In lieu of a “first post” reminiscence, I've decided to republish an October 2006 post from my now-defunct blog, Caribbean Free Radio, marking my first year at GV. It mentions several people who are no longer active members of the community, and reading it will probably give you a sense of how much smaller the GV community was in those days.
It also reminded me of things I'd forgotten, and things that are probably too long past to be retrieved from the recesses of my memory, like whether Rebecca, Alice and I did actually see the great jazz pianist Herbie Hancock at the National Press Club, or whether we just imagined it. And for those who may not know, the reference to being given “my own room” refers to the division of “the Americas” region which resulted in the creation of a Caribbean editorship in early 2006, relieving poor David Sasaki of the burden of covering the entire Western Hemisphere, and paving the way for me to beat him at tennis.
October 9, 2006
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a whole year that I’ve been associated with Global Voices. The actual anniversary of my début there is October 14, but weekdays being what they are, yesterday I decided to devote some of my Sunday slack to writing a thank-you note to my GV colleagues. As linking — in all senses of the word — is one of the things we do best at GV, and in honour of the cherished linkages (though “connections” is the word I’d prefer here) I’ve made as a result of my association with this grand enterprise, I decided a hyperlinked letter was the only way to go. Here it is:
My dear GV friends:
This coming Friday will mark a year since I wrote my first piece for my first piece for Global Voices. Some days prior to that date, I’d received an e-mail from a mysterious individual with a Japanese surname and a Spanish nickname. Would I care to cover the Caribbean for a web site called Global Voices as a volunteer author? he asked.
The whole thing sounded time-consuming and rather byzantine, if you asked me, and what if this individual, with his unlikely combination of physical (a little Googling had revealed him to be sandy-haired and freckled) and transnational attributes, turned out to be a Keyser Söze type?
Yet, against what seemed at the time to be my better judgment, I agreed to add this to the already complex mix of potentially missable deadlines and things that I do. I wrote the first article. Then I wrote another. And another. Within weeks, my dreams had become populated with green adinkra symbols; I was mumbling the GV tag line in my sleep, spouting the GV Manifesto at cocktail parties….
Then I received another email, this time from a woman named for a Biblical figure whose solicitousness towards camels had landed her a husband and whose surname indicated membership in a Scottish clan whose chief once married a Norse princess named “Saucy Mary”. She was inviting me to a meeting in London. I accepted graciously, of course, and in December found myself breakfasting with a large man whose full name combined those of a Vermont folk hero and a Philip Roth character.
The day of the meeting, I met, among others, the daughter of a Niger delta secessionist; an Indian woman bearing the same surname as a discredited chicklit author who told me she knew nothing about Trinidad except cricket (which, I told her, was more than most people in the room knew about Trinidad); and a Kuwait-born Jordanian with Palestinian roots who resides in the country my own little nation would beat out for a place in the 2006 World Cup. And many more besides.
More recently I had the pleasure of eating South African food and French pastries in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with a woman from the world’s first independent black republic whose name evokes a Lewis Carroll heroine.
And just this past September 18 in Washington DC, as Herbie Hancock would no doubt have noted in his blog if he had one, the Lewis Carroll heroine, the camel-favouring Biblical figure and I found ourselves drinking champagne in the National Press Club bar in mid-afternoon, celebrating an award.
Even more recently — with a little help from my killer forehand — I had the chance to confirm that, while the Japanese-surnamed individual might not be a Keyser Söze type, he isn’t exactly a Roger Federer type either!
Several times a week I chat via IM and exchange e-mails with a cast of characters from the four corners of the globe, including a woman in London named after a Biblical personage who once offered shelter to the son of the one with the soft spot for camels — it’s now standard practice during IM sessions that one or both of us ends up ROTF, usually with laughter.
All of these people and experiences are mine because of this breathtakingly ambitious and awe-inspiring project called Global Voices, and I look forward to racking up many, many more.
One year later, and the list of those I’d jump off a bridge to save from drowning or donate a vital organ to has swelled considerably (and please note that this list does include those of you who are yet to make an appearance on my Flickr page).
Thank you, Ethan and Rebecca, for building this. Thank you, Oso, for inviting me in. Thank you all for letting me stay — and eventually have my own room! (And for putting up with my lame metaphors). It’s been a wonderful year. May GV bloom and grow forever.
Peace & love,