January 29, 2008
Back home now after a day of producing news and then an 8pm ieNews meeting with the CEO and staff. Meetings drain me in a way that I cannot fully explain and a 2 hour meeting is like torture. I know we have to have them to improve our product and Tony Maharaj actually holds a great meeting but to my mind it is still a meeting. I sit there waiting for the inevitable sniping and I got a bit of it sent in my direction but really not a lot. In all the media houses I have worked for the usual complaint about me is that in order to get the job done I can be a bit cavalier when it comes to the feelings of staff. I know it is in my nature but to be honest I have never seen news as a chance to make friends and develop that warm fuzzy feeling. It is all about getting the job done. Being quite thick skinned myself it amazes me that people don’t just recognize that what I say in the heat of getting a newscast on is not to be taken personally. To his credit Tony actually explained that to staff saying he has known me for a long time and he knows how I operate so people should adjust to my method a little bit. It is always nice to have a CEO who understands you…if you ever get one…chain yourself to the company and stay there forever.
In all fairness to the crew, though, most of their concern was not directed towards me. My feeling is they should notice I get the news on in a timely way with minimal stress to the staff and technical crew and they all get to go home earlier…to me that must count for something.
We carried an item of news about Guyana that rather interestingly reflects my sentiments in yesterday’s entry in that an expert in Guyana is suggesting the recent killing of 11 people there may lead to further ethnic conflict. This was coupled with the coincidence that I had the President of the Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin ( GOPIO) T&T chapter in for an interview today as well. I am sure his organisation has many good points but I still don’t understand what an Indian from India and an Indian from Trinidad or , for that matter Guyana or Fiji, have in common. Other than appearance I don’t see what the heck they have to sit around and talk about. As I told the guest, sure Trini Indians may loudly announce they are Indo Trinidadians here and vote for the UNC but let them migrate to the US or Canada and watch how quickly they run out and buy an “I am a Trini” t-shirt.
Other than that I chatted with Binky today who is always supportive and is like a mini-me, saw Omar briefly, was invited for drinks by Alvie ( I was too tired after the meeting) and did the usual check-ins with Robin and Peter. Whatever the ups and downs of my days some things are as predictable as sunrise and sunset.
January 29, 2008
I have only been to Guyana once in my life and that was to cover the last elections for ieTV along with my cameraman and close friend Steve. We hit the ground running and even in our short stint there I felt there was something different about the place. I am saying this because of the recent horrific massacre and because to me it reveals that Guyana’s great beauty and limitless potential is undermined by a troubled past that has left permanent scars. It seems clear that the demented gang leader and his cohorts who committed this shameless act of barbarism are the actual cause but they are, to me, symptomatic of a deeper crisis in Guyanese society.
Guyana is a land that is riven along racial lines. I remember telling Steve in Georgetown that race seemed to permeate the society in a much more disturbing way than it does in Trinidad. Especially in the election period I felt there was a ticking bomb of racial division that could go off at any minute. In Trinidad we talk race but ultimately, despite the fact that the populace votes along racial lines, there is a bonhomie that descends the minute politics is out of the way. Play some music, serve some food and Trinis don’t care what colour the next person is. In Guyana there is a divide that seems a normal part of regular life. It is partly understandable as years of Forbes Burnham’s regime left the Indian community isolated and distrustful of the African population and the African population sees the Indians as the gouging merchant class. It is an age old story. Given the fact the victim’s of the weekend massacre were all of Indian origin and the gang in question was, even by the account of the BBC and AFP, of African origin I can only imagine this will prove a setback for any move towards a détente between the races in Guyana.
The Jagdeo government is fighting an uphill battle right now to placate people living in rural communities..especially those of Indian origin who comprise his power base…that he can protect them. With more protests and road barricades today he has to convince his supporters that he will be able to protect them from those who would seek to harm them. Ultimately, he probably does not have much to worry about as it is highly unlikely his people will defect to the dreaded PNC.
The saddest thing about the whole situation is that had Guyana not been dragged into the mire by Burnham and his ilk Guyana might have been not only the richest country in the region but a virtual social paradise as well. It is sad how one bad leader, whatever his race, can destroy the hopes and dreams of an entire people and leave them drifting for years trying to rebuild their shattered society. It is a cautionary tale for us all.
I noticed an interesting phenomenon today when i glanced at my blog stats..there was a huge spike of about 300% in readership almost entirely attributable to people wanting to read about what happened in Guyana. I was even more surprised when I noticed that typing in “Horror in Guyana: in Google had my blog entry as the top choice. It seems that the Guyanese Diaspora is hungry for information about their homeland. Like relationships, where there is interest, concern and love there is the possibility for a brighter day ahead. The concern that Guyanese have for their homeland as seen only from hits to by little blog tells me there is hope for great things ahead for Guyana.
Other than that Carnival week is making any movement in Port of Spain a headache-inducing ordeal. The fact that T&TEC the power company decided that rush hour was the time to block lanes of traffic so their trucks could engage in the essential business of hanging Carnival banners over the roadway still leaves me speechless. The normal 5 minute drive from Cascade to ieTv took 55 minutes. Merry Monarch my backside.
I am hoping that Alvin and Binky make my place their home base for Carnival as I just love their company. Last Carnival was wonderful because, despite the fact i was working, I had them both here putting on costumes and I even dropped them on Tragarete Rd to join their band. I am also waiting for Astrid to call because I told her she can stay here as well because it is convenient for with her various party attendances. Grommit indicated that he will remain based at UWI…so I am comforted to know Kensington Court will not be a flop house but a great Carnival lime. Off to bed now…T&T Fodor’s should be done tomorrow.