January 23, 2018

Archives for July 14, 2017

Life at Orinduik

Aerial view of houses in the vicinity of the Falls (Yogendra Callender photo)

Imagine being lulled to sleep by the cascading waters of Orinduik Falls, and then waking up to such a magnificent sight. Well, for the residents living in the vicinity of the Falls, every day is a ‘getaway’.

Orinduik is located on the Ireng River in the Potaro-Siparuni Region (Region Eight) of Guyana.

Sunday Times Magazine visited the natural wonder and interviewed Rachel Abraham, a 36-year-old mother of six (the eldest being 17 years old) who spoke about living at Orinduik.

She revealed that the few families living at the Falls farm, fish, and sell crafts/cassareep to visitors.

Tourists’ meeting point before embarking on an exciting tour of the Falls

“When we have to get goods/supplies, we walk to Brazil, which takes two days to get there and two days to return home. We make this trip about every three months. I grew up at Orinduik, but would now venture to nearby village, Kamana, to take my children to school. When school reopens we stay in Kamana, but when it is closes for the holidays we come back to Orinduik. Life at Orinduik is amazing, although it gets boring sometimes. We swim and mostly stay indoors. I enjoy being here because when I go to other villages they do not have water and we have so much here. I will continue to live here for as long as I can,” she declared.

Facts on Orinduik

Residents relaxing under a tree near Orinduik Falls

Orinduik is at a point where the Ireng River thunders over steps and terraces of red jasper, at the border of Guyana and Brazil, before merging with the Takutu River and into Brazil to join the Amazon River. Although jasper comes in many colours, including yellow, green and greyish blue, at Orinduik, the rocks are red.

The Orinduik Falls is a wide, multi-tiered series of cascades, which makes it an ideal waterfall for swimming, unlike many others. The name of the falls, Orinduik, is derived from the Amerindian (Patamona) word, Orin, which is the name given to an aquatic plant found in these falls. The Orinduik Falls in all its glory is approximately 25m tall and more than 150m wide.

The Falls was discovered by C. Barrington Brown, who also discovered Kaieteur and Kuribrong Falls. There are frequent flights from the Eugene F. Correia International Airport (Ogle Airport), and most tours to Orinduik are combined with a trip to the Kaieteur Falls.

Rachel Abraham and her baby

The Ireng River (or Maú River) forms part of Guyana’s western border with Brazil. It flows through the valleys of the Pakaraima Mountains for most of its length. It is the only major river in Guyana that flows from North to South, and it is one of the northernmost tributaries of the Amazon River system.

The larger part of the Ireng River basin forms the frontier between Brazil and Guyana. The Ireng’s main branches are the Uailan and Canã rivers on Brazil side and the Cacó, Dacã and Socobi rivers on the Guyana side.

Orinduik is sheltered by the hills of the magnificent Pakaraima Mountains.

Thanks to the airstrip next to the Falls, visitors get a chance to experience Orinduik, which has become a popular tourist destination, meet the residents, listen to their stories and learn about their way of life.

Pay a visit to the Falls and be sure to greet the residents and support them by purchasing the delicious cassareep, and skilfully made artistic crafts.

Breathtaking view of a section of the Falls (Yogendra Callender photo)

A ‘Magnificent Providence’ on show

Postcard cover reads: “Botanic Gardens, Georgetown, British Guiana”. On its reverse states: “Botanical Gardens, Georgetown, British Guiana. Central Drive and Gate from the Botanical Gardens, which are large and beautiful.”

As the only British colonial territory in South America, British Guiana was probably better known to the outside world than it appears today. Every effort was made by the-then Colonial Office and government to promote British Guiana abroad.

Guiana’s industries as they were – timber, mining, forest products and, of course, sugar – added to the rich diversity of exotic flora and rare species of fauna and the anthropology and artefacts of the colony’s aboriginal peoples, made a worthy  showcase of the colony’s resources.

The Royal Agricultural and Commercial Society (RACS) was founded in 1844 by planters and men of influence in British Guiana. The Society was instrumental in procuring and facilitating these world events through the RACS Committee of Correspondence. It prepared the official descriptive catalogues for the British Guiana exhibits and even sent representatives abroad to manage the exposition stands.

“Kaieteur Rapids & Gorge, British Guiana”. On the reverse reads: “A scene on the Potaro River. The Gorge approaching the Kaieteur Fall, which is seen in the distance.”

In 1851, London hosted the Great Exhibition of Arts and Industries of All Nations, the brainchild of Prince Albert opened in Hyde Park, Kensington. The event drew in nearly six million visitors. One of the star exhibits at the London exhibition was the Giant Water Lily or the Victoria amazonica, which was discovered in Guiana by Robert Schomburgk in 1837.

The year 1851 coincided with the first year of Queen Victoria’s reign and the newly discovered water lily was aptly named the Victoria Regia. The water lily was described in the catalogue as “Queen of the Aquatics” and it became the perfect emblem for the Monarch whose domain extended over the oceans – the ‘Flower of the Empire’.

The successor to the 1851 Hyde Park exhibition was the International Exhibition in London in 1862, where once again British Guiana made an appearance. This was followed by the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867.

Reverse of postcard describes the scene on its cover: “Kaieteur Fall, British Guiana, a beautiful view from the foot. Vertical drop of fall 740 ft.”

“Exposition universelle [d’art et d’industrie], for which a British Guiana Catalogue of contributions was published, and again in Paris 1900, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, where 5,000 sq. ft. were designated for the British Guiana stand.”

Eastward to India, British Guiana was represented by Mr. Henry Kirke, the then Commissioner for British Guiana, at the International Exhibition held at Calcutta in December 1883. The Governor and Court of Policy of British Guiana were keen for the representation and placed an item of $2,000 on the supplementary estimates to defray the expenses connected with the exhibition.

The RACS Committee did everything in its power to forward exhibits to Calcutta, so as to bring the colony of British Guiana and its mode of tilling the land, vividly before the people of Calcutta.

British Guiana also made its mark in the United States, first at the International Exhibition in Nashville Tennessee in May 1887 and then at the World’s Columbian Commission Exposition in Chicago in 1893. John Quelch, the curator at the British Guiana Museum, went to Chicago as the British Guiana Commissioner. A set of “TIMEHRI” journals and the “Scientific Journal of Guiana” appeared as one of the prize winning exhibits from British Guiana. The exhibit won a diploma and medal awarded by the Board of International Judges.

Cover of one of the postcards

The British Empire Exhibition, which was held in Wembley, London in 1924, was one of the last shop windows to show off British Guiana at its best. The British Guiana fully illustrated descriptive catalogue and guide to the exhibition, a tome of 126 pages, encapsulates the essence of the colony, its history, geography, places of interest, people and natural resources.

The concluding paragraph of 1924 Wembley catalogue sums up what British Guiana had to offer the nations of the world, and it is still relevant to Guyana today:

“Altogether British Guiana presents a rich field of possibilities and probabilities, and not a few certainties to the enterprising capitalist. Unlike most of the West Indian Islands, it is as yet undeveloped save on the coastal belt, the source of the famous Demerara Sugar. There is vast scope in its mineral wealth, in tropical agriculture of various kinds – Sugar, coffee, coconut, rubber and other plantations – in domestic industries, as yet almost nonexistent, and in the task of improving its means of communication. There is room for millions of new population. When the people come in their numbers, as they must come sooner or later as the other empty spaces of the world fill up, British Guiana will quickly establish a just claim to the title that is at present little more than a pious aspiration – the ‘Magnificent Province’.”

“War Memorial & Georgetown Club, British Guiana”. Reverse states: “The War Memorial stands at the head of Main Street. At the back of it is seen the chief Club of the City, and also the General Post Office.”

Featured today are some of the postcards said to be “specially taken for the British Empire Exhibition 1924”. They are artistic work done by Alfred De Breanski Jr., a British artist, and published by Raphael Tuck & Sons of England, who were referred to as the “world’s largest postcard publisher” and as “art publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen”. The postcards are called “oilettes”, a term used by Raphael Tuck & Sons to refer to a particular style of postcard production. The oilettes often looked like oil painting, with noticeable brush strokes. (Text by Wayne McWatt. Photos from https://tuckdb.org)

The Legend of the Victoria Regia

By Odeen Ishmael

Victoria Regia (Photo by Nicholas Laughlin)

Many years ago, there was a little forest village on the bank of a wide river in southern Guyana. All of the inhabitants were very happy as they always reaped good crops from their gardens, and wild animals they hunted for meat were abundant in the forests on both sides of the river.

In this forest village lived twelve teenage girls who always gathered in the evenings under a tall mora tree on the riverside to sing songs their mothers had taught them. After their singing, as the moon rose from beneath the horizon and the stars twinkled in the dark sky, the girls would stare in awe at these beautiful heavenly bodies.

They became particularly interested in these attractive objects since there was a general belief in those days of long ago that anyone who touched a beautiful object would acquire some of its beauty.

“The moon and the stars are so lovely,” said Neca, one of the girls in the group. “I wish we could touch them so we can acquire some of their beauty, but they are so far away.”

“We must find a way to touch them,” replied another girl in the group. “Maybe, we should climb to the top of the mountain, and from there we will be able to touch them.”

So every evening after their singing session, they stared at the moon and the stars and contemplated various ways they could attempt to touch them.

Of all the girls, Neca was more interested in touching the Moon, and in the evening she spent long hours just staring at it as it moved slowly across the night sky.

“I know what I will do,” she declared to her friends one evening. “I will climb to the top of this tall mora tree and try to touch the moon.”

“Well, you may climb to the top of the tree, but I think we can touch the moon and the stars if we go to the top of the mountain,” one of her friends explained. This view seemed to be more popular, and all except Neca decided that they would do exactly that.

One night when the full moon was rising in the sky, Neca climbed to the top of the mora tree and stretched out her hands towards the shining orb. But, clearly, the moon was too far away for her to accomplish this feat. In great disappointment, she descended and tearfully went home to sleep.

Meanwhile, that same night her friends walked through the forest to the high mountain some distance away from the village. After reaching the peak, they stretched out their hands towards the moon and the stars, but they, too, failed to attain their objective. With long, sad faces, they wearily walked back home realising that they could never acquire the beauty of those distant objects.

But Neca never gave up. The following night, when her friends had all gone to sleep, she walked along the river bank once again and stared at the big golden moon as it rose above the trees. Then she looked into the calm water of the river and there she observed the moon’s glowing reflection.

“Now, this is how I can touch the moon,” she reasoned. And with that, she plunged into the river and reached out to the reflection. But she soon disappeared beneath the deep still water and was never seen again.

But the moon goddess did see Neca as she made that fateful plunge.

“I truly pity her,” she sighed. “Neca always wanted to become more beautiful than ever, so I’ll ensure that people will admire that beauty for all times.”

So, the moon goddess, from the depths of the river, brought up Neca’s body which she transformed into a large majestic pink water lily in the water near the river bank. From that day, people everywhere became fascinated with this most gorgeous flower growing beside its large circular lily pad.  Today, that stately and attractive water lily is widely known as the Victoria Regia.

Story, published with permission from author, is taken from “Guyana Legends – Folktales of the Indigenous Amerindians” by Odeen Ishmael, published 2012. Ishmael is a veteran retired Guyanese diplomat. He retired from the diplomatic service in June 2014. He last served as Guyana’s ambassador to Kuwait, taking up that post in January 2011.


The buck stops…

…with the Minister

The Public Security Minister – right now Khemraj Ramjattan – always has INDIVIDUAL ministerial responsibility for the prisons and the Prison Service of Guyana. Under the conventions and traditions of our Westminster system of governance, the Minister resigns when disasters of the magnitude of the Camp Street inferno occur. Plain and simple. There have now been two of these disasters – AT THE SAME PLACE AND FOR THE SAME CAUSES – in two years, but Ramjattan is still there. Why?

OK…even though he’d been there for a whole year when the first fire was set by prisoners, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was a bit slow on the uptake to learn about his responsibilities. But there was the usual CoI after the first fire. And the CoI set out WHAT HAD TO BE DONE in the most excruciating detail. And the Chairman didn’t mince any words in insisting on the URGENCY of implementing the recommendations.

Now, all Guyanese know the recommendations couldn’t all be implemented immediately. But what all Guyanese EXPECT – and so should the President – was that Minister Ramjattan should’ve established a team tasked with the responsibility of prioritising and sequencing the tasks into a plan with timelines. Did he at least take this elementary step? NO! And for this negligence he has to take responsibility and fall on his sword.

Take the recommendations on the reduction of jail terms by the Judiciary or them using non-custodial sentencing to a greater degree. Ramjattan is a lawyer who would’ve pleaded for hundreds of clients on the matter of sentencing. He would know that so often these sentences are arbitrary and have the opposite effect on the incarcerated than reforming them. He would know about the astronomic recidivism rate in our prisons. But did he even jot down a note on his pad to start the process to engage the Judiciary on this recommendation? No!

Ramjattan expressed such disgust at the conditions in the Camp Street jail when he and his AG Basil Williams visited the facility after 17 prisoners perished in that fire. Did he initiate any action to improve those conditions? These were human beings, he said. Did he even suggest that food be served on time? Did he even revisit to check on the conditions subsequently? Let’s say he was busy…did he send any subordinate to visit?

Dear Reader…you can tell by now your Eyewitness can’t even parody this Minister’s abdication of his job. We cannot allow him to do this – and still draw his fat salary.

If Roopnaraine was demoted for lack of reforms in education, Ramjattan has to be fired!!

…at the PNC

The WPA has been excusing itself for remaining in the PNC-led coalition called APNU by claiming they always believed in “coalitions”. And that, in fact, Rodney has proposed a Government of National Unity and Reconstruction (GNUR) back in 1979 is pursuit of this commitment to coalitions. But that’s not the whole story, is it? And because it’s not, it reveals that there are other reasons for the WPA to keep on taking the humiliations being doled out daily to it.

Back in 1979, when the WPA proposed the GNUR, it did so in contradistinction to the PPP’s National Front Government – put out in 1977. The major reason for the WPA’s proposal was they refused to include the PNC in any such “unity” government – even though the PPP insisted on that condition!! Imagine that!! How the world has changed!!

The WPA should reveal whether – after its present bitter experiences – whether the PNC had changed any since Rodney’s rejection of the PNC in ’79.

…with UG unions

Your Eyewitness salutes the UG unions for following his lead and correctly labelling the VC’s Big Bash “investiture” – disguised as a Diaspora Engagement Conference – as a “Coronation”.

Let’s see some pickets against the bow-tied poseur!!!

Déjà vu…

…all over again at Camp Street!

The authorities must be only people in Guyana who’re surprised at the weekend conflagration at the Camp Street jail. Everyone else – from their own bitter experience living in Guyana – knows if you close your eyes and pretend reality will change, you’re living in a fool’s paradise. And so said, so done at Camp Street!

On March 3, 2016, we witnessed the horror of 17 inmates incinerated in the facility. Seventeen human lives snuffed out! The Government’s CoI (obligatory for every misstep) announced two months later that basically the Camp Street explosion was just waiting to happen. What else to expect when 900+ men – including hardened killers on death row – are shoehorned into facilities meant to hold only half that number at best? And that’s overlooking the fact that each person’s space is about one thirds of what’s considered passable internationally!

Combine this with a judicial system that consigned at least a hundred men in the facility who’re only on “remand” – that is, waiting for their trials – for years. And getting the same treatment like the hardened criminals! That’s what was the spark then – and now! The only difference is there were less lives lost and more property destroyed now.

The BIG question, of course, is whatever happened to the recommendations of the CoI? The Government’s spin doctors, of course, have already boasted about all the plans they’d crafted. While this may be true, plans should have timelines…and they would’ve told the people of Guyana if the Government was serious. How is it they were able to refurbish Jubilee park – AFTER the last jail tragedy – but not get the proposed Mazaruni Prison expansion started immediately?? It was more than a year later (April 2017) that Cabinet approved a measly G$58 million for the latter project. And imagine they spent over G$1 billion of Jubilee Park!!

What we’re witnessing here is more than the typical lassitude enveloping every venture governments embark on. This is a reflection of the class bias that’s redolent in our society: lumpen elements are the dregs of society and their lives aren’t worth anything. The problem, of course, is who knows when any one of us could be consigned to Prison? What will we say then?

Way back in 2004, the Disciplined Forces Commission (DFC) had taken proposals not only to reform the Police and Army – but also the Prison Service – and the jails. Everything in last year’s CoI on the Camp Street conflagration was already in that DFC’s Report. But no action.

The only silver lining from this latest tragedy is a new prison will now HAVE TO BE BUILT!

…on the Lisa find

Your Eyewitness noticed the Guyana Oil and Gas Association (GOGA) has joined the line with all those (like your Eyewitness and the WPA) who’ve been complaining about the information Black Hole the Government created around the contract their Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has signed with ExxonMobil.

The latter, for what it’s worth, announced out in Berbice they’ll be very open about what they’ll be paying the Government – once the oil starts flowing. Fat lot of good that’ll do us by then. The boat (with our oil) would have already “gone a watah”! Now you don’t have to be a genius to understand the only reason the Government has clammed up is because they have things to hide from the people of Guyana.

Things like what will be the rate of taxation Exxon will be paying on their profits. Surely the lawyerly Minister, who undertook to negotiate for us against Exxon’s battery of lawyers, didn’t give that mega company a tax break?

Or did he?

…on gas

Still on the Lisa find, some are enquiring about the gas that’ll be pumped out with the oil. But that’s no mystery, is it?

Exxon has already said the Government has accepted the gas will be pumped back into the seabed!!

Diddling or fiddling?

…US at G20?

To most observers, it had to happen sooner rather than later; but none of them thought the dominance of the US in the corridors of world power would be abdicated, rather than dwindle away — as England’s had been after WWI. But at the latest G-20 meeting in Germany, Donald Trump clearly had no inclination to step up to the plate on the dominant issues on the agenda: trade and climate change.

On trade matters, with the US pulling out of the mega blocks like TPP — which his predecessor had worked for years to cobble together — China, Europe and Russia rushed in to fill the vacuum with such alacrity you could hear the “whooshing” sound even across the Atlantic. Isolationism might sell in the rust belt of the Midwest, but the other members of G20 were obviously taken aback by the know-nothing obduracy of Trump. Even if America were to get its manufacturing mojo back, does Trump really believe it can afford to neglect the burgeoning markets in the rest of the world?

On Climate Change, even the host Angela Merkel had to publicly call out the US for abandoning the Paris Accord, while Macron pointedly proposed that France will host another conclave so that G19 can move on. Trump failed to grasp that the response to “Climate Change” isn’t tied to whether “the science” is right or wrong. It will now lead to the spawning of industries that will eclipse most of the dominant players in the energy field, for one.

The US will now indubitably fall further behind in the race for ‘renewables”, where China and India are rubbing their hands with glee. Both those countries have committed to powering their cars in the next three decades with electricity by going the way of Volvo, which just announced it will stop making the internal combustion engine!! Maybe Trump should’ve taken a hint from the company his Secretary of State Tillerson so recently headed – Exxon, which has recently plunged into the production of algae bio-fuels.

On a personal level, if one thing epitomised the new power reality, it was a picture of Trump sitting alone at his seat while all around him G20 leaders were locked in animated conversations. Trump didn’t help his cause – or that of the US — when he had his daughter fill in for him at the G20 roundtable while he was engaged in a bi-lateral with Indonesia.

Ivanka might be easy on the eyes and a good businesswoman, but she had no official standing to represent the President of the US – especially in such a gathering.

While some may enjoy the diminished US presence on the world stage…it could lead to instability.

…at Caricom

Your Eyewitness had taken Prezzie at his word when, some time ago, he mentioned on his Public Interest show that he’d be raising the aborted officially designated “Jagdeo Initiative” — which since 2003 had been placed on Caricom’s agenda — to effectuate our Common Agricultural Policy. The Initiative, spearheaded by Jagdeo, has spelled out chapter and verse as to how the 10 constraints that prevented us from feeding ourselves, and even export food, could be overcome.

But imagine, this is all Pressie could say on the subject last week: “The Community has the land, the labour, the talent, and the capital to guarantee food security for its citizens. The Community’s annual food import bill, which exceeds US$4B, is a notorious indictment of its ability to promote investment and stimulate intra-regional trade in agricultural commodities.

“Non-tariff barriers continue to constrain trade in food. The Community needs to re-examine how it can dismantle the non-tariff barriers to trade in agricultural products while generating employment for its citizens.”

“Non-tarriff barriers”? Was it the name “Jagdeo” that stuck in his throat? Sad.

…on the oil contract

Your Eyewitness knows Trotman will ignore his calls to reveal the details of the deal he’s made with Exxon on OUR oil.

But to ignore his coalition partner WPA? Oi vey!

The ‘Tree of Heaven’

Coconut water is said to have numerous health benefits

The coconut is described as the ‘Tree of Heaven’ because almost every part of the crop, from the roots, to the bark, to the fruit, has been of some economic value to the locals long before the Europeans ever knew about the tree.

Also called “the tree which provides all the necessities of life” in India, and “the tree of a thousand uses” in Malay, the coconut’s flowers, husk, shell, water, milk, leaves, sap, bud, and the white, fleshy part of the seed- the coconut ‘meat’, are all used up by the inhabitants of the tropics.

Almost everywhere you look in Guyana and the Caribbean you must see a coconut tree. Once there is a yard or an open field, there will be at least one coconut tree standing.

But very few, if any, consider where the coconut came from, taking it for granted that it is ‘native’ to the Caribbean and Guyana.

Picking coconuts in Guyana (Photo from Rusty Travel Trunk)

The actual origin of the coconut is still uncertain, with the term “Botanical Romance” being used derisively in 1910 to describe some claims of the origin of this ordinary fruit.

Some authorities suggest South Asia while others claim that it originated in the part of Gondwanaland that is now South America. Some insist it was carried while others insist on the possibility of dispersal by ocean currents.

Fossil records suggest that New Zealand and parts of India bore similar ‘coconut-like’ but smaller plants more than 10 million years ago.

According to some scientists, when Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World he did not find coconuts, and the Portuguese travelled the length of Africa to the Cape of Storms (Cape of Good Hope) without finding any. Vasco da Gama had to reach the Indian Ocean in 1498 before “coquos” were recognised.

It was during the age of exploration, or the “Nautical period” that the coconut gained popularity for its numerous beneficial uses to the European seafaring explorers -from providing uncontaminated drinking water to caulking leaks (ensuring its worldwide distribution and confusing those who ask the “did it float or was it carried?”question).

A letter written in 1836 noted that the coconut was seen as an invaluable for extensive cultivation in the African and West Indian colonies especially for the coconut oil, which burned “smoke-free.”

In 1853, A.R. Wallace, British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and biologist, would write about the coconut palm in the Amazon region, “It is in a foreign land. It flourishes . . . but no part of it is applied to any useful purpose, the fruit only being consumed as an occasional luxury. In the towns and larger villages where the Portuguese have settled it has been planted, but among the Indians of the interior it is still quite unknown.”

According to one historical account, in 1869 “The King coconut was introduced to Jamaica from Ceylon (via Kew Gardens). It cannot now be traced.” But it is reported that in 1962 “Brazil had ten million dwarf King Coconut palms, all of which were the offspring since 1942 of two palms that had survived importation from Ceylon in 1925.” Another account claims that foreign coconut varieties were introduced to the British West Indies in 1921 and 1923.

The next time you stop at the coconut vendor and ask for coconut water, remember the history of the common coconut.


School and bank robbers

Satiricus was shocked when he read of the attempted heist at Republic Bank. He was shaken to his core by this expansion of the criminal fraternity into the bosom of respectable families – like his! All his life, he’d been taught that if you go to school, study hard, pass your exams and get a job, you were well on your way to climbing the ladder of social success. Jeez! He’d have to look at his kids a little closer now, wouldn’t he?

“But wha’ mek yuh suh shack, Sato?” asked Bungi at the Back Street Bar, where they were ensconced as usual.

“Well, look how they were all educated,” said Satiricus, sounding a little surprised at the question.

“Suh yuh t’ink only people like me who na gat educa-shan, ah rab bank?” Bungi asked carefully, as Hari watched on with interest.

“Well, up to now that’s been the case, right?” said Satiricus firmly.

“Not exactly,” interjected Hari before Bungi could respond. “That guy Blackie, whose gang robbed that Essequibo bank, was a GDF soldier who had a good education, you know. Special Forces!”

“And dem fifteen chap who rab dem two bank in Berbice, when dem shoot up de PPCEE people, na bin gat educa-shan?” asked Bungi more pointedly.

“OK…OK. Fellas. I see what you’re getting at!” said Satiricus. “But those bandits had education with guns. These young men didn’t. They just had book education.”

“Suh yuh t’ink me guh rab bank?” asked Bungi pointedly. “Me na gat jab, yuh know. An me nah gat book educa-shan.”

“Well, I don’t think you’re bank robber material,” admitted Satiricus.

“And that’s the point, right Sato?” said Hari. “There are some people who are “bank robber” material – whether they have education or not.”

“An’ dat “material’ a mek a house!” said Bungi emphatically. “Na school!!”

Paediatrics: Take 2

Now that I’m in Year 5, I’m having my second go at Paediatrics. One would think that, this time around, we’d be more prepared and comfortable in the rotation. Well, the senior doctors certainly assume we are; they keep saying things like, “Well, you should’ve read that book from cover to cover back in Year 4.” To that I usually shift guiltily in my shoes and try to avoid making eye contact, because I never did get around to finishing that textbook!

Another new development, since we’re now in our final year, is that we keep getting the same speech from everyone: “When are you graduating? In a few months, right? This time next year, you will be the new interns.”

But apart from having my heart stop beating every time someone mentions “exams” and “graduation”, things actually are a bit better this time around. Slowly but surely, it’s dawning we might be becoming real doctors. The other day my friends and I saw a patient in the Paediatric Emergency Department, and we did the whole 9 yards: took the patient’s history, did a full exam, reviewed the case with a senior doctor, and sent the patient off with a stamped prescription. Sure, it was a simple case that didn’t require the patient to be hospitalized; and yeah, the 5 of us collectively made up 1 doctor, but we still did feel quite pleased with ourselves.

And it really does feel like the things we’re learning now we’re learning for life. I’ve been grilled so many times about the management of an “acute exacerbation of asthma” that I’m having dreams about being chased by oxygen masks and nebulizer equipment. But, on a serious note, asthma is one of those things you’re guaranteed to see at least a couple of kids come in with every day, so it makes sense that we should really know about the management of asthma.

And before patients are discharged from the hospital, they usually have to be counselled about how they’re going to manage their asthma when they’re home. They’re advised about avoiding triggers, to prevent setting off another asthma attack — things like cigarette smoke, pets, dust, and mould. The parents are advised to avoid having carpets and heavy drapes around the home, because those might trap dust. When taking a paediatric patient’s history, we usually ask if anyone smokes around the child. And fairly frequently, I get the response, “Well their _____ smokes, but he/she doesn’t smoke inside the house or around the child.”

But that still counts as exposing the child to cigarette smoke. Because cigarette smoke clings to smokers: it clings to their hair, to their clothes, to their breath, to their skin. So there’s a chance your cigarette smoking could still act as a trigger for an asthmatic child.

For a lot of kids, their first symptom of asthma is a cough that just won’t go away. Many parents go to their local pharmacist and they’re recommended an expectorant for the cough. Some doctors may also prescribe an expectorant for the cough. But if the child actually does have asthma, an expectorant won’t be a good long-term solution. Expectorants are “mucolytics”– they ‘break up’ mucus that builds up in the airways. They don’t treat the underlying problems of asthma that cause that mucus build-up in the first place.

For the long-term management of asthma, drugs like inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators have been shown to be very effective. For each child with asthma, an asthma action plan should be agreed upon, with options that work best for that child. And I don’t think paediatrics is as bad as George Clooney says it is: “After doing “One Fine Day” and playing a paediatrician on ER, I’ll never have kids. I’m going to have a vasectomy.”

He was just acting…the real thing is more satisfying!

Refreshed Lynn ready to lead Warriors charge

Refreshed Lynn ready for CPL action (CPL photo)

Dynamic top order batsman Chris Lynn is eager to display more carnage with the bat in hand for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in this year’s Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

Lynn was the team’s best batsman last year, scoring 454 runs at a remarkable average of 45.4, and recording a highest score of 86 from his 12 matches. Those stats helped the three-time runners-up reach the final against eventual winners Jamaica Tallawahs.

Despite the undisputed talent the player possesses, his international career for his native Australia has been curtailed by injuries just when he seemed to be in top form.

His participation at this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders saw him sustaining a shoulder injury while fielding. He had started that tournament in blazing form, cracking a 41-ball 93 which included eight sixes and six fours against the Gujarat Lions in his first match.

“My personal preparation is going really well. As I said, I’ve had time to freshen up, and now I’m starting my training campaign for the CPL. The body is feeling really well after my shoulder concerns. I’ve worked my backside off to get back to where I want to be,” the player disclosed in an interview with Guyana Times Sport.

He added, “After a couple of weeks’ break from the IPL and ICC Champions Trophy, I’m feeling refreshed and can’t wait to get back to Guyana.”

According to ‘Lynny’, as he is called by teammates, the plan is the same as in previous years: score runs and help win matches.

“My goal this year is to back up my season last year and to be leading run scorer again. Traditionally, scores are fairly low at Guyana, so to be leading run-scorer with four home games there, I thought was a great achievement. So the goal is to back that up and go one better as a team this year,” he said.

Though Lynn is becoming an important international name in T20 Cricket, he admitted to having a sense of pride in wearing the Amazon Warriors’ jersey.

He explained, “Playing for Guyana Amazon Warriors is a bloody wonderful privilege. The pride when the players put on that jersey is something that has stood out to me and for me personally. Playing in Guyana is the total opposite conditions to what I have been brought up on, so I have really enjoyed taking up that challenge to do well.”

Commenting on the composition of the squad, the Queenslander said he is happy that the core remains the same.  “Not too many changes, which is always a good sign. Obviously, I lose my best mate, ‘Zamps’ [Adam Zampa]. But in saying that, I am looking forward to playing with Rashid Khan,” he explained.

Responding to a question on how to break the jinx of not winning the title, the right-handed batsman said he feels there is not much to change. “I don’t think I’ll be doing much different to last year; we had a very successful campaign. At the start of the tournament, if you said that we would have come second, I think nearly everyone would take that. We lost our way in the final, but that happens in the game of T20 cricket; so, hopefully, the luck of the bounce goes our way this year.”

In his deep Aussie accent Lynn added, “We are a very driven team and are led by some quality coaches, but the best thing is that we had a lot of fun along the way, and grew as cricketers, but mainly as men.”

The cricketer is also looking to return to Florida, where Guyana won both of their matches last year against the Barbados Tridents.  He’s hoping that history can spur them to start their campaign on a winning note when they play Chris Gayle-led St. Kitts and Nevis’ Patriots on August 5 at the Central Broward County Regional Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida.

The fifth edition of the league will run from August 4 to September 9, and the Warriors will have four home matches between August 17 and 22 at Providence.

On the 17th, they play defending champions  Jamaica Tallawahs; after which they play arch-rivals Trinbago Knight Riders two days later. The Warriors then clash with the Barbados Tridents on the 20th, and then have their final home match against the St Lucia Stars on the 22nd.