Wednesday, March 28, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: It’s about the people

Journalists often have it really easy when it comes to meeting the better lot of people in a foreign land. Here in Kingston, for example, I’ve met some people who I would be more than willing to host at home in Delhi…

None moreso than the homophobic Rastafarian journalist Karyl Walker. Dreadlocked and as Rasta as Rasta gets, Karyl is an absolutely charming Jamaican journalist. Karyl can’t always be relied on for information or news, but outside of the professional leg, Karyl is fantastic. He is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met, and can hold a conversation on most topics for a long, long time. Of course, it helps that he can hold his drink as well and can give you company with a drink for a long time as well.

Karyl is a 41-year-old single parent. He married twice, but both his wives passed away. He has two “very beautiful daughters”, and spends most of his time smoking grass and trying to track down big breaking stories, but that’s that…

Karyl’s friend is a most intelligent girl called Olivia, who Karyl often sends out on errands in the middle of the night (nothing nefarious, let me assure you). If Karyl can hold a conversation, Olivia can make conversations happen. She was a journalist, but is now into some public relations stuff…

Of course, there is Rohan Powell. Named after the former West Indies cricketer, Rohan has become a big hero in India after his superb journalistic work to do with the Bob Woolmer murder investigations. Is a most reliable chap, completely charming and tremendously helpful.

James the driver, Angela the waitress, Nicolo the duty manager at one of the hotels I stayed in, who has a brand new fantastic theory on Woolmer’s murder every single morning, and is convinced he is totally right each time…all really wonderful characters.

There is, of course, the other group as well. Like Andrew the journalist, who other Jamaican journalists say we should all be “very careful of”. He is usually very, very nattily dressed, has an assistant called Joel with him, and usually goes around asking people for money to “go home”, or “have a soda” or just “grab my dinner”. And his sodas usually cost as much as a taxi ride across Kingston. Joel is no different, and when Andrew isn’t borrowing money, Joel is.

It’s a mixed bag, as it always is. But when a Jamaican is good, like Karyl, Olivia and Rohan are, they are really, really good and go out of their way to make you comfortable. And that’s always a wonderful memory to have, especially when you’ve come to a once-in-a-lifetime kind of place like Jamaica.