Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Anderson Cooper Show

Applied for a ticket online as I was headed to NYC, and was pleasantly surprised to get one! That easy folks.
Good excuse to check out Jazz at Lincoln Centre which is a sort of High-End City mall. The show was being taped on the fifth floor. People were shunted up in batches, then queued to have their details checked, signing away their rights to the use of their Image and a perfunctory check of ID's.
Groups of people milled about as there was a Broadcast Convention of sorts in NYC and 100 broadcast students had tickets for the Show. I went looking for the end of the line to have two red girls from the Hood glaring at me and the one with tatoos on her neck saying: 'Where she think she goin'?'
I smiled apologetically and slipped behind them. When the studio doors opened I found myself about fifth from the end which was unfortunate as, having stood behing the two girls standing less than two feet apart, they felt it necessary to carry on their conversation about what the people they knew from school were doing, at the highest possible volume - oblivious to the people around them; I had planned to sit as far away as possible from their aggressive little selves.
I wasted a whole worry as there seemed to be some sort of pattern to the seating arrangements and we were assigned seating and I was mercifully far away from them - in fact, right up on the first raised tier, next a nice young couple.  The fun part of the Show began with a great Floor manager 'warming up the crowd' - she started with the guy next to me who turned out to be a Break-Dance teacher in Brooklyn and who gave us a demonstration - she adroitly gave attention to the attention-seekers and managed to find the Comic Streak in the Crowd.
Both topics of the Show were interesting; they then did a finishing segment for another show and the amusing Floor manager- Dina I think her name was, ended up on the Panel where they discussed some current topics with a couple of Minor Celebrities I didn't know.  I was busy being the annoying person coughing in the Background as for the first Time in my life an allergy to the Pollen in the air that I didn't know I had manifested itself as an annoying tickle at the back of the throat.
Anderson himself was busy fielding questions from the budding broadcasters during the breaks and his advice was basically- work hard- something he certainly took to heart as there were people queueing up for the afternoon tapings when we left the Studios.

The Phantom of the Opera

On impulse, checked out the half-priced booth in Times Square as I had some 'free time'. While in the line,got chatting with a elderly Theatre buff who recommended this one, Porgy and Bess with Audra McDonald and The Jersey Boys. I had always like the dramatic, catchy signature tune and when asked at the booth Phantom came to mind-- the ticket in fact came up to almost three-quarters the price after all the add-ons and taxes.
Nevertheless after a fruitless search for 'Little Korea'- 32nd St - I found my seat at the Majestic. I think the theatre was a good setting for the time-period of this piece. They added some gilt fixtures and it could have been an ornate over-the-top theatre in 19th Century Paris. I was stuck in the third or fourth row from the front and fourth or fifth from the left. The Stage seemed to be angled right and when I looked around the theatre didn't seemed too filled for a matinee performance.
Having just celebrated another year on Planet Earth-- I suppose you take for granted the confidence that comes with age and I surprised myself by asking one of the ushers if I could change seats-- being willing to sit further back if I could be near the middle. She directed me to the amiable manager who sounded like Mr Cutoff - he was in fact very laid back about the whole thing-- he did ask me what I expected for a 'half-priced' ticket but moved me to an excellent seat at the back of the front section to the right. There was a canoodling couple directly in front of me so I moved one seat along and got an really good unhindered view.
The costumes, tongue-in-cheek dialogue and wonderful singing made for a pleasant afternoon - the guy who was the Phantom had a great deep sexy voice and was definitely the 'star'. The stage sets were great also.
I found an ambiguity in the beginning and ending of the Play/Musical and when I asked people if they had seen it, the response was - yes-- but over eight years or so ago - so when I asked them about what I thought need clarification they didn't remember! How could ya not?
Phantom is apparently the longest-running musical on Broadway so far.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bound To Happen – 2

With the Government’s reluctance to ‘clamp down’ on the unqualified, many Guyanese living overseas who used to have dental and optical work when they return for a visit, reasonably confident that it was with someone who knew what they were doing; are in for a shock.  The unqualified realizing the Government did not want to tread on potential donors to the Party coffers and take a swipe at the ‘comfortable’ middle-classes were embolden around 2000 to stop all pretence of having a qualified person on the premises – and boldly advertised themselves as ‘doctors’. In many cases, talented lab Technicians simply moved into the retail side of the business.
Interesting was the public’s response – they didn’t care. The current Minister of Health, while uttering Platitudes about the importance of being qualified, felt accessing PAHO funds for the Vision 2020 and providing low-cost spectacles was the primary goal. He then did not bother to examine the existing structure and super-imposed a Refracting Program designed by the Australians for rural Africa – grandly expanding it to a Degree program offered by the local University at the behest of a Barbadian company interested in selling spectacles - having no Lecturers!! After running everywhere begging equipment and personnel it all looks set to crumble in a wash of poorly qualified setting up spectacles shops without equipment! And might I add totally missing the point of the people in the remote areas having access to spectacles.
So today’s paper records the sorry case, more to come I’m sure, of a man on the East Bank visiting a well-known Dental lab staffed by a self-qualified ‘dentist’ being the nearest place to access treatment of a sort for a sore tooth – his overseas-based relatives had had previous treatment and were happy. Careless Guyanese never bother to check the name of the person who is treating them—a throwback to the days of be-grateful-for-whatever-you get slave mentality, so no doubt a different and less qualified quack moved in. According to SN, the ‘manager’ of the establishment advised the man that the tooth needed a filling only but in these days of the Ignorant having the money and calling the shots – and let’s face it – probably knowing marginally less that the unqualified – the man insisted on having the tooth extracted so he could save the ‘bus fare’ money – no more that U$ 0.50.
He paid dearly for his cheapness – he had to endure 30 minutes in the chair with the person doing the extraction rooting around in the gums using a small hammer to ‘knock’ around the molar. I have been very impressed about the ease of extraction of my impacted wisdom teeth by a little device that hooks below the base of the tooth and levers the thing out while I was in England. This is not the first story I have heard about bits of tooth being left back stuck in the Gum—a Cuban dentist did that to someone in Berbice!
So my question is what sort of standard is the Ministry of Health applying to dubious people to allow them to administer injections and X-rays?
I was amused that for the upcoming Glaucoma week—the Government-run program did not acknowledge ‘optometrists’ as primary-care practitioners after they have balls-up the entire meaning and are re-grouping to the more expensive European system of separate spectacle sellers and doctors to examine eyes- even though Europe is moving to the British/American system of optometry as the first line of visit to screen the general population. Sigh - in the meantime - more dubious places are cropping up - like a runaway train -it will be harder to justify shutting down a business run by an unqualified person.
The unfortunate man with pieces of tooth left in 'de hole' is contemplating legal action -- I note that it doesn't sound like any antibiotics have been prescribed and I hope his tetanus shots were up-to date!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

When I got to the end of this bittersweet book I was surprised to discover that the author of this book of extended short-stories was married with two children as the book's sub-text seemed to be 'Marriage ain't all it's cracked up to be': in the Title Story a father awkwardly having to forge a new relationship with his daughter now that his dominating wife has died thinks: 'He wanted to shield her from the deterioration that inevitably took place in the course of a marriage...'.
Like a previous book of hers that I had read 'The Namesake', it dealt with the 2nd generation immigrants from Bengal dealing with living the shallow American Dream while looking back at passing/disappearing closer family ties of an Indian past.  Most if not all the characters seemed to have isolated themselves from actively being involved in their communities and I supposed it reflects an affluent, middle-classed existence in the US.
I found in particular the last set of stories sad that two youngsters meet up when older and are attracted by a unspoken common past but lack the courage to go further than the initial sexual attraction, one dies after leading an aimless wandering Life and the other settles for a boring 'respectable' life.
That said the book did keep my attention over four days and being more interested in what was happening to the characters I missed out on the wonderful prose that other reviewers have commented on.
I liked what some other reviewers had to say:

'the stories are about real people-The stories are about those we care about most letting us down because they are incapable of having healthy relationships— like Rahul in “Only Goodness” and Farouk in “Nobody’s Business.” And they are about parents who return to us or finally abandon us like the father in “Year’s End.” '

Friday, March 9, 2012

So, so where are the parents..?

Two tragedies occurred on a day that was supposed to be devoted to 'fun' things. Both emotively involving children - in the case of the car accident- a 3-yr old was hit by a car outside his house - two differing versions-- one- that the child was called to play by neighbours across the road, the other that he was standing by the side of the road and got hit by an overtaking car. The other case involves children drenching a passer-by with water and presumably coloured powder ( as seen in the photograph)  and then being threatened by the man who was then confronted by another Adult male who then got stabbed to death for his involvement.

While both are sad cases and avoidable, my question is where were the responsible (for the children) adults??

I have always admired the fact that very young children walk/paddle to school, while up in England, more and more Rules are enforced to safeguard the health of the children to almost the point of ridiculous-- boys being boys will have scrapes and my sister had three phonecalls when her son fell over requiring that she eventually bring him home. However I note that parents have more become both more lax, spending less 'quality time' with children but also more aggressive when their child has been pulled up - to the point of threatening the Teacher attempting to enforce discipline.
In both the examples-- it is a throwback to the bygone days when children would simply run out and play with other children in the street-- I certainly did, when I had got bored with re-reading my books - but it is important to note that that was in the days when there were a lot fewer cars on the road and people who drove them seemed to be of a more sober disposition!
As for splooshing a stranger-- we wouldn't have dreamed of it - pelting a water-filled balloon is an entirely different matter-  what I mean it was automatic that you respected if someone you knew didn't want to play but leading an assault on a stranger was pretty much out of the question for us- though there were some street people KNEW not to venture on if they wanted to keep their clothes intact.

Driving in Guyana - 2

Having experienced the heart-stopping, unforgettable-as-if-were-yesterday moment of seeing my younger sister come inches from being run over by a car after she toddled off to see what the family was busy doing - unloading stuff that my migrating Aunt had brought down from Berbice about 35yrs ago, I was very saddened to learn that a 3-yr old got 'knocked-over' actually flung to his death apparently while waiting on the side of the road by an impatient young man overtaking on a (relatively) narrow road., yesterday. It boggles my mind to think of what speed the car had to be going but just before I left England they had mounted an very thought-provoking campaign showing the damage, permanent injury and death to a child while driving at speeds for 20mph,30 mph and 40 mph respectively.
The situation like Life isn't so straight-forward: there are lots of people on the Road who project their ignorance into their driving ( and pedestrian s in their Road Use)-- is their Road and if you try to overtake them although they are in no apparent rush-- laughing on their Cell phone, they get aggressive and speed up, the friendly little toot of the horn to alert drivers that you are attempting to overtake results on them speeding up also! Or they slow right down - to 'teach you'.
Having been forced to be a Road-User at 10yrs-- cycle if you want to go somewhere and we haven't the time to take you-- my brother's warning to keep to the kerb and ALWAYS look around your shoulder before pulling out to overtake anything to make sure you are not inadvertently getting into someone's way seems to have gone by the wayside and both Motorcyclists and Bicyclists never observe that Rule now that I am in a car. In fact, it seems to get personal-- who can intimidate who-- and I hate to say it but when there is an accident I look to see that both parties are the same Race so the Racism element doesn't rear it's ugly head!

The daughter of a prominent family recently made it to the Newspapers for knocking down a 20yr old at a place that had a fairly good road-- in Guyana this means drivers can speed. Being comfortable with controlling the car at 40mph I remember my elderly English Instructor telling me you should always drive at a speed that you can make a controlled stop in an Emergency -- again I don't think it's a rule that must be taught here in Guyana. The sad reason it got to the papers was that the unfortunate young man died - and the 'bus' wisdom is that she had alcohol above the limit in her system! So much for my view that women make safer drivers as in Guyana everything is turned on its head and some mornings I have to grit my teeth when a neighbour- the wife of a nouveau-riche Lumber dealer, among other things, drives so appallingly in front of me that I have instant visions of Blasting a Shotgun at her head and all my Right-Wing Elitist views that the ignorant masses should really have better Public Services so as to do less harm to everybody come to the fore -- sigh.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Who's advising these people?

A friend describes the present administration as a ‘runaway train to nowhere’.
Guyana has suffered from over-reaching ambitions from Independence. The man (Cheddi Jagan) who had practical Ideas had been thwarted by the geo-politics of the Time. Many of his ideas have been taken out of context with disastrous consequences. It looks as if since then we have been subject to various administrations desperate for Success stories, embarking on schemes without apparently having the ability of ‘thinking it through’, launching some big and expensive project with great fanfare which only turned out to be a White Elephant or a miserable failure partially due to poor Human Resource management.

Sadly now seems no different, in spite of the numerous bad examples that at the very least should have stood as warnings about what NOT to do! I always find it instructive to listen to the common man about how changes will affect them – a lot of Taxi drivers are of the opinion that filling in the drainage canals to expand the existing roads AND packing with white sand is not the way to go and will lead to grief in the long run. Several men/women on the street feel unease about the large buildings going up without regard to Fire Safety and proper foundations—someone even claimed that an engineer/surveyor told her that the City of Georgetown is sinking!

The much touted emphasis on Agriculture got shot in the foot by the merging of Gaibank (– one of Cheddi’s ideas about providing loans to small farmers—maybe even before the Grameen Bank – check out the PPP manifesto – August 3 1957:
1. A system of agricultural credits which
will be less rigid and bureaucratic as that
obtaining at the present time. More money
will be provided to the Credit Corporation
for further aid to agriculture and industry.
Provision will be made for greater elasticity
in cases of non-payment of loans due to crop.
 with the PNC ruined GNCB at the behest of those economic ‘experts’ at the IMF who always have the hapless countries’ interest at heart in any country they are ‘invited’(not!).Sadly it took the Germans to come up with a practicable AID system that encourages Farmers to re-invest back into their businesses.

In their quest to provide Medical Services -differing Medical Systems have been superimposed on the existing English-based one, resulting in a general drop in Standards and no accountability.
I rest my case.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Thanks to the varied composition of the Bookclub we have interesting book selections - this is a 2007 collection of short stories written by women mainly from Bangladesh and a few from India. The men from the sub-continent fared very badly - it is a misandrous collection that I couldn't read all in one sitting. Granted that the men in that part of the world are pretty chauvinistic I felt the book lacked balance - there MUST be a few good ones at least.
Having said that, it was interesting to read about the Convent-educated woman with a philandering husband who chooses not to leave him for the sake of her children/society and who grow old and apart; as I am meeting quite a few people apparently unhappily married for 50yrs who can't stand the sight of each other! So much for my romantic view of older couples happily and contently enjoying each others' company towards the end of their days! ( Reminds me of my favourite joke: George and Martha in the twilight of their years were rocking contemplatively in their chairs on the Porch after a Lifetime of One-Upmanship. George says to Martha: Well Old Girl if you die before me I'll have them mark on your Gravestone: 'Here lies Martha - Finally silent and at Peace at last.'
After a few moments of rocking, Martha spits her Wad of Tobacco (American of course cos they are both Clowns) and says: Well George, if You die before me, I'll have them mark on Your gravestone: Here lies George - Stiff at last!)
The unsavoury topic of rape featured quite a bit but then a recent study reckoned that 1 out every 3 women in the world experiences some form of sexual violence (
In the story 'Yellow is the Colour of Longing' the writer made some sweeping generalizations about men and women: 'When after many years, a woman is sought out by a man's eyes, and when she's sure that they were indeed seeking her and her alone, she will find her heart a-brim.'  and 'That's the problem with men. They can see women only as bodies. They keep worrying how this woman would judge them in bed. In short, it's terrible for men too, after a certain age.' I tried to get a man's opinion about the first two lines about men and was summarily dismissed (Summarily dismissed means that you are not going have a chance to discuss it.) that that was just a prejudiced feminist's opinion.

Monday, March 5, 2012

At risk of sounding cruel...

... but Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest seems to hold true. A young(ish) promising up-coming local cricketer died last night while losing control of his car- I acknowledge this is a sad loss of potential, I also see that if you're not given the tools to deal with 'success' it will contribute to your downfall. The local papers had a recent comment about how some of the younger, promising cricketers were unable to fill out the Immigration Card properly - and it is this 'forced-ripeness' that is contributing to the demise of people with genuine talent - they seem unable to cope with all that it takes to being in the public eye. A certain amount of maturity and common-sense are necessary requisites for living/making sensible decisions: I was fascinated by a father who let his 18yr old son take all his 4 younger siblings to 'drop' a visitor home a couple of years ago - on the return trip the son hit a pile of sand at the side of the road and only the 11yr old survived the trip - in the olden days-- the visitor might have got a 'tow on a bike back home' - I wondered how the parents felt to bury four of their children and felt Darwin's Theory came into cruel focus.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Rose and The Ring by W.M. Thackeray

A little known, sadly out-of-print, charming little book and a surprising choice by one of the newer Bookclub members. I was fortunate to borrow a treasured copy of an actual book as Laparkan lost my copy from BetterWorldBooks and the illustrations and one-liners at the top of the pages certainly added to the enjoyment.. but for the rest of you a free accessible online version  exists:-

Having spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book, I hadn't come across this tongue-in-cheek Fairy-tale first issued in 1855, probably the first in taking a satirical look at Fairy Tales.It had all the elements  - the Good Guys having to bear their misfortunes cheerfully but 'winning' in the end and the Bad Guys getting their come-upperances and a quirky 'good' Fairy saving the day/s. I was amused at the silly titles given as favours to hypocritical fawning couturiers, then reflected that things haven't changed much in the modern political scene! Always a mark of good literature-- the universality through the ages. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Golden Jaguars

So Guyana's footballers shocked themselves by beating The Soca Warriors in 2011 to qualify for the pre-qualifying matches (third round) to compete in the 2014 World Cup football matches in Brazil. I feel Dwight Yorke, the Trinidadian player who plays in the English League was either absent or having an off-day-- mind you having a Star Player doesn't necessarily mean that you'll win but I suppose from the psychological point of view the rest of the players feel more confident as in Cricket - once the 'star' at position 3 + 4 loses his wicket the team generally collapses-- but I digress....
Reality began to set in shortly afterwards when they had a re-match in Trinidad against the Home Team (Trinidadian) but minus a lot of their (Golden Jaguars) overseas-based players - and lost. So yesterday, they had the first in a series of International Friendlies run by FIFA- versus Guatamala, playing at 'home' but minus three of their International Players and lost 2-0. I happened to switch on the TV when I saw three of our players fumbling near the goal and a Guatamalan player tip the ball easily into the net - I switched off and went back to my book.
Like most sport in Guyana, lack of facilities and training means our most talented Players have to look overseas for training -- only competing under the Guyana flag because they most probably have too much competition in their adopted country. Which brings me to an interesting point-- what the heck is going on in Sport??  It is now getting to be so that practically entire teams can be composed of 'foreign' players! So admirable aims such as Sport Institutes like what used to be in the Soviet Union would not be funded if the 'best' players will be pinched- in a most bizarre public-private enterprise!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's education for..?

So read an interesting and thought-provoking article on Education :

Of course, looking at blog numbers I realise that precious few will actually read through this article so I've cherry-picked a few interesting points:
'Large-scale education was not developed to motivate kids or to create scholars. It
was invented to churn out adults who worked well within the system'

What's school for?
To create a society that’s culturally coordinated.

To further science and knowledge and pursue information for its own sake:-
 We spend a fortune teaching trigonometry to kids who don’t understand it, won’t use it, and will spend no more of their lives studying math. We invest thousands of hours exposing millions of students to fiction and literature, but end up training most of them to never again read for fun (one study found that 58 percent of all Americans never read for pleasure after they graduate from school). As soon as we associate reading a book with taking a test, we've missed the point.

To enhance civilization while giving people the tools to make informed decisions:-

Even though just about everyone in the West has been through years of compulsory schooling, we see ever more belief in unfounded theories, bad financial decisions, and poor community and family planning. People’s connection with science and the arts is tenuous at best, and the financial acumen of the typical consumer is pitiful. If the goal was to raise the standards for rational thought, skeptical investigation, and useful decision making, we’ve failed for most of our citizens. (interesting documentary:

To train people to become productive workers- this one is the most accomplished goal I think!

'At the heart of Horace Mann’s push for public schooling for all was a simple
notion: we build a better society when our peers are educated. Democracy was
pretty new, and the notion of putting that much power into the hands of the
uneducated masses was frightening enough to lead to the push for universal
Being surrounded by educated people makes democracy stronger, and it benefits
our entire society. In the words of John Dewey, “Democracy cannot flourish
where the chief influences in selecting subject matter of instruction are utilitarian
ends narrowly conceived for the masses, and, for the higher education of the few,
the traditions of a specialized cultivated class. The notion that the "essentials" of elementary education are the three R's mechanically treated, is based upon ignorance of the essentials needed for realization of democratic ideals."'

'In 1914, a professor in Kansas invented the multiple-choice test. Yes, it’s less
than a hundred years old.
There was an emergency on. World War I was ramping up, hundreds of thousands of new immigrants needed to be processed and educated, and factories were hungry for workers. The government had just made two years of high school mandatory, and we needed a temporary, high-efficiency way to sort students and quickly assign them to appropriate slots.
In the words of Professor Kelly, “This is a test of lower order thinking for the lower orders." '

'the Internet is the most efficient and powerful information delivery system ever developed.'

'Will the next generation know more facts than we do, or will it be equipped to connect with data, and turn that data into information and leadership and progress?'

So this is only a quick skim through 1/4 of the article - too bad not many people would be bothered to read it!

So my thoughts about the relevance to Guyana-- we have aggressive people waving degrees and demanding highly-paying jobs but refusing to tackle problems. We have semi-illiterate youngsters highly confident, tech- and dress-savvy but unable to use their initiative (so ok this may just be a peculiarity of my age). We have drivers with no concept of politeness on the road, transferring their innate aggression to the roadways. We have disgruntled workers who are acutely aware that they are not earning a living wage but not seeing that the large-scale stealing will cripple any expansion... sigh-- the list could go on.