The Story Within The Story…Google maps and development in Guyana – by Leonard Gildarie

The Story Within The Story…Google maps and development in Guyana

In Queens…under one of the massive train bridges in New York

Leonard Gildarie

September 27, 2015 | By |By Leonard Gildarie

I hate flying. The hassle of Customs and airport security coupled with delays and the poor quality of food on planes has been a major deterring factor.
But in the last few years, the demands of the media business have forced me to learn to cope.
I should have done it more.

Seeing what other countries do has really opened my eyes. But it makes me impatient about the sloth of things happening in Guyana. There will be critics and historians who will attempt to defend the Guyana situation, arguing about the effects of slavery and colonialism. They will say that Guyana is a young country…so be patient. 

Here is the problem…we have countries like Singapore and others, some even without natural resources. They have managed to surpass expectations, rising to the top of the list when it comes to the developed world. And they started around the same time as Guyana.
This week, one of the biggest gathering of world leaders will see important decisions being taken at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York.
So I arrived in the Big Apple last week to cover the event and was left all alone. The family I was staying at lived at the opposite side of the city and was at work all day.

I had to head to the UN building and there was no one to take me. I have to find the subway.
For those who are not familiar with New York especially, the traffic is a killer. It is almost impossible to find parking in Manhattan and even in front of your home. Many families live in homes with no yard space or garages. You are forced to park in the streets, sometimes even a street away.

To reach to work early, you either take the bus or train. The family car is not an option. Also not an option is being late for work.
So I asked about getting to Manhattan. I was handed a smartphone with an app by my cousin. He programmed the UN location and it also showed me my current location. Google maps is a must when you want to move about in the US and especially in New York.
So there I was headed to the subway in Jamaica, Queens. You had to walk about five blocks to get there.

New York is a place where you follow the street signs. The traffic lights work as they should and buses and trains work almost to the minute. Everything is about management of time. You can never be late.

The signs helped. I bought what is called a Metro Card. The subways and buses don’t work with cash. You swipe the card which allows access to areas where the trains arrive. Again, you follow the signs. It drives home the point of how much cash we walk with in Guyana.
In New York, people are always in the hurry. Nobody, except the senior citizens, walks slowly. It is one of the first things that strike you. The second thing is that New Yorkers love their coffee, cigarettes and phones. Almost everybody has one. Cigarette breaks appear to be a given right.

So I hopped on the E train heading for Manhattan. It was the first time. I have to walk down stairs and escalators to deep underground.
I saw the E train and entered. There were no seats and folks in the train appeared to hate making eye contact. Some were reading, some sleeping and others texting.
There were loudspeakers telling you about the directions of the train and what the next stop was. The trains stop for about a minute at each station, with everybody rushing on or off. Everything was organized.
I got off at the wrong stop and came out at Queens Plaza. I started walking and realized that I was lost.
I asked a few persons, including police, for directions and was directed back to the train station.
Unless you know where train stations are, it is difficult to find it. The stairs are located buildings and immediately evident.
I finally made it to Manhattan. It is a city where the buildings are majestic and seems to be teeming with quiet activities. You can feel the pulse of activities. Everybody seems to be in a rush.

I could not but marvel at the skylines, at the amount of planning, at the orderliness of the city.
What are the possibilities of Guyana? What kind of leaders do we need to take this wonderful country of ours to another level?
The use of technology like Google maps and the ease of which New Yorkers adapt to it is something to experience.

People take these things for granted there. I used my phone to Skype and voice chat with family and friends, using the existing mobile networks while on the road. In Guyana we are forced to use WiFi because we cannot allow GT&T and other companies to have spectrum to expand to 4G and 5G technology to make our lives better.

It is when we see the possibilities that one realize that our development is held back by ourselves…by a lack of will to make the right decisions and maybe years of being selfish and not looking out for Guyana.
I pray that everyone in Guyana has a chance to use the subway in New York.

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  • Eileen Russell Sewkaran  On 09/30/2015 at 9:40 am

    A perfect picture of NYC life…Yes in Guyana the pace is too slow..that is why we have to wait for months for any document requested etc…no one attaches importance to time….The people cuss and fuss but no one makes an effort to change the system,..Even the simple act of getting in and out cars and busses makes me want to scream…I have lived in NYC more years than in Guyana , so I am accustomed to moving fast and getting things accomplished asap. When I am in Guyana, I am sure my BP goes up, due to irritability..every time I go out.of my home there,.me trying to go with the flow…Yes we Guyanese are holding back our progress and development…for sure..Of course I am sure there are a few very vigilant persons..I know of persons who ..if they attend a function on a Sunday,,,do not go to work on Monday and Tuesday,,how unproductive and foolish. Persons in authority have to start setting the example and maybe the others will follow. Yes I love the fast pace, its good for health and longevity….

  • Ron. Persaud  On 09/30/2015 at 7:36 pm

    Mr. V S Naipaul first brought this to my attention. He wrote to the effect that Guyanese were slow. He used the example of ordering a meal in a restaurant and how long it took for it to be served.
    I remember walking with my cousins from Louisiana in Leguan to “Back Part” – many miles away – behind a pair of oxen which had been sold; and had to be delivered. It took most of a day; but we talked a lot, skylarked some and fantasized aloud.
    I remember my grandparents’ generation who all seemed to stroll or saunter; whether they were going to their rice bed or to listen to readings from the Ramayan, after a solid day’s work in the rice bed; and always the distance was measured in miles.
    They did not live long, by today’s standards; but they enjoyed good health, by and large. They could observe in a seemingly casual glance, an ailing calf; or a bruise on my cheek.
    . Was it “Bush 41” who remarked that he had never seen a relaxed walker? And I often wonder what will I do in the few seconds that a particular (labor-saving) device will save me.
    Indeed, the answer might be ‘more work’. Using the elevator is a good example. I could enter it, punch the number of my destination floor and wait for automated technology to get me there. But NO! I can expend that extra effort and punch another button to “Close Door”. Will it get me there faster? I really do not know. And we all have experienced the motorist who will bob and weave in the lanes – to gain the equivalent of a single car’s length and be stopped at the next (red) light while those he left behind, caught up.
    I’d like to share a charming little poem.
    “Leisure” is a poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.
    No time to stand beneath the boughs
    And stare as long as sheep or cows.
    No time to see, when woods we pass,
    Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
    No time to see, in broad daylight,
    Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
    No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
    And watch her feet, how they can dance.
    No time to wait till her mouth can
    Enrich that smile her eyes began.
    A poor life this if, full of care,
    We have no time to stand and stare.

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