Last Friday, my column described a police stop and search operation on the Railway Embankment and a cross street whose name I am yet to determine. I did mention in that article that the Prime Minister’s wife told me that despite the years living just off the street, she does not know its name. It was my mechanic, “Smallie” who has a workshop just off the road, who told me that though he is not aware of the official title, he knows people call it, “Sophia Road.”
On Saturday, I went to fill up at the Rubis gas station which sits on this road at the junction of the seawall highway. An employee who works there told me while growing up in the area, folks referred to the road as mud dam. That is very believable because I know of several dozens of little pathways throughout Guyana that have become asphalted that were originally called mud dam. If you talk to the older folks in the rustic parts of Guyana they will tell you of many little passageways named mud dam. People just called it that. While growing up in Wortmanville, the ward that borders Lodge on the west, I knew of a little pathway we called mud dam in Lodge
The gas station attendant told me he doesn’t like the name “Sophia Road.” He said there are already roads that have the name “Sophia.” Guyana is indeed one of the strangest outposts in the world. The Prime Minister lives right next to Liliendaal but the official title of the district is Sophia. Yet far, far from where Mr. Nagamootoo lives is also Sophia.
When you leave Nagamootoo’s home and cross over the Railway Embankment going south, you meet the Saint Stanislaus farm where I buy plant soil (they have some of the best). You are still in Sophia. If you are at the farm and you keep walking, going easterly you will end up where I live, where the University of Guyana is and Cyril Potter College of Education is. That district is named Turkeyen. Confusion comes in because if you go through the back gate of UG, you are into the famous working class area of Sophia. That is the Sophia that most Georgetowners would tell you they know as Sophia.
I am sure there is logic to it but I really doubt Georgetowners who are familiar with the place named Sophia where the PNC has its head office and which lies at the back of UG would also refer to that street where Moses Nagamootoo lives right in the heart of Liliendaal as Sophia. But I guess they will if they know how strange Guyana is.
Take High Street. You leave the Court of Appeal and you are travelling south on High Street. When you come to the Ministry of Finance, you are on the same pathway but the street’s identity changes to Main Street. As you keep going, you meet the famous Bank of Guyana on the same road but its identity now become Avenue of the Republic. You keep on the same street and when you meet Hadfield Street going to Carnegie School of Home Economics, the identical road you are on since you left the Court of Appeal, now reverts to High Street.
Take Vlissengen Road. You are going south on Vlissengen Road from Clive Lloyd’s Drive by the seawall at the Kitty pump station. As you reach Durban and Princes Streets at Wortmanville, my birth place, Vlissengen Road becomes Cemetery Road. While you are on that same street it reverts back to Vlissengen Road when you pass Le Repentir Cemetery. I don’t know how they award house addresses in this country and who invented the methodology but I want to be cynical enough to say that during colonial times, maybe the geographer was drunk and he came up with a weird method of street numbers. What you are about to read below is the gospel truth
Armed with an address, I went into what Georgetowners call the “Scheme.” That would be South Georgetown and takes in West Ruimveldt, North Ruimveldt, North La Penitence, East La Penitence, Castello Housing Scheme, Festival City, among other districts. I was looking for my electrician at Lot 242. Brace yourself for the naked truth. I am standing outside a house with the street number of Lot 243 but there was no 242 next to it. Lot 242 is at the next corner.
I live at lot 47 Area Q, Turkeyen. Right next to me is not lot 46, 45, 44, 43. If you don’t believe me check it out. Name “Sophia Road” after Moses!
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