Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caricom in 2012

According to a SN article today: ' Too many mandates, institutional weaknesses, and a lack of implementation at the level of member states are among the internal problems that have retarded the progress of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), according to a recent review.' 

Big suck teeth - and dey make the EU pay a UK-based consultancy to tell dem dat??!! I woulda tell dem dat for free-- in fact since 1972 if I wasn't a mere babe in arms.  Only yesterday the bloggers made suggestions dat someone should tell Caricom about Skype and conference-calling to cut down all that wasteful travelling + they should stop supporting the extortionate rents for local houses. Bit ironic that the report should be funded by one Gravy Train to comment on another!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Men and Women

So couldn't avoid one of the frequent re-runs of Whitney Houston's last interview with Oprah and noted the pause before she confessed that she thought Bobbie Brown was jealous of her success and later that he spat on her when they returned home after she threw him a party at a Night-Club in Atlanta for his birthday.
All this was brought into sharp focus about the near-unbelievable story about a Guyanese couple from the Berbice. Apparently he- a 38yr old, went 'back-track' to New York and met a divorced 47yr old woman with two grown-up children living independently. They had a turbulent relationship and after a few years he moved back to Guyana to his parents and three daughters from a previous relationship - sounds like he had every intention of settling down - bought a car and planned a Taxi Service then... the woman from NY called him back - sent his back-track and ticket money ( amazing how easy it is to do).
A few weeks, perhaps, the thing blew up again - she went to NYC to attend her son's wedding where she would have met her ex-husband and the 'kept' man got  jealous- in the ensuing argument - she ran out of the house (hers) screaming that he was going to kill her - she borrowed a neighbour's phone to call the police and when they got there she was found stabbed to death and him found hanging.
I somehow don't have much sympathy for her-- in this consumer-ish age - can one 'buy' a relationship?

Sauce for the goose...

From Wikipedia: 'There's an old saying, "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." This meshes well with the Golden Rule, or ethic of reciprocity, which is a key moral principle in many religions and philosophies, and is often stated as "Do unto others as you wish to be done for you", or conversely, "Don't do unto others what you would not wish to be done to you."

So in light if the above aphorism, I am bemused at the outrage demonstrated in Afghanistan over a mere copy of a book, while I mourned the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001. Just as well they have to deal with another bunch of ignoramuses with bigger and better weaponry. Sad for the rest of us.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Got a Winner - Miss India Worldwide 2012!

So on a short weekend trip wandered in to the DDL concession in the Departures Lounge as Caribbean Airlines felt an important cost-cutting exercise would be to serve up disgusting-tasting filtered water thereby cutting down pesky requests - of course the cost of everyone like myself hauling full bottles of water and not drinking it and so adding to fuel consumption would be a useless comparative penny-pinching exercise-- but I digress.

Guyana - thanks to Alana Seebarran - won the Miss India Worldwide Competition:

So what I was trying to say -- was that I met her when I wandered in to buy the water and a very charming, beautiful and down-to-earth young lady she was - well deserving of the title - and well able to straddle living in both Canada and Guyana and a good representative for young intelligent Guyanese women given all opportunities - wish such opportunities could be allowed to all/more.  I was almost persuaded to go but had to work that weekend-- interesting that with falling sales it would not have even covered the cost of attending! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Awful service at Scotiabank

I have yet to meet a business in this 'Hard Guava Season' that deliberately deters its customers by having a ridiculous telephone system that one can NEVER connect with a live human person. I have berated my hapless staff numerous times when they return in no time below an hour, with a query or errand unfulfilled and with no-one's name or contact extension (or that works whenever one is given).
So today was no exception.. in my role of Treasurer of our 4-person organisation I sent to pay the Dues to an International Body - this was the third time we are doing it. I had to write an authorisation letter when she returned - I had just sent the subscription letter on the first occasion, figuring they would see that it is a standing annual charge. After over an hour I went ballistic to hear that as our organisation is Guyanese and we wrote in the Laws that two people have to sign the cheques - not that it deterred our esteemed President from claiming expenses for/including her entire family at an Association dinner and leaving out the Treasurer-- but I digress- the cheque was double-signed - but  now those idiots wanted the authorisation letter double-signed as well-- mmm let's see what room we have for foul play -- the cheque was made payable to the bank - for a Wire Transfer from the Association to an International Organisation - this procedure had been carried out annually in the last two years. I am the registered Treasurer and had written a letter authorising my staff to carry out the transaction. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

As I had car problems and had arranged to meet the mechanic at 2pm I went online to look for the opening hours - not listed - WTF. I actually got through to a live person at the Robb St. branch and was told that they were open until 3.30pm - most unusual. Left at 1.50 and couldn't find parking and left the back of the car sticking out hoping for a quick transaction. Walked in and asked to speak to the Manager who explained what I already knew-- but what I wanted to know was WHY- what the hell difference did it make whether I was physically there wasting my time as there were no other bits of paper that was required that my Staff didn't have? Granted I may have got a bit rant-y but was sent to queue up-- now there was one young Teller serving who seemed new - wouldn't it have made a bit of sense to open up the other window if you already have a irate customer complaining about their time being wasted? As it was- when my turn was imminent a 'big lady' positioned herself in front of me - another woman in the queue told me to make sure she didn't 'jump' the queue - you would think a bank could spend a couple of dollars to have a pull-the-ticket system as apparently when confronted the 'big lady' said she had been sitting on the side until her turn came up and the one in front of me said she had been there while I was having my rant at the supervisor/Manager.
Of course, when my time came-- they opened up the other window - it took 40 minutes of my Life to do a simple transaction. 
Action- I am going to close my two accounts at Scotiabank and move to GBTI-- they at least ring when they need clarification and my Staff can't answer their queries! AND I'll send a Letter to the Country Manager-- shame as she was a prefect while I was at School and friends with my sister from the Rotary Club.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love At First Bite

A dated American spoof of the Dracula series, shown for February’s movie of the month at Castellani, in honour of Valentine’s Day.
 As usual they tried a bit too hard and the jokes got to be a bit laboured. I liked that back in the early ‘70s the actress was allowed to have age lines in/on the forehead, frizzy head and heavy thighs reflecting a more real woman!  George Hamilton- even in his early days – obviously realized his limitations as an actor and heavily powdered played his role with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, rather like Roger Moore in the James Bond role- sort of I’m taking the piss out of this role and not taking myself too seriously so don’t criticize me! The ending was a forerunner of Shrek but all in all the usual forgettable light-weight American stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rest In Peace Whitney + Amy

Heard about the death of Whitney Houston with sadness, for a Life so obviously racked with sorrow and reflected that having that amazing voice, the marketing and support to develop that talent, the money and fame and having a child wasn't enough to stave off the deep unhappiness of a Personal Life gone off the track!  Like Amy Whitehouse - - how prophetic the words 'The ride with you was worth the fall my friend
Loving you makes life worth living'  as both got tangled with men with addiction and other problems and were unable to disentangle themselves. Both seemed to have 'lost' themselves in the glory of fame and fortune and one wonders why with all that money they couldn't just go and find a good therapist! I suppose petrified that revelations would emerge as a headline?
I remember going to Whitney's first concert in England at Wembley and being bitterly disappointed as she didn't translate well from Studio to Live Performances in those days but it made me not bother to waste my money to see Live Shows like Queen + Tina Turner- chalk and cheese I know- figuring the record/tape/CD would be good enough.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


In the general moaning about how the place is going to the Dogs I had a timely reminder about one of the good things about us.
After my Yoga class, I saw a road-stand selling smoothies on Sheriff St and decided to check it out. I pulled up in an expensive borrowed car- all my radiator hoses being busted when the 'new guys' pressure-tested the radiator system of the old one - don't even go there- being a simple soul I didn't realise that the heavy door hadn't shut properly and locked the car with the remote electronic button.
My heart sank when I jumped in after a nice little chat with the guy running the show who went through all his specials. The engine turned but didn't start and I thought that the battery had run flat ( we replaced it only last year!) - so after shouting about the possibility of jumper cables to all the drivers in earshot I ran across the road to ask a nice taxi boy if he had-- he didn't but obligingly told me to ask the owner of the service who had a proper set- not the usual two electric cables/wires. When I ran back I couldn't remember how to open the bonnet, then another guy (Guyanese like to help) ambled over to inform me that it wasn't the battery cos the engine was turning over, and helped me locate the lever to open the thing. Then I remembered the peculiarity of the car-- it has the battery in the boot! So while the Taxi guy re-arranged his vehicle to give me a jump-start, I started on another panic that the central locking was stuck!! panic Panic panic!!! So everything was locked except the driver's door-- breathe-- dis Yoga ting nah work good -
So start from the beginning - locked back everything then reopened - everything opened - praise God - and the Germans for inventing a car that can withstand idiots - and mercifully the engine purred back into action.
After thanking everyone profusely, I jumped into the car and thought with the years I've been travelling on the  Georgetown to Berbice road I have never for one moment thought that in an emergency no-one would come to help - big POINT for Guyana man - whether is due to fastness they have it in them to help motorists and people generally in distress - so although they are taking a lot of Flak at the moment with the abnormally high levels of Domestic Abuse somewhere lurking inside their hearts is a Kind Salt-of-the-Earth Human Being.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

From Bad to Appalling

Today was Youmani Nabi - I think the day the Prophet Muhammed was born and coincidentally died.
Banks/DIH - one of the local leading manufacturers - had an ad in the papers about a two-day special for the traditional sweetmeats that friends and neighbours used to distribute before Hard Times knocked a few years ago. As I was passing I decided to check it out-- bad mistake- apparently I went on Day-2 and some bright spark put the vermicelli 'cake' (moist) ( also stale and being milk-based- smelt as if it was going 'off') with three 'fat' mithai and made them all soggy - the price was also ridiculous but as I was already there I ended up buying two to my regret- one to give away.
I have virtually stopped buying food from that chain - being too unhealthy- either oily, salty, too much white sugar and/or flour or bizarrely a combination of them all!
Sadly in a country that still has an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables - it is not reflected in the readily available foods.  I asked a popular cafe owner why they didn't introduced fresh juices and healthier options and she said that they tried when they first opened and the uptake and demand wasn't profitable.  This I find a bit hard to believe as I notice more people exercising and an article in public health stated that wasn't enough to to merely put the information out there and hope that the vast majority take and act upon the  message but active policies to engage the Public was required.
Human beings being what they are- myself included would only get motivated when things actually start to affect them-- how I now regret my addiction to sugar!

Friday, February 3, 2012

DDL Factory Tour

I have to say was quite impressed about several aspects of this visit.
First off, Demerara Distilleries Limited have very reason to be proud that they are the ONLY  local remaining distillery in Guyana and the largest in the Caribbean. Stills from other estates, notably Enmore, Port Mourant and the last to close - Uitvlugt being moved to the Diamond Estate and their wooden frames being used to give a unique flavour to specially named Rums. Also very impressive to me was the recent installation of recycling procedures - namely the conversion of the effluent biowaste from the fermented molasses to methane/biogas used to fire the boilers - the Plant being right near the entrance.

Molasses being circulated in tank to mix well with yeast misture


 Large Tank where Molasses + yeast mixture produces the alcohol + Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

The other recycling procedure introduced  a way to capture the CO2 produced and used to carbonate the 'soft drinks'.
I should also point out that the rums are left to 'age' in re-used American Oak barrels as US Law only permits one-time use-- no doubt at the behest of the oak-barrel manufacturers - their loss/expense, our gain.
Model of the double Still from
 Port Mourant 
Interesting though that the Greenheart Vats/Stills are in continuous use for nearly 350yrs but for hygiene and other uses the oak barrels are discarded after less than ten years-- mmm- I guess the pure alcohol might disinfect the structure while being distilled into different factions?
 Model of the oldest working Wooden Still in the world- EHP  Coffery Still

So after fermentation, the alcohol is forced into the Stills and distilled off. The DDL website informs that back in 1670 each Sugar Estate had its own Still but with time they closed, DDL - the only distillery in Guyana ( Bank/DIH merely blends and bottles - doesn't produce!) sent to most notable/profitable ones from Enmore, Port Mourant and Uitvlugt( last one to close) to Diamond where they each produce a distinctive taste.

Also a major factor in the taste is the amount of aging - the taste being smoother and less harsh the longer it's aged.

DDL were a bit mean with the tasting -- remembering a trip to a distillery in Scotland where the guide was keen for us to try everything and generous. Here we got to taste a 6-yr old white rum which smelt and tasted like Ouzo, Then the famed EHP one- very smooth, I wanted to try the Port Mourant one but even an option to buy wasn't available -- there highlighting the limitness and stupidity that is Guyana. Most probably because of monitering the levels of the bottles - only limited stock was available - and also if a potential customer was interested then they would have to go across and down de road to the Sales Centre. surely in the 21st Century some system could be instituted to minimize internal losses?
Also, leaving a slightly sour taste in my mouth was the fact that I had to pay - in spite of being a Shareholder! Seeing that I went with two foreign visitors - the trip was on anyway and I was merely incidental to the whole thing - as it was I stopped the friendly barman from pouring as I am not much of a drinker but wanted to taste the products - in fact there were no Liqueurs available... and come to think of it -neither did we get to view its production. Clearly Guyana has not got to a point where Shareholders are thought of as being part of the Company but regarded as nuisances as reflected in the measly dividends when the Company reports record profits!
Interesting that in the Photo-Gallery - the first framed one was with the Chairman and Desmond Hoyte - who apparently got the epithet of 'Desmond Persaud' for enabling businesses during his reign, the 'Father of the Nation' Cheddi Jagan didn't feature nor did the recent ex-President Jagdeo responsible for the 'changing of the spots' move towards a more bourgeois, business-enabling environment but maybe it could be because Jagdeo made derogatory remarks about the said Chariman in the recent Past.
Talking of explosive, I wondered about Security issues of having nuff alcohol and old wood knocking about and could just imagine the light-up if a Taliban-type decided to end it all - as we weren't asked/checked for matches or lighters on arrival but then again-- we didn't exactly seem the nut-head type - maybe a sign asking for all inflammatory materials to be deposited-- does DDL know that use of Cell-Phones in a flammatory environment can spark off a Blaze?