May 31, 2016

Cooking Duck Curry

Satiricus was in awe of his friend Alfred. Well… if the truth be told, Alfred wasn’t REALLY his friend… like a “buddy” or anything. But nowadays with people “friending” people in Timbuktu (or wherever) they’ve never seen or likely to see in the flesh in this lifetime, Satiricus figured, “What the heck?” He DID know Alfred since they were in short pants in “Big ABC” – which they now call “Nursery”. Kinda like how Nagga Man knew Pressie back in Whimpy Primary School. However, Alfred’s knees weren’t as dimpled as Nagga Man described Pressie’s.
Alfred had been a big time “suck-up”. He was always finking on the young Sato, who even back then figured out he wasn’t the brightest bulb in Big ABC. Alfred would sidle up to Miss Baghevems and whisper as to how Sato was copying from Pearly. Young Satiricus was embarrassed… he did have such a crush on Miss Baghevems!
A suck-up then and a suck-up now. And Satiricus had discovered this made Alfred eminently qualified to be a local politician. As a youth-man Alfred became a member of the Pee-an-See. He used to rush to climb his grandmother’s coconut tree to pick “water coconuts” whenever the Pee-an-See honchos visited from GT.
When the PPCEE got in, Alfred had become married by then and started the tradition of cooking Duck curry whenever the honchos came around. He became a Councillor on the NDC. Never did a thing for the village but Satiricus heard he cooked a meeeean duck curry! Satiricus never got to taste it… he wasn’t a big honcho of anything. And now that PPCEE was out and KFC was in, Alfred was now a yellow KFC. Still serving up duck curry – but now to the big honchos of the KFC like Rum Jhaat and Nagga Man.
And he was the KFC candidate in the LGE for he and Sato’s village – which was now called a “constituency” in the same NDC where he’d done nothing for 20 years. And this was what had earned Satiricus’ awe. He and his friends would be arguing for hours every night about politics and what was needed for the people and so on at the back street bar. But THEY were never picked to run for “Councillor”.
They figured their problem was they’d never learnt to cook duck curry. But not to worry. Hadn’t Alfred promised at the LGE meeting where three persons had showed up (including his wife and two kids) he would take care of all the problems of the village?
Just like Nagga Man and Rum Jhaat of the KFC had done for the country. Happy Days were here again!

Force ripe

Satiricus disliked force-ripe mangoes. It wasn’t just the taste wasn’t right…nether was the texture nor the smell. “Heck!” he thought, “force ripe mango isn’t even mango!” So when he heard Man Shall, the Pee-an-See fella over in Barkika, accuse the BIGA fella going up against him in the LGE for his job as “force ripe”, he know EXACTLY what was meant.

Even the name the upstarts picked was an affront – BIGGA. Didn’t that announce to the world – or at least all the gold miners and Brazilians in Barkika – that they were “Bigger” than Man Shall? “Now wasn’t that a crock…! exclaimed Satiricus loudly. His wife didn’t even look up. She was used to Satiricus’ exclamations when he read the newspaper. She rated the daily papers by the numbers of exclamations they elicited from her husband.

Who could be bigger than the hand-picked candidate for the Pee-an-See? Wasn’t this their town? Hadn’t they picked that fella Broad Ford for their chairman last year even though everybody and their uncle in Barkika said he was a bounder and a turncoat? But then the rule of the Pee-an-See was when Prezzie spoke, not a dog barked. “And Broad Ford it was…as it will be Man Shall on Friday!” muttered Satiricus, as his wife busied herself in the background.

Who were these BIGGA people? Weren’t they from the Pee-an-See? Not only were they “force ripe” – they were ingrates. Dangerous ingrates. As Prezzie had pointed out when he flew down on state funds with his entourage on state business to hold a rally for Man Shall, “BIGGA was dividing the votes to let the PPCEE slip in through the back door!” “ And by golly, we can’t have that!” said Satiricus through gritted teeth.

Mosses could split the PPCEE vote in Berb-Ice, but then he’d already split the Red Sea with Divine Sanction. That’s different. Did BIGGA have Divine Sanction? “Hell no!” said Satiricus, as his wife brushed the lamp next to his head.

And that’s why Man Shall concluded BIGGA was “force ripe”. The Founder Leader had explained it all way back when Rod Knee was threatening his base. “Some comrades don’t understand this thing called democracy…They don’t know how to read between the lines. They only read what’s on the lines.”

Did BIGGA really believe Local Government meant the Pee-an-See would allow LOCALS to rule without being told what to do?

BIGGA was not just force ripe. They were today’s Worst Possible Alternative. “And must be dealt with condignly!” said Satiricus with resolve.

His wife swept his feet with her broom.

Singing Kumbaya

Satiricus was very exasperated. Here it was, PPCEE MP The-Sharer was giving KFC MP Rum Jhaat stick for convening a One Hour session of Parliament. “Why the heck is she working up a sweat for?” fumed Satiricus. “Didn’t she ever hear about QUALITY TIME?”
As a card-carrying member of the KFC, Satiricus knew a central principle of his leaders’ commitment in politics was to bring his erstwhile comrades from the PPCEE into the coalition he had forged with the Pee-and-See. It had nothing to do with “sharing power” as he had thought in the beginning. “No sir!!” Rum Jhaat had confided to Satiricus and his local KFC group. “It was all about sitting together with his comrades in the Pee-an-See singing Kumbaya.”
And that was why Rum Jhaat never minded being shafted from the power he and Naga Man had been promised. “What is the joy of sharing power compared to the joy of sharing in the harmonies of Kumbaya?” And this is what he hoped to demonstrate to the PPCEE when they met in Parliament, even if only for an hour. Didn’t The-Sharer see how he, Rum Jhaat and Hard-Man chuckled with each other ever so often? Kumbaya!! “Why did The-Sharer not see that power was corrupting and Kumbaya was better?”
Then The-Sharer went on about how much the ONE HOUR cost. Satiricus found this very crass. Why did the PPCEE have to reduce everything to money? Didn’t she realise the chance to sing Kumbaya with the Pee-an-See and KFC was worth all the gold and silver in Fort Knox? “But then as Brother Rum Jhaat said, all the PPCEE know about was to cuss and behave bad!” thought Satiricus.
But they liked to take their do-do and rub it on Rum Jhaat’s bamsee by saying Rum Jhaat was a “cuss bud”. “Since when a term of endearment like “Haul Yuh Ass”’could become a cuss word?” fumed Satiricus. “It shows the PPCEE crowd just don’t read the Bible.”
When the Saviour came to Jerusalem, he rode on an ass. But it was a stubborn ass and everyone had to remind him to “haul yuh ass!” Satiricus hoped the PPCEE MPs would “haul dey asses” and come to Parliament to sing Kumbaya! And not keep on harping on “power”.

Singing Kumbaya

Satiricus was very exasperated. Here it was, PPCEE MP The-Sharer was giving KFC MP Rum Jhaat stick for convening a One Hour session of Parliament. “Why the heck is she working up a sweat for?” fumed Satiricus. “Didn’t she ever hear about QUALITY TIME?”
As a card-carrying member of the KFC, Satiricus knew a central principle of his leaders’ commitment in politics was to bring his erstwhile comrades from the PPCEE into the coalition he had forged with the Pee-and-See. It had nothing to do with “sharing power” as he had thought in the beginning. “No sir!!” Rum Jhaat had confided to Satiricus and his local KFC group. “It was all about sitting together with his comrades in the Pee-an-See singing Kumbaya.”
And that was why Rum Jhaat never minded being shafted from the power he and Naga Man had been promised. “What is the joy of sharing power compared to the joy of sharing in the harmonies of Kumbaya?” And this is what he hoped to demonstrate to the PPCEE when they met in Parliament, even if only for an hour. Didn’t The-Sharer see how he, Rum Jhaat and Hard-Man chuckled with each other ever so often? Kumbaya!! “Why did The-Sharer not see that power was corrupting and Kumbaya was better?”
Then The-Sharer went on about how much the ONE HOUR cost. Satiricus found this very crass. Why did the PPCEE have to reduce everything to money? Didn’t she realise the chance to sing Kumbaya with the Pee-an-See and KFC was worth all the gold and silver in Fort Knox? “But then as Brother Rum Jhaat said, all the PPCEE know about was to cuss and behave bad!” thought Satiricus.
But they liked to take their do-do and rub it on Rum Jhaat’s bamsee by saying Rum Jhaat was a “cuss bud”. “Since when a term of endearment like “Haul Yuh Ass”’could become a cuss word?” fumed Satiricus. “It shows the PPCEE crowd just don’t read the Bible.”
When the Saviour came to Jerusalem, he rode on an ass. But it was a stubborn ass and everyone had to remind him to “haul yuh ass!” Satiricus hoped the PPCEE MPs would “haul dey asses” and come to Parliament to sing Kumbaya! And not keep on harping on “power”.

The Chatterati

Satiricus is NOT a sucker-upper – but some people had snidely suggested he was. So Satiricus had promised not to discuss for a while the life and times of his two favourite politicians – who were like SURU and DURU. But these two fellows were so quotable, they were a reporter’s wet dream. Not like that infrastructure politician Satiricus discussed earlier in the week. Dull as a doormat, the fella acted as if he were Albert Speer – not realising that made his boss Adolf Hitler.

But it’s not every day in the week a politician turns against the class out of which he emerged. The ties were too strong, the connections too intimate to just tell off people you grew up with and shared all their predilections and foibles. But here it was Rum Jhaat had just fired a withering broadside against “the chattering class”. It was that apocryphal journalistic urban legend: MAN BITES DOG! “How do you not report it,” mumbled Satiricus.

The chattering class was what Rum Jhaat all his life had sought to join. They were also known as the “Chatterati” – a combination of “chatter and literati” which gave a hint as to what gave them their social cachet in setting the tone of public discourse. They were, of course, the opposite of the “hoi polloi” and have been dubbed at various times as “nattering nabobs of negativity”, “all talk and no action”, “WOFS – “waste of effing space”, etc … by their detractors. Of which Rum Jhaat seemed to have been a member.

As Rum Jhaat complained when he was criticised about a new jail, the chattering class believe they have the answers to everything under the sun – and then some. But this omniscience was exactly what the Jhaat had been spouting from the moment he’d founded the KFC party. And the reason why Satiricus saw him as THE leader! Speciality Hospital? Rum Jhaat had the answer. Firing Rodee for Linden? Rum Jhaat had the answer. Procurement Commission? Rum Jhaat had the answer. After 10 years of this, Rum Jhaat had proven he was a dyed-in-the-wool member of the chattering class.

And now he was deriding them? Saying they didnt know what they were talking about? What was going on? Surely it couldn’t be because he was in Government now and HE was responsible for all the things he’d been suggesting needed new answers?

“Nah!” thought Satiricus, “That would make Rum Jhaat a hypocrite – and THAT He never was!”’

Too ‘fraid of Time

Satiricus was intrigued. He was an avid follower of the letters’ pages and most times that’s where he started his daily reading. Some fellas started at the back page with the Sports, others with the front page and politics. Satiricus wanted to hear “the voice of the people” and he heard it loud and clear on the letters’ pages.
And he was hardly disappointed. Like yesterday when he heard from that Minister fella Patto. Now Patto wasn’t one of your flashier politicians. Quick now!! Can you tell Satiricus if Patto is short or tall? Thin or fat?? “So there!” thought Satiricus with satisfaction.
If the truth be told, Patto was about as exciting to cover as giving updates on grass growing. So he hardly got coverage – which is the kiss of death to an ambitious politician. What’s a Minister to do when no one knows you from a hole in the wall? And you want to build your profile for the next election when your party the KFC’s going the way of the Dodo?
Well, manufacture a controversy! And that’s what Patto tried to do! In his missile…ummm…missive, Patto accused Sato’s newspaper of distorting his words so much he was “afraid” of speaking to them. Now Satiricus as an old newshound didn’t really mind the accusation. He knew that to a politician any publicity was better than no publicity. And Patto’s problem was really NO publicity and he was desperately trying to fix that.
What got Satiricus’ attention was Patto claiming that unlike the Times the other newspapers were paragons of fairness in covering the scene!! “Well really!?!” exclaimed Satiricus, laughing so hard his wife thought was having a coughing fit. “Does Patto really believe, say, the Muckraker’s fair when they persecuted the man who gave the country its first world class hotel, so viciously? Or the Kronic that’s funded by taxpayers’ money to say they should only cover Patto’s Party?
Satiricus didn’t think so. But then, he shrugged. “What’s an anonymous politician to do? Not being noticed is worse than the kiss of death.” And even the prince of death wouldn’t kiss Patto!!

Colour discrimination

Satiricus was happy yesterday was “Anti-discrimination” Day. As a fella who was discriminated against ever since he was a youngster – just because he wasn’t the brightest bulb even in the nursery class – Satiricus was sensitive to discrimination. Then there was his speech. How was young Satiricus to know other people didn’t pronounce “he” as he did: “ee”. Or “im” for “him”. That was how his parents spoke and that’s how he spoke. Why would the teacher never allow him to recite “Here is my Beehive”? That was a discriminatory ‘urt that still stung Satiricus.

As Satiricus became older, he suffered discrimination on the basis of race. Satiricus was the slowest kid in the village…and no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t even keep up with his friend “Hop and Drop”, who had one foot shorter than the other in races. So whenever he and his friends would sneak out to steal mangoes or guavas or whatever fruit was in season, they never allowed him into the yards. They complained he always got caught and he always finked on everybody else. So he was the lookout guy all his childhood – and had to take whatever fruits the other fellas chose to give him after their successful escapades. Invariably the “touched” ones.

But now he was an adult, Satiricus felt discrimination on the basis of colour was the worst of all. Satiricus was a patriot. Why he could recite “My Guyana Eldorado” from his head – and he frequently did so in company – to the chagrin of his kids. He could also sing a mean Sitira Gal – with all the appropriate movements. Such was his patriotism, he literally draped himself in the colours of the flag of Guyana.
And that’s why he was taken aback when the Talker of the House suddenly declared the colours of the Guyana flag were “green and yellow”!! Why! This was nothing but discrimination against the colours red, black and white. And not only that, the Talker was committing that cardinal sin of societies where discrimination on the basis of colour was practiced: passing. In America, lots of Blacks used to pass as whites.
Here the Talker was passing yellow as gold. This was just too much for Satiricus to bear. He would start a petition to the UN against the Talker discriminating on the basis of colour.

Democracy by decibels

Satiricus was soooo proud of being Guyanese. While all the textbooks and pundits waxed about Greece being the “cradle” of democracy, the world was soon going to sit up and take notice of his dear old Guyana and its ADVANCEMENT of democracy. It’s all well and good to give birth to beautiful babies, but look how often they develop into some real stinkers.
Didn’t Hitler start with democracy in Germany? And look where that ended: making everyone hate goose stepping in jackboots. And now democracies have to settle for troops standing at attention and then keeling over in the hot sun. Like what happens on Armstice Day.
“Well after the world learns of the massive push our Parliament gave to democracy received last week,” thought Satiricus, “They won’t mind us “gander stepping” much less “goose stepping!”
Here it was… the vote on amending the Taxation Bill was “put” to National Assembly. Satiricus was covering the story as a humble scribe for his newspaper. Now in every other democracy in the world, since three thousand years ago in Greece, they would’ve counted up the votes, no? And the side that got the most vote would’ve carried the day, right?
Not any more?!! That was the OLD “democracy”! APANU and KFC had 33 seats and the PPCEE 32. But on that day, the stalwart bosom buddy of Rod Knee, Roop Na Rain who’d joined up with the Pee an See, came down with a serious case of the runs. Some said unkindly it was the result of having no “guts”. But APANU was now reduced to 32 seats – the same as the PPCEE.
What to do? This was a situation to challenge even old Solomon, who frequently had to decide between his seven hundred wives and seven hundred concubines as to who’d get the prize in the night.
Satiricus heart swelled with pride when the Talker of the House decided that in a vote of 32 to 32, the APANU/KFC won!! How was that possible? It was all explained by the previous Talker of APANU/KFC, the Trot Man.
“The APANU/KFC side won the vote democratically because their “yays” were louder that the PPCEE “nays”,” said Trotty.
It was democracy by decibels. The side that made the most noise would win the vote!! Wasn’t this simpler that voting with ballots and spending days to count them up and then having to protest in the streets?
Satiricus could just see the world beating a path to Guyana to learn this new form of democracy!

The New Republic Day!!

Satiricus was disoriented. In fact he was positively bassidy. “What the heck’s going on?” he fumed. Wasn’t this Republic Day? Where were the bands? Where were the floats? Where was the liquor? And more to the point, where were the girls “wining down”? He’d been preparing for weeks for Mash. Meaning he hadn’t taken a drink with the boys at the back street bar during all that time. Not a SINGLE drink. He was going to indulge himself big time on this special occasion.

So here Satiricus was, all dressed up and not even a single costumed lass in sight- even though he was near the Mash Route. This was a real bummer. He asked a fella near Stabroek Market what happened to Mash.

“Mash? Is whe you bin living Budday?” the snappily dressed chap snorted. “We Leaduh dun wid dem things.”
“What you mean, ‘dun wid dem things’?” said Satiricus heatedly. “Nagga Man still drinking up a storm in every rum shop in Guyana, dancing the night away and cussing!”

“Budday, I maan talking about we Leaduh GrainJa,” the Town Bannuh replied. “Didn’t you see him Old Year’s Night setting the pace? No back-balling – just down on his knees repenting for his sins.”

“Well, lemme tell you something, my friend” said Satiricus firmly. “My leaders are Nagga Man and Rum Jhaat…and they ain’t repenting nothing, OK? The motto is still “Rum till I die! Cuffy was a Berbician, man…and I bet he used to drink and sport between battles.”

“Country Man…you should now know what yuh bin hearing is true: Nagga Man, Rum Jhaat and de whole Berbice posse is just like Christmas blow blow!” Confided the amiable dreadlocked fella. “No Powah! GrainJa is de man…and he seh…is no wine down and sporting on Republic Day.”

By now, Satiricus and Dreadlocks had just reached DemiCo. “Man, is two weeks I didn’t take a drink…You want to bend your elbows with me?”

“Nah man…no liquor,” said Satiricus newfound friend. “I following the Leader GrainJa’s instruction. But maybe we could buss a spliff?”

Satiricus nodded, “Any port in a storm, my man!” as he happily took a puff of the joint his buddy lit up

And just like that, a policeman snucked up behind them. “Happy Republic Day, chumps, You’re under arrest!”
“But we ain’t drinking and carousing and wining down officer,” pleaded the distraught town man. “We following Leader GrainJa instructions.”

“No weed also, Budday!! Just getting on your knees and repenting your sins!!” smirked the policeman as he hauled them towards BrickDam Station.

Discretionary funds

Satiricus breathed a sigh of relief. All the “long talk” was over in the Budget “debate”. Satiricus really had no time with the first week of this annual ritual. It was just an opportunity for the politicians to “mouth off” and show how much they knew. And even there, they cheated: all excepting a handful of them like Nagga Man, had to read from notes.
But this week was the real deal…who was going to get what, when and where – money that is. And while some philosopher claimed “money can’t buy happiness”, Satiricus was satisfied it could but a facsimile close enough to satisfy most folks. Satiricus wanted to know how well they were treating his favourite politician – the Prime Moocher, Nagga Man.
The big bad PPCEE had complained about the fantastic raise the Moocher had wangled for himself – $1.7 million per month! But he breathed a sigh of relief when they didn’t cut that. In the couple of years since Naga Man had completed law school while in his sixties, he was earning multimillions monthly. Just to sign a few papers for NOCIL, he’s gotten $7 million!! People didn’t appreciate what a huge salary cut he’d taken to serve the people as the Prime Moocher.
Satiricus was also pleased the PPCEE hadn’t cut the $30 million to fix up the PM’s residence on Main Street before Nagga Man moved in. Those rats in the oven had left a terrible stench…even worse that the stench from the $multimillion-contract his friend Rum Jhaat had given to his client Feather Load.
And since the Prime Moocher didn’t have any line responsibility and was only in charge of the State newspaper and television, Satiricus was very happy that the Prime Moocher got $150 million for his TV station – $50 million more than last year. But why did the PPCEE have to hound him about what he would use the extra money for? How could he be expected to know about petty things like money? Why couldn’t they trust a man of the Prime Moocher’s integrity?
But that was typical of the petty mentality of the PPCEE that had persecuted Nagga Man for years about his religion. They were upset that Nagga Man allocated $10 million for himself as his “discretionary spending”. So what if he already had millions allocated for “entertainment” and everything he did was paid for by the State?
Did they believe Nagga Man didn’t have discretion to spend the $10 million wisely? Did they think he would blow the whole $10 million on Bush Rum at one back street dive? Satiricus for one, knew Nagga Man knew every Bush Rum haunt in Guyana, and had faith the Prime Moocher would spread the $10 million equitably.