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Purely Dominica

Purely Dominica

Caribbean timePhoto by Joe Shlabotnik

I’m not a complainer. Really, I’m not. But having lived my first 68 years in the USA, I find that things being different take me some getting used to. Understand, please, I’m not asserting that “different” is wrong. It’s probably right for here; only I’m unused to it.

So, I’m sucking it up and learning to accept those different things. Still, I think it may amuse Dominicans reading this and help inform and prepare Americans, and Europeans and other “1st-worlders” wishing to settle here as well.

I’ll write about those differences – big and small – from time to time, and will preface it with this paragraph so that you know I’m not complaining.

The Dominican Difference #5:”Dominican Time” and Schedules

Schedules. I don’t mind “Caribbean Time” at all; not after years of catching a commuter train to and from the office. What the heck, I’m retired and can do pretty much what I want when I want to. And I understand that in Dominica where there are no trains or tightly scheduled buses things must naturally proceed in their own good time. That’s especially the case where many people don’t own their own transportation and often can scarcely afford the available transportation.

All this did not take me much getting used to even though I was raised by an adoptive father from Switzerland, where punctuality and schedule-keeping are virtually national obsessions.

TV Scheduling in Dominica

But there is one concession to scheduling I’d like to see Dominica adopt – TV scheduling. We used to have cable TV in the US and it came with a thing called a “set-top box”. One could use the remote control to query the box to display a schedule of programs and the times and which channel they’d be on. Here, whether one has Marpin or SAT, there’s no box; one simply must channel-surf and uses at what’s on. With our time available, it would be nice to be able to plan to watch a movie or event on TV from the beginning, or at least set a recorder to capture it.

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Comment by pete
2009-10-19 13:23:33

Good observation. I am not in the cable business and don’t know how much of a factor cost is to implement the new boxes, or whether it is just a matter of programming, but it can be done of course. In Dominica, there is often not enough World Class or out of the box thinking, or even as you say a call to move with the times quickly… people seems to readily follow on on what precedes things. Also, sometimes the public is very accepting of the status quo and may not know differently to demand otherwise. Nonetheless there is no question that the public would embrace the new technology, even if they had to pay $5 to rent the new box!…

In the 1980s the country boasted to be the first country in the WORLD to have a fully digitalized telephone network. Yet in the 1990s I had an issue of being stalked on the phone and could not get Cable and Wireless to set up caller ID to determine who was calling so as to report it further. It was not until a few years later that the technology got implemented, whilst it was fully available in the US. At that time how many people on island actually thought it was relevant? Probably few. Personally I lamented this at the time, as you would have thought that such a major force (C&W) on the telecoms market would have such up to date technology by then.

Comment by Steve Foerster
2009-10-19 15:50:28

Interesting issue. Personally, I’m not sure what problems Dominica has that be attributed to insufficient watching of television. I find this is one of those things where it’s a difference to appreciate rather than to overcome.

Comment by Dan
2009-10-19 18:11:25

Pete, the 1st digitized phone system was because Cable & Wireless UK used Dominica as a test lab. The phones and service were practically free at the time to encourage use. A Dominican friend visited us in the USA back then and had trouble understanding that we had to actually pay for toll calls, etc.

Steve, it would be nice to know what movies will be shown and to actually see a movie from its start.

Comment by Dan
2009-10-19 18:15:04

Pete, one more thing: They could at least put the schecules up on the SAT channels, but they don’t. In fact, they keep changing channel assignments around and can’t even give customers a list.

When we signed up they had AMC, which carried the hugely popular “Mad Men” to which we were addicted. Not they don’t carry AMC any longer — they get some “Caribbean package”. It contains crap like religous channels and BET (which only exploits race).

Comment by pete
2009-10-20 23:43:23

I am not in Dominica, though I visit each year; and try to keep in touch with daily news. It’s a shame, but it is simply that the viewing public is largely too accepting of whatever is offered, so the status quo continues. I wonder how many letters the cable tv companies get directly about issues such as discussed in this blog…

Anyway, in the early years Marpin actually had a printed weekly schedule that you had to pay for. I am not sure if this has been discontinued. But in any event such a guide is rendered obsolete by the wonders of the digital world where you can look at the present and upcoming show schedule in real time. I am not sure its even worth the effort printing one, when most people don’t buy it anyway; and better can be done with the right programming and equipment!

By the way, there is supposed to be a Standards Office on the island. It would be interesting to know if there are any such standards developed for the cable tv industry in Dominica.

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