Lines from a cartman

Market on Church Street, Georgetown
Vendors at Bourda Market on Church Street, Georgetown, Guyana

“Oh,  East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet, til earth and sky stand presently at God’s great judgement seat” Rudyard Kipling

But meet it surely did, everyday, right here, in the heart of Georgetown. This is the point of convergence, oh yes, I’ve seen it all, rich, poor, pink, black, yellow, brown, ah yes brown, all shades of brown; but that’s just the fruits and the foods! The people, well, they’re just the same, just larger. They come from all direction, left, right, land sea, it’s like the song says, ‘all roads lead to Stabroek,’ oh, wait, ‘that’s all roads lead to you,’ Ah, senescence, it grabs a hold of a person’s mind; memory is the first thing that fades. I’ve lived here for many years, I guess you can call this my home, but this is home to many others, we roam the streets.

I’m one of the elders here so I know all the best place to be: like sitting at the end of the stelling at night fall, so you can feel the warmth of the morning sun as it rises behind you, and cast its powerful rays onto the shiny silt laden waves of the Demerara river;  and being the first one out in the morning so you be the first in line for all the goodies which cone your way when the vendors open their stalls. I also know all the places where not to be: never try to catch a nap  in Mrs. Louis’s bench  when she steps out, it’s warm I know, but Lord knows with everything that she uses to warm that bench, that’s what will decend on you when she returns. Mrs Louis can’t even see past her waist to figure out that her feet hurt because her shoes are two sizes too small, so she will never see you if you don’t see her first!! But sleep is the least of my problems, food is always the most troublesome thing.

That’s probably because there’s so much food here, but only very little is accessible; well, unless you like it way past maturity, brown, and wrinkled, like Mrs Louis’s ankles that I can see when she sits down and her skirt rides up. I can see her feet; they are not pretty, but that is the life of a street vendor. It is not easy. But the fruit that she sells, well! That is something else!

People say that Mrs Louis has a bacoo in her back yard, and that is why her fruit are so delicious. I don’t know what to think, I don’t believe much in this bacoo thing, but then…..well, I’ve seen some things that I really can’t explain, and even the ‘Nancy stories talk about them. So, what’s a uneducated chap like me to believe? But, bacoo or no bacoo, it is the only reason I hang around her stall, them fruit that she sells! She draws a lot of people to her stand, and that means more money for me if I help her. I don’t eat her fruit though, I prefer some good daal puri from Shanta’s.

There are mountians of fruit here, but I have a distinct dislike for fruit. I’m not a mind doctor or anything, but I would venture a guess that this could be because one is always chasing me, mostly rotten ones. Bread is always at my disposal,  breads of all cultural origin, and there is no lacking for culture here. With the mixture of the races, the Guyanese people are as flavourful as the food they produce; but bread is really just a disappointing piece of brown log which changes its color right after you’ve broken through all the thick layer of the brown crust, the  green fuzz, and the pinkish dots. Those battles I reserve for the days when absolutely nothing else is available. My favourite thing is Shanta’s daal puri, but people don’t throw those away, so it’s a rare one for me…..and a delicacy. I get one only when I can get enough money; that is, when Mrs Louis’s atand is having a good day. When she has a really good day, I can get a mauby too.