Marley had many identities

A FILE PICTURE OF THE STATUE OF BOB MARLEY at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamica. Marley, who died a hero at the age of 36 from brain cancer, lives in the hearts of the Jamaicans and his inspirational songs are still a rage.-V.V. KRISHNAN

"I don't want success; a lot of big men successful; but them living dead," Bob Marley is supposed to have said. It seems BLASPHEMOUS to leave Jamaica without paying a visit to the icon's house, now converted to the Bob Marley museum, writes S. RAM MAHESH.

June 25: I have seen rain, wind, sandstorms, streakers, and even the odd dog hold up play. This, however, is a first. A banshee's wail fills Warner Park, and silver flashes go off. Ian Bishop covers his ears; I look around for the cause of the supernatural occurrence — my grounding in the genre of fantasy tells me that with banshees and werewolves (those flashes ought to be bullets, surely?) around, vampires couldn't be far behind. But, such blissful thoughts amount to nothing, when I discover what others with average human intelligence have already figured out. It's the smoke detector — and apparently it's centralised through the stadium — being severe on some poor soul who lit up in the hallway (I hasten to add that cigarette smoking is injurious). The Indians, on the field, wait for it to be turned off. Umpire Rudi Koertzen sees the funny side. Some wish — rather cruelly — that his partner, Brian Jerling, can see.

After the day's play, I find that an Indian player is being sledged, and the perpetrator is not even a West Indian cricketer. Munaf Patel, out for a quite meal, finds a Kittitian introduce him to the niceties of West Indian fast bowling. "Wesley Hall, he come to take your wicket maan. But, Roy Gilchrist come for YOU." Munaf doesn't appear too concerned. Perhaps he knows neither Hall nor Gilchrist are sufficiently elastic of limb currently to seek him out.

June 26: Jimmy is "150 per cent" Guyanese. He also talks a good game. This white rum-drinking, night-stalking grand-dad has — since the days of playing club cricket with Alvin Kallicharran — become a sultan of security at St. Kitts. I meet him at our hotel, which is located a minute from Warner Park. He is in charge of security here, which from what I gather consists of sitting on a bar-stool, sipping a beverage of choice, and making polite conversation with the hoodlums that threaten to overthrow the government. Jimmy tells me of when Hall and Kallicharran, stone drunk, walked through a glass door at Hilton. Of when Kallicharran failed to read Lance Gibbs, and got told, "You ain't playin' it right," by the master off-spinner.

Jimmy's Indian descent comes through when he begins to talk of Hindi cinema. Not being of a similar vintage, I can only nod vaguely when he says "Dev (Anand) and Shammi (Kapoor) are my boys".

June 27: Being a wicket-keeping obsessive, I buttonhole Jeff Dujon. The black beard of yesteryear is now a close-trimmed grey goatie, and the smallest of paunches pulls at his t-shirt. Does he miss keeping? "No, not really." My world comes crashing down. He must have noticed for he adds, "It's tough work. When you play, it's always about improving. You want to improve every single day. But, when you stop, what's left?"

June 28: Two days to go for the fourth Test, and we've got guests. Yuvraj, Harbhajan, V. R. V. Singh, and Laxman have dinner with a few journalists. Such close encounters reveal personality the most contorted grimace under a helmet can't. I discover that Yuvraj is extremely particular about keeping track of runs. He knows exactly how much he has scored in individual matches, including — get this — one-dayers that no one can seem to keep track of. It gets better — he remembers most of the others' scores as well. V.R.V. amuses Laxman no end — apparently the fast-bowler from Punjab met up with others at the airport with no hand baggage. While others laugh, I admire V.R.V's philosophy of travelling light. Indeed, I practise it. Don't fret V.R.V., we will be recognised in our time.

June 29: "I don't want success; a lot of big men successful; but them living dead," Bob Marley is supposed to have said. It seems blasphemous to leave Jamaica without paying a visit to the icon's house, now converted to the Bob Marley museum. I'm not a big fan of the new breed of experiential tourism with its fondness for feeling the spirit. But, as we are taken through his house, through the simple but tastefully done-up bedroom that has been preserved to the point of his slippers lying near the bed, through the room that has his hammock and drums, through his kitchen where he used to whip up fruit juices in his blender, often with fresh-picked mangoes from his courtyard, I begin to get gooseflesh. I see his Gibson guitar up close, his pick-up truck, the bicycle he used to sell his early records on, his frayed football shorts. Even the life-size hologram — all five-foot-six-inches of him — is not tacky, and fits in with the rest of the house. Musician, national hero, protest icon, Rastafarian: Marley had many identities. He died aged 36 in 1981 from brain cancer. And was immortalised since.

One of Rahul Dravid's favourite songs incidentally is "No Woman No Cry".

June 30: Interesting isn't it how lore confers a super-human glow on those untouched by television's dirty hands? For instance, I learn that Fidel Edwards, Jerome Taylor, Corey Colleymore, Pedro Collins, and Ian Bradshaw, when younger and untelevised, could all "get them ball to move both ways at will with pace". How quick exactly? "Over 90 em pee heshes." I also learn of a certain R. Kelly (Richard Kelly from Trindad and Tobago, I later confirm) who is some kind of a super all-rounder. My informant is Nevil, who selects West Indian sides when not driving unsuspecting Indian journalists around.

July 1: Yesterday, those that turned up at Sabina Park spent all of lunch with their eyes on Argentina v Germany. I sneak into the VIP lounge to find support polarised. In the penalty shoot-out, alternate sets of glum and gleeful faces jump about. Today it's worse. There are two biggies: Portugal beat England on penalties — the giant screen stops showing it as the cricketers walk out to resume after lunch. A round of boos, and people cluster around a small TV that should be showing cricket, but to no-one's surprise has changed channels with the remote control nowhere in sight. The PA has the message for those that can't steal a glimpse through the thicket of shoulders: "England go home."