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.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Monday, September 07, 2009

Where Is My Home? In My Heart.

Walter Edey told his story briefly of our first meeting (see Must We Chew The Fat?) and it is perfect from his eyes. But, I told him that I would have my say. For two--actually three--people to get together for the first time and then zing each other for three hours over hamburgers, that is quite something. Walter is lyrical, and I say that without knowing that he had written a book--a mixture of recipes, insights, reminiscences, and more. Walter is also a great communicator and he is now doing that for a living with his WEUNADI (we, you and I) project.

But, I loved meeting Walter because he was not driven by 'the agenda'. We had agreed to meet to lock horns about cricket, and up to now we have not bowled the first ball on that subject. Instead, we discussed how fathers and daughters love each other and that love can flow with vigour. We discussed how the fire of a person can get passed through the generations and if you are young and see it in your parent, then watch out, the sparks will take hold in you and your day will come to show the same, if it has not come already. We also talked about how we reach agreement, or points of no further movement.

When we got to Shake Shack a little before 11am and Walter was already there, decked out as he said he would be in a white cap and white T shirt, I was impressed. I do not like being late for arranged meetings, and no amount of Caribbean-ness is going to excuse lateness for being anything but rude. He got the blast of a heated conversation I was having with my first-born daughter: she said I was shouting at her, I would agree that I was talking loudly. In part that is because my voice has gone and I cannot really hear well as a result, but also she had 'gone there' and started on a conversation about the need to talk. My few word answer was "Those who know and don't share information and then say that others do not communicate, can stuff that sentiment right up their ****." I made the point several times with several examples of how the knowing one had kept the others in the dark. Why? I asked. My daughter was silent. So, that's where we entered the park.

Walter got it full bore by saying "You're English." Not a question, otherwise he would have gotten some slack, I set him straight and said how would he have positioned me had I spoken in French or Russian. He got the point and we went on to talk about how those assumptions help us position people and their expected thoughts, often wrongly. By the time we had gotten our burgers and milk shakes--and to stress my point I had given the name 'Vladimir'--we were hungry. The line was still only about 20 people long when we had munched down the food and the milkshake wash down was under way. Walter said cutely "If you all want another one just say..." He was looking at the line. But we talked and the line grew and by the time that the milk shake had shaken us fully the line was about 60 people long and stretching out of the park. That's a Shake Shack experience.

As we got the feel of each other, I could sense that the day could be spent like this, and I needed to draw a line, not because of boredom or lack of interest, but simply because we wanted to head off to run errands, and he did too. So, after three hours of talking, we parted our ways. By then I had known that Walter and my increasingly good friend at VOB were old friends from when Walter taught at Foundation. That Walter had the same feelings about my latest hang--Grant's in Britton's Hill--and knew Mamma Grant very well, and also loved her banana cou cou. That Walter had some political connections that I did not want or need but had a hint of having through my long list of Bajan associates. I know that the talk with Walter is nowhere near finished. We have yet to talk cricket.

Walter left me with one great insight. As I talked and talked he asked my daughter "What is your father?" She did not know how to reply. I piped up, sensing the answer: "I'm a Griot." Walter nodded: "He's a story teller." I then explained to Walter about my time in Africa and learning about the Mandingo and their griot tradition. I then went to the popular notion that many slaves who went to Jamaica were from Mandingo stock. I told him too of how my father, on reaching the foot of a mountain in Guinea had asked for the car to stop and then stepped out. He looked at the mountain--Coyah--and said "I feel that I am home." That statement has never had a question from me. I looked at my Dad and said "Good."

I gave Walter a brief hint of my view on 'coincidences'--that they are not chance meetings but events we set up but do not understand the way that mental messages are passed. That's how two people seem to arrive by chance at the same place at the same time, no matter how improbable. He would think about that. I gave him examples that had hit me from the past 24 hours and his mouth gaped.

When you reach your rightful place, you should feel it.

1 comment:

Dia&Kofi said...

Strong, evocative...beautiful pacing.