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Going to the Oval

I am now in Guyana until Wednesday. My sister and brother-in-law bought cricket tickets a while ago and we’re off to the new Providence Stadium to see West Indies vs Sri Lanka. I didn’t know that this was the match that was scheduled for the 1st. I just chose between the 1st and the 7th. I don’t know if my heart can take it, actually being there, considering the disappointments it has already had to deal with. But I’ll be there on the uncovered grassy mounds (my sister is a thrifty person and went with the cheap “seats” – there aren’t actually any seats on the mound). With the niece. Who has started, completely on her own to dance to random bits of music. She especially likes the theme song for CWC, and will stop and do a particular dance, which involves waving her arms from side to side. Not quite sure where she picked that up from, but it should be interesting to watch her during the match tomorrow.

Of course, I should be asleep, preparing for the day ahead. A whole day at cricket can be quite tiring, especially on the mound. When we first started going to the Oval in Trinidad, it was always a last minute sort of thing (before we made it a habit) and we always got the cycling-track tickets. All the other seats were sold out for ODIs by the time we got them. Cycling track is interesting. And cheaper of course. My sister didn’t get her thriftiness out of the blue ;-). But then again, try buying 5 covered stand tickets AND feeding 4 people at Oval prices (Dad wouldn’t buy anything for himself if he could help it) as well as buying at least one tour magazine, maybe 2 depending on how young and curmudgeonly we were – I suppose Dad did have legitimate cause for thrifitiness. But back to the cycling track.

You’re as close as can be to the match and you don’t have rows and rows of seats to fight through when you want to get something to eat. You see, you have to sit on the concrete sloping cycling track at the Queen’s Park Oval, which is at the bottom of the stands and goes around the ground. Go early, so you get a spot at the top of the track where you can lean back against the wall, and avoid the late in the day trickles of fallen and dubious liquids that run their way down to the bottom, never sparing a thought for people seated in their way (people get clumiser as the day goes by, and that last bottle of rum doesn’t stand as steadily as the first). Take a cushion. To sit on. A mat of some kind. Umbrellas for the sun that will hit you all day. From various angles. The umbrellas will come in handy when it rains. And it will, even if it’s only a drizzle. After all the Queen’s Park Oval has as its beautiful backdrop the Northern Range. Mountains pull in the rain clouds. And when it rains, well, rain water also travels down. So you have to stand up until the rain is over, and then wait till the concrete is dry enough to sit again. During this period you’ll finally fraternise with the people in the stands as you take shelter in their domain.

I know, it sounds rough, but when the inebriated fans run around the stands waving flags, singing, trying to get up a Mexican Wave, passing through groups of rival fans to pass on some picong, you’re in the middle of the action. If you choose a good spot, you might be on camera all day with boundaries hitting the ropes in front of you, or the ball bouncing in your midst. This is the perfect time to carry those cleverly worded homemade signs. Once as a student in Barbados, a group of us went to Kensington Oval for the Test against the touring India (the match when Chanderpaul scored his first Test century). We went early, stationed ourselves at the boundary rope (no cycling track to get in your way in the Kensington of old) and had our flags and signs. One in particular stated proudly that we were UWI students. “Hi Mom. Please send Money.” I believe one of our mothers saw that on tv in Jamaica or Trinidad, and may have said she was so glad it wasn’t her child that shamed her down like that on international tv. If she only knew. Sitting on the boundary during a cricket match is just an amazing experience with or without your 15 minutes of fame. You’ll clench your teeth a bit when your fellow West Indian women oooh and ahhh and try to flirt with the boundary fielder, who MUST be cute if he’s standing in front of them, but depending on how young you are, you run to get his autograph anyway.

West Indies babyMy father was always a little stressed at the end of the day, when people were a bit less in control of themselves, and he had 4 children to take care of, but I don’t regret the cycling track experience. Sure, sitting in the stands is a bit more civilised and easier to pay attention to the nuances of the match, but I don’t know if I would have been as hooked on going to the Oval if I had started there. I hope the mound tomorrow at Providence is half as good. I am sure it’ll be twice as much sun, but this may be the hook for the niece. She’s already prepared, at 14 months, for the wave!

The photo on the right is my niece, wearing a Windies hat, and reading the newspaper, a pose that I am sure will be common throughout the ground tomorrow.

The photo at the beginning is from the first Test Match at the new Warner Park Stadium in St Kitts and Nevis, held in June 2006 against India. This is Chris Gayle as he makes 50 runs, on his way to 83.

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11 Comments so far (Add 1 more)

  1. Did I go cricket a lot when it was cycling track? I know you went more than me but…
    I hated those seats in the stands…so uncomfortable but I could still catch bursts of sleep.
    How will I manage WI vs England!

    1. Lilandra on April 1st, 2007 at 1:54 am
  2. OOOO LOOK AT THE BABY!

    2. Lilandra on April 1st, 2007 at 1:57 am
  3. Have a good time Chennette and be sure to tell us what is was like.

    4. Cynthia on April 1st, 2007 at 9:55 am
  4. Hi Chennette,

    Need your help – can you tell me what chow is?
    While visiting TT friends in the USA they served tomatoes and cucumbers with pepper and salt and said they call it chow and they would do the same if the pepper and salt were added to mangoes etc.

    5. Cynthia on April 1st, 2007 at 6:11 pm
  5. It’s like a pickled thing.
    We make mango chow, pommecythere chow, cucumber chow etc etc.
    So for a mango, I’d slice it up (some in slices if small, some more like chips/fries) and add bandania (chadonbeni), salt, pepper and other seasonings and let it soak and then eat…

    Does that help?

    6. Lilandra on April 1st, 2007 at 6:40 pm
  6. Yup, that’s chow. Generally fruit seasoned with lots of fresh pepper and other seasonings like garlic and chadon beni and eaten raw. Usually common with half ripe fruit – mango, pommecythere, plums, cherries etc. But ripe chow also possible. I seem to remember Guyana having mango with salt and pepper, and sometimes pommecythere (june plum, golden apple), which I thought was similar.
    Have a fruit tree in the yard, host some burning hot chow-making!

    7. chennette on April 1st, 2007 at 6:51 pm
  7. Of the signs made the one that sticks out is the ‘GIMME GIMME JIMMY’ one. Ah youth…I’m reading this after you’ve had your day and that may have something with the discussion turning to chow.

    8. Rone on April 1st, 2007 at 8:43 pm
  8. I know WHY you remember that one too – it was your baby, and very well executed in the Jamaican colours and accompanied by a Jamaican flag, I believe.

    I am back from Providence Stadium, quite depressed with my team, but the stadium is really excellent.

    9. chennette on April 1st, 2007 at 8:53 pm
  9. *mutters*

    at least we got some pictures???

    10. Lilandra on April 1st, 2007 at 10:47 pm
  10. Thanks Lilandra and Chennette, that has been helpful.

    11. Cynthia on April 2nd, 2007 at 1:03 pm
  11. you’re welcome Cynthia. I feeling for some guava chow. Or just guava. I haven’t had in so long.

    12. chennette on April 2nd, 2007 at 2:23 pm

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