Monday, March 28, 2011

Technology-1

So in the News dis week a quite attractive 23yr old Jamaican woman travelling out of her country for the first time was stopped by a female official at barbados airport. She was taken into a room and strip searched, then-- this is the incredible part-- told to bend over and spread her private bits for inspection- I wondered why she complied?- but then felt a gloved finger finger-raping her! (Sigh-- you know I really can't see CARICOM lasting another 10 years).
So OK, the Americans blasting you with radiation or the British putting you to sit on a Glass Potty until you do your business actually sounds more humane. Though personally I would take my chances with the Fluffy Alastian dogs that seem to be used increasingly!
Actually reminds me of a joke, where the US Army sends a top-ranking officer with a trained dog, on a very important secret mission. His instructions are to go to Location A where the trained dog would press the correct button, then Location B where the the dog would again choose the correct button and finally to location C and he's given the lastest pistol-- and here-- I forget the rest of the Joke-- :( sorry-- I'm really bad telling jokes-- but basically the man with the gun is to protect the dog who's really 'doing' the mission!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Boyd Thai Restaurant- Greenwich Village

Was wandering around 'the Village' and wondered whether I 'missed it' as I was expecting a quaint 'village' with lots of Cafes and trendy stores- maybe before the Recession and if the weather had been a bit better?
I hadn't bothered to look online and instead resorted to asking the natives who had me crossing between 8th and 6th Avenue. Although it was a sunny day I started feeling cold and stopped in front of a Thai Restaurant offering a Lunch special. Having had the best Thai food somewhere off a big Shopping street in Toronto at a similar Lunch Special, I opted to go in as Boyd was apparently a celebrated Chef in another Restaurant
I chatted to a woman who said this was the best 'deal' in the village and she lunched there regularly. My tastebuds thanked me in advance!
The young girl didn't seem to understand English very well when I questioned her about the options but I reckoned that most things would be good and opted for the Green Curry Classic. I looked forward to the salad as Green Mango Salad was my first taste of a Thai Lunch Special when I was very pleasantly surprised by the fresh and unusual combination of flavours, followed by other interesting flavours in the set menu combining a light spicy touch not overpowering the other flavours... no such luck here... Boyd seemed to be run by a set of Thai hustlers using Food as their medium-- or maybe it was contempt for the Lunch Special crowd?
The salad was a regular salad with bits of diced apple thrown in and smothered with French Dressing from a bottle. I wasn't asked whether I wanted the soup instead of the Spring Roll but probably just as well as the Spring Roll was the best thing. The Green Curry was a real disappointment though I think not really due to the Chef as the Chicken Breast Meat, which can be tasteless at the best of times, was definitely NOT organic and totally tasteless in spite of the very hot sauce that it and the vegetables were swimming in (had asked for 'mild'). I later tried a chicken Taco from a Fast-Food joint and noticed that mass-produced chicken really is tasteless- we sadly are moving to that means of production in Guyana--- a friend who started a Chicken Farm stopped eating chicken as she said it had to be un-natural the way the animals balloon out at six or eight weeks-- but hey, if the food scientists working for the big Food Giants say it ok, then she and I must be wrong-- right?
When I finished the girl was nowhere to be seen and rushed in holding a box of shop-bought Key Lime Pie, pre-sliced-- confirming my suspicion that it's just the regular stuff they serve up at restaurants at highly inflated prices!!
Not coming from a culture of tipping, I opted for the middle suggested option but that didn't improve the attitude as she didn't bother to run after me as I left my almost full bottle of water on the table and had binned it when I realised it a block later and actually went back!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Blogger in NY and back

Interesting to see the changes over the 10yrs I've been visiting.
Good to see the Immigration forms finally redesigned leaving out foolish questions like: "Are you a terrorist" etc. cos I always used to feel tempted to tick the YES box to see if the Immigration Officer was paying attention, but after all the Homeland Security alerts I guess their Sense of Humour must be at a all time low.

Definitely signs of belts being tightened - even McDonalds turned down/off the air-conditioning on an unusually warm,sunny spring day. Quite a few people I knew had their days/hours cut, wonder if Guyanese will appreciate that it's not as easy as they think over there?
I noticed that it was mainly older Black men in their 60's begging on the streets around 6th Avenue and a late middle-aged Black woman in 14th Street, holding up a cardboard sign saying "Tired of Prostitution, please help" The Bangladeshis seemed to corner the Perfume market, fake and otherwise at the corner of Canal Street and the Afghanis seemed to be doing quite well with the Street Food Mobile Units to the dismay of the regular fast-food stores stuck with higher Overheads. The cheap stores were selling things at about the regular price in the Big Stores. My favourite store, Macys, reigned supreme with a Shoe sale but unfortunately in the excitement they couldn't find the other side of most of the pairs and I emerged exhausted with two pairs after three hours about to faint from the heat!
One Guyanese guy commmented he liked the camaraderie of Guyanese and West Indians over in NY where race was not an issue! I felt sorry for the Black Caribbean Airlines agent whose task was to 'persuade' people with taggable baggage to put in the Hold. I surreptitiously zipped up my expandable zip as I had bought stuff for the office at a Trade Show (and was astonished that the person who scanned the bag didn't pull me over!- how do they decide??)and was preparing my best pleading voice claiming fragility when the White Guy ahead refused pointblank- the CA agent went to block his passage into the 'plane when a young Latino colleague said to him that he should let the guy go through, the CA agent went ballistic and threw down the Tags and walked off-- I felt sorry for him as jobs don't seem that easy to come by, but relieved I that I got to stay with my third piece of luggage!
The DEA training Class of 2011 was out at 1am, complete with Sniffer Dog but I have to say the British do it better-- they do the Exercise when you arrive, though thinking about it, I remember reading that 75% of U$100 bills had traces of cocaine but I had blown my cash a long time ago!
Immigration in Guyana had improved also and 'a brother' pushed my trolly forward in the queue as I nipped off the the toilet, as the one on the Airplane had suspiciously sticky spots on the floor before Take-off which deterred me from further visits for the rest of the trip. Here's the surprise-- we have better toilet paper in Public restrooms at the Airport-- two-ply and softer than in NY!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Advertising - Needs and Wants

A good friend commented the other day that Guyanese have not learnt the lesson Joe Average American is learning - that one has to live within his means. This comment was precipitated by the observation that many Guyanese were purchasing cars but still renting living quarters, maybe extending themselves into ongoing debt.
It made me remember what 'The Man' (Cheddi) had to say back in 1945, in his brief Article - http://www.jagan.org/articles2s.htm#The Need For Consumers’ Cooperatives ( Contd ):


(2). Advertising that is useless will be greatly eliminated. In buying soap, a cooperative consumer will not want to support a model who has demonstrated her beautiful face in the soap advertisement. He will want to know whether he is buying the face or the soap. He will desire factual advertising such as, kind of fat used, percentage of fat used, what colouring matter if any, type of base used, etc. In buying a toothpaste or powder, he will not like to know, that his meager income is helping to pay a movie star several thousand dollars a week, of interest to him would be whether the product is accepted by the Bureau of Standards or the Dental Association. He will like to know what are the ingredients, how coarse the grit, etc.

he touched on the power of Advertising to appeal to people to buy things they wanted at the expense of things they needed, or maybe it was another in a similar vein.
The "handout" mentality of 'things' has got to stop as the world's resources dwindle and populations with their raised expectations increase, Guyanese will find themselves more frustrated as we seem to have turned into consumers and very few producers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One Step forward, Three Steps Back

Stopped off at the Licensing Office to renew my Driver's Licence at the urging of my Phone (may still get up to par with Technology at some point!).
Was pleasantly surprised to find a helpful and pleasant Policewoman handing out forms and directing people at the door, on a wet Monday morning! Was even more astonished to find out that I was called to the Counter in the time it took to fill in the said form- all less than ten minutes-quite different from the confusion three years ago. Never thought I'd be saying this but - Kudos to GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority for you foreign readers)!! Then the usual Guyanese thing emerged-- the wait on the bench for them to presumabably find the previous papers and then the wait for the papers to go down to the Cashier- all in the freezing cold as the Air Conditioners were working full blast in an already cold day-- they really ought to adjust the thermostat in this weather! Was out with my renewed Licence in just over an hour.
I note the Fee is the same as it has always been, the cost of everything has gone up, the running costs are certainly more-- it needs to be increased by at least 2.5 times and also they ought to lash it up in foreign drivers seeking to drive in Guyana because the fee is so ridiculous it doesn't even cover running costs-- $10,000 seems like a good amount to start off with!

So opened the Papers to read that the US consultant at OP (Office of the President) was offered a salary of U$100,000 which surprised even him, and I wondered - for THAT salary couldn't they have found an able Guyanese to do the job?? I'm sure there must be as it seems the American guy, who has since left the country, said they basically scrapped his work and restarted back from scratch-- mmm, definitely coulda pay a local to do THAT! There has been a worrying trend with the Jagdeo regime of having foreigners walk the Corridors of Power at OP, and surely THAT if nothing else should alert him to the crisis in Education if after 10 years in Government he cannnot produce able and capable people to work in his office, necessitating perceived-better-educated foreigners to work there? Could it be, almost like Libya, the leader being fearful and mistrustful of his own people?
Of course this led Kwame to remark on Mark, which I grudgingly agree with...'I do not consider Mark Benschop as a credible source... he is not a credible source for anything', a case of Kettle calling the Pot black!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Night at the NCC 2- Miss Guyana/India Worldwide Pageant 2011....

....or the Seven Deadly Sins incarnated.

A good friend organised her Posse to support the Pageant, so me and Mich found ourselves under the auspices of SLOTH, consenting to be chaffeured and have our Tickets provided for, on a wet Friday night. SLOTH seemed to visit most of the audience as the place was practically empty at the starting time, so after the obligatory half-hour delay we moved to the fifth row from the Front. The overseas-based Guyanese in the Posse stopped to explain what we were doing to the Usherette so I shoved her along and explained she was causing distress to the Usherette by requiring her to take the intiative, act responsibly and most likely feel obliged to say NO whereas if you just do as you feel it would be a lot less stressful for everyone concerned, apart from the actual Seat holders of course but then if they felt THAT strongly about their seats they would be there in time- logical! Mich clearly felt the same way as she refused to move when they did eventually turn up and she exchanged mutters with the girl next to her who was indignant that the people's seats were not available for them three hours after the starting time in spite of the fact that lots of people had gone home in disgust and there were loads of vacant seats!
It was a bit disappointing the Contestants didn't think to use any Local designers for the first section of Evening Wear as it would have been a nice touch instead of the usual shop-bought dresses none of which were particularly notable- SLOTH again!! Mich liked the Teal Grecian gown of Contestant #9 and I tended to think it was the best of the Lot but the rest of the Posse were unimpressed.
Most of the contestants seemed uncomfortable on stage apart from the two favourites who had had some experience being onstage and in the limelight.
The second section of Talent where the Girls had to introduce themselves accentuated this as #'s 3,4 and the one from Venezuela fluffed completely, #3 speaking in an improbably american accent and the latter admitting she didn't know english!!
The audience was asked to leave the Building after the third presentation in this Section. It was pouring heavily at this time and everyone refused to move to the Car Park sheltering instead under the Overhangs of the Building, We moved to the LandRover for a chat and souvenir picture-taking session and after an hour or so, went to retrieve my keys which I had forgotten.
We in Guyana are so woefully unprepared for any real Emergency it is quite scary- the Fire-Service and Police with Bomb-sniffer dog gave the all-clear after a long while and it was a shame to see that WRATH and ENVY had raised their ugly heads to try to sabotage the evening that gave GREED, GLUTTONY and PRIDE an opportunity to posture.
The Judges' question was a surprisingly pertinent and intelligent one and only the winner came close to a reasonable answer. Question- 'There's no denying we are faced with constant migration from Guyana, how would you as a true Patriot encourage people to stay and contribute to the development of the Nation?'
The most amusing character of the night was Joel Ghansham who moved to the Front Row after the Bomb Scare.
Sad to say he probably out-shone most of the girls onstage and was certainly popular, posing for nuff pictures with his female fans. LUST itself!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Janet Jagan

http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2057714_2251972,00.html

Dear Future by Fred D'Aguiar

A bit disjointed book composed of four sections with a vague linkage.

The first section is quirky Wilson-Harris-ish story about an extended family who
falls foul of a henchman of a character based on Burnham.
The second part uses three well-known characters from the 70's/80's, one of whom
being Burnham, on which to base the three principal characters of this
section-- I found this section the most amusing.
The third section focussed on the missing character/s referred to in the first
section and is also linked in to the second section. It was interesting that he
worked in a Muslim character with all the contradictions of living a
Working-class existence in London, reminiscent of a character from Monica Ali's
Brick Lane - written in 1996 before all the hoo-hah over Islam blew up.
The last section was from the protagonist of the first section written to the
Future from limbo-land.

Although the book won the 1996 Guyana Prize for Literature I wasn't that taken with it, I
enjoyed the references to unique Guyanese things like 'star boy', Ole Higue and feeling for Hassar, I just wondered if these things are now more treasured by nostalgic writers than used by contemporary Guyanese society?
Clearly Burnham and Jagan made a mark on writers from that era, albeit only a couple decades ago, as I noticed the similarity to Lakshmi Persaud's "For The Love of my Name", of using them to base primary imaginary characters. Unfortunately neither could be described as great reads. I rate it a Bookclub 0-neither liking or disliking it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ali Baba Restaurant/Cafe

Following the recommendation of a friend about the kebabs being wonderful and the restaurant being run by an Iranian I made a note to visit, having had fond memories of Iranian restaurants on London.

I thought I recognised the man when I walked in but was busy scanning the menu which seemed varied in a Middle-Eastern way- ordered an option which had several side dishes and asked about one of them which reminded me of Boulanger Choka. Sat down to eavesdrop on the owner, presumabably, sitting talking to another man-- after a while I surmised that they were talking Spanish and not Brazilian as I had expected.
No wonder the girl behind the counter was a bit confused when I asked her about the purple thing (sumac)they sprinkle on the rice as it turns out that this restaurant is run by the Venezuelan couple who had opened one at the old Del Casa building a couple of years ago and closed rather rapidly after their prices just kept rising at each visit. I had taken my staff there and as my receptionist was having a 'vegetarian day' we had ordered an elaborate sounding eggplant dish with Pita bread-- when it came she snorted in disgust/sucked her teeth as it was Boulanger Choka smoothed out in a blender and roti-- she claimed hers tasted better!
So the actual Kebabs weren't too bad-- we have good non-Mad Cow-diseased beef in Guyana, however it was a bit salty for me as our family tend to cook with less salt and oil than most Guyanese. The blended Boulanger Choka resurfaced along with a Chickpea paste, supposedly Hummus-- couldn't tell if it had tahini in it but flavoured with lots of lemon juice, or maybe it was the Tabbouleh that had spread its juices. The rice dish tasted very much like our Cook-up, guess substituting local ingredients must alter the taste a bit.
Chatted with the owner as I was leaving and asked about his wife who was up in Canada as her daughter was expecting a baby and I thought -- oh our neighours in Venezuela do the same-- stick a toe in the Great White Hope of North America!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Centralisation vs decentralisation

An American-based survey published in SN recently claimed that Guyanese did not have confidence in their Local Councils and seemed to prefer governance by centralisation. This is a shame as surely if Local Councils are effective, it might encourage the Locals to 'get involved' and that they- the Locals would be best placed to decide what it best for their community and identify those with a bit of initiative. I just wonder if the current climate in Guyana of currying favours and the system of Reward to do the obvious hasn't just forced those with initative out or maybe those 'doers' are just exhausted having reached the end of their tether? This study may have been done in response to the procrastination about Local Elections.

Whatever it is, some men from the Local Council were out this morning before I left for Work clearing that annoying Wild Eddo blocking up the entrance to the Trench at the back. I stopped to ask Yasmir who seemed to be in Charge, to ask the council to put up a DO NOT DUMP RUBBISH notice as it frequently falls into the Trench.
Wonder if the President-in-waiting will claim Kudos for a job which ought to be done on a regular basis?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cheddi Jagan

Was listening to BBC in the haunted hours of the night and the topic was Food security - it went on to poverty alleviation and said the discrepency between rich and poor is dangerously widening and I thought: the man was talking about THAT way back in the 1950's! Sad that Guyanese don't seem interested in looking at what he had to say.
Maybe instead of telling the people they never had it so good at his death anniversary next Sunday- some bright spark should revist his papers and see if any suggestions may be relevant and turn it really into the theme - Our Living Guide- misnomer-- they certainly not following his principles and he dead for 14years!
Spent a night in Berbice to see my unemployed illiterate 50-something neighbour drinking himself silly and it's really heart-breaking as he's such a capable man. Good to see the school-leaver daughter get interested in Training programs at the local Guysuco Training centre, but a bit alarming to see the younger brother under 25yrs falling through the cracks. (I see education is a biggie on the PNC manifesto but the problem would be motivation for those who really would benefit from it, and retaining those armed with International qualifications at the country's expense, most of the Government Scholars never bothered to return- mostly the middle-classed PNC children.)
A bit alarming to think this story being repeated times over across the world - a demoralised work-force not able to access jobs.