Back to using the clunky hotel computer with the sticky keyboard. So forgive me if this post is short and seemingly frustrated.
Mashramani was today. As mentioned, my costume was themed “abstinence.” This was changed to “faithfulness”, however, which is not nearly as ironic or fun. Nonetheless, it was a very unique experience. Our (Ministry of Health) submission was a hundred people deep, with a range of costumes themed along a variety of health lines. In my section were 6 men and 6 women. The former were dressed in faux-tuxedos with tails and top hats and painted silver faces. The latter were clad in wide Victorian-era gowns. See, we were “old fashioned faithfulness”, which is especially ironic for a Mash parade in which everyone grinds and winds against everyone else in a simulated mass orgy. (At some points, women would snatch me from the crowd and demand to know if I was truly faithful).
The parade lasts something like 6 hours in the searing heat before finally entering national stadium where we perform for thousands of onlookers, including the judges and TV cameras. The highlight of our submission was a king figure fighting off a genuine fire breathing dragon. It was quite a spectacle.
At one point I caught the eye of President Jagdeo himself, undercover in a baseball cap and t-shirt, and flanked by several similarly dressed burly men of his entourage. He really did blend in, but I’d met the man a couple of times over the years and could pick him from a crowd. We exchanged nods and I danced away like a prissy silver-faced mime.
Our task was to dance continuously throughout the 6 hours, while threading through the streets of Georgetown, under both the oppressive sun and periodic rain torrents. At key points we would pair up and deliver a pseudo-waltz to the judges. There were no meal breaks or washroom breaks and water was scarce.
But that wasn’t the hardest part. Since I was in the very front of the pack, I was directly behind the truck blaring annoying dance music at a billion decibels. Between the noise and having to suck in fumes from the truck’s tailpipe for 6 hours, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have neurological damage.
After trudging for 6 hours and beating our feet into ground meat, getting a taxi home was impossible. You guessed it, we walked the half hour back to the hotel, where I promptly collapsed in migraine agony. Four hours, 2 pills of Tylenol 3 and one treatment of N-acetylcysteine later and I’m finally functional enough to offer a blog post about the day.
Despite all the pain, the experience was unique enough to be worth it. I’ve never before felt so much like a genuine son of Guyana… for better or worse!
Tomorrow I will congratulate myself with yet another massage. Mmmmmmmm.