Damn June 1st 37 years today

Wrong question. You should have asked: "Madam, please pass me a slop can." Like Drugb did when he landed at JFK.

Seriously, congratulations. But be warned: Dem people in Guyana don't regard awee as dem countryman anymore. Dem seh awee cut and run, while dem stay and burn.

Congrats, boss. My family and I departed Guyana in summer clothes on a March 12 and arrived at JFK in a blizzard. The plane couldn't land and was circling overhead for a long time. Thank god my big sister brought lots of warm clothes for us to wear at the airport.  

It is interesting how our faith in God intervene in the decision we make decades ago, that placed our life in a  different direction.

In 1967, two schools accepted me to study marine communications. The Wireless College in  Coldwyn Bay, North Wales,  where I already had many Guyanese friends in Britain and Vancouver BC where I had ONLY the name and phone number  of ONE unknown person in all of BC, who might  meet me on arrival.  

It would have been easier  to go to Britain and continue my Guyanese  lifestyle. Unfortunately, some of these friends did not stop their Guyanese partying  and eventually died  on the streets of London, as homeless persons.

In Vancouver, I went to school, served as radio officer on board ocean going ships, while visiting many countries  and spent 30 years working as an electronic engineer for the telephone company. My personal  life also evolved with  a Canadian wife and four beautiful children, with grandchildren.  

WOW !! What a contrast in that decision,  so many decades ago.

It was my first time on an airplane and no one told me to chew gun, or swallow, to avoid the ear ache.

I learned how to use a knife and fork, instead of a soup spoon and adopted the Canadian lifestyle.

I got involved in our church  and volunteered for social justice issues, including  sustainable projects in developing countries, where I later oversaw many projects.  It feels routine to go to Northern Uganda, Tanzania, Philippines, Bolivia, Peru, El Salvador, Chiapas Mexico, to name a few.

Youth counselling became second nature and preventing lives from suicide seemed so easy to do.

In 1967, if I had accepted the school in Coldwyn Bay, would I be writing you today, or sleeping on the streets of London. Only God will know  for sure.

On arrival from Guyana, I was met in Toronto by a very distant relative  who said September is winter in Vancouver.  So I was told to wear long-johns on the flight that almost blistered my legs from the heat and I was too shy to taken them off in the washroom.

When I asked the Toronto  relative  when  will I know of my arrival in Vancouver, he said when the airplane stop, get off because you will be in Vancouver. The first stop was in Winnipeg and luckily for me  this gorgeous  flight attended must have sensed that I was a new-comer and intervened, or my wife would have been the daughter of tribal chief in Manitoba.          

I so enjoyed reading that Tola.

All of us who emigrated in the 60s and 70s have interesting stories to tell of our arrivals and those early days of trying to adapt to a new country/life which, for me (country gyal born and bred), was like landing on a different planet!! - but you have such an informative, interesting and funny way of putting your experiences in words......you should write book!

Tola, I think Corentyne folks were the first ones to start the migration from Guyana; maybe Dr. Jagan started the trend when he went to study in the USA. In the late 60s Timehri was always packed with Corentyne folks heading out on student visas. The ladies wore suits that Jackie Kennedy was famous for; the Indian ones in their elaborate beehive hairdos like going to a Miss Universe contest; the black ladies with many hats piled on their heads, I always wondered why, did they have drugs in them?   

Leonora posted:

The ladies wore suits that Jackie Kennedy was famous for; the Indian ones in their elaborate beehive hairdos like going to a Miss Universe contest; the black ladies with many hats piled on their heads, I always wondered why, did they have drugs in them?   

No. Being close to black people I can tell you this. In those days a typical black woman had a special hat for Sunday church services, another special hat for funerals, another one for weddings, etc. Plus a few wigs. Now, a woman who was emigrating would not want her hats in a suitcase for fear of them being crushed. That's why she wore all her hats on her head. One good thing I like about blacks: they don't have false pride, they don't worry about what others think, they just do what they have to do. 

Thanks VB, I was told by many to write a book and have written/audio recorded  many stories of my life for our children and grandchildren.

I seem to be busier now with local volunteering, then  when I worked fulltime. Even others suggested that they become my ghost writer. One person was Dove on GNI, who assisted with our Guyana project reports and another community news reporter lady in our town, who did a feature story about my photography career, before she moved.

I will heed your suggestion and  start writing again. Dividing my story into different categories: Life, school, work in Guyana; first ten years in Vancouver with school, going to sea and marriage; the next 40 years with children, work with discrimination; volunteering internationally  and now enjoying the fruits of our labour.

I really enjoy writing about my years in Guyana, because they were carefree, fun and humorous.

There were also many close calls, where I almost got shot by a policeman at Zagreb airport for running to an airplane,  about to leave for London. Or the ship sinking on 'a dark stormy night' in the middle of the Pacific ocean. 


I believe you are correct regarding the influence Cheddi Jagan had on farmers educating their children and them coming overseas for advanced education.

My mother was born at Port Mourant and attended primary school with CJ. My grandfather was a close friend  of his dad and I believe that influenced my parents to support my studies overseas. I was the first to migrate and others later followed.

I remember those days at the airport. Everyone all dressed up, with lots of home cooked food. With last minute hugging and crying ' Ow bai whea dis place you ah go, abie gun eva see you again' ? The photos that I have are my memories of that day and it still brings a tear.

In 1997, I took two of our younger children on a five week trip to Disney World, Guyana and BVI. While island hopping between Barbados and BVI, a black  lady had about six hats that she wore at the same time. She was told to check them, but she insisted in carrying them. In St. Lucia, our kids had a big kick of seeing the men pumping the airplane tire with a bicycle pump and they spoke about it for days later at school.

I have a question about a thing, that I don't understand. Many black Guyanese ladies would use a powder puff on their chest as makeup ?  Why don't Indian women do the same ? 

I came to T.O Jan 21 1973 in my leatherette jacket and leather shoes...not winter gear. My family placed casareep in a can and soldered it shut.when I got to T.O my bag was checked and was asked about contents of the can..I couldn't remember what was in it but I was still told it was ok..just zipper it up and move on. These days I would be tossed on the ground and shackled.

I never realized how cold winter could be...dam place was still cold in April and I told my mom I won't stay in this place because it is cursed. Forty four years later I am still here cussing the cold.

My relatives were in Canada during the 60's so most of their friends were Canadian and I found myself trying to speak so they would understand me. I had to stop asking the time as,What ah clock? Had to stop using words like...lantin post, going to a finahral, Aginomoto. Crossing streets was kinda confusing expecting traffic from the right...in Guyana it was look right..look left...when safe..cross. Here it's the opposite.

Thanks Gilly, I now understand why the woman was carrying so many hats. If its more than seven, den she us transporting drugs, right Cain?

Cain, why would they solder a can of casreep, did you have to use a can opener ?

I had difficulty saying 'bag' and dem bhai at work used to laugh. Now I cant remember how I used to say it.

My Canadian language is now so normal for me, that the only time I know of its difference, is while in Guyana, people would imitate me speaking like a white man. I do pick up some of the Guyanese language again, but I find it hard to speak like I used to do in Guyana.  I believe this is because my family  is mostly  Canadian, more then Guyanese and I live at a place  without much interaction  with Guyanese or West Indians.   

Tola, the casereep was poured into a can then the lid was soldered so it won't come loose. Those days you had to go to the West end to Ram's Roti shop then my family started importing West Indian items and also bottling the CocoRico coconut water. Now you can find these items just about everywhere in T.O.

cain posted:

Tola, the casereep was poured into a can then the lid was soldered so it won't come loose. Those days you had to go to the West end to Ram's Roti shop then my family started importing West Indian items and also bottling the CocoRico coconut water. Now you can find these items just about everywhere in T.O.

Oh,  jus de lid was solder a lil bit. Mus have been  an Andrews Liver Salt can.  Dem ting make good carbon bomb, wid a nail hole at the bottom.

Put carbon in de can, spit three times in it, close lid tight, shake, lay it on its side, put a lit match on the nail hole  and BBBOOOMMM. Watch out de ting na hit you foot.


I am enjoying this thread a lot......such memorable experiences we had!!

We should make sure that we pass these stores on to our children (which I did) and to our grand-children (which I am now doing).

from our sharing, in high school, my daughter wrote a short novel of her great-grandmother's (my ajee) journey from India to Guyana based on the story we told her and which was told to us by my mom & dad. she got an A+ for that project.

my 9-yr old grandson is always asking....Nanee, how you and Nana met each other again?!  and off I go with the retelling.... 

The night I arrived one of the things my Aunt told me during the day, if I wanted pop, I could find pop in the fridge. I looked all over for that dam thing and could not find it. When my Aunt got home I told her there was no pop in the fridge. She went over opened it and pointed to a bottle of Coke..... I was looking for porridge. We used to call porridge, pop....dunno how many here did.

One night, late for work I grabbed a frozen can of juice, (thought it was to stick in a straw and voila! but no) along with the frozen can I also picked up a mince pie. At my break I went to warm up my pie and found it was not minced meat(beef pie) it was mincemeat (that dam raisins and apples crap) and my juice was frozen concentrate. That night I was forced to eat food from the machines, yuck phoeey!

As part of my job with the phone company, sometimes I am requested by security to do certain field investigation. This could require climbing poles in winter with spurs  and a safety  belt . If the poles are frozen and the spurs are not embedded properly, a cut-out could occur that could cause the climber to fall to the ground and hurt his back, among other injuries

The investigation  require finding two wires carrying  a specific dial tone, sometimes in a thousand pair cable. The cable is usually grease filled and also frozen.

In -40C weather  exposed fingers go painfully numb in less than  five minutes, not enough time to find the specific cable  pair, without using gloves. The van is running close to the pole  with heat fully on and a mad rush is attempted to descend the pole for the heated van. Again, if a cut-out occurs there could be back injuries. The tools in my belt pouch could fall in the nearby snow that is retrieved when the snow melts, in the spring.

It could take from four to six attempts climbing the pole to accomplish this task , with 20 minute warm up time and its done while the telephone person is by himself in a remote area.

A worker was killed while trying to do this task alone, so now at -35C, workers worked in pairs.

But in  telephone terms, this might not be a good scenario, because a loaded pair is two telephone men alone in manhole.  

I was fortunate that I did not work with any gay guys, but Ralph spoke funny.


warrior posted:

when i land at Pearson air port i ask my dad why everybody have their hands in their pockets he say wait and you will find out when i went through the door my dad had a good laugh 

Yes..true dat. When we're not accustomed to something it could take time to get used to and that was one of my priblems...my hands were always frozen..I hated the bigass ugly gloves my Uncle gave me so I chose to freeze.

Oi Tola I dunno if I ever mentioned this b4 but I once called my phone company to let them know my line was down....the woman told me to hice my ass up a ladder...oh oh ..first she told me to grab myself a screwdriver and a ladder...when Im up she could talk me through it.

I got kinda psst off and I told her to look outside her window and ler me know what she sees..Im seeing a couple feet snow..she could haul her ass and arrange for someone to get here.

She was working in a centre in India...heheheee

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