Guyana Memories Captured

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So much India in Guyana

Guyana is one of the 15 countries which form the Carribean Community. Guyana is on the mainland of the South American continent. Guyana has strong links to India. It appears that Indians landed here more than a 150 years ago (brought by the British) as indentured labourers. It is therefore not too surprising that a major part of the population is of Indian origin.

Some of the things that caught my attention and made me feel that there is so much India in Guyana are:

  • So many common Indian names pronounced the Indian way – ‘Ramesh’ (guy who sold lunch to us everyday); ‘Darmender’ (who drove us around); Preya (a colleague who participated in the training) and many more…
  • Three Indian Restaurants in Georgetown – ‘Taste of India’; ‘Maharaja’; and ‘Aagman’ (been to the first two; third scheduled for this week)
  • Two listed spoken languages: Carribean Hindustani and Tamil (spoken around here); At the above mentioned restaurants there were many who could speak Hindi.
  • I saw a poster of ‘Hanuman-ji’ and a few temples too
  • I saw some women wearing ‘saree’ the tRath Yatra Guyanaraditional Indian women wear. One of our participants in the training also told us that earlier this year the Indian High Commission had held a ‘Saree Draping Event’ to allow everyone to soak in the Indian culture. The local Guyanese seemed to like it so much.
  • The best thing I noticed while being driven to work – A notice saying that there is going to be a ‘Rath Yatra’ (check the picture in this blog).

So as an Indian from India, visiting Guyana makes you feel more at home than many other places, because you have so much of India here.

The country is so beautiful and that deserves to be written up too. I did a bit of seeing Georgetown (Capital of Guyana) and a little around the city. Hope to write some experiences in a separate blog.

But the fact remains – ‘there is so much India in Guyana’.

 

My First Visit to the Carribean

I have always been a big fan of the West Indies cricket team. Right from the days of Viv Richards to Chris Gayle – they entertain and keep us glued to the sport. With the onset of the ‘T-20’ format of the game, they have only shown how inherent a part of the game, they are! But never did I dream or wish to go there – but it all happened at short notice and kind of suddenly.

Here I am, writing this, sitting in the land of the West Indies – ‘The Carribean’ specifically in Georgetown, Guyana. My hotel room opens into the Atlantic Ocean. The country is green and the people are so fun loving. It has all signs of a country filled with aspirations to grow.

While I was on the flight from New York to Georgetown, I had two old women sitting on the same row. One was 89 and the the other was 70, both of Guyanese origin. They had so much life in them, so much aspiration, especially the older lady. I was so inspired by her energy and enthusiasm. She was engaged in some really small business (by global standards), but she never made it sound so. I liked the way she told me that she was building it. They gave me some tips on places to visit while I’m in Guyana and wished me well. I’m not ‘selfie’ crazy, else I would have posted one here with them.

My experience at the Airport amazed me. We got out of the plane, walked to a small hall where immigration, customs and baggage belt was present. Just outside the hall there were people waiting to pick their guests and of course some taxi drivers trying their luck. No order in parking, but no confusion either. It appeared to me the equivalent of a railway station in a small Indian town / village.

Our driver picked us up and we were on our way to the hotel. He drove quite fast along one of the three rivers in Guyana. It rained pretty heavily while we were enroute to the hotel and I got a couple of nice pictures. Here is one of them!First Look - Guyana

He stopped us to treat us to some ‘coconut water along the country side. There was a man who came out of his home and served us fresh coconut water. Indians comprise a large part of Guyana’s population. Georgetown itself has three popular Indian restaurants – ‘Taste of India’, ‘Maharaja’ and ‘Aagman’. In the last few days I’ve already had food at two of them. They are tasty and the people running the restaurants speak Hindi.

It is my first visit to the Carribean and it is my first time in South America. It has been awesome so far and I really look forward to knowing Guyana (and the Carribean) through its people and places. My work here also offers me this wonderful opportunity to know about the entire Carribean Community in one place!

To the Arctic and Back

I recently visited Bodo, a small city in the northern part of Norway. This was to attend the prestigious Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC).

When I left India, temperatures were well over 50 (yes, 50 degree celsius). When I eventually landed in Bodo, it was raining and temperatures were around FOUR degree celsius. I and a fellow doctoral consortium candidate got out of the airport and experienced the cool Arctic winds for the first time. We were simply praying that the bus arrives quickly. This was summer in the Arctic and all of sudden the weather Gods had decided to give us a different experience. We eventually reached the Nordland University Business School and settled into our warm rooms. There was something planned for the evening and so we took a little break and quickly changed to join in for a trek.

When I arrived with the heaviest jacket I had, the leader of the trek looked at me and said – you may require more layers! I smiled and wore one more. We wore a little raincoat over it and hiked. The rains persisted and made the bonfire a wet experience. But the company of fellow scholars made the entire evening enjoyable. My hosts were so caring about every one of us. They were all the more careful when they realised that I had just come from a place which was ten times as hot!!

The next couple of days were all spent in the conference sessions. But every evening the group was exposed to different aspects of Norwegian culture. I especially enjoyed the Samei cultural experiences provided. The weather improved and on the last day, many of the doctoral students joined together and trekked a little hill from where one could see the whole of Bodo.

The experience of the midnight sun was another wonderful experience. As one who comes from a tropical country it was rather strange that there was no night at all. It never got dark!! It was fun.

I liked Norway as a country for many reasons – punctuality, hospitality, ethics and cleanliness. The people are so good to interact with and helpful. I hope I will get opportunities to visit, interact, know more and collaborate with scholars in Norway. It feels good that I now have friends in the Arctic region too. I hope some of them will visit India and give me an opportunity to play host.

Overall a lovely experience. I had in the recent past gone to Indonesia (just below the equator) and now I went past the Arctic circle. I am enjoying where entrepreneurship research and teaching is taking me. Hope to see more of the Earth, interact with people and learn about the various cultures. All of this, I hope will make me a more sensitive and matured human being. Hope I can contribute to the society in my own small way.

For now I am back in India. The temperatures have eased a bit, only eight times that of what I experienced in the Arctic. Isn’t it cooler now? I am waiting for the monsoon to arrive and cool the Earth around here.