If readers will flip back three pages, they will encounter on Page 16 our new governor’s “Welcome Message” to all who visit these Cayman Islands.
But since our governor used “his page” to welcome newcomers to our island, we want to use “our page” to welcome him, his wife Momina, and their young family, including baby Emilia (who is only three months old), and daughters Ambreene, 12, and Amani, 15.
(As a sartorial aside, now is as good a time as ever to drop the hint that “we want that hat” – the one Governor Anwar Choudhury is wearing in the picture accompanying his message. Not since his predecessor John Owen arrived in similar style have we had a governor with such haberdashery dash).
To get protocol properly established, one should formally refer to our governor as “His Excellency The Governor, Mr. Anwar Choudhury.” Typically, but not too often publicly, aides, office staff, legislators, and other insiders abbreviate the verbiage and refer to him simply as “H.E.” Also, you can’t go wrong, in meet-and-greet encounters, by simply addressing him as “Governor Choudhury.” (Don’t call him “Anwar” unless he insists. To date and to us, he hasn’t insisted, so Governor Choudhury it shall be.)
Having lived in Grand Cayman nearly 30 years and Governor Choudhury fewer than 30 days as of this writing, we would like to take this opportunity to offer some practical, albeit unsolicited, advice, and impart a gift or two.
Historically we have given two gifts to most incoming governors: One is a copy of Herman Wouk’s classic novel, “Don’t Stop the Carnival.” It is highly enjoyable MUST reading for anyone who wants to understand the people and the culture of the West Indies. (Some people think it was written about Cayman, but it wasn’t.)
The other was a big button with the following message: “The Cayman Islands – They’re something that happen to you at mid-passage.”
We’re out of buttons, but we’ll send over the book. You might also peruse the article “The Islands Time Forgot” on Page 74 of this magazine. We were able to purchase the reprint rights for this “Saturday Evening Post” story that depicts in fascinating detail what life was like in Cayman in 1950.
We can also save you many hours (weeks, months, years?) and unquantifiable misery if you will allow us to compile for you a simple list: “The Good Guys and The Bad Guys of the Cayman Islands.” Do not, we repeat, do not, accept any similar offerings from politicians. Avoid this advice at your own peril.
You sound to us like a “tough guy” (that grenade bouncing off your chest 18 days after beginning your posting in Bangladesh did your reputation no harm). Even here, in the land of “Caymankind,” toughness will serve you well. Because Cayman is so small, governors (and editors) often must displease individuals during the day and clink glasses with them in the evening – say at Government House receptions. The good news, of course, is diplomats such as yourself tend to have this ability in abundance. Editors, well, not so much . . .
Let us share a factoid or two about the islands that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office research team, in preparing you for your new assignment, may have overlooked:
Cayman banks “house” more than $1 trillion in assets on deposit, which equates to more than $16 million for every man, woman, and child living here. Cayman leads the world in “super-yacht” registrations, and we have more companies registered here (including many with Fortune 500 status) than people who live here.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it, for a little rock in the Caribbean Sea that in the early-1960s had fewer than a half-dozen telephones.
One more myth buster: Many Caymanians blame John Grisham, author of the bestselling novel “The Firm,” for indelibly labeling Cayman as a tax haven and money-laundering Mecca for crooks and other scoundrels (“A sunny island for shady people”). In fact, Cayman’s negative publicity began long before Grisham ever approached a keyboard.
In reality, Grisham loved the Cayman Islands and was inclined to buy a home here – until a former governor’s wife got involved and messed up the whole deal. But that’s another story for another day . . .
For now, let us end where we began – with your hats. You’re going to have to wear many of them during your time with us (and perhaps even a crash helmet or two), but by all appearances you seem to wear them comfortably – none of that Henry IV malarkey (“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”) for our new governor!
We welcome you, governor, and we wish you and your family nothing but the very best during your stay. We’re delighted to have you all among us.