For 39 years, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”

coat of armsWe’ve been accused of a lack of lowe for Guyana, so I thought I’d point out that serendipitously enough, today is Guyanese Independence Day. Wikipedia says so on its main page, under selected Anniversaries. By the by, did you know that Guyana is half desi?

the three major groups are the (East) Indians or Indo-Guyanese (50%) who have remained predominantly rural, the Africans or Afro-Guyanese (36%) who constitute the majority urban population, and the Amerindians (7%) who live in the country’s interior…

Guyanese flag

Christianity (50%), Hinduism (35%), and Islam (10%) are the dominant religions in Guyana, with the latter two concentrated in the Indo-Guyanese community.

Word. SM is down with ALL brown, y’hear? :)

32 thoughts on “For 39 years, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”

  1. Speaking of Indo-Caribbean stuff…

    There’s a dynamite Indo-Trini dhaba on Hillside Ave. in Jamaica, Queens. It’s called The Roti Shop.

    Try the calouries. (I think that’s how you spell it…) Yum.

  2. I’m impressed that Sepia Mutiny could take an obscure comment and turn it into a post so quickly.

    Both Ramnaresh Sarwan and current captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the WI cricket team are Indian-ethnic Guyanese. Without them, the WI cricket team would be terrible. I mean more terrible.

  3. A few months back, the PBS station in Chicago aired “Thunder in Guyana”. It was about Janet Rosenberg, the Chicago-born Jewish woman who married Indo-Guyanan Cheddi Jagan (yes, they had HinJew couples back in the forties). The couple were among that nation’s most prominent political families, but Jagan’s Marxist background mad him persona non grata for the U.S.

    More info about the documentary can be found here: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/thunderinguyana/

  4. Micheal H wrote:

    I’m impressed that Sepia Mutiny could take an obscure comment and turn it into a post so quickly.

    Who the Hell you callin’ obscure? But yes, I am also impressed with the speed. Either your bosses are all overpaying you or you are all about to fail your coursework.

    ANNA wrote (obscurely)

    wrong. they got to amreeka at least 50 years earlier (or so i wrote in my master’s thesis),

    And established a cohesive community that has preserved its language, religion(s) and culture to this day? Itinerant sea captains don’t really count. Neither do shanghaied indentured servants. If anything beats Guyana, I haven’t heard of it.

    it’s not aboot being more Guyanocentric

    It is all about Guyanocetrism. Only two letters removed from Gynocentrism. Can’t a man perform Vagina Monologues? Can’t a Yankee give us Guyana Monologues?

    More seriously, the most culturally significant desi groups in the western hemisphere are in BC, Ontario, Trinidad, Guyana, California and New Jersey/NYC. You guys only really cover the last two, and they’re the most boring and least remarkable of the six groups.

    Hey, your blog, your editorial decisions. I’ll stop carping now.

  5. This non desi Canadian passport carrying Guyanese of Portuguese decent living in Australia remembers celebrating Holi but not being allowed to see Hindi films. I’m making up for that now.

    The cultural influences of the Indian diaspora in Guyana has always stayed with me and bred a love for all things Indian.

    As a result visiting India felt right to me, surrounded by all that spicy and savoury brownness was most excellent.

    And the gorgeous women! Hmmmmm.

    By the way WI is playing Pakistan right now. Lara 130 n/o. Mr Higgins comments on the relative performance of the Windies are most hurtful to this long suffering fan.

  6. I like identifying desis that are descendants of the older, colonial-era, waves of immigration (guyana, fiji, south africa) by the distinctive spellings of their names. (Persaud .vs. Prasad, Naidoo .vs. Naidu, Shivnarine .vs. Shiv Narayan). I imagine these spellings were decided by immigration officials in the british empire. It’s like a time-capsule from a couple of centuries ago.

  7. Speaking of Guyana: my friend’s architect firm (in Chennai) is building a cricket stadium in Guyana, for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. This stadium is a gift from the Govt of India to Guyana.

  8. More seriously, the most culturally significant desi groups in the western hemisphere are in BC, Ontario, Trinidad, Guyana, California and New Jersey/NYC. You guys only really cover the last two, and they’re the most boring and least remarkable of the six groups.

    suck teeth

    England is in ferment with Desi things man.

    I love to listen to my Chutney music here.

  9. they’re the most boring and least remarkable of the six groups.

    I’m with you about representation, Ikram. You don’t have to be mean and call us boring, though :)

    Also, New York is a world unto itself that rarely gets covered fully (here or elsewhere)–you get large numbers of people from all of the desi communities and backgrounds mixing (or not mixing) together in all kinds of ways. I’m not talking about Manhattan or well known places like Jackson Heights–mostly neighborhoods in the outerboroughs.

  10. I’ve heard too much about NYC. What about the rest of the country? ;-)

  11. I’ve heard too much about NYC. What about the rest of the country? ;-)

    It’s all a secret plot to get y’all to move out here and join the creative ferment ;)

  12. there is a MASSIVE west indian presence in toronto (african & indian). in fact, most people don’t usually assume i’m indian (it’s usually only white people who do-but i guess many of them lump us together), they usually think i’m guyanese-i have no idea why this is. the only reason why i would think this is because i’m not fair-skinned and a lot of west indian ppls are darker.

    interesting things i’d like to mention; most of the children of west indians of indian descent (guyanese, trinidadian, jamaican, etc.) refer to themselves as “coolies”. i don’t think that many of the adults use this term…i’ve never heard any of my friends parents say that.

    also up here, a lot of (but not all) “coolie” kids do not identify with indian culture at all. i understand the fact that they are a few generations removed from india but a lot of them seem to identify more with black culture and deny their indian roots. i don’t know if this is because it’s “cool” or what, seeing as most of their parents are “more indian” than a lot of people who are from india! it’s hard to explain unless you’ve been to high school here, but i guess it’s seen as “cooler” to be west indian instead of indian or sri lankan or whatever. i actually knew a couple of kids in high school who were clearly sri lankan but tried to pass off as west indian. i can’t really speak for the black community but i’m pretty sure it’s similar (it’s better to be west indian than african). it’s a funny phenomenon.

  13. Anupa, you do know what a “coolie” is, right? I couldn’t tell from your post. It doesn’t have anything to do with being “cool” though – definition

    I guess the name derived from what the British called their ancestors.

  14. These Indo-Carribean kids probably call themselves coolies for the same reason that black kids refer to each other using the n-word. It’s seen as rebellious and defiant.

    Indo-Carribean culture actually has been influenced significantly by African-Carribean culture. Since it’s probably seen as a “cooler” culture, Indo-Carribean youth are probably more likely to want to be apart of it.

  15. You mean Brooklyn?
    Don’t be so parochial. She means Long Island ;)

    Le sigh.

    Anything outside of the tri-state area known as NY/NJ/PA, and far amidst the hinterlands, where people say “hi” to complete strangers on the street, talk with a twang, and shudder shop at……………Wal-Mart. ;)

    Disclaimer: Not that the IRL me would shop there after seeing this.

  16. … where people say “hi” to complete strangers on the street, talk with a twang, and *shudder* shop at……………Wal-Mart.

    New Yorkers talk to strangers far more than most suburbanites– on the subway, at the deli, on the street. They have a fetish for finding a good deal whether at ABC Home or Target (they’d shop Wal-Mart if Wal-Mart would open a damn store in the city). And have you ever heard the Brooklyn accent?

  17. you tell her, manish. ;) except for the walmart part. kmart’s got more cred.

  18. runnerwallah.

    of course i know its connotation, i guess i didn’t clarify that. but i think FCC made a good point when he compared it to black kids calling each other the n word.

    the only difference i’d say is that it’s not seen as derogatory or a put down. i mean, if i went and said the n word in front of a black person i’m sure they’d be offended. most of these kids aren’t offended when people refer to them as “coolie”-it’s what they are, a west-indian of indian descent.

    i know it has nothing to do with being cool, and i don’t think the COOL in coolie is why they think it’s cool. i think the cool factor lies in their west indian upbringing (more relaxed, more “westernized”).

  19. Anything outside of the tri-state area known as NY/NJ/PA, and far amidst the hinterlands, where people say “hi” to complete strangers on the street, talk with a twang, and *shudder* shop at……………Wal-Mart. ;)

    First of all, the tri-state area is NY/NJ/CT. Secondly, I’d like to get out of New York for some place less stressful, but I do like that people are willing to pay taxes to provide health care here. Thirdly, isn’t it f@#kin cool that I can post to Sepia Mutiny from Indian Bread Company? Yay wifi! Fourthly, don’t you love how your point was totally hijacked by New Yorkers to talk about New York, in typical New York fashion :)

    In seriousness though, I agree it would be nice to learn more about Hamtramck, Atlanta, and some really random places that have the desi here and there (like Wichita, KS). And Fiji. What’s up with Fiji?

  20. Oh, and I agree with AF that you shouldn’t shop at Wal-Mart unless you have no choice for economic or geogarphic reasons (if you really have to shop at a big-box retailer, Costco is less bad).

    And I agree with PB that London is much more interesting for desis than anywhere in the US, despite the lack of food.

  21. And I agree with PB that London is much more interesting for desis than anywhere in the US, despite the lack of food.

    Huh? Lack of food? What lack of food?

  22. Hmmm… I don’t really get the “SM isn’t covering X, Y, or Z” gripe – if you want something in, send in a tip [edited by Admin].

    -D

  23. Huh? Lack of food? What lack of food?

    After going clubbing, the best I could be provided with at 2 a.m. was a bagel with American cheese. You can’t really compare the wealth and variety of food options in, say, NY to London, can you (caveat: I’m veg)? But please, set me straight, because I would love to have something to eat on my next trip beyond beans and toast and saag paneer :)

  24. To be honest, I dont know, because I dont eat that much, I mostly drink. I hate eating in public because I’m a messy eater and always spill things.

  25. I’m a Jamaican who’s half black half East Indian and practices Hinduism. There’s a lot of Indo-Caribbeans in South Florida. Most of them are Trinidadian Hindus.