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A nervous knock and Brian Lara answers the door

Two things you cannot miss in Trinidad. One is the incessant interest and knowledge that the cab-drivers foster about cricket.

Two things you cannot miss in Trinidad. One is the incessant interest and knowledge that the cab-drivers foster about cricket. And more importantly,the overwhelming love and adoration for Brian Charles Lara. Most of the streets in Port-of-Spain are littered with posters carrying slogans about the achievements of the Prince of Trinidad. The city square,once called the Independence Square,has been renamed as the Brian Lara Promenade. The government,meanwhile,has also installed a statue of Lara in his Natraja pose playing a trademark ‘pull’ at the promenade.

On Tuesday,I meet the latest in the line of fascinating cab-drivers I have been privileged to interact with since landing in Port-of-Spain last week. His name’s Clifford. He drives a Nissan Cube-which like the name suggests is designed like,what else,a cube. More interestingly,he talks about having been a pizza delivery boy till a few years earlier and about his favourite customer and the number of times he’s visited the most popular house in Trinidad.

Without second thoughts,I ask Clifford to take me to Chancellor Hill,the private hillock on which Lara’s house is situated. How can you leave Trinidad without paying the Prince a visit?

It’s around 7 in the night. Led by Clifford,we walk up to the main gate. It takes only one press off this buzzer for a light to come on behind the curtains. I hold my breath. The door opens. I half-expect a butler to step out and shoo us away. Instead,it’s the man himself.

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Dressed casually in a red t-shirt and shorts,Lara steps out and enquires quizzically about the identities of his uninvited visitors,that too at this hour. Even Clifford struggles to disguise his excitement next to me. “We are a bunch of Indian journalists Brian. We just wanted to come and see your house and how the Prince of Trinidad lives,” I shout out elatedly. Our day is already made. But wait not yet.

While I expect Lara to simply walk away— to be honest I didn’t know what to expect— he waits,throws his head back and sheepishly shouts out a reply. “Oh I just had an event at home recently (The party he had hosted for the Indian team) and the house is in a mess. Or I would have certainly invited you boys in. Sorry,” he says.

“Oh that’s alright Brian. Thanks anyway,” I reply. My visit to Trinidad is made. In less than four hours,phones will start ringing all over India. Obviously,everyone I know needs to hear about the time I gate-crashed Lara’s house and came within a brink of being invited inside.

First published on: 09-06-2011 at 03:18 IST
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