Sunday, September 30, 2012


So a fascinating thing has happened in Guyana the past couple of years since there was a crisis in the Car Industry - the place has simply exploded with cars!
I remember a dealer some time ago, telling me gleefully that the duty to bring in a Gas-guzzling Titan/Tundra was less then a million G dollars - I have been told recently that this is not so now. It boggles my mind that people in rented places are buying cars which depreciate in value the moment you drive off the Forecourt and represent an ongoing expense. Even more fascinating to me is that as my business in Berbice has dwindled - the man who used to use a donkey-cart to take his Corn-curls and biscuits to sell in the Market only last year now has 4 cars!!?? What and why? The small-time druggie( allegedly) near my office has a whole fleet- I was told he runs an informal Car Rental business.
As I was passing the Market early Saturday morning I saw a housewife expertly reversing into a parking-spot and was duly impressed. A Government official had proudly told 'the people' that they never 'had it so good' last elections with ready access to Cars and houses.  I wondered how pleased the international Car Industry would be with the creation of New Markets with people now empowered to drive without undertaking the basic concept of Courtesy on the Road, not seeming to practice Courtesy in their daily lives.  Consideration at an all time low as evinced by the rubbish strewn environment and loud-blaring music. Care- well, I am of the opinion the only reason there are not more deaths on the Road is because driving in Guyana involves avoiding one another at the last possible moment- something not for the faint-hearted - I came across three visiting US doctors who had access to a car but refused to drive, preferring to taxi it everywhere.
Am definitely feeling like a Dinosaur as in my day, it used to be a certain amount of maturity and respect that you were driving a potentially dangerous machine capable of causing damage, now the Standard operating 'cool' procedure is the have the Cell-phone plastered firmly to one ear while slouched in a 'cool position' holding the steering wheel with a locked elbow oblivious to drivers behind you while you are in the wrong Lane cos it's YOUR road and EVERYBODY ELSE must wait!

Purely coincendently - SN Editorial addresses this and other problems with the Roadways, including the role of the Police and Government:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Indian Science Fair

If I had a 9yr old, I would certainly spend a few hours with it in this interactive science-based exhibition -very reminiscent of the Ontario Science Museum who I think started encouraging visitors to 'touch' the exhibits and employing students to be living guides- a trend taken up by other museums later.
India rightly ought to be proud of its contributions to science and mathematics and the start of the exhibition had some very informative posters about steel developed during Emperor Ashoka's reign which did not rust. Unfortunately I rushed in 40 minutes to Closing Time and so could only do a hurried Walk-Through but the two locals near the back of the exhibition came over and showed me how to make pretty patterns with a swinging pendulum.
I liked the Brahma's puzzle but didn't think it was that hard as it involved moving 3 sets of increasing wooden circles from three pegs on the right to three pegs on the left via two middle pegs without making a smaller circle be below a larger one at any time-- unfortunately I didn't have time to work out the formulae in the descriptive board-- maybe I was doing it wrong?
Interesting was the use of harnessing the Ocean's power, shame they haven't seemed to developed Solar as much as the Chinese.
Definitely worth a second visit.
Then from the sublime to the ridiculous - decided to drop by Rahaman's Park to look for a present for a friend as a group of Indian businessmen had brought in a container of stuff to sell - they were clearly mad as something I would find on the Pave in NY for 5 bucks was selling for $20 - I wondered if they left room for haggling but wasn't in the mood to - picked up a pretty jewellery set and exited quickly!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


So growing up in the confining space of a 'small town' - you either developed a 'thick skin' and shrugged off what everyone else thought-- easier for Guys as playing the field was considered 'macho' not so good for the Girls - Clubbie was the name in my day. Although the younger more mercenary woman today seem to have this thicker skin built-in - not even stopping to care about her sister wife. Or you were super cautious to keep out of the gossipy aunts' way.
My sympathy goes out to Kate Middleton, caught on camera sunbathing topless - the European/Northern sun is delicious on your skin unlike the horrible burning-to-a frazzle-and-causing a heat-rash sun here in Guyana. Even worse, with the advent of the internet those pictures are apparently available 24/7 for those who want to see - I googled Kim Kardashian and apparently her sex tape with Ray-J is the best selling porn tape out! I hope she is getting the royalties but somehow I don't think so.
An English journalist made the point to the effect it's almost playing into the hands of the other extremists and justifying women be fully covered at all times if this is supposed to be 'Western Freedom'. Mind you that wouldn't solve the problem of men craving to 'see' women's bodies - the problem would arise when that boundary of decency is crossed and a woman's body is displayed without her consent but upheld by the Courts, as in France.  And for those couples who enjoy looking at each other's bodies -with and without action-- surely some sort of International Law should be there to prevent others and ex-spouses from using your image without your consent?

26-Sept- Consider this:

Casino at Princess Hotel - and musings about Gambling

So a pair of Regulars invited me to join them after a quick check that I could get in.
I had visions of slickly-suited men in tuxs and women in designer gear immaculately made-up like in the Bond Films. Wasted a whole fantasy as I was told I could go in jeans! In fact, just after midnight a couple of dirty-looking Brazilians came in wearing Flip-Flops! Nothing like low-life Brazilians to lower the Standards of a place!
So the place is roughly T-shaped when you walk in - the US Dollar machines on your left, the poker and 21 tables straight ahead and the lowly G dollars machines on your right, past the Roulette table just before the toilets (which by the way were woeful-- two of the five booths were open and one had not toilet paper and the one that did had a sticky floor by the actual toilet).  We headed right.  I figured the arrangement was to help the mainly 20-something dolly-birds who were waitressing figure out who to ignore as the free drinks never materialised an hour after ordering them and I wandered up myself to the Bar at the back to get a bottle of water as the Chinese guy next to us was smoking non-stop and the smoke was drying out my throat.
The machines have been updated from my memory-- there isn't a lever on the right that you have to pull any more-- instead a button you hit- thereby depriving the mainly overweight middle-aged crowd of any little exercise they could justify their presence in the Casino. I was mildly surprised to see most of the machines apparently made in England!
At about midnight there was a Balkan/Eastern European Dance Troupe, sadly no-one paid them much attention although I appreciated that they choreographed belly dance steps to a contemporary Hindi/Filmi song. I was told that the serious gamblers also don't drink too much as they want to keep a clear head to 'win'.
As I wandered around the room I remembered a passage from a very elucidating book - 'Healing Life's Hurts' by Michael Hardiman, about addiction: 'Addiction, in most cases, is the abuse of any substance or activity that leads to self-destruction. The core element of addiction, in my opinion, is the individual's use of such purposes: filling a void or sense of emptiness; quelling distressing feelings; and /or producing pleasant or euphoric feelings.'  Of course, I hasten to add this does not apply to my two regulars who justified their visits as an economic one as they would end up spending what they do at a regular evening at a Bar, and the surroundings were pleasant enough:  air-conditioned with soft rock music in the Background, the odd sandwich thrown in for free...  "So gambling addicts use thinking as a means of avoidance. - and Casinos provide a situation that can utilise their mental energy - the risks inherent in betting occupy the mind and eventually take it over completely. Allied to that is the adrenaline surge inherent in the excitement in winning or losing."
Beginner's Luck - and I was ahead by $4000 -- started losing and stopped - ended the night $2000 more than when I came in, somehow I don't think I was the sort of person these Casinos were designed for!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Who decides 'normal'? Sex

The second paragraph of this article begins thus:  'Hollywood's march to tear down -- to obliterate, really -- every boundary of sexual decency' and goes on to describe a 'new ground-breaking' film debut-ing at the Toronto Film Festival wherein I presume the director works into reality one of his fantasies using his ex-wife to play a prescription addicted woman who has prison-sex with her incarcerated brother.  It reminded me of a book written by Ben Elton, who used to be my favourite comedian when Stand-Up became popular, called Popcorn dealing with the question of violence in Hollywood and whether it influenced people's behaviour or whether it was the other way around-- Hollywood merely reflecting the new reality.
Having grown up in conservative, sheltered Guyana where the Censors were very active, I remered looking at the film 'About Last Night' in disbelief and annoyance as basically what happened - two young attractive people met at a party, had sex and woke up the next morning in the same bed and felt awkward because they didn't know each others name!  And thinking that THAT is not what happens in real Life I know it...and it was basically setting a new low standard for the non-American film-watching Public to follow.   I would have agreed with the protagonist in Popcorn that behaviour in Films don't influence Joe Public except that when I was about 16yrs or so, I 'followed' this girl to Suddie and when we were walking back from the Cinema this young boy broke off from his gang of friends and started singing a (Indian) film song and I believe even dancing around-- poor demented fool-- that was his only experience of a man letting a woman know he was interested in her!  My personal experience is that the inexperienced and socially inept DO tend to mimic behaviour in films, which leads to peer pressure and unless your child is well grounded in your particular Family Culture, they will be vulnerable to those same things you sniff at and say wouldn't happen.
As an interesting aside Borges says all men are the same at the moment of coitus.
But back to the influence of Hollywood - it is interesting that the American diplomats are presumably on High Alert over some rubbishy crap (an Egyptian Coptic person made a film on Muhamed having sex). If I was so inclined, I myself would go and demonstrate outside an Embassy that those clowns have turned a beautiful and bonding act into a dispensable commodity - I was looking at some earlier episodes of the sitcom 'How I Met Your Mother' and the protagonist and his friend complained that his Balls were turning blue because his Love Interest had not had sex with him although they had been going out for a month! In fact, his room-mates who were eavesdropping mocked when the girl said 'I want to get to know you'. No wonder the young are confused watching this sort of shit. 

Post-script 18th Nov 2016:  Clearly having too much time on my hands, I was messing about on YouTube and somehow wondered unto the Kay Griggs' interviews and while writing her off as a crank who rambled on - pulling in everybody and everything under the sun-- 9/11, the US military, Jon Benet (the missing Colorado child) _ clicked on a link where this writer who had Hollywood aspirations basically said it is a sick bunch of people out there who force/fool the young and innocent to do something perverse-- such bizarre sexual practices in order to destroy their self-image 'He told me how sex is used to control, intimidate and groom boys into this type of military service from a young age.' (both Hollywood and the US military, covert ops) - I actually felt sorry for young men having to encounter all this as I am noticing that young men seem to be more fragile emotionally -- translating to a higher suicide rate over here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

When money is the bottom line...

... so the Government in 1975 hit in the bright idea of providing all schoolbooks to the under-16's. As we were the guinea-pigs I remember being thrilled to get brand-new books, not so thrilled to have Burnham's face on the front of my exercise books. OF course, even back then I had a love affair with books and tried not to dirty the pages.  The major flaw in the system was that students were not held accountable for damaged books - this inculcated the 'slave mentality' of free handouts without responsibilities. And bizarre as it seemed to me - other children managed to rip the covers off the textbooks. By the time I progressed to the higher forms the textbooks were a sorry state and you quickly learned to be the first so you could pick the books in better condition if the teacher in charge was lenient. Even then certain books were not enough and you had to buy a few. Certainly the ones for extra lessons!
So flash to the current day - the Government of the day persists in not pulling up those children who do not look after the books properly so that they can be passed on to be re-used by the pupils in the following class. This then becomes a costly exercise.  So in today's newspaper the Cabinet Secretary confesses that they sanction pirated copies -- um-- people you are the Government of the Day - you have to be seen to be doing the right thing. How can they uphold Intellectual property rights while breaking the laws themselves.  In my field, encouraging a foreign company to suck up most of the customers while lowering Standards and not paying any Taxes - what possible message are they sending?   Maybe Government is all about reinventing the wheel?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Innocents paying..

'The two-hour movie, Innocence of Muslims, cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Bacile, who wrote and directed it. The film claims Muhammad was a fraud. The 14-minute trailer of the movie that reportedly set off the protests, posted on the website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons.
It depicts Muhammad as a feckless philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse, among other overtly insulting claims that have caused outrage.'
I was sadden to hear that the (relatively) innocent American ambassador and his colleagues had to die due to the aggressive Israeli stance of continuing the provoke the Muslims into retaliating. By all accounts Mr Chris Stevens looks WASP-ish and I wondered yet again why America kowtows to its Jewish lobbyists paying a heavy diplomatic price?
Movie sounds like the sort of propaganda crap that one would not waste time viewing and looks like a deliberate ploy to provoke therefore Mr Bacile is responsible, along with the Brainbox/es who conceived the idea, for the deaths of the American Consular staff. If I was Obama, I would hand his ass over to the Libyans, or at the very least resolve to put him on the banned persons list for endangering American lives-- an interesting comment on the NPR site was : why didn't he release this movie in his own country of Israel?

UPDATE:  So after the dust has settled the plot thickens - turns out Sam Bacile is a anagram of imbecile - yes I know- not the exact spelling but we are dealing with illiterate Americans here and is likely not a real person - in which case was the purpose for winding up the Muslims a cynical way of herding the flock to vote against the Democrats and in favour of the War-Hawks? If I was Mr Stevens' family I would be sueing a whole bunch of people in the Courts!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

It's odd how books get selected for The Bookclub. We decided to have a month for Latin American writers and Savage Detectives was suggested, to be paired with Ficciones by Jorge Lois Borge.  A month before the said month, after attempting to read Savage Detectives for over a year I was told it was too hard a read, especially paired with the Borges. Actually with so much to read I didn't get past the Introduction of the Borges myself!
Another Bookclub member vaguely remembered a book with a Mango Street in the title last year when the forthcoming Booklist was being discussed (turns out it was The Mango Season she was thinking of) and I remembered that I had found the above in my Book Exchange Program.  It is really a YA (Young Adult) book, but a quick and thoughtful read - so a good contrast to the magic realism of  Borges. The blurb at the back describes it as 'Told in a series of vibrant vignettes' and as I read it I remembered a friend's blog- Passing Perspectives. The bitter-sweet experiences of emigrants to the US trying to move up the social ladder after being on the bottom rung. There are some good observations, like the writer yearning to leave both the street and the house saying "They will not know I have gone away to come back. For the ones I left behind. For the ones who cannot out." Not unlike the Guyanese emigrant impression, except they are usually appalled at the drop in Standards on their return.
I resonated with 'I am the one nobody comes for. ... Her power is her own.She will not give it away'
Having said all the above, I am sorry that the grammar and punctuation leave a lot to be desired and while it is good to encourage the young to read, surely better editing would help their English skills without detracting anything from the stories?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Georgetowne Gem

Almost missed one of the best (in terms of informative and access to the 'old' knowledge) talks given for the year - by 'Bert' Carter on late 18th Century and early 19th Century Georgetown at Moray House. Thanks to the adminstrator's timely telephone call to remind me!

This excellent presentation took the format of a walk from the East Bank in the days slightly before the Horse-drawn trams-- yes-the East Bank had a sensible Public Transport system before the masses of people appeared -- down Water Street to the Seawall before the Pegasus Hotel was built. He told us that there were about 220 old pictures/photograghs so it was a visual treat as well.
The architectural beauty that has survived the vandalism through the ages and still available today was highlighted and I resolved to go with my camera and try to take some shots before they all disappear. An interesting Catholic symbol kept reappearing - I thought he said Tetraconch - a basic Greek Cross but when I looked it up on the Internet -it referred to a building plan. He pointed out William Russell who was a Scottish planter responsible for the concept of the Conservancy Dams and other notable people who made a lasting impression on the face of Georgetown. 
The pictures, many taken a mere three years after the invention of mass photography, were a delight and really gave a clear picture of Georgetown along with its history of development until today's sad mistakes and rampant vandalism with the theft of the iron railings-- incidentally I met a Columbian airhead whose father has a scrap-metal and mining company here in Guyana and who said gaily in response to my comment that they ought to screen the 'scrap-metal' for stolen architectural artifacts that THATwasn't their concern - it was the Government's responsibility-- rather like the Chinese attitude to the elephant tusks eh?
I learnt a lot in a short time and hope the taping/filming becomes widely available - this along with Chapter 2 of The West On Trial I would force every citizen to learn!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Changing Face of Georgetown -2

After reluctantly attending a meeting including a couple people I actively dislike I decided to indulge in some emotional eating and wandered the local Mario's for a pick-me-up pizza. I was quite surprised to see the nice seating area overlooking Camp St turned into Quiznos counters, making the place feel very cramped. Granted that the Fast-food mentality is to serve 'em up quick and leave so we can get a large turnover - it really downgraded the place and it wasn't helped by the sullen girl behind the Mario's counter, who felt it necessary to serve up drinks to a customer before punching in the order into the Computer so I could get out of there quicker.
Having less space meant that there was no space for a queue and noting my impatience she turned to serve the laid-back red guy who came after me - he kindly indicated that I was first.
I slipped into a booth by the condiments bar and exchanged a couple remarks with the lady sitting there-- apparently she, the red guy and I think she said her lawyer were having one of their regular get-togethers. They had the juices from Mario's and the subs/wraps from Quiznos. The nice lady muttered about not drinking Cherry juice after 6pm as it was too acidic for the stomach and both men grinned at her and slurped their cherry juices. She noted that the Wrap was not folded like those in the US and shared her Grilled Chicken with them-- read what Yahoo health had to say about this item:

mmm, so much for healthy eating!  However they all seemed to enjoy their subs and wrap.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Why It's Exhausting to Live in Guyana - 5

Because you realise the 20-somethings and 30-somethings who will inherit the land are pretty much clueless but whining about how hard Life is in Guyana into their Blackberries and driving badly in their air-conditioned cars.

I had a couple unsatisfactory encounters with Guyana's future and had to suppress several violent fantasies.
The first being a container parked in the narrow road leading to my mother's house. I was on the other side of the road and had to stop as two cars in the blocked lane sped up, forcing me to come to a halt. As I was proceeding the young 20-something driving his family did the same thing- sped up, and we met roughly in the region of the middle of the container. He waved me to reverse and I stuck my head out of the window to inform him that I had the Right of Way, then turned off my engine! By this time two SUV's came up behind me and mercifully the drivers behind the young man kept a space for him to reverse into. The spectators viewing the situation advised him to back off as it didn't look like I was going anywhere. He grudgingly back-uped leaving very little of the road and forcing one to go off-road. The first SUV roared off around me and I pulled up to tell the erring driver that as I had the Right of Way, the correct thing to do would be to wait until there was no oncoming traffic before pulling into the other lane-- he chortled that he would go when he wanted to - to the amusement of his wife sitting next to him. The nasty racist thing jumped up and I heard mutterings about about my car from the nearby spectators.
The second incident was my break from work to get a cup of coffee- I generally enjoy a stroll down the road - two 20-somethings were 'sooring' down the cashier who was taking a long time to take their orders and batting her eyes at them, causing the next senior person to relieve her so she could wriggle her behind around the Counter-- which is all well and good if I didn't have to get back to the office. One of their colleagues- a young female, pushed ahead of me to ask the second one to buy her three items. Now I was the only other person in the queue and I made an objection muttering that in fact she didn't have long to wait-- the young man ahead of me cancelled his order, turned around and said he was 'buying  for her' and then proceeded to confuse the new cashier. There was no-one else behind me and in fact, everything would have proceeded quicker if everyone stuck to the script. On a positive note- they were all different races.
I must be getting too old for this sort of thing, where it would have amused me before, now I just see everyone trying to buck the system and causing more confusion in the long run!