Kaieteur News – Ravi Persaud, one of the heirs of King’s Jewellery World and son-in-law of prominent Guyanese entrepreneur, Roy Beepat of Giftland Mall’s fame, was kind enough to tell me that despite his alfresco dining and open air cinema have been constructed where I walk my dog, I can still walk my pet around the perimetre of the structure.
Mr. Persaud read my article, “Listening to Julio Iglesias and reflecting on my life,” of Sunday, March 28, 2021, where I stated that his alfresco dining facility with open air cinema will displace my dog’s perambulation space. So he told me one afternoon when the construction was taking place that there is sufficient space around his project for the dog to do her thing.
Last Tuesday, I parked near the place and before I could open the car for my dog to jump out, I saw the cinema showing a live performance by crooner and country rock star (deceased recently), Kenny Rogers. He was doing one of pop music’s most covered songs, an autobiographical ballad made famous by Frank Sinatra, “My Way.” If any tune is a classic, My Way certainly is.
I was jolted. That song reminds me of me. No other song, apart from Sammy Davis’ rich voice in “I’ve gotta be me,” reminds me of me. Persaud’s place look superb and as I watched Rogers singing My Way, I couldn’t help thinking of how life has passed by so many thousands of my age group. We didn’t have an alfresco restaurant where you can take your date and while you eat, you see a life performance on the big screen.
When you think of what life was like in Guyana for a 30-year-old university graduate 40 years ago, then Guyana is definitely a different world today. I came back from studies in Canada in 1984 to a virtually broken, run down country. There was no supermarket. The cinema was dying. There was no television station. Only the state-owned Chronicle was printed. Father Morrison of the Catholic Church kept Guyanese informed by his weekly mini-newspaper, “The Catholic Standard.”
But it was the food situation that reduced Guyana to a 10th rate banana republic. I still cannot understand and will never understand how any Guyanese can have even a modicum of admiration for President Burnham. Soap, tooth paste, toilet paper, cooking oil, butter, you name it, it was not in Guyana.
In 1986, I joined the teaching staff at UG, and it was an emotional transformation for me. To say that UG was a university in 1986 is to say that a village cricketer was better than Brian Lara. Coming from Canada, it was impossible to imagine dozens and dozens of university courses were being taught without the availability of the relevant books without which the courses could not have existed.
I still think Guyanese are not intellectually familiar with the historical importance of President Desmond Hoyte who succeeded that demonic ruler, Burnham. Hoyte opened up Guyana to the world and allowed Guyana to interact with the world. As I watched Kenny Rogers singing My Way last Tuesday at Giftland’s open-air cinema, I thought of what I missed. I truly wished that this was the Guyana I had when I was 30.
I kept writing and saying it since the March 2020 general election that I was a parent in March 2020. I owe it to my kid to help make Guyana different from the dried, unlivable society that I existed in when I returned home in 1984. It was for this fundamental reason I crusaded against rigged election in March 2020. I know in my heart, if rigged election had succeeded then there would be no one left in this country. We would have returned to the dead society shaped by Forbes Burnham.
I would like to end with a revelation of last Tuesday that you would not believe. As I watched Kenny Rogers singing, Ravi Persaud came up to me and showed me on his watch that his noise level was in accordance with the national requirement. Now brace yourself for this revelation.
Persaud told me the national requirement is 60 decibels. What this means is that nowhere in any part of this sprawling country is that standard being met. I would like to think that in all, not most but all places where music is played, the decibels exceed 100. I don’t think it is ever under a 100. Persaud says it is simple to monitor. He showed me how his wrist watch can monitor the decibels if you are in a place of entertainment. I learnt something new about Guyana.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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