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Bajan story on the wall

bajan in ny

Of the whole sum of human life no small part is that which consists of a man’s relations to his country, and his feelings concerning it.
–– Herbert John Gladstone


In the Diaspora and elsewhere, there are many Barbadians who say (with pride) that they are patriotic. Some go a step farther. They tell you that there is no place like the “rock”. However, if you dare explore their world of reality, you find that only a few, if any, cultural traits or traditions are evident, or practised continuously. Thankfully, there is usually, at least one exception, to most patterns and rules.

With the Twenty20 World series in progress, I wanted a prediction; and so I visited the home of a neighbour –– a Barbadian and known cricket junkie.

Barbadian New Yorker Anderson Greenidge. At right are samples of personal memorabilia –– with their own individual stories –– hanging on his wall.

Barbadian New Yorker Anderson Greenidge. At right are samples of personal memorabilia –– with their own individual stories –– hanging on his wall.

“You know that you are lucky. When cricket is on TV, I don’t hear the bell. If the game starts after midnight, I will watch cricket until the TV watches me.

“I am not sure what happened. Maybe, they don’t have the rights; but Willow TV, the cricket channel is not carrying the tournament. My apologies, I got back home real late on Saturday,” said Anderson.

“So, how will the West Indies do?” I asked.

“India beat the West Indies in a close match. I saw a club game in India last week. Maybe it was the white ball, the atmosphere or the dew; but the ball was swinging a lot. So I knew that the West Indies had a fight on their hand. Also, the Indians study a lot of tapes and their bowlers stick to the plan.

“The bowlers kept the ball away from Smith and Gayle, and they had a hard time scoring. Twenty20 cricket is natural to us. We still have a good chance to win the tournament,” Anderson continued.

Anderson Greenidge –– who is from Welch Village, St John –– has been living in America for many years and worked for General Electric. He notes that, for many different reasons, cricket standards in Barbados and the West Indies had dropped.

“Our cricket no longer has layers, and informal cricket is dead. The grass in the village is gone. Everything is rock. No cricket is played in the housing developments. If fact, you can’t.

“We need parks for the kids to play cricket. I remember, when growing up, Welch would play Gall Hill, and Welch would play Society, and the best players from these tournaments would then play for St John’s Cultural team, and so on.

“Kerry Packer made the West Indies players professional. However, our standards started to drop when the players who went to South Africa in search of money were dropped. The second and third string players were like schoolboys to Test cricket,” Anderson argued.

And then he offered a perspective of Indian cricket.

“India, on the other hand, has millions of people. Cricket is a religion. It is on the streets. Everywhere, young children shout Sachin, Sachin. Here in Brooklyn, parents give young children miniature bats of Sachin Tendulkar.”

Clearly, Anderson Greenidge is not only passionate about cricket; he lives and breathes Bajan culture and traditions. For many years, he was an ardent supporter of the now defunct Bajan group Folk Voices Of Barbados. He was made an honorary member after which he actually sang with the group.

The headrests of his car are draped with miniatures of the Barbados Flag. When he needed office and workshop space, he didn’t rent from anyone. He converted the garage and parked the car outside.

Now retired, Anderson chooses not to sit on the proverbial stool, watching cricket and drinking mauby. He searched his human enterprise cupboard, so to speak, and now gives to others the traditions he acquired from Barbados, the skills and attitudes which he acquired from General Electric.

“Today, things are expensive and money is scarce. Many people are not getting their appliances –– fridges, stoves, washing machines, microwaves –– repaired. GE taught me to be honest and productive. If you cheated a customer out of a penny, you were fired. I made a business card, and my customers tell their friends.”

The above being said, it is the photographs and memorabilia on the walls of Anderson’s workshop –– and which few see –– that truly paint his world view. Besides family images and personal awards, there are the Broken Trident eying the hands of a clock, a map of Barbados on a hanging bag, a family picture of the late Prime Minister David Thompson, a replica of a Hampshire cock, and West Indies cricket caps and shirts that add colour to the collection. Each item on the wall tells a story.

Before I left, I bowled what I thought was a swinging ball. Do you know any bakra johnnies?

“Yes, the Watsons,” Anderson said without hesitation. “Come, let me show you something.”

Hanging on his wall museum is a picture of a “poor White” named George that has a story . . . . Which led to how Anderson’s father met and was deeply impressed by Errol Barrow; but that is another story, for another time, he told me. He wanted to keep
a promise, and needed to go purchase a part for an appliance being repaired.


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