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THE ’NETTE EFFECT: Some things better left in the past


Antoinette Connell

THE ’NETTE EFFECT: Some things better left in the past

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My vacationing friend Monica was headed back to New York and the must-have item for my two sisters is usually “blocks of magnesia”; that’s their chalky fix.

It’s a strange addiction that has befallen the Connell sisters. For some reason we seem unable to resist the allure of this pure white stuff and it is a taste that is hard to explain. Pressed for time, I found out that the scarce substance could be obtained from one of the “Indian shops”.

I immediately made my way to one. I reckoned I would have about 30 minutes to spare if I was “despatched” in quick time. I was amazed that once I set foot in the place, it was as though time had stood still. With one whiff I instantly recognised the cacophony of smells that included sugar, feed and Bajan sweets. The aromas drifted up my nostrils.

The narrow space between the counter and the entrance ran the length of the long counter from end to end. The space was at a premium. Light filtered through the openings up high but somehow the place remained dark. Since it was such a throwback to my childhood, it took me back to the days when the adults sent you “by Miss Zeffers shop” in Deacons for any of a number of things – rice, flour, pigtails.

The items were securely wrapped in that thick brown or grey biodegradable paper and tinned cans were recycled into cups, measuring cups or containers for storage.

The children had to wait while the adults were dealt with first. By the time you returned home you were accused of skylarking on the road. There were bouts of skylarking but not to the extent we were blamed for taking so long.

I had time to reflect on all this because the shop attendant, a man of mature age and apparently of Indian descent, was painstakingly and methodically filling a list handed to him by a young man.

Purchases

In between he would hand some old-timer a loose cigarette or mints without much disruption to his main task as these regulars plunked down exact change and retreated with their purchases. Depending on which side you stood, you could interrupt the attendant by calling for lottery tickets and he would oblige you.

Turning back to the young man standing there, he called out the items and I presumed was ticking them off with the pen in his hand. Fifteen minutes later I realised that waiting for my items and not knowing the price was going to take a while, plus there were three others ahead of me still to be dealt with. About five minutes later I decided to abandon the errand and collect my friend for the airport; my sisters would have to make do with the few blocks my mother had already secured.

For me some things are better left in the 1970s.

That brings me to another point of regression.

Moving around the island of late has become a most sickening thing.

The overflowing garbage containers in almost every district are disgusting and a potential health risk. The garbage mounds are so huge that they are easy target for wild dogs and other animals who drag them all over the place, further compounding the issue.

Excuses from authorities, like the stench from the festering garbage, are no longer tolerable. Whether householders/Barbadians have bad waste habits, or that it is the season for garbage or game cock bring game hen, the refuse needs collecting.

It is no longer sufficient for authorities to spew blame on why there is so much garbage remaining on the streets long after it has been put out.

We are supposed to have left this type of social problem back in the 70s; that, and water outages. There is no way that in the 21st century Barbadians should be crying out for an efficient garbage pick-up, not if you are a developing country.

How is it possible to sell the island as a tourist destination and not fulfil a basic service?

Those with oversight for this vital national service must see the dire need to rectify this near crisis situation post haste.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email [email protected] Sherwyn Walters’ Off Centre column will return next month.

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