Mod­ern con­nec­tions

Stabroek News Sunday - - LETTERS -

Adis­rup­tion in the nuts and bolts of our lives, apart from the ir­ri­ta­tion that comes with it, can some­times also be in­struc­tive in show­ing us how much more ef­fi­cient we are now in com­mu­ni­cat­ing or sourc­ing, in a va­ri­ety of ways, com­pared to how we went about those things in the ear­lier, less com­plex, life pat­tern that many of us wish still ap­plied.

I ad­mit, go­ing in, that I am like a tur­tle on land when it comes to em­brac­ing new tech­nol­ogy. I was the last one in my fam­ily to get a cell phone, and that only came about af­ter my pre­vi­ous wife pre­sented me with one as a birth­day gift. Sim­i­larly, in mu­sic, it took me years to come around to syn­the­sized key­boards and elec­tronic drum ma­chines; I spent a long time com­plain­ing about their me­chan­i­cal sound be­fore be­ing per­suaded by the va­ri­ety and porta­bil­ity that the new tech­nol­ogy made pos­si­ble.

This week, with the chill­ing “no in­ter­net ac­cess” ar­riv­ing to up­set my com­mu­ni­ca­tion day, I found my­self turn­ing to my long list of cell phone num­bers and ended up as­ton­ished at how ef­fi­cient that part of my tech­no­log­i­cal life had be­come. So many of our needs and plea­sures are avail­able in that hand-size piece of equip­ment out of sight in a jacket. Scrolling through it in search of a num­ber for my doc­tor/friend Gan­sham Singh, it sud­denly hit me what a trea­sure that piece of tech­nol­ogy had be­come for mankind.

The list will take pages, but I cite some selec­tions to make my point. One of the ear­li­est num­bers un­der “A” is the list­ing for Mike Machado, the air-con­di­tion­ing wiz­ard in a very mod­est build­ing just off Had­field Street, who has been a saviour to me solv­ing the range of equip­ment that cools our ve­hi­cles in this of­ten steamy Guyana. I have yet to find a prob­lem in that field that Mike and his gang can­not solve; they’re in­valu­able on that list.

Up in my phone as well is my step-son Alex Ar­joon, my wife’s son from her pre­vi­ous mar­riage, who has be­come a con­stant in my life, bring­ing his cheer­ful dis­po­si­tion and youth­ful view to coun­ter­act my some­times more con­ser­va­tive stands. I can dial him up in sec­onds for as­sis­tance with one thing and an­other, and I get a sim­i­lar bounce, far­ther down the phone list, with his sis­ter Vicky, who is mostly away study­ing, but is a joy to be around dur­ing school breaks.

The cell phone in my pocket as I move about, even in a for­eign coun­try, is also an ex­tended fam­ily link – for me, Canada, Grand Cay­man, St. Lu­cia - with in­stant news about hap­pen­ings, joy­ful or wrench­ing, and with peo­ple in coun­tries where we once lived; as in my case, with Henry Mut­too, my arts pal in Grand Cay­man, or with ra­dio broad­caster Vic Fer­nan­des in Bar­ba­dos, one­time Tradewinds agent in that is­land, and a friend who is like a brother. Those two are in my phone, a push-but­ton away. Imag­ine me com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them in the old days – prob­a­bly two weeks by boat for my note to go and an­other two weeks for their re­ply to ar­rive. Sim­i­larly, I have fre­quent chats with Ian McDon­ald about writ­ing or Caribbean life; I call him or he calls me, and we’re off.

Amar Bis­ram is in there. He lives in New York and is the boss of the pop­u­lar An­gels Caribbean Band and re­spon­si­ble for Tradewinds vis­its to the Big Ap­ple over the years. Amar is like fam­ily. He was the guy be­hind that re­cent show in New York com­bin­ing Spar­row, Ca­lypso Rose, and my­self, all backed by Amar’s band in a mem­o­rable night to Caribbean cul­ture. I some­times draw on this mi­grant Guyanese for cer­tain things not read­ily avail­able here, and Amar al­ways man­ages, to­gether with an­other re­source, Kelvin Ambed­kar, in Toronto, to find what I’m af­ter. Amar and Kelvin, se­cured on my list. Un­der “B,” there is Oliver Bas­deo, ex­pe­ri­enced key­board player and mu­sic teacher, who is the hinge in “Dave Martins and Friends,” the group I per­form with all over Guyana, in­clud­ing in the va­ri­ety of per­for­mances in my Artist in Res­i­dence con­tract with the Univer­sity of Guyana, just con­cluded. Oliver has scrib­bled no­ta­tions for all my songs I’ve re­hearsed with him (and bass man James Ja­cobs and drum­mer Colin Per­reira), so he will com­fort­ably launch into some song not on our pre­pared list. My phone rec­og­nizes those three gen­tle­men.

n the same “B” cat­e­gory, Burch­more Si­mon has be­come my record­ing guy af­ter re­turn­ing to live in Guyana. He is an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian with, more im­por­tantly for me, a wide un­der­stand­ing of mu­si­cal styles and com­bi­na­tions, and while I can’t re­call who in­tro­duced me to him I am grate­ful to that per­son. Burch makes record­ing ses­sions a joy.

The cell phone in my hand con­nects me with painter Mer­lene El­lis (I have her paint­ings up on the wall), and with Oa­sis on Carmichael Street with that sin­gu­lar salt­fish-and-bake, with pho­tog­ra­phy master Michael Lam for en­large­ments, and with phys­io­ther­a­pist Garry Fitz­patrick when my body aches, and with taxi whiz Rafael for air­port trips. In there as well is the con­tact for Ray­mond Khalil of Con­tainer House on Lom­bard Street, a hard­ware store for the ages, and Ro­han from Ri­dopest who helps to stop var­i­ous pests in their tracks, along with So­han Ramdeo a great source of who can fix what, from watch strap, to stereo am­pli­fier, to rain-wa­ter cis­tern.

Ihave the num­ber for my friend Terry Fer­reira, fa­mous for rid­ing a bike from Kai­eteur Falls all the way to mid-USA to high­light an Olympic Year; he’s build­ing house now in Flor­ida. I can be in touch im­me­di­ately. And there is Tr­isha, at at Con­nec­tions Travel in Ge­orge­town, who smoothly ar­ranges most of my over­seas travel, so she’s a must on the list.

Most of us with cell phones have a sim­i­lar com­pen­dium of vi­tal in­for­ma­tion that in­forms and graces our lives al­most ev­ery hour of the day. How did we ever live with­out this fa­cil­ity?

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