Getting To Know You: ‘Fun Facts’ Takes Caribbean Journey Through Past, Present

AURTHOR  Dawn A. Davis
The brainchild of Barbadian Ravi Shankar, “The Big Little Fun Facts Book” takes readers on a journey of authentic Bajan oral cultural traditions. It shares and defines local proverbs and modern slang, as well as educates readers on the island’s cuisine, history, sports and National Anthem. “A lot of people are happy when they see something like this because it brings back good memories,” explained Shankar, who started his company Facts Barbados in 2012. “Then there is the generation under me who have no idea what these sayings are about. So, it’s fusing the past with the present.

Shankar Ravi“I’ve always been fascinated by how things were then and how they are now. But, I feel especially excited about Caribbean history. I think there is an untapped potential for our history to spread… I want the products to speak to our brothers and sisters around us,” he added. Shankar said the books project goes deeper than making money. It’s about reaching people’s hearts, he insisted. Perhaps one of the most rewarding, he said, was the bible word search booklet, which he distributed to hospital patients. “When I saw how much they loved it, it truly moved me,” he said.

VISION

Shankar said he has another vision. “As I grow and my company grows, I want other people to grow with me as well,” he explained. “So, I have a very few select friends that I always encourage to think outside the comfort zone, because people need a chance.” Shankar has had chances to remake himself. He was a member of the Barbados Defence Force before joining the business world, but was later laid off. That’s when he saw the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, but without the requisite skills in business he knew he couldn’t get far. He took courses and earned diplomas and certificates in marketing, accounting, finance and human resource management. The idea for the first Facts Barbados product emerged.

Shankar said he was inspired by his then four-year old daughter as he watcher her playing with storytelling cards. He walked around Barbados observing its people for inspiration. Then it hit him. I went to the airport and the seaport. When people travel they travel light, but they want information to take back home. So, something affordable and something portable is key. That’s how the Facts Barbados playing cards idea was born, printed with local proverbs and their meanings. It took off,” Shankar explained.

SAMPLE

Fun FactsFor example: “Loose goat don’t know wha’ tie goat sih” (One has to be in someone else’s shoes in order to understand what the other is going through); “Dead man can’t run from ‘e coffin” (It is impossible to run from your responsibilities); “Cut pumpkin can’ keep” (Once virginity is lost it is impossible to abstain thereafter). The next step was to create similar cards for other Caribbean countries with their proverbs and history. Shankar and his team created cards for St. Lucia, and for Guyana’s 50th anniversary of Independence. But, the entrepreneur wanted to do more. That’s when the Facts Barbados book idea came about.

“I believe that we all have something to share, something to give,” said Shankar. “People focus too much on themselves and what they can get. If I met someone that was on their way up the successful ladder, I would hope that that person would want to take me along. So, I see it like that. That’s how I live.” Shankar is climbing that ladder now, taking his partners with him. 

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