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Barbados Uncensored

Beyond the News, Inside the Issues

Welcome to the “Repooblic” of Barbados

Mar 27, 2022

Last Updated on April 20, 2022 9:35 am by Editor

“Twenty one miles long by a smile wide!”. That is how a LIAT air hostess once described Barbados as we prepared to land at the GAIA several years ago.  

I cannot recall whether the hostess was a Barbadian or not but one thing I am sure about is that that Barbados is not quite the one we know. 

You have all heard about the “two Barbadoses”.  Now that rigor mortis has begun to set in on “the Republic project”, the distinction between “Barbados” and “Boobados” is becoming crystal clear.

Perhaps we also need to distinguish between “Republic” and the more high-brow sounding “Repooblic”.   

We do not smile in Barbados.  We “used to” as a Bajan would say.  Not any more! We laugh. Correction: we guffaw!

Not even the Microsoft 365 thesaurus seems to know what “guffaw” really means. When I double-checked the meaning of the word in their thesaurus it said: “chuckle”, “chortle” and then, “belly laugh”.

For a moment I had the sinking feeling that the employees of Gatesberg, in setting up the thesaurus, had been inspired by Kamala Harris, the giggling, globe-trotting VP in Brandon’s White House.  

But looking to the bottom right of the entry I understood why. That notice you see here is from a company that prides itself on its state-of-the-art AI powered MS Word that can tell you where you left off writing five days ago!

It turns out then that we are not so bad after all in the Republic of Barbados. Therefore, no one should accuse of me of being unpatriotic when I recount the following gems that would do justice to Winston Jordan’s Bajan Belly Laff or Cicely Spenser Cross’ Laff it Off.

Enter the Q

The scene is the QEH (Queen Elizabeth Hospital) outside the “new” Accident and Emergency (A&E) wing, if you please.  It was my first time at the “newbie” and I did not know what a christening I was in for. 

By the way, we are still waiting for a name change for the QEH since name changing is what most Bajans understand “repooblic” is about.

One sister-in-law had taken the RAT or whatever test they are using there and had been allowed inside the A&E to look after the brother-in-law.   Three of us are on the outside sitting on one of those nice benches that come with the new-fangled A&E environs. 

After something like half-an hour, girlfriend sitting on the bench next to ours could not keep it in any longer:

“You know there is a waiting area inside this building where you can look up and see the sky!”

“Wuh, you making sport!” was one reaction.

“Yuh lie!” chipped in another.

But sister-in-law on the inside soon confirms it:

“You know if the rain falls we gine get wet in a certain part in here!”

We then talked agitatedly about that revelation for a few minutes. Key takeaway? How in Barbados we so easily move “boo” from the front where everyone can see it and put it in the back “out of sight”. Problem solved.

No change in speed of delivery of service; no ongoing communication to help ease the worry of the wait. Same old, same old.  

This is how people still manage in the Repooblic of Barbados. We pay managers extra for the bananas.

Ratified

Still at the QEH, the other brother-in-law is hailed by a friend and they go off to lean against The New Wall and talk.  Suddenly the friend shouts: “Looka! Looka! Look!”, pointing to a real humongous rat making a rush for the A&E.

My bespectacled brother-in-law chimes in: “Yuh know, I saw “the shadow” just now but I thought that was a floater!” First set of guffaws break out. 

Then the Barbadian knack for extemporizing on a  funny situation kicks in.

“So you mean that even rats can get in here without a mask or RAT test?” More big guffaws.

“And he in even say, “excuse me” either!” chupsed another.  Real Bajan belly laugh at this point!

I really wonder how they would have reacted had they witnessed another town rat instantly disperse the queue at Flanders Pharmacy to the accompaniment of the shrieks and screams of the mostly female customers in the establishment at that time.

As Peter Boyce of Madd would say: “Ratdiculous!”

IDeed

But don’t think for a moment that you will find “boo” in government departments only. My wife and I had this experience a few days ago at a very popular supermarket. 

She is behind me checking out stuff for the mother-in-law. She is wearing one of her favourite portable hairdos and is sporting a mask as well as spectacles.

Wifey hands the cashier her card who promptly asks for an ID. Cashier takes one look at the ID, flashes a look at her and proceeds with the transaction. 

“No wonder a bank got robbed in broad daylight not so long ago” my wife thought out loud back in the car.  Spontaneous guffaws from the two of us in privacy of the vehicle.

Banking with Alipoo

This piece of “boo” happened just a few days ago. I go to the bank to order a cheque book.  This is a routine operation but one that has become less frequent since the price of the cheque book increased dramatically some time ago.

Since that time I have become even more Internet-savvy. That translates into doing most of my business online.

Anyway, the customer service agent asks me to sign over the cheque book order. Why? In my old signature of 30 years or more vintage, the first letter of the surname is separate (“does not touch”) the first name.

Back in October 2021, PM Mottley roundly criticized the commercial banking sector over its high fees and threatened to pass new laws to rein it in.  If this is an example of the “boo” in the banking repooblic, I can heartily agree with her 2022 Pandemic Levy never mind it touches other parts of the private sector.

Towards a New Tax

In 2003, the New Zealand government proposed an agricultural emissions research levy, more commonly referred to by livestock farmers and other critics as a “flatulence tax or “fart tax”.  Others argued that the name was a scientific misnomer.

One hopes that the PM in all her zeal for climate change reduction is not tempted to trot out such a tax.  

On the other hand, one may be more supporting of a Boo Reduction Levy or Tax or whatever she chooses to call it in her 2023 budget. The problem is how she is going to deploy it over both government and the private sector.

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