Welcome

Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

It's A Small World After All.

A day in life can also involve a life in a day. A rather innocuous day in Montreal revealed again that coincidences are nothing of the sort, and you wonder if it is by chance that people come across their relatively close connections.

"Bubby" and I were glad to see her sister for a few hours ahead of a class, and the two of them had some good time together strolling around campus, and collecting Maple leaves. Miss Bliss and I then hooked up to meet a friend of my wife's, with whom the "trouble and strife" had studied back in the day and deep in the woods of western Canada. "Doreen" and I had first met on a 25th anniversary of the school reunion that took place on Vancouver Island. It was back in "courting days" and I remember thinking that the people who went to this school were a very different bunch. The school's philosophy is/was "promote peace, sustainability and international understanding by bringing young people from all walks of life", and many of its ex-students now have high standing in world affairs, my wife included.

"Doreen" reminded me that one of the things I got involved with during that reunion was organizing kids in games: I am a coach, so it was not major surprise. It was, though, one of the very pleasant experiences for me, during a time when other spouses really had a hard time fitting in with a group that had been tightly knit as students and whose knots became quickly retied--often to the seeming exclusion of the spouses.

We had last met over three years ago, when my daughter was enrolling at university. We had planned to maybe meet tomorrow, but "Doreen" had decided to take today off, and we had no other plans, so agreed to meet for a long walk and coffee.

As "Doreen" and I talked about a whole range of things, she let out that she had been to Barbados to scuba dive. Her sister had been posted to the island by the Canadian government. We discovered that her sister lived in a house just down the road from where we are now living! "Doreen" also knew several Canadians with whom we have since become friends in Barbados. After many years as a single person, "Doreen" was now in a relationship--with a man with whom she had worked for eons, but had never been more than colleagues. Him, I have yet to meet, but we discussed that he has done a lot of travelling and study about French-speaking west Africa and Haiti. He has a lot of experience with Mauritania. That's the country where I was sent on a baptism of fire to test my working knowledge of French.

Mauritania is one of few countries where slavery is still rampant. Mauritanians are desert people, and though the country has a lovely Atlantic coast, the locals' idea of a good weekend place to relax is...in the sand dunes, under a tent, eating roast lamb, nuts, and drinking tea. This is an odd culture, and I had two years sampling it. People joke about the English and their tea drinking. You do not joke about tea drinking in Mauritania: it is too important. Refuse to share the three glasses of hot, sweet minty tea during a meeting and risk making a major social offence: it does not matter what else may seem pressing, take the tea.

So, the afternoon went on as we trekked up Montreal/Mount Royal. We discussed past work--Doreen, once upon a time, about when we first met, had been a day trader. We talked about the origin of nicknames, prompted by "Bubby" asking me if my name was different when I was a boy. Where did that question come from? "Doreen" is a journalist; I have my little attempts at journalism. We are both relatively new owners of BlackBerries: we can smile at that. We both understand Russian: her family roots are Ukrainian; I learnt the language for work.

I am not bewildered by any of this and wonder what else will emerge over the weekend.

It all provided interesting twists to the long walk up and down the mountain. My little one and I had very tired feet and legs, but it was a good way to decompress after a long flight. We loved the cool weather of Montreal as a change from the recent mix of sweltering heat and torrential rain in Bim. We enjoyed hearing that odd Quebecois French accent, and feeling at ease in this odd place in the North American continent.

"Doreen" is in training for a triathlon. Maybe during the weekend we will get invited to go with her on a 4 kilometre swim or a 100 kilometre bike ride. I hope that it just stays as an invitation for supper.

1 comment:

Vancouver realtor said...

Indeed, sometimes world is so small that I can't stop wondering what people I meet from time to time much closer than I'd ever thought. It's nice that you met so many friends. This is just the kind of coincidence I like most. :) When I meet my old friends unexpectedly, that's what I mean. Oh, I see you've been to many places in Canada. Sadly I didn't see any mention of visit of Vancouver, the city where I live and work. Heh, but that's just me again, always proud of it so much. :) Never mind, just wanted to tell you, it's a nice and iteresting article. ;)