Monday, April 16, 2007


Yesterday was the last day in Barbados - as if watching matches featuring Bangladesh and Ireland wasn't dreary enough, both the teams were playing yesterday. But it was a fun day as the gates were thrown open to the public after a couple of hours' play and loads of fun locals tropped in with various musical instruments - mainly drums and trumpets - and made a lot of noise around a match that didn't deserve more than a couple of claps.

At the end of the match, we met up with two of the best known Calypso singers in Barbados: Shenton 'Red Plastic Bag' Wiltshire and Smokey Burke. Both of them were fantastic people who gave us all the time in the world, gave us every detail we wanted, and sang lines from a number of their songs.

The highlight, of course, was the two of them singing Lord Relator's famous paean to Sunil Gavaskar in chorus:

It was Gavaskar
The real master
Just like a wall
We couldn't out Gavaskar at all
Not at all
You know the West Indies couldn't out Gavaskar at all.

Had only read the words of this song in the past. Heard it yesterday.

The two of them, in fact, have a number of cricket calypso songs. RPB sang 'Stroke It' for us, while Smokey sang 'Kensington', his ode to the new and improved Kensington Oval. They both also told us that cricket is one of the oldest and most popular subjects for calypso music and that Harry Belafonte had missed the point back in the 1950s.

In fact (Pankaj, you will find this interesting), both of them and a number of other locals here as well as in Jamaica that we spoke to talked of how irrelevant Belafonte is to the general consciousness. They talked of Belafonte selling out, moving to the United States, not being bothered about the people at home...and generally losing importance.

To start with, of course, they were surprised to know that we even know of Belafonte. "He from the 50s, man...long gone," is the general refrain.