I know I complained last week that we get very little down time and it was true again this week. Right after I finished writing last week we headed out to Agricola (a town up the Demerara River) by minibus. We had been invited by Pravesh's brother Parvesh (I am not making that up!) to see the only Flour Mill in Guyana ..... Parvesh is in management there and I think wanted to be nice to two Canadians as he is planning a visit to Canada to see his girlfriend and wanted some advice. Almost, in unison Tony and I said, "Do NOT mention ice cream." (As you can tell, Taju's visa refusal still pisses me off; I wish that there were some appeal. Maybe I need to take up chanting?)
|On the tour of Namilco with Parvesh.|
We were only there for a couple of hours, so my conclusions lack rigorous evidence; however, it did seem to be a model employer with health and safety standards and community outreach. (In fact, Parvesh called and invited us to a breast cancer walk that his company was sponsoring - starting at 6 AM last Sunday morning. My 8 o'clock church service was looking better all the time.) I am left to wonder how they can do it while so very few other companies can accomplish similar results -- and I think I must include Mercy in that comment as well.
Tuesday, we finally got around to doing our blindfold walk as it has become a tradition and staff have been asking me about it. This year, I had to find 20 volunteer guides (actually, not too hard as they get a candy bar too) and stay away from the construction section. I tried to find people that I haven't used before, such as laundry, security, secretaries, doctors. This year we added an "easy" (according to Tony) neurology question to the event. In order to get their chocolate bar, the blindfolded student had to correctly answer the question. The volunteer could give them two chances if they wanted to be nice and if not, they had to return blindfolded to Tony for the right answer... and then go back!
I have them reflect on the experience of both being without sight and being responsible for someone else... They develop some sensitivities for the blind as well as appreciate the difficulties of language in giving directions, the amount of talking the guide has to do and the responsibility. It is also fun -- and to continue the fun in the afternoon, Tony talked about Test Anxiety and strategies .......
And then the highlight of the year... Tony and I hosted a swim and dinner at the Grand Coastal Hotel for the class in appreciation for all the hard work they do. We had arranged to start at 4:30 (we had gotten them out early from school so they could get there); however, Guyana being Guyana, at the appointed time only Tony, I, Marysia and her husband Ian were there. They straggled in after 5 and most got a swim, and then dinner -- they chose the menu -- was served. They all thought that Tony and I were the greatest ..... And so pride goeth before the fall .....
|This West Indian is Bravo and they also had their pictures taken with Chris Gayle.|
|Notice the name on the float, which will pop up again shortly. Guyana spelling is flexible .....|
We had a great view of the parade as we were out on the East Coast in Le Ressouvenir; however, it took the parade well past my bedtime to get that far and there was still to be a big party when it got to its final destination. Divali (spelled Diwali almost everywhere else and pronounced in Guyana as if it had a "w") is a Hindu festival, though as with all religious festivals it is celebrated by everyone. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.
Then, next class day, the students officially thanked us. Rhonedella who was elected to thank me went on and on... her batchmates were yelling for her to just thank me for the evening; however, she was already thanking my parents for having given me birth... a true Guyanese thank you speech.
|Tony really appreciated his thank you.|
|I appreciated mine as well, but with proper reserve.|
|A bald but capped swimming instructor.|
Then, I guess because we were good boys, Sister Barbara invited us back for a Guyana famous JR Hamburger with the girls. A pretty good burger though the pineapple and ubiquitous carrots were surprising. I went home for a long nap...
|Godfrey preparing to lose to his uncle.|
So then I could go out for a beer with a student from my very first class, Godfrey. We had been trying to do this for some time, but never connected. He had arranged to meet at a local rum shop up-scaled with pool tables. I did have a few beers as Godfrey was buying and the gods were with me in that I won a bunch of games. This was good, as the guy that lost to me first was going to have his picture hung on the wall as the only guy ever to lose to an old white guy!
The only real trouble with the rum shop and pool was that I liked it; I kind of belonged there. I have always been a beer-and-pretzel [or Cutters in Guyana, sort of a meat equivalent of pretzels] type of guy masquerading as a minister and academic. Oh well, not many more years left to continue the facade...
But this is clearly the end of this blog! Thanks for reading this far. John