Friday, March 16, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: Attaining Nirvana

Went to the Bob Marley Museum yesterday.

First, a couple of observations:
- His house is on Hope Road. What else could the road be called, but Hope? For the record, it’s Number 56.
- The young Robert Nesta Marley looked a lot like the young Robert Zimmerman. Seriously!
- I know it’s stupid and melodramatic, but there’s something about 56 Hope Road that makes you want to sit down under the big trees and light up a joint. That, however, is true of most of Jamaica, so maybe it doesn’t count.

All right, it was an experience I am going to cherish forever. This was where Bob Marley lived. This is where he wrote all his songs. This is where he stood while changing the world.

The house itself is not accessible to cameras. Inside, you see piles and piles of newspaper articles about Robert Nesta and The Wailers and Rita Marley, Bob’s only legitimate wife. There’s also a lot of stuff about Bob’s singer sons Damian and Stephen. There are all the platinum and gold discs that Markey’s albums won. There are all the first edition record covers of his 11 albums. There are numerous photographs, of Bob the Smoker, Bob the Singer, Bob the Footballer, Bob the Family Man, Bob the Entertainer, Bob the Thinker, and Bob, the Bob Marley.

One of the more interesting things in the museum is an exact replica of the little store Marley ran before becoming the big man he eventually did. It’s about the size of an average Indian paan shop with a lot of scribbling on the wooden walls. Inside it is also kept the bicycle young Bob and Rita rode around Kingston selling records.

His bedroom is a veritable museum in itself. The small room has a zillion (well, 10 or 12 actually) different chillums – some of them pile-like, some of them vase-like, some of them normal chillum-like. It’s also, obviously, got stuff like Bob’s slippers, Bob’s pajamas and suchlike mundane stuff.

You are also treated to a lot of live recordings of the man – not just in concert (there’s a lot of that obviously), but also of Bob playing football, Bob fooling around with kids in his neighborhood, Bob speaking to journalists about life, about music…and about Jah.

Jah! Well, Jah is Haile Selassie, the Ethiopian emperor who the Rastas treat as their god. Bob was a Rasta. And there are many, many pictures and paintings and articles about Selassie scattered around the museum. And a lot of pictures of lions, the symbol of the Rasta man.

The only sour taste in the mouth comes in the form of the objects that associate Marley with Robert Mugabe. Mugabe had invited Marley and the Wailers to Zimbabwe and Bob’s contribution to the cause of the Black Man obviously made them associates to a common end. I don’t know where Marley would have stood if he had been alive today, but he certainly thought very, very highly of Mugabe – another Bob – and supported Mugabe’s fight. That obviously suggests that Marley’s foresight was a bit affected by all the ganja in his brain, but what the heck!

NOTE: Ajitha, Bob Marley was born on the 6th of February, Back in 1945. He died at 36 years of age.