Saturday, March 31, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: Bits and pieces

Just a few random notes on Jamaica before I, hopefully, leave for Guyana.

1. Nothing to do with Kingston per se, but these people play reruns of Frasier, Becker, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond all the time on TV. Those are my favourite sitcoms. Not just that, they keep showing the four Harry Potter films all the time as well. So the hour or so before going to sleep is always good fun.

2. Had mentioned the few books I had bought earlier. Am reading a charming book called Cricket In The Road by Michael Anthony. It’s a book of short stories that is brought out as part of a ‘Caribbean Writers Series’ series around these parts. Rather simplistic stuff, but Caribbeanly charming.

3. For Indian journalists brought up on a staple of Press Club evenings, Jamaica is a revelation. Journalists here usually hang out together on Friday and Saturday evenings. The drinking part is optional and totally incidental. Everyone goes out and has a great deal of fun in a few select hangouts. Like Chelsea Bar, where you can play a variety of cue sports, dominoes, video games and stuff, as well as dance, sing to karaoke mixes (which is a very popular option)…that sort of thing. Now I would choose the Press Club option, primarily because I don’t dance. But the reason why the Jamaican option is exciting is because of the way in which colleagues get together and have fun. No inhibitions when it comes to getting on the stage and singing, dancing with colleagues, making fools of yourselves…

4. One of the biggest television channels here is called TV Jamaica. Now these people have a rooftop party place that stays open every day of the week, but is obviously more in demand on Friday and Saturday nights, when the party goes on till the early hours of the morning. People finish work and head straight for the rooftop for a few hours of shooting pool, karaoke (and other general music), dancing, drinking, joking, fooling around, etc. This rooftop place is actually within the office. And it exists only to make the employees happy.

5. Have I ever mentioned Jerk Chicken in my Jamaica blogs? Don’t think so. It’s a most fantastic preparation of chicken that’s exclusive to the West Indies. How do I describe it? Okay, it’s a bit like Tandoori Chicken in the sense that the pieces of chicken are similar in terms of softness and texture. But then, where TC has a crusty kind of outer cover, JC has a soft leathery kind of outer layer that comes off easily when approached. And unlike TC, where the insides are kind of dry and fibrous, JC has the sauce seeping all the way inside to the bones and therefore tastier. This is not to run the TC down, because I do love it, but JC rocks. The other great thing about JC is that it is available all over the place, at all hours, and comes with mashed potatoes, breads, peas and various other things.

6. Also realised that I have never mentioned Victor Taylor. Taylor is a taxi driver by day and a police department employee by night, when he actually sleeps to make sure he is in shape for the driving. The most interesting thing about Taylor is that I don’t understand a single word of what he is saying, because he has the strangest accent. For example, he’ll say “Do you have sino in India?” when he is asking about “snow”. Have no clue where he gets his accent from, but he is a really, really sweet chap.

7. And I’ve also not mentioned Dolores the cleaning lady at the Indies Hotel. Around 60 and totally batty, meet Dolores in the morning and wish her, and her response is always a cheerful “Yes I’m blessed, and Jesus loves you too”.