Tuesday, April 03, 2007

WORLD CUP DIARY: Settling down in Guyana

Guyana is unique in that it is the only country in the South American mainland to have international cricket. Of course, you ask around in Guyana, and every single person will tell you that they are part of the Caribbean Islands and not part of South America…but that’s as maybe. You ask around in India, and most youngsters think they are part of Mainland America…!

Guyana is a very interesting mix of cultures, as I’m sure you’ll know if you surfed the Internet long enough. There are Africans, yes. But there are probably more Indians – both ‘Hindoos’ and ‘Mozlems’. There are also Latin Americans. What’s more interesting is that over and above people from all these extractions, there are people with all these combinations. As a result, the colour of people here varies from a terrible dirty off-white to a beautiful chocolaty dark brown. And while some people look like Oliver Kahn, a lot of the people are really very good-looking.

All right, Guyana could very well be called Mini-India. The man who drove us from the airport to our hotel was of Indian extraction. The girl at the reception who checked us in is called Sunita. The bell-boy who took us to our room is called Avinash Narine, and they were showing a Shahid Kapoor-Kareena Kapoor film on the cable channel in the hotel room!

And that’s not all, we were welcomed into the hotel to the refrains of Kajra Re, and spotted a flower-bedecked Bentley in the hotel porch. The reason is that there was an Indian wedding happening in the poolside area of the hotel we are staying in, and for the first hour or so of our stay (this was rather late at night), we were treated to Antakshari sessions…

And the hotel we are staying in - Buddy's International - despite being rather good, is owned by 'Shri Omprakash Shivraj'. And the country's President is the Most Honourable Bharrat Jagdeo.
While this might serve to delight some of us, it isn’t what you want in the Caribbeans. And it doesn’t look like things are going to improve much going by the first few hours here. There’s going to be a great deal of India in Guyana, whether I like that or not.

To add to the India-ness, Guyana is not supposed to be one of the more exciting islands in the Caribbean, but I’m determined to enjoy it after spending what seemed like an eternity in Jamaica. Also, with some amount of cricket lined up, it can’t be all bad. It is, after all, where Lance Gibbs came from. Oh, the frog-in-a-fruit-basket also hails from here…so you get the picture: it’s going to be a mix of good and bad.