Archive for November 8th, 2009

November 8, 2009

hóstiam immaculátam


There are some months where I don’t even have time to think and it usually coincides with updating Fodor’s Caribbean Guide. This year was a bit different as I didn’t have to take time off work to fly about and do my research. Apparently the upcoming book will be chock  full of colour pictures and all they wanted was for me  to ensure that the information was accurate. It turns out that making interminable long distance calls ( thanks heavens for SkypeOut) and digging through the deepest interstices of the web is actually more tiring than morning to night site inspections. You live and learn I guess.

My copies of the latest Caribbean Guide and Aruba guide arrived from my editor in New York and, as usual, when I read them it feels like they were written by someone else. Like this blog it is a reflection of where my mind was at a particular time. This gives me the strange thrill of reading what seems to be the work of someone totally unconnected to me. I guess I will read the 2011 book and get the same sensation though right now it is still burned into my brain.  My sense of disconnectedness never ceases to amaze me…I am sure somewhere in the world there is a psychotherapist looking for a case like me.

A sudden vacancy in the station’s Monday night lineup has resulted in me now hosting a weekly call-in programme. This is not a new development in my life as I spent much of my early radio career in Trinidad taking calls on the air. The CEO decided that the new show should have the name of one of my earlier programmes as he seems to assume there is some residual nostalgia for the original. Having done it for television for a few weeks now I can safely say that there isn’t much difference except that I can’t slouch as much and eye-rolling is strongly discouraged. Gosh I miss radio.  The calls thus far have cemented my view that the local population, though wont to behave in a brash and vulgar manner in everyday life, seems to have a preternatural tendency to be polite and moderate on the air. I have nothing against moderation, though I seldom practice it myself, but I tend to think that it leads to complacent governments. Nine out of ten revolutions clearly show that a loud and demanding population can get the attention of a government faster than any amount of well mannered suggestions.

The hardest part of the show for me is that I have to sit there dispassionately and generally refrain from pontificating. Anyone who knows me will attest that pontificating is one of the great joys in my life so there is a certain cheerlessness that befalls me as I sit on camera. Were I allowed to call into the show I can assure one and all that moderation would not be a prominent characteristic of my input. Fortunately I have never been the type to call into any show so even if corporeal schizophrenia struck such an eventuality is unlikely at best. My preferred method is to sit sullenly in a corner and stew in my own vitriol like a good confit. That being said, a blog seems like a good place to stew.

How can any population watch a government spend money with such wanton disregard for priorities and stay quiet?  I am still quite certain that were a gorilla given a ton of money and told to shove it into a series of slots with each assigned a certain project , the end result would be a more efficient use of funds than I am currently seeing.  This spending has resulted in a few improvements in such things as a free drug programme ( when it works), free university education ( we shall ignore the quality of graduate this provides for the moment) and an overpass that took 8 years to build. Generally speaking though, the average person in this country is not any better off  in terms of quality of life. I would guess that looking at the whole picture might reveal that in several key areas we are, in fact, worse off.  Traffic congestion is worse, crime is virtually out of control, lots of people still do not have a regular supply of water ( and once a week does not count as “regular”) and we are now lacking that general security that comes with knowing resources are being put aside for the future. Instead the Marie Antoinette mentality has led to a plethora of unnecessary projects that do not contribute in any meaningful way to the gross national happiness. There is a new eyesore of a PM’s residence, a poor cousin of the Sydney Opera House that is meant to be used for theatre but which has no rehearsal space, a stadium that is yet to be finished and for which there is no apparent need,  and lots of government office buildings because POS simply was not congested enough. World class to the government means decorations as opposed to something as prosaic as a modern hospital or fixing the WASA pipelines. Speaking of which we are now looking  forward to the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting being held here later this month. I know…which nation wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Uganda and be the host of an event which even eclipses the Summit of the Americas for sheer uselessness?

Why would anyone stay in this country and witness such things if they didn’t have to? Oh wait…I have a choice..which means that I may be the biggest fool of all.