This season brings out the best and the worst in people. All through the year I watched women in stilettos going to work. I always find this amusing because in the places where they designed stilettos and fancy clothes the people reserve their shoes for the office. Because they are sensible they would wear sneakers on the streets for a series of reasons.
One of the reasons is the uneven surface of roadways. To walk in those heels on the streets could lead to serious injuries so the women do the sensible thing. In Guyana our women do the opposite; the get into the office and they take off their fancy shoes and plod around in sandals or pumps.
Amazingly, as the season approached I saw quite a few women who sneaked out of office don their flats and walk the streets to go bargain hunting. I asked myself why they would walk sensibly at this time and torture themselves for the rest of the year.
But there was something else. All year I couldn’t get a female member of staff to walk even two hundred metres. Everything needed a taxi. Some were heading to the Stabroek Market area but they declined to travel in those hire cars. And they could have got away with this because more often than not some of the people who assigned them refused to pay heed to the location of the assignment.
Well this season forced almost all of them to change their habit of doing things the lazy way. And I realized that there is a reason. For one, the taxi services are very busy coping with those who insist on taking the easy way out. The result is that these women walk. And it is amazing the distance they put in.
They would walk from store to store, buying little or simply comparing prices. And they all have on sensible shoes.
Another thing that leaves me smiling is the effort people put into making their home presentable. I would believe that this should be a normal thing. The home should be presentable at all times and perhaps they are. But for some reason people go out of their way to do that bit extra; and I like it.
At my home I opted to do some spring cleaning myself and I was shocked at the amount of dust that had gathered. For the love of me I couldn’t imagine where all that dust came from. I did find some hair in the dust and I immediately knew where my disappearing hair was going—on the floor. I wish I could find money at the same rate I found those bits of hair in the dust.
I had to hire someone to give the old house a wipe on the outside and I was surprised at what some soap and water could do to a building. There were blinds from about six years ago and they are going up. I had washed them the last time they were up, but being in an old suitcase caused them to develop a musty smell. I could not worry because the house started to look nice.
In the market place there was no madness like the previous years. Prices remained stable and people with their five per cent found that there was a lot more that they could actually buy. And they were buying a lot.
I saw people buying grapes and apples, something that had disappeared when I was so much younger. To this day I do not crave grapes and apples because I have lost the taste for them. Those were the days when Forbes Burnham came up with import substitution.
Looking back I must thank him, because the money I would have spent on those foreign things would now go to the local farmers who keep me fed throughout the year. There was a time before Burnham’s measure when I remember my mother trying something different on Christmas Day. The big meal was corned beef from the tin. Of course I was excited. Today I don’t even eat that stuff, preferring to kill myself with the heavy dose of cow face and ears, pig snout and trotters, and all those high cholesterol stuff.
I am looking forward to the holidays. I do enjoy the sight of happy people and the screaming children, although I am not sure that I would tolerate those screams in my domain.
Missing this year has been the preponderance of Christmas parties. There was a time when just about every Ministry and department hosted one. It must be that despite all the talk about a booming economy, people do not have money to throw around.
I miss those parties, if only for the freeness. Many of them used to feature delicacies that I would not normally see on the table. I remember the seafood party a now dead Agriculture Minister hosted years ago. I splurged then.
These days I am keeping an eye on January when money will not be at a premium. That is the month when too many people approach me for a “brace till month end” as though I have a bank vault. And I wonder whether anyone is thinking about January but then again, life is about now, especially since some people called me to inform me that the world was ending on Friday.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more