The Million Dollar Seat

JS in Jordan

In our days of hustling and bustling we often forget the value of what we have. We constantly want things to change, even without realizing that when they do, we don’t like what changed and want to change what cannot be changed back again.

This reflection dawns on me each time when I look out on Lime Street from my million dollar seat. Lime Street in Georgetown Guyana has not changed since I saw it for the first time in April 1974. It is so refreshing that in 2014, forty long years later, it is still the same. Granted, I would never have sat on this seat had it not been for having fallen in love with the smashing beauty in the house, in a place far away from the million dollar seat, but she took me to the seat and since that happened, I don’t want to release it for a million dollars.

Each time over the many years when I sat down in my million dollar seat, it baffled me that the view remained the same. Oh yes, the green city buses disappeared and made room for multiple vans as a genial replacement of public transport, relieving the city budget from a bankrupt company where nobody paid the fares. More cars appeared in the street, from old Wolseleys, Morris, and Austins to Toyotas, Nissans, and scooters. Taxis a plenty. But the horse-drawn wagons are still there, the utility poles have not changed, the same grass grows along the street, and the same houses border the street, some done-up a bit, but otherwise mostly the same.

I have come to appreciate this view. As an economist, I always deal with “ceteris paribus”, the Latin phrase for “all other things held constant”, as a way of arguing that economic outcomes are expected to be “x” as long as the “variables” don’t change (they always do). The perfect reason why economics is not a science like physics: a stone falls straight and does not zig-zag (as my socialist opponents always purport).


Lime street view 2

Well, Lime Street in Georgetown Guyana is the perfect example of all other things being held constant. The same beauties come and go and never seem to age.

A sweet young Guyanese woman

The same little food carts with their Calypsos blare over the street. The same loud vans with their oversized speakers drum by. The same stray dogs hop from grass poll to grass poll, cross the small street in utter disregard of oncoming traffic, somehow never getting hit. It’s a continuous flow of things that never changes in substance, only in color, number or size.

There are other million dollar seats.


Take the plunge

I know a few, such as a terrace on a beach house in Goa in India where you can stare for an eternity at the Indian Ocean rolling in,

FW V3.10

sitting on a balcony in the Jura watching the Mont Blanc across Lake Geneva, turning white to pink to blue, a seat under a parasol on a Bali beach where the sea stays forever blue

Mowenpick 2

or a view of a swimming pool bordering the Dead Sea.

But Lime Street is different: it’s not nature, it’s in the middle of a town where hordes of colonialists, World Bank and IMF and other “developers” have come to preach the benefits of change. And it did not. Thank God.

It’s a relief to look at things that remain the same.


Lime Street Early Morning

Lime Street Afternoon

Lime Street After a Rain Fall

Above: Lime Street Early Morning

Middle: Lime Street at Siesta Hour

Below: Lime Street After a Rain Fall

It’s peace of mind. Leave the hustle and bustle to others and other places. Bring poetry into your life. Sit, watch what stays, let it flow and come back into place, while sipping from a glass of rum. Value what is and what you have.

Don’t change. Don’t change. Don’t change.



Add yours
  1. 2

    Your latest piece reminds me of a story a friend of my daughter’s related to me. He was in a Central American Country giving guided tours along the coast line. Someone was so impressed with his words of wisdom that couched his lines of history of the area that he shouted out to the guide: “You would make a lot of money in America giving tours.” The guide shouted back, “Why change? To what end? I would only retire here, doing what I am doing now.”

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