Friday, 23 December 2011

All my Christmasses are green

This is, unbelievably, my Third christmas in Guyana. And christmas in Guyana, like the other holidays, has it's own unique set of traditions.  A great thing about this country is that the major Christian and Hindu holidays are celebrated by (nearly) all Guyanese, regardless of religion, in a uniquely Guyanese way.  Easter is flying kites on the beach and watching horse racing. Phagwah is crazy water and dye fights in the street. Diwali is terrifying fireworks and spinning wire wool. And Christmas is:

- spring cleaning your house and changing all the curtains

- a big, messy street party on christmas eve, with rum and ginger, huge soundsystems, drunken santas and last minute shopping

- black cake, pepperpot, apples, grapes and nuts (apples and grapes don't grow in the tropics so are expensive imported luxuries here)

- and church till 1 in the morning and partying till the next day on Old Year's Night

This christmas I am off to Orealla, the place most in Guyana that has most stolen my heart. And my toe.

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday, however far away you are!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

If you don't mind awfully, would you be so kind to consider maybe thinking about casting your eyes over this entry and even if you would be so kind try decoding the symbols in order to extract meaning so that you can discern my

How an English person asks a taxi driver to stop:

Excuse me, I hate to be a bother but would you consider being so kind as to help me out by maybe pulling the car over to let me out just before the next road, by the house with the large balcony and the mango tree, is that a mango tree or an avocado tree, I get those awfully confused, is it a mango tree that has the leaves haning down like that, anyway if you could do me the honour of letting me, oh we’ve passed it, never mind, I hate to be a bother but if you could bring the car to a halt at your very first convenience I would be most awfully . . .
How a Guyanese person asks a taxi driver to stop:
Driver! Street coming up.

On the other hand, protocol when walking down the street is:


  • Blinkers on, studiously avoid eye contact or interaction of any kind, stern and unapproachable face.


  • Every man, woman, child and goat you come near gets a Good Morning, or at least a quick 'Wam*?' 

Taxi drivers dealing with British directions are equally confused as a Brit dealing with a smile and greeting from a stranger in the street.

* My favourite contraction of 'What's Happening?'.

Rain stops everything.

Guyana has a very efficient system for rain which would improve the quality of life immeasurably in England. The plan - get all the rain out of the way in the shortest time possible.  The clouds don't bother with drizzling, spitting, showering, misting, sprinkling or any of the other half hearted rain types we are so fond of.  When the heavens do open, they open all the way, and a week’s worth of British drizzle falls in the space of five minutes.

First, you feel a drop in pressure, the air clears, your sweating dies down half a shade and the temperature falls.  There is an ominous silence, a swirling, a sense of impending doom. After a couple of minutes, the sky tears apart and water comes gushing through. A second outside gets you saturated. You have to stop work as you can't hear yourself shout, let alone think. The street becomes a river, your front yard a lake and the guttering a dramatic waterfall. There are more flashes of light than the paparrazi chasing after <insert pointless attention seeking celebrity here>, and the thunder shakes plates off tables and loosens false teeth. Everything stops.

Then after half an hour, the rain clears up, the sun comes out and dries things off, and you go about your day.

Anyone up for starting a petition for the UK to adopt this system?