night at KFC!

* Additional added a day later:  As an interesting observation --- putting Shilpa's picture on the Blog certainly seemed to increase the traffic by about 3 times!  People obviously preferring to hear a rant about someone they 'know' than one on the war in Libya or other social issues?

It's the Oil, stupid

The News report that one of Gaddafi's sons had been captured by the rebels may have been premature or he managed to buy his way out. The BBC reported China as now modifying their rhetoric to include the the rebels as Western Leaders rush to claim 'victory' now that Gaddafi looks like he's on his way out-- a friend posting that he escaped dressed as a woman and probably emerging in some sub-terrain hide-out like Saddam - By the Way-- I wonder if it's true that China got the biggest Oil deals in the post-Iraq American-led 'Liberation'-- how did THAT happen-- duh!?
Hopefully lessons would have been learnt and the 'freed' Libyans will remember who encouraged them along their path to Liberation.  Mmm, so on the News they were interviewing an Analyst who claimed that the level of Violence has increased drastically under the Chavez reign-- countered by another journalist who said it was a spill-over from all those displaced Columbian refugees and the success of the Mexican Cartels in guarding their territories/routes from those pesky South American wannabes who want to send their illegal goods up North.
Shame Chavez chose this moment to get cancer as Venezuela and Iran look next on the 'Liberation List'! Oh the Mullahs successfully held out last year-- ok then -- our neighbours to the West?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nine Lives by William Dalrymple


Read the book out in a weekend – was glad the author took the time to document several people who follow various religious paths in danger of being submerged by the homogeneity of the larger organized religions like Wahhabi Islam and orthodox Hinduism. While I was grateful that those interviewed shared their life stories all of which evoked more than a touch of pathos; I wondered about Mr Darymple profiting off them, but acknowledge a more respectful attitude towards those he encountered compared to his first book- In Xanadu- which I also enjoyed.
A couple of the stories illustrated how the rigid, strait-laced Indian society fostered the extremes that people would go to express themselves- in the first and last stories, children of well-to-do families rejected the conventional ‘safe’ path for the unknown- one embracing celibacy, although supposedly practising non-attachment, was devastated when the companion of 20 years died- and the other engaging in tantric-like Baul practices.
Published in 2009, it documented well the devastation of HIV/AIDS on one family forced to continue in prostitution under the ‘tradition’ of dedicating the young girls to Yellamma/becoming devadasis – applicable to pre-Mugal India, certainly not 21st century ‘Shining India’!
The book was very informative about Sufism and illustrated well the devastation Partition had on the lives of ordinary Indians. The story about the Idol-maker reminded me of the part in Anil’s Ghost where the final part of installation of the eyes is very sacred,  but sadly that tradition is also under threat of the Mass-produced market. Interesting and informative too was the fact that the erotic images/sculptures on the Khujharo temples were illustrating Tantric practices prevalent when the temple was being built.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Poor man's Entertainment

Sorry didn't buy this book of a Graduate's paper on why the Haitians' strategy of having many children was not such a bad one. Flipping to the back of the book - it was basically -- the chance of having a child alive to look after you in your Old Age was a better one in a place where there were no Support Services.

I wonder at the ridiculous stance of the Catholic Church of forbidding contraceptive advice, much less contraception? What possible reason-- the oft cited one is the sanctity of Human Life -- (mmm, this from the same people who stood by during slavery and in current times blatant exploitation of the Poor-- but I digress) but then what do they think happens to families when the children go hungry and neglected?
Is the solution the drastic one of China's? I note the recent Chinese arrivals gleefully expanding their families as the most obvious source of Labour in their family endeavours.
A friend who goes to the local Red Cross children's home reports that the children are desperate for touch-- what's wrong with mothers who deposit children and then proceed to have another for a new man? What is Society's role in all this?  It all seems that the Live Fast and Die Young mentality has crept into every sphere!

The National Insurance Scheme is going bust because it was presumed that the number of working contributors would keep increasing to pay the pensions of those retiring-- all shrouded in mystery as the Funds don't seem to be properly managed and now the pot is too small and people's expectations have risen.
The only ones who feel there are opportunities to be had are the small number with the Capital to link with bigger money to squeeze the ignorant poor of their sweaty pennies - I know -beginning to sound snobbily elitist but Shakespeare's observation depressingly shows nothing's changed in all these years as we hurtle towards killing off the earth and ourselves: 'the rabblement hooted and clapped their chapped hands and threw up their sweaty night-caps'.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Eureka Medical Lab

Happy to report a noticeable improvement in one of the better-run private labs in Georgetown.
Kudos to improved staff attitude-- more pleasant doorman keen to help, much reduced waiting time-- just less than half-hour from the receptionist's desk to getting some blood extracted, Lab tech polite and pleasant and results back in almost half the time.
Clearly the formula is working, as they opened a Lab in New Amsterdam also-- just hope they manage to maintain these standards

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sign of times...

Was surprised at  the violence on the streets of London and other inner-cities in England, similar to what we tend to have around Elections (due this year!) - seemingly due to fustrated self-expression and opportunity to loot.  In spite of having more resources, training and studies predicting that internal strife will become more prevalent I am still surprised that the Metropoltian Police have been unable to contain and there is talk of enlisting the Army!!  Sounds alarmingly like Guyana, but in the Guyana situation there was less cohesiveness within the Police Force, and not having the infrastructure to support a man's family in the event of death or injury- each individual here had to grapple with his conscience whether to turn out to work or not.

Several analysts have noted that the rioters are youth and other disgruntled people who can organise better due to immproved communication - not exactly those on the brink of starvation, though that's predicted to be a problem in the future.  It's the lack of personal values I find very similar to Guyana, so maybe this is a bigger and more universal problem? As a conservative British MP noted, how can you teach a generation brought up on instant gratification, patience?
Here's my Haiku on the subject:

London's burning now
Angry Class excluded how?
Lessons for us all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So that's how 'they' do it...

Today's paper had a disgruntled ex-member of one of the main political parties writing a letter to one of the dailies exposing how Politicians are shamelessly power-hungry. (http://www.stabroeknews.com/2011/opinion/letters/08/08/jagdeo-sought-invitation-to-manhattan-parade-of-indian-americans ),
 Apparently it's normal to write to ask for an invite to be a VIP! Rass, didn't realise that-- I asked dem clowns at the Ministry of Culture nuff times to put me on a guest-list, if they have one for any Literary Event, as sometimes the audience is embarrassingly sparce, (still waiting- only been a couple of years)--- apparently the organisation concerned was a bit reluctant and so they had to be reminded that they had invited another politician from a neighbouring country only the previous year!!
Wow, talk about arm-twisting?  Here's me in a deluded moment thinking that special invitees were just that-- people whose opinion other people were actually interested in? Mmm, so those lobbyists and Publicity Agents are actually paid to get their masters to 'pope' events like if they were actually wanted!
On another note. UNESCO got suckered into holding a writer's workshop and although the organiser stressed that registration was -- um, now-- the actual official opening wasn't til 2hrs later-- now this is real eye-pass and disrespectful of other people's time. In fact, I have an issue with the whole thing-- as I had suggested a weekend retreat so that people who actually work-- more likely to be literate anyway-- could attend. As it is, the event is held around the corner from my office and in spite of an incipient headache--can try to cover both work and play..smiles-- look out for the book if all goes well!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Changing face of Georgetown

In spite of Guyana being in fairly dire straits in the '70's, I  have pretty happy memories of a Georgetown childhood. The Seawall being a constant feature. Was fortunate to be able to afford to visit Shell Beach recently for a weekend and it brought back those memories as the Beach there reminded me of how the Georgetown beach by the Pegasus used to be!  Lots of interesting shells to pick up and examine, jelly-fish to 'buss' with a stick and mud-flats where you could sink your toes in the deliciously cool, thick mud by a little hole and have a fine crab exit hurriedly...Wasn't old enough to experience the whole 'courting' scene associated with the Seawall but do remember the general shock when Dolly Baksh was killed and mutilated on the Kitty foreshore. Things took a decline since then but it was still an accepted thing to visit the Wall after 6pm and chat with other Georgetown inhabitants.
Hence, the shock to discover that a friend was attacked at about 6pm on a fairly quiet stretch of the Wall on the East Coast bit presumably while exercising. Nevertheless, whatever the reason she was there it feels very restrictive that there are now people waiting to prey on the unsuspecting Public.
See http://gtobserver.blogspot.com/2011/06/lord-help-us.html

It's disturbing as one wonders if the foreigners are being targeted; but with the increasing accompanying violence I just wonder what is the greater influence-- graphic depictions of violence easily available or the influx of deportees perhaps with a chip on their shoulder? I mean I lived a block away from Tiger Bay where choke-and-rob was a fairly common feature but it seems that the level of violence has increased.  Generally Guyanese used to be interested and fascinated by the foreigners and not willing to inflict violence readily.
It's a changing world that doesn't seem to be for the better in Georgetown.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why it's exhausting to live in Guyana...

...because you can see a problem and even go so far as to try and draw attention to it, but then nothing gets done and when further problems arise you think to yourself..but I said THIS would happen!

So, there's a problem of over-sized vehicles and narrow roads designed for the days when the importation of Cars were severely restricted. I had written a letter to the papers about the avenue that my parent's house is located as the Large oversized vehicle drivers generally bully the others into the grass verge. My personal view is that they should not be allowed onto most roads in Georgetown and at the driver's expense, the same monitering device which restricts vehicles into London and presumably major City Centres be installed; as the reigning 'more money than sense' viewpoint is sadly apparent.
So on my way to feed the dogs, an over-sized Dodge pick-up sped by at the narrowest section of the road where there is a restricted view of the road from both sides, though presumably the higher placed you are the better the view. I pulled into the corner and grazed a hedge but he clipped my bumper and it and the side-strip fell off as the Germans wisely attached both with clips. Shaken I got out of the vehicle and the kind Afro-Guyanese couple on their way to the Emancipation celebrations at the Park gave me their pen and name and address in the event I needed a witness.  Turns out to be a young Brazilian who tried to argue that we were both on the road in his limited English-- so I told him to head to the nearest Police Station where I'd make a report as he didn't agree to pay for re-installing the bumper.
The long and short of it is that I got my Bodyshop people to come and give an estimate late at night but got into a panic when I couldn't get the go-head as his and his Guyanese liasion person's cell-phone was switched off, so I accepted their offer of letting their Bodyshop person fix back the bumper the next day.
On collecting the car, I noticed Dry-wall screws were liberally applied to parts that fell off and really needed to be replaced and the young body-shop guy proudly announced that the next time I have an accident it wouldn't fall off-- no you idiot-- it'll just rip away the bottom of my car!!!  The Germans had a reason for attaching that parts with clips--this begins to feel strangely familiar to the guys forcing the long lugs in and damaging the threads of the wheel and other part.
 See http://gtobserver.blogspot.com/2011/06/recklessness.html .   Maybe this is divine punishment-- be stuck with a bit of a brain in a Sea of Ignorance?

When I started to whine, the man made himself scarce and his 'manager' attempted to distract me with the totally irrelevant comments on his aunt and my accent!
Too exhausted to fight further-- we have exceptionally talented amateurs but that is what they are-- amateurs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons by Ann Rinaldi

In the absence of the Andrea Levy 'The Long Song', this was a last-minute substitution and worked quite nicely as a contrast with "The Book of Negroes'.
There was an immediate difference in the written English - this book concentrating on mainly telling the story and the language coming across as a  bit amateurish- I wasn't surprised then to discover at the end of the book that it was self-published.  That said, the story was interesting as a comparison to the afore-mentioned  BoN, in that the chief protagonist was a slave who was taken from Africa as a young child, old enough to remember bits of their previous lives but young enough to adapt to new customs, become literate and use that to their advantage.
The story of Phillis Wheatley is all the more extraordinary as it was based on an actual person and even allowing for the writer's imagination it highlighted what we now take so much for granted- that coloured people were simply not considered on par with the Human level. I liked the surprise in both books, at the women being able to express their thoughts on paper and influence the Abolitionist Movement.
It was interesting for me that Phillis could not publish her book of poems in the Colony of America as it would be considered offensive and inflammatory so she had to go to breathe the pure air of England and be published in London where she would automatically be freed- smiles- what a crock (of shit) as they say!!

Other reviewers noted the double-edged sword of Freedom for an indulged House-slave and sadly Phillis died in poverty in an unmarked pauper's grave, an ignoble end for America's first Black Poet. At the risk of provoking the entire African community and African Diaspora in the Year of African People- one wonders how their descendants are doing with their Freedoms and whether like poor Phillis they are still subject to the largesse of the liberal/more progressive Whites?