Windies fun and music loving people
It was indeed a pleasurable experience the tour of the Caribbean with
the Sri Lanka cricket team, describing the action for the 'Daily News'
and the 'Sunday Observer' for over a month.
The West Indians, especially the Trinidadians where I spent most of
my time are fun loving and tremendously musical minded.
Everywhere you go, loud music blars. Super markets, side walks,
public squares and the pubs too. The people are also good dancers,
especially the shake, the reggae and the bum.
The Caribbean was famous for its Calypso music. It fact it was called
Calypso country. But now Reggae and a new thing Soca is in vogue. It is
loud music everywhere you go.
Some of the vehicles are sans the back seats. Instead placed inside
are loud speakers and while driving they tap the driving wheel to the
beat. Any kind of music - from Calypso to Reggae to gospel to Soca to
Rock is freely available and sells at Trinidad dollars 20 which in Sri
Lanka money is Rs. 200.
When I went for the World Cup last year I visited every available
record bar looking to get the cricket songs made famous whenever the
Windies notch up a victory or when some of their cricketers perform
individual brilliant efforts.
But my search was in vain.
But this time round seated in the Gerry Gomez Media Centre I happened
to get to know Don Lee a veteran cricket broadcaster and Sports Editor
of a famous radio station. I just mentioned too him that I was
frantically looking for the cricket songs, and asked him whether he
could help me.
'Don't worry mann. I will do my best', he said and immediately phoned
his radio station and mentioned to the men who matter about my arrival
and request for the cricket songs.
Obviously the men at the other end said okay. And with a broad smile
which said it all, he said: 'Mann I will have it for you in a couple of
days'. And true to his word he delivered two discs to me, absolutely
free with not all, but some of the most memorable cricket songs.
I thanked him profusely and told him - 'Mann you are great.
It was wonderful lyrics sung to a Calypso beat done mostly by their
more famous singers David Rudder and Mighty Sparrow.
In Trinidad I also happened to meet Sarath de Silva, with whom I
spent a few days when the Lankan cricketers played some of their games
during the World Cup last year.
Now Sarath is one of the famous sons from Kurunegala. A former
Maliyadeva cricketer, he still reminisces how he missed playing in the
All Bhutto Trophy match. After excelling for his school, he formed and
saw to it that Kurunegala Youth Club made vast strides in the game and
his crowning moment was when KYCC won the 'Daily News' Trophy in the
Sarath runs a thriving car sales business and has been in Trinidad
for nearly a decade. At one time he stayed close to Brian Lara's mansion
and said that every morning he bumps into the legend when doing his
He told me that Lara is one of the most lovely and friendly
personalities you could meet and related some interesting anecdotes
On my previous visit to Trinidad, Sarath related the trauma that was
his abduction and ransom demand of something like Trinidad US dollars
This time round just before my arrival he had the nasty experience of
losing three of his vehicles when robbers gagged him and got away with
them. But Sarath who is tough as nails, said he gave the robbers as good
as he got before succumbing.
Sarath never misses watching cricket, especially when the Lankans
play. In the Test match at the Queen's Park oval he was the lone flag
bearer and kept cheering the Sri Lankan cricketers.
In the one-dayers Sarath was joined by his friends who are Sri
Lankans in business - Janaka Adhikari, Raja Pathirane also old
Maliyadevans, Orr Liyanage, an engineer, Joseph Michael, Suresh Abraham.
Suresh was joined by his brother Deepthi who is in the US Navy and who
flew down from Maryland to watch the Lankans in action. Deepthi is an
ardent Lankan fan.
Meeting Deepthi was an experience and he related to me how he was in
the carrier when the war in Iraq first broke out.
Other cricket fans who flew down from Maryland to watch and cheer the
Lankans in the one-dayers were Sashrika Jayasinghe, Hasika Pamunuwa,
Manjula Dissanayake and Milroy Don who are Sarath's daughter's Sachiko
de Silva's friends.
They along with sprinkling of other Sri Lankans in Trinidad waved the
lion flag and cheered lustily for the Lankans, not deterred that the
Lankans lost both one-dayers to the West Indians. A Sri Lankan lady who
was shouting herself hoarse was Renuka Ramdass.
Sarath also took time off his business schedule to drive Sriyan
Samararatne, manager of the Lankan team, Jayantha Seneviratne, Tour
selector and me to the lovely Maracas Beach.
Unfortunately we experienced heavy rain throughout the drive and
could not take in much of the beach, because the waves too were strong.
Sarath is always available to the Lankan sportsmen or women who tour
and he was also very helpful when the women's cricket team toured there.
Sarath and his friends helped me out when in difficulty and my grateful
thanks go out to them.
Trinidad was once in lifetime experience for me.
(End of the Caribbean cruise series)